Yosef Shiloach - Emil Salman
Yosef Shiloach at the start of last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival. Photo by Emil Salman
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The actor Yosef Shiloach died yesterday following a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

Shiloach was best known for his unforgettable appearances in Israeli comedies such as "Hagiga B'Snuker" and "Alex Holeh Ahavah." In 2009, he received a lifetime achievement award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. Shiloach specified in his will that he did not want a funeral or the traditional shivah seven-day period of mourning. His wife and three daughters are honoring his wishes.

Shiloach was born in Kurdistan in 1941 and immigrated to Israel at the age of 9. He was in the first graduating class at the Beit Zvi acting school, and in 1964, he appeared in his first film - "Mishpahat Simhon."

He went on to appear in dozens of movies and television shows, including three films that were Oscar nominees for best foreign film: "Ha-Shoter Azulai," 1970, written and directed by Ephraim Kishon; "Ani Ohev Otach Rosa" (1972 ) and Moshe Mizrahi's "Ha-Bayit Berechov Chelouche."

Among his other Israeli films were "Hatzilu Et HaMatzil" (1977 ), "Melech LeYom Ehad" (1982 ) and "Kikar Ha-Halomot," for which he was awarded the Israeli Film Academy's Ophir Award for best supporting actor.

Many of Shiloach's movies were considered "bourekas films," ethnic melodramas in which he mainly played comic roles - often caricatures with a heavy Persian accent. He also acted in several American movies, including "Rambo III," "Not Without My Daughter" and "The Mummy Lives." His last film role was in "Yamim Shel Ahava," directed in 2005 by Menahem Golan.

In the late 1980s, Shiloach lived abroad for a few years after staging a pro-Palestinian play, "Hamasa" ("The Journey" ). In a 1989 interview with film critic Meir Schnitzer in Haaretz, Shiloach protested his treatment at the hands of Israel's Ashkenazi film establishment. "I am an actor, period," he said. "Someone comes along and out of motives I still do not agree with decided to categorize me in a different way. Someone decided that I am a Mizrahi actor, and made me part of his method. ... They never gave me a significant role." He went on to describe how he was cast successively in Arab roles after the 1967 Six-Day War and as a Mizrahi in scenes about the Israeli Black Panthers protest movement.

Shiloach took part in a many stage plays, and in 1999, he and Jorge Gurvich made the documentary film "Rig'ei Hesed."

Katriel Schory, executive director of the Israel Film Fund, called Shiloach, a member of the fund's board of directors, a "fully engaged partner who contributed to us much of his rich experience. His image was of someone who played many comic roles, but he was a very serious, caring and politically active person."

The actor and director Ze'ev Revach related yesterday that he and Shiloach, who were in the same class at Beit Zvi, "lived together for a few years in the same rented apartment, dreamed the same dreams and praise God he realized them. He was a wonderful actor and it is terrible to speak of him in the past tense."