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
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
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
In the last twenty minutes of the film, we learn that evil ignorant rednecks and evil shrewd businessmen have conspired together to gentrify the
Since the Jews have always been a diaspora people by choice, the influx of many other non-White ethnic groups in
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