Culture, Israel

Spielberg's Unforgivable Sin

For those of you who aren’t totally Munich’d out by now, here’s a piece I wrote about one aspect of the politically-motivated furor surrounding the film. My original title was “Oh, The Humanity,” but that was, um, nixed.

Warning: Contains a couple spoilers, which you might not want to read unless you’re planning on boycotting anyway.

5 thoughts on “Spielberg's Unforgivable Sin

  1. Im not sure you are really being honest with the way you are portraying the critics of this film. The main problem that most of the critics (pro israel critics, that is) have with the movie isnt that the characters were “humanized”, but simply that all the self doubt and moral conflict portrayed in the film has little basis in reality and is not accurate.
    If there were a more evidence that such doubt existed, then perhaps your article would make more sense. But I think its fair to criticize a film if the focal point of the film is that the Israelis felt that that these killings was a compromise of their values, if this in fact was not the case.

  2. i’ll comment on this exceptional article, despite my sadness at the ugly shell jewschool has become (temporarily of course, and i’m sure it will soon trump even its previous aesthetic greatness. for the love of god, bring back the links!)
    that was an excellent analysis, and regardless of whether the official version of history notes the assassins as having doubts or not, it seems likely and quite desirable that they would have had these inner doubts within private conversation or inner monologues, which would not necessarily have been recorded in a format for the world to see for posterity.
    the brilliance of this film, IMHO, is that spielberg is able to depict these interpersonal conversations and turmoil with such detail and realism. the point is, that even if the reality, which will never really know, is that they didn’t have such doubts, ideally, shouldn’t they have? although the militarization of israeli society has created a situation where sons (and daughters) are often encouraged to become “unthinking automatons,” didn’t spielberg create a more ethical and beloved (but not cuddly) portrayal of reality?
    or rather- we hope that the mossad agents were plagued with doubt. if they weren’t than perhaps they should have been; and perhaps spielberg’s movie is actually a bit of excellent for PR for the jews and the state of israel- the movie says, “look, if you fuck with us, we’ll have to kill you, but we really are ethical people, and look how it’s fucking us up to do what we have to do.” i think it’s the most beautiful depiction of the reality of modern judaism in israel that could possibly exist- it falls between the traditionally weak diaspora jew of philip roth and the overly militarized sterotype of the new jew upon which generations of israelis have been socialized.

  3. “we hope that the mossad agents were plagued with doubt.”
    This is where we disagree, and probably the difference between those on the left and the right.
    You seem to view these killings as a compromise of their values (or at least you entertain the idea), I do not. So when you see the film, you see it as good pr, I, on the other hand, see it as inaccurate and leftist.
    Likewise, some view the assassinations as highly moral and praiseworthy, while others view it as immoral, or at least morally questionable. Spielberg, being a liberal, put the mossad agents in the second camp, when conventional wisdom and all evidence point to the other direction.

  4. Congrats EV, for an excellent article. Thoughtful, analytical, and precise. If all the writing and comments on jewschool could be this good….

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