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Spielberg’s Leftist Muse


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Tony Kushner and the terrorists he’s writing a screenplay about have one thing in common. . .

The alarm bells went off like crazy when Steven Spielberg hired Tony Kushner last year to rewrite the script of a movie about Israel’s clandestine – and lethal – response to the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Spielberg’s dissatisfaction with the original draft by Eric Roth, as well as his fear that Jews will be outraged by his Munich movie when it opens this December, was reported on at length in the July 1 New York Times.

(For an insightful view of Spielberg and his possible motives, see Joseph Schick’s op-ed on page 4 of this week’s Jewish Press.)

Since the Monitor has long held the view articulated by the columnist Don Feder – that for all his filmmaking talent, “Spielberg is another star-struck, not terribly bright celebrity” – the emphasis here will be not on Spielberg, of whom little is expected when it comes to Israel, but on Kushner, a truly vile leftist whose views on the Middle East are virtually indistinguishable from what can be seen on the most rabidly anti-Israel websites.

Kushner’s main claim to fame is as a playwright – he’d never written a movie before Spielberg came calling – so one can’t help wonder why Spielberg would turn his film over to a novice, unless there is something about Kushner`s worldview that Spielberg finds appealing.

It is a worldview that has inspired Kushner to declare, “I think the founding of the State of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, political calamity…. I wish modern Israel hadn’t been born.”

It is a worldview that had him tell the Times of London, “I deplore the brutal and illegal tactics of the Israeli Defense Forces in the occupied territories. I deplore the occupation, the forced evacuations, the settlements, the refugee camps, the whole shameful history of the dreadful suffering of the Palestinian people; Jews, of all people, with our history of suffering, should refuse to treat our fellow human beings like that.”

It is a worldview that caused him to sign his name to a noxious newspaper advertisement released by the Not In Our Name Project in 2002 that viciously attacked both the U.S. and Israel. Sample: “In our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress, not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and any time. The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines to Palestine, where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have left a terrible trail of death and destruction.”

It is a worldview that inspired him to sit on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an outfit that boasts of its public support for the Presbyterian Church’s decision to consider selective divestment measures against Israel and which on its website “call [s] upon the United States to suspend military aid to Israel, and on U.S. corporations such as Caterpillar to stop supplying the Israeli army” as long as Israel maintains “its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.”

It is a worldview that sees nothing off-kilter or one-sided in the JVP prescription for peace: “Palestinians must stop suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians,” while “Israel must cease its use of military force against Palestinian civilians, including attacks involving American-supplied F-16s and Apache helicopters. Moreover, Israel must stop land seizures; destruction of homes, infrastructure, orchards and farms; arbitrary arrests and imprisonment; torture; assassinations; expulsions; curfews; travel restrictions; abuse at checkpoints; raids; collective punishment; and other violations of human rights.”

It is a worldview that led him to co-edit, along with the equally far-left Alisa Solomon, a nauseating volume called Wrestling With Zion: Progressives Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Of that book the Forward’s Ami Eden wrote: “…reading [it] takes you to an alternative universe, where the Israel of today has reoccupied Palestinian territories and adopting harsh security measures – but not in response to a Palestinian-launched intifada bent on blowing up babies on buses. Instead, Israel’s presence in the territories today is primarily the product of – Kushner and Solomon’s words – ‘Ariel Sharon’s mad, bloody dream of Greater Israel, which he and his comrades of the radical Israeli right have pursued for decades.’ “

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About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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