Acclaimed American-Israeli producer Arnon Milchan has revealed details of his efforts to boost Israel’s alleged nuclear program when he was working in Hollywood during the 1970s and 1980s.
Milchan, 68, who was behind such movie hits as “Fight Club,” “Pretty Woman,” and “LA Confidential,” gave an exclusive interview to Channel 2 investigative reporter Ilana Dayan, to be broadcast on Monday night in the first episode of a new season of her current affairs show “Uvda” (Fact).
In the interview, Milchan spoke about his involvement in clandestine arms deals and efforts to buy technologies that Israel allegedly needed to make nuclear weapons, as detailed in a preview published by the Daily Mail and preview clips screened on Channel 2 Sunday.
As word of his side-line activities in arms-dealing got around, there were some who were reluctant to work with him, Milchan told Dayan.
“In Hollywood they don’t like working with an arms dealer, ideologically,” he said, “with someone who lives off selling machine-guns and killing. Instead of someone talking to me about a script, I had to spend half an hour explaining that I’m not an arms dealer.”
Aside from setting up arms deals, Milchan also tried to get other Hollywood figures involved in his clandestine work, notably the late director Sydney Pollack, according to a Haaretz report previewing the program.
Pollack was allegedly involved in buying arms and military equipment for Israel during the 1970s and, according to Milchan, knew just what he was getting into.
“Pollack knew, but I didn’t want to scare him because he’s American… He could have said ‘no,” Milchan said. “He said ‘no’ many times, but he also said ‘yes’ many times.”
Milchan, who is part-owner of Israel’s Channel 10 television company, also admitted trying to use an unnamed big star to entice a US nuclear scientist to a private meeting in the actor’s house, although the report didn’t clarify if the rendezvous ever took place.
A number of actors feature in the documentary, including Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Robert De Niro, who is a personal friend of Milchan’s.
De Niro told Dayan that he had heard things about Milchan; however nothing that was ever confirmed. ”I wasn’t sure,” he said.
Two years ago, authors Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman published a book titled “Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan,” in which they asserted that Milchan was acting for Israel’s now defunct Bureau of Scientific Relations, known as Lekem.
The clandestine bureau focused on obtaining information for secret defense programs that reputedly included Israel’s rumored nuclear weapons research and development program. The bureau was disbanded in 1987 after US Navy specialist Jonathan Pollard was caught spying for Israel.