Arab Labor's alternative vision: the ‘liberal bargain’ in the welfare state of Israel. Special Issue: Conflict and Coexistence: Conversations, Demonstrations and Communications in the MENA – Language and Intercultural Communication

This study focuses on ‘Independence Day’, an episode of Arab Labor (first season, 2008), a pioneer bilingual Hebrew-Arabic satirical Israeli TV series, written by Sayed Kashua, an Arab-Israeli author and journalist. Arab Labor was a breakthrough in the Israeli popular TV scape, where, as a rule, Arab-Israeli citizens are either depicted stereotypically, or as symbolically ‘extinct’. Broadcast in primetime, the series exposed Jewish-Israeli viewers for the first time to AI petit bourgeoisies – a middle-class Arab-Israeli ‘normative’ family. The episode is a core example of the way in which satire is employed to promote the ‘liberal bargain’ between the Jewish democratic liberal state and its Arab-Israeli citizens, depicting a lifestyle vacillating between hybrid multilayered identity options, within the complex, often difficult reality of the Arab-Israeli citizens in Israel. Methodology combined both integrated CDA and focus groups, in order to reveal the modes in which deep cultural constructs are embodied in the episode, and to explore how these representation modes are deciphered by middle-class academic Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Israeli female viewers. As opposed to the prevailing extreme nationalism accompanied by multiculturalism, to a large degree as a consequence of neo-liberal economy, our analysis and findings reveal that Arab Labor suggests an alternative vision for Israeli society: the ‘liberal bargain’, which favours liberalism and cultural pluralism within a welfare nation state, in which disputes and conflicts are peacefully resolved.

Author affiliations
Miri Gal-Ezer,
Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee , Jordan Valley , Israel;
Chava Tidhar,
Emerita, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee , Jordan Valley , Israel

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