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Is Fauda Based on a True Story?

April 15, 2020
4 min read

Fauda is an intense political Israeli television thriller. It delves deep into the murky waters of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. The show has been widely lauded for its depiction of the moral confusion that ensued during these times. Apart from its riveting storyline and classic cliffhanger approach, what makes it so popular in both Israel and Arab countries, is the feeling of realism that manages to evoke in its viewers.

So I’m pretty sure that if you’ve already seen it, you must be wondering how the creators of the show came up with something like this. Is it possibly based on real-life operations of the military unit that has been depicted? If not, how close are these fictitious operations to the ones carried on in real-life? Well, to know all these answers, read on.

Is Fauda Based on a True Story?

For the most part, the characters and the storyline of ‘Fauda’ are a work of fiction. Even so, the show is based on one of the top elite “mista’arvim” units of the Israeli army,  called “Duvdevan.” The term “Duvdevan” translates to “Cherry” in Hebrew and literally implies that the unit serves as Cherry to the top of the Israeli Defence services. Joining the military services is a compulsion in Israel, for both men and women. However, joining “Duvdevan” is voluntary. Even the two developers of the show,  Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff have served in the Israeli Defense Forces and they’ve drawn inspirations for its storyline based on their own personal experiences.

Lior Raz, the show’s co-creator and writer, is apparently one of the graduates of the “Duvdevan” unit. In one of his interviews, Lior Raz, also explains how the show acquired its name: “In Arabic, “fauda” means chaos. In the late 1980s, early 1990s, there was the first intifada that began in Israel. The Arab population started to use this word “fauda” as a symbol for “let’s go out and demonstrate.” But on the Israeli, undercover side, soldiers started to use “fauda” when someone discovered they were Jews or Israeli, and when they got burned. They would call on the Walkie-talkie and say “Listen, we have fauda.” This was the code for the rescuers to come.” Lior Raz also lost his girlfriend in terrorism and the one episode in the series that specifically deals with terrorism is actually dedicated to her.

How Accurate is Fauda?

After ‘Fauda’ became a huge hit in Arab Countries, many viewers started wondering if the show’s depiction of Israeli Special Forces and Palestinian militants is accurate or not. That’s when BBC even created a documentary, titled ‘The Real Fauda‘, which literally walks you through the entire background reality of the show. The documentary nosedives into the secretive world of the real-life operatives and draws several parallels between the events of the show and the real lives of the operatives.

A former IDF at Duvdevan Unit also addressed this question on Quora and claimed that when it comes to the tactical aspects of the Duvdevan unit, the show is extremely accurate. Although the deep-cover intelligence operations depicted in the show are very complex in real life and have a lot more at stake, the show manages to portray a pretty accurate depiction of these.

Adding to this, the former IDF—who also happens to be friends with the creators of the show—added that the cultural and administrative representation of the Duvdevan Unit in the show is not all that accurate. In real life, the Duvdevan Unit is actually much bigger compared to its “militia” style depiction in the show. Moreover, even the teams amongst these groups are “more specialized and much less generalized.” Almost every tactical aspect of a given mission is performed by a trained specialist.

In conclusion, ‘Fauda’s representation of Palestinian society and culture may have several discrepancies but at the same time, many aspects of its story are also grounded to reality; especially how it deals with the tactical side of the Duvdevan Unit.

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