Steven Spielberg’s Munich opens in theaters in late December and early reports are troubling. In a Time Magazine cover story, the famed director makes several notable observations about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Concerns about the film were first ignited when the director, revered by millions for Schindler’s List and activity related to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, enlisted playwright Tony Kushner to redo the script. An extreme detractor of Israel, Kushner has repeatedly said the creation of that nation was a "mistake" and, for example, associates himself (as an Advisory Board member) with the Jewish Voice for Peace, a radical organization advocating divestment and boycott campaigns against Israel.
Kushner’s commentary reflects little sympathy for the suffering of Israel in the face of Arab aggression and rejectionism. Thus, in the spring of 2002 at the height of the terrorist slaughter of Jews in Israel, Kushner denigrated the country and other Jews who did not likewise excoriate Israel. In a Chicago Tribune article he referred to "the shame of American Jews" for not denouncing Israel.
In a London Times article that May, as Israel attempted to defeat the terrorists, Kushner reviled both American president George Bush and Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He said: "...Bush? Sharon? Nine months have passed [since 9/11] and look at the mess the feckless blood-spattered plutocrat and the unindicted war criminal have wrought in the Middle East."
Kushner demanded of Sharon: "good faith, not ethnic cleansing and military occupation cloaked in fundamentalist misreading of Scripture." While the prize-winning writer did in passing "deplore suicide bombings," he saved his tough adjectives for Israel, saying: "I deplore the brutal and illegal tactics of the Israeli Defense Forces in the occupied territories. I deplore the occupation, the forced evacuations, the settlements, the refugee camps, the whole shameful history of the dreadful suffering of the Palestinian people;"
Blurring cause and effect, perpetrator and victim, in familiar moral equation, he lamented: "One injustice breeds new generations of injustice. Suffering rolls on down through the years, becomes a bleak patrimony, the only inheritance for the disinherited, the key to history ... the only God is the God of Vengeance."
In the Time interview, Steven Spielberg had this to say about Israel and the Palestinians: "I’m always in favor of Israel responding strongly when it’s threatened. At the same time, a response to a response doesn’t really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual-motion machine...There’s been a quagmire of blood for blood for many decades in that region. Where does it end? How can it end?"
The troubling dimension of Munich is the imposition of fictional events and fabricated sentiment full of distorted political notions on a grave, real-life conflict by an influential movie maker whose wide-screen creation will likely be taken by many viewers as essentially true. Kushner is on record uttering wildly false characterizations of Israel and Spielberg’s comments disturbingly echo some of the same.
While both aver that Israeli "responses" are counterproductive, "a quagmire of blood for blood," they are wrong. Israel’s measures have emphatically succeeded in reducing terrorism, a reality the movie’s creators ignore. In the recent terror war, the combined effect of intelligence, military action and the security barrier (which Kushner calls on Israel to remove) have dramatically reduced the violence.
Secondly, according to Time reviewer Richard Schickel, commenting on the movie, a high point is a fictional scene in which the lead Israeli meets a PLO member "with the latter getting a chance to make his case for the creation of a homeland for his people."
As though the conflict is simply over a Palestinian homeland.
In a recent sermon, a PA-employed cleric declared: "We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again .... We will rule America ... [and] Britain and the entire world –– except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule .... Listen to the Prophet Mohammed, who tells you about the end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew."
Spielberg observes: "I certainly feel that if filmmakers have the courage to talk about these issues – whether they're fictional representations of real events or are pure fiction or pure documentaries – as long as we're willing to talk about the real tough, hard subjects unsparingly, I think it's a good thing to get out in the ether."
Actually, Spielberg, with Kushner whispering in his ear, appears to be ducking "the real tough, hard subjects" – the fact that Jews are once more under deadly assault – and opting instead for a Hollywood solution in which Israelis stop defending themselves, stop fighting terrorists, and instead tell their enemies: "Have your people call my people."