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. momofour1

    Puh-leasse! Please do not give me that thing about free speech. We have a lot to learn about other cultures, race and ethnic sensitivities on others all over the globe. We cannot put them in the same mold as what we think is right and how everyone should behave. For the Moslems – they revere their prophet and are very sensitive to anything that defames their prophet. The film-maker whoever he is, is to be blamed for all these unrest and that he has four lives on his hands. Why even go there – to incite your hate. Let sleeping dogs lie – unprovoked. You may not agree with them, it is your right – but it is also their right to believe in what they believe in. No double standards here. I'd hate to think that what they outcome would be – if that ignorant florida pastor had burned the quran that last time. Yes- it is his right – but at the same time – he is putting all our servicemen and women, embassies out there at risk. I'd hate to think of some amateur like Romney and Ryan shooting from the hip on matters that concerns foreign policy – Mitt cannot even get out of Britain unscathed without infuriating the Brits. With foreign policy, you need to think through the repercussions and implications that would arise out of your actions.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Chat Pata

      The distinction is quite clear. Free speech means you state facts, and hate speech means you twist facts to suit your hate. The film maker was a Coptic Christian and knew what he was doing. Coptic Christians are traditionally very close to Muslims blame Jews for the death of Jesus. One of Mohammed's wife Maria was Coptic. No, it was not ignorance. It was a deliberate attempt to rekindle hate between Muslims and Jews to hasten the return of the fairy tale character Jesus.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • doughnuts

      Atually, Chat Pata, Maria the Copt (aka Maria al-Qibtiyya) wasn't one of Mo's wives. She was a slave, sent to Mo as a gift along with her sister. Mo gave the sister to hs homie Hassan ibn Thabit.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  2. hal

    The Israeli Right wing is rather bigoted against Muslims. Liberal and Centrists Jews are not.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • what do muslims fear?


      September 14, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Be Gone, I don't know you said Jesus to the Christians

      What does "What do Muslims fear" fear. He fears an RPG up his butt from a Muslim.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Chat Pata

      On the other hand, it is my observation that Muslims are very friendly to Ultra Orthodox Jews and have problem with atheist Zionists. I am an atheist myself, and this is a bitter pill for me.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  3. Geeeez

    Jews, Christians and Muslims are falling all over themselves in their quest to disavow their hateful rhetoric toward each other. What a bunch of jokers, liars and purveyors of supernatural fantasies.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Chat Pata

      Just being a Joker here, but facts are facts. Jews stole their fairy tales from ancient Sumerian text and modified to create a fantasy where Jews who were slaves under Romans and Egyptians, as a chosen race. Christians stole their stories and Jesus human son of god Jehovah to replace Hercules human son of god Zeus. It was a political move to unite Romans. Muslims stole their stories and unite Arabia which was a bunch of small illiterate tribes ruled by Romans and Persians. Wait there is more. Sikhs stole many of Muslim stories too, even their beards and turbans, and are getting killed by illiterate red necks who confuse them for Muslims.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  4. NaB Willis

    The media has lost credibility on ANY news story a long time ago! They don't care who is put in harm's way because of they lack real journalistic skills, are socialistic in nature, really are not very intelligent, and have the major dull roll of just carrying Obama's water!!'

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

    The latest outrage by Muslims has nothing to do with a small film but rather the unrest and attacks on US Embassies is a culmination of the rising tensions and deep-rooted hatred amongst civilizations in a divided world (Matthew 12:25,26). For a better understanding of the history of Islam and the Middle East we invite you to read the articles ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’, ‘Clash of Civilizations’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Chat Pata

      Quoting from a book of fairy tales tell about your credibility. It is not possible for you to be scientific and unbiased. I know there are lot of religious nuts out there deliberately creating death and destructions to prove their book of fairy tales right. The first one of them was Charles Manson and the last one is this film maker. They fuel the fire there as they believe it will hasten the second coming of Christ. You guys are sick and dangerous.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  6. M

    Actually-Mostlems worship the same God-Allah is just the Arabic word for God-they also have Abraham as a main prophet-and just like Christianity there are violent groups using religion as an excuse for violence

    September 14, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Geeeez

      You act as though religions are innocent bystanders. They've been caught in their own lies of hate and repression towards those different from them.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  7. Michael, Chapel Hill.

    Muslims are like Liberals. What all they do is right and anyone go against them are evil.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Dave

      Exactly like Christians, then.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  8. 2357

    The dark tentacles of the supermajors are pulling all your strings. Turn and learn. Open your eyes.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  9. Evenstar13

    Whoever the films makes was, and I've read there appears to be some question as to who he truly is, he was quite deceptive as to how he came to the final product. The actors involved, I've read, are quite upset and feel that they were lied to. I believe that stirring up trouble was his sole intent with this film, and nothing more. If so, sadly, he has succeeded.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  10. Dave

    Republican anti-Muslim distortions are nothing new. They did the same thing last Presidential election. Why they think this will strengthen the position of an obviously bad Foreign policy know-nothing like Mitt, is anyones guess.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • doughnuts

      So Muslims aren't rioting in several countires, and the U.S. ambassador wan't killed? It's all a bunch of anti-Muslim bigotry by the Conservative mainstream media?

      Is that your theory?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Dave

      Rioting in response to insults to one's religion can be planned on in certain areas of the world. Exactly what the film maker wanted. To make it look as though we need a Fuehrer to stomp them out. Obviously the Christian right thinks that the bumbling Romney is their saviour. Not so. President Obama has injected the best response possible. All Willard would do is muck it up as he has always done.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  11. bfd007

    The federal government can support one stupid religion (jew's) yet not others,,,so much for separation of church and state. We should all be tired of the government giving away OUR money to support other countries. Stop paying into a failed corrupt lying government !!

    September 14, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • TommyTT

      Why do you think the US government supports one religion (Judaism) and not others. The US pours huge amounts of money into Islamic and Christian nations.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • fogerty

      What's the difference between an anti-semite and a poopy diaper? The diaper contributes more to society.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Q

      I'd say they are the only sign of intelligence in that part of the world

      September 14, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Waiting

      Yea right!

      September 14, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Geeeez

      Dream on

      September 14, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • hal

      Only in your mind, because if it brought real change, it must be gnostic in nature, since I don't see it anywhere around here.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Chat Pata

      Kosher (healthy in Hebrew) waste more than half of beef because Jewish god tells them it is not healthy. Three times more cows have to lose their life for something that is blamed on god.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  13. Chrispy

    It's a f@#$ing movie, lets pull out of the middle east, cut off aid to everyone and let the Jews, muslims battle it out liek the 12th century until they can figure out we are in the 21st. whoever is left and wants to play like adults can join the rest of the world.....

    September 14, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Dylan

      like happened before we entered World War II? Millions of innocent people dead. Seriously, that's not an adult perspective.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  14. Adisa

    I think the Isreal is pushing the America into third world war.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Chad

      No, Israel and the Jews have never started anything, have never incited anything, it's everyone else. THe Muslims are just doing what Christians did in the middle ages. Israel is just defending itself. Stop being a bigot.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • TommyTT

      Blaming Israel for a film that turns out to have been created by Coptic Christians. Way to go!

      September 14, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • jimbo

      Hey Chad, you M()ron in case you haven't noticed its not the Middle Ages ANYMORE.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • fogerty

      What a dumb statement. Do anti-Semites ever get any education? Undoubtedly not.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Thats ok with me Adisa.
      Its about time Israel took off the gloves, and put an end to this garbage.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  15. Saysyou

    The Jewish Groups that are concerned better think long and hard about supporting Ohh Bumb Boo!

    September 14, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Me

      I am thinking just the opposite......the clown republicans probably financed this film.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Geeeez

      Let's ask Lyin-Ryan!

      September 14, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer



    September 14, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  17. mel gibson is a pigeon brained drunk

    mel gibson is an ugly jealous racist moron....and I guess you are too tj! hahahaha

    September 14, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • chris hitchens

      Are you saying that is a bad thing?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  18. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer



    September 14, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • midwest rail

      When none of your trolling gets the desired reaction, type in all caps. Yeah, that'll work.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Saysyou

      especially if it's unfunded!

      September 14, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • jackola

      Trolls use CAPS when they feel they were ignored.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Waiting

      I think we spilled a lot in Germany

      September 14, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  19. Truth

    Film permits taken out in Duarte, CA list "Christ In Media" as the production company.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • rh

      Hate speech is not protected.

      Hate speech that leads to murder is not protected.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Rallis

      Link please to prove your assertion?
      It really doesn't matter though. I should be able to walk up to a person, say something to offend them and walk away unharmed. But, with Muslims you can't do that. They have no coping skills.Their "political" doctrine orders them to punish/murder those who "blaspheme" their violent god and pedophile prophet. Wow. I don't see Rabbis, or Priests or Monks doing that when someone verbally attacks their religion. Muslims, on the other hand, will even do that to their own.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Rallis

      Sorry, the filmmakers did not fire a weapon. That handshake is moot. When it's the truth, and folks would have a difficult time proving that what the film states is a lie, then honest dissertation is protected. Brush up on your law....apologist.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • TommyTT

      Sorry, Rallis, but the idea that Mohammed was a drunken pederast is a lie. I agree that we have free speech in the US (not in some other places in the world). And I agree that Islamic extremists overreact violently to what they perceive as blasphemy. But creating this film in today's international atmosphere was stupid and has led to a number of deaths already. The filmmakers share responsibility for these deaths.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  20. T J

    Mel Gibson was correct!

    September 14, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • gibson is a pigeon brained drunk

      hey tj, it looks like your a small minded racist loser too...I can see your not wasting your life there eh pal?

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

      I'm not a drunk and I know that Islam, it's doctrine and teachings are violent. Perhaps Mel Gibson, in his drunken state, was more apt to discourse on the true nature of Islam then all our feeble-minded, fearful politicians are? You stink of apologies for Islam.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:06 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.