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Thursday, May 28, 2009

A critical reaction to the film “Munich” (2005) direct by Steven Spielberg

Israel-blaming Spielberg hast lost 'direction', by Andrea Peyser [1]

WHEN did Steven Spielberg turn into Barbra Streisand? That's what springs to mind after seeing "Munich" - the director's startlingly anti-Semitic rumination on Arab terrorism and the state of Israel. In 2 1/2 excruciating hours, Spielberg's film about the 1972 Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes by Islamic butchers sets out to solve Middle East violence while providing a blueprint for world peace.

Instead, Spielberg proves two things in his film, due in theaters just in time for Hanukkah: 1. Steven Spielberg is too dumb, too left and too Hollywood (or is that redundant?) to tackle such complex and polarizing themes as Islamic fundamentalism and Jewish survival. 2. Spielberg is a decent enough filmmaker to persuade some people that Israel has outlived its usefulness and should - as enemies in Iran maintain - be wiped off the face of the earth.

The backlash has begun. The Jewish Action Alliance has already called for a boycott of "Munich." Written by Zionism-hating screenwriter Tony Kushner, the film concerns a hit squad sent to assassinate 11 Arab terrorists in retaliation for the 1972 massacre.

One by one, the terrorists fall. And one by one, hit squad members suffer crises of conscience, culminating in one Israeli assassin crying out in agony, "All this blood cries back to us! Jews don't do wrong because our enemies do wrong. We're supposed to be righteous!" Mercifully, he soon blows himself up.

Here lies the film's biggest flaw - and its greatest danger. "Munich" reeks of moral relativism. It puts the terrorists and those who respond to terror on even moral footing. It suggests that Israel must pay, one way or another, for vengeance. In Time magazine, Spielberg reveals how Hollywood he's sunk. About the Israelis, he said, tellingly, "A response to a response doesn't really solve anything." Wait! The unprovoked atrocity carried out by Arabs in Munich is a "response?" To what, exactly? To the existence of Israel?

In one scene, the Israeli hit squad spends a night in a house with unsuspecting members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Avner Kauffman (Eric Bana), the Israeli team's leader, befriends a man called Ali, who argues eloquently that Israel has turned his people into hungry refugees. The Arabs may have killed. But here, they win the race to victimhood.

Blood does not scare Spielberg - think of the bloody beach in the lyrical opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan." But here, the blood spurts, explodes and flows in slo-mo. Not satisfied, Spielberg brings his movie to its metaphorical climax when Avner, in bed with his wife, literally climaxes while daydreaming about the Munich massacre.

At the end, a demoralized Avner flees to Brooklyn. The head of Israel's Mossad (Geoffrey Rush) tries to lure him back into service, saying his actions will bring peace. "There is no peace!" Avner wails. In the background, the World Trade Center is visible. I guess that's Israel's fault, too.

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