Called Sacrilegious and Unpatriotic by Its Detractors, a Popular Israeli Comedy Provides Loving, if Biting, Satire

Aug. 27 2020

While some Israelis are protesting against the prime minister, in favor of the prime minister, or for stricter punishments for sexual assault, hundreds more took to the streets to demonstrate against the newest season of the television series Ha-Y’hudim ba’im (The Jews Are Coming). The show’s many Orthodox detractors seem incensed by its send-ups of biblical figures, but others object to its portrayals of the heroes of more recent Jewish and Zionist history. After dismissing calls for the Knesset to investigate the program as authoritarian, Lazar Berman defends The Jews Are Coming on its merits:

First of all, The Jews Are Coming takes aim at much more than just biblical stories. It portrays characters from Jewish history in Israel and the Diaspora, key episodes in the pre-state era, and memorable, even painful, chapters in Israel’s history. It comments on the giants, the stories, and national myths of the collective memory of Israeli Jews, religious and secular. The show is created entirely for the audience at which it takes aim. It is a real and enjoyable conversation within the family. Only those who are steeped in Tanakh and Jewish history will appreciate the sophistication of the sketches; it is hard to imagine someone who is not both Jewish and Israeli gaining anything beyond a shallow understanding of most of the episodes.

This is not the nasty work of anti-religious secularists. The script and acting show a love for the details of the stories, the nuances of the characters, and yes, the humorous and even uncomfortable aspects of the tales our people has preserved through the generations.

What’s more, anyone who thinks the show is really about the biblical characters themselves misses what makes it so popular. Through the vehicle of Jewish history, The Jews Are Coming makes profound statements about contemporary Israeli society and politics. Does anyone think the sketch about Deborah trying to prophesy to the people—only to have them grill her about her personal life and her choice not to have children—is about anything other than women in today’s workplaces in Israel?

Some might assume that the show unfairly targets the Israeli right, but it hits left-wing Israel just as hard. . . . The national heroes of the Israeli left—including Ben-Gurion, Peres, and Rabin—are all fair game.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Deborah, Israeli culture, Satire, Television

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam