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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. samonrusty

    Romney's free speech covers hate against Muslims but not against Jews, Israel, Zionism or the holocaust.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • nosir

      I live in America, I'm free to hate whoever I want sir, for whatever reason I wish.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • samonrusty

      You keep that hate confined to your thoughts. open public expression has consequences. Try calling a black guy a f**in
      N and be ready for the results.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Thetruth

      you have have no clue as to what you write about.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Saysyou

      Sam your brain is rusty

      September 14, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  2. Ginger

    Where is Jack Bauer (24) when you need him?

    September 14, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I don't hate Assad anymore. I just hope he stays in power in Syria till his old age. Don't expect America's sons and daughters to spill their precious blood for you people anymore. From here on out, you people are on your own.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  4. Frank

    If the Jews like ISLAM so much they can pack their s**t and move to IRAN! Have these people forgotten that ALLAH, ISLAM and MOHAMMED want them all dead? Have these people lost their minds!?

    September 14, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • KLARGAR

      Did you even bother to read the story you idiot , the reason the Jews are upset with the film is that it was falsely atributed to Jews not that they are against the film for moral reasons.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  5. brian

    leave it to "them" to not mind their own business...

    September 14, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • People like brian, above, are pigeon brained punks

      hey bri, why dont you come say that to my face you coward...

      what? your little kkk punk ass crap dont work when your not behind a computer?

      September 14, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  6. Conspiracy Theorist

    The AP has linked the producer's cell phone to that of an Egyptian American. The protests began on 9/11. I honestly think that it really is extremists, but not Christian or Jewish. Who stands to gain the most from releasing the video? Do you honestly think that it would be above Muslim Terrorists to create a movie like that to draw support for their anti-American/anti-Sematic cause? And the only reason that the news organizations are saying it has to be x or y group is because it's considered a sin in Islam to show a picture of Muhammad, or insult Islam. Are we really that naive? The only reason the film was financed and produced in America is because we have freedom of speech, and many hollywood producers don't give two hoots what's a sin and what's not a sin.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  7. Peik

    1.6 billion Muslims, 16 million Jews. 47 Muslim states, 1 Jewish state. 300 million Arabs, 7 million Israelis. 22 Arab League members and 8 of 12 OPEC members, Israel is the size of New Jersey and has no oil. Result: Blame Israel and Jewish control.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • lolol

      most central banks (if not all) are owned by Jews.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • samonrusty

      The same ratio as in South Africa. One Jewish state? Created by the West for western Jews on mddle eastern land, by excluding the inhabitants who had nothing to do with the thousands of years of western pogroms of Jews.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes tings .

    September 14, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • reality check

      Prayer does NOTHING. It assumes that God is so idiotic, he/she/it needs a lowly human to know what to do! If you had faith that God had infinite wisdom, prayer would be unnecessary.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • LarryB

      Tings? Is that some new religious cult I've not heard of before?

      September 14, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes" things"
      Proven.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  9. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    let's face it, Assad is a HERO and I just hope he stays in power in Syria till his old age.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  10. catie

    These attacks have nothing to do with the film, dont be naive.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Sure. The protesters aren't outraged by the film, they're just outraged by the right wing Hollywood film producer standing there talking to a chair.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  11. Thewidow@thiswidowswords

    There is still the vietnam vet, PTSD/burned promoter Steve Klein.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  12. lisabones

    So....when they are burning the American flag, should we being going insane and burning down everything around us? I mean really, it's an insult, but that not big. It's just material, and the people doing it are ignorant. It's not something that's going to make me run in the streets with a gun and shooting random people!!

    September 14, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  13. Alfredo

    Any imbecile can make a flick and stick it on YouTube. This isn't Hollywood but the imbeciles of the Middle East that can't think on their own react with emotion. This collective needs to grow up. Very sad that in the 21 century they are so ignorant. It's time to evolve....

    September 14, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  14. Big Man

    Mad about what – a spade being called a spade? Btw did all comment on the abhorrent use of the film to degrade an Islamic religious figure. ADL's claims to work against all defamation, but it really is just an anti-Jew defender.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:32 am |
  15. voodkokk

    Yep they will blame this on the Christians.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  16. jesuschristman

    all religions suck – no such thing as a fairy tale people- get these uneducated people up to speed already

    September 14, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  17. jeff

    Has it occurred to anyone that this film could have been made to provoke exactly the reaction it has received? All the religious extremists are predictable in their reactions and therefore easy to manipulate.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • reality check

      The youtube 14 minute film short, is only incidental and not the cause of anything but the excuse. It has been out for months and months. This was a terrorist action that was a well planned hit, nothing more. The film is a distraction in an attempt to take away MORE rights including the right to free speech!!! Obama wants to be dictator! Even Hillary Clinton came out against his words...how much more do you need?

      September 14, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • doughnuts

      You reality check just bounced: Insufficient brains!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  18. Viltor

    One of the biggest problems we face, politically, is the fact that the news media-especially CNN-parrot ridiculous statements as facts. This time it was about the movie, next time it will be a quote from Sarah Palin or Dick Cheney.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • midwest rail

      No one needs to invent ridiculous quotes from Sarah Palin. Most of hers she actually said.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • LarryB

      Yogi Berra is furiously writing down Sarah Palin's stuff so that he can use it too.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  19. Cohen

    Hollywood is controlled by those who are affiliated with the Jewish faith and ardent supporters of Israel, they portray all Arabs as terrorists. Now they want to deny that they are affiliated with the production of the movie. Israel always shifts the blame on anything negative against it to someone else mainly Christians, and they label those who speak out against them as anti-Semite. By the way Arabs are Semite too.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • RS1201

      Everything you say in your post makes you a bigoted biased imbecile. Anyone who makes generalities as you did is an uneducated trailer trash type of person. Now you know exactly what you are...

      September 14, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • AVoice

      Troll

      September 14, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • KLARGAR

      You are an imbecile, this piece of crap was made in someone's basement this was not a hollywood movie. Go to the mid east and spout your anti Jewish crap with the rest of the Jew haters there.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  20. TruthNeedsToBeTold

    Oh, and it should be the responsibility of the 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 7:14 am |
    • Rob

      No, It is the responsibity of "news organizations" to report the truth. That is something they haven't done in a very long time. Overseas or here in America. "News" organizations are now nothing more than propaganda sheets for whichever politican they support while the average American is stuck with their one sided garbage. Problem with that, most American voters are to stupid to see the truth of either party and they allow their small "special" intersts to outweigh the overall good of America.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:37 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.