A different war, a different sex : gay identity politics in Israeli cinema



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis deals with gay identity politics and its relation to the Zionist ethos as it is portrayed in several Israeli films. It primarily analyzes two different points of view of two film directors whose homosexuality plays a central role in their cinematic work – Amos Gutman and Eytan Fox – and examines the way they perceive their gay lived experience. Analyzing Gutman’s Drifting (1983), Bar 51 (1985), and Himmo, King of Jerusalem (1987), I show how he encloses himself in his own queer universe and demands to be acknowledged as such, practicing his authenticity separately from the hegemonic discourse. On the other hand, the sexual politics in Fox’s Yossi & Jagger (2002) and Yossi (2012), suggests that homosexual men should join the national hegemonic space while ignoring their otherness. Since the films in question use the Zionist narrative and the national identity of their protagonists as points of reference, these two approaches are discussed in relation to the Zionist ethos. Several other films with similar points of reference are analyzed as well, including Fox’s Time Off (1990), Walk on Water (2004) and The Bubble (2006), Dan Wolman’s Hide & Seek (1979), Ayelet Menachemi’s Crows (1987), Nadav Gal’s A Different War (2003), Yair Hochner’s Good Boys (2005), and Mysh Rozanov’s Watch over Me (2010). Discussing the Zionist ethos, I emphasize Daniel Boyarin’s concept of the parallel between Jewishness, queerness, and abnormality. I show how the Zionist yearning for normalcy (the wish ‘to be like all nations’) and the identification of the homosexual as abnormal are embodied in the cinematic representations. The analysis in this thesis is mainly based on queer theory, as it strives to deconstruct and destabilize the traditional binaries of heterosexuality and show how the hegemonic discourse is based on those limited binaries. It challenges any political discourse that by naturalizing heterosexuality enforces heteronormative practices. By highlighting queer marginality in the cinematic text and linking it with elements of post-colonial theory and its analysis of the other, I show how gay identity politics discourse subverts or yields to the Zionist ethos.