I Love Fauda, But Can We Talk About its Adverse Effects?

Amid the COVID epidemic, the feeling of parallel universes is even more highlighted. While some still argue the danger this virus poses, others have not left their homes in weeks.

Of course, I am not intellectually immature to believe we should experience things even a little similarly. But I am still astonished at how differently that experience can haunt us. And I am not here to talk about COVID – in fact, my coping mechanism is not digging the topic. I am here to talk about something that watching FAUDA 3 just triggered in me yet again.

The parallel universes we are living in; the universes where visuals outweigh facts, where fabricated historical soundbites outweigh reality. And here I need us to stop: what is reality really?

Is there a reality when the sides of seemingly legit facts seem unbridgeable?

When I attend rallies, I go with my reality: Israel has the legitimate right to exist. Zionism is a legitimate civil rights movement. Anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism, as long as they are illustrating double standards, are purely side-wings of antisemitism. Palestine never existed as a nation. Israel has all the right to defend itself. And nothing justifies terrorism – not even if Hamas was “democratically elected”-

So that is me, exhibit A, on one side.

Then there is exhibit B on the other one, which comes with its reality: Israel has colonized a land, massacred Palestinians, occupies Palestine, acts like a Nazi, kills children and women on purpose, Zionism and the Jewish state is racist.

How are you even supposed to close this gap?

If you ever read the book, Attached – no, absolutely not Israel-related – it explains how adult relationships can only work if they have compatible attachment styles. If one is anxious, the other is a distant type; there is only a 10% chance that the relationship can lead to anything “peaceful”.

How are we supposed to make peace out of such parallel realities?

I know that this is when we need to turn to facts. But let me tell you something about facts. My Russian ex-boyfriend, who was living in Hungary, learned that they, the Russians, came to free Hungary. I learned that they, the Russians, came to occupy us.

Whose reality is the real?

Before I get too philosophical now, here is why I think FAUDA 3 adds to the Industry of Lies (an expression that is the title of Ben-Dror Yemini’s fantastic book).

Again, I want you to think like someone who does not know much about the conflict. Think like someone who is watching all the Israeli-Palestinian happenings from above. Someone, who knows about the issue at hand from the media (in the best-case scenario not from CNN, but in the worst-case scenario, from CNN or RT). Someone who knows about the issue at hand only from UN reports.

Let me know when you are ready with this persona and then sit down and watch Fauda 3.

Do not get me wrong; I LOVE the show. I shamelessly binge-watched it in 48 hours. But, I sat down watching it with my truth, my reality, my intellectual capacities to understand this is a fiction with reality-like storylines.

But our imagined persona will watch the show and get the moral implications similar to the one CNN projects to him. What are these implications?

That Israel is the powerful, and Palestinian Arabs are pure victims. That IDF units are playing with people’s lives, and Palestinian Arabs are exploited. That Israel’s siege over Gaza is indeed an open prison and Palestinian Arabs are radicalized as a result of Israeli oppression. That Israel has a highly strategic army and Palestinian Arabs are freedom fighter – aka justified terrorist.

I really do not want to be a party-pooper here, and I want you to enjoy the show. But I also see the danger of season 3. Something that a week after its release on Netflix is already palpable in the media.

IndieWire has already run an article that is a complete character study on the protagonist Doron. He screws up everything, “intensifying the danger on both sides” – basically, the article draws an absolute metaphor for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through Fauda.

Could we remind ourselves that this is fiction?

But here is the real danger – the article reads as follows: “It [Fauda] doesn’t give Palestinians equal screen time, nor come anywhere close to an emotional understanding of the motivations behind terrorism…”

I hope you get this. In this parallel universe, the viewer is missing the in-depth picturing of justifying terrorism. Do I understand well that we should give a mandate to terrorism, because …?

Sadly, and this is the message I wanted to convey in this piece, I had this uncomfortable unease throughout the show. 1. Fauda 3 plays in to the hands of this parallel universe 2. Fauda 3 re-echoes the narrative that is so annoyingly well-know for anyone who reads anti-Israel news: Palestinian Arabs become radicalized because of Israel.

The storyline hopelessly re-affirms all that is used against Israel: Israelis exploit Palestinian Arabs, this leads to the radicalization of the victim, who then feels justified to kill a Jew.

Add to this the typically toned op-ed on Haaretz, which evidently is just a vomit of nonsense. The article is titled Fauda’ Isn’t Just Ignorant, Dishonest and Sadly Absurd. It’s an anti-Palestinian Incitement. The author scripts a whole litany on how this show does not display the reality and let me quote: “They [Fauda] aren’t shown shooting or killing any Palestinian women or children.”

Or the writer criticizes further on how it is showing fake news depicting IDF soldiers as someone who cares for civilians, while in reality (the author’s reality) the “opposite is true.” Here he adds a UN report from 2014 showing that 551 kids were killed by IDF. Then concluded that “Israelis need to know the unvarnished truth: that their army is responsible for killing all these civilians, and for recognizing the chasm between those deaths, their perpetrators and Fauda’s fantasy soldiers.”

Interesting from a journalist who wants to stay credible that just a week before he penned this thoughtful (sic) article, a Palestinian Arab from Gaza was arrested by Hamas simply for joining a zoom meeting with Israeli peace activists. But again, this is my reality, and his reality seems to ignore it completely.

This is not the article that will provide solutions. I just wanted to raise an issue that I take to heart. If all the grassroots organizations are out there fighting for the “return to reality” and to debunk the lies about Israel vis-à-vis Gaza, the West Bank and the Palestinian Arab people at large, why does an Israeli show that is watched by millions intensify the narrative of the industry of lies?

Again, let me reiterate: Fauda is a fantastic show. But what we forget is that when it comes to Israel, nothing, but nothing, is just an innocent fictional show – nothing is taken as apolitical. The sad reality is that everything has a subliminal message – and for that Fauda is an adverse addition.

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Virag Gulyas

Virag is a digital communications strategist and personal branding consultant. She is also a loud pro-Israel advocate, the founder of Almost Jewish, a pro-Israel movement that aims to change the stereotypes about Israel and the Jewish people one day at a time.

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