Munich, 2005

Ⓒ DreamWorks Pictures

(The Egyptians are) hiding behind UNEF skirts” – King Hussein of Jordan criticizing the Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, when Israel invaded most of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria

If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other, it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Straits of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent, maritime passage must be preserved for all nations.” – U.S. President Lyndon Johnson speaking in favor of and justifying the Israeli preemptive strikes at the poorly equipped airbases in Jordon and Egypt

Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values” – Golda Meir

Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious” – Connery quoting Wilde in The Rock, 1996

Why do you rejoice, I’ve just killed a multitude of my children?” – God to His angels after the Pharoh and his army have been drowned in the Red Sea.

Why do I love Munich? I have great memories of the time spent in transit at Munich International Airport in the summer of 1995, on my way back home from the US. Yes, there was a uni-sex rest-room involved.

Why do I love the film Munich? There are many reasons. All of them cannot be delved into here. This is not a political blog – I try and I know the latter statement is untrue – and not too many people are fond of listening to subjective opinion heavily influenced by the fact that the term Middle-East is somewhat synonymous with oppression, tragedy, violence, dead babies and clutter of years of footage being fed to us by the State television controlled by elites then the dictators, war-profiteers, The Assurance of The Promised Land rescinded from the chosen people, who broke the covenant, refused the food from the Heavens and provoked and annoyed Moses and Aaron after the Exodus, after the chosen ones witnessed ‘the miracle’ with their own eyes around 1400 BCE, and finally made the cow of gold that would speak as wind entered from one end and exited from the other, it was a howling echo, designed to make the refugees believe that the man-made cow spoke when Moses was on the mountain top, receiving the Ten Commandments, they committed magicand were a thankless bunch of highly intelligent and good looking race, which will not have a home until the end of the world because of their rebellion and arrogance, they will be in a perpetual conflict throughout. Then we have the unadulterated self-pity and blame projection; a norm in films where the Jewish People are running the show, Inglorious Basterds, Schindler’s List, The Pianist. And having access to channels being funded by various agencies to distort the narrative, bend it to their own liking, illegal occupations made legal just because a majority of the dumb population does not think and have been believing their lies since 1947. Just check what the plaque outside Auschwitz says, look closely at the number of dead, and if there’s any mention of the Jewish people on the very first plaque, which was to be changed many times as the years went by and the illegal occupation culminated into The Six-Day War in 1967, in which Israel occupied Sinai, the Old City of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights and defeated an Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian alliance; the self-conceited and the baffled, unprepared Beduins did not even know what hit them when the 1956 treaty of Straits of Tiran was nullified, when an Israeli fleet of 200 modern fighter jets struck Egypt in a preemptive strike in overall superiority of the People of the Cow, The Bani-Israel, the forsaken, who had been planning this for months  The Egyptians were caught by surprise, and nearly the entire Egyptian air force was destroyed with few Israeli losses, giving the Israelis air supremacy over an already extremely poor, with an even more feeble defensive infrastructure, and no airfields were yet equipped with hardened aircraft shelters capable of protecting Egypt’s warplanes. Ultimately Israeli forces were successful and defeated the Arab militaries.**

The displacement of civilian populations resulting from the war would have long-term consequences, as 280,000 to 325,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from the West Bank and over 100,000 fled from the Golan Heights. Across the Arab world, Jewish minority communities fled or were expelled, with refugees going mainly to Israel. If God wouldn’t give it to them as He did in the past, they rebelled again and snatched the Promised Land from the stumped Arabs who were already at sixes and sevens, when Arab territories were being taken by Israeli forces one after the other with relative ease.  The aftermath and repercussion were ghastly and the Arab-Israeli conflict is still a very real threat to the world, since Israel, in a show of Military superiority and weapon sophistication and the ability to crush three nations in a matter of mere six days. After fleeing the Middle East, a large Muslim diaspora moved to Europe (only if the Islamophobes knew). When war broke out in their home country, a diaspora of refugees settled in neighboring nations, and it has only been escalating since now there’s a wall to stop the Arabs from crossing into Jerusalem, in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. The Arabs call it The June War. The atrocities of the Israeli people have continued and each year they (the banished race) have increased their territory by force, their aim is The Temple of Solomon. Anything beyond that would be speculation and Raiders of the Last Ark. 

The film, however echos my perspective on the global situation/quagmire. It resonates with the old saying, however, inverted: ‘Hope for the worst- Prepare for the worst‘. For if one ‘hopes‘ for the best they would never be able to fully realize the threat, even when fully prepared. ‘Hoping for the best‘, it seems, all along has fooled people into becoming slaves to the television. Even in the face of multiple wars being fought simultaneously, throughout the world. And the territories where there isn’t an outright war, the threat of eruptive and sudden violence is just around the corner.

Who is to blame? Who pulled the trigger first?
How about we start with ourselves and get familiar with history; objective history (whatever little of it is left, more than whatever little is noted above), and then interpret the information with scrutiny. Plus, for CNN and BBC, and FOX to stop their bullshit (refer to The Ebola Fraud of 2014), people all over must be knowledgeable enough to dismiss their fake ‘real-footage‘ and non-researched reports feigned as a way of convincing the world of a manufactured truth, making apologists out of great nations, making families homeless, killing children and babies with the frequent air raids, you may have come across a picture or 100 where the photographer is dangerously close to the war-zone, inside it and captures a young boy with a rock in his hand, with the arm raised and pulled back to throw at the tanks and Humvees and the IDF then riddles everyone with bullets, have you watched a father not being able to protect his child who bleeds to death in his arms after the kid is pierced with a NATO Issue Slug from an M24, United States Army standard-issue sniper rifle and the 5.56mm US-Israeli M16 assault rifle. Recently $445 million worth of arsenal was purchased from the UK – the value of sales increase tenfold after 2014 Gaza war amid warnings UK weapons, including gear for snipers, could be used to kill Palestinians***. And, get this, Israelis are now using German weapons too, ironic.

FEMA, The Black Ops, Mossad, The ISI, The CIA, The KGB, RAW (Indian Secret Service whose commandoes keep falling off the flat runged flexible Jacob’s ladders (watch the footage of the Taj under siege and the Indian Special Forces trying, in vain, to get off on the roof of the hotel), their pilots refuse to fly into their neighboring country’s air-space without an Israeli pilot accompanying the Indian, and yet they crash their planes and get arrested by the neighboring army, and are returned to their home country as a gesture of peace and also a concealed warning message, but with a fascist as their leader, the People of the Cow (a different cow) will not stop unless both Islamabad and Delhi is dirty bombed as ‘preemptive attacks’, which is everything that fulfills the second part of the saying. To prepare fully, the threat has to take on a tangible form in the hearts and minds of men, like those in the Middle East.

On the other hand, my passport does not allow me to enter Israel. I’ll be open here: My State does not recognize the sovereignty of the State of Israel, just like Bana’s character Avner says to Ali (Omar Metwally), a PLO team leader who he meets by chance or perhaps because of the cunning of Louis, the odd-looking and brilliant Mathieu Amalric.

During a heartfelt conversation between the two team leaders, one of whom has an advantage in the form of secrecy, Avner tells the following to Ali (read and watch carefully, the staircase scene is some of the most meticulously, carefully, and sensitively penned by screen-writers, Tony Kushner and Eric Roth

This is a dream. You can’t take back a country you never had.‘ and then, ‘You are Arabs. There are lots of places for Arabs (to go to).”

In a passionate reality, it sounds like perfect reasoning. In theory, Avner is merely looking into a mirror.
Two things can be derived from this scene, which dramatically opened a wider dialogue, helping to make the inarguable into the debatable.
a. Both sides will keep at it even if it takes a hundred years: “…But we’ll win.” says Ali. This is going nowhere and everywhere as the two men from completely different pasts and ideologies form a sort of a bond for those few minutes at the safe house. The scene is politically even-handed, a look at the fallout from an intractable political conflict.
b. Both the Mossad and the PLO and the people of The Pharaoh or Moses or Arthur Curry, whom they represent are hungry for a Nation, a land they can call their own (against the Supreme Will) and not have the UN, or the US or NATO, et al. intervene (take Israel’s side) every time. Additionally, the anger is so deep-rooted in the blood of both the Palestinians and the Israelis that they will not stop – even after peace – for violence is now a part of the psyche of the two peoples.
Whether defensive or offensive, the guns, and the Molotov cocktails and the tanks and the bombs and the blood and sweat and the checkered scarf and the KFR brigade and the surreal pictures of dead babies, young angry soldiers killing civilians (without discrimination), Guerrilla outfits taking people hostage and then killing them, blowing up hotels, night clubs as a response, are here to stay.
No peace treaty has worked, both parties have suffered; some lesser than the other but that does not matter in the face of perpetual fear and the incontrovertible effect on the populace and the collective psyche, both sides of Bethlehem.

Yes, the film is biased. It has to be such or else the impact would be so much less. Having noted that, the writers Kushner and Roth base their screenplay on ‘Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team‘ by George Jonas, take on the task with a heady nerve, knowing fully that films like these and especially a film on the ‘Black September Movement‘ and the events of the 72 Munich Olympics have to be crafted with the care of an EOD or it would blow up in their faces and in the faces of a few others who had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Spielberg lets both sides vent, although the narrative keeps us tagging along with the five people who are ex-Mossad; for that matter they are nobodies. Their identities are known by a handful of of the top ranks of the Israeli Intelligence and Ms. Prime Minister herself. And the team is on the payroll of an unmarked locker compartment in Switzerland.

John Lennon, in his acid-induced interviews and songs, asks the World to give ‘peace a chance‘. Johnny boy was either naive, wasted, oblivious with hair getting in the way of his vision, or he wanted more attention than Robert Plant. Whatever the case, Lennon was a dreamer. The world does not need dreamers anymore. The time for that ran out when WWII ended.
Either Lennon was ignorant and not in touch with reality (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely whatever the fuck) and convinced himself, his wife, and millions of donkeys that showing their privates (and a fetal positioning pictorial in LIFE) to the world would somehow put an end to the perpetual carnage. Such nonsense, cashing in on anything that can be cashed in on.

As the wise and iron-willed, Iron Lady, ‘the best ‘man‘ in the government‘, as the script calls her, said; “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values” and that “We’ll Deprive Gaza of Water, and the Arabs Will Leave”, said Golda Meir in a meeting held immediately after the end of the war. It would have been a war crime had she said the same about the French or the Dutch, but announcing a war-crime against the Muslims in a private meeting is perfectly alright, it was such even then.

The “negotiate compromise” statement was later followed by a conflicted Mossad agent who says something similar: “We can’t afford to be that decent anymore”. From Moshe Dayan, “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies” to Yassir Arafat: “The Palestinian Rifle is ready and we will aim it if they try to prevent us from praying in Jerusalem”. All men of power and influence and an unfulfilled need for a home, advocate war to arrive at peace, crunch peace, at most.

We are not victims of crossfire but we are active participants of a hand-to-heart clash of civilizations and identities and warped ideologies. War is the closest mankind can ever be to peace.

If there’s is any doubt left, just watch the unforgiving and highly distinguishable, distinctive, and competent thriller, Munich and Golda Meir (one of my favorite personalities) played by a very effective Lynn Cohen, who, in very little screen time gets a vigorous point across. Actually, she sets the ball rolling for what was to become an ideology for a much bleaker and violent future as predicted by a Mossad agent in the film as if commenting on the matters at hand in the film, which were many, “as an intellectual pursuit, it is little more than a pretty prism through which superficial Jewish guilt and generalized Palestinian nationalism” are made to look like the product of serious soul-searching.” It isn’t that, it is the age-old practice of illegally occupying nations and genocide, worse than the Holocaust.

Pay close attention to the safe-house conversation between Avner and Ali (a PLO team leader). It shows us the futility and the purpose of war in equal proportions, ending the scene with a desire to have a home to go back to, no matter if it is in shambles.

Black September, the Six-Day War of ’67, and the deep-rooted hate and the inability to empathize (shown on film and sheltered by the subconscious), forces us as a race and not as viewers to continue raging war until there is no one to fire a weapon at. The film is dense and complicated but do we need another well-made and successful film to prove that we all bleed red?

The direction by Spielberg is toned down from, say Schindler’s List and Saving Pvt. Ryan, with non-linear editing showing us the brutality of Munich and the confusion and the TV sets and reactions from both sides of the war. Spielberg is thinking, he is thinking real hard. The score, the cinematography the locations, the shootouts, The rock-solid performances, the unbearable suspense in politics, Bond (Logan Lucky, 2017) as Steve the trigger happy agent, Geoffrey Rush (Quills, 2000) the sardonic accountant, the receipts, the celebration, the rejoicing and finally a subtle message is nailed into the viewers’ heads. We hear a news anchor wonder what the terrorists are thinking ‘at this point‘ and immediately the screen shows a television set in the IOC (International Olympic Committee) accommodation flat for the Israeli team (which was ambushed earlier in a savagely unforgiving sequence) showing footage of a terrorist who we can see brandishing an AK-47 out in the balcony. It is surreal and breaks the barrier between news and actual events.

‘The Good Assasin’

As principle, I should not like Munich, but the film, even when taking sides, gives a solid rationale behind every scene and dialogue spoken. It could have gone in one direction like the highly flawed and made by Bigelow with certain self-assertion, the boastful and inconsiderate and inaccurate and replete with false records, re-writing history the way they want; Zero Dark Thirty (I mean I live here, man) but the maestro knows what he is doing and manages to harass a few sensibilities and that too in trying to get the perspective right, or wrong or neutral – or none of the above and perhaps after Schindler’s List and Minority Report, he also joined the cause for River Jordon.

Munich is a statement on the Middle East. A statement that can be made at any international conference and forced to be thought of as something more real than the diplomatic stance of most governments on the matter of ‘The Promised Land‘. Promised by Moses to the people of Egypt after the Jewish diaspora. I’m sure Moses and God, with their promise and good intentions, led a large populace of people with mixed beliefs not to fulfillment but to a crisis, whose end is nowhere in plain sight.

There is no peace at the end of this.” – Eric Bana as Avner Kaufman/Yuval Aviv

** Oren 2002, p. 172

***  Andrew Smith, CAAT

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