Neviim Tovim/TheHaftarah Circle Gillian Gould Lazarus

Archive for May 2017

SPOILERS included

Fauda is an Israeli television series first broadcast in 2015, about an Israeli undercover operation in the West Bank, specifically aimed at a wanted Palestinian terrorist. It’s now available on Netflix. Languages are Hebrew and Arabic and the actors are Israelis and Palestinians. The series was popular among both Israelis and Palestinians.

The characters are well developed so that no one is portrayed without humanity. Acts of kindness occur as well as acts of violence. The brotherhood of men at arms is shown to be sometimes profound and sometimes illusory. Many characters are vengeful, some hot-headed, some manipulative, some cautious. Many are driven by fanaticism and we can understand why. The antagonist is a Hamas leader whose innocent brother was killed – collateral damage – on his wedding day. The protagonist’s brother-in-law was killed brutally at the instigation of the terrorist. All the women are anguished due to the roles played by their loved menfolk.

I watched, on the edge of my seat, because, as with all good drama, it was easy to feel the fear and imagine the pain. One could feel pity, if not empathy, for the beautiful bride whose groom is shot by Israelis; the Israeli agent whose girlfriend is blown up in a Tel Aviv bar by the grieving widow; the Israeli captured by Hamas, the philanthropic doctor, the elderly sheikh who blesses the terrorists and is ultimately killed by the Israelis; the Israeli captain who drives the action and talks on the phone to his children about burgers and ketchup. At the soft centre of the story is a love affair between the Israeli protagonist and the Palestinian doctor who does not know that he is an Israeli agent. He seems to fall in love with her even while practising the deception.

The series depicts acts of brutality but also unlikely friendships across the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Are the handshakes and amicable conversations entirely specious? I don’t know, but would like to think they are not. After all, the production team and actors worked together on the most sensitive of subjects, with brilliant results and the series is a success on both sides of the divide.

It would be quite possible for Israeli viewers to see the Israeli characters as righteous and likewise for Palestinians regarding the Palestinian operatives This is to the credit of Lior Raz, writer and lead actor, who, with the rest of the cast, created rounded, realistic characters.

Fanaticism is always a topic of interest in fiction and drama, and also in our Tanakh. Who is more fanatical than Abraham, prepared to slaughter his son in obedience to God’s word? Fanatics fascinate, while their acts are questionable. Watch them from the edge of your seat but do not emulate them. Don’t emulate Abraham avinu, at least, not in terms of his fathering skills. In my view, Abraham’s finest moment was when he said ‘Shall not the judge of all the earth act justly?’ (Genesis 18:25) He was arguing with God, on behalf of the inhabitants of Sodom, in case there were righteous people among those destroyed.

This Abraham is our father, not the problematic dad of Ishmael and Isaac.
In Fauda, both Doron and Abu Ahmad are motivated by revenge and their perceptions of justice, to the extent that they are not deterred by collateral damage.

There is always collateral damage and only three people got out of Sodom alive. It would appear that God did not find ten just people there to save. The matter is not alluded to after Abraham’s intercession.

May 2017

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