Monday, April 24, 2006


HILVERSUM - “Prayer for Peace”. That is how Spielberg described his latest film Munich. I would call it a psychological thriller and not a bad one at all. Those who expect a film that sides with the Israelis will end up feeling left out in the cold. Yet the same goes for those who expect Munich to favor the Palestinians, because it does not.

Munich recounts the grim story of the secret Israeli hit squad assigned to track down and assassinate 11 Palestinians believed to have planned the massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich - and the personal toll this mission of revenge takes on the team. In 164 minutes Munich takes you to Italy, Athens and Lebanon. We see Golda Meir as an Israeli version of M in James Bond and there is a small part for “Ehud Barak” who was leading the Special Forces in Beirut to take out three assassins. Please note that it was the same Ehud Barak under whose PM-leadership Israeli troops left the southern tip of Lebanon in 2000 after having occupied the south for fifteen years.

Munich was not the first film recounting the killings of the 11 Israeli athletes. The first one was a televised film called Sword of Gideon. Both films are based on the book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team written by Canadian journalist George Jonas. Jonas in turn was inspired by the chronicles of Yuval Aviv (Avner in Spielberg’s Munich), who has claimed to have once been a Mossad agent.

This “prayer for peace” premiered in Holland last week with less rocky reviews than elsewhere in the world. One Dutch cyber critic described Munich as a portrait of a bereaved soul, of an inner war any freedom fighter or terrorist goes through. The controversy regarding the film is more of a political nature. There are those who question the accuracy of the film when it comes to the modus operandi of the Mossad. In the film a high Mossad official tells Avner he wants receipts. Yet according to Mossad sources, leaving obvious paper trails like these could not be further from the truth.

And then there are those who feel Spielberg has made an anti-Semite film. The New York Post even went so far as to call Munich an antisemite contemplation on Arab terrorism and the state of Israel. All the more reason to see the film, I would say and judge for yourself how far off the New York Post really is.

This blog was first posted on 31 January on