Exploring Mind Control

Monday, January 16, 2006
Ok, before reading further, please respond to the following statement with 1) agree strongly; 2) agree somewhat; 3) disagree somewhat; or 4) disagree strongly:

In the reviews I've read or heard of Stephen Spielberg's new film, Munich, the standard media line is that the book on which the film is based - Georg Jonas' Vengeance - is itself a great literary artifice that strayed far from the facts of the events that unfolded in the wake of the Munich Massacre. In other words, Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner are simply taking literary license with a story that is already licentious with the truth.

Now read this letter to the Wall Street Journal:
Truth Is There, Hidden, in a Book on Munich

Bret Stephens’s excellent “Editorial Board: Munich,” Dec. 31, repeats a canard: “ ‘Vengeance,’ the George Jonas book upon which the film is largely based, is widely considered to be a fabrication.”

George Jonas is a colleague and my former husband. I’m well aware of the research behind this book. Further disclosure: the book is dedicated to me.

One of the most unfortunate and ironic aspects of the “Munich” affair is that those who rightly disapprove of Steven Spielberg’s film and wish to attack him are doing it in part by attacking Mr. Jonas’s book. Perhaps you were unable to get the new edition of “Vengeance” with Mr. Jonas’s essay, “Notes On a Controversy,” which speaks directly to the book’s authenticity. I would urge you to read that essay as well as the 1983 Epilogue to “Vengeance.”

In addition:

• In 1985, a film of “Vengeance” was made called “The Sword of Gideon.” It adhered to the book closely, except that it was pro-Israel and had none of Mr. Spielberg’s moral equivalence. The Israeli government did not object to it being shot in Israel and shown on Israeli television.

• At the time of the book’s publication in 1983, Israeli intelligence officials were widely quoted (e.g., in the New York Times) unofficially confirming the existence of hit squads after the massacre at the Olympics, even as they officially denied them. Their stance remains the same today.

Verifying an intelligence story through official channels is a contradiction in terms. Official statements in such circumstances are all but useless. Agencies wishing to discredit an ex-employee who tells tales out of school will steer journalists to the ex-agent’s cover or “legend”—say, a job at El Al—to show that he’s only a disgruntled security guard or baggage handler.

I cannot stress too highly the care and effort that went into this book as well as George Jonas’s lifelong commitment to the values clearly expressed in “Vengeance” that are now all but reversed in the film.

Barbara Amiel
(Hat tip: VFR)
For some discussion of Sword of Gideon, see comments towards bottom of this RLS post


chuck said...

I talked to my dad yesterday. He's a good Massachusetts Democrat, Jewish convert, idealist (voted for Norman Thomas in 1940), and his wife is a big Spielberg fan. Well, guess what? After talking to a Jewish couple who had been to see Munich and were not just disappointed, but sickened by the film, he is not planning to see the movie. More than that, the couple who saw Munich are writing a letter to their Rabbi asking him to comment on the film for the congregation. Changes are coming, big changes. Jews are watching the growing antisemitism overseas, they are recalling their grandparents' stories of pogroms in Russia and reciting the roll of relatives killed by the Nazis. Politics in this country might be very different when GW Bush retires in 2008.

truepeers said...

Hope you're right Chuck. But then there are also the Jews who are "moved" by the film. I won't see it.