The Associated Press reports:
President-elect Barack Obama broke his silence on the crisis Tuesday, saying that “the loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern for me.” He declined to go further, reiterating his stance that the U.S. has only one president at a time.
Obama had been withholding comment on Gaza, with an aide explaining that President Bush is still responsible for American diplomatic policy. “During this transition period, we are not engaging in any action that could send confusing signals to the world about who speaks on behalf of the United States,” the aide said.
Many Arabs, of course, wanted Obama to call for an end to the Israeli offensive. “We want him to say something at least to stop the bloodshed,” said Suhail Natour, a Palestinian activist in Beirut told The Chicago Tribune. “Waiting until the 20th, with the bloodshed continuing, I don’t think is an acceptable way of confirming a new policy in the Middle East. Silence on this means complicity.”
Meanwhile, some pro-Israel activists — particularly those from the right end of the political spectrum — have criticized Obama for not weighing in on Israel’s side.
Morton Klein, president of the pro-Israel Zionist Organization of America, noted that Obama spoke out on Mumbai.
“And he’s acting almost as if he’s president when it comes to the economy, right? He’s not screaming ‘there’s only one president’ when he’s talking about the economic stimulus package,” Klein said.
Obama’s latest comments are sure to satisfy no one. Then again, anything he could have possibly said would have been sure to offend someone.
When it was released in December 2005, Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” — the story of the Israeli agents tasked with assassinating those responsible for the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre — was criticized in some corners of the Jewish world for what was seen as lily-livered progressivism or, worse, downright hostility to Israel.
The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier wrote that that the film was “soaked in the sweat of its idea of evenhandedness,” and that its “mechanical symmetries” came perilously close to “the sin of equivalence.” Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, took matters a step further, arguing that the film “libels” Israel and humanizes Palestinian “haters and killers.” Klein ultimately urged a boycott.
In the spirit of sweaty evenhandedness, it should be noted that “Munich” also had its Jewish defenders. The Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman called the portrayal of the film’s Israelis “humane,” adding that “they are struggling with issues the world is struggling with today.”
That said, there was not one commentator who saw in the film a tale of Jewish heroism. That is, until now.
Early in Judd Apatow’s new comedy “Knocked Up,” leading man Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is at a bar with his zhlubby band of heym-boys. “You know what movie I just saw again the other day, which is just [expletive] mindblowing,” he says: “‘Munich.’”
“‘Munich!’” the posse cheers.
“That movie has Eric Bana [Israeli team leader Avner Kauffman] kicking [expletive] ass,” Ben continues. “Every movie with Jews, we’re the ones getting killed. ‘Munich’ flips it on its ear. We’re capping [people].”
“Not only killing, but taking names,” a friend chimes in.
“If any of us get laid tonight,” Ben says hopefully, “it’s because of Eric Bana and ‘Munich.’”
Not to give too much away — see the movie, it’s a hoot — but, as the film’s title might indicate, one of the boys does see some action that night. Whether or not the lucky girl had seen “Munich” is left an open question.