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History of Israeli Flim

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Part of the reason why gender is marginalized in the past films made in Israel is due to the Zionist culture’ s suppression of the sexual body and the preference for the body of the worker attached to the hoe or the plow. According to Esther Fuchs, sexuality and eroticism are subordinated to the national project. (p. 305) Such emphasis prevented the exploration of individualism that is fundamental in shattering the female stereotype as the object that is needed only to reinforce men and the Zionist agenda. The Arabs, on the other hand, first served as the enemy for the eventual Israeli triumph and later on would recede in the landscape to support the Zionist enterprise and to allow the theme of recent immigrants discovering their Hebrew identities.

Arab women are not given dialogues in most early Israeli films and that the few sequences that depicted them were mostly to portray characters of exotic Orientals. The Arabs were required in the films because they functioned as background elements against which the Israeli identity and culture built upon. The others – the women and the Arabs - were considered to be repulsive elements that the masculine hero in films must be ceased to be identified with or must do away with in order to be united with the more attractive Zionist identity.

During the 1960s a new era started to emerge in the Israeli cinema. An examination of the films produced during this time an onwards would lead one to conclude that their attempts are obvious to expose what the earlier films have repressed and to explore a new situation beyond the focus on the male-Zionist convergence.

Specifically, themes revolved around those that neither delegitimized other groups nor disregard multiple identities of which the Hebrew-Israeli nation itself is composed. (Abramson, p. 70) This theme that is critical of the repression of Zionist culture could still be found in recent Israeli film releases.  

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