(Page 3 of 4)
The insults of that day — the arrogant, cold-blooded, murderous behavior of the terrorists; the disregard and indifference of the politically powerful Olympic Committee; the rigid, bungling, incompetent German police — all of these fed the outrage of Golda Meir and her ministers in the weeks afterward while they were formulating a rational policy to deal with Arab terrorism. The first principle was to depend on their own Israeli resources to protect their citizens because no one else seemed to care.
If what happened on September 5, 1972, wasn’t enough to force the policy of retaliation, what happened less than two months later made it a virtual certainty.
On the morning of Sunday, October 29, a Lufthansa Boeing 727 on its way to Frankfurt from Beirut was hijacked by two Palestinian terrorists who demanded that the three Black September terrorists who survived the Munich shootout were to be released immediately. If not they would blow up the plane.
Without even informing the Israeli government as a courtesy, the Germans capitulated and told the hijackers that the three men would be ready to be picked up within an hour and a half. According to Chancellor Willy Brandt: “The passengers and crew were threatened with annihilation unless we released the three Palestinian survivors of the [Munich] massacre. Like the Bavarian government, I then saw no alternative but to yield to this ultimatum and avoid further senseless bloodshed.”
In the course of the making of the documentary film and writing of the book One Day in September, it was revealed that the hijacking had been set up between Black September and the German government. The Palestinians had threatened the government that they would launch a wave of bombings and hijackings against Lufthansa unless the three Munich terrorist survivors were released. The “hijacking,” according to sources in Germany, Israel, and Palestine, was a compromise agreed to by senior officials in the German government. “Yes, I think it’s probably true,” said Ulrich Wegener, who was an eyewitness to the events at the time and who later became founder of the elite GSG-9 West German counterterrorist unit after the Olympics. “The German government thought they could negotiate with the terrorists and could convince them that they would give them money and something else to get rid of them….But of course it was the wrong way, no question, because when one case is solved in this way other cases will come.”
GOLDA’S LAST STRAW
SIMON REEVE, AUTHOR of One Day in September, states that “Regardless of whether the release of the three Munich fedayeen was a ‘put-up job,’ in the words of one Israeli official, there was astonishment and fury in Tel Aviv when news came through of their release.” Golda Meir said she “was literally physically sickened….I think that there is not one single terrorist held in a prison anywhere in the world. Everyone gives in. We’re the only ones who do not.”
According to Reeve, it was the release of the terrorists that was, for Meir, the last straw. “Officials had already pleaded with her to authorize the establishment of an undercover unit to track down and assassinate those blamed for the Munich massacre. Any doubts she might have had about responding violently were quashed by the release of the three murderous conspirators.” It was then that Meir gave the command to General Aharon Yariv and Zvi Zamir, head of the Mossad, to organize the undercover assassin team.
You will see none of this in Steven Spielberg’s childlike retelling of the Munich massacre story. It would not fit in with his revision to show the Israelis’ patience, forbearance, and cooperativeness, and the ruthlessness, indifference, and contempt shown to the Israelis by the terrorists, the Germans, and the Olympic Committee, without which there might not have been any need for retaliation.
The full truth about the Israeli assassination teams will probably never be known since the basis of all such operations is complete deniability, however implausible these denials may be. But alongside Simon Reeve’s excellent book, a book that has added many further details since 1984 is Vengeance, by George Jonas, reissued in 2005 with new material (click here). It is the story of “Avner,” a nom de guerre for an Israeli Mossad agent who ran one of the assassination teams. Israeli officials have disavowed this book and its story from the beginning — as one would expect. Others who have researched the matter believe that his story is mostly true.
While Munich is based on Jonas’s book with changes required by Spielberg’s ideology, if you want to see a dramatic movie based more closely on the Jonas book try Sword of Gideon (click here). It is not as slick and stylish as a Spielberg film, with all the expensive production values he can command, it is the straight story of the book.
Spielberg’s and Kushner’s basic corruption of the story centers around the change in Avner’s feelings about the aims of the team’s mission. In the movie Spielberg contrives to throw Avner into a moral funk from which he cannot escape because he cannot see any moral difference between the act of murdering 11 innocent young men and the act of killing the murderers in a military action for the protection of other Israelis from future terrorist attacks. The Spielberg Avner shrinks from the mission on moral grounds.
The real Avner writes in the new edition of Vengeance in May 2005 (Spielberg, take note):
“So it is that if I had to do it all over again, I would make the same choice I made when Golda Meir approached me more than thirty years ago. At the time — a time long before the Camp David Accords, a time long before any meaningful “peace process,” a time when the entire Arab world (including Egypt and Jordan) was calling daily for the destruction of the Jewish state and Israel’s continued existence was very much an open question — responding in kind to the violence that had been visited on us was the only course that made sense.
The question remains, is Munich Spielberg’s “Secret Masterpiece” as Time magazine proclaims?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?