Michael A. Hoffman II, Editor discusses

August 2, 2003

New York Times Keeps the Heat on Gibson

 

Debate on Mel Gibson's forthcoming film, "The Passion,"

about the torture and execution of Jesus Christ, continues to draw a

storm of controversy. Opinion is divided between those Zionist hysterics

who believe the movie is a cross between Jud Suss and the Ewige Jude,

and some on the right who think Gibson has sold them out by being "soft

on the Pharisees." Actually, the movie isn't about Christ's enemies, its

about the physical and mental agony He endured, something akin to Jim

Bishop's book, "The Day Christ Died," rather than a cinematic polemic

against rabbinic Judaism.

In Gibson's production, Jews are fleetingly depicted persecuting Christ.

Brutal Roman soldiers are also shown doing bad things. I have no problem

with a movie focused on what Jesus endured, rather than on an intricate

exploration of the dynamic of the Pharisee-Christian confrontation; that

can come later.

What Gibson's critics on the Right seem to have forgotten is that

Auschwitz has replaced Calvary as the central ontological event of

Western history precisely because there has been so much celluloid

devoted to the inmates of Auschwitz, and little or nothing concerning

the horrors the Son of God endured on the Cross. On this basis alone,

the ADL and the rabbis will despise this film, which, contrary to the

statements of those wishing to curry favor with the Money Power, does

not whitewash or minimize the Judaic role in deicide; it's just not the

focus of the movie.

Comments by timid Gibson-supporters suggesting that he shows the Romans

in a worse light than Jews, or that the movie "pays tribute to Judaism"

are spoken out of fear of The Lobby. Let's look at incontrovertible

facts. The fact is the ADL dishonorably attacked Gibson and his

octogenarian father with the usual contemptuous smear tactics, which

have deeply offended Mel. As a result, he's refusing to screen his film

for ADL chairman Abraham Foxman and other blind haters like him. This

says far more about Gibson's mettle than statements by

kosher-conservatives seeking to defend him by currying favor with the

Master Race.

Coverage of this flap continues to be highly prejudicial. The Zionist

authoress of the following NY Times article cannot even conceal her

anti-Christian bias, and must insert a classic rabbinic put-down of the

validity of the New Testament: "Mr. Gibson has said his movie will be

true to the Gospel account of the last hours of Jesus' life. But

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John differ greatly, presenting Rashomon-like

accounts of the roles of the Romans and Jews in the Crucifixion."

Goodstein also chooses to repeat the canard that "the Romans were the

occupying power and that the Jewish authorities were their agents." If

Jewish authorities were the mere agents of Rome, then when Pilate sought

to free Christ, his "agents" among the howling mob would have obeyed

him, rather than continuing to defiantly scream "Crucify him!" Moreover,

we have the Talmud's statement that the Roman authorities were

sympathetic to Christ, while the Talmud describes Jesus as an "enticer"

and idolater" who got what He deserved at Golgotha.

The Zionists are losing their cool, terrified at the prospect of a

Hollywood director opposing their agenda by using the very medium over

which they have exercised a virtual stranglehold. I love it!

After producing hundreds of racist anti-German films and pornographic

filth about Jesus, such as "The Last Temptation of Christ" (distributed

by MCA's Lew Wasserman despite massive Christian protests), and

hit-movies where every other swear word takes the name of Christ in

vain, they now have the brass, the nerve, the gall to claim that a

solitary movie about Christ's sufferings will "stoke anti-Jewish

violence." If that's the only card they can play in opposition to "The

Passion," they're in desperate straits indeed.

True believers in the almighty power of the Zionists would never have

imagined that Mel would have gotten even this far. But one wealthy and

powerful man has finally stood up and exhibited the courage of his

convictions. Assuming that he maintains his intrepid defiance, I predict

that Mr. Gibson will overcome and expose The Lobby for the thought cops

they are. Americans will then begin using as their lingua franca, the

terminology the New York Times studiously avoids in reporting this

controversy, and demand a halt to decades of "Jewish censorship."

 

 

Months Before Debut, Movie on Death of Jesus Causes Stir

 

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN

New York Times | August 2, 2003

 

With his movie about the death of Jesus under attack as

anti-Semitic, Mel Gibson is trying to build an audience

and a defense for his project by screening it for evangelical

Christians, conservative Catholics, right-wing

pundits, Republicans, a few Jewish commentators and Jews who

believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

 

Mr. Gibson has poured $25 million of his money into the movie, "The

Passion," calling it the most authentic and

biblically accurate film about Jesus' death.

 

Now, seven months before its scheduled release on Ash Wednesday, the film

has set off an uproar that both sides warning it

could undermine years of bridge building between Christians and Jews. The

selected audiences who have seen the film

defend it as the most moving, reverential - and violent - depiction of

Jesus' suffering and death ever put on screen.

Detractors, who have read a script but not seen the film, say it is a

modern version of the medieval Passion plays that

portrayed Jews as "Christ killers" and stoked anti-Jewish violence.

 

The dialogue is in Aramaic and Latin. Scholars say that belies the

assertion of total authenticity, because the Romans

spoke Greek. Mr. Gibson had said the film would not have English subtitles.

But it is being screened with them, the

marketing director, Paul Lauer, said, and they may remain. "The Passion"

has no distributor. Mr. Lauer said "two major

studios" were interested or Mr. Gibson might distribute it himself.

 

The controversy has been cast by many of his supporters as the Jews versus

Mel Gibson. But it began when several

Roman Catholic scholars voiced concern about the project because of Mr.

Gibson's affiliation with a splinter Catholic

group that rejects the modern papacy and the reforms of the Second Vatican

Council, which in 1965 repudiated the

charge of deicide against the Jews.

 

Mr. Gibson has been screening "The Passion" for a few weeks for friendly

audiences, but has refused to show it to his

critics, including members of Jewish groups and biblical scholars. In

Washington, it was shown to the Web gossip Matt

Drudge, the columnists Cal Thomas and Peggy Noonan and the staffs of the

Senate Republican Conference and the

White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and others. In

Colorado Springs, the capital of

evangelical America, the film drew raves. A convention of the Legionaries

of Christ, a traditionalist Roman Catholic

order of priests, saw a preview, as did Rush Limbaugh.

 

Audiences wept, and many were awestruck.

 

"Mel Gibson is the Michelangelo of this generation," said the Rev. Ted

Haggard, president of the National Association

of Evangelicals.

 

"It's going to be a classic," said Deal W. Hudson, publisher of Crisis, a

conservative Catholic magazine. "It's going to

be the go-to film for Christians of all denominations who want to see the

best movie made about the Passion of Christ."

 

Mr. Gibson has said his movie will be true to the Gospel account of the

last hours of Jesus' life. But Matthew, Mark,

Luke and John differ greatly, presenting Rashomon-like accounts of the

roles of the Romans and Jews in the

Crucifixion.

 

A committee of Bible scholars who read a version of the script said that it

was not true to Scripture or Catholic teaching

and that it badly twisted Jewish leaders' role in Jesus' death. The

problem, the scholars said, is not that Mr. Gibson is

anti-Semitic, but that his film could unintentionally incite anti-Semitic

violence.

 

One scholar, Sister Mary C. Boys, a professor at Union Theological Seminary

in New York, said: "When we read the

screenplay, our sense was this wasn't really something you could fix. All

the way through, the Jews are portrayed as

bloodthirsty. We're really concerned that this could be one of the great

crises in Christian-Jewish relations."

 

Mr. Gibson, who directed and was a co-author of the script, is vehement

that any criticism is based on an outdated script

that was stolen. He declined an interview, and his company, Icon

Productions, said it was showing the movie just to

selected journalists and critics.

 

Mr. Gibson said in a statement: "Anti-Semitism is not only contrary to my

personal beliefs; it is also contrary to the core

message of my movie. `The Passion' is a film meant to inspire, not offend."

 

The furor began in March, when the committee of scholars, five Catholics

and four Jews, asked Icon Productions to

show them the script. Five scholars hold endowed chairs at their

universities, and all have long been engaged in

interfaith dialogue. The group was assembled by the staff at the United

States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the

Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

 

Those organizations were wary, because they had spent years drafting

guidelines for ridding Passion plays of

anti-Semitism. Some of the same scholars had consulted on the overhaul of

the most famous Passion play, at

Oberammergau, Germany.

 

The scholars say the other reason for concern was Mr. Gibson's strain of

Catholicism. He built and belongs to a church

in Los Angeles that is part of a growing but fractured movement known as

"Catholic traditionalism." Considered beyond

the pale even by conservatives, the traditionalists reject the Second

Vatican Council and every pope since then, and they

conduct Mass in Latin.

 

Mr. Gibson also set off alarms among the scholars when reports quoted him

as saying his script had drawn on the

diaries of Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th-century mystic whose

visions included extrabiblical details like

having the Jewish high priest order that Jesus' cross be built in the

Jewish temple.

 

Icon did not respond to the request to see the script. But someone leaked a

copy to one of the scholars, the Rev. John T.

Pawlikowski, a professor of social ethics and the director of the

Catholic-Jewish Studies program at the Catholic

Theological Union. Father Pawlikowski said in an interview that the script

came from a friend who got it from another

person whom he did not know.

 

The scholars sent a report to Icon complaining about the script, again

receiving no response. After excerpts of the report

appeared in the news media - both sides say the other leaked it - the

scholars circulated their complaints.

 

"This was one of the worst things we had seen in describing responsibility

for the death of Christ in many many years,"

Father Pawlikowski said.

 

In particular, the scholars objected that the Jewish priest, Caiaphas, was

depicted as intimidating Pontius Pilate, the

Roman governor, into going along with the Crucifixion. Several people who

saw the film last month said the version

they saw had that portrayal. The scholars said that section distorts the

fact that the Romans were the occupying power

and that the Jewish authorities were their agents.

 

Mr. Lauer, marketing director for Icon, said Mr. Gibson's rendering was not

anti-Semitic, but simply followed the New

Testament. "There are some sympathetic to Christ and some who clearly want

to get rid of this guy," he said. "And

that's clearly scriptural. You can't get away from the fact that there are

some Jews who wanted this guy dead."

 

The script that the scholars read was dated October 2002, when, Mr. Lauer

acknowledged, filming began. But scripts

often change after shooting starts, he added.

 

Icon threatened to sue the scholars and the bishops' conference. The

bishops soon apologized and said it had neither

authorized the scholars' panel nor the report.

 

Mr. Gibson has sought to mend fences with the bishops. He met recently in

Washington with officials of the conference

and has shown the film to Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia and

Francis George of Chicago, as well as

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver.

 

But the scholars and the Anti-Defamation League have not backed down. They

are pressing Mr. Gibson to show them

the rough cut that he has been screening.

 

The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman,

said, "If you say this is not anti-Semitic and

this is a work of love and reconciliation, why are you afraid to show

it to us?"

 

"There is no way on God's green earth," Mr. Lauer said, "that any of those

people will be invited to a screening. They

have shown themselves to be dishonorable."

 

People who have seen the movie say it is brutally graphic, dwelling at

length on a scourging scene that renders Jesus a

bloody piece of flesh before he is even nailed to the Cross. He is beaten

with a leather strap studded with metal points

that, when slapped across a tabletop, stick in the wood like spikes.

 

Roman soldiers administer the beating in the film, Mr. Hudson, the Catholic

publisher, said. "By the time the Romans

get through with him," Mr. Hudson said, "you've forgotten what the Jews

might have done."

 

Mr. Gibson's vision "pays tribute to Judaism," Mr. Lauer said, by

underscoring Christianity's roots. The actor who

plays Jesus, Jim Caviezel, appears Semitic, a far cry from the Nordic icon

of popular paintings.

 

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