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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. Christianity source of Christianfilthyracism.

    Only by Christianity absurdity of a Christian, Christian and pagan. Filthy Christian Captain Crunch dog. Filthy pagan islam pig dog. Filthy Randy Jackson dog. Filthy hebrew national pig dog. no dogs! who let them be out? Quran means nothing else but path of triple abdullah absolute quantified. please visit ahmadinebinpaid.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file. But turn virus protection off before.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Did you just insult captain crunch ?
      Count Chocula is looking for you.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  2. asdf

    Well when people expect their news to be free is it really surprising its any higher quality than bloggers gossiping? So much for crowd sourcing replacing real journalism.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  3. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    There is always a hindu Jew' filthy self centered behind every incident of hinduism, criminality by his hindu gentile, terrorist slave follower of hindu mithra ism, pagan savior ism Christian. To know causes of mayhem among humanity, handy work of hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, denier of truth absolute and thir hinduism, fabrication, hindu Mithra ism pagan savior ism, labeled as Christianity, please visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  4. FA

    Respect the other people so they can respect you!! If you think you are super power and can do what you ever you want, sure there is nothing for free, everything has a price.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  5. Mark Turner

    I made a mistake, I meant slavery was important in the context of Mohammed and Moses'.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Justified of hindu's, criminals, They deserved what they they were used to do to other's. To know causes of mayhem among humanity, handy work of hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, denier of truth absolute and thir hinduism, fabrication, hindu Mithra ism pagan savior ism, labeled as Christianity, please visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Mark Turner

      I made a mistake, I meant slavery was important in the context of Mohammed and Moses'.

      And Republicans.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  6. ug

    Just liberal lies...

    September 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      ug

      Just liberal lies...

      We had the best teachers...................Republicans.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  7. Sy2502

    This whole incident has really driven home for me the complete hypocrisy of American Christians. So let's see, a video specifically designed to deeply offend a religion and stir up violence in already violent people is just freedom of speech (and a good one at that, since Christians dislike Muslims anyway). But an atheist billboard that says "God doesn't exist" is vitriolic atheist hate, war on religion, and a whole lot of other nasty stuff? You guys are grotesque.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's evolved Son

      Generalize much?

      September 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  8. Betty Burke

    If I were to guess, I'd say the same billionaires who support Obama haters, c-pacs and the birther movement. If they can throw money after lying ads to steal the election, they are certainly not beyond this.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  9. Matty13

    This film should be at the Cannes Film Festival, just like Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911. It purposely degrades a person, it is all lies, and it motivates insance people. Meets all the requirements for a big award.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Everything in Michael Moores movie was true.
      Republicans dont like truth.
      They see thier ugly side in the mirror.

      September 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  10. dm

    @zahid – no, you don't make videos, you just show the world how to stone a woman to death, how to behead innocent men and women of the western world, should I go on??? C'om Muslims hate all people that are non-believers. Let's not fool ourselves. It doesn't matter if you were born in America or if you became a citizen here – the truth is Islam is all about world domination. I say it again, take a look at what's happening to Europe with over 50 million muslims.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • TomNPitt

      Hard to believe they hate Christians as much as you appear to hate Muslims.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  11. Kevin B

    What seems to be made evident in all this is the vastness of impetuous reaction that deeply ingrained religious belief can foster. True or untrue, these beliefs are but ideas, mental images and doctrines that boil down to words. In the context of the 1st Amendment, we Americans see that, and condemn the resulting violent acts as being a foolish and excessive response. However, GW Bush and Dick Cheney, put forth with far greater backing and orchestration, their own set of mental illusions toward getting us to all buy off on Saddam’s WMD for the sake of killing him and piles of other Iraqis. We too rushed to judge, and on the power of our own beliefs, we went to war. The Muslims believe in Mohamad, we believed in our President. Neither of us verified the truth. Both of us have killed others as a result. The common link being human emotion and the power of lies. 1st Amendment or not, those who knowingly and deliberately propagate lies for the sake of their own self serving agendas, should be held to account. Our 21st century global communication technologies demand that accountability in a way that has not previously been necessary. Things are different now, we need to adjust.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • pwinwilliams4439

      exceptionally well said. what a shame more people do not use their brains.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  12. tjp44

    Freedom of Speech...something the muslims are not familiar with....let them burn down their entire cities if they want...if they had any stones, they would come over here and fight...bring it on losers

    September 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • ieat

      People have already died over this, including an American Ambassador. What makes you think this is going to be limited to their own cities.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Mehdi

      This is just the beginning of something that must come to a head sooner or later. Might as well be now.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  13. riabm60

    Then these Jewish groups should do something about it, sent in the Mossad and prosecute the Jewish nut job who started all this mess. Bring him back to Israel, we do not need him here in the US.
    Strip him from his American passport, lets get rid of him and the other 2 people involved in making this 5 million dollar dump and insensitive movie.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • ME II

      Ummm... he isn't Jewish.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • mklsgl

      Don't you get it? There were NO JEWS (American or Israeli) involved at all with this film. A Coptic Christian from Egypt made the film and hired a Fundamentalist Christian-American to be his spokesman.

      I feel your anger but it's misdirected.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Your brain just unzipped itself.
      It was empty.

      September 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  14. TomNPitt

    I'm wondering who really created this situation. Whose side are they on? Someone out of the clear blue, creates a highly critical movie of a national religious subject, that flies in the face of that etire civilization; and then blames the Jews for financing it. Sounds like a scenario Charlie Manson would create. Helter Skelter! The Muslims are furious and they have plenty of targets to vent their frustration and anger on. Where's this guy who made the movie? If he believes so much in free speech, come out and face your critics. They want to express their freedom of speech as well!!

    September 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • dm

      This wasn't about a low-budget video, it was about attacking Americans on 9/11. Period.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  15. Scotchguard

    I believe the Jews are quite right to be concerned. It looks like they had nothing to do with the film, but the responsibility was shifted to them (falsely) by those who produced it. This falsehood has created a potentially dangerous situation for Israel. The media reported things as they got news of them and did not really investigate all the facts fully before reporting. So I think the Jews were right to point this out. They have been put in a precarious position through no fault of their own.

    And JewDo, you are as antisemitic as anyone I've ever seen. You're taking your own personal experience with one or more Jews and using it to generalize to ALL the Jews. This is a very immature approach to life.

    For the Republicans who have castigated Obama for "apologizing and not standing up for American values" I wonder when it became an American "value" to endorse hate speech? Free speech is a right that, like all other rights we have, needs to be used with wisdom and responsibility. Obama approached the situation correctly - condemn the attacks AND the ridiculous video. Had GW Bush approached the Middle East with the wisdom Obama has used, I doubt we'd be dealing with this level of anger against America. Romney is another one who would simply stir up anger in the Muslim world. You can't treat people with arrogance and condescension then expect them to treat your country with respect and civility. It doesn't work that way. We are reaping the sad benefits of 8 years of Republican disrespect of the Arab world.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • dm

      Don't you get it? This video wasn't lying about the religion or the facts – Mohammad youngest bride was only 6 years old!! He ran around killing innocent people if they didn't convert. I watched the video and it was quite funny.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  16. cnnlicksit

    Any time the Jewish are at fault, its always anti-semitic to say so.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • ME II

      Any time you blame a group for the actions of a few, it is generally wrong.
      If that group is Semitic, then it would be considered anti-Semitic, yes.

      The problem is blaming an entire group, not the labeling of a faulty generalization.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Michael Miguel

      IT WAS NOT AN AMERICAN AND IT WAS NOT AN ISRAELI THE MOVIE WAS MADE BY AN EGYPTIAN.

      Nakoula Basseley Nakoula
      According to law-enforcement officials on Thursday, Nakoula has been confirmed as the writer and director of Innocence of Muslims. Tracked down Wednesday at his Los Angeles–area home by the Associated Press, the man identified himself as Nakoula Nakoula. When the Associated Press asked to see his driver’s license for confirmation, Nakoula held his thumb over his middle name, Basseley — phonetically similar to the Bacile pseudonym.
      During the interview, Nakoula denied having any connection to or even knowing Bacile, explaining instead that he only managed logistics for the film. But the Associated Press discovered that the cell-phone number used by the man who identified himself as Bacile to the press is registered to the same address where a reporter found Nakoula. His other aliases, according to federal court papers, include Nicola Bacily and Erwin Salameh.

      Nakoula has a checkered history with the law. According to federal attorneys, he was involved in a fraud scheme in which he would set up fake bank accounts using stolen Social Security numbers. He would then withdraw money from the accounts and relocate it to other bogus accounts.

      In 2010 he was charged with bank fraud, to which he pleaded no contest and was ordered to pay $790,000. He was sentenced to 21 months in a federal prison and banned from using computers or the Internet for five years.

      An actress from Bakersfield, Calif., who had a small role in the film, Cindy Lee Garcia said that she did meet Nakoula, the alleged director, on set; Nakoula said he was Egyptian, not Israeli. The white-haired man spoke Arabic to several others associated with the production.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  17. The Prophet's Beard on Fire

    This movie was lame. I got away with much more

    September 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  18. Eddie

    Liberals by nature are anti-semetic, so why would they care if they can slander them at the same time slander the united states.. for them it's 2 birds with 1 stone.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      talking of slander, you are doing quite a bit there yourself.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      M O R O N P O S T O F T H E D A Y A W A RD.........................

      September 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply

      Eddie

      Liberals by nature are anti-semetic, so why would they care if they can slander them at the same time slander the united states.. for them it's 2 birds with 1 stone.

      September 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  19. bxgrrl

    To do a film highlighting Islamic hypocrisy exclusively does no body any good. Hypocrisy is everywhere. I'm not an atheist but it's looking better and better as a relief from this self-righteous blabbering about how one religion is better than another. Jesus save us from your followers!

    September 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  20. Rational Libertarian

    Muslims should make a film about Moses. He makes Mohammed look like a dough eyed puppy.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Pete

      *doe-eyed.

      Just tryin to help a brother out.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • bxgrrl

      I'll be brief: What the Heck are you talking about?

      September 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Thanks Pete. It actually makes more sense. Who'd want eyes like dough?

      September 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      bx

      Read the Old Testament. Moses is pretty much the Jewish equivalent of Mohammed, and he's not a pleasant individual (assuming he existed, which he probably didn't).

      September 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Mark Turner

      Rational libertarian, any story must be put in context. That is what most Christians fail to do with Mohammed, and you fail to do with Moses. I wonder how you would have turned out, raised in either Moses or Mohammed's context. This issue of slavery and freedom is one that both in the context of Mohammed and Moses came. We came out of that same context, and it took plenty of bloodshed to get us to where we are. We didn't get where we are by libertarian ideals, but really by Moses' ideals. You are right, we don't know if Moses truly existed, but we do know that his story's ideals shaped the world's understanding of freedom.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:56 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.