Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wartime spies against Israel fill Ramadan screens

This Ramadan, Arab viewers glued to their TVs have been regaled with 'patriotic' spy dramas based on true stories, according to Islam Online. Samia Fahmi is an Egyptian double agent who betrayed her fiance, a spy for Israel. Point of No Return has already flagged a series on Leyla Mourad, the Egyptian-Jewish diva, an 'Arab Jew' who professes ultimate loyalty to her 'homeland' by converting to Islam.

Egypt has already released the Spy War series, which features budding Egyptian female actress Menah Shalabi and iconic TV star Hesham Selim.

Selim, playing the role of an Egyptian intelligence officer, manages to reveal the classified story of Samia Fahmi, an Egyptian war reporter who covered the 1967 war between the Arabs and Israel.

Caught in a bizarre conflict between her love and her duty toward her country, Fahmi finds herself obliged to tell the authorities in Egypt about her fiancé who is recruited by the Israeli intelligence to provide information about the Egyptian army after the 1967 war.

Spy War director Nadir Galal says his series is not a departure from the reality of the relationship between the Arabs and the Israelis. On the contrary, it is a work that speaks aloud about this relationship.

"Based on a true story, the series is a treasure trove of great material that speaks of the intelligence war, which has not ended yet," Galal said. "The war is still on and at the highest pitch. Those who can’t agree are dreaming," he added in an interview.

After the 1967 war, during which the Egyptian army dealt a heavy blow, Egyptian intelligence officers were baffled by a series of Israeli air attacks on secret military installations near the Suez Canal.

They came to discover later that sensitive military information was leaked from Cairo to Tel Aviv.

It was Fahmi’s fiancé, Nabil Salem, who delivered this information to the Israelis as Egypt prepared for the 1973 war.

Through the series, a counter-espionage officer tracks down Samia Fahmi’s fiancé and arrests him for spying for Israel.

"Still the series, which was shot in a host of European capitals, including Romania, was carefully scrubbed to exclude intelligence sources or sensitive information that could be harmful national security at present," Galal said.

Another Syrian drama reflects the feverish intelligence war that has erupted between Syria and Israel after the later occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967.

Iconic Syrian director Nagdat Anzour has already started showing his work Men of Decision, which is also based on a true story.

Men of Decision focuses on the story of Shehadah, a Syrian schoolteacher in his late twenties from the Golan who joins the Syrian army in 1967 to fight against the Israelis.

When he comes back from the battlefield, Shehadah discovers that his mother is killed and his sister is severely injured because one of the Israeli raids on the Golan.

He decides to retaliate.

But his bid to make a suicide attack in the occupied territories is foiled.

"The series boasts a galaxy of Syrian and Arab stars who dramatize a spy scandal that hit Israel hard, Anzour said. "The leading character in the story was a real asset to Syrian intelligence as he supplied Damascus with gross defense material from Israel," he added.

The series tells Arab viewers how the leading character in the series, called Faris, obtains information about Israel and its intelligence service and how he passes it on to Syria.

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