Israeli Star of Netflix Terrorist Drama to Appear at New York Synagogue
Lior Raz stars as Doron in “Fauda,” and is also the creator of the groundbreaking Israeli show, which won the Ophir (Israeli Oscar) for Best Drama Series and recently became available on Netflix. The actor and writer will be appearing on Wednesday, March 22, at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City.
In a phone interview, Raz spoke about his life, career and the success of Fauda.
Alan Zeitlin: What aspect of Fauda are you most proud of?
Lior Raz: That everyone can relate to it. You can be Arab, or you can be Israeli. You can be right wing or left wing. You can be Jewish or Muslim. I think that’s the most important thing — that everyone can relate to it. Many Israelis started to learn Arabic after watching the show, and for me, that’s a huge success.
AZ: In 1990, your girlfriend, Iris Azulai, was stabbed to death by a terrorist. How did you psychologically deal with the tragedy?
LR: It’s the hardest thing ever to lose your lover and your love. I didn’t speak for a few months. I was really, really depressed. But I was in the Army, and I got support from my friends. I didn’t stay at home. I was active. In the series, we wrote about a girl who is killed — and that’s based on Iris. The process of writing a character based on your dead girlfriend was, in a way, a healing process.
AZ: Soldiers are macho and often don’t talk about their feelings. Do you think the Israeli Army is doing a better job now with PTSD?
LR: That macho-ism is not a part of my life. But when you’re in the Army, you don’t talk about your feelings. It’s something that protects you from what you are doing at that time. I think the Israeli Army is welcoming ,and is sensitive to soldiers in a war. But I think that everybody that is in a war zone has a kind of PTSD. War is trauma and the things that you are dealing with are hard.
AZ: Your show has been praised for displaying the human side of Palestinian terrorists, instead of making them complete caricatures. At the same time, they are the bad guys and you are telling the story from the perspective of an Israeli. Was it hard to find a balance?
LR: Even if I was writing a TV show about criminals, I wouldn’t want them to be just a flat character — just a bad guy. It’s not interesting. I think it’s so important to show that they have lives. But the things that they are doing, people pay the price for it — their friends, their families and of course Israelis. As an actor, I want to be able to play and love every character. Even the biggest terrorist has a wife, and he loves her.
AZ: Hamas has called your show propaganda. Were you upset that they didn’t give it five stars?
LR: I don’t give a damn about Hamas, sorry. I don’t care about Hamas. The show is from the perspective of a Zionist Israeli because I’m a Zionist and I’m Israeli. For sure, they think that it’s propaganda because for them it’s an Israeli hero catching and killing Hamas terrorists. So they don’t like it. I don’t care. We didn’t expect they would see the show.
AZ: With the show now available on Netflix, many Americans are getting a chance to see it. How do you expect them to react?
LR: I’m getting a lot of emails from people all over the world. Many of them are telling me that this is the first time they can understand the people in this conflict For me, it’s a big win. At the same time, I think that the people in the US now see that Muslim terror is not just an Israeli problem. Sadly, I think many Americans can now see things from our perspective.
AZ: Nobody expects that a TV show will lead to peace, but do you think that in some small ways, it can help improve attitudes?
LR: People can change because of art. I got an e-mail from someone in Saudi Arabia, and she said that watching the show was the first time she felt compassion for the Israeli side. In Israel, I met a right-wing settler, and she told me that [the show] was the first time she’d felt compassion for the Palestinian side. So it means we did something good.
AZ: In a fight between you and Doron, who would win?
LR: Doron — because he’s crazier than me. I’m an actor doing my art. I’m not feeling that I’m in a war. I would try to settle a conflict. Doron would fight immediately.
AZ: What about Doron vs. Jack Bauer?
LR: Of course, Doron. I think Doron has fought all his life, so he understands war better.
AZ: What should we expect in Season Two?
LR: It will be much more global. It’s the same war. The needs are the same. But instead of Hamas, it could be ISIS. The war is still going on — it’s not going anywhere.