The groundbreaking Arab Labor is the most controversial new show to air on prime-time Israeli television, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why. In the first episode of this wickedly funny series, protagonist Amjad, an Israeli Arab reporter for a Hebrew-language newspaper, decides to trade in his family’s beat-up old Subaru for a “less Arab car.” After consulting with his Jewish friend Meir, Amjad buys a Rover sedan, and is happy to find that his new car gets him waved through Israeli checkpoints without any of the de rigueur harassment.
In the delightfully provocative sitcom—which we will screen in its entirety—Amjad’s often hilarious attempts to assimilate his family into mainstream Israeli society are an opportunity to satirize the prejudice and stereotypes that exist on both sides of the Middle East conflict.
For his wry and self-effacing humor, series creator Sayed Kashua (himself an Arab Israeli) has been likened to an Arab Woody Allen, and for his outrageous parodies of racial stereotypes, we might also consider him the Palestinian Dave Chappelle. Not everyone has a taste for irony when it comes to racial politics, however, and Arab Labor has its fair share of detractors. But in Amjad’s absurd world, everyone is fair game for parody and scrutiny—even his less-than-honest father, who agrees to take a rabbi’s “not-kosher-for-Passover” food off his hands, only to sell it on Ebay.
Whether it leaves you in stitches or up in arms, this irreverent Arab Israeli sitcom will bring you the Middle East conflict as you’ve never seen it before . . . and that’s a good thing.
From 2008 Festival: Director, Israel
The Quarry (1990), Auditions (1995), Those Were the Nights,
Director (television): Eretz Avot (2006); A Touch Away (2006); Reaching for Heaven (2000)
Television Drama, Awards - Best TV Drama, Jerusalem Int'l Film Festival, 2000; Best TV Series, Israeli Academy for Cinema & TV, 2000; HaChartzufim (1996)