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Mixed reviews of 'Tehran' show among Iranians

‘Tehran’, a drama series produced by Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation (known in Hebrew as ‘Kan’) has received widespread media attention and generally positive reviews in Israel. The series depicts the experiences of a young, female, Iranian born Mossad agent who finds herself alone in Teheran after an operation against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure goes wrong.

Kan uploaded the series with Farsi subtitles to its website, and it has proven popular among viewers in Iran. Reviews from regime opponents within Iran, however, have proven mixed, with many feeling that the series portrays a too-sympathetic picture of the Iranian regime and its servants. Conversely, some pro-regime Twitter users have expressed approval for the series. Other pro-regime voices consider that the series forms part of a ‘soft war’ assault on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Below are a sample of Farsi language online reviews of ‘Teheran’ from Iranian viewers ("اسرائیل سریال "تهران).

Amir Ebtehaj, Twitter, July 3:

“I feel that the Israeli series “Tehran (تهران‎)” was made with the cooperation and help of Iran:

1. In this series, the members of the IRGC are introduced as selfless and patriotic people

2. Protesting students are addicted, drug dealers or make counterfeit passports and other offenses.

3. Mossad is described as a hostage-taking organization that don’t even care about lives of the family members.

Saleh Tasbihi, Twitter, July 3:

Confirmation of Iran’s assumptions by an Israeli (اسرائیل) series is strange.” [referring to IRGC claims that protestors are drug dealers and that foreign agents cooperated in the protests in Tehran.”

In a reply to an Israeli tweeter user, an Iranian user in Farsi wrote on 5/7: “ If Israel was a supporter of the Iranian people, you would not have ridiculed us by making the Tehran series.

By watching this film, we completely realized the mindset of the Israelis.”

another user added “How alone we are"

User Catherine136990 tweeted on July 8:

I've seen parts of it, watching these movies leads to this conclusion: the whole world is allied with the Islamic Republic of Iran. . The Tehran Series opened our eyes to the bitter reality that the continuation of the regime's life is even more important than the bread of the night for Israel and the West.

Pro-regime users, meanwhile, appeared impressed by what they saw as the negative portrayal of the opposition. H_Sadeghi_B, for example, who includes pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini, Imad Mughniyeh and Hassan Nasrallah at his Twitter profile, provided a link-guide enabling Farsi speakers to download the first 5 episodes of the series.

Freesarih8, another pro-regime account, wrote “to those who are advocating Israel, this Israeli series portrayed you all as drug dealers, addicts and homosexuals.”.

Another wrote that “this series shows that Israel won’t even last for next 25 days. [referring to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s assertion that ” Israel won’t last 25 years”].

Chape_adam, a pro-regime account, tweeted on July 8 that “Israelis could not do a proper research on Iran for a series (which even a simple person can do easily), then some people thinking that Israel knows all the secret and classified information of Iran. Instead of making films better they go and learn swimming. [referring to a regime threat to destroy Israel by a human made flood, by filling water bottles from Tehran to Jerusalem.]”

Haratyan_m tweeted on July 8: I watched the series, they are afraid of us badly. Is this the Mossad that Israel is so proud of?

In Telegram channels affiliated with the IRGC, similar sentiments could be found, along the lines of “ Our enemies know how powerful we are”

One regime supporter on Telegram found solace in the portrayal of fallible Israeli operatives in the series, given the recent revelations of action against the Natanz facility: “In the Tehran Series, shows that the last thing they can do against Iran (in their Hollywood fantasies) is to cut off Tehran's electricity. Now a handful of backward people are saying that Israel has attacked the Natanz nuclear site with F16s! “


Comments from discussions about the series among Iranian viewers:

“By hearing the Arabic music theme of the series, it gives a feeling that it’s about an Arab nation, not Iran.”

“The Iranian agent characters are portrayed as smart, family-oriented, charismatic. By contrast, the Israeli side and their Iranian agents come across as amateurs.”

“In reality the Etelaat (Iranian intelligence) agents are super aggressive. We don’t see that in the series. For instance in reality if Iran realized two Israeli passport holders are on Iranian soil, they would not release them that easily. They would imprison them and would do a hostage exchange with Israel or US to release them.”

“The slogans in the protest scenes are completely different than what was heard in the Iran student protests. “Peace, love, love peace, yes, wow, - that’s it “ (A literal translation of the Farsi slogans seen in the series). “In reality, in the protests in Iran the slogans of students and workers is “bring down the regime.’ One Iranian social media user made a short clip of it and criticized the dialogue/script writers in this regard.

“All the Basiji girls in Iran should wear Chador. We don’t see that in the series.”

An Iranian pro-regime news agency, meanwhile, ran an article on the series. The author wrote that: ‘it seems that all Israeli ‘soft warfare’ officers have come together to design and operate a comprehensive cultural attack.”

The article also noted what it referred to as “Influence through sexual intercourse.” It asserted that “adultery is a common issue for Israel and they use this tactic to attract new forces…Achieving the goal has no moral red line.”

The article goes on to assert that the field of TV production is now one of the sites of ‘soft war,’ and the author recommends that Iran now also begin to produce ‘serials, films and documentaries,’ to ‘globalise and export the ideas of the Islamic Revolution to other countries,’ and to ‘separate the Jewish community from Zionism.’ The author concludes with a recommendation that Iran also produce works dealing with Iranian military successes.

For some examples of social media critiques of the show see these links here and here and here and here and here. Israel's foreign ministry also tweeted about it in Farsi here.

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