Friday, April 26, 2013

Before the Revolution

The Israelis are showing the film Raid on Entebbe on the outside wall of their embassy in Tehran, and Iranians are watching from the rooftops and balconies, weeping at the death of an Israeli commando and three Israeli hostages and cheering at the ultimate defeat of the Arab hijackers.  Really?  Iranians cheering Israelis?  The movie opens with this story told by a former security guard at the Israeli embassy.  Startling to say the least.

Before the Revolution told a story I'd never heard before, of the close relationship between Iran and Israel during the Shah's reign.  Israel sought a friendship with a neighbour in a region where they felt they could use all the friends they could get.  Iran provided Israel with oil and Israel 'provided Iran with everything else', but especially weapons and infrastructure.

The Israeli community included a variety of people.  Mossad officers who had helped guide the creation of the Iranian secret police and intelligence service were there to co-ordinate intelligence and to hobnob with Iran's powerful generals.  The rest were mostly there to build Iranian infrastructure, to live a highly privileged life in Tehran and to salt away money for their return to Israel.

Director Dan Shadur grew up in Tehran and weaves in family videos and reminiscences to give us a picture of the charmed life of Israelis in Iran, until they ignominiously fled after the return of Khomeni.  As one man put it, it really rankled to have to accept American help for that escape.

Before the Revolution once again underlined the risks of consorting with despots.  You may regret the hands those weapons fall into!

This was another good movie.  Well worth seeing.

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