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Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005, 09:59 GMT
Sharon aide promotes Munich film
Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg's film has stirred fierce debate in Israel
Director Steven Spielberg has hired one of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's key aides to market his film Munich in the country.

The film, about the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games, opens in Israel next month.

Eyal Arad, who helped plan the recent Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, has arranged a Tel Aviv screening for the widows of the murdered sportsmen.

"We are talking about a film that has generated a lot of interest," he said.

"Naturally that sort of interest can entail some negative reactions as well as positive reactions," he added, calling Israel an "important market" for the film.

The film has caused controversy among former members of Israel's intelligence community, with Avi Dichter, a retired head of the Shin Bet intelligence service, likening the film to a children's adventure story.

"There is no comparison between what you see in the movie and how it works in reality," he said.

Historical accuracy

The film is based on the 1984 book Vengeance, which is said to be based on the confessions of an officer from the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad who broke ranks in protest at its "aggressive tactics".

It portrays a team of hitmen torn by questions of conscience and on the run from Palestinian gunmen.

That version of events has been rejected by historians in Israel and elsewhere.

But one of the widows who saw Spielberg's film said a lack of historical accuracy may have worked in Spielberg's favour.

Ilana Romano - whose weightlifter husband was among those killed - said it overlooked the 1973 incident when Mossad agents targeting a Palestinian fugitive mistakenly killed a Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway.

"Had Spielberg wanted to harm Israel's image, he would have included the Lillehammer affair," she said.

"Don't let's over-analyse Spielberg's film."

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