Farha and the image of Israelis worldwide - opinion

Lovers of Israel all over the world must rally together and demand that Netflix not provide a platform for Farha, which may pose an immediate danger to Israel and Israelis.

 JEWS AND Arabs shop at a supermarket in Gush Etzion. (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
JEWS AND Arabs shop at a supermarket in Gush Etzion.
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

In the coming days, Netflix will release a new drama called Farha. The series will focus on the battles that took place during Israel’s War of Independence. Wartime provides fertile ground for thrilling content for such a TV series, which will no doubt include great battle scenes, and the physical and emotional trauma both of the Israeli soldiers and their Arab opponents. The possibilities are endless.

With so many storylines available, it is beyond disappointing that the drama will present IDF soldiers as murderers of a baby. In fact, it is completely not acceptable. To date, Israel has reacted with silence, choosing not to fight against the broadcasting of this series.

Yet, Israel does not have the luxury of sitting idly by as a propaganda war is waged against her in pop culture. In fact, you just have to look at the way Israelis who traveled to Qatar for the World Cup have been treated by their hosts to appreciate the consequences of unmitigated indoctrination.

“If you were from Israel, I would stop and I wouldn’t take you,” said a Qatari driver to Eli Ohana, one of the greatest Israeli soccer players who played in Europe and is now a commentator. Ohana, who came to provide expert analysis on the World Cup, painfully shared the hatred towards Israelis that he encountered.

Guy Hochman, a media personality and network anchor, also encountered inexplicable hatred that led to his immediate and public expulsion from Qatar after videos were circulated calling for his arrest because he served in the IDF. Journalists such as Ohad Ben Hamo and others also described the expressions of hatred for Israel they encountered.

A Qatar 2022 logo is seen in front of the skyline of the West Bay in Doha ahead of the FIFA World Cup, November 10, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/JOHN SIBLEY/FILE PHOTO)A Qatar 2022 logo is seen in front of the skyline of the West Bay in Doha ahead of the FIFA World Cup, November 10, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/JOHN SIBLEY/FILE PHOTO)

As Qatar does not allow Israelis to visit their country (special allowances were made for the World Cup), these are most likely the first Israelis that these Qataris have ever met in person. But Qataris feel very empowered and entitled to judge every Israeli as evil, based on the steady stream of propaganda that they have been fed.

What do they know?

NEVER MIND that if we ask those haters to show us where Israel is on the map, they probably wouldn’t know. They certainly don’t know about the medical aid Israel provided to thousands of wounded Syrians, nor the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who come every day to work in Israel, or the industrial zones where Israelis and Palestinians work side by side.

They know nothing about the electricity and running water that Israel supplies to the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip. They feed only on the propaganda that they receive from traditional media outlets like Al Jazeera and social media networks like TikTok. Let’s not let Netflix become yet another platform for disinformation.

As the mayor of Efrat, I have had the opportunity to host hundreds of senior delegations from Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia, and even Arab countries. When they arrive in Efrat, they discover that on the roads of Gush Etzion, Palestinians and Jews travel alongside each other on the same roads and work at factories and businesses side by side shop with each other in the same stores, and lead common lifestyles.

I do not embellish the reality here, and I do not try to convince them that we are right and that they must support the settlements. But those who come with an open mind, viewing that reality has an impact. Many will stop their demonization of the settlers.

As they internalize the complexity of what they have viewed, they realize the need to think differently and begin to humanize the Israeli experiences and the shades of grey that they did not believe existed.

If we stay silent in the face of Farha, if we do not work to prevent it from airing, we will give the instigators and the haters yet another platform to slander Israel even further. We will allow them to add another chapter to their campaign of hostility that will meet us on the Arab streets, both near and far.

Members of the outgoing and incoming government, those in the opposition and the coalition, and lovers of Israel all over the world must rally together and demand that Netflix not provide a platform for this series, which may pose an immediate danger to Israel and Israelis.

The writer is mayor of the city of Efrat.