Academia Responds to Channel 2 Sitcom 'Arab Labor'

Controversial series creator and actor to participate in a panel hosted by Haifa university.

The University of Haifa will host a seminar next week on the Channel 2 hit sitcom "Arab Labor."

The series, now in its second season, is highly controversial in Israel's Arab community and has engendered criticism in the mainstream Israeli press over its treatment of delicate issues of discrimination, religion and coexistence.

The series' main character is Amjad Alian, an Israeli-Arab journalist living and working in Jerusalem, who tries desperately and often to comic effect, to fit into mainstream - Jewish - society.

Participating in the seminar are Sayed Kashua, the series creator and writer and a regular Haaretz columnist, lead actor Norman Issa, representatives of the Keshet Channel 2 franchisee and several leading Arab literary and academic figures. The panel, organized in conjunction with Keshet, will be chaired by the broadcaster and journalist Zuheir Bahalul.

Participants will view one of the first season's most controversial episodes, dealing with commemoration of Independence Day by the majority of Israelis, and of the Palestinian Nakba by members of the Arab minority.

Topics on the agenda include the series' representation of Israel's Arab community, its effect on the community's image and the use of stereotypes in the interest of comedy.