“Operation Finale” Tells the Story of Eichmann’s Capture without Political Pieties or Banal Moralizing

The new film Operation Finale tells the story of the Mossad’s capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960. In his review, Liel Leibovitz—who as a child knew Peter Malkin, the film’s protagonist—praises the movie for avoiding the pitfalls of other cinematic portrayals of daring Israeli operations:

[C]onsider all the ways in which the director, Chris Weitz, might have failed. He could have, for example, taken the same tedious route as José Padilha in 7 Days in Entebbe [about the notorious hijacking and rescue in 1976], slathering the screen with thick layers of symbolism that neither move nor inform; that movie cross-cut the raid on the terminal in Uganda with a modern dance performance, delivering one of the most unintentionally comical moments in recent cinema. More pedestrianly, Weitz might have opted to reduce the film to just one of its elements, giving us a tense psychological drama that rarely leaves the airless room where the Israeli spy [Malkin] and the fugitive Nazi spent nine days engaged in a battle of wits, or else a fast-paced caper of subterfuge and narrow escapes. . . .

[Operation Finale also] raises far sharper questions about the intersection of justice and revenge than that other recent tale of Mossad agents out on the hunt, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s lugubrious and preachy Munich. . . . In an age when too many filmmakers fashion their work into banners advancing their own political pieties, Weitz gives us something much more valuable: a study in unruly feelings and the extremes we sometimes go to when we strive for or run away from our just deserts. . . .

If you’re hoping to see the banality of evil [the famous phrase Hannah Arendt coined in describing Eichmann] on display, you’re out of luck: Eichmann is played by Ben Kingsley, who manages to be simultaneously imperious, menacing, and vulnerable even when sitting on the toilet. . . . Weitz knows better [than Arendt]. His Eichmann is demonic precisely because he knows exactly how to think from the standpoint of his interrogator, and knows, too, how to sharpen this skill into a weapon. He sees no reason to empathize other than to gain an advantage, which makes him all the more human and all the more terrifying.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Adolf Eichmann, Arts & Culture, Film, Hannah Arendt, Mossad

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University