Shooting and crying, in ‘The New Yorker’

US Politics
on 26 Comments

The New Yorker has published an article by David Remnick on an Israeli TV drama about an Israeli military unit in the West Bank, filmed in Israel. The show, “Fauda,” is in its second season and streams on Netflix. Here is a quick review.

The article talks about the Nakba, but accompanied by the overhyped claim that five Arab armies were trying wipe out Israel.  I am no expert, but that is oversimplified propaganda.  The Nakba discussion is decent, but why should an American publication get credit for this?  It happened and Western liberals were either misled or lied about it for decades. That period is long over.

There is a page or so about the extent to which Israel has become more unwilling to acknowledge any wrongdoing and then we are back in familiar turf, where oh-so-sensitive but tough Israelis tell the American journalist about the occupation.

For some two decades, [creator and screenwriter Lior] Raz and his first comrades in the unit didn’t talk about the uglier side of their work, the price exacted on Palestinians, and the price exacted on them. “It all stayed there and deep inside of us,” he said.

It turns out the show is run very professionally by oh-so-sensitive Israeli elite soldiers who sneer when their precise operations are criticized in a world where the US bombs Afghan weddings and Russia bombs hospitals.

[Israeli veteran and martial arts instructor Nimrod] Astel said that when he hears of American forces dropping a bomb on a wedding in Afghanistan or a Russian aircraft destroying a hospital in Syria he has a hard time taking seriously the moral criticism directed at Israeli behavior in the West Bank.

“The job was to capture the bad guy as quietly as possible, to avoid killing or hurting anyone else,” Astel said.

We are told twice that Israel left Gaza and received rockets in reply. Co-writer Avi Issacharoff says, “We left Gaza and they won’t let us leave it behind.”

Nothing about Israeli bombing or shooting of civilians in Gaza in various wars and in peacetime, though the Kfar Qasim massacre of 1956, in which dozens of Palestinian workers were killed for violating curfew, is mentioned. Israeli politicians apologized. Fictional Palestinian terrorists in the TV show are humanized slightly. “[T]he picture of the main terrorist is not done in black-and-white. It’s painted in shades in between,” Danna Stern, a TV executive, explains helpfully.

A couple of real Israeli victims of a stabbing attack are described.  The “Green Prince” is repeatedly cited as an authority and a hero– the son of a Hamas leader in the West Bank who served as an Israeli informant, “feeding the Shin Bet information that is said to have prevented many suicide-bombing attacks and led to the arrests of his father and [Marwan] Barghouti.” Diane Buttu is given two paragraphs to present the Palestinian view– “when we spoke she made a compelling critique of ‘Fauda,’” Remnick writes– after pages telling us that Israeli have been disillusioned by the Second Intifada and our sensitive Israeli informants have told us there is nobody to talk to, and they have been cheered like rock stars at an AIPAC conference.

“The majority of Israelis lost hope in peace,” Issacharoff says. “The average Israeli says that the Palestinians are no partner for peace. The second intifada was a deep wound that you cannot heal.”

So basically even in a piece which is critical of Israel by US standards everything has to be carefully filtered through a couple of Israelis who repeat standard refutable hasbara claims.

I was thinking of sending a link to this piece to a Christian Zionist friend of mine in hopes of penetrating his ideological barrier regarding the Nakba, but the piece is so full of the standard cliches I changed my mind.

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26 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    August 30, 2017, 1:18 pm

    thanks donald. i read the same article yesterday and had the same response. then i watched a few episodes of the series — same response “shoot n cry #fauda ”
    https://twitter.com/anniefofani/status/902791077161091072

    i captured a screenshot from an episode, a scene where they are torchering a palestinian, chopping off his fingers with an ax or something, and in the background the torture’s israeli colleague is all teared up showing her humanity. i guess they had to stage it like that to show how hard it was for israelis to torture!

    • Donald Johnson
      August 30, 2017, 6:54 pm

      Interesting. Now it is torturing and crying.

      I wondered a little about the motive for Remnick writing this piece, but left my speculation out of the post. I am guessing Israel is so far right at this point that Remnick wants to humanize them by allowing two walking stereotypes of tough sensitive moderately liberal Israelis be the face of Israel. They get to present their views as the truth. Buttu is there at the end as a token Palestinian voice.

    • JLewisDickerson
      September 17, 2017, 8:02 pm

      RE: “i captured a screenshot from an episode, a scene where they [gender(s)?] are torchering a palestinian, chopping off his fingers with an ax or something, and in the background the torturers’ israeli colleague is all teared up showing her humanity. “ ~ Ann ie

      MY COMMENT: I hate to be accused of being a R-A-D-I-C-A-L feminist, but was she “all teared up showing her humanity”, or was she “all teared up showing her weak, cowardly, girlish, sniveling, misguided, spineless, estrogen-suffused W-E-A-K-N-E-S-S?” As Netanyahu* (and John Wayne) famously said, “A M-A-N’s got to do what a M-A-N’s got to do.” (Keep the women barefoot and pregnant!)

      * IN THE WAR TO PROTECT MASCULINITY, HAMAS AND ISRAEL MAKE STRANGE BEDFELLOWS – http://voicemalemagazine.org/in-the-war-to-protect-masculinity-hamas-and-israel-make-strange-bedfellows/

  2. mcohen..
    August 31, 2017, 5:44 am

    i like the show but do not feel it portrays the successful attacks carrird out against israelis.its like the israelis are super duper and the enemy always loses and gets taken out.
    nabka is now a google adword but you never hear about the other sides victories.john wayne always wins.and clints got a big gun.

    how about devoting some serious coverage to arab victories and successful operations.
    not everyone is a winner
    only in the movies

    • Annie Robbins
      August 31, 2017, 5:51 pm

      i like the show but do not feel it portrays the successful attacks carrird out against israelis.its like the israelis are super duper and the enemy always loses and gets taken out.

      really? did you see how the lead guy’s brother-in-law, also one of his squad, got a bomb planted inside of him and got blown up? it was the centerpiece of the whole first season.

      • Mooser
        August 31, 2017, 6:55 pm

        “got a bomb planted inside of him and got blown up?”

        Oh, you mean Napoleon.

      • mcohen..
        August 31, 2017, 7:03 pm

        a bomb?
        that was the leftover chicken dish that got him.
        ka ka ka kaboom like ka ka ka kabul.
        he died with a toilet roll in his hand….evidently.

        no i missesd that one.netflix is years behind

  3. Elizabeth Block
    August 31, 2017, 11:13 am

    I just read the article. I think I’ll write to the New Yorker. They won’t print my letter, but they’ll print other people’s.
    Two things that struck me especially:
    “We left Gaza.” No, you didn’t. You pulled your settlers out. But you’ve made it a prison. John Kerry went there, years ago, with a plan to make Gaza a second Singapore. What universe does he live in?
    PSTD. Oh, the poor Israelis. Do you want me also to feel sorry for what Nazi concentration and death camp guards must have suffered?

  4. yonah fredman
    August 31, 2017, 2:39 pm

    i saw the show last night for the first time. this article by donald johnson is a symptom of the inability of leftists to talk to leftist zionists. maybe because the next generation of young jews will be leftists with a square root of the zionism, so these new leftists square root zionist people the left will be able to talk to, but leftist zionists of my age, there’s nothing to talk about. just preaching and preaching and preaching.

    the 2nd intifada made a deep impression and leftists dismiss this without comment.

    • Donald Johnson
      August 31, 2017, 4:51 pm

      Don’t be silly, yonah. I often appreciate your pov. You hear from me when I strongly disagree.

      As for preaching, right back at you. You really seem blind to your own behavior sometimes. And you didn’t bother to criticize my post with something specific, but struck your characteristic world weary above it all pose. Preach it, brother.

      On the 2nd intifada and how Israelis were disillusioned we have heard it before God knows how many times and I don’t doubt for a second that Israelis see it that way and yes, it is human nature to focus on your own suffering, but–0hmigosh, I am preaching. If I responded with facts or in any way that wasn’t completely affirming it would be preaching . If I say what I favor, same thing.

      Anyway, it doesn’t matter what I think. Talk to Palestinians. And ask why the New Yorker still thinks it has to filter its reporting through a liberal Zionist pov.

      • Donald Johnson
        August 31, 2017, 9:59 pm

        “Talk to Palestinians. ”

        Now that was silly of me. There is no one to talk to. After the disillusionment of the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada, liberal Zionists have no one to talk to. That Palestinians lost many more due to Israeli violence must mean they have no one to talk to either. That they have suffered repeated brutal slaughters in Gaza must have really dried up casual conversation.

        So the only option left is for liberal Zionists to talk to Westerners, explaining the fact that there is no one to talk to and that Israelis were deeply disillusioned by the terrorism of the Second Intifada. People in the US have never heard this point of view, not more than 10,000 times or so. Maybe we get tired of the preaching or did that ever cross your mind?

        You might want to think about the problems in Israeli society and how they are ever going to reach a point where the two sides can live together in peace and spend just a bit less time worrying about how American lefties are less and less sympathetic to the usual excuses. We aren’t the ones who the Israelis bomb and we aren’t the ones firing rockets. We are only the ones whose political representatives help keep Israel’s bomb supply well stocked.

    • eljay
      September 1, 2017, 8:33 am

      || yonah fredman: … this article by donald johnson is a symptom of the inability of leftists to talk to leftist zionists. maybe because the next generation of young jews will be leftists with a square root of the zionism, so these new leftists square root zionist people the left will be able to talk to, but leftist zionists of my age, there’s nothing to talk about. just preaching and preaching and preaching. ||

      Every Zionist is a Jewish supremacist no matter how “left” or “square root” he may be. Zionists believes that people who choose to hold the religion-based identity of Jewish are entitled:
      – to a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine; and
      – to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

      You shouldn’t be surprised that some folks simply refuse to have a nice, supportive chat with you about your hateful and immoral ideology and beliefs. You certainly shouldn’t whine about it as though you’re a victim.

      • JeffB
        September 1, 2017, 7:00 pm

        @Eljay

        It is one thing for you to make constant offensive rape analogies and talk about a supremacism. You have nothing to lose. It is annoying for American Jews and more threatening for European Jews but ultimately it won’t matter too much. If American elite colleges because of BDS end up becoming to anti-Jewish for Jews to safely attend and we have to resegregate the Jews have many times the resources needed to build their own colleges like they did a century ago. If France’s Mizrahi Jews have to leave France, they have options. Jews no longer need fear the mood swings of European elites towards them, because of Israel which is one of the reasons diaspora Jews never give it up, regardless of how much you may disapprove. That’s not to say Western Jews aren’t going to fight the return of Antisemitism but even if you were to bring it back to some spaces, the consequences aren’t that dire. When Mondoweissers express their seething hatreds towards Jews / Zionists / Israelis it is rude and hurtful. But that’s about it.

        For Palestinians however this rejectionism you speak of isn’t merely rude. Having to live in a “religious supremacist state” is not the worst possible outcome for the Palestinians in this conflict. I’m optimistic that there are better options available, but I could be wrong and that is the least bad option available. 20 years of denormalization has created a generation of Israelis that have little personal friendly interaction with Palestinians. There is no buffer of friendship to their anger at the consequences of the conflict. That is a idiot thing for the Palestinians to do to themselves.

        Creating a generation of Israelis that hate Palestinians, that can easily dehumanized them because they lack friendly human interactions, is not the road to your secular egalitarian one state reality. You can be self righteous about it, because you aren’t the one who has to live (or not) with the consequences.

      • eljay
        September 1, 2017, 9:07 pm

        || JeffB: @Eljay … ||

        JeffB.

        || … When Mondoweissers express their seething hatreds towards Jews / Zionists / Israelis it is rude and hurtful. … ||

        I can’t speak for other “Mondoweissers”, but:
        1. I don’t conflate either all Jews or all Israelis with Zionism – that’s something you Zionists seem to need to do.
        2. I express my objection to the injustice and immorality of Zionism, Zionists and their colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” construct. I understand how a supremacist like you might confuse advocacy for justice, accountability and equality with “seething hatred”.

        || … 20 years of denormalization has created a generation of Israelis that have little personal friendly interaction with Palestinians. There is no buffer of friendship to their anger at the consequences of the conflict. That is a idiot thing for the Palestinians to do to themselves. … ||

        Yup, it’s the victim’s fault that:
        – the rapist has kidnapped her, chained her in his basement and repeatedly raped her; and
        – she’s unable to “normalize” with him and develop a “buffer of friendship”.

        You are one sick puppy. You are a Zionist.

      • andrew r
        September 2, 2017, 1:28 am

        JeffB: Jews no longer need fear the mood swings of European elites towards them, because of Israel which is one of the reasons diaspora Jews never give it up

        Jeff, I don’t know if you ever saw this comment, but I’ve pointed out before a live case of Israel neglecting to rescue Jews who were persecuted by an ally state (Argentina):
        http://mondoweiss.net/2017/02/israel-muslim-start/#comment-869708

        If there’s ever a time when millions of Jews need to flee their “diaspora” country – and I hope that never happens – they may find out just what being a Zionist state really means.

  5. yonah fredman
    September 1, 2017, 4:19 am

    Being a Hebrew speaker and a student of Arabic, just linguistically I get a lot of pleasure from the show. (I enjoy a thriller and this show is similar to the tv show narcos and similar to the movie sicario and so the genre is enjoyable.)
    As far as the Remnick article, it obviously was trying to depict the progress (or regression) of the Israeli discourse on various topics: the nakba and the occupation. I didn’t have patience to read the entire article, (most people read only the beginning of articles, so your criticism of the last part of the article, seems to ignore the reality that weighing the front of the article with nakba references is not dismissable, for the beginning of the article is what most people will read.) rather than read the whole article I prefer to watch the show.

    the israeli government is not interested in talking to the palestinians and so my conversation with the palestinians is irrelevant. the primary vibe is that talking to a zionist of any degree is normalization, so the palestinians don’t want to talk to powerless american liberal zionists. so what does my talking to them or not talking to them have to do with anything.

    • Donald Johnson
      September 1, 2017, 10:22 am

      I get the impression– I am not there– that many Palestinians would be willing to talk to Israelis willing to work with them as equals ( not trying to explain to them that they must be willing to accept scraps) in the struggle for a society where everyone has equal rights. You can’t find any groups like that? I don’t know if you are in the US or over there. Here you could join JVP.

      There are people in the comments here who want an Algerian solution and you can’t talk to them, but this is a blog comment section. Those nearly always become dominated by a particular portion of the political spectrum and if you fall outside it you need a thick skin or else you need to be a troll.

      As for the article you might be right– if people just read the first page and skip the rest it will do good. If they read all the way through it morphs into liberal Zionist apologetics and not very liberal either. Beinart is better.

    • Donald Johnson
      September 1, 2017, 10:35 am

      If I recall correctly, David Shulman is a very liberal Zionist, but he works with Palestinians. I think ( again if memory serves) he participates in protests where sometimes people get beaten up.

      http://www.nybooks.com/contributors/david-shulman/

      As a coward myself I am not suggesting you go out there and get yourself beaten up, but there are apparently groups you could work with.

      • Mooser
        September 1, 2017, 3:11 pm

        It occurs to me that if Israel adopts some of the solutions offered by liberal Zionists, and good things result, it will leave anti-Zionists pretty much in the outer darkness, wailing and gnashing their teeth, without a leg to stand on.

  6. mcohen..
    September 2, 2017, 9:26 am

    mooser says …..without a leg

    why write that.
    sanctions against israel are starting up.
    cancellation of heron drones to Australia and negev 7 rifle to india in the last month.that will cost jobs.how will liberal zionists support those laid off workers.
    i learnt two important lessons today.this weeks parsha mentioned the law of a soldier paying a half shekel as a ransom before he goes into battle.the other was that the ego is the source of fear and hate.
    are liberal zionists motivated by ego or by love of God and judaism

  7. DaBakr
    September 4, 2017, 11:21 pm

    Just like Homeland, In Treatment, Hostages and other Israeli tv shows Fauda will probably be made into an American version that is popular with millions of Americans. Talk about shooting off mouths and crying about it.

    Oh, and that bds thing…Wonder Woman just hit something like forth or fifth biggest grossing film with that’filthy zio-nazi’ starring. Cry cry cry

    • JLewisDickerson
      September 17, 2017, 8:37 pm

      RE: “Wonder Woman just hit something like forth or fifth biggest grossing film” ~ DaBakr

      MY COMMENT: Well then, everything’s coming up roses (i.e., the “fat lady” must be singing) ! *

      * SEE: “Huge Spike in Number of Israelis ‘un-Jewed’ by Chief Rabbinate in Past Two Years” | by Judy Maltz | Haaretz.com | Sep 17, 2017
      Trend appears related to new practice of re-examining and revoking religious status of citizens already recognized as Jewish
      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.812610

      • Mooser
        September 18, 2017, 12:04 am

        “* SEE: “Huge Spike in Number of Israelis ‘un-Jewed’ by Chief Rabbinate in Past Two Years” | by Judy Maltz | Haaretz.com | Sep 17, 2017”

        Huh? But what about this: “Israel seeks ‘Jewish’ non-Jews in numbers battle with Palestinians”

        Gee, one could get the impression that “Jewish” is just an administrative identity meaning “Fust-cless resident of Zionist colonial enterprise” or ultimately: “not Palestinian.” That’s what our vaunted Jewish identity has come to, value to the Zionist state.

    • JLewisDickerson
      September 17, 2017, 9:39 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “Israel Charges Bedouin Medical Student With Grave Security Offenses. His Crime? Passing Out Lecture Notes” | by Almog Ben Zikri | Haaretz.com | Sep 16, 2017
      Taer Jouda was held by the security service for a month, denied a lawyer for the first two weeks and rejected efforts to become an informant: ‘He just wants to be a doctor’
      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.812460

  8. JLewisDickerson
    September 17, 2017, 1:13 pm

    RE: “The majority of Israelis lost hope in peace,” Issacharoff says. “The average Israeli says that the Palestinians are no partner for peace. The second intifada was a deep wound that you cannot heal.”

    SEE: “The Dogs of War: The Next Intifada”, By Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, 9/03/11

    [EXCERPT] . . . The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings. A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets – protesters who looked like “ringleaders”. They were killed.

    This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent (“terrorist”) actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/02/the-next-intifada/

    ALSO SEE: “Netanyahu: Stupid Like a Fox?” | By Uri Avnery | Antiwar.com | June 13, 2011

    [EXCERPT] Last week, there was a repeat performance. The Palestinians all around Israel have declared June 5 “Naksa” Day, to commemorate the “Setback” of 1967, when Israel spectacularly defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, reinforced by elements from the Iraqi and Saudi armies.

    This time, the Israeli army was prepared. The fence was reinforced and an anti-tank ditch dug in front of it. When the demonstrators tried to reach the fence—again near Majdal Shams—they were shot by sharpshooters. Some 22 were killed, and many dozens were wounded. The Palestinians report that people trying to rescue the wounded and retrieve the dead were also shot and killed.

    No doubt this was a deliberate tactic decided upon in advance by the army command after the Naqba Day fiasco and approved by Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. As was said quite openly, the Palestinians had to be taught a lesson they would not forget, so as to drive any idea of an unarmed mass action out of their minds.

    It is frighteningly reminiscent of events 10 years ago. After the first Intifada, in which stone-throwing youngsters and children won a moral victory that led to the Oslo agreement, our army conducted exercises in anticipation of a second Intifada. This broke out after the political disaster of Camp David, and the army was ready.

    The new [second] Intifada started with mass demonstrations of unarmed Palestinians. They were met by specially trained sharpshooters. Next to each sharpshooter stood an officer who pointed out the individuals who were to be shot because they looked like ringleaders: “The guy in the red shirt… Now the boy with the blue trousers…”

    The unarmed uprising broke down and was replaced by suicide bombers, roadside bombs, and other “terrorist” acts. With those our army was on familiar ground.

    I suspect very much that we are witnessing much the same thing once more. Again, specially trained sharpshooters are at work, directed by officers. . .

    SOURCE – http://original.antiwar.com/avnery/2011/06/12/netanyahu-stupid-like-a-fox/

  9. JLewisDickerson
    September 17, 2017, 7:16 pm

    RE: “Israeli veteran and martial arts instructor Nimrod] Astel said that when he hears of American forces dropping a bomb on a wedding in Afghanistan or a Russian aircraft destroying a hospital in Syria he has a hard time taking seriously the moral criticism directed at Israeli behavior in the West Bank. ~ Donald Johnson

    MY QUESTION: That being the case, if Astel ever gets wind of what the Nazis did in the I930s and 40s, he might have a hard time taking seriously any moral criticism directed at any Israeli behavior — even their using every nuke in their arsenal to pay back Europe for insisting that goods imported from the settlements not be labeled as having come from Israel.

    Or, did the very substantial reparations Germany paid to Israel sort of wipe the slate clean?

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