Sunday, January 22, 2006

Speilberg hits back


In an interview with the German news weekly Der Spiegel, Spielberg says Munich aims to reclaim the debate about the moral costs of the struggle against terror from "extremists".

"Should you leave the debate to the great over-simplifiers? The extreme Jews and extreme Palestinians who consider any kind of negotiated settlement to be a kind of treason?" he said.

"I wanted to use the medium of film to make the audience have a very intimate confrontation with a subject that they generally only know about in an abstract way, or only see in a one-sided way."

Munich, which hit US screens last month, depicts an Israeli campaign to hunt down and kill Palestinian radicals behind the hostage-taking of Israeli athletes and coaches during the Munich Olympics in 1972.

The drama ended in a massacre: 11 Israelis, five Palestinians and one German police officer were killed.

Munich has been attacked by some US Jewish commentators who have accused Spielberg of equating the Israeli assassins with the Palestinian militants.

Spielberg dismissed the charges as "nonsense".

"These critics are acting as if we were all missing a moral compass. Of course it is a horrible, abominable crime when people are taken hostage and killed like in Munich," he said.

"But it does not excuse the act when you ask what the motives of the perpetrators were and show that they were also individuals with families and a history.... Understanding does not mean forgiving. Understanding does not mean being soft, it is a courageous and strong stance."