Liel Leibovitz pens a touching eulogy today in Tablet Magazine for Yosef Shiloach, the great Israeli comic actor who died of cancer Monday at 69. A native of Kurdistan, Shiloach’s typical role found him playing a mizrachi Jew, sending up relations between that group, on the one hand, and the imperious (and in-charge) Ashkenazim on the other. (He also at one point voiced Ernie on Israeli Sesame Street). “Like all good satire,” Liebovitz writes of Shiloach’s films,
they were also extraordinarily nimble vehicles with which to explore complicated subjects like race, class, gender, and religion. Laughing with Shiloach’s clowns, Israelis had a chance—to use the parlance of psychotherapy—to work through the childhood traumas that plagued the young nation and learn to blunt their fears, drives, and divides.
In his later years, Shiloach was a vocal opponent of the Israeli occupation.