Season four of Orange is the New Black came out last month and assuming you’re like every other Netflix watcher and binge watched it just to feel empty and lost by the last episode, no need for a spoiler alert here.
This season took on a much different voice than past season. The writers got deeper into current social issues, with an almost surreality that would make most viewers consider if the writers are actually psychic. By focusing on current issues, it gave the audience a sense that Orange is the New Black is happening in real time. Early on, the viewer is presented with a very obvious image of Hillary Clinton, “The Most Powerful Woman in Politics,” on a Newsweek magazine being slid under a jail cell. A clear and direct allusion to Hillary Clinton’s legal issues related to the attack on Benghazi and subsequently, her private email server.
Not so obvious was the allegory to the Israeli Palestinian Conflict found later in the same episode portrayed between an old favorite, Cindy, and a new inmate and Cindy’s new roommate, Alison Abdullah.
Last season, Cindy decided to walk down the spiritual path of Judaism
to gain enlightenment so she could eat Kosher during mealtime, only to fail her “Is she a really Jewish?” test. That didn’t stop Cindy as she continued on her religious quest this season and openly represents (or misrepresents) herself as Jewish. When new inmates enter Litchfield Penitentiary, no one is happy due to cost-cutting overcrowding. It is here we meet Abdullah, the first character on Orange is the New Black who is Muslim. However, in contrast to Cindy who continually tells everyone she is Jewish, the viewer only knows Abdullah is Muslim because she wears a hijab.
Towards the end of the episode the producers use the religious differences of these women to addressing the Israeli Palestinian conflict. A conflict (
some most would say War), that depending on who you ask, can date back hundreds of years, or a few decades. It “officially” began 49 years ago.
There is no possible way to sum up the Israeli Palestinian Conflict and due it justice. It’s a conflict about land rights, civil rights, religious ownership, and water rights, just to name a few. So to explain how it fits into this season of Orange is the New Black, and how the writers puts it in without many even noticing – it needs to be simplified. Long, LONG, story short, the erratic and violent conflict was sprouted from disputes over the right to the land known as Palestine.
As a Vox article simplifies:
Though both Jews and Arab Muslims date their claims to the land back a couple thousand years, the current political conflict began in the early 20th century. Jews fleeing persecution in Europe wanted to establish a national homeland in what was then an Arab- and Muslim-majority territory in the Ottoman and later British Empire. The Arabs resisted, seeing the land as rightfully theirs. An early United Nations plan to give each group part of the land failed, and Israel and the surrounding Arab nations fought several wars over the territory. Today’s lines largely reflect the outcomes of two of these wars, one waged in 1948 and another in 1967.
Cindy and Abdullah’s interaction towards the start of episode four seems harmless enough, verbally attacking each other for their obvious differences (I mean, it was harmless for prison…).
Towards the end of the episode, another old favorite, Tasty, sits the two of them down. Tasty knows Abdullah snuck a cell phone into prison, and that Cindy needs one to photograph Judy King, an inmate and famous TV chef (i.e. Martha Stewart), to sell to the tabloids. If these two could have been civil to begin with, Tasty would have never needed to step in.
Things escalated quickly:
Cindy vs. Abdullah
After Tasty sits the girls down, Cindy immediately goes into attack mode claiming Abdullah is taking all of “her” space. Cindy was there first, so she feels the right to dictate who gets what space. By this point Abdullah hasn’t done anything other then sit in her bunk and put her shoes on the ground.
Israel vs. Palestine
Jewish people regard Palestine as their homeland, but the Arabs also regard the territory as historically and currently belonging to the Palestinians as Muslim lands. This underlying issue is the foundation of the small conflicts that lead to civil war in 1947, and then War in 1948.
Cindy, representing Israel is telling Abdullah, representing Palestine, this is my space – get out. Abdullah is telling Cindy this is rightfully my space, you need to deal with it.
Cindy vs. Abdullah
Earlier in this episode, Abdullah shakes up a Coke bottle (the bomb) and leaves it in their cell knowing Cindy wouldn’t resist taking what isn’t hers. Cindy does take it, and it explodes all over her.
Israel vs. Palestine
The Arab’s retaliated when Jewish people continued to flood Palestine and continued to take the land the Arab’s felt was theirs. Of course, the Israels also retaliate in this manner. However, with Israel being America’s only ally in the middle-east, that is rarely covered in mainstream news media.
Abdullah planted a “bomb” to retaliate against Cindy and her earlier comments. In an extremely obvious and stereotypical way, the Muslims fighting back against a Jewish person with explosives – much of how the Israeli Palestinian Conflict is being fought today.
Tasty has to step in and attempt to make peace, to focus on the core of the issue and how to compromise. Cindy makes it known she doesn’t trust Abdullah.
Abdullah brings another religion into the mix pointing out people still gave the founder of The Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard money, even though they don’t trust him.
And…ultimately they find a common ground…against another religion.
The enemy or my enemy is my friend, they say.