Israel now officially thinks Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” is “superficial” and “pretentious.”
Earlier this week, Daily Variety asked for comment from the Israel Foreign Ministry on whether the public comments from its L.A. consul general, Enod Danoch, in which he criticized the director’s portrayal of Israel’s counterterrorism policy, were on behalf of the government or simply the personal views of the diplomat.
Foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, “The Foreign Ministry doesn’t act as a movie critic” (Daily Variety, Dec. 20).
While this paper interpreted that statement as an attempt to distance the ministry from Danoch, Gideon Meir, a senior foreign ministry official, contacted Daily Variety to say the opposite was true. While he did not accuse the earlier report of misquoting the official spokesman, Meir said, “The interpretation was incorrect because we were backing him. Normally (Danoch) doesn’t need our permission to speak to an American newspaper. He is a foreign ministry representative because he’s our consul general. Here he did his job and he spoke with me before he spoke to the New York Times.”
On Dec. 9, the Times quoted Danoch blasting Spielberg’s film, which depicts the Mossad campaign of reprisal killings for the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, saying, “To try to address the conflict through a few sentences in a grand monologue is to make light of the conflict that’s cost so many lives and so many years. It’s presumptuous, even if it is Spielberg.”
He later complained to the Israeli paper Haaretz that Spielberg puts the Mossad agents and Palestinian terrorists on an equivalent moral plane. “This is an incorrect moral equation. We in Israel know this,” he said. “There is also a certain pretentiousness in attempting to treat a painful, decades-long conflict by means of quite superficial statements in a two-and-a-half-hour movie.”
To prove that Danoch had the full backing of the Israeli foreign ministry, Meir, who is the deputy director general for public affairs, provided a cable he sent to other diplomats supporting Danoch and advising to let them be the official comment from the ministry.
The cable, which was translated by the ministry from Hebrew to English, reads: “Further to the conclusions and recommendations in the cable from the Los Angeles Consulate, regarding Steven Spielberg’s film ‘Munich,’ and in the wake of the measured and businesslike response to the film by Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, which was relayed to the New York Times, we request you avoid giving interviews until further notice.”