How Israeli TV show 'Fauda' is bridging the gap between Arabs and Jews

When Lior Raz sat down with his longtime friend Avi Issacharoff to write a TV show about their experiences serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the Israeli-born actor never thought anyone would see it.

"I thought just me and my mother and Avi's mother and father [would see it]. That's it," Raz told Fox News when he visited our New York studio.

But Raz could not have been more wrong -- "Fauda," which follows Raz's character, Doron Kavillio, a member of a top-secret elite IDF unit tasked with going undercover as an Arab to capture terrorists -- has captivated not only Israelis. The show is also appreciated by Arab audiences.

Netflix, which doesn't release viewership numbers, calls the show a "global phenomenon" available in 190 countries. Season 2 was released on May 24.

"['Fauda'] is the most viewed show in the Arab population in Israel because a few things," he explained. "First of all, we honor their language, we honor their narrative and we respect them."

Raz said he gets emails from Palestinians and people in Arab countries who tell him "this is the first time... that they feel compassion to the Israeli side."

"But the opposite as well," he said. "I see right-wing Israelis [who are] telling me that this is the first time that they feel compassion for the Palestinian side."

The 46-year-old, who grew up speaking Arabic at home, said the secret to the show's success is that he and Issacharoff were able to honor Palestinian culture. He said the show portrays terrorists as multi-dimensional characters. The show's name, "Fauda," means "chaos" in Arabic.

"When you see a bad guy [in other shows], he's just a bad guy. He [doesn't] have a wife, he [doesn't] have kids, he's not in love with someone. And for them, it was for the first time that you see a terrorist with [a] real life."

In fact, according to Issacharoff, a longtime Arab affairs journalist in Israel, even Hamas terrorists enjoy the action series.

"[I was] in [an] Israeli jail meeting with Hamas officials. It became a huge hit in the Israeli prison," Issacharoff said in a 2017 interview. "And Hamas even wrote about it...in their official website that it's a bad show; it's a Zionist show, don't watch the show, yadda, yadda, yadda. And at the end, they put a link to the first episode of 'Fauda.'"

French-Lebanese actress Laetitia Eïdo plays Dr. Shirin El Abed in "Fauda."

The 46-year-old, who grew up speaking Arabic at home, said the secret to the show's success is that he and Issacharoff were able to honor Palestinian culture. He said the show portrays terrorists as multi-dimensional characters. The show's name, "Fauda," means "chaos" in Arabic.

"When you see a bad guy [in other shows], he's just a bad guy. He [doesn't] have a wife, he [doesn't] have kids, he's not in love with someone. And for them, it was for the first time that you see a terrorist with [a] real life."

In fact, according to Issacharoff, a longtime Arab affairs journalist in Israel, even Hamas terrorists enjoy the action series.

"[I was] in [an] Israeli jail meeting with Hamas officials. It became a huge hit in the Israeli prison," Issacharoff said in a 2017 interview. "And Hamas even wrote about it...in their official website that it's a bad show; it's a Zionist show, don't watch the show, yadda, yadda, yadda. And at the end, they put a link to the first episode of 'Fauda.'"

French-Lebanese actress Laetitia Eïdo plays Dr. Shirin El Abed in "Fauda."

Sasha Savitsky

 

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