John Cleese goes nuts on Iran in Israeli advert

‘General’ John Cleese orders Israeli officials to bomb Iran… while making the most of a new hazelnut chocolate spread

By Anna Sheinman, August 30, 2012

Fawlty Towers ended 33 years ago, but John Cleese, it seems, has still not learned to avoid mentioning the war.

In a new advert for an Israeli chocolate spread, Cleese, playing a US army general, accidentally sanctions an air strike by Israel.

Sitting in a war room in Tel Aviv (actually John Cleese's house in Monaco), Israeli officials, ominous-looking red telephone in front of them, beg for permission to strike.

"We have a right to defend ourselves!" they say, in a thinly veiled reference to Iran.

"General" Cleese, however, is distracted by a pot of hazelnut chocolate spread, and tastes it. As if inspired, he replies using the name of the spread - Sababa Egozim - literally "great nuts", and akin to the English phrase "let's go nuts".

The Israeli officials take this as the go-ahead, pick up the phone and order the missile strike. A sound of some kind of missile launching is heard, but the general concentrates on licking his knife, a splodge of the spread left unnoticed on his nose.

Not everyone has found the advert funny. Some critics on the internet accused it of being "offensive and tasteless".

But a spokesman for the New York-based Anti-Defamation League said: "This advert is little more than parody, and shouldn't be taken seriously.

"While we do not think the subject is one that should be made light of, John Cleese is legendary for these kind of over-the-top shenanigans, and we feel he's entitled to use it in this context."

This is not the first time the Tel Aviv advertising agency Inbar Merhav Shaked has traded on delicate political situations for the sake of sales.

In 2010, the agency parodied surveillance footage of the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh assassination in Dubai for the Israel supermarket chain, Almost Free Warehouses.

The pay-off slogan? "We offer killer prices".

Last updated: 10:16am, August 30 2012