Fauda (an Israeli TV series streaming in North America on Netflix) is (in my opinion) “gripping”. “compelling” and all those adjectives lobbed at vehicles that may or may not deserve it on first viewing – Oslo, August 31st comes to mind. The series is by turns a thriller (a team of undercover Israeli ops in occupied Palestinian territories search for an infamous Arab terrorist), sexy (the team leader is having a fling while his neglected wife is having an affair with one of his team-mates) and offers an insight into two cultures which may have more in common than they realize. And, although the series doesn’t dwell on it, Fauda shows how unreasoning hatred can be spread from one generation to another.
Filmed on location in Tel Aviv and the Gaza strip, this fearless action-adventure is the real deal. No Hollywood heroics, this 12 episode series was co-created by Lior Raz, who actually served time in an undercover unit. and Avi Issacharoff , a former reporter described by The Times of Israel as a “well-known military and Arab analyst.”
Mr. Raz also stars as Doron, the burly leader of the team. These soldiers must be prepared to pass as Arabs. In other words, they must walk the walk and talk the talk. Unfortunately, Doron is so good at his job that he falls in love (she is a Palestinian doctor and unaware of his Jewish identity).
Even an event as innocuous as a wedding is not safe from politics and when one of the members of the wedding party is killed, the revenge cycle starts anew.
The series may be unique in Israeli television history in that both Hebrew and Arab “sides” get almost equal attention. Despite this the TV show is a hit in its homeland. The only viewer complaint seems to be that the writers have made the Hamas terrorist and his minions too sympathetic.)
There is no need for the actors to research their roles. Haaretz (one of Israel’s national newspapers) praises Fauda as “everyday reality that most Israelis prefer not to see up close.”
In fact, I’ll leave the final words to Haaretz contributor Michael Handelsaltz. The show takes its title from the Arabic word for chaos. It is also the code word for the unit to abort a mission. As Mr. Handelsaltz writes “hell keeps breaking loose around us as we watch.