Boycott Israel campaigners urge Netflix to drop ‘racist’ hit series ‘Fauda’

BDS movement threatens legal action if streaming company doesn’t remove TV show about undercover West Bank unit, claiming it ‘gives legitimization to war criminals’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The cast of Israeli drama series 'Fauda' (Ohad Romano via JTA)
The cast of Israeli drama series 'Fauda' (Ohad Romano via JTA)

The boycott Israel movement has asked Netflix to stop offering a hit Israeli television drama series about the adventures of an undercover unit operating in the West Bank, claiming it serves as propaganda for the Israeli army and gives legitimization to “war criminals.”

In a letter sent Wednesday, the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, known as BDS, threatened to take legal action if the internet streaming company doesn’t comply by removing the first season of the show from its service, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

The show’s name is the Arabic word for chaos, often used by IDF soldiers to describe their time serving in the West Bank and Gaza and by Palestinians to depict their daily lives.

“Fauda,” the campaigners wrote, serves as “racist propaganda for the Israeli occupying army and displays aggression towards the Palestinian people, and the process it is leading for freedom and independence.”

“This is a series that is racist against Arabs and that encourages violating international law and human rights — which could lead us to take legal actions against Netflix,” the letter noted.

The campaigners also noted that the show’s writers, Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, are both veterans of the real-life Israeli undercover unit that operates in the West Bank against Palestinian terrorism.

“The series gives legitimization to war criminals and its two writers are graduates of the death companies of undercover soldiers in the occupying army,” they wrote. “They are collaborators with the occupation apparatus, the Israeli colonialism and apartheid.”

Avi Issacharoff, left, and Lior Raz, the co-creators of Israeli TV series ‘Fauda.’ (Courtesy YES)

“Fauda” has enjoyed unparalleled success internationally for an Israeli TV show, prompting Netflix to commit to the second season, as well as two other show ideas that Issacharoff and Raz are working on.

Season two of “Fauda” will air on Netflix in 2018 in all regions outside of Israel and France. The show was filmed around locations in Israel.

In a response to the letter, Issacharoff, who writes for The Times of Israel, said he regretted the BDS action but welcomed the publicity.

“We want to thank the BDS movement in whose merit those Palestinians who have not yet seen ‘Fauda’ will now find a way to watch the series,” he said. “Just yesterday we talked with a friend in Gaza who didn’t stop praising the first season of the series.”

“It is regrettable to see the BDS movement trying to harm an Israeli work whatever it may be, no matter what its content,” he continued. “We have no choice but to wish them no success.”

There was no immediate response from Netflix Israel, Haaretz reported.

The streaming giant first picked up “Fauda” in 2016, after the show had won six Ophir Awards — the Israeli equivalent of the Oscars and Emmys. The series is based on Raz and Issacharoff’s real-life experiences serving in a special forces unit of the Israel Defense Forces, and stars Raz.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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