Lior Schleien and Guri Alfi, two names the vast majority of North American Jews have never heard of, have created a template for what I would call the best political talkshow in the World.
Gav HaUma, literally “Back of the Nation”, is a clear parody of “Face the Nation”, a type of show seen in both the US and Israel. “Face the Nation” is a serious discussion with influential politicians about the various pressing political issues of the day.
Gav HaUma, on the other hand, is a whole different animal altogether. This Israeli show has weaved together the best parts of shows like “Face the Nation”, with the comedy of shows like the “Daily Show”, to come up with a recipe for humour and information alike.
What is remarkable about the show is its ability to confront serious issues, including many life and death issues, with various politicians, and at the same time keep it both not be too over the top to be a complete joke, but yet not too serious to be boring. Lior and Guri, along with their co-panelists Oma and Einav, aren’t afraid to show political biases, but at the same time have an uncanny ability to keep the repartee from becoming personal or inflammatory.
Through humour, the panel highlights controversial positions, and the panel is always ready to crack a joke rather than get angry. Some questions are rhetorical statements clearly pre-designed to get a laugh, while some questions arise in the heat of the discussion. But the winner is always the audience, entertained but also informed, while being able to see how a given politician handles him or herself in a somewhat unusual setting with the dissonance of constant switching between significant issues and silly humour..
If someone wants to know what separates the West from its enemies, the answer is Gav HaUma, and the rest is just details. The fact that politicians can laugh, both at and with themselves, on the most consequential issues affecting life in Israel, is an example of how Israel stays sane, moral, and strong.
While it is true that the root of the conflict between the West and groups like ISIS and Hamas is religious, if the West was able to somehow teach humour to the Muslim World, one wonders whether there would be far less terrorism and conflict. In the end of the day, comedy is for more than just laughter; it is also a medium of dialogue and expression, bridging, in this case, Israelis with different political views. If Gav HaUmas-type shows start appearing in Arab countries, it will be a sign of positive things to come.