Marvel Studios announced that little-known Israeli superheroine Sabra will join the next installment of its Captain America movie series. The character – Israeli police officer by day, super-powered Mossad agent by night – is a quintessential reflection of the Israeli apartheid system.
Let’s be clear: it would be one thing to have an Israeli superhero. It might be tone-deaf, given Israel’s recent murder of an American citizen and subsequent coverup and its increasing brutality in the West Bank, but there are certainly ways to do it that could bring some nuance, and some good messaging.
But Sabra is not that. She is not merely an Israeli superhero, she is a superhero who is the very personification of the state of Israel, with oppression of Palestinians and anti-Palestinian propaganda figuring very prominently in her characterization and persona.
It’s a puzzling decision by Marvel, and one that invites the sort of problems a superhero franchise wouldn’t want. I explore in my latest piece for Mondoweiss.