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My Verdict on Netflix’s Palestinian Show Mo

I have already reviewed Mo’s first two episodes , and can now deliver my verdict after watching all of the eight episodes. And I stand with my initial impression: it is not as bad as it could have been, and is, in fact, quite touching and humorous.

Given the premise of the show is the life of a palestinian Arab American, I naturally expected there to be some anti-Israel propaganda, so the bar was initially set quite low. And there definitely is, like: Mo’s mother speaking of what ‘the Zionists’ have supposedly done to their family; Mo claiming ‘Jesus was palestinian’; the judge in their citizenship case overruling an objection to Mo’s lawyer stating they are from the country of ‘Palestine.’

Yet these moments are actually quite few and far between. In fact, when it comes to Mo’s family. their treatment at the hands of Kuwait is actually depicted as worse than that at the hands of Israel. Also, in my mind, any anti-Israel propaganda is less frequent and impactful than those moments that show Jews and Muslims getting along.

In my first review, I included a scene of the Zionist, Jewish friend and Mo’s uncle – verbal combatants yet good friends.

The subsequent episodes contain more of the same, with the Jewish friend recommending a Jewish lawyer for Mo (to replace his palestinian Arab one who was not doing her job), selling a suit to Mo’s friend for his wedding (a scene that has Mo’s uncle making an antisemitic comment, and then defending it by claiming he cannot be antisemitic because he is a ‘semite’ – in what I took as making fun of that spurious argument, rather than endorsing it), and dancing at the wedding with his Muslim friends.

The most powerful scene, though, might have been this one, were Mo stands up for his Jewish lawyer against his former, palestinian Arab one.

There was also a hilarious scene in which Mo’s nephew, after a pep talk from Mo (which includes telling him how palestinian Arabs are great at throwing rocks), hurls a baseball aggressively at the batter, hitting him in the back. Only after the batter takes off his helmet, grimacing in pain, does his yarmulke show, and the nephew is accused of a hate crime.

In an interview with Variety, show creator and lead Mo Amer reveals his approach to depicting the conflict:

It’s the first time ever that a Palestinian has created [and is the] lead of his own show, and obviously, that’s part of our origin story. It was important to communicate that very clearly without being over the top. A lot of shows are filled with almost-propaganda and want to push so much in your face. Whereas this is just a really gentle tale of a family that’s struggling emotionally after being displaced a second time and trying to put the pieces back together.

I used characters that I’ve always wanted to put on TV: an Arab uncle [Kamal Zayed] and and an Israeli character [Rosenberg] opposite him, and they get to argue in a healthy, sometimes unhealthy way, but they’re still friends. They have some kind of empathy towards one another. We didn’t want to do it like every episode is: “What’s happening with Israel?” And olive oil throughout the season is an amazing symbol. The olive branch; the extending of peace.

This really comes across, which is why I have a positive impression of the show overall.

I know there will be some fellow pro-Israel folk who will not feel the same as me, and may even hate this review. That’s ok. I just happen to fully appreciate that for someone like Mo Amer, who was brought up with stories of supposed Zionist crimes against his family, he could very well have turned out to be antisemitic and full of hate towards Jews – like the majority of those who are supposedly “pro-Palestine.” So I appreciate him using his platform to promote peace, not hatred, while acknowledging his side’s pain, based on the narrative he has been fed.

The fact antisemites do not like the show for reasons like it is too moderate for them

is validation for my rather positive opinion of it.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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