Added note: If you came here from Facebook or some other site, please see my most recent post: "Nakoula made a notorious anti-Islam film -- yet he had worked for an Islamic terrorist." The Eiad Salameh connection nails the theory that Nakoula worked for spooks. Nails it with a hammer.
The film that started the current turmoil in the Middle East
was credited to someone called Sam Bacile, who claimed to be an Israeli-American real estate developer backed by Israeli money. Everyone (including me) quickly became convinced that "Bacile" is a pseudonym used by Coptic con man Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a crook jailed for ripping off various banks to the tune of some $800,000.
Nakoula definitely is involved in this affair; it is quite probable that he was on the set. Unfortunately, most reporters are happy to leave the matter there. They would rather think that Nakoula's motives were religious. They would prefer not to think that Israeli money really is behind this movie, as "Bacile" originally stated.
But "Sam Bacile" may be a name used by two men. At any rate, good evidence indicates that the film was not
Moreover, nothing we have learned about Nakoula indicates that he was motivated by religion or by his concern for the oppressed Christians in Egypt. Nakoula is a con artist; he's all about the money. He fits a classic pattern we've seen many times before -- the jailbird who makes a deal with spooks in order to have the blemishes on his record cleared up.
In our previous post on this topic, we noted that actors involved with this production answered an ad with this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. (The film was called Desert Warrior
while in production.) Permit a bit of self-quotation:
Believe it or not, there really is a person in Hollywood who calls himself Jimmy Israel. You can write to him at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's his webpage.
Even though he's trolling for screenplays, he advertises himself as running -- you guessed it -- a real estate company. Actually, he refers to his company as a group of "financer/investors."
As you may recall, "Sam Bacile" originally claimed to be in the real estate business. So now I'm wondering: Is "Sam Bacile" a pseudonym for Nakoula Nakoula or Jimmy Israel -- or both? Perhaps Nakoula worked with Jimmy in the same office...
Jimmy also runs a seminar program/multi-level marketing scheme called Nouveau Riche. Here's his spiel. To my eyes, this thing has scam written all over it. In fact, nothing about this guy's web site feels legit.
The format of the email address insures that we are dealing with the same guy. What's more, the actress who provided this info says that she took direction from a white-haired man. Both Jimmy Israel and Nakoula fit that description.
Whoever gave the actual orders on the set is irrelevant -- unless you're on a committee trying to figure out who deserves the award for Worst Directing Job Ever. One thing is clear: Jimmy Israel was a mover and shaker in this production. I suspect that he
was the person who got this thing going.
It's impossible to accept that this exercise in cinema was entirely Nakoula's idea. The guy was fresh out of jail in the summer of 2011. A man in his situation would normally have more prosaic ambitions, like finding a place to sleep.
That's the part that gets to me. Why would Nakoula, recently released from the slammer, suddenly decide to make a movie
? He had no money -- in fact, he owed
money. Given his record, he was hardly in a position to borrow money. Moreover, he had no previous interest in the film business.
Jimmy, on the other hand, did
have film-making ambitions.
So why did Jimmy decide to make a film denigrating Muhammed? I cannot believe that this wheeler-dealer was motivated by a fanatical love of all things Coptic, or even by hatred of Islam. Jimmy's website and his associations convey the impression that he, like Nakoula, has had a long-standing love affair with cash.
The film itself testifies to the truth of "Bacile's" original statement that the movie was backed by Israeli funders. If you watch the segment uploaded to YouTube, you'll see that much of its 13 minute running time is devoted to demonstrating the superiority of Jews to Muslims.
We also know that a man named Morris Sadek translated the film into Arabic and used it to inflame passions in the Middle East. The deaths and other outrages are, to a large extent, his doing.
Sadek claims to represent diaspora Coptics; he even runs a two-man organization devoted to Coptic causes. His American operation seems to be backed by a great deal of money -- god only knows from where. Various websites convey the impression that his is a voice which commands respect in the Coptic community.
But this is all a lie.
Sadek is not
admired by Egyptian Copts, who consider him a dangerous rabble-rouser. They feel -- correctly -- that his anti-Islamic zealotry has placed the Coptic community in a very precarious situation. Sadek's true loyalties go toward people like Pamela Geller, not to the Coptic Pope.
A moment's thought will tell you that everything Sadek has done was designed to endanger
Copts, not to secure their freedom from oppression. This man knows that the Egyptian revolution will be discredited if members of the Muslim Brotherhood can be riled up to take Coptic lives.
Why does Sadek seek to inflame a war of religion, a war which the Copts can never win? Because Sadek's true loyalty is to the war-loving neocons
in both the American Republican Party and the Israeli Likud Party. These people oppose the Arab spring; they wish Mubarak had never fallen.
Sadek makes no secret of his loyalty to Israel. Take, for example, this statement
"Israel is the liberation of the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians and the liberation of Jerusalem from the Arab invaders, to be the united capital of the State of Israel Hebrew!"
He goes on and on like that, singing the praises of Eretz Israel
In Egypt, the real
leaders of the Coptic Church have mounted protests against the film which Sadek foisted on the Middle East
Coptic activists in Egypt are to stage a vigil on Wednesday in protest against a film deemed offensive to Islam that sparked violence outside US missions in Egypt and Libya, they said in a statement.
The Maspero Youth Union (MYU) and the Coalition of Coptic Egypt condemned “all sorts of contempt or disdain against any religion, as well as to the sowing of sedition between people who embrace different religions,” the statement said.
The MYU said it would be “holding a vigil tonight (Wednesday) in front of the US embassy in Cairo to protest against the film that insults Islam and the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).”
I've read a great many articles about the struggles of the Coptic community in Egypt. All of those articles indicate that the Copic leadership has always -- wisely -- sought peaceful and cordial relations with the Muslim majority.
Many Americans may not understand that Sadek's fanatical love of all things Israeli is not
mirrored by most Copts. This article
in an Israeli cyber-periodical decribes how a Coptic leader had a map of the Middle East hanging in his office -- a map with Israel blacked out. Even Pamela Geller has documented how a Coptic rally in Milan took an anti-Israeli turn
Copts, I am sorry to report, have often been accused of anti-Semitism. See, for example, this article:
One would have thought that given this long history of persecution and oppression, the Copts should sympathise better than most in the Middle East with the Jewish people’s own oppression and travails over the centuries. Unfortunately, this is not so. Copts have a dark and long history of the crudest anti-Semitism sanctioned at the highest levels of the Church – and it continues to this day.
The immensely courageous, dissident Coptic blogger, Samuel Tadros points out that
Some people might think that ongoing Anti Semitism in Egypt is a phenomena that is restricted to Muslims. That is not really the case. Statements by Muslim religious leaders have been covered by the press, but little attention has been given to the Coptic Church, which has had its share of Anti Semitism.Is not just that the Coptic Church continues to peddle ancient Christian anti-Semitism as the God’s Honest Truth in some sort of haphazard manner, the Coptic Church actively promotes such vileness even to this day. Samuel Tadros comments:
Christian books are filled with Anti Semitic remarks and stories especially the “Sineksar”, the official Church book of Saints in which you can find stories that include Blood Libel.
Pope Shenouda III, the leader of the Coptic Church has made statements in the past that included many Anti Semitic views. In an interview on the Egyptian Television on the 8th of April 2007 he said: “the Western Churches were wrong to exonerate Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and criticized recent statements apologizing for Christian anti-Semitism.”
“Asked whether Jews were “Christ-killers”, responsible for the crucifixion, Shenouda stated, “The New Testament says that they are,” and asked rhetorically whether the Vatican was “against the teachings of the New Testament?”
I hope it is obvious to all that my point here is not
to excuse Coptic (or Islamic) anti-Semitism. Neither would I ever argue that Coptic prejudices against Jews can be used to excuse Islamic persecution of the Copts. Any objective reading of history will tell you that the victims of intolerance are not necessarily free of their own bigotries. (I don't know how Alfred Dreyfuss would have reacted if his sister had expressed a desire to marry a black man, but I can guess.)
My point is this: The quasi-worshipful attitude toward Jews demonstrated by Sadek -- and by the film Innocence of Muslims
-- is not congruent with the feelings of many within the larger Coptic community. The things that Sadek says are not what most Copts would say.
And yet all of the "Copts" involved with that movie are pro-Israel, pro-GOP, pro-neoconservatism.
Given the extremely positive portrayal of Jews in the film, it is impossible to believe that "Sam Bacile" spoke about Israeli funders because he wanted to smear
the Jews. I think that money did come from Israeli sources, although not from 100 private donors. (It is more likely that the funding scheme resembled the one seen in the film Munich
. I'm also pretty sure that most of the money went to Nakoula and Jimmy, not into the costs of production.)
Take another look at the Jimmy Israel website. Do you really think that
guy gives even half a damn about the plight of the oppressed Copts in Egypt?
I've written to Jimmy Israel, asking if he is Sam Bacile, and if he directed the film in question. I also asked about his relationship with Nakoula. So far, no response.
The lack of a response is, in and of itself, revelatory -- at least to a degree.
I maintain that this incident was engineered to push Mitt Romney into the oval office. I believe that the people behind this operation are motivated by Romney's oft-stated desire to go to war with Iran -- a war that can benefit no-one outside of Israel. (Except for American military contractors!)
Romney's foreign policy advisers are all neocons. If you liked Dubya's invasion of Iraq, you'll love what that crew has in mind.
I do not
believe that most Israelis approve of the neocon goal of war with Iran. Only the fanatics and the fundamentalists want war.
The most obvious precedent for this operation would be the storming of the American embassy in Tehran in November of 1979. (People now forget that embassies in other countries also came under attack.) On that occasion, the public rallied around Jimmy Carter -- at first. As the crisis deepened, Ronald Reagan reaped the political benefits.
In the years since, some evidence has emerged indicating that the attack on the Iranian embassy was engineered by American operatives who wanted to put a far-right Republican in office. Some researchers have argued that the CIA gave Carter false assurances that there would be no insurmountable political consequences if the deposed Shah of Iran were allowed into the U.S., and that CIA-funded provocateurs in Iran then did everything they could to spur the students into taking action against the embassy.
That reading of the '79 event is, I confess, very controversial. I can't say that I find this scenario wholly persuasive. Still, you may want to consider the points raised by this article
, as well as this one
. Those pieces may offer an interesting perspective on our current imbroglio.