Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Spielberg's 'Munich' - everything but the truth

By Ted Lapkin - posted Thursday, 16 February 2006

Last December, I received an invitation to attend a free preview screening of Steven Spielberg's new film, Munich.

My shorthand reaction to the movie is that it was worth every penny that I paid to see it. But given Spielberg's moral ambitions for this flick, as well as the splash it is making in the media, I suppose that it deserves something more than mere flippancy and sarcasm.

As my office-mates at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council will attest, one of my all-time favourite movies is Full Metal Jacket. I have seen that flick so many times I can give a verbatim recitation of the ferocious welcoming address given by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman to his new marines ("I am hard, but I am fair").


So the thing is, I should have loved this film. It features all the finer items that guys tend to appreciate in cinema: car chases, shoot-outs, explosions galore and the odd sex scene.

But my testosterone-driven fun was ruined by the factual implausibility and thinly veiled sanctimony that pervade the movie from start to finish.

To the factual problems, first. There's artistic licence, and then there's just plain taking licence with the truth. And while Steven Spielberg claims that Munich is based on historical events, real players in the drama of Israeli intelligence have savaged the movie for its patent inaccuracies.

Most of this can be traced to the source of its script, a much-derided book about a Mossad reprisal operation by Canadian journalist George Jonas entitled Vengeance.

After Palestinian terrorists massacred 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Mossad conducted a reprisal that targeted the PLO's Black September movement.

So far, so good. But that is where any semblance of fact ends. Both Vengeance, and Spielberg's cinematic incarnation of the book tell a tale of cloaks and daggers, spies and shootouts and derring-do.


But even before the film was released, retired Mossad operatives went semi-public to sneer at the sheer fatuousness of the plot.

A story by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency quoted the comments of a retired Mossad deputy director who insisted on remaining anonymous: "There was never a list of single targets drawn up, and certainly never a single hit team designed to handle them. It was a matter of putting the word out for our people who were posted in various countries to look out for top Black September members. When these were located, then we sent out the right agents to take care of business, on a more ad-hoc basis."

So much for the main theme of Spielberg's new movie.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

First published in The Courier-Mail on JAnuary 27, 2006.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

11 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Ted Lapkin is associate editor of The Review, a monthly journal of analysis and opinion put out by the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, AIJAC.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Ted Lapkin

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Ted Lapkin
Article Tools
Comment 11 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy