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Why Israelis Are Angry About the 'Homeland' Finale



This photo released by Showtime shows Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in "Homeland," Season 4, filmed in South Africa. (AP Photo/Showtime, Joe Alblas)

Some Israelis were irked following Sunday's season finale episode of "Homeland," which included dialogue comparing a former Israeli prime minister – and Nobel Peace Prize winner – to a Taliban terrorist.

This photo released by Showtime shows Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in "Homeland," Season 4, filmed in South Africa. (AP Photo/Showtime, Joe Alblas) Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in "Homeland." (AP Photo/Showtime, Joe Alblas)

Here’s how the Israeli newspaper Haaretz described the scene:

In the scene, former CIA chief Saul Berenson [Mandy Patinkin] confronts CIA black ops handler Dar Adal [F. Murray Abraham] about the latter's deal with wanted militant Haissam Haqqani [Numan Acar]. The Taliban warlord promised the Americans not to harbor terrorists in Afghanistan, in exchange for his name being crossed off the U.S.' terror list.

"He just massacred 36 Americans," Berenson protests in the scene, to which Adal responds: "Menachem Begin killed 91 British soldiers at the King David Hotel before becoming prime minister" – a reference to the 1946 bombing of the Jerusalem hotel by the Irgun, a right-wing Jewish underground group.

Under Begin’s leadership in the 1940s, the Irgun carried out attacks on British installations in order to pressure the British to pull out of Palestine and grant the Jews self-rule. Begin’s approach stood in contrast with the wider Zionist leadership at the time which favored cooperation with the British.

In 1946, the Irgun placed a bomb in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which was then the headquarters of the British Mandatory authorities. The group later said it had placed phone calls to the hotel, the neighboring French consulate, and to the main English-language newspaper in Jerusalem, warning that the hotel should be evacuated, a warning that was not heeded. (While the show referred to 91 British soldiers as having been killed, the 91 actually included British soldiers, Palestinian Jews and Arabs, as well as other nationalities.)

Herzl Makov, president of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, blasted the line as "slander against Menachem Begin and Israel."

"To say that Menachem Begin killed? He wasn't there. The underground organization was under his command and he took responsibility. Additionally, during the incident, three warnings were given to the British to evacuate the place. The British commander refused. Therefore, there is a dramatic difference between the two incidents that were compared,” Makov told Ynet. “As far as I'm concerned, it is just like saying that they are both terrorists because they wore brown shirts.”

The Emmy Award-winning "Homeland" is actually based on the Israeli series "Prisoners of War," which Makov said made the Begin line "especially irritating."

In 1977, Begin won a landslide victory as head of the right-wing Likud Party to become prime minister of Israel. Two years later, he agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt as part of the historic Camp David Accords peace treaty, for which he and President Anwar Sadat won a joint Nobel Peace Prize.

Gideon Raff, the creator of the Israeli series and an executive producer for the U.S. show, did not comment to Ynet. Showtime declined to comment to the Hollywood Reporter.

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