Meni Ya’ish’s 2012 film God’s Neighbors marks a significant cultural moment in the legitimation of Jewish religiosity in Israel and records an important moment in the country’s metamorphosis in recent years, marking a change from a secular, liberal society to a more fundamentalist religious one. The film demonstrates this change in three interrelated ways. First, by combining Jewish religiosity with a powerful and aggressive Israeli Mizrahi masculine identity, the film re-legitimizes Jewish religiosity, presents it as attractive and sexy, and declares it as the new Israeli hegemony. Second, by abstaining from killing members of a rival Arab gang, the film symbolically minimizes the conflict between Jews and Arabs and advances the importance of mythical Jewish time over Zionist historical time. Finally, by ending happily with a union between Avi and his girl Miri, the film provides a neat closure that offers an alluringly simple hasidic-like tale to Jewish life in Israel today. As such, the film marks the decline of Israeli Statism and the rise of alternative redemptive narratives in Israel that are primarily religious.


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pp. 64-86
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