The politicization of the Holocaust has been reflected in Israeli culture from the late 1940s in cinema, literature, theater, and poetry; in the last several decades, it has also been depicted on Israeli television. Most of the representations of the Holocaust in the first decades of Israel’s existence were dramatic. But from the 1990s onward, Israelis also began to address the subject through satire. The case studies in this article focus on the satirical skits performed on episodes of The Chamber Quintet (Hahamishia Hakamerit; Matar Productions, Channel 2-Tela’ad, Channel 1, 1993–1997) and Wonderful Country (Eretz Nehederet; Keshet Productions, Channel 2-Keshet, 2003–2014). Diverging from arguments that these humorous skits addressing the Holocaust disrespect the Holocaust and its survivors, this article maintains that they instead articulate the powerful position the Holocaust holds as a constituting event in the consciousness and identity of younger generations in Israel.
This study explores the interrelations between humorous texts and the memory of traumatic events through an analysis of skits aired on Israeli television that are related to Holocaust memory. The study presents a typology of these skits indicating an evolutionary development: from the use of humor to criticize Holocaust remembrance to the use of Holocaust memory to create humorous effects. Contextualizing these findings in the fields of media memory and trauma theory, the study argues that this evolutionary development challenges the hegemonic commemorative discourse of the Holocaust: while commemorative discourse plays a distinctive role in performing cultural trauma, the media’s humorous discourse conveys a sacrilegious viewpoint and thus can play a vital role in recuperating from it.