Sunday, January 29, 2006

Short movie post

I went to see the movie Munich tonight. I know that a lot has been written about it and some folks think that Spielberg is peddling some sort of anti-war agenda in making the film. I don't think so. I thought the movie was well done and had a powerful message. I also think, as has been pointed out elsewhere, you have to go into the movie knowing that it is NOT a documentary, but a story that is played out on screen. See here for some more explanation of that.

The real history is different.

As Spielberg's assassination squad begins work in Europe, they come to rely
on a kind of freelance intelligence merchant who works for a shadowy organization, "Le Group," that trades the names and locations of targets for big money. Whether or not such an organization existed, or might have, the Mossad never relied on such an entity. Security apparatuses don't function that way. The Mossad gathered its own intelligence, relying mainly on human intelligence from Palestinian informants living in Europe and the Middle East. Operatives recruited and directed these sources all over Europe, while analysts in Israel sifted through mountains of data looking for concrete terror plans and potential perpetrators. Unfortunately, much of the storyline of Munich concerns this fanciful "Le Group" subplot.

The Munich Massacre triggered a fundamental change in Israel's approach to terrorism—a "Munich Revolution" (the phrase was used by the Mossad) that endures as a mindset and an operational protocol today. Finding and killing the perpetrators of the Munich Massacre was a part of that campaign only insofar as the men involved were deemed likely to act again. Revenge was the atmosphere—but preventing future attacks by networks that Israel saw as threatening its citizens was the goal. Mistakes were made, innocents were killed, and Israel's government and intelligence agencies never publicly questioned their right to carry out assassinations on foreign soil. Indeed, the true story of Israel's response to Munich is if anything more ambiguous than Spielberg's narrative.

But Spielberg has bought into one of the myths of the Mossad that after Munich they staged a revenge operation to hunt down and assassinate everyone responsible. Israelis, too, bought into this myth (myself included, at one time) which a shocked public demanded but that doesn't make it true. Spielberg, in inventing a story
about violence begetting violence "inspired by real events" is raising questions worth asking. Even so, Israel's response to Munich was not a simple revenge operation carried out by angst-ridden Israelis. Both the larger context, and the facts on the ground, rarely get in Spielberg's way. A rigorous factual accounting may not be the point of Munich, which Spielberg has characterized as a "prayer for peace." But as result, Munich has less to do with history and the grim aftermath of the Munich Massacre than some might wish.



Its worth seeing though and it definitely made you think. And last I checked a good movie should do that. So I give it 2 thumbs up. I'd rather see this than a movie about gay cowboys, that's for sure............

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