Netflix Support Israel – in January, the English-language portal of the prominent Israel Hayom newspaper enthusiastically reported Netflix’s sudden inclusion of an “exceptionally large number of Israeli-produced films.” Speculation arose that this move was a potential strategy to regain customers who had canceled subscriptions in response to an “anti-Israel film,” depicting Israeli soldiers as murderers.
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The contentious film in question, “Farha,” released in December, portrays the horrors of the Nakba in 1948, marking Israel’s so-called “independence” by causing significant Palestinian casualties and demolishing numerous villages. Despite ongoing incidents that reflect negatively on Israeli soldiers, such as the January 26 rampage in Jenin resulting in the death of 61-year-old Majida Obaid, Netflix’s decision to showcase films like “Farha” and the 2022 series “Mo” represents a departure from its usual content. This deviation challenges the prevailing Israeli narrative and offers a glimpse into Palestinian reality and legitimate history.
Historically, Netflix has been inundated with pro-Israel content, glorifying Israel’s security and intelligence services while perpetuating the myth of Israeli victimhood. Notable titles include “The Spy” and the popular series “Fauda,” adhering to the conventional Israel-versus-“terrorists” formula. Even productions like “The Red Sea Diving Resort” depict Israel as altruistic toward global refugees, conveniently omitting its role in creating millions of refugees.
In 2019, when confronted with allegations of propagating Israeli propaganda, a Netflix spokesperson claimed they were in the business of entertainment, not media or politics. However, actively boosting the ratings of a country engaged in civilian casualties is inherently political and not purely entertaining.
Although Netflix has diversified its Arabic content since then, the platform still appears overly favorable to Israel, echoing broader Western discourse biases. Despite the release of “Farha,” Netflix’s “Israeli Movies & TV” section remains unaffected, inviting audiences to enjoy a variety of genres from Israel.
Without a personal Netflix account, I used a Lebanese friend’s login to watch “Farha” and searched “Israel” on the platform. The results included titles like “Israel: Birth of a Nation” and “Against All Odds: Israel Survives.” A search for “Palestine” yielded “Mo” and “Farha” at the top, emphasizing the ongoing challenge of depicting Palestinians as humans rather than “terrorists.”
The success of series like “Fauda” has contributed to the Zionist transformation of Palestinians into intimidating and exotic figures in their own homeland, as noted by Orly Noy of the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Noy highlighted how the West Bank’s cities, like Nablus, Ramallah, and Jenin, became cinematic terrain symbolizing a netherworld rather than vibrant cities.
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As Netflix influences global perspectives, its portrayal of regions like Jenin can inadvertently legitimize real-life military actions. While the Washington Post quoted Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman’s criticism of Netflix releasing a film that falsely incites against Israeli soldiers, the profit-driven streaming service has engaged in more questionable actions.
As Israel prepares for potential future conflicts, it’s time to reevaluate the special relationship between Netflix and the Israeli narrative, considering the platform’s impact on global perceptions and its potential role in legitimizing military actions.