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
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
"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
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
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
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
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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