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Comments on "Munich", Jews killing for god
Posted: 24 October 2006 03:25 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I watched "Munich" into the wee hours last night.  I came away a little confused as to the director, Speilberg's motive. 

Abner, the assassin, proficiently goes out and kills enemies to the Jewish state, no questions asked… until the end of the movie.  Then he has questions a plenty.  I thought Speilberg was hell bent on portraying Jews in a favorable light.  This movie did the opposite.  Unless, of course, revenge is now a highly esteemed moral platitude and nobody told me.

The movie had practically no set up as to whom Abner is.  Except that he has never killed anyone before.  So, immediately, I asked why the Israeli government would choose this man?  Where was the wisdom in hiring a no name inexperienced potential bungler… if revenge was the objective?  And what of the revenge?  And I am supposed to believe that this man is so devout to his Jewish state that he will drop everything, including his house—his wife—his newborn baby girl, and go out for a year to kill for his country when he has not done that before?

Revenge is definately a theme and I paused to observe that the killings were also motivated by hatred?  Hmm.  What is a religious Jew doing hating, revenging and terrorizing?  (bombs stuck under the enemy's bed that detonate in the dead of night etc).

Okay, and then… at one of the climaxes, when Abner is kind of doubting his mission, he flashes back to the murder scene of the 11 olympic athletes and becomes enraged and spurred on to action… more killing and how!  He becomes hard core paramilitary.  Huh?

So he just willingly goes out and kills because "they" killed his people?  So then I thought perhaps another motivator had to be the money that the Israeli government was throwing at Abner.  The Israeli government threw all kinds of money at him.  But doesn't that makes the Abner character immoral?  So it can't be the money.

The last religion on my list to study (I have studied various thus far), is Judaism.  I don't get it.  My question is this.  Are Jews steeped enough into the law of Moses brine that they still think that an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, is a really great ideological platform?

In the end Abner questions his killing.  But I came away with his remorse being tied more to his now paranoid state of being than anything.  It seems Abner was remiss about his killing not because he now believed killing was wrong or senseless, but because his actions now put his entire future on the line, pins and needles like.  He basically was a walking dead man for the rest of his life until the friends of his targets found him and disposed of him.

Am I missing something?  Is Speilberg trying to represent his culture as vapid or hollow?  Speilberg certainly wouldn't do that.  Usually he shoots pictures like Schindler's List to shed supportive perspective (or even sympathy) on his culture. Or do I need to watch it again?

I guess I should open my eyes.  Israel and Palestine have been exchanging senseless death grips for eons.  This movie addresses the 1947 creation of the state of Israel and the palestinian frustration with that but still, here to me it's just another case of killing for "god".

Noggin

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Posted: 25 October 2006 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Nobody is commenting, which is fine, I mean it is a long post after all in a relatively quiet section of TEOF.  So I’ll post what I am interested in here.

1. Do Jews practice the law of Moses? 

2. Are they “Eye for an eye, Tooth for a tooth” mentality? 

3. Revenge is okay in Judaism? 

And since some time has gone by since I generated this post, I was thinking about this revenge concept. 

4. Isn’t the death penalty little more than state sanctioned revenge?

Noggin

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Posted: 25 October 2006 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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There are different flavors of Judaism, Noggin.  You will learn that as you delve into the religion.  Ultra Orthodox Jews will not drive, leave electric lights burning, cook, clean, etc. on their sabbath.  (Friday night to Saturday night.)  They can make nothing, except love, on the sabbath. 

Orthodox Jews will observe this, as well as the Kosher laws, which demand that they not eat meat and milk within a six hour period.  They also must have a rabbi come to “kosher” their kitchen.  This entails him praying and pouring boiling water over the countertops and washing every single dish they have.  It is a very lengthy process.  The men will always wear their yarmulka.

Orthodox Jews take everthing in the Torah very seriously indeed.  I think that they feel the “eye for an eye” is completely valid.

“Regular” Jews, however, can be more relaxed, and some will even eat pork.  It just depends.  There is Reform Judaism, Orthodox, Hasidism, Reconstructionist, and some that you will recognize from the New Testament, like Sadducees and Pharisees.  It is a real can of worms.

I hope this helped.  :(  I have not seen Munich.  If I do, I will come back here and answer some of your other questions. 

Annalise

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Posted: 26 October 2006 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Dear Noggin,

Last night I was thinking how inadequate my reply was to your post.  I know that I did not specifically answer your questions, and also, what little I did post was rushed.  I thought I would take more time today to see if I could give a better impression of what I was trying to say yesterday.

I am not a Jew, but I have many friends who are, and who are very different from one another.  I have some who could rightly even be called atheists, who yet still observe the feast days out of a sense of maintaining their cultural heritage.  Others that I know are Ultra Orthodox, and their form of Judaism is a part of every day of their lives, in ways that most forms of Christianity will never be.

There is a great deal of beauty to be found in the devotion of the Ultra Orthodox Jew.  If invited to their house to have the Shabbat dinner with them, you will be struck by what can only be called the joy that they feel in this obedience to their God.

The Shabbat dinner is lit by candlelight as the sun begins to go down, and there is a real feeling of ceremony as the little ones are put in bed and the husband and wife, with a kind of beautiful unity, begin the Shabbat ritual.  The husband will sing in Hebrew, he will sanctify a cup of wine, he will cut the braided loaf of challah made by his wife, dip it in salt.  Usually what follows is a special meal, one that has been prepared knowing that this loving ritual is going to be shared between them.  Making love on this night in particular has a special meaning, not only because it is one of the only activities allowed (as it combines procreation with enjoyment of Shabbat, both of which are considered to be mandated by the Torah.), but also because it is a kind of mystical one-ness that the two people have with each other and also with the Divine.  They experience the universe through each other, they experience the love of God in what they are doing, and it becomes much more than a mere physical act, because the weight of ceremony is placed upon it.  So there is this transcendence into the love of God, the mind of God, through the love between husband and wife.

Everything that the Orthodox Jew does, in some way comes back to his religion.  It is his or her way of life.  What he eats, what he wears, even how his food is placed in the refrigerator.  Devotion and obedience are a daily act.  They do not question why; it is good enough to merely obey, and that is how God is honored. 

The Orthodox Jews that I have known take everything in the Old Testament literally.  Every doorpost in their house has the Mezuzah, the small box that contains a piece of parchment inscribed with parts of the Torah.  They do not drive, turn on lights, watch t.v., or anything else on their sabbath. 

In this light, your question regarding the “eye for an eye” could be answered thus:  if Moses wrote it, God said it, then I must do it.  End of story.  Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, don’t walk too far on the Sabbath, don’t eat milk and meat together, circumcise your boy child on the eighth day…etc., etc.  Obedience is how God is honored.

In fact, Jews will not even type the word “God”, they will type “G-d” instead, although it is an English word and not even the original Hebrew, and is not even spoken.

However, there are more relaxed forms of Judaism, as I noted above, in which this kind of mentality is unthinkable, or at least mentally tiring.  These are Jews that are mainly cultural Jews, they observe their Jewishness out of a sense of identity or tradition.  They might even be seen to indulge in something utterly forbidden, such as pork, from time to time.  (Pepperoni pizza :shock: ).

There are different brands of Judaism, as you find in Christianity, you will get many different answers to the same questions when you ask different people.

Your death penalty question can go across the board into nations run by Christian or Islamic mores as well, Noggin.  Is the death penalty state-sanctioned revenge?  If there is an enemy to the state, he must be dealt with.  Think of Timothy McVeigh.  It was not enough to lock him up for the rest of his life.  The State wanted to obliterate his very existence for his crime.  Is this revenge?  Ridding a threat?  Is it petty, or heroic?  I guess, it depends on your viewpoint.  Countries such as Norway find the death penalty in the United States as barbaric as we find Saudi Arabia’s policy of cutting off the hand of a thief.

The United States, if I am not mistaken, is the last of the industrialized nations to do away with the death penalty.  And yet, it has one of the highest—if not the highest—rates of death by violent means of the industrialized nations.  As a deterrent, the death penalty does not seem to be working.  :shock:  Compare rates of violence in countries such as Norway or Denmark or the United Kingdom, who view the death penalty as positively medieval.

Now, I have not seen Munich, as I said, but your question as to Spielberg representing Jews in a less than positive light is a little confusing.  It seems to me that Spielberg is giving a rounded view—not a myopic one.  The positive story of Schindler (which I did see), and the more negative view presented in Munich.  Two sides of the coin.  That is to be admired.

annalise

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Posted: 26 October 2006 05:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Now, I have not seen Munich, as I said, but your question as to Spielberg representing Jews in a less than positive light is a little confusing. It seems to me that Spielberg is giving a rounded view—not a myopic one. The positive story of Schindler (which I did see), and the more negative view presented in Munich. Two sides of the coin. That is to be admired.

annalise

Thanks very much for that post.  You have an affinity to that faith, I can tell.  As for myself, I hold a measure of distaste for the things of god right now.  But after reading your depiction of the Jewish faith, I soften to see the beauty of it, through your explanation.

I would be eager to see what you think of Munich.  If you see it in the next little while, would you mind posting a pargraph on what you thought?  I’ll even mail it to you if you promise to mail it back (renting it would be easier I think).  You confirmed that Jews believe in Eye for an Eye.  That explains a lot if it is true.

Spielberg gave a view of a section of Jews hell bent on getting revenge for the 11 deaths of their olympians.  The world view of Abner went from practically meek and submissive to rage and terrorizing in the name of god.  A Jew might take offense to what I just wrote and call Abner’s transformation a “focusing of task” or some other white washing apologetics.  But in the end, humans were killed, in gruesome terrorizing ways, and in the name of god and country (are these separate entities in Israel?).

Spielberg depicts a man fueled to kill first out of a sense of duty, then later out a sense of practical hatred as his comrades fall dead along side him.

Any other notes or comments about this film would be appreciated.  It was rather engrossing to see it.

Noggin

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Posted: 27 October 2006 02:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“Noggin”]I would be eager to see what you think of Munich.  If you see it in the next little while, would you mind posting a pargraph on what you thought?


I will rent it this weekend and then tell you what I think.

:D

annalise

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Posted: 27 October 2006 03:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I am Jewish, whatever that means but to answer your question quickly…

Nowadays Jewishness is little more than than a form of secular tribalism. They go through the motions, observe the customs and profess to be Jews. They are devoted to their Jewish identity inasmuch as they are devoted to a culture, God has little to do with it. I never understood the idea of being Jewish, even though my father is a Holocaust survivor. The tribalism has its origins in the last 2 millenia and the devastating consequences of the Holocaust in Europe. One thing that I always have thought is that we are human beings, not Jews, Christians, Americans, Koreans or what have you…I volitionally rejected being barmitzphahed…anyway that’s mainstream Jewish identity nowadays…

btw I was inoffically expelled from the ‘Jewish’ community due to my many years of study of German language and literature…weird people… :wink:

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Posted: 27 October 2006 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Morning Noggin,
I think your surprise at the reprisals the Israelis took because of the murders of their athletes is a little harsh. The athletes were noncombatants killed by a heartless group of murderers who were not accountable to any reasonable system of justice. However pious the Israelis may or may not be, they were justified I think in sending a clear message to these groups. “If you kill us we will hunt you down.” I don’t think the terrorists have any reason to expect otherwise. No god need be involved. After all, isn’t this what we have said to Al Qaeda. I don’t think you would take the position that “since we are a Christian country, we shouldn’t be hunting down terrorists.” The Israelis may be variously religious, but I don’t think they should be mocked for not taking a pacifist stance.
Personally, I don’t think the worldwide war on terrorism will be won until all nations agree that it is an absolutely unacceptable form of conflict directed at noncombatants, and a truly international force is developed to root it out by all means. Identified terrorists should expect to die in their sleep from a bullet to the head, and only then might we see less of it.
I am of the belief that we cannot “win” the war we are fighting in Iraq with military troops, because that is not winning the hearts and minds of the Middle East. Preemptive war against a country to stop a possible attack is also a disastrous policy, unless you want to be seen as an aggressor. The message we have sent to countries of the world…that we are willing to kill your people when we are afraid that something MIGHT happen to us, is simply unethical to me. We should have no hesitation however in claiming the right to hunt down groups, or even a country that attacks us.
Let’s face it, billions of dollars can be wasted on protective measures here and still, even you and I can probably come up with ways to get around it all. Suicidal people cannot be stopped. We have to accept this, and yet make it clear that we will hunt down their enablers to the end.
Fighting the philosophies that promote terrorism is the only answer.

Rod

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Posted: 28 October 2006 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Greetings Noggin (and All):

The movie MUNICH (by Spielberg) is simply an unfortunate attempt to take a compelling true story and reduce it to some kind of soul searching morality tale. 

If you want to get down to the real story, I would recommend that you read “Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel’s Deadly Response” by Aaron J. Klein.  Here you will find the ‘real’ story of the events leading up to the Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel’s response (and in some cases, non-response) over the years.  It’s a book that you won’t be able to put down once you start it.

Now, as for my bona fides, I was ‘born’ a Jew—but never could wrap my head around the superstitious sky-god thing.  Currently, there are about 14 million Jews in the world today, 90% of which are secular.  Israel, in fact, boasts of more athiests than most other countries (25%) among the nominally Jewish population.  I am a radical athiest myself.

With regards to the following questions, I would like to add my 2 cent’s worth:

1. Do Jews practice the law of Moses? Very few Jews actually practice the ‘laws of Moses.’  No one is killed for ‘breaking’ the Sabbath, or adultery, or any of the other commandments listed on the OT that seem to require capital punishment.  As noted earlier, 90% of the current world Jewish population is secular—most could be considered ‘humanists.’  Of the 10% that do ‘practice’ some or most of the riturals and ‘humanistic’ ethics of the religion—very few are fundies.  From the Jewish perspective, human life is to be preserved above any and all of the laws/customs, that is—one can violate any law/custom to perserve human life.  To do otherwise is considered evil.  In other words, self defense (i.e. preservation of one’s own life—or the life of one’s family/loved one’s) is a duty and it is entirely OK to kill someone who is trying to murder you.  Please note that there is an important difference between killing and murder—which is often mis-translated/mis-understood with regards to one of the so-called 10 commandments.  It should properly read:  Thou shalt not MURDER.

2. Are they “Eye for an eye, Tooth for a tooth” mentality?
This quote is one of the most misunderstood concept in Judaism.  As most educated people understand, nothing in the OT is meant to be taken literally.  Nothing!  All is open to interpretation and there is a great tradition of ‘commentary’ over the millenia regarding what things mean in the Torah, and other books.  The idea above is, to the best of my understanding, meant to provide for compensation to a wronged party.  For example (in the tradition of commentary and interpretation), there are two people in a fight.  One is young and fit and one is old and blind in one eye.  The young one plucks out the blind eye of the old man.  Does this mean that the old man now has the right to pluck out a good eye from the young man?  NO.  It means that the old man should be compensated to the extent of his loss.  In fact, most of modern law (common and otherwise) is based on this idea that a wronged party should be compensated (made whole) for their loss.  This compensation (in all civilized societies) is based on monetary compensation.

3. Revenge is okay in Judaism?
Revenge seems to be a natural trait.  Even our primate cousins tend to engage in it.  I believe that one could cherry pick many passages in the OT to justify revenge—as well as to condemn it.  So I guess it’s not so easy to answer this question.  Ultimately, revenge cannot bring back anything that was initially lost, and simply reduces the wronged party to the level of those that they were wronged by.  If the Jews truly believed in revenge, I can tell you that there would be NO Germans or Catholics left alive on the face of the earth (based on the murders that were committed against Jews during the Crusades, Inquisition, and Holocaust).  Therefore, it seems that revenge is not actively practised by Jews.  However, a sense of justice and compensation for wrongs (see #2, above) is central to Jewish ethics and thought.

4. Isn’t the death penalty little more than state sanctioned revenge?   I suppose it depends on the state in question.  Different societies and cultures have their own reasons for the death penalty.  If this question is directed to the State of Israel, it should be noted that Israel does not have a ‘death penalty.’  Only once in it’s history has someone been put to death by the state—Adolf Eichmann.  Of course, Israel does engage in ‘targeted assassinations,’ and to say otherwise would be foolish.  Is this moral?  Let me ask you a question:  Is it moral to allow others to plan, organize and execute attacks against non-combatants/civilians—and not take action in advance to protect said non-combatants/civilians?

[ Edited: 29 October 2006 05:39 AM by ]
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Posted: 28 October 2006 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“rationalfreethinker”]3. Revenge is okay in Judaism?
Revenge seems to be a natural trait.  Even our primate cousins tend to engage in it.  I believe that one could cherry pick many passages in the OT to justify revenge—as well as to condemn it.  So I guess it’s not so easy to answer this question.  Ultimately, revenge cannot bring back anything that was initially lost, and simply reduces the wronged party to the level of those that they were wronged by.  If the Jews truly believed in revenge, I can tell you that there would be NO Germans or Catholics left alive on the face of the earth (based on the murders that were committed against Jews during the Crusades, Inquisition, and Holocaust).  Therefore, it seems that revenge is not actively practised by Jews.  However, a sense of justice and compensation for wrongs (see #2, above) is central to Jewish ethics and thought.

That is one of the reasons I became confused.  The murder of 11 Israeli athletes triggers grisly assassinations on Arabs.

I watched the beginning 30 minutes of the movie again last night to see why they would pick Avner as the lead hit man

1. his father was a war hero
2. Avner was a former body guard of the Israeli prme minister
3. Avner was not well known and therefore his assassinations would be harder to pin on an individual.

So that makes a little more sense.

Then Spielberg has Golda Meir, the prime minister outline her reasons for implementing revenge assassinations.

1. 11 Israeli’s dead, and the world is partying at the Olympics, no one seems to care

I did a little research on this and came up with:

The Olympic competition was suspended on September 5 for one full day; this had never happened before. The next day, a memorial service attended by 80,000 spectators and 3,000 athletes was held in the Olympic Stadium. IOC President Avery Brundage made no reference to the murdered athletes during a speech praising the strength of the Olympic movement, which outraged many listeners.

Many of the 80,000 people who filled the Olympic Stadium for West Germany’s soccer match with Hungary carried noisemakers and waved flags, but when several spectators unfurled a banner reading “17 dead, already forgotten?” security officers removed the sign and expelled the offenders from the grounds.

During the memorial service, the Olympic Flag was flown at half-staff, along with the flags of most of the other competing nations, at the order of Willy Brandt. Ten Arab nations attending the Games demanded their flags remain at full-staff, which Brandt accepted.

American marathon runner Kenny Moore, who wrote about the incident for Sports Illustrated, quoted one of the Dutch athletes as saying, “You give a party, and someone is killed at the party, you don’t continue the party, you go home. That’s what I’m doing.”


So in that light, the Jewish retaliation takes on a new perspective.  I understand a little better, the weights in the balance scale to do what they did.

Noggin

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Posted: 30 October 2006 03:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Noggin,

That was a riveting movie.  I watched it twice.  The second time, I was struck by how fresh-faced and innocent Avner looks at the beginning of the film—at the end, he’s unshaven, harrowed, hollow-eyed, haunted.  He cannot let go his fear.

[quote author=“Noggin”]Am I missing something? Is Speilberg trying to represent his culture as vapid or hollow? Speilberg certainly wouldn’t do that. Usually he shoots pictures like Schindler’s List to shed supportive perspective (or even sympathy) on his culture.

Did you watch the introduction by Steven Spielberg?  In it, he says that he wanted the movie to take an “unsparing” look at the events in Munich and afterward.  It seems he did his best to present the story, while still maintaining the flow of narrative in what parts of history were unknown.  That comment by Spielberg seemed to speak to your point of his presenting such a different view of Judaism than that seen in Schindler

The themes in the movie seemed to center around honor and loyalty, much more than revenge—

Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori

—“How sweet and honorable it is to die for one’s country”.  Avner was already an agent of Mossad.  Not only, as you noted, was his father a famous war hero, and thus big shoes to fill, Avner also had the obligations of honor and loyalty to his country that were his to fulfill.  He had been a bodyguard to Ms. Meir some years before, as you noted.  It was his job.  But it was personal, too.

[quote author=“Noggin”]In the end Abner questions his killing. But I came away with his remorse being tied more to his now paranoid state of being than anything. It seems Abner was remiss about his killing not because he now believed killing was wrong or senseless, but because his actions now put his entire future on the line, pins and needles like.

One of the characters [I don’t know his name; one of the old guys] said of Avner:

“I knew guys like you in the army.  You’ll do any terrifying thing you have to, but you have to do it running.”

As long as Avner was on the mission—in the “mode” of political assassination, then he could function.  But he made the decision to stop running, and found that he couldn’t run from what he’d done.  Now all of a sudden, he’s doubting his safety—his phone, his television, his bed might be rigged in exactly the same way he’d supervised other’s possessions be rigged, and the great irony is that he finds himself bedding down in the closet—just as one of his men had told the story of another Mossad agent only able to sleep in closets.

[quote author=“Noggin”]I guess I should open my eyes. Israel and Palestine have been exchanging senseless death grips for eons. This movie addresses the 1947 creation of the state of Israel and the palestinian frustration with that but still, here to me it’s just another case of killing for “god”.

The Mossad agent, Ephraim, played by Geoffrey Rush said something to the effect of:  “If these guys live, Israelis die.”  That seemed—and still seems—to be the governmental stand on any threat to Israel as a nation.  It is not “revenge”, per se, revenge as a petty reprisal for wrongs done, but elimination of a future, almost certain, threat.  We’ve done it, here in the U.S.  We’re doing it now.  Iraq.  Do I need to say more?  And how do you, Noggin, feel about state-sanctioned “revenge”, in that light, when what it seeks to contain comes close to threatening you?  You turned a jaundiced eye on it as portrayed in Munich...but it’s happening right in front of you on CNN [or Fox if you prefer] every single day.

And, in my opinion, you did not ask the real question. 

The real question is, what was Spielberg trying to say to us in this film?  Was he glorifying revenge?  Endorsing it?  No.  I didn’t get that from it.  Avner and others ask repeatedly:  “What did we gain from this?  We killed one and six stepped up to take his place.  It will never end.  There will never be peace from this.”

That, in my opinion, was Spielberg’s homily—and it was delivered most poignantly right at the end of the movie…with the twin towers standing in the background.  Peace only comes, not because you’ve killed every one on some list somewhere and now you think that you’re safe, but when you stop the killing.  When you say, “Enough is finally enough so that I can feel safe in this world.”  That’s what Spielberg was trying to say, I think.

Excellent recommend, Noggin, movie-wise.  I really enjoyed it.  :D   Thank you. 

annalise

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Posted: 30 October 2006 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Annalise:

If you want to get down to the real story, I would recommend that you read “Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel’s Deadly Response” by Aaron J. Klein. Here you will find the ‘real’ story of the events leading up to the Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel’s response (and in some cases, non-response) over the years. It’s a book that you won’t be able to put down once you start it.

The Speilberg movie (Munich) is hollywood fiction, for the most part.  Seriously, pick up an authoritative book on the subject.  If you are a visitor to this site, reading a good book is not an alien idea!  :o

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Posted: 30 October 2006 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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“Noggin”]

I watched “Munich” into the wee hours last night.  I came away a little confused as to the director, Speilberg’s motive. 

Abner, the assassin, proficiently goes out and kills enemies to the Jewish state, no questions asked… until the end of the movie.  Then he has questions a plenty.  I thought Speilberg was hell bent on portraying Jews in a favorable light.  This movie did the opposite.  Unless, of course, revenge is now a highly esteemed moral platitude and nobody told me.

I don’t think the object of his movie was to present the Jews in a favorable light.  I think the point he was trying to make went beyond his pro-Jewish bias.  I remember when the movie first came out people were up in arms because it *humanized* terrorists!  Apparently the critics did not want to think of terrorists as human being, but just evil demons who are just plain bad and must be destroyed.  Well, tough.  Whether we want to deal with it or not, terrorists are also human beings who have feelings, who suffer, who have families that suffer when they are killed.  And the fact is that when we avenge terrorism with terrorism we not only harm the world, we also harm ourselves.  I loved the way Eric Bana’s character unraveled at the end and how even his lovemaking was angry and violent.  But anyway, I don’t think Spielberg’s objective was to say “The Jews were the good guys and they were perfectly justified in acting as terrorists.”  Perhaps the whole point of the movie was to get people to think about the questions without providing the answers for them.

Revenge is definately a theme and I paused to observe that the killings were also motivated by hatred?  Hmm.  What is a religious Jew doing hating, revenging and terrorizing?  (bombs stuck under the enemy’s bed that detonate in the dead of night etc).

I don’t think he was a religious Jew (from what I remember of the movie).  But he did have a sense of ethics.  Remember at the end of the movie he said something like “Come on, we are Jews, we are supposed to be better than this!”  See, he understood being Jewish to mean that he and his compatriots were to hold themselves to a higher ethical standard, which is sort of the opposite of the way some of us look down on the Jewish eye-for-an-eye ideology. 

Just an aside—I spoke to a rabbi about the eye-for-an-eye thing and he explained that this was not originally a moral law, it was just a legal rule intended to ensure fairness.  If someone plucked out your eye, you were entitled UP TO an eye—you could not take an eye, an arm and a leg.

Okay, and then… at one of the climaxes, when Abner is kind of doubting his mission, he flashes back to the murder scene of the 11 olympic athletes and becomes enraged and spurred on to action… more killing and how!  He becomes hard core paramilitary.  Huh?

So he just willingly goes out and kills because “they” killed his people?  So then I thought perhaps another motivator had to be the money that the Israeli government was throwing at Abner.  The Israeli government threw all kinds of money at him.  But doesn’t that makes the Abner character immoral?  So it can’t be the money.

Well, it was a slow evolution for him.  His character changed and grew through his experiences.  BY the end fo the film he was no longer the same person.

The last religion on my list to study (I have studied various thus far), is Judaism.  I don’t get it.  My question is this.  Are Jews steeped enough into the law of Moses brine that they still think that an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, is a really great ideological platform?

I don’t know all that much about Judaism either.  But from what I do know, it is unfair to judge Judaism by what is in the Old Testament.  I sang at a Jewish Temple last year.  I was incredibly impressed with the fact that it was all about ethics, about how we should live in order to make the world a better place.  I do not see this in Christian churches.  Most of the time the preoccupation is with personal salvation—what can I do to save my own ass from hell.  This was not something that concerns Jews much, in my experience.  As a matter of fact, in all my years of singing in temples, I do not recall the issue of eternal life or heaven being addressed ever.  The services were all about ethics (and about how to try to be more Jewish…)

In the end Abner questions his killing.  But I came away with his remorse being tied more to his now paranoid state of being than anything.  It seems Abner was remiss about his killing not because he now believed killing was wrong or senseless, but because his actions now put his entire future on the line, pins and needles like.  He basically was a walking dead man for the rest of his life until the friends of his targets found him and disposed of him.

Well, he understood what it was like to be one of his victims.  And this is what led him to question the morality of his actions even more.

Am I missing something?  Is Speilberg trying to represent his culture as vapid or hollow?  Speilberg certainly wouldn’t do that.  Usually he shoots pictures like Schindler’s List to shed supportive perspective (or even sympathy) on his culture. Or do I need to watch it again?

I think you just presumed his bias and tried to watch the film from what you thought was his perspective.  I don’t think he had a pro-Israel agenda here.  I think his efforts were directed at a broader philosophical issue.

I guess I should open my eyes.  Israel and Palestine have been exchanging senseless death grips for eons.  This movie addresses the 1947 creation of the state of Israel and the palestinian frustration with that but still, here to me it’s just another case of killing for “god”.

Noggin

No, I don;t think he was killing for god.  He was killing for revenge.  But little by little he came to see his victims as human beings who also have wives and children, who also experience fear and suffering.  And finally he felt like one of them, he felt hunted and terrorized.

A few months ago the American army in Iraq killed some insurgent who had killed an American soldier.  The father of the Americam soldier was interviewed and they asked him if he was happy that the killer of his son was now dead.  The father’s response blew me away.  He said that it was never a cause to rejoice when another human life is extinguished.  THAT is what we need to teach our children.  We need to learn that even our enemies are people.  As Sam Harris says in The End of Faith, we need to see each other as just human—not Catholic or Protestan, not black or white, not smart or stupid, but just as people.

I think this might have been the point Spielberg was making with Munich.

Great post, Noggin.

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Posted: 30 October 2006 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Spielberg gave a view of a section of Jews hell bent on getting revenge for the 11 deaths of their olympians.  The world view of Abner went from practically meek and submissive to rage and terrorizing in the name of god.  A Jew might take offense to what I just wrote and call Abner’s transformation a “focusing of task” or some other white washing apologetics.  But in the end, humans were killed, in gruesome terrorizing ways, and in the name of god and country (are these separate entities in Israel?).

In present-day Israel they are.  Israel is a secular country.  But you are right that back in Old-Testament days the whole point of religion was to preserve Jewishness - religion and politics were one.  But to day, from what I remember, Israel is way more secular than we are in the US.

Spielberg depicts a man fueled to kill first out of a sense of duty, then later out a sense of practical hatred as his comrades fall dead along side him.

Any other notes or comments about this film would be appreciated.  It was rather engrossing to see it.

Noggin

I think he at first felt that the killing had to be avenged as a matter of fairness.  Furthermore, he probably felt the revenge was necessary to send a message ot the world that Israel will not just bend over and take it up the a**.  Didn’t Golda Mayr (sp.?) make that point early on in the movie? 

And you are right, Noggsy: that’s precisely what capital punishment is—revenge.

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Posted: 31 October 2006 02:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“annalise”]Noggin,

That was a riveting movie.  I watched it twice.

Indeed it was!

The Mossad agent, Ephraim, played by Geoffrey Rush said something to the effect of:  “If these guys live, Israelis die.”  That seemed—and still seems—to be the governmental stand on any threat to Israel as a nation.  It is not “revenge”, per se, revenge as a petty reprisal for wrongs done, but elimination of a future, almost certain, threat.  We’ve done it, here in the U.S.  We’re doing it now.  Iraq.  Do I need to say more?  And how do you, Noggin, feel about state-sanctioned “revenge”, in that light, when what it seeks to contain comes close to threatening you?

I know!  That is exactly why I became increasingly vexed by this movie!  I supported the occupation of Iraq.  I heard about a soldier killing a civilian because he thought they might be a threat (and he was wrong) and it was no skin off my nose.  We do what we have to do, right?  I now see I am no different and that really bothers me… and that is a really great thing.

In sum, I became able to step inside Avner’s shoes only after examining my own views towards capital punishment and state sanctioned wars on terror.  Eventually, it gripped me by the throat and shook me.  Kill them before they kill us.

You turned a jaundiced eye on it as portrayed in Munich...but it’s happening right in front of you on CNN [or Fox if you prefer] every single day.

I had to wait a week to realize this, for it to sink in…  I had to watch it again to understand.  I had to research a few points to get it straight.  This thread helped me examine what I thought about the subject more deeply.

I poked at the film initially because I did not understand Jewish custom.  But a week of reflection later, and I saw that this was little to do with Jewish custom, and all to do with survival.  Kill or be killed.  I still struggle with the retaliation theme running through the film… Jews I know are so unlike Avner.

And, in my opinion, you did not ask the real question. 

The real question is, what was Spielberg trying to say to us in this film?  Was he glorifying revenge?  Endorsing it?  No.  I didn’t get that from it.  Avner and others ask repeatedly:  “What did we gain from this?  We killed one and six stepped up to take his place.  It will never end.  There will never be peace from this.”

As Rami kind of pointed out, peace might only come when we start injecting more humanization into our multi-cultural boundaries.  That made a lot of sense to me. Excellent recommend, Noggin, movie-wise.  I really enjoyed it.  :D   Thank you. 

annalise

No thank you annalise.  I agree with much of what you put out here.  Thanks to the other posters, Rami etc.  This is what film is supposed to do.

Noggin

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Posted: 31 October 2006 04:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“Noggin”]I know!  That is exactly why I became increasingly vexed by this movie!  I supported the occupation of Iraq.  I heard about a soldier killing a civilian because he thought they might be a threat (and he was wrong) and it was no skin off my nose.  We do what we have to do, right?  I now see I am no different and that really bothers me… and that is a really great thing…Eventually, it gripped me by the throat and shook me.  Kill them before they kill us.

I find this is a very dangerous way to think.  Don’t you think so?  I know it is Survival Think, but…

What if…North Korea decides to think that way? 

“...the U.S. is big.  They have many soldiers.  They have lots of stuff that goes
BOOM! and I must protect my interests at all costs, lest they see me as a similar future threat, and eliminate *me* first…”

and then…DPRK sends a warhead to detonate in the vicinity of, say, San Francisco…?

What does it take to feel safe?  Is there a point at which we lose our humanity in that elimination of what threatens our feeling of safety?

It is no “skin off your nose”, really, Noggin, none at all, that the innocent must die for you—for us—to feel safe?  Children are dying.  Does this not sadden you in any way?  If it was your child, then it would be different?  You do not know these children.  They do not speak your language.  They are, in fact, quite removed from your daily reality.  You might never think of them at all.  That is why it’s easier.  A general knows one must never put a human face on one’s enemy, else all is lost.

There is a cost that must be paid for the elimination of a clear and present danger, and let me not in any way say that I would not pay it.  BUT I did not believe, and still do not believe, that Iraq was in any way a clear and present danger to the interests of the United States.  That case has still not been made to the satisfaction of anyone other than those who wholeheartedly, unquestioningly, follow Bush.

annalise

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