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  • Actors Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg are seen appearing in an undated pre-recorded interview for the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, in this photograph received via the BBC, in London, Britain January 14, 2018.

    Actors Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg are seen appearing in an undated pre-recorded interview for the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, in this photograph received via the BBC, in London, Britain January 14, 2018. | Photo: Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout via Reuters

Published 17 January 2018
Opinion

Lebanese authorities will allow movie theaters to screen "The Post" after an initial ban was announced due to Spielberg's ties with Israel.

Acclaimed director Steven Spielberg's film “The Post” will be shown in Lebanese cinemas this Thursday after Lebanon's Interior Ministry revoked its ban by the country's General Security Directorate.

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“Interior Minister Nohad Mashnouk is going to allow the film to be shown,” said a senior official to AFP today. The Interior Ministry usually allows General Security Directorate's censorship suggestions and this is what happened after the ban was announced yesterday. Local cinemas had even taken down the film posters already prior to the reversal.

All of Spielberg's prior films had been banned from Lebanese cinemas as the director was blacklisted by the Arab League in 2007, according to a leaked US State Department memo from 2007, for his $1 million US dollars donation to Israel during its war with Lebanon in 2006.

Both countries are officially at war since then and keep their borders closed under heavy surveillance. Israeli nationals, or anyone who holds a passport with an Israeli stamp, cannot enter Lebanon. Anyone who tries it may face detention and questioning by Lebanese authorities.

Lebanon follows the blacklist policy, in accordance with a cultural boycott on Israel, but several Spielberg films have actually been screened in their cinemas, including “The Adventures of Tintin”, “The BFG” and “Bridge of Spies.” In these cases, Spielberg's credit as the director has been censored on promotional posters.

Other films haven't made it into Lebanese movie theaters for their alleged or real ties with Israel, regardless of the production's place of origin. The commercially successful Wonderwoman was banned because it starred Gal Gadot, who served the Israeli military. Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri's film “The Attack” was banned as well, which was partially shot in Israel with Israeli actors. Doueri was even arrested and questioned for his ties with Israel, but all charges were dropped after protests erupted in his favor.

Spielberg's movie was initially banned along with a film called “Jungle”, starring Daniel Radcliffe and telling the story of Israeli Yossi Ghinsberg, who got lost in the Bolivian Amazon in 1981. “Jungle” was already being screened in Lebanese movie theaters but was removed after complaints were made and the ban was announced.

“It received an authorization to be screened, and it was indeed screening,” an official from the General Security's committee told AFP, “but several registered complaints prompted us to pull it from theatres to avoid any problems."

The Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel in Lebanon asked for a boycott on “Jungle”, on grounds the film is “about an Israeli backpacker and is based on the book by an Israeli author, Yossi Ghinsberg, who was born in the Zionist entity, grew up in Tel Aviv and served in the Israeli navy,"

It is unlikely the ban on “Jungle” will be lifted.

“The Post” is a newspaper drama about The Washington Post's publishing of the Pentagon's papers and which delves into U.S. responsibility in Vietnam's war in 1971, and the government lies about it. It features Maryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The movie will start screening tomorrow in Lebanese movie theaters as initially planned.

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