Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Another Review of Munich

James Bowman from the NYSun reviews Munich.

He calls it Spielberg's statement of moral equivalence.

Apparently this is what we learn from Munich:
* Revenge is an uncivilized, savage act that lowers the revenger to the level of his victim. As a result, there is always a certain moral equivalence between killer and victim.

* Engaging in revenge perpetuates a cycle of violence.

* Those who are caught up in this cycle and who kill in cold blood often suffer terrible agonies of conscience: nightmares, paranoia, substance abuse, and other manifestations of what we have learned to call post-traumatic stress disorder.

* From governments of all kinds, corruption, violence, and lack of human compassion is to be expected.

* Therefore, one should put loyalty to one's family and friends ahead of loyalty to one's country.

This is a trick Mr. Spielberg has tried before. In "Saving Private Ryan" he showed little Matt Damon in front of the war graves in Normandy, questioning whether or not he was a good person - as if the deaths of so many men and the massive global project of defeating the Nazis had all been for the sake of little Matt and his precious self-esteem.
So, if you go to war, you have to come back and whine about it and feel really, really guilty, and apostrophize yourself for all the bad, bad things you did. Flog your soul.

And what "public" hero of recent days does this remind us of? Why, entertainingly enough, John Kerry. Who so bravely came back from Vietnam and confessed to all the massacres and the tortures that the (other) troops participated in. And do you remember those snippets we heard during the campaign about how he still suffered from nightmares. (Remember that story about his wrecking some lamp when he was a guest in filmmaker George Butler's house.)

This is the right and proper way to act, comrades. Soldiers absolve themselves through public self-criticism. Indeed, this reaction makes Kerry/Avner indubitably a hero for our day. And so much for the noble self-restraint of the Greatest Generation! Which makes it fairly clear that Spielberg didn't really understand his subject matter in Saving Private Ryan. But that's a tangent.

Later in Bowman's review we learn that the only proper fate for such a "hero", who now is only loyal to his family and has had it with his country, is to become a yorad, that is, someone who "descends" from the land of Israel to live elsewhere. Avner, the "hero" of Munich, moves to Brooklyn. (Ostensibly he now feels no loyalty to America, either, but that's just a typical by the bye.)

However, despite this compelling inner need of the Jewish terrorist assassin "former Mossad Agent" to leave Israel behind, he still needs to feel "Jewish" in some meaningful sense. And how does the movie define Jewishness in this context?

According to Bowman, "Being Jewish to him means being righteous." He can be a killer, but he must be one who feels bad about it. And one who, quite properly, no longer lives in the land of Israel.

Well, isn't that interesting?

What is it we know about Tony Kushner's rabid anti-Zionism? That he thinks the State of Israel is terrible for Jews, because it has debased them morally from their pure victim status. Thus, given Israel's terrible effect on the moral state of the Jews, the best thing to do is not to live in the Zionist entity, etc. You get the picture.

So, Avner, the protagonist of Vengeance, which is a false narrative of the Israeli response to Munich (in the sense that, historically speaking, it is based on a specious work that has been debunked ), becomes the vehicle for preaching Tony Kushner's Torah to other Jews.

The state of Israel itself works the debasement on the moral state of individuals, so that in the end, the sensitive Jew, the Jew who feels guilty, the righteous Jew, must leave Israel and come to America.

Welcome to the Nut House.

Former posts on this subject:

Take The Poll On Munich In Ha'aretz
Spinning Munich Into Gold
Roger Friedman Doesn't Do Irony
An Oscar For Munich?
Not Faster Please
The Final Irony
Updating Spielberg
Et tu, Brute?


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