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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Robert

      Obviously it doesn't since you troll by repeating it over and over again. If it really did you wouldn't have the need to constantly post it.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • awasis

      Your "record" is skipping. I pray that you change that.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • truth be told

      Do you understand the concept? Good now let the other 6.999 billion people learn. It has never been about you robert.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • just sayin

      Truth is never trolling and always welcomed by free thinkers. Prayer changes things. God bless

      September 14, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Keep Fear Alive

      Thanks for that! .. obviously prayer has done wonders... just look What Good Shape everything is in !!!..I still think the only appropriate way to find some closure with this is to take the film-maker, Nakoula Basseley and strap an I-PAD to his Back Playing his film while air-dropping him , by parachute into the angry crowd in Libya and then he can try and quell this anger himself by explaining why he thought his film was so classy, accurate and intelligent... or maybe they can just skin him alive and we won't have to worry about bomb-throwers like this anymore

      September 14, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  2. DDM

    Coptic Christian are in a minority in Egypt and are massively discriminated on, attacked, and frequently murdered by the majority muslims doing their Islamic duty to destroy others. Pity this Coptic Christian film maker with relatives in Egypt.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • awasis

      So inflame the situation so more Coptic Christians are killed. This guy cares nothing about his people, he only cares about his hate.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Prof Fitzwizzle


      So inflame the situation so more Coptic Christians are killed. This guy cares nothing about his people, he only cares about his hate.

      He tried to pass it off on Jews.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  3. awasis

    A Christian blaming the Jews again. Wake up Jews, the only reason that the Christian Right "supports" you is because they cling on this screwball notion that Israel needs to exist for Jesus to come back.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • icen_von


      September 14, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Timothy young

      Not TRUE Disciples of CHRIST love ISRAEL because GOD loves ISRAEL. I am black not Jewish but have The Holy Spirit of GOD living in me. Maybe you should ask GOD to reveal JESUS to you so that you may be saved from your sins??? Jews and CHRISTIANS who are disciples of CHRIST do not believe the same thing when it comes to who JESUS IS but the GOD we serve has spread love abroad in our heart and we love each other. I love the JEWISH people and this is why our faith in YAHWEH THE TRUE AND LIVING GOD KEEPS AMERICA AND ISRAEL FREE

      September 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  4. dmnewsi

    Interesting that Jewish groups are "angered" about being associated with the film but have not denounced the film. The film is trash. I tried to watch it on YouTube and was bored within 15 seconds.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Prof Fitzwizzle

      The film was trash.
      It was also truthfull.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  5. sanityguest

    why aren't we calling for the WSJ reporter to be summarily fired? he spread an out and out lie that fueled the fires that led to people being killed. after all, Dan Rather lost his job for reporting the truth, but he wasn't able to fully reveal his sources. oh wait, Rather offended the Bush administration, so it was ok to fire him.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  6. tony

    The subtle fact that came out of this was that Romney objected to the initial US response as apologizing to a religious outfit.

    That put Romney firmly in place FOR "the War on Religion" which the right is so loudly screaming about.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  7. k

    Christians have been committing crimes and then blaming the Jews for the last 1,000 years, I doubt it will stop now, in the past it was European Christians who did this, but now it was an Arab Christian

    September 14, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  8. Chicago Chris

    This isnt even a real american flag – look at the number of stars!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Kat

      Yeah, they only make those flags for burning. I think you get a free one when you buy 12 or something.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • icen_von

      it's enough for Obama to count and know just how many states are in the US 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  9. Yarfor the first donkey

    The lead should read.
    An Egyptian Coptic exile who made rhe inflammatory but accurate portrayal of Mohammed also years in both federal and state prison, claimed he was Israeli to deflect the shi7storm from his Coptic community, taking a page from manson's helter skelter, hoping to incite an ethnic and religious war.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • peaceandjust

      you are a hater and ignorant. our beloved prophet (Peace be upon him) taught us that if you see an ignorant person like you just say peace. so i won't even insult you or curse you... just peace be with you my ignorant hater.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • DDM

      Maybe he should not have said he was from ANY group at all! Hate to think what will happen to his Coptic relatives in Egypt now. They already have been bullied and murdered by muslim majority forever.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  10. Timothy young

    For all you who are mockers of the true and LIVING GOD this is the scripture that you need memorize REVELATION 20 verse 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
    14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
    All you mockers of GOD I love you and you still have time to repent and turn towards JESUS. Some of you this is CHRIST attempting for you to turn from your wicked ways before it is to late.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Chicago Chris

      Opiate of the masses.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • tony

      Revelations was "written" by an insane hermit on a greek island. Then only inserted in the bible by the order of corrupt human pope, decades, if not hundreds, of years later.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • tuvia suks

      "living god," Timmy? Where is he living? LA Beijing? Moscow, Islamabad? Where? Does he get mail regularly, or just recieves 'prayers.? You are spreading BS. There isn't such a being, or ALL of humanity would know of it.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Primewonk

      Thank you for the random, meaningless verses from your holy book. In the interest of fairness, here are some random verses from my holy book, the Primewonk Bible. I think my verses make a hell of a lot more sense than yours –

      ADVISORY: There is an Extremely Small but Nonzero Chance That, Through a Process Know as "Tunneling," This Post May Spontaneously Disappear from Its Present Location and Reappear at Any Random Place in the Universe, Including Your Neighbor's Domicile. God Will Not Be Responsible for Any Damages or Inconvenience That May Result.

      PUBLIC NOTICE AS REQUIRED BY LAW: Any Use of This Post, in Any Manner Whatsoever, Will Increase the Amount of Disorder in the Universe. Although No Liability Is Implied Herein, the Believer Is Warned That This Process Will Ultimately Lead to the Heat Death of the Universe.

      Einstein 16:24 Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

      Gould 1:15-16 Human consciousness arose but a minute before midnight on the geological clock. Yet we mayflies try to bend an ancient world to our purposes, ignorant perhaps of the messages buried in its long history. Let us hope that we are still in the early morning of our April day.

      Bohr 2:11 Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.

      Szilard 88:16 I'm all in favor of the democratic principle that one idiot is as good as one genius, but I draw the line when someone takes the next step and concludes that two idiots are better than one genius.

      Sagan 22:1 For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reàssuring.

      Feynman 110:55 …it doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are - if it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.

      Hawking 41:61 A machine that was powerful enough to accelerate particles to the grand unification energy would have to be as big as the Solar System-and would be unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate.

      Hippocrates 14:5 Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance.

      Galileo 12:16 It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved

      Carlyle 2:2 It is a mathematical fact that the casting of this pebble from my hand alters the centre of gravity of the universe.

      Fermi 1:1 The weak nuclear force does not change over time.

      Oliver Heaviside 62:3 Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion?

      C. P. Snow 5:3 Innocence about Science is the worst crime today.

      Paul Valéry 3:6 One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when everyone sees that it doesn't fall.

      A.C. Doyle 14:8 It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.

      Clark 19:17 Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

      Roddenberry 68:12 We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.

      deGràsse Tyson 1:1 God is an ever receeding pocket of scientific ignorance.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      @primewonk......thank you, I can take a breather now, thanks for the sanity.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Prof Fitzwizzle

      If you have to quote scripture,
      it means you dont have an independent thought in your head.
      Repeat after me......
      Repeat after me......
      Repeat after me........

      September 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  11. Steve

    Not sure why the comments here have focussed on whether the film, itself, is an exercise of freedom of speech. The article talks about whether investigative news reporting is dead and whether major, international news organizations merely post whatever rumors they hear rather than first try to investigate and verify stories. I'm eager to hear what folks have to say about that topic and the responsibility of news outlets who have the public's attention to report accurately and responsibly.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  12. open400

    It would not suprise me if we found out that Romney and/or Israel is not behind this. After all, Romney has just about decleared the Israel is not our 51st state.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  13. Keep Fear Alive

    I think the only appropriate way to find some closure with this is to take the film-maker, Nakoula Basseley and strap an I-PAD to his Back Playing his film while air-dropping him , by parachute into the angry crowd in Libya and then he can try and quell this anger himself by explaining why he thought his film was so classy, accurate and intelligent... or maybe they can just skin him alive and we won't have to worry about bomb-throwers like this anymore...

    September 14, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Carl

      I do not care if you are a man.

      MARRY ME !!!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  14. lindy5576

    In the rush to blame someone the press has done more damage.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  15. John

    The masters of deception are appalled at deception, it doesn't get better than that

    September 14, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • lindy5576

      The masters of deception are appalled at deception
      You are part of the problem with your hate and lies!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • John Smith

      Touche'. What do they say about karma being a b–ch? What goes around eventually comes around – one way or another. Israel has bullied its neighbors, and then run and hid behind our American skirts whenever the kitchen they set fire to got too hot. We are tired of sinking our blood and treasure into this bottomless hole. Enough is enough.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  16. adam

    Unfortunately for the Jews, there was a precedent of a Jew by the name of Sheldon Adelson, who financed and distributed an anti-Moslem, anti-Arab DVD all based on lies in 2004, during Bush's re-election cycle.


    September 14, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  17. Doc Vestibule


    September 14, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  18. American Democrats

    It still cracks me up that there are more Atheist on the belief blog than anyone else. Wanna keep an Atheist busy? Just put up a sign that says God on it. It's like turning on a light outdoors at night. The bugs can't resist it. It immobilizes the Atheist. Too funny.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • tony

      That's because there are more babies born as atheists, than there there are born to any other religion. All to zero actually.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Prof Fitzwizzle

      I will take an athiest any day of the week,
      and twice on Sundays.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  19. Yarfor the first donkey

    I can see buck tooth lateef right now , I fine fellow, kiss as5 a little longer and they'll let you spew on camera

    September 14, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  20. Kdawg

    I know this can't be true. I've seen the 14 minute video on youtube. 100 Jews would have made a far better film =)

    September 14, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Slingblade is a 5m budget, this ben hur thriller cost 60k, its all blue screen, lol, the feet float above the sand, except me, Hee haw, I was real, mohammed need a stool to kiss my anu5

      September 14, 2012 at 10:29 am |
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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.