The Spielberg dilemma

Spielberg typifies American Jews have who not come to terms with Jews as warriors. 2000 years of Exile can do that to people.

Jack Engelhard,

Jack Engelhard
Jack Engelhard
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

The sum of it all – yes, I’m getting ahead of myself – is that Jews who are defenseless civilians merit our love and anguish when they find themselves trapped in Europe and murdered by the Nazis. American Jews, like Steven Spielberg, understand this. They rally to memorialize the Holocaust. 

Hence, Spielberg’s 1993 film, “Schindler’s List.” 

Something different happens when Jews are presented as Israelis…strong and defiant. 

Jews as victims, okay. Jews as soldiers, that makes us squirm.

Therefore, Spielberg’s 2005 film, “Munich.”

I had my say about that years ago in a column (“Spielberg is no friend of Israel”) that I am told was read by everyone in Hollywood, including Spielberg. Coincidentally, my daughter Rachel on the crew of a Will Smith movie, phoned to say that Spielberg was right now visiting the set. 

Should she introduce herself?

“Not a good idea,” I told her.

It’s doubtful, however, that Spielberg kept a grudge. He is bigger than that; a great movie director and a good man.

On the HBO documentary about him that aired a few days ago, he proudly calls himself Jewish. 

That’s what drew my attention to Spielberg and the attitude he typifies among American Jews, which makes him both unique and universal.

American Jews have yet to come to terms with Jews as warriors. Through Moses and Joshua we were conquerors soon after we stepped onto the world stage. 

But two thousand years of exiled conditioning will do otherwise… will train our hearts and minds to accept as inevitable our role as patsies. Victimhood is to be assumed, through such thinking; triumph is to be disparaged and denied. It’s too much a reversal of roles to process within a single generation. 

So do not be amazed when so many, or even a few, American Jews grimace rather than cheer President Trump’s once in a lifetime golden gesture over Jerusalem.

They can’t handle that much prosperity.

“To have a nation,” as an editor of a New Jersey Jewish weekly once told me, “means the will and the ability to retaliate.” So?

“Killing is wrong,” he said.

Even in self-defense?

For that he had no answer.

Neither does Spielberg, except to proceed with a muddled view of Zionism, rather than the true vision of Zionism, the homecoming that finally affords Jewish men and women the chance to “sit under the shade of their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid” – from Micah’s prophecy. 

But in producing “Munich,” Spielberg showed fear. He was afraid (ashamed?) to show Israelis as heroes as they went off to retaliate against the Arabs who committed the Munich Massacre. Those were 11 Israeli Olympians who in 1972 were slaughtered in the most brutal act of savagery ever displayed on live television.

A squad of Israeli undercover agents set out to get even, all of them doing work that was necessary on behalf of a sovereign nation. They were heroes.

Not so to Spielberg, and certainly not to the screenwriters of “Munich,” who even began (and ended) the project hostile to the Jewish State.

The Israeli leads of the film were portrayed as men and women tortured by self-doubt, along the way questioning their right to take a life, even of monsters.

For that reason, as I wrote earlier, “Spielberg is no friend of Israel. Spielberg is no friend of truth.”

Through Spielberg, Israel was REBUKED for sending the message – Never Again. 

Jews must behave as they always did, according to thinkers who perceive and prefer the Jewish people with books but without muscle.

The movie failed, simply because it could not make up its mind between right and wrong. It was otherwise for “Schindler’s List.”

For that film, the clarity was beautiful and perfect, quite so because, even in reviewing it for HBO, Spielberg shed a tear.

His heart is in the right place, so long as that place is not Israel. 

So it is for too many American Jews who weep for the Holocaust but still cannot accustom themselves to the muscular image of an Israeli Soldier. 

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva. Engelhard wrote the international book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal” and the ground-breaking inside-journalism thriller “The Bathsheba Deadline.” His latest is Megyn Kelly unzipped in “News Anchor Sweetheart.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: