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. Kiler

    To label insults against a man or his writings as blasphemy IS blasphemy.

    Man is not God, thus insults against a man cannot be blasphemous. To claim that they are is to deify the man, which is blasphemy.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • ShannonInCT

      You'd be hard pressed to find a religion that doesn't deify at least one human. (Reason #86 that religion is nonsense)

      September 14, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Man created god and every god out there. This is simply ludicrous thinking and shows true damage of religious beliefs held so strongly (christians have done it and still do it).

      September 14, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • Joe Bosco

      Blame the double standards ... be honest. how will the U.S. government would have responded if this so called movie was about denying the holocaust!!!! how was the Jewish run media going to handle it? Be fair. Don't blame people who are unequally treated. The movie insulted their ultimate religion figure....not a historic event like the holocaust. Be fair...just be fair.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Joe bosco from OJ trial that broke his neck diving in a shallow pool? I know you

      September 14, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  2. Double

    Well it seems the ______ extremists commit murder to innoncents all over the world. Blow up their own people in bombings. Whether it would be suicide, car bombing, building bombing, a few planes several years back that most people might remember. And that group wonders why there is a predujice against them. Its like they can do no wrong no matter what they do. And they claim to religious? There are groups who worship satan who are not as evil as those i refer to.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:22 am |
  3. josh rogen

    when in doubt blame the jews

    September 14, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • Joe Bosco

      Blame the double standards ... be honest.... how will the U.S. government would have responded if this so called movie was about denying the holocaust!!!! how was the Jewish run media going to handle it? Be fair. Don't blame people who are unequally treated. The movie insulted their ultimate religion figure....not a historic event like the holocaust. Be fair...just be fair.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • mr_a

      Well Bosco, there is always someone denying the holocaust, there is always someone blaming the Jews for everything that's hapenning in the world, and you don't see Jews blow themselves up in buses, you don't see them burning flags, you don't see them attacking foreign embassies and killing ambassadors, remind me when was the last time a journalist was kidnapped in Israel and beheaded live on the internet? Did you see Jews having a killing spree after "The Passion of Christ" was released? May I remind you that in contrast this was a multi million dollar production backed by a Hollywood star, so be fair, just be fair.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Joe are you same guy that broke his neck diving into a pool during on trial? We worked together.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  4. emison


    September 14, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      How exactly is it that lives being lost in the name of god and religion appears to be anything new in this world? As long as a belief in a deity is held so strongly, lives will always be at risk...this is partly why we'd like to see religion disappear from this planet-it can be damaging.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:00 am |
  5. jenni

    I'm so sick of this conflict. Just get over yourselves (both sides) and knock it off. It's a waste of human energy, waste of lives, waste of resources. It's going to destroy the whole world if it doesn't end soon!

    September 14, 2012 at 4:08 am |
  6. OMEGA

    This smells of a ruse. I wouldnt be surprised if this was a joint effort by extremists to use as a excuse to start the wheel in motion for a unified jihad of all Muslims against democracy. This is only going to get worse. Maybe the Mayans did know something.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:08 am |
  7. pbernasc

    Oh Boy the dude who made this movies is in real troubles,
    Imagine, the guy managed to get all people of all major religions deadly mad at him.
    Gee ... no wonder he i s hiding ... but it won't last long ... I bet he will kill himself

    September 14, 2012 at 4:08 am |
    • Epinoia

      He's liable to be one of those guys you read about in the newspaper - who 'kills himself' with 15 blows to the skull with a hammer... lol

      September 14, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  8. JesterJames

    nah... no one believed it anyway. With so many jews in Hollywood, media and show biz, if they want to make an anti-islam film it would have much better production value. And way broader distribution.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  9. NoGr8rH8r

    Ever hear the phrase, "It's just a movie!!!"

    September 14, 2012 at 4:00 am |
  10. R. Harris

    Sticks and stones can brake my bones but words can never hurt me!

    However I see for some movies, and others religious views can. Grow up world. Stop standing in the street burning crap and go be more productive, maybe try practicing some of what your religion preaches. Even though its all fake in my opinion! Or better yet stop blowing yourselves up or other objects like cars outside innocent peoples homes etc.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:59 am |
  11. Poop

    Bare Naked Islam. Check it out.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:59 am |
  12. ScottCA

    The only problem with fundamentalist Islam are the fundamentals of Islam.

    Janism which is the pacifist religion that Gandhi learned from, is not dangerous. The more fundamental a Janist becomes the less we have to worry about them, because they only become more and more pacifistic.

    Islam is a dangerous religion.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Lenny

      Janism? Was it started by a Janitor somewhere? 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 4:10 am |
    • Kane

      Take that crap to Fox news or something. Seriously, RELIGION in general is becoming a problem. All of them fight over nothing, and ignorant people such as yourself just fuel the issue even more. Go and facepalm yourself for the world please.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • Epinoia

      All religion is dangerous - Islam is not alone. It is fairly easy for mankind to determine the ethical/universal rules of morality. In order to suspend morality, in order to suspend the ethical, people use religion. Look up the term 'teleological suspension of the ethical', and you might learn a thing or two.

      We don't need religion in order to know right from wrong. We need religion to convince us that wrong is right.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:35 am |
  13. Bob

    What the point in being upset by the film? It's not like these nuts will ever care. They blame jews for everything bad in their lives. I can't imagine anyone in these crowds having a rational discussion and proclaiming "this is not the jews fault".

    September 14, 2012 at 3:55 am |
  14. Rosann

    So some individul/s insulted their religion therefore it's ok for them to burn the Israeli and American flags! So is it ok for the Israelis and Americans to retaliate? How far should we go in an eye for ane eye or should it be an insult for and insult or a life for a life? All I'm saying is why don't we give peace a chance. I'm so fed up with all the sort of extremisms out there. For Christ sake you can't even name a teddy bear or draw a cartoon without that being a crime. I believe in freedom, of speech, religion, you name it but 1 is not free to be violent.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:55 am |
  15. Jane

    As a Jew I would not feel the least bit ashamed if the person who made this movie was Jewish. A French-African man recently made a movie ridiculing the Holocaust which was shown in Iran. The President of Iran holds Holocaust Cartoon contests. Black American Muslims from Malcolm X to Louis Farrakhan have been spewing anti-Jewish hate speech for 50+ years and are openly celebrated as \"civil rights\" leaders by blacks. Farrakhan is promoted by the NAACP, Tavis Smiley, Rusell Simmons, and thousands of black college groups. His hate newsletter is sold in mainstream bookstores and libraries.
    Are blacks and Muslims ashamed of this? Not at all, they are the ones promoting it!

    September 14, 2012 at 3:53 am |
    • Lenny

      Now go bring me some hummus biatch!

      September 14, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • Kane

      Your JEWISH background is no better. Your fundamentals are no better. Zionist Jews have killed more people per capita than Hitler. They have destroyed more building per capita than any other country in the world. Lets become Jewish and kill everyone. Hell, lets become Zionists and repeat the holocaust, only this time on the Arabs. Be quite, go make us a sandwich please. In the meantime, I will find a torah to make fun of. Religion is the source of all problems.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • Caarder

      But instead Israel get's huge amounts in aid and help in every possible way. We look away when you break conventional warfare rules when u fight the muzzies. And America fights your wars, and guess what...huge number of them soldiers are blacks, so I guess it kinda works out in the end right? Jews...always *itching about something.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • swipedcard

      First of all, it wasn't a Jew. That + "100 Jewish investors" was the perfect story to set the arab world aflame. The filmmaker is apparenlty a Coptic (Egyptian) Christian and he has helped from Terry Jones and the other militant fundamentalist Christians in publicizing the atrocious film.

      Second, the unfortunate movie topic aside, Jews (e.g. Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Mel Brooks ,Stanley Kubrick etc.) do not make such atrocious quality films. This was a cartoonish childish mockery of a film, and apparently it was the extended trailer with badly overdubbed anti-Islamic quote that got everyone riled up.

      Third, it's the radical fundamental Christians like Jones that are burning Qurans, posting negative cartoons, and feel a need to denigrate other religious beliefs even at the expense of others' safety, deaths, etc. Jews express political and other beefs, but you do not see them burning Qurans or senselessly stirring up religious hatred.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  16. David

    The idiots can't even make a proper replica of our flag.

    I bet all those who think Obama didn't apologize also think that these people aren't trying to burn a US flag though, because that is an exact version of our flag....

    September 14, 2012 at 3:47 am |
    • Lenny

      Could it because the flags were made in China?

      September 14, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • jenni

      Lenny's onto something.... The Chinese made this film. This explains everything!

      September 14, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  17. Fred

    What about the book "Why I left Jihad" It wasn't written by Zionist propaganda?

    September 14, 2012 at 3:45 am |
  18. Moses

    As a Hebrew, I am very ashamed that our people have made this film.

    Sam Bacil in the our world (Jewish) is an anagram for Cabalism. I can't and do not agree with the viewpoint of what this film represents. Alas, my people own nearly 78% of the world media...it is a shame that we grossly misused media and gave empowerment to a lunatic who went too far. Yes, we have had differences with Christians and Muslims but this is too much and for that I apologize.

    At any rate, Sam Bacil is Jewish...Anti Defamation is just trying to cover up the tracks.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • AZ

      Thanks for your politeness and well understanding! This is the way to go and should be followed by everyone has a dignity and respect of others.

      September 14, 2012 at 3:45 am |
    • ShannonInCT

      Moses, thanks for the trollish comment lending credence to the ADL's point.

      September 14, 2012 at 3:54 am |
    • SAWolf

      Dam n , you are so full of s–t.

      September 14, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • Patrick

      Thanks Moses, you're a good & decent Jewish fella! 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Art

      It's highly unlikely that you sir are a Jew. Clue: Jews do not refer to themselves as Hebrews, and where did you get that 78% of the world media is owned by Jews? This is pure nonsense that 100% of anti-semites believe in including fundamentalist Christians and Muslims alike. Here is another "fact" for you, 95% of statistics that people bring up in a conversation are dreamed up on the spot. Salam, Shalom, and Peace.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • Steve

      Moses is clearly not a jew, but pretending to be one to make other jews look bad. This film was 100% produced by Coptic Christans and they tried to throw the Jews under the bus for the making of the film. Nice try!

      September 14, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • Kane

      Jews don't refer to themselves as Hebrews or Shebrews. Regardless, I am surprised they were not involved. They have insulted that religion more than anyone else in existence in the past 50 years.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • Coptic Christian Smith

      As a Coptic Christian, I am very ashamed that our people made this film. More so that it doesn't even make any sense! I wish we had some Jewish filmmaking talent like Spielberg or Kubrick. ;-b

      September 14, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • janny

      Moses you are not a jew. How can you proof your citizenship. Making others look bad. Since you have apologised for the Film production also apologise for the killng of innocent people. Or is Steve part of the film crew. Lets be realistic. i dont like this tooth for tact. They should have allow the International community to bring this Bacile to book instead of killing innocent people faraway in Libya. I am sad to my belly.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • midgick

      He's not a Jew. He is a Coptic Christian. Get you damn fact straight.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:08 am |
    • Steve

      Moses, you have my respect sir.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  19. david

    As an aside, the "American flag" in the accompanying image is missing a few stars. If those geniuses have the intent of insulting our great nation, they're doing it wrong.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:28 am |
    • maria

      You're obvoiusly a bright bulb too.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • Kane

      ^^ haha what she said

      September 14, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • david

      Maria, if you have a point, please make it.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  20. rocinante

    Besides which, if it was really a $5 million dollar film with outside backing, it's the worst $5 million dollar film since Water World.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • David

      Well played

      September 14, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • Caarder

      the budget for Water World was 5 million? damn they failed hard...

      September 14, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • ShannonInCT

      Yeah, Waterworld cost $170 million to make (and did eventually make a profit).

      September 14, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • irishace11

      Wasn't as bad as The Doors, remember that one with Val Kilmer? They asked me to leave the theater because I couldn't stop laughing. Waterworld was Citizen Kane compared to The Doors.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:46 am |
    • janny

      What we need is peace, lets not aportion blames. Why should people die for things they know nothing about. The deaths of in Libya. which relgion supports killing of innocent people. Am tired of this religous sect. They are too violent. Is there no other way to show displeasure other than killing?. Peaceful demonstration other than blowing themselves up. I am against the film production, but because of the deaths, am indifferent. Since is LIFE for FILM.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:53 am |
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      September 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
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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.