Ed Driscoll

Of Vacant Intensities And Slick Searings

If Narnia represents a return to Hollywood’s long tradition of family-friendly movies prior to the late 1960s, Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Munich is still firmly stuck in Tinseltown’s dark 1970s era of moral equivalence–in this case, between Israel and the Palestinian terrorists who wish to destroy it.

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the liberal New Republic concludes a long review of the film with a look at its writer:

All this is consistent with Tony Kushner’s view that Zionism, as he told Ori Nir of Haaretz last year, was “not the right answer,” and that the creation of Israel was “a mistake,” and that “establishing a state means f***ing people over.” (If he really seeks to understand Middle Eastern terrorism, he might ponder the extent to which statelessness, too, can mean f***ing people over.) When Avner’s reckoning with his deeds takes him to the verge of a breakdown, he joins his wife and child in Brooklyn and refuses to return to Israel, as if decency is impossible there. No, Kushner is not an anti-Semite, nor a self-hating Jew, nor any of those other insults that burnish his notion of himself as an American Jewish dissident (he is one of those people who never speaks, but only speaks out). He is just a perfectly doctrinaire progressive. And the progressive Jewish playwright Tony Kushner’s image of Israel oddly brings to mind the reactionary Jewish playwright David Mamet’s image of Israel: For both of them, its essence is power.

The Israeli response to Black September marked the birth of contemporary counterterrorism, and it is difficult not to see Munich as a parable of American policy since September 11. “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values,” Golda Meir grimly concludes early in the film, and one is immediately grateful for the un-Cheney-like sensation of a dissonance. Yet the film proclaims that terrorists and counterterrorists are alike. “When we learn to act like them, we will defeat them!” declares one of Avner’s men, played by Daniel Craig, already with a license to kill. Worse, Munich prefers a discussion of counterterrorism to a discussion of terrorism; or it thinks that they are the same discussion. This is an opinion that only people who are not responsible for the safety of other people can hold.

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