The Real Fauda

Can a TV drama bring life-long enemies together?

The Real Fauda Set in the cloak-and-dagger world of the IDF’s undercover special forces - the Mista'arvim - Fauda is an Israeli-produced TV drama which has garnered praise for its realistic depiction of military tactics alongside it's empathetic portrayal of Palestinians, militant or otherwise. BBC Arabic joins the production of the hotly anticipated second season, and tries to understand how it might one day pave the way for a dialogue between the two sides built on mutual understanding and compassion.

Laetitia Eido, the Palestinian lead, takes a minute between takes to explain what inspires her about the project; "Both of the sides are bad and good, so this is why a lot of people on both sides are saying that for the first time, they had compassion for the other side." The IDF veteran and lead writer on the show describes her character as "the representative of the innocent, the people that are not into killing other people, are not into the conflict, that just want to live their lives." By eschewing well-worn tropes of good vs evil, Fauda tells its story through the fog of war, where it's characters are denied a clear-cut morality.

Yet not all are as enamoured with the portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Zakaria Zubeidi, a Hamas militant from the age of 13 who survived nine attempts on his life by the Mista'avim, doesn't buy the sanitised portrayal of the violence he and his people have endured: "The film is great as fiction. The drama, the way the story is told is excellent - how it unfolds. But what is missing is the barbarism."

Achiya Schatz, an ex-IDF special forces soldier-turned activist, criticises the show's narrow focus on the undercover work of the special forces, replacing the reality of the occupation with "a picture that does not exist - there's no symmetric fight, there's no symmetric conflict. This is an occupation. [...] Fauda shows one of the ways that we do it, but most of the time it's just checkpoints. [...] Most of the time we don't go and catch terrorists - we just intimidate millions of people."

Despite the cynicism of those most connected to the events depicted in the show, the intended audience is one which has little-to-no interaction with their sworn enemy. Achiya concedes that Fauda’s achievement lies in the fact that "it brings Palestinians to the screen. Israelis don’t see Palestinians. They don’t imagine them, for them it's this big devil. "As well as humanising their neighbours, Laetitia hopes that the show will be one that "could teach the young generation that vengeance is endless, and is not the solution," so whilst it may take more than a TV show to bring both sides to the table, it’s a first step in building a mutual understanding of the experiences of others.

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