Archive for the ‘“Munich”’ Category

Munich Reflection

Munich Reflection

“Suffering thousands of years of hatred doesn’t make you decent. But we’re supposed to be righteous. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s Jewish. That’s what I knew, that’s what I was taught and I’m losing it. I lose that and that’s everything. That’s my soul” (Munich 2005). Robert, a character in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich, expounds on the ethical dilemma that he and his fellow Israeli’s are confronted with. He realizes what must be done for his country, but cannot come to terms with it ethically. If an action, such as targeted killing, may save the lives of thousands of innocent people, is it worth the violation of one’s morals?

Munich tells the story of the five men selected by the Israeli government to assassinate members of the Black September terrorists who killed 13 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Mossad, the national intelligence agency of Israel, played an integral role in the assassinations of the Palestinian members of Black September. The Israeli agents were covertly contracted by Mossad to complete this mission. Avner, the group’s leader, is told by his handler, “We deposit money from a fund that doesn’t exist into a box we don’t know about in a bank we’ve never set foot in. We can’t help you because we never heard of you before” (Munich 2005). The Mossad cut all ties with the men in order to distance themselves; however, they financed the entire operation.

In accordance with international law, there are instances when the practice of targeted killings is lawful. However, author Nils Melzer points out that “targeted killing not directed against a legitimate military target remains subject to the law enforcement paradigm”. In the case of Munich, the agents in the film practiced target killings against individuals outside a legitimate military target. At the time of the killings, the members of Black September were civilians. This violates the United Nation’s concept of civilian versus combatants (Melzer). While the Israeli’s actions may have been justified, they were in violation of international law which makes their actions illegal.

When a nation practices targeted killing, they must factor in the consequences. They will likely face retaliation, they may be in violation of international law, they face ethical dilemmas, etc. But is some cases, the outcome may warrant the potential risks. “Fighting terror is like fighting car accidents: one can count the casualties but not those whose lives were spared by prevention. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Israelis go about their lives without knowing that they are unhurt because their murderers met their fate before they got the chance to carry out their diabolical missions” (Luft). When the use of targeted killings can save the lives of hundreds of innocent civilian lives in a nation, than a nation is liable to do what is must to counter terrorism. In Munich, the five Israeli agents make a point to avoid the loss of innocent lives. They know their targets, the members of Black September, and periodically eliminate them. In doing so, they send an important message to Black September and other similar terrorist organizations.

More recently, the Israeli government’s alleged practice of target killing has come into international focus. The Israel Foerign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would neither confirm nor deny whether the Mossad had a role in the assassination of Mahmous al-Mabhouh, a Hamas leader. Jim Krane, the author of the book City of Gold, said, “If Israel did authorize the hit, it either found Mabhouh’s elimination worth the damage to its relationship with Dubai, or the hit squad made a big mistake.” If we are to believe that the Israeli government was behind the assassination, and evidence points directly to them, then the government clearly felt the result was worth the potential risk. In killing al-Mabhouh, they severed ties with many nations. Those in power in Israel clearly felt that this assassination was necessary in order to keep their country safe.

I recently spoke to one of my pen pals, Emily Flanigan, about this issue. Emily has been working in El Salvador for over a year as a member of the Peace Corps. She majored in international relations at Northern Arizona University, so I thought she could bring in an interesting perspective. She saw the film a few years ago when it came out in theaters.

“I think that the state should always approach things in a legal matter. They have the responsibility to the people and other countries to go about things in a diplomatic way, if not they are acting in terrorism as well. In the case of Munich people felt that the violence and actions against the terrorist were justified but if each government took matters into their own hands and didn’t go about things in the correct manner countries would constantly be attacking each other. There would be no notion of civilization since the government would be secretly deciding the will of the people without going through the correct democratic channels. The values of the nation would also go down significantly.”

Emily’s comments really made me think. While watching the film, I sympathized with Israel. I thought that the actions of Mossad were justified after such a heinous act had been committed against their county. A nation should have the right to defend its citizens, but at what cost? If each nation that has been attacked retaliates in some way, that creates a circle of violence. What distinguishes one country’s act of terrorism from another’s? An act of terrorism in one country is justice to the opposing nation.

“Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values” (Munich 2005). The Israeli Prime Minister Golda Mier makes this statement early in the film, following the attacks at the Munich Olympics. Mier, and other Israeli prime ministers, have confronted with a profound ethical dilemma. Can they permit targeted killing by members of their own government in order to protect the citizens of their country? The end of the film portrays the guilt that Avner, one of the sole survivors of the original team, will have to suffer with for the rest of his life. As Robert states in the film, those involved may feel like that are losing a part of their souls; however, they save the lives of countless Israelis in the process. Meir and the members of Mossad, perhaps at great cost to personal values, did what they believed they had to in order to keep their country safe. If there was no counter action against terrorists, that would give them the message of submission. However, in doing so, they are only perpetuating the circle of violence.

Works Cited

Krane, Jim. City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism. New York: St. Martin’s, 2009. Print.

Luft, Gal. “The Logic of Israeli’s Targeted Killings.” The Middle East Quarterly (2003): 3-13. Print.

Melzer, Nils. “Targeted Killings in International Law”. Oxford Press. 2009.

Spielberg, Stephen. Munich. Dreamworks SKG, 2005.

The United Nations. Extra-Judicial Killings. 2 June 2010. Web. <>.

Worth, Robert F. “New Hints of Skulduggery in Hamas Killing.” The New York Times 16 Feb. 2010. Print.

Theatrical Terrorism and Popcorn

Throughout the cinematic ages, countless fiction and non-fiction films have been created documenting and reflecting the time period’s political and social atmosphere. Today’s current atmosphere is permeated with terror and terrorism; therefore, directors and producers have created a plethora of films depicting this subject matter. What remains interesting is the influence of directorial creative freedom upon the framing of the topic and for which purpose the film serves be it propaganda, educational or entertainment.

According to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication, Richard Alan Nelson:

Propaganda is a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels (Nelson, 1996).

The inculcation of terrorism, by the way of propaganda film, is prevalent throughout the world. Those who strive to promote their ideological, political or commercial messages and those who counter these messages utilize directorial creative freedom to persuade their audience.

For example, Steven Spielberg’s movie, Munich, serves the purpose to educate the audience of the fine line between terrorism and counterterrorism. Munich is based off of true events surrounding Israel’s retaliation against Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization, after they murdered 11 Israeli Olympic athletes during the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Germany.

Spielberg infuses actual footage with the cinematic dramatization of the events exposing the audience to factual information. The violent and brutal imagery framed Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Mier’s justification of counterterrorism. Additionally, Spielberg placed great emphasis on the moral dilemma precluding Mier’s decision when she said “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values” (Munich, 2005).

Throughout the film, the viewer is shown Israel’s acts of counterterrorism, as well as the collateral damage that is usually absent in pro-American counterterrorism activities. Conversely, the Israel agents are shown to be nervous and motivated by their own personal convictions, yet, at times, they are shown to struggle with the conflictions of duty and their personal conviction.

In the end, Avner, the leading Israeli agent, realized the domino effect of terrorism – a counterterrorism act is an act of terrorism, which initiates a counterterrorism act that ultimately catapults state sanctioned and non-state terrorists into a never-ending cycle of terrorism.  Spielberg captures this phenomenon when Avner proclaimed “There’s no peace at the end of this no matter what you believe” (Munich, 2005), thus “framing terrorism as a global war that can not be won” (Silcock, 2011).

In contrast, in 2006 Universal Pictures released United 93. The film, directed and written by Paul Greengrass, is a cinematic portrayal of the events surrounding the hijacking of United flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. The film depicts the four Muslim hijackers as “conflicted and afraid” and “fervently engaged in prayer” (Kellner, 2005). These images project to the viewer that the terrorists who carried out 9/11 were unsure, frightened and surmountable.

The American passengers were shown “as ordinary citizens, involved in the petty cares and mundane rituals of everyday life” (Kellner, 2005). Once they “[became] aware of the disaster unfolding” (Kellner, 2005) they banned together and overwhelmed the terrorists; thus, successfully thwarting the terrorists’ goal. These images promote American heroism and the inability of a terrorist to destroy American ideology.

United 93 put a face on a faceless enemy and frames terrorism as defeatable. The imagery projects and infuses the American psyche with the belief they are undefeatable when united. The message is reinforced when political and military leaders quote a passenger, Todd Beamer, who was overheard on an open cellular phone line moments before the passengers fought back: “Let’s roll!” (IMDB). American policymakers have utilized his quote as a “moral cloak” (Moeller, 2009) “of purposeful persuasion” (Nelson, 1996).

The film serves the purpose of propaganda for American superiority over the inferior terrorists’ extremism. United 93 “[distracts] the population from the real source of the problem, which is an ideology that wants to destroy the west” (Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, 2005).

United 93 and Munich are just two examples of the plethora of fiction and non-fiction films depicting terrorists and their acts of terrorism. United 93 perpetuate American dominance and their ability to conquer any enemy threatening their way of life. Furthermore, it diminishes fear of terrorism by its unspoken message if we stand united we have nothing to fear. Munich, on the other hand, creates fear of terrorism because it depicts terrorism as an undefeatable faceless enemy.

By and large, theatrical terrorism is a result of directorial creative freedom. The framing of the topic can serve as a means to educate, spread fear or as propaganda to persuade its targeted audience towards a political agenda.


Kennedy. K. (Producer), Spielberg, S. (Producer & Director). (December 23, 2005). Munich [Motion picture]. United States: Universal Studios.

Kellner, D. (2005). Social memory and the representation of 9/11 in contemporary Hollywood film. Retrieved from

Mier, P. (Producer), Shore, R. (Producer) & Kopping, W. (Director). (October 21, 2005). Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West [Documentary film]. United States: Clarion Fund.

Moeller, S. D. (2009). Packaging terrorism: Co-opting the news for politics and profit. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Nelson, R. A. (1996). Chronology and glossary of propaganda in the United States. Goleta, CA: ABC-Clio, LLC.

Munich Reflection

Undoubtedly, films about terrorism propagate fear. But so do films about haunted houses. Fear that stems from a theatrical portrayal of terrorism differs from fear generated by a horror film only because the former reproduces an actual event. While the average viewer believes it unlikely that his attic contains a demon, a constant inundation of threatening news reports about terrorism renders him less uncertain that his workplace contains a bomb. Although theatrical portrayals of terrorist events do facilitate terrorists by furthering fear, they do not act alone. If the press serves as “oxygen of publicity” to the flames of terrorism, then movies are like additional logs—strengthening the fire when added on occasion, but not directly responsible for its endurance. Government and media construct conditions that determine much of how audiences perceive the entertainment industry’s product.

While cinematic portrayals of terrorism deepen fear, they rarely initiate it. Government officials and news media respond to acts of terror far before the entertainment industry does, setting up the framework within which the public understands terrorism. In Packaging Terrorism, Susan D. Moeller illustrates how a government’s response to a terrorist attack sets the tone in which the public understands it. She cites New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s assertion that after 9/11, “the administration portrayed America as a nation under threat from every direction” (184). Krugman’s column illustrates that as time passed, the government continued to call for absurd responses— bombing Iran and uniting against “Islamofacism” (1) — that incite a sense of pure desperation among the public.

And the press—perhaps inadvertently mirroring government response or perhaps simply trying to garner viewers— contributes to an overstated public fear of terrorists. Phrases like “radical Islamist,” excessively extensive coverage of only selected events, and even the tone of reporters’ voices all generate fear. Fear, for media, is the norm, rather than an exceptional response to select situations. These types of responses render the emotions created by film about terrorism far too deeply intertwined with other forms of communication to analyze alone.

Although some viewers may be too young to have witnessed press coverage of an event later portrayed through theater, this framework of understanding does not deal in specific events. One does not need to have lived through the events at the Munich Olympics to perceive the gravity of terrorism after watching Munich. In fact, just as Munich does, films about terrorist acts often include their own portrayals of the press. By illustrating families and individuals glued to the television as reports air about the attack in Munich, Steven Spielberg reproduces the sentiment that news broadcasts are to be taken seriously and received with wide eyes. While Spielberg does implicitly promote the audience’s failure to critically assess the news, this failure would not exist for anyone to promote if not for the weighty and overplayed tone the press employs.

One might argue that since movies serve entertainment purposes and news serves information purposes, fear and dramatization belong in entertainment. However, the lines are never so clearly drawn, and this lack of division sparks questions. Do movies about factual events inform viewers? Should movies about factual events inform viewers? In what respects should the original event be objectively replicated, and it what respects can it be dramatized? Which facts are appropriate to include?

To answer these questions, one must first understand and analyze the objective of the film industry. While goals vary from director to director, movies are typically produced to profit through the fulfillment of some public desire. In “Fear in the News: A Discourse of Control,” David L. Altheide and R. Sam Michalowski explain the audience’s “expectation that danger and risk are a central feature of the effective environment” (1). That is, news viewers don’t care about a story unless it contains a threat to be conquered. Without that hope of satisfaction, they have little reason to watch the news.

This phenomenon carries over to the film industry. Jeffrey Goldstein, a psychology professor at the University of Utrecht, explains that people watch horror films to fulfill a need for excitement and intensity of emotions. However, films about non-fictional terrorist events take this fulfillment a step further. Goldstein also explains that the practice of sensation-seeking, “the enjoyment of stimulation or physiological arousal,” creates an audience for fear.

And while horror may seem at home in the back of an old cemetery or the corners of an abandoned warehouse, fear within ordinary, realistic situations, releases chemicals that bring sensation-seeking to a new level. The victims of terrorism—and of counterterrorism—in Munich haven’t been fleeing zombies for half of the movie. As Moeller points out in Packaging Terrorism, “the deliberate randomness of their targeting of civilians is what makes [terrorists’] violence so arresting” (184). Thus, as long as government and news aid terrorists by inducing public fear with headlines like “Where will they strike next?’ the film industry will fulfill the public desire to observe fear within everyday situations from the comfort of a theater.

However, directors often cite loftier desires than making money by fulfilling desires. In a Time Magazine interview, Spielberg says that while he wasn’t “making this picture because the message can do some good for the world,” he also “didn’t make this movie to make money.” Rather, he says, he wanted to tell a story that others didn’t have the courage to get “out in the ether.” After making the movie, Spielberg facilitated a project in which he distributed video cameras to 125 Israeli children and to 125 Palestinian children and instructed them to make short films about their lives. Then, they exchanged the videos. (“Munich: The Interview). These types of actions demonstrate that while Hollywood does play upon public desire for income, making money isn’t its sole objective. Political context created by government and news transforms neutral or good intentions into avenues for terrorists to spread fear.

Spielberg cites a desire to “get that story told.” While it makes perfect sense for filmmakers to be interested in storytelling, it is interesting to note that those who usually deal in fiction have such a great interest in spreading awareness. While admirable of Spielberg and other directors to help to fill a void of knowledge in society, doesn’t the existence of that void indicate that the press is too busy “fear-mongering” (Moeller 184) to complete its job?

The theatrics of Hollywood do get tangled with the ethics of awareness-spreading in unsettling ways; one of Munich’s bloodiest scenes involves a portion of a blown up human corpse hanging from a moving ceiling fan. Details like this spark debate about whether gore is necessary or appropriate, although it is undoubtedly accurate. However, a Guardian article discusses the “firestorm of controversy about its political sympathies and historical accuracy.” Discrepancies range from factual inconsistencies like the number of agents involved in assassinations, to major claims, such as Spielberg’s portrayal of the spirit behind the attacks. (MacAskill). Further research conducted on Hollywood’s portrayal of terrorism found similar discrepancies in a number of films, and concluded “that real life is much more multi-faceted than the movies” (Wagge). While arguments against censorship suggest that filmmakers and viewers alike are okay with occasional bloodshed, the context in which this violence is understood should be a clearer one. If filmmakers appealing to a hunger for fear were not the sole means of spreading awareness, the movies would become a place for informed citizens to stimulate their emotions after reading the paper. Whether movies serve terrorists as well as producers depends upon the degree to which viewers are previously informed.

Works Cited:

Altheide, David L. and R. Sam Michalowski. “Fear in the News: A Discourse of Control.” The Sociological Quarterly. 40.3. (1999): 475-503. Web. Feb. 6 2010.

Black, Ian and Ewan MacAskill. “Munich: Mossad breaks cover.” Guardian 26 Jan. 2007. Web.

Goldstein, Jeffrey. Why we watch: The attractions of violent entertainment. Oxford University Press, New York, 1998. Web.

Krugman, Paul. “Fearing Fear Itself.” New York Times 29 Oct. 2007. Web.

Moeller, Susan D. Packaging Terrorism. Singapore: Blackwell Publishing, 2009. Print

“Munich: The Interview: His Prayer for Peace.” Time 14 Dec. 2005. Web.

Wagge, Jordan. “A Captive Audience: The Portrayal of Terrorism and Terrorists in Large-Scale Fictional Hollywood Media.” Web.


Stevo Pendarovski – University American College – Skopje

It is probably true that each nation has more that one “Munich”. Clear winners usually do not emerge whenever and wherever life and death meet each other. But, understood as a crossroad of politics and morality, this kind of events has potential to turn inward the face of the nation. Who and when is authorized to apply controversial principle “an eye for an eye” in a world being more and more laid upon the global rules and mutual solidarity?

In democracies Government has upper hand over the intelligence, but, some of later consider (or even act) to obtain prime influence. Honestly: is it possible to merge two different organizational cultures of “shadowy” and “sunny” poles of the world, ones of Governments and secret services? Who in essence creates policy and tailors national interests: first group of people with undisputed electoral legitimacy or latter one, which is put in power by the former?

What if “impossible” happens: political leader and intelligence chief fully agree on the content of retaliation having in mind the same set of values? It might be a difficult guess on the kind of values which reside in the minds of Iranian Grand Ayatollah and the boss of notorious paramilitary organization Basij? Will their reaction in urgency be in compliance with the globally accepted civilization norms, when two years ago they have been opposed to the half of their own population?

Media plurality and political interests make the danger of treating both sides (terrorists and law-enforcement agencies) as morally equal, to be very realistic. But, much more important is the question: in a fragmented world what is supposed to be a response of the post-modern citizens against the barbaric acts of the pre-modern ones? Robert Copper in 2000 said that applying proper instruments should be the order of the day, when contemplating the use of force as a last resort. Nevertheless, how many people are ready to accept this principle a decade later?

Media exposure of terrorist acts and anti-terrorist activities alike should be wisely balanced not to install fear among the average viewers or promote evil people as role models for the wider audience, thus helping recruitment process of youngsters. Unfortunately, TV dramas of this kind are business as usual: prejudices recycled, stereotypes sustained, good people praised, bad people punished. What is wrong with the last two points? Nothing, but the passports of those people. Good characters are always members of our nation, since we routinely avoid having anything in common with the nasty boys. They are anyhow coming from the “different and distant” cultures.

Pen Pal Cooperation

Guns And TV-Munich Massacre Messages Unfolded By Steven Spielberg

Aleksandra Dukovska

The press and its standpoint on terrorism are not in the initial focus of Steven Spielberg Munich movie from 2005. Spielberg showed the press, reporter views and reports on terrorist attack at the Olympic Game in Munich as a part of the big picture to confront Israeli nation with its history and reluctance from the past.

Instead of focusing the viewer’s attention to the reflection of terrorist attacks on the Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Spielberg is showing archive footages of two notable American journalists who reported on the Munich massacre for ABC TV network. Spielberg used the archive TV reports for the first shoots in the Munich movie and made effective introduction to its story on the event that unfolded the news of international terrorism globally. How experienced Hollywood film director framed the press in the Munich and what can we conclude from it?

The public perceived the story and sharpened their views on already existing Israeli and Palestine conflict via mediators – journalists who reported from the Munich Olympics massacre.

As movie unfolds with the reconstruction of the horrible attacks in Munich, Spielberg shows archive TV broadcast of ABC sport commentator from the games, Jim McKay, who made 16-hours long coverage ending it with the words: “Tonight our worst fears have been realized. They are all gone”.

In an atmosphere of TV presence everywhere – at the hotel where the hostage drama occurred to the room of Israeli Prime minister Golda Meir, Spielberg continues with ABC’s youngest anchor and reporter Peter Jennings archive TV broadcasting materials.

This was the first breaking news story for Jennings. Journalist Sandra Martin from Canadian daily The Globe and Mail asked whether “his live reporting provided the context for Americans who were unfamiliar with the Palestinian group”. Such reporting was not approved by Israeli and pro-Israeli supporters.

The pro-Israeli groups criticized Jennings reporting and the wordings he used to refer to the members of Black September. According to the Web page Honest Reporting that claims itself as Israeli defender from bias reporting “in 1972, as a reporter covering the Palestinian murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Jennings would not refer to the murderers as ‘terrorists’ and instead he called them ‘guerrillas’ and ‘commandos.’

The question is whether the reporting from Munich prepared the viewers in the USA and the world for the justification of Black September attacks on Israeli athletes. Spielberg in his movie Munich eschewed to portrait the media as focus element of his film.

He rather gave the space each viewer to construe his own opinion. By showing the archive of live TV coverage and close up shots of the members of Black September, Spielberg refers to the ways the press framed the terrorists.

We can hear the voice of Jim McKay summarizing the words of Jennings on the laws as obstacle for the German army to intervene and help to the German police. That can lead to the conclusion of the difficulties that Germany faced as a host of the Olympic games, brutally interrupted with this terrorist attack.

The whole atmosphere present in the movie tends to explain the complexity of actions that triggered secret Israeli operation to eliminate eleven Palestinians who organized the attacks. For the first time, Spielberg who devoted his career to explain complicated Jewish history made the movie and tried to find explanation for Palestinian demands for homeland. Through the main character Avner (Eric Bana) Spielberg challenges “an eye for an eye” actions of Israeli state after the Munich massacre. Back in 2005, this created different views and opinions among Israeli representatives and Israelis in the USA.

Journalist Anthony Berznican in his USA Today’s article ‘Messages from Munich’ from December 2005 asked for various Israeli opinions on the movie.  He wrote that “the Israeli consul general in Los Angeles, Ehud Danoch, attacked the movie in The New York Times, saying it tried to create “equivalency” between the Olympic terrorists and the Israeli government.

Berznican used the view of Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who praises Munich and doesn’t see it as an indictment of Israel’s action. “Did it in fact bring about an end to violence? No,” Foxman says. Berznican wrote the statement of Calev Ben-David, director of the Jerusalem-based public advocacy group The Israel Project, who said Spielberg ‘is perceived as an American who may be appropriating Israel’s struggles as a way to comment on post-9/11 America.

“I can’t escape speculating that this film is as much, if not more, about 9/11” than it is about Israelis and Palestinians, said Ben-David, who wants to see the film but has not yet been invited to a screening. “This was a safe way for him to deal with 9/11 without risking a real kind of backlash. “Would he make a film where he has an al-Qaeda terrorist talk about the reasons why an attack on America was justified? It could be that a filmmaker would make it. But it would have to be a filmmaker braver than Spielberg — or at least less commercially oriented.”, commented Ben-David.

Spielberg made this movie thirty years after the Munich massacre that should be enough time to look at it without emotions. Maybe this is not sufficient time to heal open wounds for Israelis caused by the Munich massacre. Framing the terrorism, terrorist groups and describing the complexity of those events can leads to various interpretations of events.

In their book Framing the Terrorism, Pippa Norris, Montague Kern and Marion Just stated that the “essence of framing is selection to prioritize some facts, images, or developments over others thereby unconsciously promoting one particular interpretation of events”.

With carefully chosen archive press video materials highly mixed with the main storyline in the screenplay, written by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth and highly visualized by the director of photography Janusz Kaminski, Spielberg is creating ethical interpretation of post Munich events. It is almost like you are watching Shakespeare drama play, but in a context of 21st century. Some questions never dies no matter of ticking clock.

To summarize this essay I still have the dilemma whether the “bombs eliminate targets and terrified terrorist” or the legitimacy of the cause could justified the means used to achieve those goals. Spielberg doesn’t give that answer in Munich too, but brings up on the surface little bit of how the press is covering the terrorism. The journalists are there as mediators and they shaped the public opinion. If a terrorist attack such as Munich happens today some questions will be the same. But the media will be different. New media will spread the news and tell the story to the world.

Works cited:

1. Peter Jennings. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from

2. Peter Jennings: The ABCs of Bias. (2003, February 6). In Honest Reporting. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from

3. Breznican, A. (2005, December 22). Messages from ‘Munich’. USA TODAY. Retrieved February 18, 2011

4. Norris, P., Kern, M., & Just, M. R. (Eds.). (2003). Framing terrorism: the news media, the government and the public (p. 6). London, Great Britain: Psychology Press. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from

Munich Reflection- Uncertain Revenge

In an effort to commemorate the Munich Massacre during the Summer Olympics in 1972, Steven Spielberg directed Munich, a fictional account of the retaliation attacks performed by a secret Israeli organization. Though the media coverage shown during this crisis is minimal, the use of actual footage provides a fair account of the media during this time.  But the most profound effect is Spielberg’s call for peace, with the film focusing on the never-ending cycle of violence that occurs with terrorism and counterrorism. Read more

Fear: Box Office Hit

The press, and film can be considered two of terrorism’s most prominent outlets in distributing and creating fear.  One of the most prevalent examples of our obsession with fear lies in the depiction and portrayal of terrorism.  Its presence will never age with time, and its existence knows no countries’ borders.  While we read about terrorist attacks everyday in the paper, its stories are carried onto film, and other means of media. Whether its context is completely accurate, or created by art directors, or whether it’s an article in the newspaper, or a box office hit “based on actual events”, its only message to its audience is “fear”.  While it may not seem obvious at first glance, film and the press produce many of the same effects.  Both the press, and film tell stories.  They also tell stories through an angle, or bias known as framing.  While the press may decide to produce a story on terrorism at an angle that focuses on government contribution, film makers may chose to tell the story from an emotional perspective which focuses on personal hardship throughout the event.  Film and the press also help to shape the opinions and thoughts of their viewers through this framing.  Whether the thought is positive, or negative, the plot of the story told is what shapes it.  The two have, no doubt, different purposes, but their final message always remains the same: be afraid.

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Munich: an Analysis of Israel’s Ethics and Values in Targeted Killing

“Suffering thousands of years of hatred doesn’t make you decent. But we’re supposed tobe righteous. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s Jewish…I lose that and that’s everything. That’s my soul (Spielberg, 2005).” Robert, a toymaker turned bomb-maker, highlights the ethical conundrum of a religious state to direct vengeance. In Munich, the audience follows Israel’s response to the assassination of eleven Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games (Spielberg, 2005). Israel’s controversial policy of targeted killing challenges both national values and international law. In recent news, Israel’s suspected involvement in the Dubai assassination of Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh has once again brought up Israel’s stance on targeted killing and the ethical question it presents to a Jewish state. Israel, along with other nations in the modern globalized political arena, must decide to what extent they are willing to mimic terrorist tactics and neglect the principles their nation was founded upon as well as international law. Most importantly, Israel’s methods to address terrorism submerge the state in a garbled global dialogue between governments, civilians, terrorists and the media. Read more

Movie Reflection, Munich: Illegal Killings

Movie Reflection: Munich

The movie Munich starts with a depiction of the events of September 5th,1972, where members of the Black September organization took eleven Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympic games. Throughout the movie, scenes from the hostage situation—leading up to, and including the deaths of all eleven athletes, one German police officer, and five of the hostage-takers. However, despite the title, the vast majority of the movie focuses on a fictional version of Operation Bayonet (also known as Operation Wrath of God), and Operation Spring of Youth. Both operations included the assassination of Palestinians suspected of involvement in anti-Israel terrorist operations.1

The Never-Ending Cycle of Violence

           Barnett & Reynolds describe framing as a way to provide a “context and suggest what the issue is through the selection, emphasis, exclusion and elaboration” this in turn can influence the audiences opinions, “the way terrorism is framed dictates the way the public will perceive it”(2009, p.4). In Steven Spielberg’s movie Munich, framing strategies were used to describe the retaliation of the massacre that took place in 1972 at the Summer Olympics in Germany. Spielberg described in the director’s introduction to Munich that the movie is “not meant to be a documentary” rather a story based on a historical event (Munich). Knowing this, how is it that Spielberg framed the story line of Munich for the audience and are these historical events depicted in an accurate manner? Read more

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.