An Israeli-Palestinian author visited UT Monday evening to discuss the use of humor in relation to serious world issues.
The author, Sayed Kashua, who is also a journalist and TV show writer, has written a four-season long drama, “Arab Labour,” that focuses on Israeli-Palestinian issues with a twist of humor.
The drama deals with the main character having an Arab identity while simultaneously trying to integrate into an Israeli society. The point of the show is to explore the cultural divide and the religious, cultural and political differences between Israel and Palestine. The main character shares characteristics with Kashua, since he is also a Palestinian-born Israeli, Kashua said.
Finance senior Mohammad Khan said that he has watched the series and would recommend everyone to watch, regardless of their opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The humor in this series allowed me to understand the opposing side of the problem, which is why I liked it,” Khan said. “Although I am not Israeli or Palestinian, I could relate to the character’s constant battle of belonging since I am a Pakistani trying to fit into the American culture.”
Karen Grumberg, associate professor in the Middle Eastern Studies department, said Kashua was a perfect guest to kick-off their Middle Eastern Studies series “Beyond Borders: Middle Eastern Literatures and Cultures in Comparative Perspective” because he has experience living in both areas. His experience exposes the diversity and dynamics of the cultural and social climate in the Middle East.
“He is the embodiment of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict,” Grumberg said. “He criticizes all aspects of the conflict, including the Israeli public discource.”
Kashua exposes many issues through his weekly column in the Israeli newspaper Haeetz. Kashua said he has to craft each sentence in a way that will not offend anyone from either side of the spectrum while still getting his message across gently about the many problematic issues arising in the area.
“These problematic issues are talking about racism and co-existence,” Kashua said. “I also address these issues in a joking manner, not to just lighten the issue, but actually to make you listen and to protect myself as well as my community.”
Kashua has said he has been successful in addressing these concerns because his column and series have received great ratings while reaching a wide audience.