Ok, so it should already be pretty clear the guy behind the anti-Islam film used as a pretext for more Islamic fundamentalist frolicking is no Israeli Jew.
But in case it isn’t.
The director of a film that sparked violent protests in Libya and Egypt, who is alleged to be an Israeli Jew based in California, in fact appears to be completely unknown among both Jewish and Israeli leaders in Los Angeles, including top-level people involved in the film industry.
The filmmaker, whose name — or perhaps pseudomyn — is Sam Bacile, gave interviews by phone to the Associated Press and others about the film on Tuesday, in which he called Islam “a cancer.” He said he had intended the film to be “a political movie,” and that he had gone into hiding.
Israelis involved in the film industry contacted by The Journal on Wednesday morning, however, have never heard of anyone by that name.
“I don’t know him, never heard about him, don’t know anything about this guy,” said Meir Fenigstein, who founded the Los Angeles-based Israel Film Festival in 1982.
That would confirm reporting by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, who reported this morning that he was told by a “self-described militant Christian activist in Riverside, Calif., that the name, “Sam Bacile,” is a pseudonym. Klein has been described in media accounts as a “consultant” to the film.
But according to scores of interviews conducted by Journal reporters, not a single person has seen the complete film, allegedly entitled, “The Innocence of Muslims;” only a short trailer is available on YouTube.
Bacile, meanwhile, according to the Associated Press’ report, is “a California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew.”
Individuals in the real estate community also found that claim dubious.
“If there was something happening in the real estate business in L.A., I would know about it,” said Jay Sanderson, president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
Jesse Scharf is chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’s real estate division and co-chair of the real estate division at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Scharf echoed Sanderson’s refrain, saying he hadn’t heard of anyone named Bacile. “If this person was, in fact, Israeli, in the real estate business, in Los Angeles, somebody would know the guy,” he said. “Pretty rare that a person active in real estate wouldn’t have a story.”
The film reportedly portrays the prophet Mohammed in a negative light. Muslim protesters killed four Americans in the eastern Libyan city of Bengahzi, including the American ambassador to Libya, and burned down U.S. Consulate there. Similar protests took place at an American mission in Cairo. The Obama administration suspects that the attack in Libya may have been planned, according to the New York Times.
According to the Associated Press, “The Innocence of Muslims” was made on a budget of $5 million and was funded by 100 Jewish donors. It was reportedly screened once to a mostly empty theater in Hollywood this year.
One L.A. Jewish filmmaker familiar with the world of anti-Islamic documentaries estimated the production costs of the movie were “closer to $25,000.”
But several members of the Hollywood community interviewed said they had never heard about the film before today, nor seen it. When asked about Bacile, Noa Tishby, an Israeli actress and producer wrote in an email, “Never heard of him.”
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said Los Angeles donors are “serious” and would not have produced something so “goofy.”
A mysterious air continues to surround the situation that has had dire consequences in the killing of American diplomats. Whoever Steve Bacile is — or isn’t — the question remains: Why did he describe himself as an Israeli American and claim that he funded an “anti-Muslim” film with donations from the Jews?
Oh yeah, there’s also this: Steven Klein, who acted as an advisor the film’s director, affirms he is not an Israeli Jew and guesses he made the claim to protect his family in the Middle East.
Nice. Enrage Muslims and then make them think a Jew insulted them, all to protect your family.
I’ll have to agree with Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor who had this to say:
“He is totally unknown in filmmaking circles in Israel. And anything he did — he is not doing it for Israel, or with Israel, or through Israel in any way..[he's] a complete loose cannon and an unspeakable idiot.”
About the AuthorAn Australian immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave has been blogging since early 2003.
Filed Under: Aussie Dave