A scene from a recent episode of Showtime's award-winning series "Homeland" that was filmed in Israel, but was supposed to be depicting Beirut has caused a stir between the two countries.
The show about Arab terrorists and American turncoats has inadvertently become a tale of two cities. Some Beirutis are angry because the depiction of their city as swarming with militiamen is misleading and because they see Israel as the enemy. And in Israel, some are angry that Haifa and even Tel Aviv - a self-styled nightlife capital and high-tech hub - apparently appear, to outsiders at least, to be Middle Eastern after all.
Lebanese Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud told The Associated Press that he's so upset about the portrayal of Beirut that he's considering a lawsuit.
"The information minister is studying media laws to see what can be done," he said.
Abboud pointed to the scene with the snipers. Hamra Street in West Beirut is portrayed as a hotbed of violence, but it is actually a lively neighborhood packed with cafes, book shops and pubs.
"It showed Hamra Street with militia roaming in it. This does not reflect reality," he said. "It was not filmed in Beirut and does not portray the real image of Beirut."
Twentieth Century Fox Television refused to comment.
"Homeland," based on the Israeli series "Prisoners of War," is about a U.S Marine named Nick Brody who was a POW for years in the Middle East. The federal government and the public see Brody as a war hero, but a CIA operative played by Claire Danes believes he was turned by the enemy and is now a threat to the U.S.
The second season began last month, and some of the urban scenes are shot in Tel Aviv, the Israeli metropolis about 150 miles south of Beirut. Jaffa, a popular mixed Jewish and Arab neighborhood of Tel Aviv, was an Arab town before Israel gained independence in 1948, and its Levantine architecture, mosques and minarets, situated along the Mediterranean, allowed the creators of "Homeland" to present a plausible version of Beirut.
To the average viewer, the Beirut scenes may appear authentic. But to the discerning viewer, hints of Israel are everywhere: cars with blurred yellow Israeli license plates, red-and-white curbs that designate no-parking zones, an Israeli-style traffic circle, and a well-known minaret and clock tower in Jaffa.