Homeland Ruffles Israeli Feathers by Likening Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

Director of the Menachem Begin Center protests a scene in which the former prime minister is likened to a terrorist over the 1946 bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem.

Viewers of "Homeland" may have mixed feelings about the season finale that aired this week, but some Israeli viewers were particular uneasy over a specific scene, in which a former Israeli prime minister was likened to a fictional Taliban leader.

In the scene, former CIA chief Saul Berenson confronts CIA black ops handler Dar Adal about the latter's deal with wanted militant Haissam Haqqani. 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.

Herzl Makov, director of the Menachem Begin Center, was quoted in Ynet as saying that those allegations are libelous. "Begin wasn't there. The organization was under his command." He added that three warnings were given to the British to evacuate the hotel. "This is especially infuriating because 'Homeland' is based on the Israeli format 'Hatufim,'" he said. 

The King David Hotel after the Irgun bombing in 1946. Photo courtesy of the Underground Prisoners Museum