Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Canadians to the Rescue!

I came across an interesting clip from CBC tonight saying that Israel recently optioned the rights to Little Mosque on the Prairie, a Canadian television sitcom that follows the ups and downs of a small Muslim community in Canada previously mentioned here.

CBC tries a little too hard to create a link between the positive reception to LMOP and a possible thawing of relations between Jews and Muslims in Israel. Plus, it is, of course, much easier to feel at ease with humorous characters of any religious background on TV than to confront generations-old battles in your own backyard.

The show succeeds because it humanizes its subject with warmth and humor, and most importantly a light touch, as it simultaneously tries to address heavier issues of integration, prejudice, assimilation, etc. In a country as tough and hardbitten as Israel, some of LMOP's plots may come across as fluffy or even worse, unfunny. But even light comedy, smartly done, can affect change where much else has failed and a feel-good Canadian sitcom may be as good a place to start as any.

Racism Up Close

I apologize for my lengthy absence, but am eager to dive back in!

On September 24, Mustapha Kessous, a journalist for Le Monde, wrote a piece detailing the prejudices that he must confront daily as an Arab male in French society. Kessous' article resulted in a record number of comments on the Le Monde website, many of them with similar testimonials detailing the author’s own experiences of discrimination.

France's leaders have, for too long, pushed aside the significant problem of race and prejudice in French society. Perhaps this article, and its overwhelming response, will underscore the significance of this reality and encourage the French government, and by extension the larger French society, to address this issue head-on rather than spend its time banning headscarves and willfully ignoring the real anger that fuels the annual violent riots in the banlieues.