Thursday, February 23, 2006


"Munich," David Badein's Movie Review

Israel Resource News Agency operates through private contributions offered to IRNA's US tax deductible affiliate, Center for Near East Policy Research, POB 1783, Brookline, Mass 02446-0014

The Movie "Munich" Reflects Israeli Reality

By: David Bedein
Bureau Chief, Israel Resource News Agency
President, Center for Near East Policy Research
Beit Agron International Press Center,
37 Hillel Street Jerusalem 94581 Israel

When you are wrong you are wrong. On December 19th, 2005, my comments were published by the Jerusalem Post and on numerous web sites, that "the movie Munich, produced by Steven Spielberg, represents the ultimate of moral equivalency, since it equates the 'human interest' story of PLO murderers with the human interest of the unarmed Israeli athletes whom they murdered". These comments relied on reviews of Munich from well meaning friends of Israel abroad. and only now do I realize that their perception of what distorts reality in Israel is far different from the reality that we live here in Israel.

Having seen the movie Munich, now playing in Jerusalem, I can attest to the fact that there is no moral equivalency whatsoever in this movie, and I owe Mr. Spielberg a public apology. "Munich" portrays every PLO members as uncompromising in their zeal to destroy Israel and to justify the murder of anyone who gets in the way of their goal. No moral equivalency here. "Munich" represents a breakthrough of sorts, as it portrays the Israeli soldier with battle fatigue.

Avner, the protagonist of Munich, is an Israeli war hero who risks his life to save fellow countrymen from the clutches of PLO murderers, yet he succumbs to doubts as to the justice of the battle for the Jewish State... Avner represents the epitome of so many Israelis whom I have encountered, in my 36 years here as a student, social worker and journalist, who copes with a crisis of confidence in the very Zionism that pioneered the State of Israel Avner knows his past: the murder of his family at the hands of the Nazis, their rescue and salvation by the creation of Israel, and the price his father paid with a long and painful imprisonment at the hands of the British.

Avner is plagued about his present , as he wanders European capitals, eating pig sausage at every stop, wondering aloud, together with his fellow combatants. as to why they are really killing off the PLO. He and the soldiers serving under him ask questions and, tragically, get no answers and, even worse, none of their commanding officers are ready to give them real answers...

Avner, at the end of the movie, has no future, not as an Israeli and not as a Jew, as he begins a new life with his wife and little girl in a non Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, detached from his roots in Zion.

A sequel to Munich could be entitled "Brooklyn", with the opening scene of Avner working as a paunchy security guard on a subway platform, playing "shesh besh" at night with other Israelis in exile, while his children intermarried, as he watches his grandson go to church, while he mulls over and always relives those two great years when he pursued the killers of the Israeli Olympics athletes.

Avner reminds me of countless Israeli soldiers whom I have encountered who have the physical capability to fight, yet their moral stamina is conflicted. They are confused about why they are fighting and lack any basics knowledge of whom they are fighting against in active combat. Indeed, it is hard to find any Israeli intelligence officer who has ever seen an official Palestinian Authority newspaper, an official Palestinian Authority textbook or who have ever watched a minute of official PA TV or PA radio which praise the murder of Jews in the struggle to liberate all of Palestine..

"Munich" could easily be used by Israeli Intelligence to train a future generation of crack Israeli troops, to recognize that the Israeli soldier must know and recognize the nature of Israel's adversaries, so that they will have the mental and moral capacity to fight the next battle in the long war for Israeli independence, which is not yet over.

The time has come for Israeli intelligence to cope with the effect of the implosion of the peace process on a generation of Israeli soldiers who thought that Israel and its Arab neighbors were heading for an era of peace and reconciliation, after 13 years of massive "peace preparation" in Israeli society.

It may be troubling for a supporter of Israel abroad to cope with the fact that Israel's fighters can turn into mush and ask hard questions in between battles. My first teacher at Hebrew University, Dr. Michael Rosenak, warned 36 years ago that "Israel's supporters abroad have a tendency to make ideological idealizations out of someone else's reality". It may have troubled many Israel supporters to witness a troubled Avner in "Munich", 2005, rather than a strutting Kirk Douglas ("Cast a Giant Shadow", 1965) fighting for Israel. ..

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