An Israeli Perspective on New Spielberg Political Thriller About Munich '72

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Israeli officials braced for the worst when they heard that Steven Spielberg was tackling Middle East violence in "Munich," his forthcoming thriller about the massacre at the 1972 Olympics and the retaliatory assassinations of Palestinian terrorists.

But Israel's first official response to the movie, which is set to open in the United States on Dec. 23, came with a shrug: It's not so great for Israel, but so what?

It's a Hollywood movie," said Ehud Danoch, the Israeli consul general in Los Angeles, who attended a screening of "Munich" here Monday night.

Mr. Danoch said he had found plenty to object to in the two-and-a-half-hour film, which stars Eric Bana as the leader of a hit squad of Mossad agents dispatched by Prime Minister Golda Meir to hunt down and kill the Palestinians responsible for the massacre, in which 11 Israeli athletes were slain, along with other terrorists not directly linked to the attack. He said that the movie made it seem as if Israel's response alone had caused an escalation in terrorism, calling this pure fiction.

He argued, above all, that the film unfairly drew a moral equivalency between the Israeli assassins and their targets - both explicitly, in dialogue in which the Israelis question their own actions and Palestinians defend theirs, and implicitly, as when the camera shifts from a television broadcast showing the names of the 11 athletes to an Israeli official showing the photographs of the 11 Palestinian targets.

"And so it's 11 for 11," Mr. Danoch said in an interview at the consulate. "It's equal, it's balanced. It's these for those." But, he continued "those were Olympic sportsmen who were murdered in the most disgusting and horrible way, and these were the guys who did it."

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