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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. Yarfor the first donkey

    There's some section 8 quiada types up the hill from me, yabadabadabadabado grateful to live with only a handful, imagine even 10 percent monkeys, can ruin a country

    September 14, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  2. Michael Olenick

    In the tenth paragraph Lateef gets to the point: it was an Arab Christian who put this movie together. Arab. Christian. Who then attributed it to Jews. The only thing Jews had to do with this film - despite lots of "analysis" blaming "right-wing Zionists" for it - is that they were blamed for making it.

    Suggested revised first paragraph: "Now that US law enforcement has positively identified an Egyptian Christian created the film that sparked protests and murders, not Israeli-American Jews as was initially reported, Jewish groups are livid over initial reports blaming the movie on Israeli-American's."

    September 14, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • common cents

      yeah and imagine what will happen to Coptic's in Egypt should the Egyptians get wind of it.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  3. Timothy young

    Jesus Shuttlesworth it okay GOD has a place for you and on JUDGEMENT day because you are useing JESUS name in the BLOG as mocking GOD you are special.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And Odin has a special place for you in Valhalla should He judge that you died gloriously.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • common cents

      I doubt it Timothy since you have judged him already .. 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • tuvia suks

      Are you sure about that Timmy? Your god is about as powerful as a fart in a wet bathing suit. All stink and no go.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Jesus

      @Timmy
      Slow down a little you are praying so fast I can't keep up. How did you work yourself into such a state of ecstasy just prayer or are you listening to Elvis gospel music while spa*nking the monkey?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Papa Smurf

      Where would you like me to stick these Smurfberries ?

      September 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  4. Doc Vestibule

    Hundreds of protesters angry over thisfilm climbed up the wall of the American embassy in downtown Cairo, entered the grounds, pulled down the American flag and replaced it with a black, Islamist banner.
    The Muslim Brotherhood, of which Egypt's new president is a member, has been encouraging people to commit such acts of violent protest with one hand while trying to appease the Americans with the other over Twitter
    •Brotherhood's tweet in Arabic: "Egyptians rise to defend the prophet."
    •Brotherhood's tweet in English: "We r relieved none of @USEmbassyCairo staff were harmed & hope US-Eg relations will sustain turbulence of Tuesday's events"
    •US response to the latter: "Thanks. By the way, have you checked out your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too."

    September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  5. Yarfor the first donkey

    "so 2 chinamen and Mohammed walked into this bar........."

    September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • tuvia suks

      ...and the chinamen ordered tea and Mohmmad ordered a little boy.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      We make a fantastic team

      September 14, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  6. Reflecting Pool

    The U.S. media has an extensive, dark history of such irresponsible duplicity: Uncritical publications of false claims and doctored videos by fanatic Tea Party zealots; Uncritical publications of Iraq WMD Bush claims despite the fact on-the-scene UN arms experts were adamantly denying the existence of any evidence to support the claim; Uncritical continuous publications and dissemination of fanatic 'birther' claims without any attempt to fact-check the claims.

    Just because someone states something as a dead-certain categorical 'fact' does not mean the media is obliged to repeat it and widely disseminate it. And inserting a passing comment that "the claims could not be verified" prior to publication does not excupate the media or change the fact they are helping a con artist defraud the public. If an important, potentially damaging claim cannot be verified or authenticated, it should not be published and disseminated until it can be authenticated with convincing, competent evidence. The only exception would be if they are reporting on the 'fraud' itself, in order to disclose the fraud attempt as fraudulent. But even in that case, it should not be published unless and until it can authenticate that claim of fraud with competent evidence.

    The U.S. Media as it is today, is not contrained by any ethos, common sense or notion of integrity. It's all ego-driven and money-driven, like so many other sociopathic, unconscionable corporate mentalities.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  7. Jake

    When dealing with the reality of Muslim outrage regarding perceived ridiculing of their prophet by the collective Amerca, we need to be smart. Why not show the Muslim world our movie Religulous which pokes fun at the Christian prophet Jesus? If we demonstrate to them that free speech is an equal opportunity offender, they are likely to take this film less personally. Propaganda is a battle we wage poorly, but should invest in with the same energy we invest in physical weapons, because propaganda, just like missiles, when used tactically, can keep our country safer.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Reflecting Pool

      Jake, the focus of THIS article is on the media helping a shyster defraud its readers by irresponsibly disseminating unverifiable, unsubstantiated 'false' claims.

      When the U.S. media is this easily duped (and it always is), it becomes part of the propaganda machine that seeks to defraud readers for the purpose of manipulating public opinion. The media becomes complicit in that fraud – an indispensible instrumentality of any fraud that any malicious, malevolent idiot cares to perpetrate against the public.

      When the U.S. Media continuously does this it insults its readers and completely trashes its own integrity and reputation as a "news" organization. There MUST BE dire consequences for media outlets that consistently lend themselves to such manipulation and dupery.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  8. johnquepublique

    Who do I talk to about getting the flag concession in thes countries? A guy could make a fortune.... Hey, OBAMINATION...howz that diplomacy thingy workin' for ya'? Load the guns...fire another couple billion at 'em!!!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  9. NorCalMojo

    Pretty weak.

    If the freedom of expression upsets them, maybe they should move somewhere else.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • rafael

      You seem confused.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  10. Demo Joseph

    Great now the Jews are mad. NOW MAYBE the likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Backman, RUSH Limbo, FOX News, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and all the folks who speak all this HATE will shout the hell up. This may be a free Country but the words YOU PEOPLE are speaking about out our President and the other people trying to keep this mess in the middle from overflowing again are the ones who are getting HURT. SPEAK UP AMERICANS and shut this people up be it is to late.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • American Democrats

      None of the people listed are responsible for reporting that Jews were responsible for the film. But CNN did. It headlined, "New details emerge of anti-islam film's mystery producer". And...the article is still on CNN's site. But kudos to you for using this for a political spew oppurtunity.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Steve

      Thank you for telling it like it is. There is a consequence to the right wing tea party constant barrage of propaganda and in this case it is costing lives and could even start a major war, but you and I will just get hate replies and cries of "free speech!" for pointing it out, because that is the mentality of those that spread it.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  11. Tell the TRUTH

    "great religions of the world are stronger than any insults"
    IF you cannot stand the criticism that is the BEST PROOF that you are standing on LIE.
    Christians do not behave the same way a muslim does because a Christian know that he/she is STANDING ON TRUTH.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • tony

      Christians know nothing of the kind. Just a similar unfounded belief given to them as small children.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • GlendaK

      Christians here don't mob against their enemies because they know they'll go to jail for it. That's the only difference. In places where they have the sympathy of the Law Christians get away with breaking it. Our city ordinance where I live has a volume restriction on outdoor events, but the outdoor Christian concerts and revivals routinely violate it without any fear of getting ticketed.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • rafael

      War on Christmas, anyone?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  12. Yarfor the first donkey

    You'd have to have seen the video to know who i am! Hee haw, Mohammed climbing a stool to reach my anu5

    September 14, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Stuck in the middle

      Well the Republicans finally got what they wanted. WWIII based upon religous ideology. What a$$H0le$

      September 14, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  13. Dan

    Judging by the quality of clips on youtube, the movie could have been financed by a third grader willing to part with his milk money.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      60k and that's an outrage! Love Jewish humor

      September 14, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  14. Yarfor the first donkey

    Thank you lateef. Glad CNN put you on this important story. Hee haw and pis5 be upon you

    September 14, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  15. Timothy young

    My Father in Heaven and my Lord and savior JESUS CHRIST. The Kingdom of GOD can not be built on violence. I am talking to believers who are filled with the Spirit OF GOD called the HOLY SPIRIT. The Bible has told us this time will come. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
    John 10 verse 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come (JESUS) that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
    The violence going on is the satan himself. PRAY without ceasing and JESUS will help you. GOD BLESS all the saints and GOD BLESS AMERICA

    September 14, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Jesus Shuttlesworth

      shut up

      September 14, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Obama too

      are you running for President too ?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • tony

      Go and part the Gulf of Mexico.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Oki Farmer

      @tim
      We have got ourselves a serious drought here, very serious. So if you are going to pray for anything, you jjeessuuss freaking aszhole, pray for rain. Praying to your jjeessuuss to stop violence has never worked, so don't bother. Please disregard if your nutbar post was sarcasim.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • tuvia suks

      Antoher one whose "living god" stands by and doesn't do anything. Where is your god when called upon? Pathetic beliefs.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Durundal

      You are one scary dude

      September 14, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Prof Fitzwizzle

      My god smacks your god.
      I win.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  16. randel

    Why is anybody apologizing for a film that 6 people world wide have actually seen? We in the west have freedom of speech (something no one from any islamic state would understand, cause it doesn't exist in their world). My only beef is the false flag of blaming Jews, knowing full well the "civilized" folks of the islamic world would eat that crap up. Why is it people that have no problem murdering anyone who isn't one of them (and even that rule doesn't hold, see Syria, Afganland) feel us kaffirs owe them anything.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Why??????

      Ummmmm....Are you aware that keffir is a racial slur against South African Blacks?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Kefir is that's disgusting yoghurt drink. Hee haw

      September 14, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • common cents

      I agree, but there is a reason why people are running around crying and killing other people in a rampage over their religion...it is because their faith in their religion is very fragile...that being the case because their religion is false .. a lie ...and deep down they know it.. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Actually

      A Kaffir is a term used by Muslims to describe non Muslims...Still derogatory none the least. But relevant to the mans statement..

      September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  17. Mike D.

    This is not about a film! It is coordinated and the fact it started September 11th is not a coincidence. The media and the current administration and other apologists know this. Stop blaming a film for the violent, self-righteous beliefs of those who wish to destroy the freedoms of others. This is not about blasphemy, it's about control.

    Cut off their aid. Pull our people from the middle east. Demand we buy our oil from stable nations or from ourselves. Don't accept what you are told from media as truth, question everything. You have the power to vote out the people who are making us weaker, do it.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Dave

      This film was financed and planned by right wing republicans to stir up trouble before the election!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Mike D.
      Their "aid" will not be cut off becuase it is far too profitable for US corporate interests.
      Yes Mike, question everything – including the ways in which the World Bank and IMF work to capitalize on countries' tragedies for the benefit of corporations.
      And where else will you get the oil?
      The next best source, though still inferior in terms of volume, is South America – a region rife with corrupt governments.
      But the US has never had a problem maintining friendly relations with despotic regimes, so long as they keep the oil coming. For 50 years, America has used every tactic in the book to get a stranglehold on South America's oil. Coups have been funded, terrorist groups trained and armed, the US army has invaded various nations – but the most effective tactic thus far has been to wait until a given country is in need of assistance, then force them to privatize all of their national resources to pay for said assistance.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Jenny

      Blasphemy IS about control.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  18. Franky

    You know what's funny being atheist and agnostic no one ever can offend your religion or your god!!!

    September 14, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • David

      Are athiest and agnostics the ones that are always crying about the word God on things and people praying (which is a form of self expression) in public? Just another minority trying to claim superiority!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @David
      You can go ahead and pray in public. Heck – pray like the flagellants did and whip your back with a cat-o-nine tails for all we care.
      Just don't legislate your faith into law and try to force everyone else to pray along with you.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • common cents

      @ David...ever heard about praying in public to be seen of men.... Jesus saying, you have your reward... which is ....you was seen praying in public .. 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • tony

      @David. Not crying, just objecting. Without crazies like you, children could grow up honestly and rationally, keeping the atheism they were born with.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Jenny

      I'm offended by the lies creationists tell about evolution, but never enough to do anything more than just correct them.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Prof Fitzwizzle

      David

      Are athiest and agnostics the ones that are always crying about the word God on things and people praying (which is a form of self expression) in public? Just another minority trying to claim superiority!

      Jesus wasnt too happy about people praying in public.
      Maybe you should be more like Jesus and keep it to yourself.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  19. dnokc

    Islamic countries understand tough love. They do not comprehend liberal love. Notice they are attacking American Embassies, there is a reason for that.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • common cents

      Which is?? 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • tuvia suks

      Yes, tough love, 5,56 mm from a SAW.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  20. more2bits

    The consulate attacks are trivial compared to the physical attacks which will take place following Israel nuking of Iran within months. So Jewish groups shouldn't complain.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      God I hope so

      September 14, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • common cents

      Are you so sure of that? 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Prof Fitzwizzle

      Ten bucks on Israel.
      Money well spent.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
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About this blog

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.