Today, another Palestinian suicide bomber died. He killed himself early because he was stopped by soldiers on his way to attack a festivity where there would have been many children in attendance. Jewish children. Israeli children.

He was stopped by a brave soldier who may or may not have had time to realize that he was giving up his life, but he must have known the grave risk he was taking. He used his body to block the blast and prevent the deaths of many who were around. The surprise checkpoint, put in place because the Israelis suspected pending attacks due to the Jewish holiday of Chanukkah, and a couple of brave soldiers, prevented the massacre of the children.

Lieutenant Ori Binamo, 21, of Nesher, is dead. He’s the soldier in the photo above. He was only 21 but was about to become deputy company commander of his combat unit. In Israel some 21 year olds are men with heavy responsibilities and he was one of those who performed exceptionally well and was a proven leader. He leaves behind a girlfriend whom he has known since childhood. He leaves behind grief-stricken parents who must have been exceptionally proud of their outstanding son.

Soldiers die in wars, as do civilians. Israel, for a variety of reasons, has decided not to engage its enemies anywhere near as actively as it could over the past few years. One could say it has not done so since Oslo began except for a couple of moments in 2002. The attacks have diminished, however, because Israel has been effective at gathering intelligence and stopping most of them. Almost 95% – 98% of attempted suicide attacks on Israelis by Palestinians are stopped. So it could be said that Israel’s tactics may not satisfy a desire for revenge, but certainly are effective.

In a couple of weeks, the Palestinians will vote for their government. We will learn whether Fatah or Hamas will lead them. There isn’t much of a difference, as we are seeing. The Palestinians, regardless of their affiliation, are at war with Israel. Suicide bombings; Qassem rockets; ambushes of drivers; weapons manufacturing and stockpiling; coordination with other groups outside of Israel; a leadership that refuses to clamp down on its terrorists; spokesmen who vilify attacks by claiming it is hurting their cause not that there is something inherently and morally reprehensible in sending terrorists to murder civilians.

Israel is at war. When we lose sons like Ori Binamo, as we have lost other very talented young officers and soldiers over the past few years, the price is high and almost unbearable. His death is a reminder that the cost is high. It has always been high. One percent of the Jewish population was killed in 1948. But their lives, their deaths, their bravery and their fighting is what has allowed Israel to exist and to survive as a democracy where Jews may govern themselves.

I saw Spielberg’s Munich the other night. A movie that compares a pig like the Palestinian who was killed today with a soldier like Binamo. It is the politically correct attempt to equate all truths and all violence. It is a viewpoint that we hear all the time these days, from the Left, some churches and many Europeans, not to mention Arabs and Muslims throughout the world. It is a shameful lie, this attempt at moral equivalence.

Today is a reminder that this viewpoint is absent a moral compass.

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  • This just proves that Rabbi Kahana’s a”h vision was the correct one. There is only one way to stop the violence.

  • TM – wow. What a powerful post. I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve written here. May Ori’s parents, family, and friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

  • TM,

    There is not a single Palestinian in “Munich” who is compared to Ori Binamo. If you’re referring to the Palestinian who gives the speech in the stairwell, he’s a terrorist who is killed after meeting with one of the planners of the Munich massacre. That is not moral equivalence to Israelis protecting civilians, and Spielberg never implies that it is.

  • Spoilers in this comment for anybody who still hasn’t seen Munich:

    EV, the Palestinian in the stairwell is most certainly depicted in a favorable light and as an equal to the Bana character. They are two warriors, each with his own just mission. In fact, unlike the Bana character, there is no confusion on the part of the Palestinian, just a quiet confidence and a refusal to back down. His death is shown as a tragedy and his humanity is what makes it difficult for us as the audience and the members of the team to watch him die.

    Second, that stairwell scene allows him to express the same motivation to fight over the land as, say, Bana’s mother who is the obvious speaker for all Israelis. By the way, note how they focus in on European Jewry and no mention is made of the Jews from Arab and Muslim lands who had to flee and leave all behind.

    Third, at every point in the movie where there’s a chance, we hear the Palestinian side claim that considering everything that has been done to them by the Israelis, their actions are to be expected. This is in a movie about a group, Black September, named after the atrocities committed by the Jordanian government against their Palestinian population. Did anybody mention that in the movie? Or was there this nebulous justification of some supposed atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinians. Tell me, EV, what atrocities were committed after 1967? What atrocities were committed before? What did the Israelis do that wasn’t a response to an Arab action against them including Palestinian actions? None of this comes out in the movie at all…which causes the uneducated viewer to assume these atrocities were such that the terror is a natural reaction. Bullshit.

    Fourth and most convincing to me is the beginning of the movie where two things happen. 1. You see a Palestinian family of one of the Munich terrorists as they sit in a room crying and worrying about him during the raid. This, of course, is juxtaposed against an Israeli family that is just as concerned about one of the Israeli athletes. 2. As the names of the Israeli, innocent, civilian, athletes are said out loud in one of the tv broadcasts, on screen, each name is followed by a photo and a name of one of the Palestinian terrorists. One for one. If that’s not equivalence in the visual medium of cinema, you tell me what is.

    Let’s not forget what the movie is about: an Israeli soldier who is manipulated by his government, abandoned by them to run a mission on his own, and who ends up leaving Israel permanently and moving in with his family in the good old US of A. He leaves because he cannot abide what he has done and why he has done it. No justification is right anymore, it’s all one big cynical manipulation. Why would he leave in a just war? Why would this happen if the fight was worth it or entirely just? According to Munich, the fight is not just, merely understandable, but even then it is depicted as counter-productive. If Binamo gets killed, this doesn’t further the war, it’s tragic according to the film’s logic. But if you had killed this suicide bomber or the people who sent him, prior to or even following yesterday’s attack, according to Kushner and Spielberg, you are just creating an even worse terrorist tomorrow and fuelling the conflict. In other words, what Binamo was doing before yesterday in fighting these terrorists is as big of a problem as the terrorism itself. The real solution, according to Kushner and Spielberg, is to realize that the fight is futile and that Israel sucks, and that Binamo would have been better off had he moved to Brooklyn. Do you see any place in the movie where the Palestinians harbor any such confusion? Or rather, do we see their speeches justified, their fighters depicted as no different or less able than the Israelis? In Munich the Palestinian in the stairwell was yesterday’s suicide bomber, a man with a clear and reasonable mission and less insane than those who would follow him when he dies. Binamo was one of the Israelis. Heroic, yes. A good fighter. A good person who fights for his people. But also, no different than the Palestinian.

    In real life, EV, back in the early ’70s, the Palestinians were already targeting civilians and children. That had nothing to do with Israeli reprisals, it was merely a way to put their struggle on the map.

  • We should just accept that our country needs to be defended, instead of constantly looking for the approval of the hollywood and the media who clearly have their own (Palestinian) agenda. It is a war. Peace is only possible when the Palestinians want it. Until then, Israel will rely on superior democracy, technology and economics. Just ignore Speilberg. Ignore the fake indignation of the Palestinians. Just drink coca-cola and have a good shabbis. 🙂

  • 1. Agreed that they are two warriors, but Spielberg is clear that one has a mission of killing civilians, one has a mission of killing terrorists.

    “In fact, unlike the Bana character, there is no confusion on the part of the Palestinian, just a quiet confidence and a refusal to back down.”

    This is not evidence for your position. What it shows is that the terrorist is in the grip of fanatical, murderous passion, whereas Avner has ethics. He’s a human being whose personal morality outweighs any mission he’s given. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s sad that such a portrayal of an Israeli should even be considered negative.

    “[The terrorist’s] death is shown as a tragedy and his humanity is what makes it difficult for us as the audience and the members of the team to watch him die.”

    I don’t know about that. He is shown as a human being, yes, but I don’t think the audience is sympathizing with a person who just met with a Munich massacre mastermind and who’s chasing our protagonist with a shooting gun. His death is not a tragedy. If Spielberg tries to get inside the character’s head for a moment, it doesn’t mean he’s taking the character’s position or expecting us to join his cause.

    2. No mention is made of Arabs in the West Bank not being permitted to vote either. SS is not covering every single injustice done to each side. The movie is pretty long as it is.

    3. “Tell me, EV, what atrocities were committed after 1967? What atrocities were committed before?”

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at here, but obviously, in the Palestinian mind, the War of Independence, which caused 750,000 Arabs to leave their homes, is considered an atrocity by Palestinians. Yes, many others claim that it wasn’t Israel’s fault. It’s an old argument I don’t feel like having here, but the bottom line is that Palestinians consider the very creation of Israel to be an atrocity. Are you denying that they consider it such? Should Spielberg not have them consider it such? And again, while Spielberg might have them consider it such, he in no way sympathizes with how they respond to their view, i.e., through terror.

    “What did the Israelis do that wasn’t a response to an Arab action against them including Palestinian actions? None of this comes out in the movie at all.”

    The movie opens with the murder of innocent Israeli civilians by Palestinian murderers. What more do you want? The movie is using one act of terror and its response as a meditation on the contemporary Israeli – and Jewish – condition.

    “…which causes the uneducated viewer to assume these atrocities were such that the terror is a natural reaction.”

    No viewer with a soul, even uneducated, will justify the murder of civilians, as portrayed by Spielberg in the opening shots. Not only that: In his speech, the Palestinian makes his case, yes, but he also says the day will come when all the Arab armies rise up and destroy Israel. He isn’t whitewashed. He calls for the elimination of Israel. In any event, for every justification of the Palestinian cause (and these are rare, confined to no more than 5 minutes of screen time), you see justifications of Israel’s fight and moral correctness in defending itself – through Golda Meir, the Mossad case officer (played by me), Avner’s mother, and at least half the team of assassins.

    In fact, this is the moral universe of the movie: Palestinian terrorists target civilians, and Israeli soldiers go out of their way to avoid killing civilians (e.g., calling off the phone bomb when the daughter answers). That’s an accurate picture of the conflict, and it shows the morality of Israeli army.

    If anything, SS is saying that retaliation is necessary, but that it has exacted a price on the Israeli soul. That is not to equalize the terrorists and the retaliators.

    4. I actually felt disgust when I saw the Palestinian family mourning their children. Their children were clearly mass murderers. That their family is shedding tears for them, knowing that they’re committing mass murder, is not to make the viewer sympathize with them, but to recognize that Palestinian culture is so twisted that it has come to worship death. That, I think, was SS’s intention.

    Your second point – the cutting b/t faces – is a good one. But it doesn’t mean SS is necessarily equalizing them. What he’s doing is saying: This man died, this is the killer, etc. A novel transition from Munich to Jerusalem. But I agree you can read it in other ways.

    Re. Your last paragraph: True, the movie raises some difficult issues. It’s not a black and white description of the war, but a complex evocation of what the defense of Israel has entailed and incurred on the Israeli soul. Again, SS is not saying that the pursuers of terrorists are the same as the terrorists. He is, however, showing what a life of violence can do to a person and to a country – even if the violence was not initiated by that person or that country.

  • EV, although I disagree with your reading of these scenes, I am glad that an intelligent viewer of the film comes away with these impressions and hope that those impressions will be the ones left on most other viewers of the film.

    I don’t subscribe to the notion that the film is evil or even an all-out attack on Israel. However, I do think there are significant portions where Israel is treated very negatively. I recommend you read the Jerusalem Post article I posted in the Munich post.

    Shabbat shalom.

  • TM, Do you mean the Sam Freedman Op-Ed? I wrote a piece which starts off with something connected to “Exodus,” but I hadn’t read Freedman’s piece at the time. In any event, his piece is wonderfully written, but mine takes a different view. It should appear next week. I would send it to you, but you’re an anonymous penguin tripper, so I’ll try to get it to you through intermediaries like Esther and Muff (much the same way as Avner receives cash in the safe deposit box).

    Shabbat Shalom!

  • themiddle, i have to say i think your original post regarding Binamo is pretty manipulative. i think it’s perfectly clear that Spielberg does not equate the deaths of young men like Binamo with Ali’s, the Palestinian character you mentioned. i think people who watch the movie expecting to be offended will be offended. i agree with most everything EV said, so i’ll refrain from repeating, but i disagree with his interpretation of the Palestinian family’s grief. i don’t think it’s meant to show us how twisted Palestinians are, it’s meant to show us that they have families too and as much as you hate the thought of someone mourning them, they are mourned. i’ve heard a lot of complaints about the humanization of terrorists, and i find them kind of ridiculous. sorry, but they ARE human. maybe they’re incorrigibly bad people, or maybe they’re people in bad circumstances who do bad things, but they’re people. also, themiddle, you say no atrocities are committed against Palestinians, but I wonder if you’ve ever really thought about what it might be like to live in the territories. if your only criteria is that we don’t go and bomb their pizza joints and kids’ parties, then sure, we’re saints. all this movie is asking you to do is ask questions. to me it seems like you went in with your mind made up.

  • Spoilers abound…

    Two quick points about Munich:

    a) Spielberg, despite his sympathy for the Palestinians having some legitimate reasons to be angry, does show in graphic detail, the massacre of the athletes on the airport tarmac while their hands are bound. In this regard, the assassinations carried out by the Israelis are less heinous, although the fact that these people were murdered, rather than captured, sickens me.

    b) Spielberg’s main point in the movie is summed up in the final shot of the New York skyline, with the World Trade Center towers (which were dedicated in 1973) in the center of the frame: that the cycle never ends. Munich begat the assassinations, which begat the letter bombs, hijackings and assassinations by the Palestinians (including the 3 of Avner’s team), which eventually led us to this day, where the Palestinian conflict ultimately brings us the 9/11 attacks and the Iraqi war. An eye for an eye has failed us for the last 32 years; repeating the same tit-for-tat violence and expecting a different result is the textbook definition of insanity.

    That being said, I don’t claim to have a solution, either. I wonder what Spielberg thinks of disengagement…

  • Ofri, I went into the movie with an extremely open mind. I think it’s a good thriller. I think it’s Spielberg’s most mature film ever. It is a fine film. I also happen to agree that things aren’t perfect in Israel and there are many moral quandaries that face the country and its soldiers daily.

    All of that has little to do with editing a sequence so that the name of every Palestinian terrorist at Munich is juxtaposed against the name of one of their victims. That is equivalence.

    As for the feelings of Palestinian families who mourn their sons, why would I not understand what that is about? Of course I do, and it is precisely this moment in the film, juxtaposed against the family of an Israeli athlete that I find unfortunate. Why? Because while their grief might be similar, they are not both looking at the same victim. One is a perpetrator and one is a victim. Even if you were to look at the Israeli athlete as a former soldier, how rare is it that any Israeli soldier or unit targeted civilians?

    As for the terrorists being human? Sure, they walk and eat and defacate, so they are human. That’s about where it stops. A murderer who targets innocent civilians, primarily for propaganda purposes, but really for any reason, takes themselves out of society and humanity.

    We can all find reasons to be extremely bitter and even vengeful. I mean, I can’t go to my mother’s side of the family and mourn the loss of their home and worldly possessions because of their Jewishness. I can go to my father’s side of the family and seek revenge for the murder of dozens and dozens of family members because of their Jewishness. I didn’t and I don’t. Murdering or attacking anybody who isn’t a soldier at war with you is a vile crime. These guys take it a step further because they seek to inflict as much harm as possible and make as many news broadcasts as possible.

    So when you take one of them and juxtapose his name against that of an athlete, you are making a choice to tell the audience that they are the same. The only logic to that is to assume that since their sadness, anger, grief, claims over the land, etc. are similar, then they are the same. But guess what, one of them targets innocent civilians and one does not. That is all the difference in the world and Spielberg has a number of moments in the film where that becomes unclear.

    Furthermore, the film is about a person’s anguish at the cost of fighting back against these attackers. The anguish is the result of the loss of people around him and the seeming endlessness to the number of terrorists around. That’s fine and probably on target with reality. However, Spielberg extrapolates from that one more idea which is that when you fight these terrorists, you simply get more vicious terrorists in their place and the war is never won. The irony is not lost on him that, for example, one of the groups he brings up, the Baader Meinhof gang is virtually moribund. Nope, according to Spielberg, you just get worst terrorists that eventually destroy the WTC. I think it’s a pretty weak case to go from fighting against terrorists to ending up at the WTC. I think there’s a tad more complexity to the situation and it has little to do with fighting back against terror. Even if he’s referring to Iraq, once again this is a longshot since the notion that somehow the war on Iraq is a war on terror is simply a contrived excuse used to justify the war in hindsight.

    Finally, as to my being manipulative, I guess all writing is manipulative. I put an idea out before you and try to back it up with my thoughts. If you disagree, that’s perfectly fine. However, you’re going to have a tough time convincing me that the Left and numerous Europeans and Arabs don’t claim that Palestinian suicide bombings are an understandable reaction to Israeli “horrors” and occupation. And with all due respect, that is exactly what Spielberg wanted us to see when he showed the grief-stricken Palestinian family and juxtaposed the names of the athletes with those of the terrorists.

  • Lieutenant Ori Binamo, 21, of Nesher, is dead.

    That was the gist of the post. How did the discussion become one of the Spielberg movie?

  • Who the hell cares about that stupid tool’s movie… This poor young man was murdered.. And for what some sort of peace process? With our (Israel) current course of action does anyone think this will stop? Nope, we’ll just have more blog fodder to discuss…. G-D help us all

  • Much Respect Ori:

    From one officer to another of similar age but different countries, I respect this man and the entire IDF.

  • First of all, without the movie all comments on this page are muted. So our comments should be more about resolving the dynamics of our responses to the movie and not Speilberg motivations or inaccuracies. The impact of the movie on its viewers is more important than the movie itself if somehow the mindset on each side can be changed to find a more practical solution to conflict than hatred and slaughter.

    Obviously, passions are off the scale in regard to the subject: When is it righteous to kill? The movie shows that all people have some level of humanity, recognized or not. Both Jews and Palestinians place family first. As people, we must choose to live first out of our hearts, not within the borders of our country. A country is only as good as the moral character of its people and the laws duly chosen to govern its citizens. The best governments treat all people with equal rights and each person, even rulers, live within those laws.

    Though imperfect, history is clear that conflicts are far better resolved in civil, legal settings than on bloody battlefields. At least the voices of both the accused and the accuser can be heard. And sometimes, that is enough to end the strife and bring about peace.