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November 22, 2018 8:03 am

New Netflix Series Shines Light on Israel’s Counter-Terror Expertise

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy


A screenshot from the new Netflix series, ‘Terrorism Close Calls.’

Israel’s use of targeted killings during the Second Intifada is the focus of an episode of a new Netflix docuseries.

While controversial, the practice of assassinating Palestinian terror leaders helped Israel quell the surge of violence it faced between 2001-2005.

In an interview with The Algemeiner this week, Jon Loew — the chairman of Big Media and an executive producer of “Terrorism Close Calls,” which delves into the details of major thwarted attacks across the globe — talked about the episode — titled “The Israel Honey Trap” — and what he learned about the Jewish state’s counter-terror expertise during its making.

A transcript of the interview follows:

Why did you think it was important to include an episode on Israel?

“To many people, including me, it’s clear that Israel is on the front lines of the West’s war on terrorism. It became obvious throughout the production of the series that many other countries law enforcement and intelligence agencies felt the same, and capitalized off of Israel’s decades of experience fighting the same enemies. Many media companies seemed to be afraid of including positive stories about Israel for fear of a backlash of some sort. We are not afraid of speaking the truth.”

What were the top challenges you faced when creating the Israel episode?

“Surprisingly, while we met with some hesitation — I would not call it resistance — from our international buyers, the greatest hurdle was actually getting the Israeli security services to believe that our documentary would be objective, and not just another anti-Israel hit piece. Oddly, I think the Israelis were surprised that a foreign company like ours would remain so objective, and they were almost unclear as to how to cooperate so closely with us.”

Looking at how various countries deal with terror threats, is there anything you would say is unique about Israel‘s approach?

“Israel is operating so close to its enemies, including enemies within, that it became obvious that the Israelis had a very compassionate view on how to fight terrorism. While some Westerners, including me, would wonder why Israel would continue providing electricity to Gaza during a war against Hamas, it was important to the Israelis that they not lose their humanity — even if the rest of the world did not take notice. They were more worried about the ‘one pregnant Gazan who couldn’t get help at a local hospital’ than they were about public opinion.”

In the episode, some of Israel‘s best counter-terror minds speak with you very openly about strategy and specific cases they were involved in. Were you surprised by the frankness?

“Our company has a reputation for being fair and honest, so the people we were interviewing understood they could trust us from the get-go. I think our great experts were happy to have a fair and welcoming environment to really share how they felt. We were very luck to have access to great agents in Israel and so many other countries.”

Israel’s experience in counter-terror operations is so extensive, how did you come to chose the specific instance — involving the first female Hamas suicide bomber — that you centered your attention on?

“We worked very closely with Fauda co-creator Avi Issacharoff on the Israel episode, and after Avi suggested this case it became obvious that we had to choose this one. As a proud American Jew from New York, it gave me great pleasure to simultaneously showcase Israel’s counter-terror proficiency and humiliate Hamas at the same time.”

“In the case of the ‘suicide bomb mother,’ it turned out that she was not a ‘selfless martyr’ willing to give up her wonderful motherhood for the cause. She was caught having an affair with her Hamas husband’s commander. The only way the Hamas guys could save face was having her kill herself. There is nothing noble about this and it was important to us as a team that we expose this.”

The ten-part “Terrorism Close Calls” docuseries, including the Israel episode discussed above, is available for viewing on Netflix now.

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