Saturday, February 04, 2006

Last week I saw Steven Spielberg's latest flick. It was entertaing, for sure, but calling it a "prayer for peace" as the director did is not so much hutzpah as it is a sign of ignorance, and that surprises me in the case of Spielberg. The movie is not anti-Israel as some critics claim, and it is not anti-Palestinian either. Some of the scenes - such as the one towards the end of the movie when the protagonist's orgasm is interwoven with 'flashbacks' of the murder of the Israeli athletes at the Munich airport - are gross or simplistic. The ways in which historical events - such as the famous operation of Sayeret Matkal in Beirut, in which Ehud Barak participated - were 'reconstructed' for the movie have hardly anything to do with the actual events(*), and turning them into some kind of joke and adding all kinds of unbelievable inventions - for example the conversation between the protagonist Avner and a Palestinian terrorist - do not help the credibility of the makers of the movie or of their alleged message. That they cover themselves at the start of the movie by claiming that it is - only - 'inspired' by historical events is not an excuse. That claim is undermined by the lines that appear on the screen at the end of the movie, in which the final record of the liquidations carried out by Israel against the planners and perpetrators of the Olympic murders is given. That addition plus the fact that so much original coverage of the hostage taking in the Olympic village and its aftermath is used suggest that more than simply an artistic interpretation inspired by historical events was the aim of Steven S. and Tony Kushner, the movie's scriptwriter. Did Spielberg and Kushner think that the message which they intended to convey - a prayer for peace, or whatever - was not credible enough? Is that why they turned the undisputed facts of the story into something so incredible? The mix that they made angered many people on all sides of the conflict, and I have no idea how that could help any prayer for peace to be heard by anybody, except for the completely ignorant, who I think are not a party to the conflict anyway. I am sure there are dozens of real stories that could be used to convey some message of peace to all those involved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The subject of the bloodbath in Munich 1972 and its aftermath is not the right source for such a message, and besides, that subject was already turned into a good and entertaining movie that beats Munich on several fronts and - I am sure - cost much less money: The Sword of Gideon. Much has been written about the movie. Ynet's Alan D. Abbey, Alan Dershowitz, Charles Krauthammer, George Jonas, the journalist who wrote Vengeance, the book on which both The Sword of Gideon and Munich are based, they all have something to say about Spielberg's movie. Also see here, here, and here. Again, I do not think the film is pro-this or anti-that, but I still wonder how such a controversial piece of 'art' can bring peace any closer. Still, controversy - and the exposure and publicity that come with it - does not exactly reduce this movie's chances at the Oscars, on the contrary. I would not be surprised if some degenerated form of political correctness would award both Munich and Paradise Now next month. The latter movie I have not seen yet, so I do not know how it portrays suicide terror. I only want to say that I find it remarkable - and sad, in more than one way - that so many Palestinians, including Ray Hanania, are proud because the movie 'put them on the world map', to use Tal Brody's words after Maccabi Tel Aviv won the European Champions Cup in 1977. Proud of what, of being equated with suicide terrorists, of apparently having not anything but suicide terrorism to offer to the world? Of course, I still do not know what the position on suicide terror of the movie and its makers is, but in the interviews with the director that I heard, saw and read I did not hear any frank condemnation of the phenomenon, only understanding for the fact that so many Palestinians 'choose' to become 'martyrs'. After all, those bloody Israelis, etc. you know. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised, when I finally will have the chance to watch the film, to see that it is a straightforward rejection of suicide terror, but I doubt that, based on what I read about it until now. Those who read what I have written about Israel, Palestinians and the occupation know that I think the occupation should end today rather than tomorrow, but I see no justification for terror against civilians in general, and for suicide terrorism in particular. That that particular brand of terror has become the trademark of several extremist versions of - mainly - one religion speaks for itself, I think. (*) A friend of mine attended a special screening of the film in front of an audience who, in their professional capacities, are supposed to know more than the average Israeli about the events pictured by Spielberg in this movie. He literally labeled the movie as a joke.

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