East Hampton director Steven Spielberg‘s latest film, The Post, opened to wide acclaim and fanfare in theaters around the country on Friday, but the film isn’t getting such a warm reception in at least one Middle Eastern Country. According to The Washington Post—the newspaper the film is about—Lebanon is looking to block the movie from its scheduled January 18 opening in that country because of Spielberg’s ties to Israel.
The Post tells the story of Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep)—the first female publisher of a major U.S. newspaper—and her efforts with editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) to expose a massive government coverup of secrets spanning 30 years and four U.S. presidents. It’s the story of the Pentagon Papers, aka United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, which revealed U.S. government deception about the Vietnam War. Graham and Bradlee, of course, also supported Bob Woodward and Hamptonite Carl Bernstein‘s work on Watergate.
Watch a trailer for The Post below.
While supposedly not so concerned with the content of The Post, Lebanon’s General Security Directorate’s censorship committee is banning the film because of laws obliging the country to follow the Arab League’s boycott of Israel, according to the Washington Post story. It goes on to explain that the Jewish director is on the Arab League blacklist of sanctioned individuals because his foundation gave $1 million to support Israeli relief efforts during its 2006 war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.
But there may be more to the ban than The Post simply being a Spielberg film. Lebanon did not ban most of the director’s previous films since 2006, and The Washington Post suggests this particular film may be a target because of its messages supporting freedom of the press and railing against censorship.
Among other recent films banned in Lebanon due to Israel ties is 2017’s Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress who also served in her country’s army.