Munich mastermind spurns Spielberg's appeal for peace
The Palestinian mastermind of the Munich Olympics attack in which 11 Israeli athletes died said yesterday he had no regrets, and that Steven Spielberg's new film about the incident would not deliver reconciliation.
The Hollywood director has called "Munich," which dramatizes the 1972 raid and Israel's reprisals against members of the Palestine Liberation Organization, his "prayer for peace."
Mohammed Daoud planned the Munich attack on behalf of the PLO splinter group Black September, but did not take part and does not feature in the film.
He voiced outrage at not being consulted for the thriller, and accused Spielberg of pandering to the Jewish state.
"If he really wanted to make it a prayer for peace, he should have listened to both sides of the story and reflected reality, rather than serving the Zionist side alone," Daoud said by telephone from Damascus.
Daoud said he had not seen the film, which will only reach most screens outside the United States next month. But he noted that Spielberg arranged previews in Israel, where some have accused "Munich" of lacking historical accuracy.
Several Israeli historians also have complained about what they see as a moral symmetry in the film between slain Olympians and the Palestinians assassinated by the Mossad.
"Spielberg showed the movie to widows of the Israeli victims, but he neglected the families of Palestinian victims," Daoud said. "How many Palestinian civilians were killed before and after Munich?"
The Munich attack was "one of the pivotal moments of modern terrorism", the Los Angeles Times said last week.
Daoud, however, used different terms.
"We did not target Israeli civilians," he said. "Some of them (the athletes) had taken part in wars and killed many Palestinians. Whether a pianist or an athlete, any Israeli is a soldier."
Spielberg's producer, Kathleen Kennedy, told a preview audience at Princeton University that a Palestinian consultant was used for "Munich," but did not identify the person.
"I do feel that we spent an enormous amount of time in discussion and put effort into exploring a fair and balanced look at the Palestinians that were involved in the story," she said, according to an official transcript of the event.
Historians noted that "Munich" presents Mossad assassins as having hunted down 11 PLO members, while other accounts put the final Palestinian toll at as many as 18.
Daoud survived a 1981 shooting in Poland that he blamed on a Mossad mole in the rival Palestinian faction of Abu Nidal.
Although Israel allowed him to visit the occupied West Bank after the Oslo Accords in 1993, and Mossad veterans say the reprisals are over, Daoud said he feels he could still be targeted.
"When I chose a long time ago to be a revolutionary fighter, I prepared to be a martyr. I am not afraid, because people's souls are in God's hands, not Israel's," he said.