The Corner

Steven Spielberg Finally Comes Clean about Munich Link to 9/11

Steven Spielberg’s 2005 moral-equivalence film Munich, which accuses Israel of perpetuating a cycle of violence by hunting down and assassinating the radical Palestinian perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, ends with an unmistakable reference to 9/11. The very last shot of the film is a lingering image of the Twin Towers, seen in the distance. The implication is obvious: 9/11 was part of the price we all had to pay for Israel’s eye-for-an-eye policy. Munich came out four years after the 9/11 attacks, when their memory was still a raw wound and any hint that America in any sense deserved what it got would have damaged the film’s Academy Award prospects.

Spielberg has for many years given vague answers or even outright denied that he intended to tie Munich to 9/11. He seemed to modify his position based on whom he was talking to. For instance, speaking to Time magazine, which is headquartered in New York City, he said something like (his remarks appear only in paraphrase), “Had to show them. They existed at a historical moment in the mid-’70s.” The author of the Time interview, Richard Schickel, reflected, “Maybe there is, as Spielberg insists, no resonance between the fate of the Towers’ victims and the fate of a few athletes.”

The implication that the lingering appearance of the Twin Towers in the very last image of the film is a coincidence is absurd. To Der Spiegel at the time of the film’s release Spielberg gave what appeared to be a ringing denial of any linkage: “I don’t think that these acts can be compared in terms of their perpetrators. There is no connection between the Palestinian terror of that time and the al-Qaida terror of today. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Jihadism have nothing to do with each other.” Yet to the the leftist paper The Guardian, one of the few outlets where alluding to American or Israeli complicity in the causes of 9/11 wouldn’t have been seen as beyond the pale, he gave a somewhat less unequivocal answer: ‘I don’t think you can look at the Palestinian desire for a homeland in the same way you can look at [al-Qaeda’s] desire for an Islamic world and their attack on the Twin Towers. You can’t speak of them in the same breath. But terrorism informs terrorism, and certainly the planners of the 9/11 attacks had to be aware of Munich when they plotted their arrival on the world stage. So if there’s any linkage at all it’s the way terrorism is demonstrated before the cameras.”

Still, that is pretty wishy-washy stuff. Today, though, interviewed in the documentary Spielberg, which is debuting on HBO this weekend, enough time has passed that Spielberg apparently feels free to be honest about his views. Referring to the final shot of Munich, he says, “I made that choice because I wanted to say Munich is the context for problems that exist in today’s world.”

Spielberg clearly thinks Israel should not have hunted down and killed the Palestinian murderers because that didn’t “solve anything.” Supposedly the most mature of his films, Munich is actually the most naive: It is underlain by a childish belief that if only we’d stop attacking them, they’d stop attacking us. Yet Muslim terrorists don’t care how much compassion and understanding Western liberals have for them. They want to destroy, not have a nice conversation.


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