Netflix has committed a major faux pax in Jordan, transforming a street in the capital Amman into an Israeli street and sparking an outpouring of anger from Jordanians hostile to Israel.
The set featured Hebrew-language street signs, cars with Israeli number plates and actors dressed as Israel Defense Force soldiers. According to The Times of Israel, the scenes were constructed over the weekend to portray Tel Aviv.
One witness said Rainbow Street, a lively city centre location known for its bars and restaurants, had been closed for most of the day on Friday, and there were people dressed as soldiers and “stock-figure refugees”.
Israel and Jordan have an uneasy relationship. While Jordan maintains diplomatic relations with Israel, many in the country are hostile to their neighbour.
The creation of Israel in 1948 and annexing of the West Bank was catastrophic for Jordan, which was part of the defeated Arab coalition and had to absorb hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. The descendants of the displaced Palestinians make up a significant proportion of Jordan’s population.
The Amman street’s transformation led to outrage from some of the capital’s citizens, who called for protests.
One Jordanian said on Twitter they had written urgently to Jordan's Royal Film Commission (RFC) to demand an explanation, writing "this farce must be stopped." "We won’t stand for Amman being used to promote the Zionist enemy."
In response to the outcry, the RFC released a statement saying it had approved the production of an American, not an Israeli, film in Amman.
: الأمانة ل"الغد": لا علم لدينا بأن القائمين على فيلم يصور في #عمّان على أنه في "تل أبيب" سيغيرون أسماء الشوارع إلى "العبرية"#سؤال
متى اﻷمانه تعلن مسؤوليتها ؟
كل حادثه لا علم تخلي مسؤوليتها ولا علم لها !!! pic.twitter.com/V7Q7iPrjCp
— خربشة وطن (@home_jor) November 17, 2018
It has been speculated that Amman was chosen by Netflix as a location because Jordan is a substantially cheaper place to film than Israel.
The production is likely to have been for Jinn, a coming-of-age supernatural drama and the streaming service’s first Arabic language original series.
Netflix has yet to comment.