It's actually less a passionate defense than a carefully-worded dismissal: "I am as truly pro-Israeli as you can possibly imagine ... But there is a constituency that nothing you can say or do will ever satisfy." Spielberg himself admits that the silliest aspect of this whole buzz ball is that one faction is accusing him of "moral equivalency" - in other words, of making like Switzerland and refusing to pick a side. "Frankly," he tells Ebert, "I think that's a stupid charge." The film is meant to be critical of Israel, he says – but in the nicest, gentlest, most puppy-dogs-and-ice-cream, appropriate for a 10 year old's birthday party way possible. "Criticism is a form of love. I love America, and I'm critical of this administration. I love Israel, and I ask questions."
There are two notable things about this interview, I think. 1) Anybody who really believed Spielberg wasn't going to do speak to the press is hopelessly naive, and 2) This whole "controversy" seems suspiciously without teeth. What vaguely political film *doesn't* inspire a couple of wire stories about the various offended parties? Is there really a fight brewing that needs quelling – or is it just that there's a small bubble of negative reviews that needs press-savvy puncturing? Call me cynical, but this whole thing is so measured, so controlled, so suspiciously well-timed – from the first dart tossed to Spielberg's "response", this so-called controversy strikes me as staged.