Assaf Bernstein, and actors Laetitia Eido and Lior Raz from the Israeli series Fauda. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
Fauda

The spellbinding Israeli spy series “Fauda” became a massive international hit, garnering fans in unlikely places, including the homes of high-ranking Palestinian officials.

By Ezra Stone, United with Israel

When Israelis Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff debuted the first season of “Fauda” in 2015, they weren’t sure anyone would even tune in to the series, which became a runaway smash in countries around the world.

The plot revolves around a retired Israeli counter-terrorism operative from the Mista’arvim unit who is pressed back into service to track down and kill a fictional Hamas arch-terrorist called “The Panther.”

The show’s lightning fast pace and nail-biting action sequences attracted droves of viewers from the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Unexpectedly, Raz and Issacharoff discovered the show became a massive hit in the Arab world.

“We thought that no one was going to watch it at all,” Raz recently told writer and political commentator Dan Senor during a recent interview posted to YouTube. “Then we started to get messages from Palestinians and Arabs.”

“On my Facebook and Instagram, I have hundreds and hundreds of messages from people from the Arab world–Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq and Tunisia.”

Issacharoff was shocked one morning when he received a phone call from a “former Palestinian official.”

“Anyone who deals with the Palestinian issue knows this person’s name,” he added, “and he’s watching the show and he likes it. He had some criticism also, but he said, ‘Hey, you did a great job, I wish you all the success in the world.”

Issacharoff continued, “One of Abbas’ assistants called me in the middle of the day, saying, ‘Avi how are you? Listen, my kids are hooked on “Fauda.” When is the third season coming?'”

“I had more or less the same experience from someone from Hamas who saw the first episode in the first season on YouTube and texted me. We’re talking about a Hamas official in Qatar. He sent a message on WhatsApp, ‘Can you send me the link for the second episode?'”

Raz also spoke about the show’s unexpected power to bring people together.

“What I love is when Israeli and Arab audiences tell me that this is the first time that they feel compassion for the other side,” he commented.

“I was in Abu Dabi for a few weeks working there shooting a movie with Ryan Reynolds and every night I had dinner with people from Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Because of the show, we were sitting together, having a meal.”

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