My favorite Arab Malcontent, As’ad Abu Khalil, wrote a lengthy blog posting on Spielberg’s movie about the Munich massacre. He argues the film serves Israel’s propaganda purposes by ignoring important political context and weighing Israeli deaths higher than Palestinian ones.
He also demonstrates how the film misses the more morally repugnant aspect of Israel’s response to the Munich attacks — the bombing of villages, the assassination of academics and writers, and the mistaken killing of a Moroccan waiter on vacation with his pregnant wife.
For Abu Khalil, Spielberg’s attempt to show Israeli killers struggle morally with their murder spree is contrived. The book the film is based on, for example, states that, in Abu Khalil’s words, “the killers did not express regret or second-thoughts.”
What the film does than is show Israel as the unwilling executioner, which is in line with all of its propaganda about security out of necessity and the existential threat.
While Abu Khalil rejects hostage-taking, he argues convincingly that Spielberg should have included the actual bombings and attacks that inspired the hijackers.
What I like about Abu Khalil’s posting is his uniquely personal insight into the human cost of Israel’s aggression after Munich:
it was not easy for me to watch this movie, I mean not only at the political and intellectual levels, but also at the personal level. I can connect to the story, in its details and personalities. The first victim of the movie was Wa’il Zu`aytir, and I knew his niece; I went to school with Abu Hasan Salamah’s son–he was younger; and I knew the street and building where the three PLO leaders were massacred in Beirut. And let me tell you that NONE of the five people mentioned here had anything to do with Munich
With such a passionate destruction of the film and the whiny critics attacking Spielberg for not being pro-Israeli enough, I might have to actually see the film. I’ll wait until its shown on airplane flight…