September 6, 2005

Spielberg’s ‘Munich’ miffs Palestinian mastermind

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - The Palestinian mastermind of the 1972
Munich Olympics raid, in which 11 Israeli athletes died, said
director Steven Spielberg should have consulted him about a new
film on the episode to be sure to get the story right.

In an irony worthy of a John le Carre novel, Mohammad Daoud
echoed veterans of Israel's Mossad spy service in questioning
the sources used for "Munich," a thriller chronicling the
massacre and the Israeli revenge assassinations that followed.

"I know nothing about this film. If someone really wanted
to tell the truth about what happened he should talk to the
people involved, people who know the truth," Daoud told Reuters
by telephone from an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

"Were I contacted, I would tell the truth," Daoud said.

As planner for Black September, a Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO) splinter group, Daoud sent gunmen to abduct
Israeli athletes at the 1972 Games. Two hostages were killed in
the raid, another nine during a botched rescue by German

Daoud blames Israel and West German authorities for the

Reeling from the loss of its countrymen -- particularly on
what had been the staging ground for the Nazi Holocaust --
Israel retaliated with shootings, booby-trap bombings and
commando operations that killed at least 10 PLO men and drove
their comrades into hiding.


Daoud, who survived a 1981 gun attack in Poland which the
PLO blamed on the Mossad, said Israel targeted some innocents
and he hoped that would also be portrayed in the film.

"They carried out vengeance against people who had nothing
to do with the Munich attack, people who were merely
politically active or had ties with the PLO," he said.

"If a film fails to make these points, it will be unjust in
terms of truth and history."

Spielberg is best known in Israel for his Holocaust epic
"Schindler's List," which ends with a stirring scene of
survivors seeking new lives in the nascent Jewish state.

He has vowed that "Munich" will be sensitive to all sides.

"Viewing Israel's response to Munich through the eyes of
the men who were sent to avenge that tragedy adds a human
dimension to a horrific episode that we usually think about
only in political or military terms," Spielberg said in a

An Israeli actress cast in the film confirmed press reports
that it is based, at least partly, on "Vengeance," a book on
the reprisals campaign that has been widely discredited.

"I am surprised that a director like him has chosen, out of
all the sources, to rely on this particular book," retired
Mossad chief Zvi Zamir told Israel's Haaretz daily in July.

The ex-spook's view was supported by ex-guerrilla Daoud.

"I read 'Vengeance'. It is full of mistakes," he said.