The Dream Factory. Notes from the Shop Floor.
The best defender of apartheid Israel is not that ferocious bully, AIPAC.
It is, and it always has been, Hollywood. The entertainment industry creates soft, smooth propaganda which is easy to digest, in a compelling dramatic form.
“It’s not propaganda. It’s just TV. Good TV.”
For those who loved “Fauda,” we present Spoilers — for the next installment of Netflix Apartheid TV — “Hit and Run.” Premiering August 6.
“Hit and Run” is a nine-episode action-thriller. IMDb says, “A happily married man’s life is turned upside down when his wife is killed in a mysterious hit-and-run accident in Tel Aviv.”
Netflix promos tell us that the man is an Israeli tour guide, Segev. Segev will become “caught up in a dangerous web of secrets and intrigue stretching from New York to Tel Aviv.”
“Hit and Run” is a successor to “Fauda,” which was produced entirely in Israel, by Israeli television companies. “Fauda” was exotic, absorbing entertainment. Netflix bought the rights and streamed it. “Fauda” was an international commercial success.
It was also easy-to-swallow, pro-occupation, propaganda. While it portrayed some Palestinians as almost human, “Fauda” reinforced the basic premises of Israeli apartheid.
Netflix was ready to take the next step — a US-Israeli co-production, shot in both countries.
I support of the cultural boycott of Israel. I see the ideological underpinnings of dramas like “Fauda” and “Hit and Run” as false premises for injustice. But of equal importance is the simple fact of the collaboration between the entertainment industries of both countries. In my opinion, this mutual embedding normalizes the brutal occupation of Palestine and normalizes Israel’s regime of violent apartheid.
The following plot summary includes useful, and justifiable Spoilers.
(These narrative twists were gathered from pre-production data and may not reflect revisions made after the start of shooting, or during the editing process.)
A young woman is struck by a car in Israel.
The car speeds away and disappears.
The young woman dies of her injuries.
Through many flashback scenes, we learn that her name was Danielle. She was an American immigrant, a dancer, belonging to the Israeli company Batsheva. In flashback we see Danielle performing with Batsheva. The shots emphasize sex and sensuality.
Danielle’s husband Segev (“Fauda”s Lior Raz), is introduced to us as a somewhat schlubby Israeli tour guide. In flashback we see Segev in the audience at Batsheva performances, grinning with satisfaction at his wife’s erotic gyrations.
In the aftermath of her death, Segev calls Danielle’s father, Martin Wexler, in New York. Wexler (Gregg Henry) is presented to us as a wealthy man involved in politics. Wexler tells Segev that he can’t attend the funeral of his daughter in Israel. His wife, Marcia, Danielle’s mother, is under the weather, and Wexler wants to stay in the city to be sure that she doesn’t get worse, and that she gets good medical treatment.
Segev is baffled. Under the circumstances, his father-in-law’s excuse seems weak.
In Tel Aviv, Segev gets very little information from the police about their investigation into the circumstances of Danielle’s death. He begins to ask questions on his own. His profession of tour guide belies his previous occupation as a special forces operative in the IDF (Israel Defense Force).
When Martin and Marcia Wexler plan a memorial event for their daughter in New York City, Segev flies there to attend. He is surprised to see how quickly his mother-in-law has recovered from her illness. He is introduced to some of his late wife’s American friends, from her youth. Something in the behavior of this gathering, and their histories, as related by Wexler and Marcia, is decidedly off.
Segev must expand the scope of his investigation in Israel, to include New York. He enlists the help of an old lover there, who is savvy about the city’s political and journalistic workings. She warns him that he is endangering himself in trying to solve the mystery of his wife’s death.
In the role of Segev, Lior Raz conveys the calculating ruthlessness of a special ops hit man. (Raz professes to have performed missions in the IDF that, to one versed in international law, could plausibly qualify him as a war criminal.) But to be a leading man in a nine-part series, he needed something more — a reason for the audience to care what happens to him. Lior Raz strikes one as a plump version of Jason Statham, without Statham’s leading man appeal, or his sense of humor.
The first few episodes leave us with many questions. To save several hours of your time, here are the revelations, the spoilers:
+ Danielle was not only a dancer. She also found time to train for, and build, a career as an officer in the US Central Intelligence Agency.
The revelation that Danielle was a spy raises a question:
Why would the CIA plant one of its officers in Israel? Why was this intelligence officer there, happily married to a tour guide, living the life of a dancer, under such deep cover?
+ We discover that Martin Wexler is not only a man of wealth who plays serious politics. He, too, is a CIA official. And his wife Marcia is not really Martin’s wife. She is … yes, another intelligence officer, and their luxurious brownstone is a stage-set for their operations. Martin’s real wife, or mistress, lives in one of New York’s outer boroughs, off the Bruckner Freeway.
+ In the long trail of flashbacks, we see Danielle inform Segev that she is about to leave him and their 12 year-old daughter Ella, possibly for good. She intends to move to New York to join the Mark Morris Dance Group. A short time later, she is killed.
+ As a former Special Forces operative in the IDF, Segev has his own ugly secrets. Will we learn that the IDF is a racist military machine, whose core mission entails crimes against humanity?
Is it worth watching nine episodes to find out?
+ In a flashback, we see Martin Wexler and a younger Danielle sitting in Washington Square Park playing chess among the more serious regulars. They are playing their own game, both fairly adept. We realize that this young woman is not Martin’s daughter. She is only like a daughter to him. He has known her most of her life; he has watched her grow up; he has assessed her skills. Now he is ready to recruit her into the CIA. She responds enthusiastically, and check mates him. Martin is impressed and pleased with her skill.
His successful recruitment is the first step on a very long trail which leads to the fatal hit-and-run of the opening scene.
To address the question which hangs over the whole “Hit and Run” saga: Why did the CIA assign Danielle to spy in Israel?
+++ We learn that US intelligence has discovered that an Israeli scientific team is researching, and possibly developing, a new generation of biochemical weapons. The US feels an urgent need for intel on that R & D.
No one, not even Israel, can be allowed to get an edge on us in the biowarfare arms race.
Will “Hit and Run” mention the fact that Israel already possesses the even more serious WMD: 200 nuclear explosive devices and the means to deliver them to multiple targets?
One of the bravest whistle-blowers of the twentieth century, Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu, told us, clearly. But “Hit and Run,” is unlikely to relieve your suspense on that score. It’s a slick, empty product of Apartheid TV. Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it on this enticing course of disinformation.