Despite his light, jokey manner, Arab-Israeli writer Sayed Kashua conveyed deep cynicism at an event hosted by the New Israel Fund of Canada (NIFC) on June 14, about the policies of the Israeli government and the challenges of living as an Arab in Israel.
The talk, called “Laughing while Crying: A Conversation with Authors Sayed Kashua and Nancy Richler,” was held at the Al Green Theatre at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre and drew about 300 people.
It featured Montreal Jewish novelist Richler interviewing Kashua, the author of three novels, a Haaretz columnist and the creator of popular Israeli television sitcom Arab Labour.
Richler asked Kashua about his background, his work and the ways his books and television show explore the difficulties seemingly inherent to the Arab-Israeli experience – of straddling two worlds and consistently being seen as an other within Israeli society.
Though Arab Labour is very much a comedy, of the show’s protagonist, Kashua said:
“He’s constantly trying to fit into Jewish society and he’s constantly rejected – every single episode.”I'm sure it's difficult for him, a Muslim, to feel like he fits in. Heck, it's difficult for plenty of Jews to feel that way. Just try to imagine, though, how much more difficult it is for Jews to try to fit into Muslims societies. Now, that's no laughing matter (more a matter of hold-your-blasphemous-tongue-or we-keel-you-impudent-infidel).
*Zionists in name only