“Fauda” creator Avi Issacharoff charmed, chatted and offered sneak peaks of the second season of his hit TV drama to a full house Sunday night at The Times of Israel Presents “Fauda Behind the Scenes” at Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai cultural center.
During the hour-and-a-half-long conversation led by Times of Israel social media editor Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Issacharoff told stories from his nearly two decades of working as a journalist in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, how the show first got started, the unprecedented global response to the show now available on Netflix, and to what extent the intense drama mimics real life.
“Fauda,” about an undercover Israeli unit that operates in the West Bank, is named for 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.
The region was much more unstable and chaotic in the 1990s and early 2000s, when Issacharoff began reporting for Israeli newspapers, he said.
Issacharoff recalled several stories that inspired “Fauda” storylines, including being in the West Bank city of Nablus to interview a known Palestinian terrorist, only to have two different men claim to be him.
He also told the audience about meeting Gaza fighters who took ecstasy pills in order to stay awake to fight against Israeli soldiers for hours on end.
“I can’t define how much is based on our real experiences because it is fictional,” said Issacharoff. “It doesn’t look like that in reality, but we tried to make it feel real.”
However, there are many details that did end up influencing their storylines and episodes, particularly Issacharoff’s experiences as a reporter, interviewing terrorists and their families, and seeing them as real people, even at the most difficult of times.
“What we try to do in ‘Fauda’ is take the devil and to have the ability to see the other side,” he said.
Issacharoff and Lior Raz, who plays Doron, the main character on the show, grew up together in Jerusalem, and both spoke Arabic fluently, as each had Arabic-speaking parents. They met again years later, as both were thinking about writing something about the undercover army units in which they served.
They agreed to work on a TV script together, said Issacharoff, although he couldn’t imagine who would buy a show about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. “It’s the most boring concept ever,” he said.
Several TV channels passed on the project, until Yes agreed, and the first season was released in 2016.
Since then, “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.
There are other facets to the show’s success, said Issacharoff, describing Israeli fans who only want selfies with the Palestinian actors, and the official Hamas website which linked to the first season of the show.
Issacharoff said that he has recently observed less “fauda” and militants on the streets of the West Bank and more law and order, even to the point where he says he now needs to wear a seatbelt and pay for parking.
Although so much violence is associated with the show, he hopes for a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict, but doesn’t see it coming too soon. So, for now, more “Fauda.”
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