Jun 19, 2008

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

Dennis Dugan and Adam Sandler’s new stab at comedy You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is not really a movie so much about the Israel/Palestine conflict as it is about the dwindling possibilities of success for both Israeli and Palestinian immigrants in America. It has a mild Zionist agenda, but make no mistake: it has a far more Jewish agenda. In many ways, it can be compared to the similarly ethnic-themed comedy Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (and perhaps the sequel; I haven’t seen it) in that it makes the point of celebrating non-European immigration and promoting anti-WASP sentiments. In some ways, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is remarkable in that it takes this theme so far as to insinuate that corporate gentile businessmen and ignorant gentile rednecks are the ones who are prolonging the hatred in the Middle-East. Whereas pro-immigration Hollywood films typically make a few references here and there to the evilness of whites, the last twenty minutes of this film leave absolutely no question as to its agenda.

Do not think, however, that there are no Zionist undertones to the film. This film is more about promoting the strength of Jewish-Americans rather than Israelis, which is understandable, but Zionism is a definite component to You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Throughout the film, references to terrorism, the Hezbollah, and the Hamas are dropped. All of the inter-ethnic aggression is the responsibility of the Palestinians. Many of the Palestinians are actually played by Jews as well. Even in the final reconciliation scene where the Israeli and Palestinian immigrants put their differences behind them, the Palestinians complain that everyone hates them. An Israeli turns to a Palestinian and says, “Everyone hates us, too.” “Why?” the Palestinian asks. “Because they think we’re you” the Israeli responds, and the whole crowd has a good laugh. And my stomach turns.

Israeli understanding of the Arab political and cultural climate has a history of being absolutely poor. A former CIA official has described being “appalled by the lack of quality of the [Israeli] political intelligence on the Arab world … Their tactical military intelligence was first-rate. But they didn’t know their enemy. I saw this political intelligence and it was lousy, laughably bad … It was gossip stuff mostly” (this quote was retrieved from Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby). This theme of ignorance is quite prevalent in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Their ability to poke fun at Israel and its quirks is top-notch. According to Sandler himself, much research went into the character of Zohan, and neoconservative critic John Podhoretz (the son of one of the founding fathers of the neoconservative movement) praises the film’s accuracy in its portrayal of the pushtak, the Israeli equivalent of the American guido. However, the understanding of the Palestinians is quite noticeably lacking. I would say that it is rather obvious as to why this is.

Perhaps a little even-handedness would go a long way. After all, since the second intifada, the ratio of Israeli to Palestinian killings has been 4:1 in favor of Palestinian deaths. Terrorism is consistently practiced by the IDF according to almost all human rights organizations and the legal definitions of international law. There is a joke about the 1967 six-day war in this film, but little is mentioned of the fact that Israel ruthlessly stole a huge chunk of land in that war’s outcome that is now legally defined as occupied territory according to a 14-1 World Court decision (the only dissenting vote coming from the United States). This film does nothing to shed any light on the situation: it merely regurgitates the same media-brainwashed terrorist stereotypes about Arabs that America is exposed to on a daily basis, and worse, it relies on a purely media-concocted myth that Arab-Israeli animosity is deep-rooted and based on millennia of historical conflict as opposed to Israeli aggression in the last century. And yet it is a movie by progressive Jewish liberals. Well, the progression is not in its handling of the conflict and its pedantic and embarrassing call for peace. The “progressive” elements can be found in its reactionary finger-pointing at white conservatives.

In the last twenty minutes of the film, we learn that evil ignorant rednecks and evil shrewd businessmen have conspired together to gentrify the New York area to really screw over immigrants. Thus, the white man once again becomes the common enemy. In this way, Zohan is similar to Borat in that it implies that the war on terror is the responsibility of ignorant rednecks and that Jews are merely at a loss for why this insanity is occurring (true, most Jews have opposed the war in Iraq, but it is also true that the war was largely due to extensive lobbying from the AIPAC, the JINSA, and the PNAC – all of which are maintained by Zionist Jews). But again, the message of the movie has more to do with immigration than it does terrorism. Leftist Jews have always championed non-European immigration and were largely responsible for the reworking of immigration laws in the 1960s, and the reason is because it is very helpful to Jewish survival.

Since the Jews have always been a diaspora people by choice, the influx of many other non-White ethnic groups in America (including Arabs) results in many more diasporas, allowing Jews to look far less conspicuous by comparison. Anti-semitism has always been much consistently lower in culturally pluralistic societies. The average Jew may not know this, but the top-tier Jewish intellectuals who lobby legislation in this country have this knowledge down pat. For American WASPs, this naïve acceptance of free-flowing immigration, the active ingredient for racial strife, is what is causing America to dwindle downward and degenerate into a third-world cesspool, and more importantly, it changes the sociological climate in such a way that allows for meaningless, asinine wars such as the war on Iraq to occur without serious opposition in the first place. In the minds of those who created Don’t Mess with the Zohan, American rural folk are anti-semitic, anti-Arab nut-jobs who are trying to nuke everything in sight.

Meanwhile, back in reality, most rural Americans know nothing of Judaism. To the average American, the Jew is some weird shrimpy guy with a funny voice who likes money – a legendary schoolyard fairy tale about as legitimate as the boogeyman. No rural redneck is ever going to even be able to get the Israeli inside jokes in this movie, nor will he be able to “mess with the Zohan” because he doesn’t even know what the hell “the Zohan” even is.

Adam Sandler was much funnier when he was imitating gentile philistines in slapstick-humor comedy classics like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. I could barely finish this film, let alone laugh.

-Blind Lame OKB


Anonymous said...

Adam Sandler is classic in his own way, though he tends to do his best work when he stays casual, not trying too hard to be funny or deep, etc.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Adam Sandler is so murderously and embarressingly unfunny.