Saturday, July 15, 2006


Steven Schlemielberg has created a film that some have hailed as his masterpiece. I call it his tour-de-farce.

Munich details the early-1970s murder of eleven Israeli Olympic atheletes by "Palestinian" terrorists, better known as Muhammed's Peaceniks. After this atrocity, the Israeli government sends a group of ex-Mossad agents to execute those involved in the plot. Bravo for justice, I say, though you'll be hard put in finding this message in the movie. Instead, Schlemielberg lets us wade around for a couple of hours in a moral morass, in which no clear good guy emerges, and no moral clarity is allowed. He makes no distinction whatsoever between murdering innocent civilians, and targeted assassinations of terrorists. He shows us the constant state of agony and uncertainty of these agents of justice, as if the better part of their time is spent brooding over their actions. Israel's government is portrayed as cold and unsympathetic, essentially hanging its people out to dry. And he goes to great lengths at humanizing the terrorists.

For most of the film, Schlemielberg attempts an evenhanded approach; he builds empathy for--and reveals the warts of--both sides. But in one or two scenes, he ceases his waffling just long enough to side with the "Palestinians." In several key moments, discussions occur in which Israel's right of existence is never defended as eloquently as the "Palestinian Struggle" (trademarked). Nor is a representative of Israel ever allowed the last word in these tit-for-tats.

This could've been a great film, an important testimony to Israel's determination; instead, it's an exercise in moral equivocation. It acts as a flashing neon sign that says: "LOOK! I'M A SELF-HATING JEW!"

Indeed, the most remarkable aspect of this film is that a Jew made it. He lovingly constructed this vacillation out of anti-Zionism, with a liberal dash of relativism thrown in for good measure. It's sad, because the people whose actions he refuses to condemn would blow his brains out at the first opportunity, if given half a chance, and parade his mutilated body through their streets.

Sure, there's good acting and cinematography, and the director's eye shows us a realistic portrait of the time and events. Unfortunately, if you want a strong stance taken against evil, you won't find it here.

No comments: