Israel and How the World Views Its Identity
by Brendan Locke
The idea of Israelis and the Jewish community and what their identity has become is defined differently across the world. Throughout the world, in communities outside of Israel, the perception of Israelis is often through a single story. In this single story, it is usually included that the person imaged is Jewish. Despite the country including large numbers of individuals that don’t belong to the Jewish community, Israelis are often assumed to be Jewish. Also belonging to the stereotypical image of what an Israeli looks like are the typical features of an orthodox jew, including the all-black robes, Shtreimel hats, and side curls. Not only does this single-story include looks but it also includes the perception of what Israel is and how Israelis live. Often Israel is judged by the wars and conflict that it is in the middle of, and because of this, the lifestyle of an average Israeli is overlooked by these images of war. In the film, Fill the Void, directed by Rama Burshtein, we see the contrast of the images of what a stereotypical Israeli looks like and the true representation, to show global viewers the difference between their stereotypical image and the truth. Burshtein includes specific universal concepts to show international viewers that though Israelis have their differences, they also have similarities in their values with the rest of the world.
Throughout the film Burshtein reveals the universal values and themes of family and grief to show that an Israeli film can go beyond the war and conflict and focus on the things in life that apply to all nations. These perennial themes (Deshpande and Mazaj, 106) are what make Fill The Void a valuable film to world cinema because they reflect the universal themes that make cinema authentic to all of the human race, not just one country. In Israel, the news and television as a whole are often covered with the politics and conflict that Israel is dealing with. The image of Israel as a country constantly at war and conflict is one of the first that comes to mind for communities around the world outside of Israel. However, films like Fill The Void provide international viewers to take in a perspective of what Israel looks like in daily life and allows them to see the similarities they have with Israel. Films like Fill the Void also give Israelis the opportunity to have more nationalism and take pride in their lives, and show global audiences that not all Israelis fall under the stereotypes. The perspective that films like Fill the Void give to international viewers, as well as the nationalism it brings to Israelis, shows how film can allow countries to be represented in the way they wish and should be represented, in order for the world to understand what is going on under the shell of stereotypes.
- Avisar, Ilan. “The National and the Popular in Israeli Cinema.” Shofar, vol. 24, no. 1, 2005, pp. 125-144.
- Burshtein, Rama, director. Fill The Void. Assaf Amir, 2012.