Liat Steir-Livny, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer. Holocaust Studies, Film Studies & Cultural Studies  


Mizrahi Jews and Holocaust Humor in Israeli Popular Culture

Liat Steir-Livny 2018

Laughter: Anthology of Multi-Disciplinary Articles in Humor Research

The successful comedy-drama TV series Zaguri Empire, revolves around the life of Zaguri family of Jewish-Moroccan descent living in Beersheba. The first episode of the second season takes place on Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, which is officially marked by the sounding of a siren, as all stand respectfully. Beber, the patriarch of the family, who feels like he and his culture have been marginalized by the Ashkenazi hegemony, refuses to stand at attention, and a family quarrel begins. The episode caused quite a turmoil in Israeli public discourse. The paper claims that the episode highlights broader issues that had, in fact, already been introduced into the Israeli discourse via both serious and satirical texts: the Mizrahim's absorption in Israel; the Mizrahim's representation in Israeli culture; the new humoristic, satiric and parodic commemoration of the Holocaust in Israel and the representation of the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi conflict in satiric texts that deal with Holocaust commemoration. The paper will analyze the Zaguri Empire episode as a new layer in the debate regarding these issues, which sharpens humor's role as a defense mechanism, and as a way to vent frustration and create social cohesion.

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Holocaust, Israeli culture, Holocaust commemoration, Holocaust remembrance, Holocaust representations, collective memory, Mizrahim, Ethnic conflict, Immigrants, Immigration, Holocaust,.


Steir-Livny, Liat. "Mizrahi Jews and Holocaust Humor in Israeli Popular Culture". Laughter: Anthology of Multi-Disciplinary Articles in Humor Research. Jerusalem: Carmel, 2018, pp. 167-192 [Hebrew].

© 2014 Liat Steir-Livny. Designed by Boaz Albert