The Israel-Palestine conflict is often characterised by periods of intense violence with a tense peace squeezed in between. Occasionally, a single incident of terror or military operation captures global attention which then fades as the status quo reasserts itself.
What we rarely see are the day to day activities of both Palestinian movements and Israeli security operatives which underpin the showy incidents. To this effect, the Netflix show Fauda introduces us to Doron (Lior Raz) & his team of undercover Israeli agents who infiltrate Palestinian towns and target militants. Interestingly, the series is partly based on Raz’s real-life service in Israel’s undercover Duvdevan unit.
On the other side, we have an array of Palestinian characters, who are associated in some way to militant leader Abu Ahmad, who is plotting a major terror attack. The episodes are linked by a narrative of personal anguish and revenge on each side, and only rarely do the wider geopolitical factors such as the moribund peace process intrude into the story.
The highlight of Fauda is perhaps the numerous instances where characters grapple with moral dilemmas. Contrary to popular belief about dispassionate soldiers and militants, the Israelis and Palestinians fear the other side, vow revenge against their enemy and worry about their families and children. The terrible toll on personal lives and relationships is also accurately portrayed, especially when death strikes.
It is inevitable that a series on such a divisive issue will immediately raise questions about how Israelis and Palestinians are depicted. One thing is clear: This is an Israeli production meant for Israeli audiences (before Netflix bought it). It will never be able to capture the Palestinian perspective in an acceptable manner no matter how nuanced the plot.
The indignities of Palestinians who are routinely kidnapped, beaten or killed briefly surface, though we don’t see issues like the Separation Barrier or the numerous checkpoints in the show. We also don’t see much of the settlements which have poisoned the peace process perhaps irrevocably.
Keeping these in mind, Fauda achieves what it sets out to do, which is to portray Israeli agents navigating the complexities of a region littered with the ghosts of peace and the anger of an occupied population.
Yogi’s Verdict: ★★★★
For a Palestinian critique of Fauda for depicting them as “frightening and exotic creatures inhabiting places where only commandos dare to venture”, see HERE.