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. Lolita

    "World War Three is to be fomented by using the differences the agentur of the Illuminati stir up between Political Zionists and the leaders of the Moslem world. The war is to be directed in such a manner that Islam (the Arab World including Mohammedanism) and Political Zionism (including the State of Israel) will destroy themselves while at the same time the remaining nations, once more divided against each other on this issue, will be forced to fight themselves into a state of complete exhaustion physically, mentally, spiritually and economically. " Albert Pike- written in 1871

    Can any unbiased and reasoning person deny that the intrigue now going on in the Near, Middle, and Far East is designed to accomplish this devilish purpose?

    Dont swallow the kool-aid people. Wake up.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:42 am |
    • W.

      Point well made...!

      September 14, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • Twolf

      Oh Lolita,,,,, Your eyes are open, as well as mine. The future has already been written out in the pages of scripture, and is rapidly unfolding right before our eyes. Continue to tell the Truth my friend, and may the One True God be With Us!

      September 14, 2012 at 5:49 am |
  2. Joseph Majid Saliba


    September 14, 2012 at 5:37 am |
    • Pityu

      Just proves that you are an ignorant and illiterate person.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • PAUL

      This is What Jesus Have To Say About Pigs!!


      September 14, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  3. hey doug

    and let me end with this note F islam and F ALLAH their i said it and i don't care that's why we have freedom of speech.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:35 am |
  4. Jerry

    Hillary In Morocco Calls Islam a Great Religion.


    September 14, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • Twolf

      Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! She makes me wanna Puke, and then Puke again!!! Def tell that she is of the Obama Administration!

      September 14, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • Simon Says

      Would you rather have Hillary say, Islam is a vile stinking
      pile of crap, and have millions of Muslims running around killing people ?

      She is doing part of her job, trying to difuse tensions.
      Are you stupid ?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  5. Ifeanyi

    Most people are more concern ed about religion more than the God they worship.Let's be rational and spare some lives.The world can be at peace,only if we can listen to that call for peace in the world.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:33 am |
  6. swipedcard

    I was perplexed when Wall Street Journal reported that "a guy claiming to be the filmmaker said 100 Jewish donors contributed $5 million." Really disgraceful journalism with no fact checking when the information is so obviously false on the surface (anyone waching the video knows there was not even 1% of such funds invested into making the childish trailer. Shame on the Wall Street Journal...what in earth was the purpose in jumping to report a volatile quote from an unidentified caller. It's one thing to report facts that get people killed...but to report someone else's lies to get others killed?

    September 14, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • Twolf

      Total Shame on them, and a mistake that could have been prevented, is now going to continue to unravel out of control, with absoutly no way of reversing it now!!! What a thing to have to live with!

      September 14, 2012 at 5:41 am |
  7. Pompeii

    Don't most people just want to live a decent life, have their families, earn a decent wage.....its the fanatics in every direction that create these messes and then regular people pay the price. I'm sick of hate and violence and lies. Let religious people do their thing but they need to stop before they condemn others for choosing a different path. Nothing good will come from anti-semitism, hate, or violence......

    September 14, 2012 at 5:31 am |
  8. onahali

    d muslim are always like that

    September 14, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  9. W.

    Is there any religious group left that is unhappy with this enigmatic internet film? As a Buddhist I am pleased just to be.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  10. Doug

    The song by John Lennon sure rings true today... Imagine... Imagine there's no heaven, nothing to kill or die for, there's no religion to.. The most evil force on this planet is religion... And that's a fact !

    September 14, 2012 at 5:26 am |
    • Twolf

      Religion yea, for the most part is man-made, and full of all sorts of earthly opinions, and yea some down right evil. But Im not talking about a relegion........ Im talking about a Relationship with the One True God. You can know Him, and you are on the right path. He doesnt ask for anything in return except Love, yet what He can give you Will Save Your Soul. Got your attention?

      September 14, 2012 at 5:35 am |
  11. Mark Yelka

    Jewish fear is another proof that Islam is a dangerous religion.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  12. Ian

    I think the media today need to think about the meaning of the word anti semitic. Semitic peoples include Jews, Turks and Arabs. referring to antisemitic as just meaning anti-Jewish show IMHO very poor Comprehension skills.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • Lily

      Technically you are correct except for the Turks – they are not a Semitic people.

      However, in modern parlance, anti-semitic has come to mean exclusively anti-Jewish.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:23 am |
  13. James

    Look at that picture on the top of this article. Not enough stars or stripes on that "flag".

    September 14, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • 95B20

      Must have been made in China.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  14. gary

    religion makes people insane

    September 14, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • W.

      Precisely, it imbedded a mental deficiency long ago to fear the unknown. Now religion has festered into some ideology that supports any cause; nefarious or benign.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  15. Doug

    Does any really pay attention this situation really ? Do any of these people think for a minute there really is a God ?
    So those of you that are really believing in these fairy tales I have to say you sure don't do a good job of displaying your belief..
    As you go to your churches, or whatever weird name each of you call the house of hate, you go there week after week, being taught love, tolerance, trust and then commandments to live by.. As a non believer what I see is intolerance, hate, killing distrust, man the list goes on and on.. So actually what I see are some very crafty folks making millions of dollars guiding their flocks of sheep, pushing the world to the brink of destruction..
    One other point, if there were a God, don't you think this God would have put a stop to the crazy Christian who kills his children to cleanse them, or the Jew who decides the whole world is against him and kills all this neighbors , or the sick little muslims who fly 2 planes into 2 buildings in Manhattan, or rushes the American embassy and kills the one man who is trying desperately to make you lives better.. Wake up world, you kill everyday to show you god is better than the next guys, when in fact there is no such thing... How disgusting and what a waste of time, money and lives and for what really ?

    September 14, 2012 at 5:15 am |
    • gary

      religion makes people nuts

      September 14, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Twolf

      Doug, if it's really such a waste of time, and if you truely believe there is no God, Why did you leave 12 lines to such a waste? Unless...... there really is something in your heart that might actually believe in a God, and you are just to scared to admit it? Not foolin me dude-

      September 14, 2012 at 5:25 am |
    • hey doug

      and i see the same thing the government is your religion your breath and sleep what the government tells you and follow like sheep you pay thousands of your dollars to it by force governement is the most evil thing on the planet who has caused the most deaths on this planet since we started keeping record one word GOVERNMENTS look it up watch the history channel it's all proven fact.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:31 am |
    • hey doug

      Doug the government is your God believe all it says and keep giving it your money and it will take care of you. Believe in it and it will keep you safe and awnser all your prayers...with insurance that is. You want insurance? well the government is willing to force you to have it and if the governement sees fit it doesn't need to approve you for any surgerys becuase like God if he doesn't awnser your prayer it must be that it doesn't exsist right?

      September 14, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • Jeremy

      @hey doug – you wanna start using some punctuation? i'm usually the last person to be childish enough to throw the hammer for grammatical errors and such, but your writing is such a run on pile of crap it's barely intelligible.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:58 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:13 am |
    • Doug

      Right.. it makes people crazy.. it frustrates them when they don't get what they want.. It makes them feel foolish because in reality they know it's wrong.. They know there could not be a God.. They know because they show us they know every day..

      September 14, 2012 at 5:19 am |
  17. 123elle

    After watching riots in the street topple governments in the middle east, no leaders want to get in their sights. So the governments are letting the crowds riot unchecked. Crowds in the streets have been a phenomenon since way before the French Revolution, and they do inestimable damage. The Russian Czar was toppled by street rioting, basically, it seems, and now we have these unstable governments at the mercy of mobs. Even the U.S. is not immune, of course. I think that the foolish "movie" was merely an excuse rather than a reason. The crowds are unemployed, bored, angry and looking for power. This isn't really a religious issue at all, but a sociological one.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:11 am |
  18. IK

    5 million dollars to make this film ? Really ? and a secret group of Jews financed it ? .........If that movie cost more than 5 dollars to make I say someone over paid. I would not be surprised if a Muslim made it........if an Imam in Pakistan is now accused of tearing pages out of a Koran in order to accuse a young Christian girl, what would stop a Muslim from making this movie ? regardless who made it, to use this as an excuse to kill people is just plain evil, and I doubt Mohammad intended Islam to be associated with such evil.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:08 am |
  19. zooni

    It seems both Israel and the US, rely on the newspapers reporting stories that have no fact checking. Like Iran has a bomb, but please don't verify that fact and spend a few trillion on another war.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:08 am |
  20. Sirned

    I agree the news media needs to report accurately but until I hear Jews outraged over the lies and half truths about Muslums they can't expect much more from the same press ...Just saying

    September 14, 2012 at 5:05 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.