I watched the first few episodes of 'Fauda' last week. One thing I noticed almost immediately was the same thing that had struck me about 'Hatufim': all of the Israeli characters were secular, while the folks on the other side were for the most part devoutly religious. Depictions of Jewish religious practice were almost entirely absent, while mosques and imams and Koranic quotes were everywhere.
In a blog post a couple of years ago, I wrote:
The Israeli television series 'Hatufim' - adapted for American TV as 'Homeland' - tells the story of two Israeli POWs who return home after 17 years in captivity at the hands of a terrorist group. Throughout the series, Nimrod and Uri struggle with questions of loyalty and identity; over and over, both of them tell the women in their lives "I'm not the same man I was before." ...I was reminded of this by a recent post at Jonathan Spyer's Facebook page, where he remarked on the confidence and assertiveness of the islamist side in Israel's muezzin controversy:
Religion - Jewish religion, that is - is notably absent from 'Hatufim'. The Jews of 'Hatufim' are secular Israelis who go to the synagogue only for bar mitzvahs. It's unlikely that they are fastidious about observing the Sabbath or the kosher laws (although it's hard to tell on this latter point, as all the characters are vegetarian). The Bible is quoted only once - in a reference to the Mossad's motto, Proverbs 24:6.Contrast this with the devotion to purpose the Children of Jihad (the fictional terrorist group), whose members pray regularly, listen to Koranic sermons, and are often found at the mosque. In a battle of wills - if we accept Sharansky's premise - which side is better armed?
An interesting development regarding the ‘muezzin law’. The most instructive comments here are from MK Hanin Zouabi who says ‘It isn’t the noise that is harmful, but the outspoken presence of the Arabic language that emphasizes the place’s identity, along with a certain level of controlling the space. It is a fight over it and control of it. If the will pass, we won’t respect it. We won’t lower our voice in our own space.” This comment is instructive when one bears in mind that the complaints relate to the fact that the muezzin calls in many parts of Israel are set at a volume that requires Jews and other non-Muslims to listen to Muslim scriptural recitations in the middle of the night. That is, for Hanin Zouabi, control of ‘her’ space means imposition of control on yours too, with an absolute lack of concern regarding any rights and desires you might have. The overly loud muezzin calls are a feature of the Israeli landscape. I never heard anything like them in Aleppo, Idleb, Ankara, Baghdad etc. They relate precisely to the thing that Zouabi is talking about, and to the recognition of involvement in a totalistic national and religious contest. This is a manifestation of the Arab-Islamic nationalism which sees the entire region as ‘its’ space. Regional minorities who don’t want to end up in exile or on Sinjar Mountain would do well to listen carefully to her words. They relate to a relatively minor issue, but they are deeply instructive regarding the core dynamics of the region. I would add that while Zouabi’s words are primitive and in a way repulsive, they are also quite impressive. They are testimony to the ability that the Arab-Islamic nationalist outlook has of investing even the smallest things with national and religious significance. This is evidence, in my view, of a certain civilizational strength which should not be dismissed
Jonathan later commented on 'Fauda':
the Arab Muslims appear in this series to be a far more rooted and dignified bunch than the Israeli Jews. But I think that this doesnt reflect the reality of the people who serve in Israel's security forces/services, but rather the prejudices of the authors of this show, and of the people who tend to write tv screenplays in Israel. They tend to be part of the old, shrinking secular-leftist elite, so they portray the Israelis as they wish they were, not as they actually are today (ie everyone in the show is basically native born, secular, and left of center.)
And I think this is right. The image that's portrayed is a projection of the liberal media's world-view - although I think 'Hatufim' was a very, very good series, and much better written than 'Fauda'.