The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 11, No 2 (2023)

Flirting with the Israeli Prime Minister, humorously

Galia Hirsch,Pnina Shukrun-Nagar


This article examines a specific type of supportive, make-believe, playful humour called here flirting humour, which serves to create a positioning of symmetry and intimacy, while posing a mitigated threat to the face of the addresser and addressee. We focus on two sub-categories of this humour prevalent in online readers’ comments to Facebook posts published by the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the March 2020 electoral campaign: (1) humorous confessions of lust and love by women, even marriage proposals; (2) humorous gestures of camaraderie, mostly by men, including informal social invitations and friendly requests for favours – all directed to Netanyahu. We suggest that this humour reflects characteristics identified with the Israeli Sabra individuals (e.g., directness, openness, easy-goingness, mischievousness) and the Israeli society (camaraderie, informality). Furthermore, we argue that flirting humour, which is particularly dominant among Netanyahu’s supporters, is associated with his dual self-positioning: while the symmetrical and intimate scenarios his supporters humorously create reflect Netanyahu’s positioning as “one of the guys”, the humorous framing reflects awareness of his hierarchical superiority, and acceptance of his self-positioning as a great leader. Thus, flirting humour contributes both to the solidification of Netanyahu’s supporters, and the reinforcing of his position among them.


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