Home News Pinkwashing the Occupation: Narratives of Interracial Homosexual Relations in Israeli Movie

Pinkwashing the Occupation: Narratives of Interracial Homosexual Relations in Israeli Movie


The digital camera focuses on a soldier standing at a checkpoint, inspecting Palestinians who’re crossing into Israel to work. He’s holding a rifle and wearing full uniform and protecting gear, but he couldn’t care much less. He’s counting the minutes till he finishes his reserve obligation and may return to his life in a liberal bubble in Tel-Aviv. “All the boys, stand in two traces and take your shirts off slowly”. Ashraf lifts his shirt up, revealing his bare chest to the soldier checking him out. They change lengthy appears, longer than crucial, and the soldier’s curiosity is piqued. 

This scene opens the film ‘The Bubble’, a tragic love story between two Israeli and Palestinian males whose relationship turns into interwoven with the Israeli-Palestinian battle. The film depicts how the interdependent and protracted nature of the Israeli-Palestinian battle invades all facets of Israeli and Palestinian societies, together with love, sexuality, and well-liked tradition. ‘Forbidden love’ tales between Israelis and Palestinians are frequent in Israeli tradition, but obtain outraged reactions, going so far as to ban such books in colleges (Kashti 2015). The Israeli narrative on interracial relationships is dominated by heteronormative assumptions, specializing in procreation and the safety of harmless girls from devious males (Engelberg 2017: 232). Due to this fact, homosexual representations of Israeli-Palestinian encounters kind a novel narrative, which may shed mild to the position of ethnonationalism and normativity inside the Israeli homosexual neighborhood. The next paper discusses cultural representations of homosexual relationships between folks from opposing ethnic and nationwide teams. Specializing in the Israeli-Palestinian battle as a case examine, I’ll reply the analysis query: How are gay relations between Israelis and Palestinians represented in Israeli cinema?

This paper will contribute to the rising physique of literature on well-liked tradition and world politics, aiming to spotlight the connection between cinematic representations and gendered discourse manufacturing. Thus, this paper pertains to a broader try and widen the worldwide relations analysis agenda past a slender understanding of energy and politics (Weldes and Rowley 2015). All through this paper, I’ll discover the Israeli homosexual discourse on interracial relations, specializing in representations of energy inequalities of the occupation, sexuality, and masculinity. 

Theoretical Framework:

Feminist students have lengthy argued that gender and sexuality are inseparable from battle and safety research. Nonetheless, the educational dialogue round intercourse and battle has thus far failed to handle consensual intercourse and romance throughout battle divides, as such relations are perceived as personal and irrelevant to battle research. Moreover, a lot of the current literature makes use of heteronormative framing and neglects the experiences of the LGBTQ neighborhood beneath battle (Hagen 2016: 325). With a view to tackle this literature hole, I’ll focus on the principle ideas related to the analysis query and discover the present literature on sexuality, battle, and well-liked tradition. 

This paper is written from a poststructural feminist strategy, which goals to know social meanings and uncover underlying energy buildings. Poststructuralism argues that information and science are by no means impartial however reproduce hegemonic pursuits and concepts. In response to poststructuralists, the discursive manufacturing of gender is a political observe that creates hierarchal binary classes and heteronormative concepts of masculinity and femininity (Shepherd 2015: 12). Poststructuralists criticize mainstream IR for disregarding well-liked tradition as ‘low’ politics, and as a substitute spotlight the significance of cultural artifacts within the manufacturing of nationwide narratives (Weldes and Rowley 2015). Weldes and Rowley argue that well-liked tradition not solely displays actuality, however constitutes world politics by way of discourse manufacturing (ibid.). For instance, states deploy popular culture for nation-branding, shaping the worldwide picture and place of the state. Laura Shepherd defines tv as a very essential website for the ‘manufacturing, circulation and typically the contestation of, meanings’ (Shepherd 2013: 2). Thus, crucial reflections of tv purpose to know the development of data and social classes (idem: 3). 

On this paper, I discover the idea of masculinity (specifically non-hegemonic masculinity) from a poststructuralist perspective. Feminist analysis is paying growing consideration to the position of masculinity within the development of political energy and militarized violence (Duriesmith 2014: 239). Masculinity buildings expectations from males, making a hierarchy that locations males who fail to realize the beliefs of manhood as subordinate to different males (for instance, homosexual males who fail to fulfill heteronormative expectations) (idem: 242). Thus, homosexual males are historically excluded from the masculine energy construction of the state. Poststructural students deal with the constructed meanings of masculinity, arguing that the efficiency of masculinity is filled with contradictions (idem: 241). All through the paper, I’ll discover how subordinate masculine identities are constructed and represented inside a violent battle context that relies on militarized masculinity.

Queer scholarship additionally makes an attempt to broaden the IR analysis agenda, by investigating the connection between sexual norms and worldwide energy buildings. Queer theories search to destabilize binary understandings of gender and sexuality and examine the position of heteronormative frameworks in world politics (Richter-Montpetit 2018: 225). Richter-Montpetit differentiates between a queer perspective, which is a radical dedication to destabilizing norms, and an LGBT perspective that focuses on inclusion inside citizenship regimes (idem: 223). Due to this fact, on this paper I distinguish between queer and homosexual communities, with the previous group disrupting hetero-cisnormative assumptions, and the latter constituting homonormative concepts (I exploit the time period homosexual as this paper primarily explores the homosexual males neighborhood, not the broader LGBT neighborhood). 

Jasbir Puar (2007: 9), a queer theorist, coined the time period ‘homonationalism’ to outline how discourse on LGBT inclusion hyperlinks LGBT rights to nationalist and imperialist agendas. Puar argues that homonationalism regulates normative gayness and reinforces nationwide norms of inclusion and exclusion, creating slender situations of LGBT inclusion (idem: 2). Thus, nationwide inclusion relies on the reinforcement of white dominance and the exclusion of racial others and non-normative queers (ibid.). Cynthia Weber claims that this results in the nationwide incorporation of a restricted homosexual determine, the conventional or patriot homosexual who’s deemed respectable by the state (Richter-Montpetit 2018: 230). The nationalized homosexual determine is mobilized to exclude the ‘perverse homosexual’ and justify neoliberal and colonial agendas. Queer theories purpose to dismantle such nationalized narratives and LGBT regulating regimes. 

Nonetheless, there may be an in depth educational debate between postcolonial students in regards to the ties between the LGBT neighborhood and colonialism. In his guide, wanting Arabs, Joseph Massad criticized the worldwide homosexual motion for training Western colonialism and fetishizing homosexual Arabs.  Massad argues that the ‘homosexual worldwide’ imposes Western classes on Arab folks with same-sex attraction, erasing the wealthy historical past of same-sex practices within the Arab world (Massad 2002: 364). Due to this fact, Massad criticizes homosexual Arabs for subscribing to Western discourse, which ends up in repression by the state. Nonetheless, Massad has been criticized closely for cultural relativism and for dismissing queer Arab identities. Rao criticizes Massad for policing sexual and gender expressions, whereas Birdal highlights Massad’s erasure of Arab LGBT company.

Ritchie (2010: 566) builds on Massad’s principle to argue that the Israeli LGBT neighborhood takes a missionary strategy in the direction of LGBT Palestinians. Israeli LGBT reinforce Western liberal supremacy and purpose to ‘liberate’ homosexual Palestinians from their ‘backwards’ Oriental society (ibid.). Thus, Israeli gays try to control Palestinian gays, conditioning their acceptance to the liberal LGBT neighborhood in accordance with a victimhood trope (idem: 568). Nonetheless, Ritchie additionally criticizes Massad for denying queer Palestinian company, and as a substitute argues that queer Palestinians create radical options to each Palestinian and Israeli norms (ibid.). Equally, Byrne argues that Israeli representations erase the company of queer Palestinians by framing them as victims of the Palestinian society (Byrne 2013: 140). This victimizing discourse is an extension of the Israeli occupation and homonationalism, pinkwashing Israeli management over the Palestinian inhabitants by framing it by way of progressive phrases (idem: 134).

Lastly, theories of colonialism and Orientalism are helpful for understanding the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian battle. Whereas the Israeli occupation of Palestine is a novel and nuanced scenario, theories of colonialism are helpful for explaining the ability relations in a context of Western settler occupation. Students of colonialism have mentioned extensively the position of need and sexuality inside militarized colonial rule. In response to Bryder (1998: 808), management over sexuality was a central political mechanism in British colonies and was used to keep up white privilege and a way of innate superiority. Social and authorized norms of sexual and romantic separation between races is used to maintains a binary hierarchy between the occupier and the occupied, the civilized and the barbaric (Yosef 2002: 553). Younger, a postcolonial theorist who explored the idea of hybridity, argued that colonial obsession with intercourse arose from the exoticization of black sexuality (Younger 1994: 102). Younger claims that nervousness over hybridity displays a heterosexual nervousness, because it revolves round considerations of copy and racial purity (idem: 24). Thus, “[racial] hybridity and homosexuality coincide to develop into recognized with one another, specifically as types of degeneration” (ibid.). Yosef, an Israeli queer scholar, claims that racial and heterosexual anxieties are heightened in Israel by the historic context of Jewish sexuality. Within the diaspora, the masculine Jewish physique was seen as inferior, and Jews had been related to homosexuality and perversion (Yosef 2002: 557). Due to this fact, the Zionist motion is obsessive about the normalization of Jewish sexuality and the development of a brand new, hegemonic, Jewish masculinity (ibid.).


The paper employs a case examine analysis design to analyse the manufacturing of homosexual discourse on safety and battle by way of well-liked tradition. The Israeli-Palestinian battle is taken because the case examine, representing an excessive case of an extended and interdependent battle that has intensive direct results on all facets of civilian life, together with tradition and sexuality. By utilizing a case examine design, I purpose to create a framework that’s transferable to a broader inhabitants of violent conflicts. Nonetheless, I additionally recognizing the worth of nuanced, case-specific understandings and the contextualization of educational information. 

As a poststructuralist, I consider within the significance of self-reflexivity when conducting analysis. As an Israeli, the Israeli-Palestinian battle has all the time been central in my life: I used to be raised in a Zionist, militarized atmosphere, but I strongly object to the occupation. I refused to serve within the Israeli army, as an act of protest towards the oppression of the Palestinian inhabitants. I continually mirror on my id and privileges as an Israeli, as I did whereas penning this paper. Due to this fact, I don’t declare to characterize Palestinian voices, however to critically analyse Israeli narratives. As a queer girl, I think about myself a member of the Israeli LGBT neighborhood. I’ve a deep appreciation for filmmakers corresponding to Eytan Fox and Amos Guttman (who can be mentioned on this paper) who had been important in shaping an Israeli homosexual id, but I’m additionally capable of criticize their use of nationalist tropes. 

The Movies:

The paper focuses on representations inside homosexual cinema, which is a key aspect for understanding the principle Israeli homosexual discourse. In response to Cohen (2011: 1), “cinema, as a major supply of homosexual cultural manufacturing in Israel, has outlined homosexual id for the reason that late Nineteen Seventies”. As a result of lack of any lesbian illustration in Israeli cinema (not to mention bisexual or trans illustration), I’ll solely have the option deal with movies depicting homosexual males. The movies had been chosen in accordance with the next standards: industrial fictional function movies produced by Israeli homosexual males, that painting specific relationships between Israeli and Palestinian males as (one in every of) the principle relationships of the movies. These standards result in three movies: 

Drifting (1982) by Amos Guttman: Roby is a younger homosexual man who lives along with his homophobic grandmother and needs to make the primary Israeli homosexual film. Roby’s life could be very lonely, he’s rejected by each the Israeli society and the homosexual organizations. Apart from his ardour of filmmaking, he’s additionally obsessed with males, steadily going to homosexual cruising areas and bringing strangers dwelling. At some point, Roby brings dwelling two Palestinian males who had been injured, assumingly whereas making an attempt a terror assault. Roby takes care of them and makes use of them to ease his loneliness, regardless of his helpless grandmother’s disapproval. 

The Bubble (2006) by Eytan Fox and Gal Uchovsky: Noam is a liberal homosexual man who lives in Tel Aviv along with his mates Lulu and Yali. When Noam meets Ashraf at a checkpoint, they fall in love and Ashraf strikes into their Tel-Aviv condo, adopting a faux Israeli id. After his actual id is by accident reveals, Ashraf returns to his household in Palestine, but Noam follows him and outs him to his brother-in-law, Jihad. Jihad, a violent extremist, plans a terror assault in Tel-Aviv which injures Yali, and the Israeli army responds by killing Ashraf’s sister. Realizing that he has no future in Palestine nor Israel, Ashraf turns into a suicide bomber in an act of desperation. The film ends when Ashraf units off a bomb, killing himself and Noam. 

Out within the Darkish (2012) by Michael Mayer: Nimr and Roy meet at a homosexual bar and fall in love. Nimr hides his sexuality and relationship from his homophobic Palestinian household and makes use of his training allow to go to Roy in Tel-Aviv. Nonetheless, the Israeli Safety Company finds out and threatens to out Nimr to his household if he doesn’t develop into an informant for them. Sadly, Nimr’s brother, a terrorist, finds out he’s homosexual anyhow and kicks him out, threatening to kill him if he returns. Nimr escapes to Roy’s condo, but they quickly understand that the Safety Company is looking for Nimr, and Nimr is compelled to flee to France as a refugee. 


Within the evaluation, I apply the theoretical framework to the movies and focus on the discourse they reproduce on masculine expectations, sexuality and hybridity, and homosexual Palestinian identities.

The movies of their historic context:

First, with a view to absolutely comprehend the narrative of the movies, I’ll situate them of their historic context and focus on how political modifications can have an effect on illustration in popular culture. All three films characterize totally different time intervals and phases of the occupation, revealing the altering understandings of Israeli-Palestinian relations from the Nineteen Eighties till right now. Drifting, launched in 1982, came about earlier than the Oslo Accords of 1993, which restricted the motion of Palestinians, granted autonomy to some Palestinian areas, and established the self-governing Palestinian Authorities (Rosler 2016: 55). The obscure borders of the Nineteen Eighties permitted the informal encounters between Israeli and Palestinian males in Drifting. Whereas Roby stays in his room, he stares by way of the window bars and watches Palestinians sitting and speaking in Arabic overtly on the street, creating the picture that Roby is extra restricted as a homosexual man than Palestinians (Avitzur 2007). In distinction, each The Bubble and Out within the Darkish happen after the Oslo Accords and painting the entire segregation of Israeli and Palestinian societies and the heavy restrictions of actions Palestinians face. When organizing a celebration towards the occupation, the younger leftist group in The Bubble realizes they have no idea any Palestinians to ask, or how get Palestinians into Israel. 

The Bubble was launched not lengthy after the second Intifada ended, a interval marked by excessive violence towards civilians. Due to this fact, Noam and Ashraf are interconnected by the inescapable cycle of violence of the early 2000s: Ashraf’s brother-in-law deliberate a terror assault that injured Noam’s flatmate, which led to a army raid that killed Ashraf’s sister, which led Ashraf to develop into a suicide bomber, killing him and Noam. The battle outlined each side of Noam’s and Ashraf’s lives since childhood, as Ashraf’s household was focused by home demolitions and Noam blames his mom’s illness on the difficulties of the battle. 

Representations of non-normative masculinities:

The movies discover questions on masculinity, sexuality and race, reproducing masculine expectations and homonormativity. In The Bubble and Out within the Darkish, the principle characters all characterize masculine homosexual males and fail to problem gendered expectations. For instance, Noam judges his homosexual pal for listening to pop music and boy bands, suggesting the rolling stones as a substitute. The Jewish protagonists, Noam and Roy, are each Ashkenazi (white within the Israeli context) and reinforce nationalist and neoliberal values – Noam as a reserve soldier and Roy as a profitable company lawyer. Due to this fact, the principle characters provide ‘straightforward to swallow’ normative homosexual identities that don’t problem hegemonic masculinity, reinforcing the patriot and neoliberal homosexual determine. Thus, the movies display the boundaries of nationwide LGBT inclusion and illustration in mainstream popular culture. Each movies characterize ‘femme’ homosexual identities solely as secondary characters who behave ‘stereotypically homosexual’. In Out within the Darkish, Mustafa, a femme queer Palestinian, meets his tragic demise by the hands of the Israeli Safety Company and homophobic Palestinian terrorists. In The Bubble, Golan, who’s courting Yali, is each hyperfeminine and hypermasculine on the identical time, making a caricature picture of homosexual and Sephardic stereotypes that’s ridiculed all through the film. Golan and Mustafa, as non-white female males who’re denied a cheerful ending, characterize the racialized and gendered restrictions of nationwide inclusion. 

Drifting, however, tells the story of the ‘perverted’ homosexual one that can’t be included in society. Homosexual life in Drifting is depicted as lonely and melancholic, and Roby is struggling to discover a place the place he feels welcomed. In his opening monologue, Roby displays on his life as a homosexual man and on the necessities for societal acceptance: “Perhaps if the hero was politically conscious. Not less than have him be soldier, come from the periphery, serve on a warship, be spiritual, be a struggle widow. But when he have to be homosexual, at the very least make him endure. Don’t let him take pleasure in it”. Roby identifies a direct hyperlink between militarized masculinity and homosexual inclusion, criticizing the tropes he should match into with a view to be accepted. As Weber argues, the normative homosexual is posed towards the perverted homosexual, regulating the suitable methods to precise sexuality primarily based on nationalist narratives. 

Narratives on racial hybridity and Palestinian sexuality: 

In all movies, Palestinian males are represented by way of the Israeli gaze, typically resulting in superficial and stereotypical understandings of Palestinian sexuality. In Drifting, the Palestinian characters are assumed to be terrorists and characterize hypermasculine Orientalist traits: they’re darkish, furry, muscular, and mysterious. The Palestinians’ sexuality isn’t mentioned, and their names or backgrounds are unknown – they exist solely to please the Israeli protagonist. Thus, the movie invokes Orientalist tropes of Arabs who’re fetishized by the West. By reinforcing stereotypes and assuring Roby’s dominance within the scene, the film maintains the Western-Oriental and occupier-occupied binary hierarchies even by way of sexual encounters. Thus, Drifting conforms to colonial and Zionist racial anxieties and maintains the supremacy of the Jewish male physique. 

Equally, The Bubble additionally reinforces Orientalist tropes of the masculine homosexual Arab. To start with of the film, the sexual roles of Ashraf and Noam are very clear, with Ashraf taking the position of the highest who pleases Noam. Nonetheless, by the tip of the film, after Ashraf lived beneath a faux Israeli id and assimilated into the liberal bubble of Tel-Aviv, the sexual roles are reversed for the primary time. This scene marks Ashraf’s initiation into the Western homosexual neighborhood as he commits to the Israeli homosexual life-style and leaves the homosexual Arab trope behind. Thus, each movies regulate Arab sexuality, dictating how homosexual Arabs ought to categorical their sexuality and which behaviour will be accepted by the West. The movies exemplify how popular culture each displays and reproduces discourse that oversimplifies and lessens Arab homosexual males, reinforcing colonial energy buildings. 

Moreover, The Bubble renders tragic violence as an inevitable ending for affairs between Israelis and Palestinians, sending a warning sign towards racial hybridity. The film is filled with hints in the direction of its violent ending, for instance in a dialog between Noam and Ashraf after they’ve intercourse:

Noam: “We had been explosive”
Ashraf: “Explosive?”
Noam: “You don’t know that phrase?”
Ashraf: “I do, it’s once you explode one thing, a bomb”
Noam: “Explosion will also be one thing that’s actually good. Good intercourse is explosive.”

This scene predicts Noam’s and Ashraf’s demise by explosion, creating the sensation that their relationship was doomed from the beginning. Thus, the film reveals Israeli-Palestinian relationships as harmful and unimaginable, sustaining the social taboo on such affairs. 

Pinkwashing and the homosexual Palestinian sufferer trope:

For his or her first official date, Noam took Ashraf to look at a play about homosexual love within the holocaust. “I preferred how they might run their finger over their eyebrow as a substitute of claiming I really like you” Ashraf tells Noam, referring to a secret sign of affection between males that was used within the play. “Good factor we don’t want that anymore”, Noam replies. “Perhaps in Tel-Aviv you don’t”. 

This interplay between Ashraf and Noam exemplifies the repetitive comparability between Israel and Palestine all through the movie. Israel (or extra particularly, Tel-Aviv) is seen as extraordinarily liberal, a spot the place the homosexual liberation wrestle is not crucial. Palestine, in distinction, is represented by every part intolerant: Ashraf’s household refuses to simply accept him and he’s surrounded by excessive politics and terrorism. An analogous narrative is seen in Out within the Darkish, when Nimr fears for his life and should escape Palestine with a view to attain Israel’s ‘progressive’ haven. This illustration pinkwashes the Israeli occupation, in search of worldwide help for the ‘progressive Westerners’ who’re combating ‘homophobic terrorists’. As Byrne (2013: 136) argues, “pinkwashing skirts the human rights violations of colonial and army occupation, as a substitute focusing its gaze upon the purported homosexual rights violations perpetuated towards Palestinians by Palestinians”.

Furthermore, the storyline of Out within the Darkish depends on homonationalist norms that assume Israeli supremacy. Roy is Nimr’s saviour, giving him refuge when he should flee his household, and arranging his escape path to France. Roy takes Nimr to attorneys who may also help him get journey permits and makes use of his father’s connections to assist Nimr. Whereas Nimr sits passively and helplessly in Roy’s condo, Roy is on the telephone demanding permits for Nimr. Thus, the movie victimizes homosexual Palestinians and reinforces a ‘white saviour’ narrative about homosexual Israelis. The truth is, the principle criticism of the film in regards to the Israeli authorities is towards the difficulties homosexual Palestinians face when looking for refuge in Israel, ignoring the oppression Palestinians expertise beneath the Israeli occupation. This narrative builds on different gendered colonial tropes – as a substitute of Spivak’s “white males who’re saving brown girls from brown males” (Spivak 1994: 93), the movie presents white homosexual males who’re saving brown homosexual males from homophobic (white and brown) males. This discourse resembles Massad’s evaluation of the ‘homosexual worldwide’ that claims to liberate oppressed queer Arabs. Nimr’s company is taken away, and he stays powerless and unvoiced subsequent to his Western companion. 

Each The Bubble and Out within the Darkish had been screened around the globe to a world viewers as a part of an try to enhance Israel’s world picture. The Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition, the place each movies had been proven, is a recognized website for the ‘Model Israel’ marketing campaign (Jankovic 2013: 101). Launched by the Israeli Ministry of Overseas Affairs, ‘Model Israel’ emphasised Israel’s progressive and Western parts with a view to achieve worldwide help (ibid.). Due to this fact, the worldwide context of the movies additional proves their promotion of homonationalism and pinkwashing of the occupation. 


In conclusion, this paper answered the analysis query: How are gay relations between Israelis and Palestinians represented in Israeli cinema? With a view to reply the analysis query, I utilized theories of queer research, colonialism and poststructuralism to a few Israeli movies portraying homosexual relationships between Israeli and Palestinian males: Drifting, The Bubble, and Out within the Darkish. Thus, the paper mentioned themes of masculinities, LGBT inclusion, fetishization and homonationalism. The Bubble and Out within the Darkish characterize Israeli-Palestinian relationships as tragic, because the choices they current for such {couples} are restricted by the Israeli-Palestinian battle. The Bubble particularly serves as a warning towards the violent ending that’s anticipated for interracial homosexual {couples}, as they are going to by no means be capable of escape the cycle of violence of the battle. In all three movies, encounters between Israeli and Palestinian homosexual males reproduce colonial and racial energy buildings as recommended by Younger, failing to contest the Israeli narrative of Western supremacy. Drifting and The Bubble fetishize and exoticize Arab male sexuality, confirming theories of colonialism on need and sexual rules. Moreover, the movies reinforce the mainstream LGBT rights discourse of inclusion by way of current citizenship regimes by representing masculine, nationalist and neoliberal homosexual figures. Lastly, The Bubble and Out within the Darkish serve homonationalist and Orientalist narratives of the white saviour and the brown sufferer. The movies pinkwash the occupation by interesting to a progressive Western viewers and justifying violence towards Palestine by specializing in stereotypes of Palestinian homophobia. 


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