The injustice theory of terrorism

In my round-up yesterday on the best columns on Steven Spielberg’s film “Munich,” I missed Edward Rothstein’s excellent New York Times commentary: “Seeing terrorism as drama with sequels and prequels.” Rothstein is alert to Spielberg’s message for America:

“There’s no peace at the end of this,” warns Avner, the morally anguished Mossad assassin, as Steven Spielberg’s new film, “Munich,” draws to a close. And by “this” he means the targeted killings that Israel is said to have begun after 11 of its athletes were murdered at the 1972 Olympics by members of the Palestinian Black September offshoot of Fatah.

But Mr. Spielberg, in collaboration with his screenwriters, Eric Roth and the playwright Tony Kushner, also has a different “this” in mind. The camera pointedly settles on the period’s skyline of lower Manhattan, showing the World Trade Center in sharp relief.

The warning and image are meant to suggest that militant attempts to destroy terrorism lead not to peace but to cycles of violence, and that the 9/11 attacks may even be consequences of Israel’s response to the Munich massacre. A war on terror amplifies terror. Moreover, the movie teaches, opposing sides begin to resemble each other. Moral credibility is destroyed along with hope.

The same argument is being made now about the war in Iraq, of course…

Rothstein’s column seems to me an important contribution to the subject. (Thanks to reader Steven Gerber.)


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