As questions continue to linger about the bizarre anti-Islam film that sparked protests in the Middle East, the Anti-Defamation League is calling on media organizations covering the story to more heavily scrutinize the apparent myth that an “Israeli Jew” made the film with help from Jewish donors here.
“We are greatly concerned that this false notion that an Israeli Jew and 100 Jewish backers were behind the film now has legs and is gathering speed around the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL's National Director, in a statement. “In an age where conspiracy theories, especially ones of an anti-Semitic nature, explode on the Internet in a matter of minutes, it is crucial for those news organizations who initially reported on his identity to correct the record. It is not a question of freedom of speech; it is a question of responsibility. News organizations need to clearly correct the record so that this myth does not morph into another Big Lie blaming and scapegoating Israelis and Jews.”
Large media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, as well as Jewish sources such as JTA and, briefly, The Jewish Week carried early reports that “Innocence of Muslims,” was the work of an Israeli in California, Sam Bacile, at a cost of $5 million — unlikely given the amateurish quality of the production .
“Even after reports later surfaced that the filmmaker was not Israeli or Jewish, news organizations across the Arab world and anti-Semites and anti-Israel activists have continued to describe him as such,” said Foxman.
The Associated Press tracked down an Egyptian Coptic Christian living in Southern California who admitted to involvement with the film’s logistics, and whose middle name and a known alias closely resemble the apparently fake name — Sam Bacile — used by the filmmaker.
A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP on Thursday that authorities had concluded the 55-year-old Egyptian man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was the key figure behind the film.