Aladdin star Mena Massoud faces criticism over Israel visit

Aladdin star Mena Massoud faces criticism over Israel visit
After the Israeli Embassy in Egypt boasted that 'Aladdin' leading man Mena Massoud had visited Israel and wanted to go back, social media users declared him guilty of 'supporting' Israel.
3 min read
28 May, 2019
Massoud said he was only in Israel 'for a few hours' [Getty]

Angry social media users have doubled down on their criticism of "Aladdin" star Mena Massoud after the Israeli Embassy in Egypt boasted of the Egyptian-Canadian actor's desire to "return to Israel".

Massoud came under fire this weekend when a 2018 video from his "Evolving Vegan" Instagram page re-surfaced.

In the video, the Disney star visits an "Israeli-inspired plant-based restaurant serving up all the Mediterranean classics".

Twitter users were quick to declare the poster boy for Disney's latest live-action reboot to be "cancelled" for "reinforcing" the narrative which claims Middle Eastern foods, such as hummus, falafel and tabbouleh, as Israeli.

Massoud responded in a Tweet on Sunday:

"Hey dude. Grew up in Toronto going to Isreali [sic] restaurants that served Middle Eastern food. Don’t really understand the politics of it, I was honestly shocked to see the response."

The Israeli Embassy in Egypt jumped into the Twitter debate on Monday evening.

"The Egyptian star - Mena Massoud - hero of the film 'Aladdin' says in his interview with Israeli outlet YNET, 'I have visited Israel before, and I definitely want to go again'," the embassy said in an Arabic-language tweet on its official account.

"We always welcome our neighbours to the state of Israel."

A Twitter user who had re-shared Massoud's Instagram video last weekend declared the actor to be "cancelled" again.

"You can't simply deny you had no knowledge of the 'politics of it' after you decided to give an exclusive interview with the Israeli Embassy in Egypt," they said in a tweet.

Another Twitter user weighed in, saying that while she didn't support "cancel culture", she was disappointed in the "Aladdin" star.

"What I do find upsetting, however, is that he advertised himself as the Egyptian boy next door," she wrote on Tuesday. "He used our language and shared heritage as a means of garnering support only to disappoint us by supporting an apartheid state that is behind the genocide and erasure of Palestine."

Some may be surprised, however, to learn that Massoud was only in Israel for less than a day.

The interview, which was published by Israeli media outlet ynet on Youtube on Sunday, begins with the interviewer "Originally we're neighbours."

Massoud agrees, telling the journalist he has even visited Israel.

"When I was in Jordan, I crossed the border just for a few hours," he says.

It appears that Massoud likely crossed the Jordanian-Israeli border near to the coastal town of Aqaba to Eilat, Israel's only city on the Red Sea.

"It was a process... Because I'm Egyptian and born in Egypt, they, uh," pauses Massoud.

The interviewer then interjects: "Say no more."

"They had to do their research," the actor says with a smile.

Palestinians and other Arabs - including those with dual citizenships and those with Arab origins but without citizenship - are routinely denied entry to Israel and Palestine by the Israeli authorities.

"It was lovely. I only spent a few hours there but I definitely want to go back and visit Jerusalem and walk the path of Christ and do all the big stuff," Massoud says.