The Israeli television drama Fauda (Arabic for ‘chaos’) has attracted wide and unprecedented interest in Israel and worldwide. It is an action series about Israeli undercover soldiers (mista’arvim) operating in the occupied territories that charts new ground by revealing the human dimensions of the men and women who grease the war machine in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In contrast to successful Israeli television dramas such as In Treatment (Betipul, Hagai Levy, 2005–2008) and Hostages (Bnei Aruba, Rotem Shamir and Omri Givon, 2010–2012), the plot of Fauda is set far from Israel’s recognizable landscapes, venturing into the territories known to Israeli audiences only from news coverage. Looking for ways to re-humanize the enemy, scriptwriters Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff turn to melodrama. This article contends that although Fauda may be seen as radical because of its bold dramatic choices, the melodramatic infrastructure tones the show down and imposes a certain aura of conservativeness. As film historian Thomas Elsaesser has observed, ‘the persistence of melodrama might indicate the ways in which popular culture has not only taken note of social crises, but […] has also resolutely refused to understand social change in other than private contexts and emotional terms’.
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- Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Television drama
- the concept of the enemy