Noam Shuster has a unique ability to find humour in conflict – a skill she no doubt picked up in her former life as a UN peacebuilder.
But now, rather than speaking on conference stages, the young Israeli is telling jokes on the stages of comedy clubs. Her journey from activist to comedian and her often headline-grabbing political satire are the focus of, ‘Reckoning with Laughter: Noam Shuster returns to Israel’, a new documentary from Al Jazeera’s Witness.
The film opens at the Harvard Divinity School in the United States, just before the coronavirus forced the world into lockdown, where we meet Shuster as a fellow in the school’s Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative working on one-woman show “Coexistence My Ass”.
As the pandemic takes hold, she is forced to return to Israel where she ends up living in quarantine at a Jerusalem hotel after contracting the virus. While there, living among a truly multicultural group of patients, she sees what life for Israeli Jews and Palestinians could look like if they were all treated the same. But that very brief vision of utopia quickly fades when she leaves “Hotel Corona” and is immediately thrust back into reality.
In this episode of The Stream, we sit down with Shuster and Amber Fares, who directed the film, to discuss being a comedian and an activist in a community that often welcomes neither.
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