Speilberg’s Munich Drawing Controversy

I hate pre-premiere controversy, its puts the movie-goer in a tough position; it dissapoints. While Spielbergâ??s movie Munich is not set to come out for another 10 days in North America it is drawing heat from both the Palestinian and Israeli side, the latter more evidently.

The movie is about the 1972 Black September hostage taking of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. They demanded the release of over 200 prisoners in Israeli jails. German police however screwed up and everyone involved ended up dead. This is noted as the event which put the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the map and painted Palestinians as terrorists since then. The movie is based on the events which followed where Israeli Mossad agents were sent on a killing spree that involved the assassination of PLO personnel who they believed were connected to the planning and implementation of Munich.

I donâ??t want to rant on about a movie I have not seen. This is a movie that was made practically in secret and will see no red carpet premieres or press junkets but might get some mention at this yearâ??s Oscars.

However I found it strange that pro-Zionists are really coming out against this movie and little have we heard from pro-Palestinians. I think this may be because Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians have had there share of Hollywoodâ??s wrath over the years and have grown accustomed to it. So it is a rare event that a film comes out of the traditionally pro-Jewish Hollywood which dares criticize Israel. I mean really, this is not a film which demonizes Israel or Judaism but merely criticizes it for its retaliation. Compare this to what Arabs and Muslims have gone through in the past few decades when it comes to Hollywood movies. Arabs are always terrorists and backwards people living in tents in the desert and Muslims are always fanatics cutting peopleâ??s heads off. I imagine if Hollywood was based in the Middle East then every movie coming out about Americans would feature a George Bush like character who represents the entire culture.

I think what hurts about Munich is one big thing: Spielberg. Probably one of the biggest Israeli supporters in Hollywood it is probably difficult to swallow the concept that he could dare come out with a film that attempts to be critical of the state. I mean itâ??s one thing when Mel Gibson makes a historical movie that involves Jews not at their best moment, but when Stevie does it. Hmm. Will Israelis start burning Schindler’s List in protest?

Evidently the movie, as Spielberg sees it, is about “moral equivalence” of the actions of both sides in terms of retaliations. The opposition to the movie is concerned with how Israel is supposedly not favored in the movie and how Palestinians are supposedly not demonized. Spielberg who is keeping a low profile these days has said:

“By experiencing how the implacable resolve of these men to succeed in their mission slowly gave way to troubling doubts about what they were doing, I think we can learn something important about the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today.”

As for Arabs, I have not heard a voice of concern over the film so I assuming this is one of those moments. A movie about Arab terrorists? What else is new?

Itâ??s strange though that people accuse Hollywood for being liberal when it seeks to be critical of Israel. Even a year before the movie Kingdom of Heaven was made people pointed fingers at the potential for Ridley Scott to make Arabs look good. And while Arabs are traditionally anti-Hollywood and with good reason, it feels strange that a movie comes out where the other side becomes all of a sudden anti-Hollywood. Itâ??s like we agree on something finally but purely out of happenstance.

Media Of Interest:

Check out “Planet of the Arabs”, an Official Selection at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. A trailer-esque montage spectacle of Hollywood’s relentless vilification and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims. Inspired by the book “Reel Bad Arabs” by Dr. Jack Shaheen. Out of 1000 films that have Arab & Muslim characters (from yrs 1896 to 2000) 12 were postive depictions, 52 were even handed and the rest of the 90O and so were negative.

Munich, Movie Trailer
Spielberg Takes On Terror, Time Magazine
Will Oscar have the Balls for Munich?, LA Weekly
Spielberg project leaves Mossad cold, Aljazeera


On a completly different note I found it interesting that Munich is constantly being refered to as a “massacre” while Jenin is not. In wikipedia searcing for “jenin massacre” will redirect you to “Battle of Jenin“. There is a whole section about how the numbers are contested although it states and I quote: “Massacres refer not only to the numbers killed, but also to the method used.” An Israel military told AFP at the time 250 had died.

So if we are to assume that this is the most basic number then how does it compare to the 11 athletes who died in Munich?


  • Salam,
    I was reading about it the other day. Did you know the book that talks about Munich says that those Palestinians killed have nothing to do with Munich they were merely Palestinian Activists. Anyways the movie is a must see, it doesn’t solve the Palestinian-Israeli issue, but there is one scene with The head o the Israeli group along with the Palestinian target sitting together laying out the issue. I guess this movie is either going to humanize the MOSAD, or going to say there is no rejoice in revenge, the cycle of blood will never end this way. But I have it on my list to watch.


Your Two Piasters: