Fauda: An Israeli Netflix series that makes oppression sexy

Israel Palestinians
An Israeli policeman from a Mista’arvim unit disguised as a Palestinian protester raises a pistol in air as he arrests a Palestinian demonstrator in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Dec 13, 2017. (photo: Nasser Shiyoukhi / AP)

We would all do well to remember that Fauda is part of Israel’s well-oiled public-relations machine, which knows how to transform Israeli brutality into sexy, heroic images.

By Miko Peled | Mint Press News | Jan 12, 2018

Palestinians often identify [Mista’arvim] when they show up, even though dressed like locals. At some point, they will pull down their ski masks, pull out their guns and arrest young Palestinians who participate in the demonstrations. They are also known to provoke violence, which is then used to justify the violence perpetrated by the Israeli forces against Palestinian protesters.

Palestinian resistance is legitimate and sanctioned by the inalienable right that all oppressed people have to resist their oppressors and occupiers, even with the use of arms. Israeli violence is raw and unchecked brutality intended to keep Palestinians from raising their heads. But the conventional wisdom is that Palestinian resistance is terrorism and Israeli violence is counterterrorism.

From time to time equivalency is drawn between the two, pointing out that both sides are “human.” While this can be misconstrued as “progress,” it is actually an insult to the cause of justice because there is no equivalency to be drawn between oppressor/occupier and the those fighting for their freedom.

In early 2017 a friend asked me whether I had watched the Netflix series “Fauda.” I said no, and this was the beginning of several weeks of persuasion, at the end of which I succumbed. “Fauda” is an Israeli-produced series about an Israeli paramilitary unit that is called in Hebrew “Mista’arvim.” The word “Mista’arvim” is a cross between the Hebrew word for camouflage and the word for Arabs.

While regular soldiers in the field wear uniforms and camouflage so that they will not be spotted by enemy forces, these are armed, undercover units that wear civilian clothes but dress and talk like Arabs.

Although similar units had been operating from as early as the 1950’s, the “Mista’arvim” unit was the brainchild of one of Israel’s most notorious killers — a man with the dubious distinction of being Israel’s most decorated soldier, who also holds the record for the shortest term as prime minister of Israel: Ehud Barak.

In the late 1980’s, during his tenure as the commander of the IDF Central Command, then-General Barak — who himself came up the ranks of Israel’s notorious special units and had participated in countless assassinations of Palestinians — thought it would be useful to have a military unit where the soldiers looked and sounded like Arabs. This would allow them to infiltrate Palestinian communities and collect intelligence, detain and kill without being detected.

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