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Gary Younge
Israeli consul attacks Spielberg's Munich as 'problematic'

Speaking to Israeli radio, Ehud Danoch, said: "As a Hollywood movie, I assume that it will be defined as a well-made film, but from the standpoint of the messages it sends, the messages are problematic."

Munich follows a hit squad from the Israeli secret service, Mossad, as it hunts down and kills the gunmen from the Palestinian Black September group who held hostage Israeli athletes during the Olympics. A botched rescue operation by German security forces ended in 11 of the athletes being killed.

Accusing Oscar-winning Spielberg of equating Mossad agents to the terrorists, Mr Danoch argued: "This is an incorrect moral equation. We in Israel know this. There is also a certain pretentiousness in attempting to treat a painful decades-long conflict by means of quite superficial statements in a movie."

The criticism is likely to disappoint Spielberg, who last week described his film to Time magazine as a "prayer for peace", insisting that the biggest threat to the Middle East was neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis but intransigence on both sides. "I wanted this film to be in memory of [the Israeli athletes] because they seem to have been forgotten," he told Time. "The silence about them by the International Olympic Committee is getting louder for me every four years."

But far from fostering reconciliation, early screenings have triggered considerable criticism from Israeli hardliners. "Jews pioneered Hollywood," wrote Jack Engelhard, the author of the best-selling novel and film, Indecent Proposal, on the Tel-Aviv-based website, "If, as our enemies say, we own Hollywood, well, here's the plot twist - we have lost Hollywood, and we have lost Spielberg. Spielberg is no friend of Israel. Spielberg is no friend of truth. His Munich may just as well have been scripted by George Galloway."

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