“This is not Europe”: Sexuality, ethnicity and the (re)enactment of Israeli authenticity

Erez Levon, Roey Gafter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The dominant narrative of Israeli nationalism is based on a foundational tension. On one hand, Zionism was motivated by a desire to create a new category of Jewish personhood that would be distinct from its European counterpart. Yet, on the other hand, normative Israeli identity has never been conceptualised as a fully “Middle Eastern” category. Rather, cultural and historical links to Europe have been strategically deployed to sustain and legitimate pervasive systems of social stratification and marginalisation that exist both within Jewish Israeli communities as well as between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. In this paper, we describe how Arisa, a queer Israeli music group, critiques this dominant Eurocentric imagining of Israeli identity. Drawing on developments in the study of mediatised performance, we examine a promotional music video that Arisa released in 2014. We illustrate how in the video Arisa parodies normative conceptualisations of Israeli authenticity and the gendered, sexual and ethnic stereotypes that undergird them. At the same time, we demonstrate how Arisa's critique functions by reinscribing tropes of (Jewish) Israeli exceptionalism, thus feeding into dominant discourses of Israeli homonationalism. In the paper, we discuss the complex intersections between these two aspects of Arisa's performance as they relate to the politics of mediatised performance more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100287
JournalDiscourse, Context and Media
Volume30
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Ethnicity
  • Israel
  • Media
  • Parody
  • Performance
  • Zionism

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