In his view, the show has another distinguishing characteristic.
“There isn’t any hero in the sense of a good guy or a bad guy,” Zonder said. “Life is more complicated. There is a protagonist and an antagonist — Doron is the protagonist and Abu Ahmad (Hisham Suleiman) is the antagonist.
“It’s not that Doron is good and Abu Ahmad is bad. … It was important for me as an Israeli to show that members of the Hamas military wing have their families and their motives. They are not [totally] evil. This is the basis of the DNA of the first season of ‘Fauda.’”
The show has been praised for this refreshing perspective and equally for its gripping plot. Palestinian writer Yasmeen Serhan wrote in The Atlantic in June that despite her qualms with watching a show about the conflict from an Israeli perspective, it is “binge-worthy TV.”
“Fauda” was a surprise hit in Israel and, subsequently, in much of the rest of the world.
“The settlers loved it. Even Hamas,” Zonder said. “Their spokesman posted online that ‘the Zionists could not kill us in the field, so they’re killing us on TV.’ Then they put a link to the first episode on their website.”
In March, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel insisted that Netflix drop the series, claiming it “promotes and legitimizes the war crimes committed by death squads.” It may, in fact, do the exact opposite, and give even the staunchest Israeli supporter pause about tactics used by the Israeli military.
Before “Fauda,” Zonder wrote the multiple award-winning docudrama “Sabena Hijacking: My Version,” about the 1997 hijacking of a Sabena Airlines flight and the rescue of its passengers. It was Israel’s entry in the 2015 Academy Awards’ foreign film race.
Between classes, he’s at work writing another docudrama, about the Mossad’s Operation Wrath of God, the effort to kill the terrorists responsible for the Munich Olympics massacre (it was depicted onscreen in Steven Spielberg’s film “Munich”).
Zonder came to Rutgers at about the same time the federal government reopened its case charging that the school failed to respond to discrimination aimed at Jewish students. A suit by the Zionist Organization of America alleges that organizers of a pro-Palestinian event singled out Jewish students by charging them admission for the free event.
If BDS protesters were to show up when he speaks at Rutgers, Zonder said he wouldn’t argue with them.
“I must tell you I’m really not a hero, but I would like to meet with [them],” he said. “I’m prepared to hear what they have to say in case they are ready to listen, too. Otherwise not.”