Lebanon is in a social media uproar due to an Instagram photo by Elie Saab, which shows the Israeli actress, Gal Gadot, wearing one of his dresses.
Why is this such an issue? Because Saab is Lebanese and Gadot is Israeli.
That's all it takes to cause outrage in Lebanon.
As the BBC notes, Heba Bitar, a correspondent for the Iranian media front Al Mayadeen, best summed up the populist prejudice on Twitter. Bitar responded to Saab's photo by questioning how any fashion designer could be happy to see an Israeli citizen wearing something of their making. From Bitar's perspective, Gadot in Saab was tantamount to Hitler in Saab.
If the broader context here wasn't so serious, it would be funny.
Yet, the broader context is of immense importance. Because while Lebanon has had a tough recent history, Israel is far from the main culprit. It's just the easiest culprit.
The simple fact is that when it comes to populist Lebanese attitudes towards Israel, casual bigotry isn't just the normal response; it's the natural reflex. And while the Lebanese Hezbollah and its allies are the main agents of this agenda, it finds a groundswell of support across Lebanese society.
After all, while anti-Israeli hatred is based around the notion that Israel is disrupting Lebanese society behind every corner and at every turn, the reality is that Israel has not occupied Lebanon for many years. Instead, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are the oppressors of a better Lebanese future via their blackmail of the democratic process. This is not a complicated truth, just a difficult one to accept.
Because when Lebanese citizens look south, they see a nation that is wealthier, more entrepreneurial, more dynamic in research and development, more free, less corrupt (albeit like any nation, imperfect on this count), and bound to the law. In turn, the temptation to fall for the narrative of oppression is an easy way for many Lebanese to blame Israel for all their societal ills than to actually address their societal ills.
And that's why they are freaking out about a dress.