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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. TruthNeedsToBeTold

    Oh, and it should be in he Media in the Middle East countries to communicate to the masses, that the American Government, Israeli people, or Coptic Christians are no way responsible for the release of this movie.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  2. rock38

    Look at this root cause of this problem: One mad guy puts the film in YouTube and that we face this situation of losing our diplomat and 3 of his American security force. Yet we don't know what else we are going to face at a critical time. So whose mistake is this and I blame this YouTube and that is is their responsibility to sensor this kind of crap. They should answer this and face the consequences.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • Damocles

      @rock

      The people that made the film had every right to make the film. The people that are offended by the film have every right to be offended. They do not have the right to kill.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  3. Muhammad

    Bismillah, It was a former or maybe still current citizen of Egypt who made the film. The protesters need to be at their own embassy in Egypt and not USA embassies. What right is right and what is wrong is wrong. –US needs to take his green card and send him back to Egypt

    September 14, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  4. TruthNeedsToBeTold

    I should have known to be skeptical when the initial reports came out regarding the backers of the film. Why on Earth would Jewish people back a film that insults Islam and would anger the Middle East, especially when there are already negative feelings towards Israel? Jewish people aren't dumb, and would know that it would incite more anger towards Israel. Whats more, I feel horrible in regards to discussing the film with a friend and stating that it was produced by an American Israeli. This was mainly because that is what the media wrongly reported. We even discussed why on Earth would an American Israeli do something so irresponsible. I am now obligated to tell her the truth, because I do not want to paint American Israelis in a negative manner. In an related note, I watched parts of the movie and can not believe how the actors were deceived into the playing the roles they did. All of the insults were dubbed over, and now it seems like they knowingly involved themselves in the movie. Whats worse, atleast people who understand English know that the insults were dubbed in, however, once the entire film is dubbed over in Arabic, there is no way to tell! I strongly believe in the Freedom of Speech, but at the same time you have to be responsible with the power. With great power comes great responsibility. It's not about being politically correct, but it's understanding, hey even though I feel this way about Muslims, if I produce this movie, I know it's going to ignite anger in the Middle East. Lastly, if do want to produce regarding the negative points of Islam, do it respectfully. People are blind to the fact that just because the don't believe in the religion they can't be as disrespectful in the way to criticize the religion (it holds true for people of all religions). Truly a sad moment in history on all accounts. And if anything, the American Government, the Coptic Christians, and the Jewish would try to ban the movie from ever coming to surface because each group would know the anger it would cause. I hope Muslim people can distinguish that fact, as it's an important.

    – A Muslim

    September 14, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • zelskid

      The hate for jews by the terrorists can't get any worse.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:14 am |
  5. Ryan

    a guy makes a film or draws a cartoon, and muslims kill, bomb, and torture? religion of peace my ass.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:06 am |
  6. TruthNeedsToBeTold

    I should have known to be skeptical when the initial reports came out regarding the backers of the film. Why on Earth would Jewish people back a film that insults Islam and would anger the Middle East, especially when there are already negative feelings towards Israel? Jewish people aren't dumb, and would know that it would target incite more anger towards Israel. Whats more, I feel horrible in regards to discussing the film with a friend and stating that it was produced by an American Israeli, because of the media wrongly reported the backers of the movie. We even discussed why on Earth would an American Israeli do something so irresponsible. I am obligated to tell her that in the discussion of the backers is not at all true. In an related note, I watched parts of the movie and can not believe how the actors were deceived into the playing the roles they did. All of the insults were dubbed over, and now it seems like they knowingly involved themselves in the movie. Whats worse, atleast people who understand English know that the insults were dubbed in, however, once the entire film is dubbed over in Arabic, there is no way to tell! I strongly believe in the Freedom of Speech, but at the same time you have to be responsible with the power. With great power comes great responsibility. It's not about being politically correct, but it's understanding, hey even though I feel this way about Muslims, if I produce this movie, I know it's going to ignite anger in the Middle East. Lastly, if do want to produce regarding the negative points of Islam, do it respectfully. People are blind to the fact that just because the don't believe in the religion they can't be as disrespectful in the way to criticize the religion (it holds true for people of all religions). Truly a sad moment in history on all accounts. And if anything, the American Government, the Coptic Christians, and the Jewish would try to ban the movie from ever coming to surface because each group would know the anger it would cause. I hope Muslim people can distinguish that fact, as it's an important.

    – A Muslim

    September 14, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  7. New Yorker

    The founder of the movie was Israeli (Jew) – American..... cannot believe him!

    September 14, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  8. New Yorker

    Jews and Muslims will always hate each other no matter what some leader says.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  9. Mrdynamite

    This is one of the reasons CNN is ridiculed as much as it is. Reporting that the man said he had received donations from 100 Jews IS NOT the same as reporting as fact that the man received donations from 100 Jews.

    Lots of things this man said have been reported and later debunked. The fact that he would tell such a lie at least goes to prove what his motivations lay and on whose behalf. Reporting what he said is just as valid as debunking what he said. In this case both things happened.

    What's the problem......?

    September 14, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  10. Say it ain't so

    From what I read this wasn't about a film as there were two coordinated attacks, same day, same time give or take. One was at libya the other in cairo. This was in retaliation over the killing of al qaeda's number 2 leader SAID AL-SHIHRI. My question to you all is a year ago they kill osama bin laden, al qaeda's number 1 leader & most respected head figure in the islam world, no violence, no one gets killed, no riots etc. This number 2 gets whacked suddenly all hell breaks lose. Riots, murders, protesters, embassies taken over basically all of the middle east erupts. That's like saying they take out the president, no one does anything, they take out the vice president then the u.s attacks. Just asking...

    September 14, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  11. alfred

    what?? now you throw the copts under the bus??

    September 14, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  12. johnmenacherjr@rocketmail.com

    I think in many ways what we have seen in the Muslim countries is just one mess after another. I sometimes wonder if they deserve anything better? My god grow some thicker skin already. Freedom is earned it is not just given, and you dont earn it by killing innocents and then insulting there very existence. Then we have the isrealis and Netanyahu's fixation with using jerkwad Romney to get his way. I cannot understand threasoning that somehow Obamma was behingd this according to that nut because he would'nd change the State schedule??? The isrealis could just have well changed theirs to meet with him. I think they want Romney in to get us into yet another or more unpaid for wars. They isrealis need to back the f#ch off! You are so paraniod it is crazy. We are not going to cut you loose that never gonna work but like Romney stay out oour politics! As for the crazies and their damn religion can we please develope alternative energies and get out of these nutbags lives and on with people who at least are half way civilized as they only seem to worship death and suicide.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:55 am |
  13. fiftyfive55

    We've been bombarded with stories of how israel wants to go to war with iranwhich is muslim central and were supposed to believe israelis are upset about this movie too ??? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha .watch out israel,you may get what you want

    September 14, 2012 at 6:42 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  15. Sirned

    Hey we all know religion can make good decent people go nuts when their religion is attacked but when all you have to hold on to is religion like so many in the middle east it can make an insult to their religion even a deeper insult than we can imagine..Not excusing just explaining

    September 14, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  16. ajbuff

    At the root of this whole drama is still the concept that a large portion of the world needs to move out of the dark ages and accept the fact that they cannot control or worry about people insulting or mocking their mythology/religion. It is like dealing with huge groups of crazy 4 year olds! If your beliefs and way of life are correct, and you are secure in your own decisions, then you don't worry about other people not agreeing. It would be like the stress of worrying that EVERYONE likes you – or you must force them to.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:27 am |
  17. Casey

    this is serious people...I viewed the trailer and it is an absolute abomination. No real Jew, Christian or any other person who believes would ever cross this line. Our only hope is that it dies down and goes away rather quickly. There is so much instability in the world right now and something like this ( for whatever reason it was produced) is why some countries quash freedom of speach. I hate to say this, but I feel like we should hand over the idiot who produced this trash and be done with it.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • albert

      It is an abomination because Mohamed is an abomination. Sometimes the truth hurts.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • fiftyfive55

      its just a movie you idiot

      September 14, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Jebbb

      Not in America, bud. We don't punish people for speech with which we disagree. Our founders learned before the American Revolution that if you allow government to control what people can say, pretty soon (instantly) you have government punishing any criticism of itself, and maybe even faint praise. Allowing stupid speech is the price of allowing free speech for all. If you don't believe that, check out the free speech on these CNN news stories on any given day. Further, as to religion specifically, they can't all be right, but they can all be wrong. To discuss that is reasonable. Yes, even mockery is allowed. You don't kill people for that. And you don't assign collective guilt, e.g., this crappy film was made in America, so let's kill all Americans. That's the reaction of a primitive, violent culture, like those currently in many parts of the Middle East. For comparison, see how Moses and the Israelites treated the Midians in Numbers 31.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • Freedom

      Casey you are not even close to the point. In American We have freedom of speech. You can say what you want and never should be told what not to say. You want blasphemy laws is what you want. If you want that you can go to one of these countries that will not allow critical thinking. You need to read about this political ideology called Islam. By people condemning this moving and saying to turn over the people associated with it you are giving these animals a free pass. There is no reason for us to have to follow any of their rules about their so called prophet. Every religion has had critical review of it and that has always helped it. Islam refuses to allow that to happen. They threaten you if you want to do it. the followers of Islam need to get some big boy pants and some thicker skin.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Scott

      As disrespectful as this so called movie was to muslims in the USA we have something called "free speech". The idea that there are topics that are too taboo goes against everything that maks us a nation of reason. The real crime here was a bunch of ignorant people killing someone who had nothing to do with it and was only trying to better their country's future.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  18. ant301

    What does it matter? Jew, copt or martian; book, film or ballet – no difference! The only difference I see – is between assembly and a mob, demonstration and rioting. People have the government they deserve! Bring back the tyrants! Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Iran and Iraq need them. No more help – military or humanitarian. Anytime these nations want to join the civilization, they can send us an e-mail.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • Daniel Hoffman

      Do YOU have the government you deserve?

      September 14, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • DSC

      You are right ant301.These ignorant people don't deserve " Democratic Freedom ". They just don't know how to handle it. I've been watch the same insanity over and over for the last 40 years, you would think they would get it by now. You can't fix stupid, sorry. I think Allah would agree........He didn't get to where he is by being this idiotic.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  19. josh

    Really , once and for all, it's not the silly little movie!!! They don't like America, it could have been anything to start trouble.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:20 am |
  20. Nels

    I think what needs to be taken into account here is that killing in the name of whatever God you believe in is a copout. If a person’s belief cannot withstand criticisms, questioning, ridicule, etc. then it is not based on faith. Faith should be absolute and unshakable despite what anyone says or does. Faith cannot be forced, coerced or achieved through violence. If that’s what anyone needs to spread their religion then it is an unfounded and false religion. I think that whatever higher power there is that created humans he/she is probably looking down on us right now and saying “That was not one of my best ideas; I should have stopped with the flora and fauna”.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:18 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.