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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. Michael

    We need to just let the Jews and Muslims go at each other on their own terms. We don't need to support Israel. And did anyone notice how the Jews are now trying to portray themselves as victims in this? Typical....get over yourselves.....all of you, both Muslim and Jew

    September 14, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Prof Fitzwizzle

      Jews are now trying to portray themselves as victims in this?

      They are the victims here,
      they didnt make the film.
      You stupid much ?

      September 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  2. zap

    I know several coptic xtians here in the US and they are rabid anti-muslim. Seems to me to be just another extreme view. This particular guy Nakoula appears to be clueless.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  3. Yarfor the first donkey

    UT Austin evacuated , monkey bomb threat.....this is getting interesting . Maybe bonobo can be beaten?

    September 14, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • An inquiring mind wants to know

      @first donkey
      I as*sume that your claim of first donkey is not literal but honorary as being the favorite donkey of jesus. My question , when jesus mou*nted you for a ride was it always side saddle or from time to time did he mo*unt you from the rear?

      September 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  4. Mark

    I've said it once and will say it again... Religion is a disease and ignorant people catch it.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      If you have to repeat your assertion to get attention, you probably have no point.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Just a John

      @Biilly D
      C'mon Bill, the whole blog wants to know...Do you make your daily bread by shearing the sheepies? You are a deacon for cash are you not?

      September 14, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • tuvia suks

      @ Bill D. You made a point in your post? You post no FACTS, just your opinion. Your babblebook is not proof of anything, but mythology, very little historical fac, and much violence and mayhem..

      September 14, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Deacons in the Catholic Church as in most denominations are volunteers who work without pay,in fact, donating or tiithing as well as volunteering. I respect them deeply. Just addressing your ignorance.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Just a John

      @Billy D.
      You say you are not into religion to make a buck? The vicar of christ would not be amused, it is all about oppulence and cash flow. If a church doesn't bring in the sheepies and their cash, they are closed down. Anyway Bill, my mission is to try and get you pis*sed off, I hope you are. If you do follow the example of jesus, love, charity and poverty (so many don"t) you should be beatified. I mean even Teresa was al about getting a few more dollars untill she got pis*sed off with the whole big business of religion; oh also she liked the limeligfht.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • tuvia suks

      Hey, Billy D. Are you going to answer my post, or are you going to overlook it? What points do you make, or do you just post your "opinion," with out FACTS?,

      September 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  5. Tar de Moutonnoir

    What a surprise that the Zionist lobby with the usual help of CNN would seek to turn this into an issue about Jewish victimization – disgraceful!

    September 14, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      P1ss be upon you

      September 14, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Greg

      Why is it OK for Muslims to hate Jews and Americans, but not vice versa? Who cares if someone says something you dont agree with? Live your lives and move on. The Middle East needs to focus on helping it's people and stop claiming to being victims. The coutnries of the Arab world control the most powerful natural resource in the world, yet somehow all fall below the poverty line and cant seem to advance past being a third world country...why not take a look at the leadership in your own countries and blame them for your ills, not just others, like the entire Western world and Jews. Sounds an awful lot like what the Third Reich did....blame the one group that everyone continues to hate and blame them for all the ills of the world. Then go around killing people indiscriminately. 2012 guys, not 1012. Israel is the smallest sliver of land in the Middle East, yet somehow it turned into a Superpower sans oil.....typical that now that it's turned into something, everyone wants it back.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Monty Python

      I fart in your general direction.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  6. Jack 3

    Whether this was right or wrong or offende the muslims should make no difference. it's no reason to kill someone. they are much worse than the guy who made the film. he didn't kill anyone for a rediculous reason. muslims are just underlining the very reason why we don't want their religion here...violence.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • cc

      You are correct on there is no place for violence.

      The movie was meant to destabilize the Arab and US relation. Maker of the movie targeted and expected this kind of action from the Arab world. People here in the US seem to hide behind the amendments, but there are limits even in amendments if you read them carefully.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Dumphuk

      The movie was meant to destabilize the Arab and US relation

      Romney paid for this film

      September 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  7. Tar de Moutonnoir

    Stop hiding behind freedom of speech and using this crisis as an excuse for yet more islamomophobia. All these people in all of these countries are angry for a reason, you can't expect them to apply your principles as though they are superior – talk about "othering." God you people are ignorant. The U.S doesn't permit criticism of the official Holocaust narrative and have targeted (and continue to target) Muslims who support legitimate resistance to Israel yet you want to teach everyone about freedom of speech?? All freedoms have limits, just like in the U.S you can't incite to violence. Open you minds and try to actually understand things instead of beginning with a conclusion and then going and cherry-picking information that validates your pre-determinations.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Roberto

      Tar de Moutonnoir, denying the Holocaust is not a crime in America. And we in the USA have the right to criticize Islam. Take away Freedom of Speech, you will only get more resentment and violence.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Denying the holocaust is a mental illness. Anyone that can't seet Jews being scapegoated for 3 days mercilessly is intellectually dishonest or simply evil.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Frankf

      what the US encourages is a healthy dialog between people of different beliefs no matter what the belief. Respectfully and without violence to those who raise the issues peacefully. People who are afraid of dialog are afraid of the truth whether from the right or the the left. But that doesn't mean that people who incite violence shouldn't be dealt with. Personally i believe that the people who made the film did just that- they didn't want a healthy dialog they wanted this violence so that the result would be cruise missiles aimed at Libya and Egypt.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • cc

      I disagree Roberto.... Freedom of speech will be taken away when one incites violence, so when we have this wonderful freedom of speech weapon, does not mean we can use it however we want.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Feed Your Head

      legitimate resistance to Israel.

      WW1.
      The Ottoman Empire chose the wrong side and lost.
      The British now own palestine.
      The British send the problem to the UN, who decides (by popular vote)
      to give both the Jews, and the Arabs a state.
      The Jews say yes, The Arabs say no.
      Arans attack Israel and lose.
      Spoils of war.
      You own NOTHING.
      It is NOT your land.
      Make peace and get a state.
      Make war and die.

      END OF STORY.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  8. Mickey1313

    The jews are just mad because they got caught helping inflame anti islamic thoughts. They are guilty. People need to stop believing and listening to zionists, they are the root of much evil.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Roberto

      Last time I checked it was muslims mobs and terrorists that killed those Americans. It was also Muslims killing each other in Syria. I think the problem has more to do with Jihadists than Zionists.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Frankf

      except the fact is its not the Jews who did this. Jews respect other people's religions even Zionist. They don't like however people who want to kill them because they are Jews. We have been the Holocaust. A lot of others were also targeted there too. The film is reprehensible and the people who paid for it should be tried for manslaughter but not because of what they said because they knew the outcome would be people dieing.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      PPpppsssttt,

      Hey Mikey.
      You just lied.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Steve

    How many films or books are made putting down the Jesus concept? saying he's not the one savior or the son of God. We don't go around killing for it. We have lived for centuries with different religions around the world, now it seems one can't tollerate the other. Why? You know why.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Inquisition.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  10. David

    I think the movie was only the trigger.
    We're paying again a heavy price for our blind support to Israel.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Roscoe Chait

      This has nothing to do with the Jews.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Sockness Monster

      I am not blind.
      And i dont turn my back on a friend.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  11. YC

    Nothing changed for the past 2000 years, always blame the jews to all ills of the world. It does not take much to incite the masses of illiterate stone age societies.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Roscoe Chait

      And if there were no Jews, they would find somebody else to blame for their problems.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  12. icen_von

    Not a fan of Sarah Palin, but Drill Baby Drill. Stop buying fuel from the Mid East and stop sending aid. Do you know these people attack us with our own money? STOP DEPENDENCY ON FOREIGN FULE NOW!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Keystone could solve that, if. Your guy wins make him do it, bongo the can kicker

      September 14, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Drill baby drill.
      And the oil goes on the international market for sale.
      It doesnt help America, but it does make the Republican oil machine richer.
      Google is your friend, try it.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Crash Bang Wallop

      Every state the Keystone pipeline is to run through,
      is governed by a Republican.
      NONE of them want this in thier state.
      Makes you wonder, dont it ?

      September 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  13. Aof_

    Hey, I gave 20 bucks to a Jew a little while ago. Maybe he'll use it to make a film on his teeth since none of them would ever portray Muslims in a stereotypical and bigoted way. *cough*Hollywood*cough*

    September 14, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • bob

      Yeah it changes the mind of the prayer to be more ignorant

      btw dont you post this on every article everyday ? maybe u should go out and get some sunlight

      September 14, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Robert

      If it really did you wouldn't have the need to constantly troll on this blog and need to re-post it.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  15. hitchensrotsinhell

    the first one was a lie, but the second one is true. riiiiiight.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  16. hitchensrotsinhell

    we believe you, CNN and the z i o n i s t s. seriously.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Pi5s be upon you............

      September 14, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  17. Cronus

    No defense for the freedom of speech in these blogs I take it. Oh maybe its because they are afraid of the Islamic reaction so what do many on the atheist Left do bash Christianity. Such courage. They know Christians are not going to blow them up. This movie may have been ill-advised, but it his was still his right to make it. No other religion gets all worked up over films, art ect. that bash their faith so people need to quit lumping all religions into one. By the way atheists are not without sin, seculat atheist governments have killed more people through war and internal persecution than any religion. Read your history.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  18. Sam

    The makers of the film chose to lie through their teeth about who they are. If I told the press that I am Sam the Jew and I have a real-life pet dinosaur, I would expect the press to try to first debunk my claim about the dinosaur, not my claim that I am Sam the Jew.

    The filmmakers deliberately attempted to use the Jewish people as a shield, with the added bonus of causing anti-Semitic incidents for enhanced effect. This betrays the contempt and disregard for Jews held by the kinds of extreme Christians who claim to support Israel.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Shirley M.

      I agree Sam. We have gotten in bed with fundamentalist Christians who simply want to ally with us in order to fulfill their fantasy of the "end of times". For that to happen, of course, there must be war and mayhem in that region, and they care very little about who that will impact, since it is halfway across the planet to them.

      It is time for us to get OUT of bed with these two-faced Christian religious fanatics.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Coptic helter skelter

      September 14, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      @shirley, coptics are not fundamentalist, as I recall they don't subscribe to vrigin birth, their here Athehnaeus? I read in gibbon decline and fall, fascinating, they battled Constantine's guy at Cyprus council in 300 something ad and split from Rome, but they're not any Christian you'd recognize from an American congregation, totally different, and goals totally different, but after Sams screwup they're gonna need protection because without mubarrek 20k will be beaten with clubs and torched by next month, the intro to the film is totally accurate

      September 14, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  19. Ztom

    Coptics are big into mysticism (magic). Not really mainstream. Not sure if any Christian leaders here will really admit to them being Christians.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • mike

      wrong

      September 14, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  20. Yarfor the first donkey

    As Clint said o is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people and I say Islam is the most dangerous hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. Hee haw and pis5 be upon you

    September 14, 2012 at 10:48 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.