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Jewish groups mad about initial reports on anti-Islam film
Iraqi protesters burn Israeli and U.S. flags during a protest Thursday. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three others were killed during a protest outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday.
September 14th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Jewish groups mad about initial reports on anti-Islam film

By Lateef Mungin

(CNN) - Jewish groups are upset that the initial reporting about the anti-Islam movie known as "Innocence of Muslims" depicted the film as being financed by a group of Jewish donors.

The groups say the reporting was irresponsible and even dangerous.

"We are greatly concerned that this false notion that an Israeli Jew and 100 Jewish backers were behind the film now has legs and is gathering speed around the world," Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League said Thursday. "In an age where conspiracy theories, especially ones of an anti-Semitic nature, explode on the Internet in a matter of minutes, it is crucial for those news organizations who initially reported on his identity to correct the record."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center also blasted the early media coverage of the story.

The center said Thursday it is "deeply troubled that the project was initially falsely and widely depicted as a project of an American- Israeli and that the $5 million was raised by 100 Jews. We remain deeply worried that those initial media reports are being used by Islamist extremists to further fan the violent anti-Semitism that is a part of that sub-culture of hate."

The crude film has stirred violent protests in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Mobs attacked the U.S. Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi this week leaving the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

Initial reports including one in the Wall Street Journal that the filmmaker was a 52-year-old Israeli-American from California named Sam Bacile and that Jewish donors had financed his film.

In the Wall Street Journal report early this week, the filmmaker said the film "was a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam."

On Thursday, multiple media agencies, including CNN, seemed to get closer to the true identity of the filmmaker and the financing for the troubling film.

Federal officials now believe the man behind the film is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud. Media staked out the man's home Thursday and a friend said he is in hiding.

A production staff member who worked on the film told CNN that he believed the filmmaker was a Coptic Christian. The production staff member, who did not want to be identified, said when the two spoke on the phone during production, the filmmaker said he was in Alexandria, Egypt, raising money for the film. There has been a long history of animosity between Muslims and the minority Copts in Egypt.

Though the truth about the film's backing seems to be emerging, some say it took too long for reporters to begin investigating the filmmakers claims.

"There were at least seven obvious reasons that 100 Israeli Jews could not have been behind this crappy video," said Rob Eshman, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal. "Right from the beginning there were so many red flags and it is the media's job not to just parrot the story but to really find out if it is true."

The amateurish production of the film was one of the biggest clues that it could not be backed by millionaires of any faith, Eshman said.

"It looks like it was made with 29 dollars really," Eshman said. "In the grand scheme of things this is not a tragedy compared to the people who are losing their lives in Libya, but it could have led to more tragedies. The (initial) news that it was Jews behind the film should have never been reported in the first place – it feeds into people's prejudice."

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Islam • Israel • Judaism

soundoff (896 Responses)
  1. Debra

    The Jews are upset not because of the hatemongering this movie promotes but because there is a report that it is Jews that funded it. Because that report puts THEM in a bad light. What? Christopher Hitchens is rolling over in his grave. Miss you Hitch. You claimed it right religion poisons EVERYTHING.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  2. laststonecarver

    All religion is a decision making process, but not all decision making is religion.
    We each decide, what is right or wrong, good or bad, leftist or righteous.
    Religion is a program, that offers a possible formula/design/program, through which we can attain to some state of existance, which is desireable, of which we have been made aware. We decide anyway, even without religion.
    The key to life is comparison. The formulation of each of our decision making processes takes place from birth, til even as we read these lines. Yes, i read them too. I prefer to think of what I say, before I spout inanities.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  3. Ringo65

    When Israel started giving accurate intelligence and developed weapon systems that the US utilised in our mutual goal of eradicating terror and murder disguised as Palestinian Liberation.

    Duh.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • FloydZepp

      Israel is no ally of the US. A welfare stae suckling off our tax dollars since 1948 – yes. A state that steal our technology and spies on us – yes. But not an ally.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • Simon Says

      A welfare stae suckling off our tax dollars since 1948.

      We didnt start funding Israel till the late 60's.
      You dont know much about history.
      1948 when Israel was attacked, she defended herself
      buy purchasing weapons from Checkoslovakia and other states,
      not the US.

      Nobody can stop you from hating Israel, but you could at least
      get your facts straight, moron.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  4. Merlin

    It's a shame small groups of radical factions will possibly cause their unstable countries to lose U.S. support or support from other countries, as well, after we've assisted them in their recent fight from tyranny. I suppose Iran will be waiting for this to happen, just like a spider. So, if we pull out our financial and military support, guess who claims the victory? I believe the MIddle East has been a "teetering rock" for decades. It's about to fall off its pedestal and where it lands is unclear. (You know, if people don't want to see stuff on You Tube or the internet, they can always turn it off...)

    September 14, 2012 at 6:08 am |
  5. Dutch

    One more reason why I avoid religion.. everyone knows the mindset of Jews and Christians towards Muslims and vice-versa, has being going on for centuries..do away with religion and this world would be a much better place without question..unfortunately that is not going to happen so the world will continue to pay for the actions of those, who act in the name of something, who wish to impose their ideology onto others...

    September 14, 2012 at 6:07 am |
  6. Gurgyl

    Israel playing drama in election.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  7. TampaMel

    This is what religion brings to the world. No matter the religion, ALL RELIGION brings intolerance.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:58 am |
  8. Mary

    Love the way Israel is looking out for the US....geez throw us under the bus...back stabbers

    September 14, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Ringo65

      Huh?

      September 14, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • Simon Says

      Mary, you are brain damaged.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  9. maltesefalconx9

    N. S. A. P.
    Vote the National Social Arbitters Party to block for a safer Amerika.
    N. S. A. P.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:56 am |
  10. Harmsy

    So it must have been a Republican Conservative that came up with the $ for the film because he was convicted of bank fraud!

    September 14, 2012 at 5:51 am |
  11. Ezra

    Why do they always toe Israel and the US together? That's weird..

    September 14, 2012 at 5:51 am |
  12. MG

    I cannot believe this is all over a cheesy movie. Seriously? If the world took a trip to our Blockbuster, we'd be at war ALL the time. Its a movie for goodness sake. An independent one at that...on YOUTUBE at that! Its not like Brad Pitt is in it. THAT would be more interesting given his wife's role in the embassy....I swear, its only a matter of time before Megatron comes down here upset that we depicted him incorrectly in Transformers. Michael Bay better watch his back...

    September 14, 2012 at 5:48 am |
    • Carol

      I know, right? People need to get a grip and not look for excuses to riot and kill.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:51 am |
  13. barnabas

    the publisher of such movies has to be arrested, for questioning. he has to give reason why he produce such movie, what inpact he want to create in the life of viewer. then who is behind such movie and who finance the movie

    September 14, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • Carol

      Free Speech is alive and well

      September 14, 2012 at 5:49 am |
    • Sac

      Free speech sir!! Do you understand that or are you from third world like me.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:19 am |
  14. luckluck

    But, we have ask now who did finance such a big project that cost millions of dollars? Obviously not ordinary Americans. For the film makers it is all about the money and business. The actual issues come from the donors. Millions of kids die all over the world due to starvations, why would these millions of dollars not spent to feed the kids instead of spreading hate, false propagandas. If Pakistan harbor terrorists, then, America harbor hatred. If freedom of speech and hate is protected in America, then, obviously Pakistan will protect the terrorists because hate = terror

    September 14, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  15. PAUL

    JESUS, KRISHNA, ABRAHAM AND MOHAMED!!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmigBOhYTns&w=640&h=390]

    September 14, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  16. Pityu

    From Reading the comments it is quite obvious that Jews really hate the Muslims. The Jews want US to fight fight for them while they sit back .

    September 14, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • Simon Says

      From Reading the comments it is quite obvious that Muslims hate Jews.

      Works both ways, dont it ?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  18. W.

    Somebody said a long time ago that the very idea of god is the greatest obstacle to the understanding of god. It will be a self sustaining mentality for eons. I suspect that the religious notion occupies about the size of a kernel of rice someplace in the frontal lobe. There remains considerable joy in just appreciating each breath one can take and to enjoy a simple sunrise.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • raja

      I agree with you about that point. Because that’s way (9/11 Drama) Israel do for attacking Afghanistan & Iraq by USA. But may be 65% American don’t believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 14, 2012 at 6:04 am |
  19. JohnWV

    Israel wants us to attack Iran. An American movie so enrages Muslims that they attack us. Wow, that's clever work even by Netanyahu's standards. The denials are way too many and too powerful. No did way all the usual suspects (Israel, AIPAC, Mossad, Jewish money) not make this happen.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • Ringo65

      Oh give us a break. What a moronic, paranoid statement.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:08 am |
    • Simon Says

      Nice try Mittens.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  20. mike friedman

    Dan Brown wrote the DaVinci code, which angered many Christains, but they did not riot or kill people, Muslims will use any reason what so ever to satisfy there blood lust and just kill and hate whom ever.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • Pityu

      Why don't Isreal and it's supporters go and fight their own battles ? Why is the US responsible for Isreal? When did the US became an instrument for Israeli propaganda ?

      September 14, 2012 at 6:03 am |
    • Freedom

      The Last Temptation of Christ caused a lot of discord, and it just posed a question. People should respect other people's faiths and rights, even in disagreement. Remember Free speech and Freedom of religion are both rights and should not infringe upon each other.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • Simon Says

      Pityu

      Why don't Isreal and it's supporters go and fight their own battles ? Why is the US responsible for Isreal? When did the US became an instrument for Israeli propaganda ?

      You dont read much do you ?
      Obama is trying to talk Netanyahu OUT of attacking Iran.
      Some puppet.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:39 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.