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Munich: A Lesson About Terrorism
January 9th, 2006 under Movie Review, Politics. [ Comments: none ]

Attention: Spoiler Alert!

I saw Munich with my sons last night. A friend of mine rightly advised me that this was not a movie you see if you want to go out and have a good time afterward. Editor B was right, it was very disturbing. Yet, after reflecting on the movie, it was really well-done and complex. It’s also a movie that’s very relevant to Americans today. I thought at first that the last scene, which included the twin towers was offensive. However, given the context of the movie and the fact many Americans (me included) are a bit too slow to understand the point of movies, I think the shot is not cliché or biased against terrorists. BTW—what was the significance of the elaborate meals that Avner (the leader of the Israeli assassins) provided for the members of his team?

I don’t think that Spielberg pulled off a totally neutral film that provided an unbiased view of the perspectives of both Palestinians and Israelis, but it was a lot better than I expected. Three scenes were most compelling to me. The first is an encounter between Avner and a Palestinian. My son pointed out that this scene wasn’t really neutral in that Avner “won the argument.” Avner argued that the Palestinian approach of attacking Israelis would never win. Unfortunately, Avner didn’t realize at that point that the Israeli approach of fighting back with violence wouldn’t end the conflict either. He does, at the end of the film, realize this though.

The next scene is a dialogue between Avner and Robert, the bomb-maker of his group. Robert becomes aware of how his violent acts have affected him. “We’re Jews, Avner. Jews don’t do wrong because our enemies do wrong…we’re supposed to be righteous. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s Jewish” he declares as he’s become aware of how his role in assassinating Palestinians involved in the killing of Israelis at the Olympics in Munich is destroying his faith.

The final scene, I believe, is the most applicable to our current context in America. Ephraim, Avner’s “boss” tries to convince him to return to Israel and continue his role as an assassin. Avner refuses, but invites Ephraim to his home to “break bread.” Ephraim declines and walks away. I find it interesting that while breaking bread with his team of assassins, arguments break out about the morality of their mission, but they continue to “fellowship.” However, Ephraim can’t fellowship with Avner. It’s so reflective of the current debate about terrorism in this country. It seems that those who want to engage terrorists with acts of violence can’t see those who view this approach as futile (hence the shot of the newly built twin towers) as faithful defenders of the homeland.

Hopefully, those who resist acts of violence will not experience the loss of their homeland like Avner did (he ends up living in New York city rather than Israel).


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