Filmed in Jordan and produced jointly by Jordanian and Swedish studios, the film Farha, which depicts a Palestinian Arab family during the Israeli War of Independence, was added to Netflix’s streaming library in December. Douglas Murray writes in his review:
The problem for Farha as a work of art is that it is not only inaccurate, and propagandistic, it is almost unbelievably simplistic. The film (which on a side note is one of the slowest-moving films I have seen) starts with portrayals of Palestine before the dreaded creation of the state of Israel. To say that the depiction is saccharine is severely to understate things. The camera lens practically has Vaseline smeared over it. It concentrates on long drawn-out depictions of a young Palestinian girl, Farha, and her friends in an utterly Edenic land.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, that paradisical state is spoiled—with little warning and much melodrama—when a group of Jews murder Farha’s family in cold blood. Murray continues:
Although we get [just] one glimpse of Mandate-era British troops retreating, we have no sense of Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, and other troops advancing. We have no sign that Palestinians or other Arabs were involved in any atrocities or even fighting at this time. The film fails as a work of entertainment because it is so un-entertaining. But it fails as a work of art because it is so artless. So what is it doing on Netflix?
My suspicion is that the platform has taken a certain amount of criticism because of the number of Israeli-made productions that have appeared on the platform. Dramas like Fauda have been among the most popular series of their kind on the platform—something that has drawn a certain amount of negative attention in the Arab press. Though just consider the difference between what Fauda does and what Farha does.
Does Fauda show all Palestinians to be evil child-killers? No, absolutely not. The series repeatedly shows Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and others who want the best for their people and advocate and work for peace. Does Fauda show all Israelis as suffering, put-upon victims and people who are morally untainted? No, it shows people at all levels of society who are morally complex, torn, and self-questioning. Would Fauda even work as drama if it showed Israel without the Arabs as the sort of sepia-tinted Eden as Farha portrays the land without Jews as being? Absolutely not. And in that comparison you see the true ugliness of what Netflix has done here.