Friday, February 17, 2006


Speaking of Munich, I went and saw the movie last week.

I don't know how many of you caught it, but there actually is a Japanese connection to the movie.

In 1972, 3 members of the Japanese Red army attacked Lod Airport in Israel. They opened fire with machine guns, killing mostly Puerto Rican Tourists. One was accidently killed by fire from the others, one committed suicide with a grenade, and one was caught by the police after trying to kill himself.

Neither the words "Japan" nor "Japanese Red Army" are ever mentioned in the film, but if you pay attention, you can see in the background in one scene television coverage of the attack. If you listen closely, you can hear the TV commentators in the background mention how two of the terrorists were killed by themselves and a third one caught, and you'll notice it's at an airport. This is why I'm assuming it was a reference to the Japanese Red Army attack.

I'm also assuming that the Japanese connection was specifically not mentioned because the film makers didn't want to confuse people. There was enough international intrigue in the movie already without emphasizing the Japanese connection

The Japanese Red Army grew out of the Japanese student movement, or Zengakuren. As in Europe in the United States, increasing frustration with the war in Vietnam caused many of the more radical students in Japan to embrace increasingly violent methods. As the Vietnam war began to wind down, several members of the Japanese Red Army relocated to Europe where, disguised as Japanese tourists in Paris, they formed alliances with Carlos the Jackal and the PLO.

Because the attack in Lod Airport killed mostly Puerto Rican tourists, the resulting backlash threatened the safety of Japanese workers in Puerto Rico, and several of them had to be temporarily evacuated.

The only surviving member of the attack, Kozo Okamoto, was tried and convicted in Israel, but because the death penalty was reserved for Nazis, he was given life imprisonment instead. In 1985, he was specifically requested by the Palestinian movement as part of a prisoner exchange, presumably because of the influence of JRA leader Fusako Shigenobu. Fusako Shigenobu, by the way, is a fascinating figure who breaks most of your stereo types about submissive Japanese women.

Anyway, if you didn't know any or all of that, don't feel bad because no Japanese person under 30 knows anything about it either. Most of them don't even know there was a student movement or a Red Army in Japan. History education in this country is appalling. Don't get me started.

If, however, you are interested in learning more, "Blood and Rage: The Story of the Japanese Red Army " by William Farrell is an interesting read. The author is a Reaganite conservative, but he does mention the irony of Kozo Okamoto being tried for terrorism in Israel by former zionist judges.

Which brings me to another point. Although it's an old Film "Exodus" with Paul Newman is a good film to watch in comparison with "Munich". While the film doesn't endorse terrorism, look at the sympathic portrayal of Zionist terrorists who blow up British hotels. And ask yourself, could a Hollywood film ever be made that shows Palestinian terrorists in the same sympathetic light?

I'm not trying to defend either/or. I just think the comparisons are interesting.

Link of the Day
Do you ever wonder if, somewhere out there, there is an exact duplicate of you?

I think I just found mine: A clumsy visitor to a Cambridge museum has destroyed a set of priceless 300-year-old Chinese vases after tripping up on his shoelace, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
Steve Baxter, another visitor who saw the accident, was quoted as saying: "We watched the man fall as if in slow motion. He landed in the middle of the vases and they splintered into a million pieces.

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