Saturday, July 02, 2005

Et Tu, Brute?

Right in the midst of the early momentum for Anglican disinvestment from Israel, there is news that Spielberg's next film is going to dwell upon the moral quagmire resulting from Israel's decision to use Mossad agents to assassinate members of the PLO who participated in the Munich massacre.

In other words, Spielberg is using Israel as a proxy to deal with his dis-ease with US foreign policy in the wake of 9/11. He feels he risks too much if he deals with the matter head-on -- by choosing an American subject. There would be far too much fallout and his popularity would suffer nationwide. So, instead, he chooses Israel, already a subject of so much venom worldwide. For him personally, it's creates a safer narrative.

Mr. Spielberg's interest in the question of a civilized nation's proper response to terrorism deepened, aides said, after the 9/11 attacks, as Americans were grappling for the first time with similar issues - for instance, in each new lethal strike on a suspected terrorist leader by a C.I.A. Predator drone aircraft. In Mr. Kushner's script, people who have read it say, the Israeli assassins find themselves struggling to understand how their targets were chosen, whether they belonged on the hit list and, eventually, what, if anything, their killing would accomplish.

Apparently Kushner and Spielberg believe these Mossad agents are modern American liberals questioning the fact that we are in Iraq.

No wonder Mr. Spielberg is afraid he is going to be misconstrued. In fact, it seems to me, the problem is just the opposite: that he's going to be understood all too clearly.

But he's taking steps to prevent that. By setting it up in a way that gives him deniability.

Uh huh.
"Viewing Israel's response to Munich through the eyes of the men who were sent to avenge that tragedy adds a human dimension to a horrific episode that we usually think about only in political or military terms," he 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."

So it's an attempt to provide profound answers to the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today in Iraq...

No, wait a second, the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today in the Israeli/Palestinian situation. But interpreted In light of Mr. Spielberg's moral qualms post 9/11.

Of course, anyone who is a student of history realizes that the modern attitude of liberals – their reluctance to pursue defense matters in a muscular fashion – is an impulse that has grown weaker over the last several decades. And Israel, in any case, cannot afford such attitudes – especially not after an event like the Munich massacre. Which is to say, the subject is clearly revisionism dawning in Mr. Spielberg's brain in light of 9/11. But the target of all this animus is going to be Israel, not America. The translation is easy enough, as anti-Americanism is hot among the same people where anti-Israel attitudes hold sway. Did he think we would not catch on?

And how does Spielberg believe he is going to control the interpretation of his movie in Egypt and Lebanon and Turkey and all around the Middle East, where hatred of Israel has never receded? And any fuel thrown on that fire makes it burn brighter? So, too, in France and Britain, where anti-semitism, masked as anti-Zionism, is now rearing its head quite plainly amongst the modern left.

UPDATE: With understated irony, Debka agrees with my point that Spielberg is using this film to transcend discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

But the director adds: “By experiencing how the implacable resolve of these men to succeed in their mission slowly gave way to troubling doubts… I think we can learn something important about the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today.”

Spielberg’s interest in making the film appears to transcend the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

A mirror into the modern American liberal soul. Indeed.

Debka also warns Spielberg that Malta may not be the safest place for him this week, lest Palestinian Jihad Islami use his visit as a way to commemorate the 10th assasination of their founder, Fathi Shikaki, in Malta. Apparently there has been some local chatter, worrying security officials, that they intend to hit an American or Israeli targets somewhere in the Middle East to mark the occasion.

UPDATE II: Ha'aretz takes an interest in whether Spielberg's film is primarily based on a specious account of the Mossad operation, written by George Jonas in 1984, and based on first hand accounts of the affair from *former Mossad agent* Yuval Aviv. Israel disputes that Aviv was ever in the Mossad. And indeed, Aviv's resumé shows that his only security experience came from working as a security guard at El Al in New York.
"The content of the film has been taken from many sources. We expect it will be a balanced film," said [Spielberg's] spokesman, who refused to divulge the identities of these sources because of a commitment to preserve their anonymity. However, sources in the production team admit in private conversations that most of the film script is based on Jonas' book.

Sources at the Prime Minister's Bureau, which supervises the Mossad, say that so far no requests for help for a film about the murder of the athletes at Munich and its aftermath have been received. Zvi Zamir reiterated this week to Haaretz that Yuval Aviv is not known to him and added that no one on Spielberg's behalf has contacted him with a request for information about the subject of the film. "If it is indeed true that Spielberg is basing his film on the book, I am surprised that a director like him has chosen, out of all the sources, to rely on this particular book."

Of course, given the points he wants to make about the evils of responding to terrorism, the fact that Spielberg is relying on a specious historical account is a perfect irony. In other words, if it didn't already exist, someone would have to invent it.

Ah, liberals. That's why we love you so much.

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