Complaints over 'intimidating' Arabic signs for hit Israeli TV show


Jerusalem (AFP)

Stark billboards in Arabic promoting the new season for a hit Israeli television series have prompted a public outcry from residents intimidated by the signs.

The second season of "Fauda," due to begin on Sunday night, was being promoted in cities throughout Israel with large black billboards carrying short phrases in white-lettered Arabic -- "brace yourselves", "on its way to you", "action will start in a bit" -- with no Hebrew translation.

The acclaimed fictional series delves into the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the story of an undercover unit.

The billboard campaign was nationwide, and residents in the northern city of Nesher, near Haifa, and Kiryat Gat in Israel's south complained about the billboards, according to officials.

They have since been removed and replaced across Israel, though it was unclear if the complaints are what prompted any of the removals.

"I'm happy to announce that thanks to our action, the intimidating signs were replaced," Nesher council member Shlomi Zino said in a Facebook video, gesturing to the new billboard with the word Fauda in Arabic and Hebrew and a picture of an actor.

"We'll continue protecting you," Zino said.

Kiryat Gat mayor Aviram Dahari said he would have a sign in his city removed on Sunday, explaining that residents perceived it as a "threat", according to a Channel 10 television report.

Israeli television company yes, which is airing Fauda, said in a statement that the series "deals with the complex relations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, speaks Arabic and Hebrew, and therefore, it is only natural that the series would be promoted in these two languages".

Series creator and writer Avi Issacharoff criticised Dahari and Zino, saying on Twitter that "there's no reason to be ashamed or afraid of a language. Maybe of ignorant people."

The 12 episodes of Fauda's first season tell the story of a Hamas militant being pursued by an Israeli undercover unit, with the story portrayed in meticulously constructed scenes reflective of the daily lives of Israelis and Palestinians.

It won six Ophir prizes awarded by the Israeli Academy of Film and Television in 2016, including best dramatic series.

It has also gained fans globally both due to its availability on Netflix and its appearance at international festivals.

The second season of Fauda -- chaos in Arabic -- was also due to be broadcast on Netflix in the first part of 2018.