Zohan, a Jewish soldier, stages his death to escape the never-ending war with the Palestinians. He flies to America to start a new life as a hair-stylist & eventually marries a Palestinian girl who had also fled the Promised land for the almost promised land. Not your usual comedy: Treason & desertion are disguised as patriotic sacrifice; – this seems to be the low road to private happiness. It seems America is the solution to Israel’s problem. But this story that suggests men may be other than warriors shows America through a man’s eyes.
Zohan Vir startles us because of his democratic lust, fully revealed only in America. He has sex with many old women. He is uninterested in money, which he receives with ease. His self-confidence is easily explained: He pleases everyone. He comes close to embodying all our desires, which we think produces happiness. Apparently, democracy & the new world go much farther than we knew.
Zohan reverses the old practice of older men chasing young women. The spontaneous disgust we feel at this new form of democracy, where the old are considered equal with the young, suggests eroticism finds democracy abhorrent, unnatural. We adore the young. The old are unlovely – which they admit, in loving the young. The old women love Zohan, not old men. Few old men appear in the story, one of whom is the villain. Eros does not require equality, nor desire reciprocity; lovers & beloveds tend to be different people, else poets would soon be out of business, or thrown out of the city.
The newly American Jew finally wins his parents’ respect. Seeing what turns out to be his mother’s back, he flirts shamelessly. – That is the thrust of the comedic conceit: The plot channels its energy, lest it explode. At the end, the family abandoned in the beginning can safely return. This note of danger lingers, suggesting the seriousness of the problem of incest. As it turns out, Israel stands for family, particularly for patriarchy. America stands for a kind of global democracy, which could include both Palestinians & Israelis.
Family is the past. Family ties the young to the old, for whose sins they must pay. The truth of family is war. The young must then lead the democracy.
Democracy recognizes no special titles to power & prominence; democracy is energetic & fickle; democracy is no respecter of prudence or the prudent. The story shows us how democrats see their problems in showing the only possible solution. The change from a Jew soldier to an American artist is required by democracy. This will tend to reduce all conflicts & its promise depends on the simultaneous satisfaction of every human being’s desires. Provisionally, it must be said democracy is godless.