The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a group that objects to American support for Israel, is criticizing USA Network over its new event series "Dig," which premiered Thursday.
Because "Dig" was produced with the assistance of a grant from the Israeli government and the pilot includes scenes filmed in East Jerusalem, the group claims that USA is complicit "in whitewashing Israel's military occupation and illegal colonization of East Jerusalem."
USA declined to comment.
The archaeological excavations and underground tunnels in East Jerusalem depicted in the series have also been controversial because critics say the projects, which residents have blamed for damage to Palestinian homes and schools, are a way to expand Jewish settlements in predominantly Palestinian areas.
"Dig" was the first large-scale television production to be filmed in Jerusalem, according to the Times of Israel. The pilot was shot on location in Jerusalem, but the production relocated to Croatia, Canada and New Mexico following the eruption of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip last summer.
The U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, a pro-Palestinian coalition whose members call for the end of U.S. military aid to Israel among other goals, has also staged small protests against "Dig" outside Rockefeller Center in New York City and on location in Israel in the coastal city of Jaffa.
"Dig," with its geopolitical themes and globe-trotting plot, represents an ambitious venture for the USA Network as it continues to diversify its programming.
The 10-episode series, which stars Jason Isaacs and Anne Heche, draws inspiration from the region's long and fraught religious history and has been compared to "The Da Vinci Code." It also has a strong pedigree, coming from Tim Kring and Gideon Raff, who respectively created "Heroes" and "Prisoners of War," the Israeli series which was adapted into "Homeland."