Film: From Cyrus to Ahmadinejad – The Not So Secret Iran-Israel War (2012)

March 8, 2015 | By


FromCyrus2Ahmadinejad_snapshotFilm: Excellent

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Genre:  Documentary / War

Synopsis:  Fascinating backstory of the low-level cooperation that existed between the governments of Iran and Israel during the 1970s, and the events that transformed Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu into bitter enemies.

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Produced when Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still in power, this BBC Persian Television documentary by Maziar Bahari reveals an unlikely relationship between Iran and Israel, which one historian describes as ‘love without marriage’ when 30 years earlier the two countries shared more than diplomatic relations.

Mutual admiration existed among diplomatic and economic emissaries during the 1970s when Israel sent experts to Iran to build-up the latter’s flagging agrarian industry, and sold sophisticated arms to the Shah’s regime when the U.S. military was more hesitant about sharing top-level technology.

Iran reportedly had one of the largest and wealthiest Jewish populations before the western-friendly environment of the Shah was toppled by the clergy in the 1979 Revolution. The repercussions meant an exodus of Jews beyond Iran’s borders, and them Islamic state’s efforts to vilify Israel.

A high-ranking Israeli diplomat characterizes the election of Ahmadinejad as the gift that kept on giving, since the anti-Semitic leader made it easy for the west to loathe his policies and fear the possibility that his regime was intent on developing and using a nuclear bomb against Israel, but there’s a pragmatism within the aging military, governmental, and diplomatic interview subjects from both countries who feel it’s not within either nation’s interest to blow the other up. Bahari’s interviews shed light on mistakes, quote off-record statements on strategic tit-for-tat assassinations, and sometimes a thin smile on a subject manages to hint at a likely truth when the official reply is a straight ‘no comment.’

Like his prior documentaries on Iranian politics, Bahari fills the doc with stills and archival audio excerpts and newsreel clips, making the film an important narrative that contextualizes the current state in which Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has moved from theorizing to being thoroughly convinced Iran is close to developing a bomb. Interspersed with interviews from Jewish-Iranian diaspora in Israel, Bahari presents a taut argument against escalating tensions to doomsday levels.

Maziar Bahari’s recent directorial work is the documentary To Light a Candle (2014), and some of his prior work is available online, including Mohammad and the Matchmaker (2004) and And Along Came a Spider (2003) on YouTube; and Reporters in Iraq (2005),  An Iranian Odyssey: Mossadegh, Oil and the 1953 Coup (2010), and From Cyrus to Ahmadinejad: The Not So Secret Iran-Israel War (2012) on Vimeo.

His 2009 incarceration in an Iranian jail was recently dramatized by Jon Stewart in the film Rosewater (2014



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



External References:
Editor’s Blog — IMDB  —  Vimeo Link — Composers’ Website (as Soundology)
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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