Shooting and crying, in ‘The New Yorker’

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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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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 ” 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… Read more »

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… Read more »

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… Read more »

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… Read more »

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… Read more »