Hit TV show Fauda is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Israeli content that has taken the world by storm. But the action-packed world of Doron Kabilio et al is far from being the only fabulous made-in-Israel TV you can catch from the comfort of your own couch.
We’ve compiled a list of our 10 favorite Israeli movies and TV shows available on streaming giant Netflix, ranging from old to new, critically acclaimed to pure fun. Enjoy!
Image of Victory
A newcomer to Netflix, the 2021 movie Image of Victory tells the story of the battle for the southern Israeli Kibbutz Nitzanim and its surrender to Egyptian forces during the War of Independence in 1948. While that sounds terribly historical and dire, the movie is actually a lot more about human nature, love and loss.
It was directed by Avi Nesher, one of Israel’s most famous cinematographers. Its title, Image of Victory, relates to the mission of a young Egyptian journalist to capture the image of Egyptian victory over the kibbutz, and offers an ambitious, and beautiful, glimpse to the troubles and difficulties of both warring parties.
Hashoter Hatov is a super-fun police comedy/drama that reportedly drew inspiration from cult TV show Reno 911. It tells the story of Danny Konfino, a cop with a huge midlife crisis – his wife cheated on him, he goes back to live with his parents and nothing works out quite like he would have liked it to. An enjoyable, easy-to-watch series that is extremely Israeli but somehow also universal.
When Heroes Fly
When Heroes Fly is based on a bestselling novel by the late and great Amir Gutfreund. It tells the story of group of army friends who set aside their differences and trauma from serving together in the Second Lebanon War to rescue Yaeli, the sister of one of them and ex-girlfriend of another, who’s stuck in a cult in Colombia.
The series is action packed and very, very Israeli, focusing on themes such as war, post trauma, family and comradeship. Despite the difficult topics that it covers, it makes for great watching, and is as binge-worthy as it gets.
Camp Confidential tells the story of Jewish refugees ordered to keep Nazi scientists happy as they were recruited for the Cold War space race, and is absolutely fascinating.
Shortlisted to the 94th Academy Awards in the Documentary Short Subject category, the film is partly animated, and manages to recount the incredible story of Jewish-refugees-turned-American-soldiers who suddenly found themselves amusing and keeping company with top World War II German officials brought over to the United States to develop rocket technology.
It is interesting, touching and thought-provoking, and is the type of movie that stays with you long after you’ve watched it.
Quite possibly the most heart-warming entry on this list, the 2007 movie tells the story of Miri, an Israeli flight attendant who suddenly finds herself responsible for the young child of the Chinese woman who was working for her.
Miri is determined to reunite the child, nicknamed Noodle, with his mother, who was deported from Israel, with the journey that ensues helping the twice-widowed Miri find her way back to life. The film encompasses both deeply personal moments and a greater Israeli narrative of love and loss and combines the two in a wonderful manner.
The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem
Based on the terrific novel by Sarit Yishai-Levi, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem depicts a multigenerational family in Jerusalem. The story spans the Ottoman, British and Israeli rule of Jerusalem, which provides a vivid and picturesque backdrop to the dramatic lives and secrets of the Armoza family through the years. The TV series features some of Israel’s best-loved actors (hello there again, Michael Aloni), and gives a sneak peek to Israel of old and new.
The Band’s Visit
The Band’s Visit is probably one of the best-loved films ever made in Israel, featuring top-tier actors such as Sasson Gabai, Saleh Bakri, Uri Gavriel and the late Ronit Elkabetz. It tells the fictional story of an Egyptian band that mistakenly finds itself in a little town in the middle of Israel’s Negev Desert, and of the friendships and relationships that blossom in a most unlikely manner. The film’s Broadway adaptation, in which Gabai played his original role, won 10 Tony awards.
Blackspace, which began streaming on Netflix in 2021, is an Israeli crime drama about a police investigation into a school shooting. Police suspect that the shooting was carried out by the school’s students, and set out to discover the culprit using information gleaned from an encrypted messaging app called Blackspace. Israeli crime TV is not a usual occurrence here, and the show was well-received for its novel approach.
Fill the Void
A beautiful, touching film, Fill the Void brings to life the story of Shira, a young ultra-Orthodox woman, who is pressured to marry the widower of her elder sister who died in childbirth. It was written and directed by ultra-Orthodox filmmaker Rama Burshtein and enables a deeper look into the lives of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, as well as into family dynamics, love and loss. It was well-received both in Israel and abroad, winning a slew of awards.
Last but not least, this list would most certainly not be complete without Fauda. The hit TV show, which captivated audiences all around the globe – even in the Arab world – manages to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a complex, non-obvious way without glossing over its violence and ugliness while still retaining an action-packed, fun beat and array of hugely likeable characters from both sides of the border. A must-watch, in case you were still wondering.
Rough Diamonds is the newest Israeli addition to Netflix, airing only very recently. An Israeli-Belgian co-production, it tells the story of an ultra-Orthodox family in Antwerp, Belgium, and their business in the city’s famous diamond district. There’s no Hebrew involved, but rather Dutch, French, English and Yiddish, but it does feature Yona Elian, one of Israel’s most famous theater actors, and Israeli cantor and performer Dudu Fisher. Definitely one to watch out for, and to enjoy in a guilt-free binge.