Will the real Zohan please stand up?
Adam Sandler's character bears uncanny resemblance to ex-counterterrorism commander Zohar Dvir.
Brigadier-General Zohar Dvir, commander of the Israel Police Valleys District, likes to keep a low profile. He talks to the media sporadically, and stubbornly refuses to divulge details of his past as an IDF and police commando fighter.
Millions of cinemagoers worldwide have already acquainted themselves with the outlandish character of the unrelenting Israeli commando fighter Zohan Dvir, played by Adam Sandler in Dennis Dugan's multi-million blockbuster comedy You Don't Mess With the Zohan. As unlikely as the analogy might be, some people staunchly argue the character is based on the famed police officer, who is the former commander of the Special Police Unit (SPU), Israel Police's flagship counterterrorism unit.
"I haven't seen the film yet," Brigadier-General Dvir told Haaretz in a telephone interview on Tuesday. "I don't know whether it's based on me or not, it's open to speculation."
In this wacky parody of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Zohan, a fearless hit man who brushes his teeth with hummus and has a license to kill as well as a penchant for pretty women, is fed up with killing after years of serving his country. He fakes his own death and flees to New York to pursue a slightly different line of work - hairstyling. Having specialized in killing Arabs, Zohan finds, to his amazement, Jews and Arabs living side by side in relative peace.
Sandler, an American Jew who was fed with the myth of the invincible IDF from an early age, has said he conceived Zohan as early as eight years ago. He shared the idea with screenwriters Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow, but the first draft of the screenplay was put on hold after the September 11, 2001 attacks. When terrorism and the Middle East regained ground in Hollywood, the project was re-launched.
While the comedic trio was working on the film, Brigadier-General Dvir led the SPU through one of its most ominous periods - the years of the second Intifada, during the course of which it killed 129 militants.
In 2003, he was critically injured in a car crash, but soon recovered and returned to the unit's helm until his promotion in January 2007. Unlike his Manhattan-based counterpart, Zohar Dvir was relocated to the Valleys District headquarters.
He told Haaretz on Tuesday that he intends to see the film soon to find out, among other things, whether taking up his current job was a grave mistake in judgment.
"I have no ambition to become a hairstylist," he said, "but I want to see the film and see whether it pays off."
The film's production team was unavailable for comment.