Perhaps for the first time in history, Israelis are identifying and even laughing with Arabs, as they watch the hilarious, unprecedented Israeli sitcom, “Arab Labor,” coming to the Mayerson JCC as part of the JCC Summer Cinema Series. The series runs Tuesday, June 26 through Thursday, June 28, and “Arab Labor” will show on Wednesday, June 27, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“This is a development that’s comparable to the United States’ embrace of ‘The Cosby Show’ or ‘All in the Family,’ which used humor to explore race and society,” stated the San Francisco Chronicle.
Set in modern day Israel, “Arab Labor” is about a hapless Palestinian journalist whose biggest problem is that he is not Jewish. He darts in and out of amusing and poignant confrontations with his sassy wife, their smart-as-a-whip daughter, his overbearing parents and his hound-dog younger friend.
Created by Sayed Kashua, a 32-year-old Israeli-born Palestinian journalist, “Arab Labor” is a ground-breaking, consistently funny attempt to explore the tensions and contradictions of everyday life among the Israeli Palestinian minority.
“I wanted the Israeli mainstream audience to meet different kinds of Arabs—not just terrorists or politicians—and listen to their language and their stories,” Kashua said. “I’m not dealing with (Palestinian) lives under direct occupation, like in the West Bank—it’s about the Palestinian minority inside Israel.”
Variety.com noted, “Whoever said the Arab-Israeli conflict couldn’t be funny? The first primetime Israeli show about an Arab family is a hit with Israeli audiences.”
The JCC Summer Cinema Series is a new program, developed from audience feedback about the very popular winter Jewish & Israeli Film Festival.
On Tuesday, June 26 at 7 p.m., the J will show “Melting Away” (Namess Ba’geshem), the 2012 Jewish & Israeli Film Festival Audience Favorite. This is a great opportunity for people who missed the film this winter, as well as those who loved it, to see the first feature film in the history of Israeli cinema that deals with the topic of parents and their relationships with their transgender children. “Melting Away” is an emotional tale that touches on real issues of sexuality and how everyday people handle themselves when forced to deal with life and death and what is left in the wake.
Audiences also requested more comedy. So, in addition to the comedy “Arab Labor” showing on Wednesday, June 27, the JCC Summer Cinema Series presents “This is Sodom” (Zohi Sdom) on Thursday, June 28 at 7 p.m. The biggest box office comedy hit in Israel in 25 years, “This is Sodom” is a raucous, bawdy biblical comedy in the best tradition of Monty Python and Mel Brooks. As God’s wrath draws closer, Abraham, Lot, the Sodomites and their rulers, and even the avenging angels, are seduced by the decadent delights of the most famous Sin City in history. The film received five Israeli Academy Award nominations, including wins for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
Also based on feedback from the winter Jewish & Israeli Film Festival, the JCC Summer Cinema Series offers more comfortable seating. Graduated, stadium-style seats (much like those in new movie theaters around Cincinnati) will be in place at the J. For more information about the JCC Summer Cinema Series, contact the JCC.