Those responsible for the brutal death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens needed little excuse to attack the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and indeed, it appears to have been a pre-planned assault by Al-Qaeda terrorists. However, the trigger appeared to be a shoddy movie aimed at Muslims and the prophet Mohammed has made headline news and focused on one self-described filmmaker Sam Bacile who claimed to be an Israeli Jew.
From there, it is but a short path to creating a dangerous linkage between the film and Israel. For example, writing in the Daily Mail, John R Bradley states:
Offensive, insulting and childish, it may have been intended to help Israel by exposing the threat of Islam. But it is only serving to threaten Israel’s immediate security.
Why is it automatically assumed that what is bad for Muslims is good for the Jews? Not to mention that this sort of false linkage puts Israelis and Jews at even greater risk of violence from Islamic extremists and terrorists.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case in today’s 24/7 rolling news, the media chose to publish unconfirmed rumors and hearsay – not only unprofessional journalism but particularly reckless in light of the volatile atmosphere surrounding this story.
Thankfully, the truth behind Sam Bacile is starting to emerge. Israel has confirmed that Bacile has no connection to any Israeli institutions and there is no evidence to suggest that he is an Israeli citizen, while the Associated Press dug deeper:
The search for those behind the provocative, anti-Muslim film implicated in violent protests in Egypt and Libya led Wednesday to a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes who acknowledged his role in managing and providing logistics for the production.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he was manager for the company that produced “Innocence of Muslims,” which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and may have caused inflamed mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. He provided the first details about a shadowy production group behind the film.
Nakoula denied he directed the film and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cell phone number that AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula’s aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others.
Nakoula told the AP that he was a Coptic Christian and said the film’s director supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims.
Many media outlets have also reported that the movie was allegedly funded by 100 Jewish donors. Based on the fraudulent background of Sam Bacile, there is no reason to believe that this claim is true. However, just this rumor alone is likely to stir up more anti-Semitic sentiment.
Irrespective of the issues that this movie has raised concerning both First Amendment freedom of speech and the violent reaction of extremists protesting its treatment of the prophet Mohammed, it is incumbent on the media to ensure that a fraudster claiming to be an Israeli Jew is not elevated into another excuse to attack Jews.