(JERUSALEM) — The Israeli government had nothing to do with the ad. Samsung had nothing to do with the ad. But an ad for an Israeli cable company featuring cross-dressing Mossad agents who blow up an Iranian nuclear facility using a Samsung tablet has caused a furor in both Iran and Israel. Iran has threatened to ban the sale of Samsung tablets and the commercial itself has now disappeared from Israeli television.
The ad, produced by the HOT cable company, features cast members from the Israeli comedy series Asfur dressed head-to-toe as Muslim women to infiltrate Iran. Wearing chadors and clutching purses, the four spies walk past missiles and giant portraits of religious leaders and into the city of Isfahan — the site of a uranium conversion facility and a mysterious explosion in November 2011. As they arrive, one of the travelers smears sunscreen on his face. When his companions look puzzled, he says, “Don’t you know how much radiation there is here?”
The spies then meet a jaded undercover Mossad agent waiting at an outdoor café and looking at his Samsung Galaxy tablet. He tells them that watching on-demand episodes of their comedy series on the tablet has helped him kill time during the two months he’s been in Isfahan conducting surveillance.
“Nuclear reactor or no nuclear reactor, I’m not missing Asfur,” he tells them. He and his wife received the Galaxy for free after subscribing to HOT.
“What is that application?” the comedian with the sunscreened face asks, and then presses the screen. A fireball explodes at the nuclear facility behind them. His companions appear shocked. “What?” he shrugs. “Just another mysterious explosion in Iran.”
Since 2007, Iran has experienced a series of unexplained explosions that have caused the deaths of numerous nuclear scientists and untold damage to the country’s nuclear and long-range missile programs. Iran’s nuclear program was also hit by the Stuxnet computer worm, a cyberattack widely believed to have been launched by Western intelligence agencies. The virus reportedly sabotaged centrifuges at a uranium-enrichment facility. Iran has blamed the attacks on the U.S., the UK and Israel. The U.S. and the U.K. have denied any involvement in the attacks, while the Israelis have not commented.
The ad ends with an Israeli slang reference that is also a jab at Iran’s most revered leader. One of the comedians slaps a bug on his neck and says, “Ick! Khomeini!” According to the Jerusalem Post, Israelis believe that a particularly pesky beetle was introduced to Israel by a traveler from Iran in 1979, around the time the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power.
Israelis have also been known to dress in disguises, including drag, during covert operations. Former prime minister Ehud Barak, now Israel’s defense minister, famously dressed as a woman while a member of an elite commando unit during a 1973 raid on Beirut that killed three PLO commanders.
The Israeli government declined to comment on the HOT ad. The cable company had stopped airing the ad as of Monday and also pulled it from the Internet, though YouTube versions still exist.
Samsung has responded to the controversy by stressing that it had played no role in the commercial. Initial reports in the Iranian media charged that the Korea-based company was the source of the ad, which inspired a proposed ban on the Galaxy inside Iran.
“Samsung Electronics is aware of a recent news report in Iranian media regarding an advertisement aired by HOT cable network of Israel,” said a Samsung spokesperson in a statement to ABC News. “This advertisement was produced by HOT cable network without Samsung’s knowledge or participation.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN
Euan McKirdy and Natalie L. Gallón, CNN