Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy and the Fight for Palestinian Rights
Tuesday, July 13th
with Maysoon Zayid & Noam Shuster
In conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman & Rebecca Abou-chedid
From the Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, to Egypt’s Bassem Youssef, to Israel’s Eretz Nehederet, comedy has long played a powerful role in shaping how people think about politics and the world around them, and challenging them to question their own assumptions and the political status quo.
Can comedy play this same role in the fight for Palestinian rights? What is the intersection of comedy and activism for Palestinian rights? Can humor be an effective vehicle to get people to understand hard truths about Palestinians’ past and present — defined by the Nakba, and generations of dispossession, apartheid, occupation, dehumanization by Israel — and mobilize them to support and demand change?
To explore these and other questions, join FMEP for a very special webinar, featuring world-famous Palestinian-American actress, political commentator, disability rights advocate, and Palestinian rights activist Maysoon Zayid; and Israeli former-UN-staffer-turned-comedian Noam Shuster, subject of the recently-released short film by Al Jazeera, Reckoning with Laughter.
Maysoon Zayid is an actress, comedian, writer, and disability advocate. She is a graduate of and a Guest Comedian in Residence at Arizona State University. Maysoon is the co-founder/co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and The Muslim Funny Fest. She was a full-time On Air Contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann and a columnist for The Daily Beast. She has most recently appeared on Oprah Winfrey Networks In Deep Shift, 60 Minutes, and ABC News. Maysoon had the most viewed TED Talk of 2014 and was named 1 of 100 Women of 2015 by BBC. As a professional comedian, Maysoon has performed in top New York clubs and has toured extensively at home and abroad. She was a headliner on the Arabs Gone Wild Comedy Tour and The Muslims Are Coming Tour. Maysoon appeared alongside Adam Sandler in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and has written for VICE. She limped in New York Fashion Week, is a recurring character on General Hospital, and is the author of Audible’s Find Another Dream. www.Maysoon.com
Noam Shuster is a freelance comedian, performer, peacebuilder and activist. A graduate of Brandeis University, she grew up in Neve Shalom Wahat Al Salam (“Oasis of Peace”), the only community where Jews and Palestinians live together by choice, and she performs in three languages – Hebrew, Arabic and English. In 2018, she was named the “New Jewish Comedian of the Year” in London. That same year, she was also the first Jewish performer in the Palestine Comedy Festival and her content went viral in the Arab media. She tweets at @ShusterNoam.
Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). With more than 25 years working in the Middle East foreign policy arena, Lara is a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular expertise on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress.
Rebecca Abouchedid is a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. A Senior Associate of Project Finance at Norton Rose Fulbright, Rebecca previously served as a law clerk in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review; as Director of Outreach for the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force; and as National Policy Director of the Arab American Institute. Rebecca was also co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Just Vision. Rebecca is a graduate of Georgetown Law School and received her BA at Cornell University.
Noam on Twitter: @ShusterNoam
Maysoon Zayid’s TED Talk: “I got 99 problems…palsy is just one”: https://www.ted.com/talks/maysoon_zayid_i_got_99_problems_palsy_is_just_one?language=ry
Two articles about Maysoon:
- “Heard the One About the Disabled Muslim Comic From Jersey?” → https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/arts/television/maysoon-zayid-disabled-muslim-comic.html
- “Maysoon Zayid Is the Most Fearless Comic Alive” → https://www.glamour.com/story/maysoon-zayid-comic
New film: “Reckoning with Laughter: Noam Shuster returns to Israel” → https://www.aljazeera.com/program/witness/2021/6/14/reckoning-with-laughter-noam-shuster-returns-to-israel
Two articles about Noam:
- “From peacekeeper to joke-maker: Israeli comedian Noam Shuster”→ “https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/jul/06/from-peacekeeper-to-joke-maker-israeli-comedian-noam-shuster
- “How comedian Noam Shuster-Eliassi became the woman who proposed to MBS” → https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-09-05/how-comedian-noam-shuster-eliassi-became-woman-who-proposed-mbs