Dr. Yosefa Loshitzky
Professional Research Associate, Centre for Media & Film Studies, SOAS, Univ. of London
Clip: Mauvaise foi (Bad Faith) (Dir. Roschdy Zem, France, 2006).
This clip which involves a narrative of interfaith love affair between a Jewish woman and a Muslim man provides a very good platform from which we can analyse the trope of ‘forbidden love,’ the cross-racial love story or union which very often is presented as the solution (or allegory) to the ‘immigration problem.’ Like many other films of this emerging genre in European cinema Bad Faith conveys the escalating dominant discourse of Europe’s anxiety regarding its new migrants and others within. Yet, what is particularly interesting in the love story portrayed in this clip/film is that religion crossing, and not ‘race’ constitute the act of ‘transgression’ and ‘miscegenation.’ Consequently, I suggest that, Bad Faith both confronts and re-negotiates the symbolic political space that the new cultural racism occupies in the growing debate on ‘the immigration question’ in Europe.
This debate has ‘racialized’ religion (particularly Islam) because ‘race,’ in its former ‘biological’ and pseudo-scientific guise, is not only a taboo but also, a legally sanctioned concept in post-Holocaust Europe. I argue that this clip/film also needs to be addressed in relation to the wider, global context and particularly to the ongoing discourse on ‘the war on terror’ and the escalation of Islamophobia in Europe, and the West at large, as well as, the growing impact of the Israeli Palestinian conflict on these attitudes and trends. My analysis of this clip focuses specifically on the relationships between the ‘Muslim Question’ and the ‘Jewish question’ as sometimes hidden, or even taboo histories of Jewish and Muslim presence in Europe and asks how they project on present day Europe, still defined as Christian and white, particularly in relation to contemporary European attitudes towards migration and integration.