Doron Cavillo (Lior Raz) served for many years in the secret unit of the Israeli army “Yechidat Mistaravim”, which means “Imaginary Arabs”. This unit operates in the Arab and border areas, and its fighters pretend to be Arabs: they speak Arabic, imitate Muslim religious rites.
At one time, Doron hunted for a long time for the terrorist Tofig Hamed, nicknamed Abu Ahmad (Hisham Saliman), through whose fault more than a hundred Israelis died, and in the end managed to kill him. After that, Doron left the squad and went into winemaking: he produces merlot and hopes to never have to deal with his former job again.
At some point, division chief Mickey Moreno (Yuval Segal) arrives at Doron’s vineyard and informs Cavillo that Abu Ahmad appears to be alive. But Doron need not worry. Tomorrow the wedding of Abu Ahmad’s brother should take place, at which he must somehow appear, and then the Moreno squad will try to destroy him.
But Moreno is afraid that the fighters of the unit will not be able to identify the terrorist, so they will not be hindered by the help of the one who has already killed him once – Doron. Cavillo does not need to participate in the operation, says Moreno, the squad will go to work with cameras, and Doron will simply sit at headquarters to identify Abu Ahmad. Cavillo initially refuses, but Moreno does not press him. He knows that Doron will not miss this opportunity.
Indeed, Doron arrived at the location of the detachment and told Moreno that he would go to the operation along with his former colleagues. Moreno planned to send fighters to the wedding under the guise of purveyors of sweet treats. One of them will be Doron. Well, the rest of the fighters – each has its own combat mission.
However, the wedding did not go according to plan, Abu Ahmad managed to escape, and now Doron will not be able to return to his winemaking until he gets Abu Ahmad.
I was advised “Fauda” in the comments to a review of the series “Jack Ryan”, in which the head of the CIA analytics department and his subordinate wandered around the world, trying to prevent the terrible trick of Sheikh Suleiman: you see, he was not hired in Paris, from – for which he was terribly upset. The series turned out to be rather weak, the main characters are very so-so, Suleiman was not impressed, and the work of the special services was shown from the series “kindergarten, holster on a bra”. It was then that they advised me to “Fauda” as an example of a series where the work of the special services is shown in a completely different way from cinema.
“Fauda” in Arabic means “chaos” – this term is used by the Israeli military to describe the situation when everything gets out of control in the conflict area (the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip).
The script for this series was written by Avi Issakharov and Lior Raz: they both served in a similar secret unit, and Avi Issakharov also worked for a long time as a military reporter and wrote about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Interestingly, when Avi and Lior brought this script to the producers, they were not at all enthusiastic about it and even considered that no one would watch it. However, when the first season was filmed, it aroused great interest in Israel and became the most popular project in the history of Israeli television.
After that, the Netflix streaming service became interested in the series, which acquired it, and they didn’t even do English dubbing for the show: both seasons were shown in the original (in Arabic and Hebrew) with English subtitles.
And in the States, the series also aroused great interest and received the most flattering reviews in The New York Times, The New Yorker and other publications. And even before the start of the second season, Netflix announced that it was renewing the series for a third season.
So what is it, why the series aroused such interest? Here, of course, a huge role is played by the fact that the script was not written by some Hollywood screenwriters who never sniffed a real terrorist, as they say, but by people who themselves served in such a unit, worked undercover and fought terrorists . Moreover, one of them – Lior Raz – also played the main role in the series – that same Doron Cavillo.
In the series, this squad looks very realistic, and there is no supermanization and glorification of this unit, on the contrary – they are all completely ordinary people, not superheroes at all, they do very hard and dangerous work, they make mistakes (and where to go in such cases?) , sometimes make very serious failures, the relationship between them is also quite complicated – as in any similar team. But at the same time, they are very close, because they understand that their life depends on how their comrades behave, and the life of other members of the detachment depends on their behavior.
Another very important point is how the Arabs are shown in the series. They are all living people, and many of them are quite nice. No “terrible Arabs who are pissed off by brave Jews.” Arabs, Jews – people living their ordinary lives. They are very similar, it is not without reason that Jews easily impersonate Arabs, and most of them are very beautiful and colorful people. And even Abu Ahmad is not a cardboard terrorist, but also a living person with his own principles. He loves his wife and children, however, just as he is ready to sacrifice his own life in the name of his struggle, he is ready to sacrifice his loved ones.
The authors of the script themselves said that it was important for them to show both sides. That the Palestinians are also people with their own problems, their joys and sorrows, and not just some kind of soulless targets. Revenge breeds revenge, violence always breeds reciprocal violence, and this is a vicious and vicious circle.
However, there is still a very serious difference in the positions of the parties, which must be well understood. The Palestinians hate Israel and the Jews, whom they believe should be destroyed. Therefore, they absolutely do not care which Jews to kill. All Jews are enemies to be destroyed. In the film, the mother of an Arab terrorist says to her daughter-in-law: “Why don’t you celebrate with everyone this wonderful day when another Jew was killed?” Jews do not consider all Palestinians as enemies. They know that they want to destroy them, and they fight only with those who pose a real danger to them, who threaten them. They are being protected. And this needs to be clearly understood, and in the series this moment is not pedaled at all.
Interestingly, the series clearly shows how similar the two main antagonists – Abu Ahmad and Doron Cavillo are. Both of them are stubborn, brave, strong-willed and do not recognize any kind of superiors over themselves. Abu Ahmad is a lone terrorist and does not want to negotiate with people from the PLO, Doron is also not too eager to follow the orders of his superiors.
Doron is not at all handsome, unlike the other members of the squad, but he has great charm. Yes, he is rude, taciturn, very direct and does not choose expressions – a kind of typical Israeli “sabra”. And he will not back down until he gets Abu Ahmad (or until Abu Ahmad gets him, because Doron operates on foreign territory and is constantly in mortal danger). He does not get along with his wife, for which he himself is to some extent to blame.
Lior Raz played Doron perfectly, which was also probably facilitated by the fact that Lior went through all this in real life in many respects: some episodes from the life of Raz were included in the series. For example, the story of how his wife’s brother’s fiancée died – in reality, Lior himself had a girl with whom he met for three years, died from a stab by a Palestinian terrorist.
It turned out to be a wonderful character – solid, characteristic and very bright. And he does not look like a hero at all, he is just a trained specialist who knows how to do his job. There is one small episode at the very beginning, when Doron, who returned “to the field” again, having arrived home, trains to quickly draw a pistol and change the clip – he restores old skills. And this makes a very big impression, because you understand: this person really knows how to do this and his life depended on such an ability.
Of the other characters in the series, of course, Abu Ahmad, played by Hisham Saliman, is very interesting. As I said, this is not a crazy fanatic, but a completely living person with his own principles. On the one hand, he has quite sympathetic, purely human features, but on the other hand, it is clear that he is ready to kill Jews in any quantities just because they are Jews, and he will sacrifice his family, which he seems to love very much. the name of their principles, because principles are above the family.
The third most important character in the series is the young Walid El Abed, who helps Abu Ahmad. He was played very well by Shadi Marie. Walid, on the one hand, admires the legendary terrorist, but on the other hand, he has various questions about what exactly Abu Ahmad is going to do and how he is going to do it. And there is also a line of Walid’s falling in love with his relative, Dr. Shirin, who has an affair with Doron. In short, everything is mixed there as it usually happens in real life.
Shirin El Abed, by the way, was played by Laetitia Eido, a French actress of Arab origin, and there is an episode where she speaks perfect French. A very beautiful woman and a good actress, that’s downright impressed.
You can talk about the actors there for a long time: most of the actors (Jews and Arabs) are very colorful and charismatic. But I would like to mention just one more character – the military investigator Gabi, nicknamed Captain Job. He was played by a very famous comedian in Israel, Itzik Cohen. And I also read that he is not just a comedian, but a comedian who became famous in the drag queen genre – this is when men perform in parody shows in women’s clothes and makeup.
It was all the more surprising to hear all this, because the investigator Gabi in the series is a huge man with a powerful charisma, who seems to speak softly enough, but you understand that he can take decisive action at any moment. Well, one must understand that military investigators in any country are very powerful and fearless people (the same Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s novels is a former military investigator).
Here, interestingly, it is shown that Gaby is cooperating with a representative of the Palestinian security service and they agree with him. A Palestinian there in one episode says to Gaby, who arrived in Arab territory: “Why are you scaring me? I served seventeen years in your prisons, I’m not afraid,” but he talks to Gaby and they cooperate.
It is absolutely impossible that Doron will negotiate with Abu Ahmad. There the question is very simple: which of them will be the first to kill the other. But at the same time, Gabi still negotiates with a person from the security service, that is, some kind of dialogue is possible there.
I read in some articles that, they say, the characters in the film speak Arabic terribly and in reality they would not have passed a single checkpoint. I absolutely cannot appreciate how they speak Arabic and Hebrew there, but it’s hard for me to assume that the same Lior Raz, who served undercover in such a special unit for many years, speaks Arabic poorly.
I also read somewhere that in the film, they say, only Jews were filmed and they depicted Arabs unreliably.
As far as I understood, the Arabs in the film were mostly played by the Arabs. It’s just that not everyone understands that in Israel, a state that the Palestinians hate as a class and want to destroy entirely, there are approximately 17% of Muslim Arabs and somewhere else 2% of Christian Arabs.
And Lior Raz said in an interview that before filming, they agreed with the Arab actors on the lines of their characters and changed them if the Arabs believed that their characters were not portrayed too reliably.
The staging is very realistic. This, of course, is not a mockumentary, that is, not a pseudo-documentary, although some elements are traced here, but it looks as if you are really watching special operations, in which at any moment everything can go wrong as planned. I also note that this idea with shots from a drone watching the Arab territories is great and looks great in the series.
Of course, after the release of “Fauda” various scandals could not but begin. Moreover, as far as I understood, it was not the Palestinians who protested more there, where the series was also watched very actively, but all sorts of organizations like these morons of beautiful people from BDS who call for a boycott of Israeli products and goods: they sent letters to the Netflix management demanding to stop broadcasting the series “Fauda” as “racist propaganda of the Israeli occupying army, terrorizing the inhabitants of Palestine.” Netflix put a huge bolt on these cries – and rightly so, of course, they did.
Great series, I’m glad I watched it. Tough, realistic, credible, and, as far as I could tell, fairly balanced on both sides. Everyone there is living people, everyone has their own principles and solves their own problems.
By the way, my wife will not let me lie: when I watched the first episode of the series, I said that, in my opinion, it was clearly filmed by the Palestinians. Jews undercover there, of course, are shown as courageous and fearless people, but the operation at the wedding sinned with such terrible jambs, miscalculations and fakap that I do not believe that the glorified (without fools) Israeli special services can work like that.
But I’m forgiven. I was brought up on American action movies, where the brave intelligence services always flaunt, flaunt in everything, flaunt on land and in water. But in life everything happens in a completely different way. What is valuable about this series, which shows it with a very high level of reliability.
Now the important point about how to watch it all. (And, of course, it is very desirable to watch, and absolutely regardless of whether you sympathize with the Palestinians or the Israelis.) There are three options in torrents. One is the wildest: with this moronic “sports betting” ad, which, moreover, yells every five minutes, plus obviously English-speaking Israelis do dubbing, who don’t even remember English very much, because they allow terrible jambs, plus all this is voiced by people who, for such voice acting, should be exiled to the desert to weed cacti – this is really terrible.
The second option is voice acting from ColdFilm. A polyphonic voiceover. There, it seems, the translation is more adequate, and the voice acting is a little livelier.
But the best option is to watch in the original with English, as for Netflix subtitles. That’s when you get the maximum immersion in this very outstanding series. Even if you (like me) don’t understand a damn thing in either Arabic or Hebrew. But it will be as authentic as possible.
And so this series was watched in America, which surprised me a lot: usually they still prefer English dubbing.
PS As my friends from Israel told me, many young conscripts work in this unit. Here is a recent video about the work of this unit.
Fauda movie meaning
Director: Lior Raz, Avi Issakharov
Cast: Lior Raz, Shadi Marie, Letitia Eido, Itzik Cohen, Neta Garty, Tzachi Halevi, Rona-Lee Shimon, Doron Ben-David, Roy Avigdori, Yuval Segal, Hisham Saliman
Series, Israel, 2015, 40 min.