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.