Why so serious?

The other day my friend Martin sent me a link to an article at Haaretz about Why there are no Israeli Superheroes? Well, first of all that’s not entirely true, as the Marvel universe has Sabra, but she’s hardly a home grown superhero. Not to mention her silly origin story. Or as this article in MyJewishLearning.com says, referring to a recent incarnation, “it also feels a little bit like the writer, Matt Yocum, got most of his information about Israel from a quick Google search.” Which seems to be how non-Israelis understand Israel. Sabra is an Israeli super solider who works for the Mossad. Zohan, another offering from abroad is more of the same, although there is much in Zohan that is spot on in it’s depiction of Israelis,

In the middle east, no is only the opening of negotiations!

Basically the non-Israeli world sees Israel as a military superpower, (which is true to an extent), and extrapolates that to mean that any Israeli superhero, by definition, comes from, or is attached, to the military. And that is partially one of the main reasons why I think there are no home grown fictional Israeli superheroes of the comic book sort, we don’t have to create them, as we have a constant pool of real life superheroes among us.

Am I a superhero?

When a significant percentage of the population serves in the military, and about one tenth of those are in combat positions, the degree of separation from a trained combat solider who has been in combat goes down. There are few Israelis who don’t have someone close to them who has seen combat, and when you factor in civilian victims of terror attacks, the short distance between the reality of life and death in Israeli society precludes the necessity of creating fictional characters with essentially magical powers to fight, well just about anything…

Major Roi Klein, z”l.

As a society we take it in stride, and yet the seriousness of the life and death struggle when it confronts us is not fertile ground for the creation of those who defy the laws of nature to perform supernatural feats. In regards to Israeli cinema, aside from a very few exceptions, Ari Folman’s very bizarre yet sweet Saint Clara (קלרה הקדושה) comes to mind, we aren’t likely to see a home grown comic book style Israeli superhero culture anytime soon. In the meantime we’ll just have to rely on the diaspora.

Magneto, otherwise known as Eric Lehnsherr, Holocaust survivor

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