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. muslim2012

    muslims don't insult jesus (PBUH) or moses(PBUH) so why should they insult mankind prophet(PBUH)this is absolute bigotry and racism.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Totalitarian criminal organization bent on world dominance? Wanna see a real war on women. Sandra fluke, go to Yemen and try that stuff. Lars Logan etc..

      September 14, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  2. Yarfor the first donkey

    We walked o. The moon 40 years ago and now these backward people are dragging us into the 7th century. Do a Wikipedia on the conquests o the Moslems in the first 400 years and the things they've done to us. Pis5 be upon you, this movie is making me laugh so hard.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  3. doughnuts

    It really doesn't matter what the early reports said about the alleged Jewish financing. Muslims are predisposed to blame Jews for anything and everything bad that happens. It's almost a reflex.

    This film could have been produced by the Vatican, and Muslms worldwide would still be blaming Jews for it.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Explain morning joe with zbigniew foaming at the mouth repeating this libel. I expect it from the middle east, msbnc and others shoot first and aim later.....need a beer summit?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  4. Yarfor the first donkey

    What irony Neil Armstrong funeral on th same day with these monkeys rioting all over. I loved bongos outreach to make NASA more Moslem friendly, awesome irony.....

    September 14, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  5. pam

    Wow CNN, I would hate to be a Coptic Christian living in the middle east about now.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  6. Yarfor the first donkey

    Crude as the film is, there's nothing inaccurate in the script. You can see how badly the truth stings. These whackos know it and it's making them crazy. That's from the crew thatt makes Mickey mouse shows that depict Jews in the worst light. We call that having a paper as5hole

    September 14, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  7. Jack

    I haven't seen the film, but the indicator to know if the film is true/good or bad/evil is to look at the outcome, and if the outcome is that people are being killed, then this tells me that the film is probably just bringing out the truth – and "the truth hurts", and that is why these animals are going balistic.

    There are always people who criticize and make fun of any and every religion, you don't see any other religion go nuts about it, they move on and focus on the positive aspects of life. The way these animals are acting, and think they ought to be taught some anger management in their schools. (or is that forbidin because it would be a "secular" study)?

    September 14, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  8. Thinker23

    If the stupid film could trigger the wave of violence and anti-Semitism among Muslims then the photo at the top ofthe page should trigger a wave of anti-Muslim violence in the United States and the rest of the non=Islamic world.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • karek40

      Most of the people in the U.S. and other countries are not nuts. If you look at history you will see about 1000 years ago the same activities by islamic believers until the europeans finally drove them out. It appears history must repeat itself, the question is how long will we suck up to these terrorists.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Karek you are right. These people will be the end of civilization.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  10. NaB Willis

    In a world if hate, anger, and many extreme points of view on politics, religions, and a myriad of social issues, it is time for free speech to be reined in a bit and monitored on the Internet and other major communication channels! There never is a good reason for speech to be cometely unfettered....regardless of over liberalized court rulings! Hate speech and intentional falsehoods intended to incite reactions must now be blocked and the perpetrators punished. This global community we now live it requires a great deal more control than pre-net days. However, the Arab/Muslim culture is bizarre and extremely paranoid and immature when it comes to tolerance and inability or lack of desire for Islam to control its emotional outbursts if martyrdom. They need heavy doses of Valium! And the militants are just looking for the slightest offense to grab their matches and hit the streets! We must respond militarily and in a huge way to get their attention and send them back into their mosques to hide! Stomp on the Imams' dreams if a caliphate! Stop with the constant babble of words – Islam does not intend to listen!!! Most importantly – get rid of Obama and elect Romney to restore our military! Then do significant damage throughout the Mid East to get their attention!!! All they understand and respect is military strength and those willing to use it without blinking!!!!!

    September 14, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      That's what we need.... less freedom!

      September 14, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • c

      No- Free speech is not the problem-ignorance, stupidity, intolerance and not turning the other cheek.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • doughnuts


      September 14, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Michael

      So if you're such a strong proponent of unilateral military by the US, are you going to sign up? Are your kids going to be in the front line? And exactly how to you propose to pay for it? Keep your own private little war off the books like Dubya did with TWO wars? What you propose would incite even more hatred of the US around the world. Would you prefer to return to the isolationism of the 30's? Good luck with ... let me know haw that turns out, will ya?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Q

      They need to pray a little less and educate themselves a little more.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Leonard

      Your last sentence “not afraid to use violence freely” describes terrorists quite nicely. I am all for a "free" society (not born here but a citizen for many years) and I believe that the USA is still one of the freest countries to live in. Not perfect by any means however.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      over liberalized court rulings!

      Must be a Republican.
      Hitler didnt like liberals either.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  11. Yarfor the first donkey

    The love scene turned me on with the older dominant 1st wife got me hot. Is that bad? I role played it with my gf last night.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  12. mary

    the point of the article is that the media no longer vets their stories nor do they make sure they have two absolute confirmations of truth before they start printing. in this new age of information it is more about getting the story out there in whatever version. Truth will come later and if people are hurt or die, apparently that doesn't seem to matter in this new world we live in. Who remembers the values of Edward R. Morrow anymore.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      It could be negligence. It could also be deliberate.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Part of that is due to the belief that everyone with their own blog is automatically a "Journalist". While I do not want to denigrate those bloggers who actually do their research, the bulk of them are just out to see their on-line names in print. The real problem lies when these people migrate over into "legitimate journalism", and the need for fact-checking goes out the window. Unfortunately, not only everybody's favorite target owned by Rupert Murdoch is guilty, but so are organizations like CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, AP, Reuters, etc.

      Over 40 years ago I studied journalism in High School. One of the things that was impressed on us time and again is do not publish a story without checking your facts first. It isn't enough to be First. You need to be Correct more than you need to be First.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • jay

      Fact checking also nincludes the same story from several independent sources.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  13. Leonard

    Any sane person should realize that a film like this would lead to a violent reaction. Therefore, it should be concluded that the producer is not sane, an obvious danger to society, and locked up, for life in view of what has happened and is happening, in an insane asylum.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  14. Thinker23

    It does not really matter who made the film. The film makers did not violate any laws. What matters is the amount of racist violent anti-Semitism it triggered.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Yarfor the first donkey

      Yes, you got it. Jews always blamed. Why would they incite this? They're trying to survive......I feel sorry for the 5k coptics that are gonna get smoked this weekend in Alexandria

      September 14, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  15. Yarfor the first donkey

    Jews always blamed. Obviously no Jews were invoiced in this little masterpiece.
    Pis5 be upon you.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  16. zaphed

    who else is focused on religion and being the chosen people.. lol... get mad as much as you want... you are the suspects and the perpetrators...

    September 14, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  17. us_1776

    This film was produced by an Egyptian Coptic who has a criminal record in the US.

    Americans had nothing to do with the purpose and content of this film.

    And the film-maker tried to make it look like Jews were behind the film.

    This Egyptian Copt is a dangerous person.


    September 14, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  18. Yarfor the first donkey

    Typical. Pis2 be upon you

    September 14, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  19. Benny Hill

    Do not be fooled, Israel is behind this. Netanyahoo is a terrorist who not only is trying to influence American politics but more importantly they want a Middle East smokescreen to divert attention from their coming attack on Iran.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Eric21875

      No Country was behind this, this is a cheap poorly made movie by some @#@holes. Yes we have free speech and they are protected by our laws. As an american jew if it was up to me. I would simply have them deported to one of the other countries and let them face there legal system. I think the movie is discusting and should not have been posted.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • doughnuts

      Look at how stupid you are!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • jay

      Netanyahoo may prefer to deal with a Romney over an Obama. I put nothing past the Israeli government. This film could have been allowed to lay dormant until the Israeli government figured out who would back their political aims better.
      Also, the anniversary of 9/11 is a potent time for Arab extremists. They too are watching to see who they can manipulate with greater ease.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Do not be fooled, Israel is behind this.

      N U T C A S E.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  20. Marcia

    Actually Allah is the Arabic name for the same God Christians worship -and just like Christianity there are violent groups using religion for violence-think of the church that protests at American soldier funerals,show films against other religions and send missionaries into non-Chrisian countries to change their religion to Christianity and tell them to change their way of life-think Spanish religious conquest of "new" world

    September 14, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • jay

      Thank you for putting this into perspective Marcia.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:56 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.