“At least give the Palestinians the option of hating ‘Fauda.’ Are Netflix, worldwide success, economic growth and serving Israeli PR not enough for them? Do the creators of ‘Fauda’ really need to market their show as a balanced series that show the reality in the territories?”?” wrote Sayed Kashua in an article in 2018 in Haaretz about the television show.
Four years later, “Fauda” has developed and matured, but nonetheless, even in its fourth season it is holding on to content that aligns with the Israeli narrative, and nothing else. After the third episode of the fourth season of “Fauda,” the time has come to tell the truth.
I had hopes that the representation of the Palestinians would change in the fourth season –
that finally, the viewers would be able to get to know the other side of the story without preconceived notions – and it blew up in my face. I was naïve when I believed that Israeli creators would see Arabs or Palestinians as equals. The fourth season proves that Palestinians will always be the “object” that serves the Israeli narrative. The one that can be trampled on, crushed, cursed and called “son of a bitch.”
This time, the creators of “Fauda” decided to surprise the viewers with the character Omar (Amir Boutrous) – the son of a collaborator who aided the Israeli forces. His family received help and relocation to Israel, and in turn Omar became a source for Captain Ayub (Itzik Cohen).
- ‘Fauda’ season 4 captures the Israeli zeitgeist
- ‘Fauda’ Isn't Just Ignorant, Dishonest and Absurd. It's anti-Palestinian Incitement
- How ‘Fauda’ star ended up among Evangelicals, Messianic Jews and Muslim fundamentalists
Unlike the main Palestinian characters in previous seasons – such as Abu Ahmad “The Panther” from the first season, who was driven by revenge and bloodthirsty and strove to carry out terrorist attacks, and the character of Bashir, the son of a veteran prisoner in an Israeli prison – Omar is stained by shame because of his father’s background as an informant for the Israeli security forces, and is trying to clear his name. Omar betrays Captain Ayub, abducts him and tortures him with the help of his partners in a terrorist cell belonging to Hezbollah, and from there the story just gets even more complicated.
A few small moments in the third episode touch on the complex relationship between a “captain” who works for the security forces and Omar expose a burning issue that causes Palestinians on the other side of the border to lose sleep, and that should be examined. Omar is not the “Panther,” and the act of revenge against Captain Ayub comes in order to remove the stigma of being labeled “the son of the collaborator.”
Omar turns to Ayub and says to him in Hebrew: “Take, captain, eat, get strong.” The captain looks at him, exhausted from the torture he has experienced, bleeding and in pain, shakes his head and refuses to eat. Omar looks at him for a moment with a glance full of compassion and then addresses him by his first name: “Gabi, you have to live – for your children.”
This is a scene that embodies the closeness and distance between Palestinians and Israelis, and their mutual dependence. The Israelis can’t live without the Palestinians, in particular without the informants and collaborators who provide them with information that nobody else can give. Appropriating the tragedy in Omar’s life – and thus turning the Israeli side into the victim – erases the Palestinian side of the story and ignores the difficult situation encountered by those who are forced to collaborate with Israel.
By bringing a one-sided perspective on the issue of the collaborators and ignoring the social and political reasons that create this situation (not to mention the occupation itself), “Fauda” fails once again. A perusal of a study by Prof. Menachem Hofnung of the Hebrew University, which is about the absorption and rehabilitation in Israeli cities of those Palestinians who assist the security forces, makes it clear that the story of the collaborators is far more complex, and both sides pay a price for that.
The collaborators are the weak point of Palestinian society. “Without the collaborators, the Israeli security mechanisms would know nothing at all about the people’s activities, but the phenomenon of the informants is causing the disintegration of Palestinian society,” says Ashraf Al Ajami, the former Palestinian minister for prisoners’ affairs.
And what are they doing on “Fauda?” Insisting on appropriating the story of the informants for themselves and presenting the Palestinians as terrorists who want to murder or as betrayers of their people, without presenting the picture in full, in all its complexity. This is a series that loses some of its importance as a work that presumes to deal with the Palestinian reality, and it will become relevant once again only when that the creators dare to touch on the gray area in which the occupation doesn’t look black and white, that doesn’t contain only good guys and bad guys.
The role of a series like “Fauda” is not only to entertain and to stork the ego of the Israeli viewer, but to confront the reality, to raise questions and to bring to the surface the emotional cost and the moral dilemmas that the Israeli occupation presents to the Palestinians and forces them to the collaborate.
The Palestinian film “Huda’s Salon” by director Hany Abu-Assad has just been released. It presents the emotional and personal costs paid by collaborators and shows how the Israeli security services act to enlist them. “Fauda” should also be courageous enough and equally responsible, and demonstrate this complexity to the Israeli viewer, without fear of looking reality in the eye.