Secret Agent ClownA Veritable Laff-Riot?
The New York Daily News interviewed several former Israeli Mossad agents after a private screening in Tel Aviv of Steven Spielberg’s film Munich. The film purports to tell the story of Israeli agents who killed Palestinian terrorists to avenge the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1976 Munich Olympics.

“It’s clear from the film that Steven Spielberg has a lot to learn about this business,” Shavit said after the screening. “The film has no connection to reality whatsoever.” … Rafi Eitan, who had inside knowledge of the Israeli reprisals as he headed the Mossad’s operations department at the time of the Munich massacre, said the film was pure fantasy … “The gap between what really happened and the way events are portrayed in the film simply cannot be bridged,” Eitan said after the screening.

The night wasn’t a total loss though as the assembled spies “chuckled at times” during the film. Said one former Mossad agent: “A team that amateurish and clumsy would have been arrested by the local police within a day of arriving for their mission.”

For more on the hooey-ness of Munich, read former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy’s thoughtful piece in The Times where he notes:

The conversations between Mossad officers do not resemble the way that they speak or think. No remotely successful operation could have been based on the “professional standards” exhibited in the film.

The article also reveals that Efraim Halevy’s Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man who Led the Mossad will soon be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

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Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • A similar article was published by the UK’s Guardian, analogizing Munich to The Life of Walter Mitty. You can read it here

  • Claims by special ops that movies don’t reflect what they say/do is nothing new. Because if Spielberg did get somethign right, and they (mossad) admitted it, that could possibly reveal too much of what/how they do things.

    Regardless, the movie was a bore.

    But the new W. Allen movie rocks. And I haven’t liked any of his recent films. Note: the film is a goyishe Crimes and Misdemeanors set in London.

  • ck,

    Have you seen the film? It opens not with the line “Inspired by Real Events.” Not even “Based on a True Story” but INSPIRED by real events. I.e., it’s a fictional imagining of what transpired after the Munich massacre. Thus the Times UK’s opener, “The new film Munich purports to be the truth about the aftermath of the 1972 Olympic massacre.” is wrong on its surface.

    And Shtreimel’s right. If the film had gotten it right, the Mossad of course would’ve denied it. But I think it was never the film’s intent to depict the reality of the Mossad, but rather how Spielberg wishes the Mossad operated.

    I disagree re. Match Point. It’s identical to Crimes and Misdemeanors, but w/o the interesting characters and the jokes. Don’t you prefer the original, i.e., C&M?

  • I agree with EV above. The film never claimed to be a documentary. It was a good spy film and held my attention for almost the entire 2 1/2 hours.

    I did think the last few scenes with Avner & his wife in bed contrasted with the airstrip explosions/deaths was bizarre but then again I don’t make movies for a living.

  • Jessica: I completely agree. It wasn’t a movie going after accuracy. Why else would Spielberg base it off of the most discredited book on the aftermath of Munich (it’s obviously the one that made for the best storytelling)? And I found it entertaining, in the same way that historical fiction is entertaining (think “The Hajj”), since it is dramatizing a story from Jewish history that is very important to me.

    But the conflation of Avner, his wife, and the death of the Israeli athletes was really, really poor taste. Really tacky. And pointless; it didn’t really drive home any message or point. Other than that, I liked the filming and scenes a lot in the film.

  • “Don’t you prefer the original, i.e., C&M?”

    C&M is one of my favorite Allen movies on many, many levels. But due to the shlock that Allen’s been putting out, Matchpoint was enjoyable, if not repulsive, in the only way that Allen knows how to be.

    So yes, C&M is a better movie on every level.

  • Taltman…Almost everyone I know who saw the movie just didn’t see what the point was to Avner/the wife/the airstrip. And also felt it was in poor taste. It is good to hear that someone else liked the movie: like I said, I thought it was a pretty good spy flick.

  • Israeli Americans with whom I spoke carried the same sentiments as the article-no group of idiots could have carried out a mission in the manner which spielberg portrayed. They also felt that the movie slighted the Israeli army and made them look weak. People out here in Indiana thought it was great. Show’s how much they know.

  • Maybe Avner was regretting his decision to come America? That is, even during sex he couldn’t relinquish that feeling of guilt, paranoia, and crave to avenge their deaths? To him, maybe a Sabra living in the Diaspora was the cardinal sin…I don’t know, I think I’m more confused than before now. 🙂

    If you’re talking about the Beirut scene, I totally agree. They looked like a bunch of kids out there for the first time. Question: Was Ehud Barak in that action?

    The part I couldn’t stand was when Avner was on the balcony, waiting for the bed bomb to blow up. Notice how Spielberg shoots from down below, at a profile, drawing a parallel between the Munich terrorists and Avner, equivocating their evil deed. It’s uncanny and offensive. Plus, the hotel the Arab was staying was called the Olympic Hotel. Granted, as an artist he’s got some leeway, but this shit actually happened..You can’t just revise history, fucking revisionist.

  • The Munich Massacre was one of the most morally repulsive acts ever perpetrated, and totally shocked the whole civilized world.

    For Hollywood to take a distant historical event/story where not many facts are known and did not happen in our lifetimes and insert their imagined drama, violence and sex for purely entertainment purposes is one thing. Happens all the time.

    But to take this tragic event still painfully in our memories where the real facts are known, then insert fictional drama, violence, politics and requisite sex in order to make a buck from it, is morally reprehensible in itself.

  • When MIDNIGHT EXPRESS came out I saw it with some Turkish friends who complained about how it wasn’t realistic because the Turkish guards were ACTUALLY Greeks – speaking Turking with Greek accents.


    Hell, even reality shows aren’t real.

    Memo to Brit Tony Scott who directed THE FAN: Baseball games are never played in driving rain. Ever. But why let that obscure fact get in the way of your masterpiece.

  • Jim, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I think most would argue that Munich was neither (solely) an attempt to entertain nor was it expected to be a cash cow. From what I’ve read, Munich will just barely cover its budget, and that doesn’t surprise me for a second. I’m sure Spielberg isn’t too shocked either, and either way he’s doing ok financially.

  • So is Gibson going to do the Macabee mvie after all or will he redo the Garden of Eden suicide glorification movie that one top Israeli globus prize?

  • So why didn’t Spielberg make up a more generic terrorist event to start the film? Why base the film on a real event and then claim artistic license to screw around with the details and create entirely fictional parts that never occurred to support his leftist agenda? I can’t respect these choices that Spielberg made; this film was a mistake, and a dishonest one at that.

  • Encino Yeled: Yes, Ehud Barak did indeed take part in that hit. That’s the famous operation where he cross-dressed to get the job done. 🙂 I guess that’s why they call him the “most decorated” soldier in Israeli history. 😉

  • Not only is Speilberg a revisionist, worse, he’s an apologist. He embarasses and dishonors all Jews, everywhere.

    Too bad there’s no way to kick him out of the club.

  • After watching “The Sword of Gideon” on DVD, I think its a pity that Speilberg used Yuval Aviv’s story as told to Georg Jonas as a source.
    Why didn’t he approach Zamir, Shavit, Harari, or Halevy?
    What a lost opportunity to set the record straight.

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