'Homeland' Finale Stirs Controversy by Comparing Israeli Prime Minister to Taliban Leader

Homeland S04E12 Still - H 2014
David Bloomer/SHOWTIME

Homeland S04E12 Still - H 2014

Showtime's Homeland season finale is not sitting well in the same country which originated the show.

The Emmy-winning drama series wrapped up its acclaimed fourth season Sunday with an episode that included a remark which caused some outrage in Israel, where original series Prisoners of War, created by Gideon Raff, is from.

During a confrontation between Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) and CIA black ops specialist Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham), the latter justifies his recent cavorting with Islamabad high-ranked Taliban leader Haissam Haqqani (NumanAcar) by referencing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

"Menachem Begin killed 91 British soldiers at the King David Hotel before becoming Prime Minister," says Dar Adal in the scene, speaking of Begin, whom in the 1940s led underground Zionist group Irgun (Etzel), before Israel’s independence was proclaimed in 1948.

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Two years prior, following a British raid on Jewish civilians, the Irgun executed a bombing at Jerusalem's King David Hotel, which served as an administrative and military headquarters for the British, who had the mandate in the region at the time. Despite issued warnings to evacuate the premises by the Irgun, the attack totaled in 91 casualties, among them 28 Brits, 41 Arabs and 17 Jews, and is regarded historically as a contributing factor to the British mandate’s decline.

Speaking to Israeli news website YnetHerzl Makov, director of the Menachem Begin Center, demanded explanations regarding the comparison. "It is slander against Menachem Begin and the state of Israel," said Makov. "To say, 'Begin killed'? He wasn't even there. The underground resistance group was under his command, and he took responsibility. In addition, three warnings were given to the British to vacate and their commander refused. So there is a dramatic difference between the two cases compared. For me, it is like saying that [Begin and Haqqani] are both terrorists, just like saying they both wore brown shirts. It is surprising specifically because Homeland is based on the Israeli format Prisoners of War."

Begin went on to head major right-wing political party Herut (Freedom) and in 1977 became Israel’s sixth Prime Minister in what is known locally as “the revolution,” making him the first ever right-wing leader to dethrone the left-wing dominance in the country’s 30 years existence. Begin is also regarded for the 1979 unprecedented peace treaty with the Arab state of Egypt, and along with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, received the Nobel Prize for peace.

Showtime declined comment.