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June 3, 2018 9:11 am

‘Fauda’ Creators Talk BDS, Critics, and Whether There Will Ever Be Peace

avatar by Alan Zeitlin

Fauda creators Avi Issacharov and Lior Raz. Photo: Alan Zeitlin.

When Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff pitched their TV series about an undercover Israeli unit that hunts Palestinians preparing to launch terror attacks, Israel’s Keshet network told them to write a comedy about the conflict instead.

Now, the creators of the hit series Fauda — who stuck to their guns — are having the last laugh. Speaking at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to promote the release of the show’s second season, they addressed their critics, including the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s call for Netflix to drop the show.

“But it was a kind of a good PR for us,” Issacharoff said.

The show, while fictional, pulls from the experiences of both Raz — who served in an undercover unit similar to the one on the show — and Issacharoff, a longtime journalist who spent a lot of time in Gaza and met with top Hamas officials.

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Issacharoff said that much of the criticism he sees isn’t “about Fauda as a TV show,” but based on “a political issue with the State of Israel.”

Raz also addressed those who say that Palestinian writers should be added to the show, to give their perspective.

“I really want to tell … all those critics who ask us to bring Palestinian writers, if Palestinians want to write a show, they should write a show,” Raz said.

Asked if there will be peace between Israelis and Palestinians — and if there could be a two-state solution — Raz said that he has hope, since Germany and Israel are now friendly nations.

Issacharoff said he is both pessimistic and optimistic.

“The two-state solution is irrelevant today,” he said. “It doesn’t really exist, and at the same time, there’s no other solution, so I think that this is why we still hope that one day, there will be a two-state solution.”

In season one of the show, Doron makes it his mission to kill Abu Ahmed, a terrorist he thought that he previously killed. Hamas called the show propaganda. In season two, a terrorist named Nidal Al-Makdasi seeks revenge for the killing of his father, and winds up killing someone close to Doron, under the banner of ISIS. Issacharoff said that ISIS hasn’t yet commented on the show.

Some surprising details were also revealed.

For instance, Firas Nassar, who plays Al-Makdasi, has become a sex symbol in Israel; the second season was shot in only three months; and actress Laetitia Ido, who plays Shirin, spoke no Arabic and learned the words phonetically. In addition, Issacharoff said that he met the equivalent of a Palestinian FBI agent who was up around the clock and took ecstasy pills to stay awake.

Issacharoff said that the show is about creating captivating entertainment.

“The show is not about hasbarah,” he said. “Our mission wasn’t about improving Israel’s image in the world. Our aim was to bring a good TV show and bring the audience to look at the conflict from different perspectives.”

Raz will star in another Netflix show, have a small role in Mary Magdalene, and star as Mossad chief Isser Harel in Operation Finale, about the capture of Adolf Eichmann.

Issacharoff said that a top Israeli politician asked to be on the show, but they rejected his offer. And interestingly, though Yes — an Israeli channel — said “yes” to the show, some people feared that women would not watch. But a poll found that more women watched the show than men.

The takeaway is a simple one, he says: “What we were trying to show more than anything else is the price of the war on both sides.”

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