By Frimet Roth December 26, 2005
Ilana Morano has viewed Steven Spielberg's movie, "Munich", and is impressed with it. She says it satisfies her three-decades long desire to have the massacre of her husband and ten other Israeli Olympians remembered. I can hear Steven Spielberg's sigh of relief.
As the mother of a child murdered by the very same brand of terrorists as the Munich eleven, I would remind Mrs. Romano that sometimes no publicity at all is best. To Spielberg I would say: "Spare my child your tributes". I hope he never entertains the notion of a film about the bloody 2001 terror attack on a Jerusalem restaurant, Sbarro. In it Hamas murdered fifteen innocents, including 8 children and babies. My fifteen year old Malki was among them.
I have heard and read Mrs. Romano's reactions to the film repeatedly. Spielberg is not about to waste this golden PR coup. He is parading it everywhere.
It is very "Hollywood-y", the widow concedes, on television interviews and to journalists. But that's all right, she concludes. "I feel Mr. Spielberg has put the tragedy of our loved ones into a billion homes the world over."
In truth, Mrs. Morano herself is a victim. She has been duped by Spielberg and his slick publicity machine.
Mrs. Morano tells us she was impressed by that PR team's "sensitivity". "After the screening", she added, "everyone's tears just poured out, including Kushner, Kennedy and Eyal Arad." She was also moved by their report that at the start of the movie's filming, Spielberg gathered his entire cast for a solemn, full moment of silence in memory of the victims. I would remind her of crocodile tears and empty moments of silence- tactics that as a terror victim I have often been exposed to.
She cites Spielberg's accurate re-enactment of the Munich terror attack, but ignores the fact that that event is just a footnote in the movie's tale. Most viewers will follow Spielberg's lead and zoom in on the film's real target: Israel's reprisal mission and the presumed moral dilemmas that plagued the Mossad agents. Therein lies the drama of the film, not with Yossef Romano's murder.
There was a time when Spielberg felt differently about terror and murder, a time when he touched me and my family without offending us. Fifteen years ago when our aunt and uncle, survivors of the Holocaust, visited with us in Israel, they had just seen Spielberg's "Schindler's List". They told us they were satisfied that it had dealt with the horror they had personally experienced, fairly and accurately.
Spielberg has clearly been through some changes since then. He has seen and read about a decade and a half of violent terror attacks by fundamentalist Muslims throughout the world. But he has done so through the prism of Hollywood. Like his celebrity neighbors, he now parrots the soothing sound bites that fill the moral vacuum of Tinseltown.
He boasts that this movie has no villains, that "you feel for them all", as a Time magazine interview put it. Spielberg added: "I'm very proud that? We don't demonize our targets. They're individuals. They have families. Although what happened in Munich, I condemn." From the comfort of Hollywood, with all his children safe and sound, I suppose that is easy. From that vantage point you can refrain from demonizing cold-blooded murderers of innocents. And be proud of it.
No doubt Spielberg's candy-coated, puerile production will satisfy the appetites of most of his fans. There is a craving these days for valium-like messages. And that's understandable. Facing up to the reality of militant Islam's demonic threat to our civilization, to our very lives, can be depressing.
For those who have the strength to confront that harsh reality, this is a film that will infuriate.
But even more infuriating than this film's treatment of Israel and its plight is Spielberg's careful dodge of any personal accountability. This is not a documentary, he insists, but fiction "inspired by real events." Come on, do we look that dumb? Obviously the film will impact like a documentary and Spielberg wouldn't have it any other way.
The fact that heavyweights like Dennis Ross, former US envoy to the Middle East under two former presidents, and Eyal Arad, a current political advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, have been hired by Spielberg to mollify his Jewish audience leaves us in no doubt. It tells us precisely how much weight Spielberg wants this work accorded.
Some influential Jewish spokesmen have lauded the film. The Jerusalem Post reported that Anti-Defamation League national Directory Abraham Foxman assured us "We do not think this is an attack on Israel." In the same breath, however, he said it asks the same sorts of questions? as Israelis today ask about their government's response to terrorism."
Israel doesn't need its morality assessed by condescending Hollywood movie producers, thank you. It is the only democracy in the Middle East and does an exemplary job of retaining its morality in the face of a relentless and immoral enemy. We punish every reported misconduct within our army's ranks. We have checks and balances that ensure the juggling of the security of our people with our compassion.
This film is bad news in itself. Let's not exacerbate the damage, as the Prime Minister's office already has, by joining the sycophant bandwagon. The Prime Minister has got more important issues to deal with. Spielberg may be convinced that the biggest enemy in the Middle East is, in his words, "intransigence." We, who have actually felt the enemy, know he is far more lethal and demonic than that. And that's what should be engrossing our government. Not appeasing a Hollywood hero.
Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of israelinsider.