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IDF Soldiers Play 'Fauda' at a Palestinian University to Entertain Israel

Omar Kiswani - arrested by Israeli forces in a raid on a Palestinian university in what seemed like a scene taken from Fauda - is yet another political detainee

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Undercover Israeli security personnel arrest a Palestinian protester near Ramallah, December 13, 2017.
Undercover Israeli security personnel arrest a Palestinian protester near Ramallah, December 13, 2017. Credit: Goran Tomasevic / Reuters
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The occupier is bored and that’s clear; bored to death. There’s not a lot of terror, except for the lone-wolf attacks and girls with scissors. They’re bored with pop-up roadblocks, but nighttime raids on villages for training and to keep them on their toes isn’t something that can beat the boredom.

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The action series “Fauda” is now portraying soldiers who go undercover as Palestinians, while the real undercover soldiers are sitting at their bases, not to mention at home. On an especially good day they go out on daring missions over enemy lines; they blend into stone-throwing demonstrations by schoolchildren and stop two kids with slingshots.

And so there’s nothing to tell their parents and friends, no heroic stories, no action; it’s boring. What will we do with all the elite units we’ve established? How will we obtain more funding and glory for them?

“Fauda” is a success. This is the way Israelis like to see the Jewish heroes and the Arabs. Sometimes you just need a little “Fauda” in your life. Why not do “Fauda” at a university? It’s a modern-day “Hasamba” – the iconic pre-state children’s-book series about a secret society of Tel Aviv kids who go on top-secret missions to help the Haganah.

In real life, the forces set out at dawn. The Border Police counterterrorism unit was armed with cameras to broadcast footage on the TV news. The destination: Birzeit University in Ramallah, “the Hamas wasp’s nest.” The target: the office of student union chief Omar Kiswani, an “arch-terrorist,” as the field coordinator in the Shin Bet security service probably told his subcontractors in the counterterrorism unit, heroes when facing off against students.

The mission was quickly completed. A great success. The Temple Mount is in our hands and now so is Kiswani. The student leader was dragged violently at gunpoint down the walks of the manicured and modern Birzeit campus, before the amazed eyes of the students. In the war on terror, you know, anything goes. Even breaking the unwritten rule that military and police forces don’t enter campuses, as ridiculous as it is to still mention this.

The next day, classes weren’t held at Birzeit, which was immersed in shock and justified anger at the people who had done this. No Israeli university let out a peep, of course; what does this have to do with the Committee of University Heads? What do the esteemed rectors, deans and professors have to do with a breach of academic freedom? After all, they have special academic programs for the people who did this.

Neither did any student activist protest the abduction of their colleague. They’re too busy planning their Independence Day parties.

Kiswani is now being interrogated by Shin Bet members. They haven’t had such a treasure for a long time. They tried to catch him twice, and this time, bingo. Maybe they’ll prove that he’s guilty of incitement, or even insurrection. He certainly doesn’t like the occupation, which is a serious matter in itself. They might not bother and simply send him to administrative detention without trial.

The Palestinian Authority also arrested him once because he organized a demonstration against it. Now the Israeli democracy is arresting him on similar suspicions. Kiswani is a political detainee who joins hundreds of other political prisoners held by the only democracy in the Middle East. The military correspondents were already reciting the details about the danger that was averted. Kiswani is, after all, a Hamas member, that’s for sure. His replacement will no doubt be Habayit Hayehudi’s representative at Birzeit.

Meanwhile, the operation puts every Israeli journalist covering the territories at risk. The police’s comments that the undercover soldiers didn’t masquerade as journalists were countered by students who said they saw them with cameras and microphones, presenting themselves as journalists.

Meanwhile, another thousand students will probably sign up for Hamas. They won’t forget how their leader was dragged out of the university. That was an abduction, like all the abductions by the army, the Shin Bet and the Border Police. And in the evening, Israelis delighted over the pictures of heroism. They got “Fauda” twice in one night; buy one, get one free.

How wretched is a regime that abducts a student leader from his campus and how tyrannical. But the real wretchedness is the response by Israeli society and especially academia. Just another pleasant evening of action TV.

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