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. Pityu

    US should stop being Isreal's muscle man. Our politicians have sold US to Isreal for the mega dollars they receive from its supporters in the US. Most of the problems and fights that we face in the middle east are due to ourt blind support for Isreal. Had Truman known the quagmire we have got ourselves into due to Isreal, he would have never supported it's creation..

    September 14, 2012 at 5:04 am |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 14, 2012 at 5:04 am |
    • nope


      September 14, 2012 at 5:07 am |
  3. a

    "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."


    September 14, 2012 at 5:04 am |
  4. maltesefalconx9

    Does the Anti-Defamation League think there was a lot of defamation of jewish characters in the "movie"?
    They weren't too interested in it before now because it was only negative about Islamic characters. Right?
    Maybe they were unaware of the film's existance. But there are a lot of civil rights groups researching this type of material. Such as with the neo-nazi rock musician who went balistic a month ago in Wisconsin.
    A lot of jews living in izraeel have this negative racist view of the Palestinians. Could that be a source of izraeel's modern problems? I of course am no diplomat.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:03 am |
  5. Brian

    This is ignorance in the extreme. Are they REALLY saying the US "sanctioned" this video BECAUSE it was on YouTube? These people do not represent Islam, or any country, or anything else, other than those who would look for any excuse to incite violence against all comers. This is called terrorism – it happens here and everywhere else. I feel sorry for these idiots. They don't make any point other than to alinate themselves from the religion they claim to speak for – and kill – innocent people trying to help them.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:02 am |
  6. idoro

    i believe that investigation should be made first by the media, so as not to increase the enemity between,jews and muslim.maybe the man may be and islamic man.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • zahid

      listen real muslim can never even think about making prophet muhamamd (saw) video like that , know the fact than talk

      September 14, 2012 at 5:13 am |
  7. larry

    I find it interesting that Hillary and Obama are telling us how great Islam is. Mean while Imams all over the middle east are calling on their believers to protest/riot. The only reason they are not doing this in the USA is because they don't have a majority and would get beat down. Islam is not a great religion, it is merely a means to control the uneducated weak minded so their leaders can give them something to focus on rather than their Government elites. Islam is a f'ing joke and everyone knows it. It's time we had politicians that took a stand. China does a better job of this than we do. China has millions of Muslims. What do they do when Islam raises it's ugly face? They expel all tourists and journalists from the area and then move in with military and pound on them until they get it.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • zahid

      ohh really ? i wish u have guts to do somethings front of me i am american muslim ? so why didnt u think that before u helping your friend to make this kinda video , its always stuphit people lyk who want the violence to be started with somethings , we muslims never make sucha disgusting or ignorant and hatred video lyk this against any other religion so ask yourself why do u

      September 14, 2012 at 5:20 am |
    • a slozomby

      meanwhile hamas has childrens shows on tv teaching them to hate jews.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • sam stone

      "Islam is not a great religion, it is merely a means to control the uneducated weak minded so their leaders can give them something to focus on rather than their Government elites. Islam is a f'ing joke and everyone knows it."

      Sounds like Christianity, too

      September 14, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  8. Brown

    It doesn't really matter whether this violence is from a movie or pamphlet criticizing Islamic religion. The underlying cause
    of this never ending violence is the unchecked U.S. support of Israel. We should support Israel when the Israeli government
    is conducting itself as a democracy and not when it is imposing tyranny!

    The World is turning against America because of our blind support of Israel. We need to make some changes in our government before the world erupts into yet another World War.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:58 am |
  9. Ed

    I have 2 kids in the Army and a brother in the Marines. It concerns me that they or any American might get hurt anytime someone talks about Islam or their Prophet in a negative way. However, whatabout when they burn our flag, or Christianity and burn pictures of our Presidents. We dont go bombing them. When is enough with these people... We always have to be the bigger person because they are stuck in the past..... We should get out of their Countries and let them destroy themselves.... I dont want to see an American die over their selfish beliefs.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:55 am |
    • zahid

      iraq afganistan never ask your families to go their and kill their innocent lives just bcz of false 911 tragedy that was blame to muslim , 3000 people killed in wtc but god knows how many innocent kids childen we have kill them in their , muslim never make any video or any event or anythings hatred against any other religion so ask yourself why these people doing this than

      September 14, 2012 at 5:29 am |
    • dm

      I couldn't agree more! Enough is enough. Let's get out of those countries, stop purchasing oil, stop traveling there, stop sending them money, and weapons then see what happens to them. Oh, yeah, we need to stop letting them in our country as well!!!

      September 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Thirsting....

      THEY do not make vile videos or cartoons or denigrate YOUR bible or prophets from there! Flags and stuff is not the same thing as Jesus or Moses (for the Jewish) for any believing Christioan or Muslim. You all live in cognitive dissonance!

      September 25, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  10. midgick

    The Arab/Muslim World is so gullible and ready to blame Israel for anything from a hang nail to any insult to Mohamed that any jerk can do or say something so untrue that they will go berserk and riot and kill any Western peoples.
    Show's you how uneducated and racist that they are.
    These are the same people that for thousands of years have been the equiveleny of the USA's Hatfield vs, the McCoys..
    These Arab leaders are going to lead us into WW3. The only way to stop this or change this is of course through education, but in absolute show of power and force. I understand that the these muslim Countries are trying to join into the modern world, but they just can't react to any tom Dick or Harry report the it's the "Jews or the Americans that are causing the problem.
    Who the hell do they think that helped them get towards some form of democracy and freedom.
    The militants like Al quida will jump at any thing to cause riot and mayhem. However, America must bluntly say get the fact rich thirst before you riot.. We lost some fantastic people because of this Coptic Christian 's lies .
    In the old en times any citizen of Rome was totally in violet from harm because Rome would destroy said instigators./

    I believe in peace and intelligent discourse between people with different ideals and religious beliefs, but this murder of our Diplmates and people shoild be hunted down and removed from this world. if we don't, then the Wold will view us as wek and unable to protect its citizens.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  11. Cam Spurgeon

    I agree with the faulty reporting and CNN was one of the worst because they say it over and over again. They are losing the battle for good journalism with flawed anchors. Hire some new people Get rid of some the older ones who now tend to believe their own opinion. Guess what folks you are losing credibility. This network hasn't even addresse the voting suppression that is being attempted all over the country. Oh your GOP owners told you not to. Wow. UGH!

    September 14, 2012 at 4:51 am |
  12. maltytasker

    Where did they get that American flag in the photo? It's an 1812 flag with 15 stars. Did they loot a museum?

    September 14, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • backseatcommentator

      This is the best comment so far

      September 14, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  13. Skeptic

    Maybe Coptics want to create a direct and deadly confrontation with the Egyptians. It will be a massacre. What morons.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • Jeremiadist

      Coptics can't make war with "the Egyptians", because they *are* the real (indigenous) Egyptians. They could of course make war with Muslims – or, Arabs, more to the point – who are Egyptian citizens. I doubt they would bring that down on themselves, though.

      September 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  14. maltesefalconx9

    The jewish people were upset over the insulting depiction of Mohammed?
    Or they just don't like being blamed for it?

    September 14, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • Dave A

      Im Jewish..Mohammad is cool but he does have the word "ham" in his name. Hehe

      September 14, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • cheaplabor4richpeople

      So does Abraham. So what's your point dave a?

      September 14, 2012 at 5:00 am |
  15. waternwine

    I've never seen this movie so I can't even fathom how bad it was for Muslims. As a Christian I can only say if you desecrate Jesus Christ I won't even think of harming you much less of killing you. I shall talk and reason with you and I will try to understand you. I don't see how a film can cause someone to harm or even kill another human being. This film was clearly meant to be a provocation. Everyone who watches it should remember that.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • ShannonInCT

      "I shall talk and reason with you" - If you could reason with religious people, they wouldn't be religious.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:43 am |
    • cheaplabor4richpeople

      Jesus was religious and he was talking and reasoning with people. Why can't we all try to understand each other? Murder is not the answer. It will condemn your soul.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • Sofia

      It had absolutely nothing to do with that film trailer. That thing has been floating around for several months, and just happened to pop up on the radar of terrorist mobs right on time for a 9/11 anniversary attack? These attacks were already in the works, and the media and the up-and-coming terrorist wannabe extremists that have since joined in ate up the story about a Jew putting out some inflammatory film. Fuel to an already raging fire of religious fanaticism.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:00 am |
  16. government cheese

    The guy was a Coptic Christian from Egypt. Not the same thing as White- Hispanic.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:31 am |
  17. OMEGA

    Yes 2000 years ago 95% of the population was illiterate and easily brainwashed with no science to explain things we take for granted. However 2000 years ago respect and honor was what made a person who they are. Now most of the youth lie and use sarcasm to communicate and think it is normal. Oh things will get worse no doubt. You better sell your condo in the hamptons and reserve a suite at a abandond missile silo in Nebraska.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:31 am |
  18. Michael


    September 14, 2012 at 4:26 am |
  19. Chris

    As many flags as these people burn, I think we should start manufacturing them in the USA and send them over there..!! At least it will boost our manufacturing and create a few more jobs..!!

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

      Most of the American flags are made in China.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:36 am |
    • cheaplabor4richpeople

      You meant most MITTENS are made in China?

      September 14, 2012 at 4:40 am |
    • Ed

      Good one!!

      September 14, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  20. cn

    when will we accept that all of these cults are equal and equivalent glimpses of the untrue?

    September 14, 2012 at 4:25 am |
    • jenni

      Mormonism and Christianity included, "cn"??

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

      Some of us already have, and our numbers are growing.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:30 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.