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Real News 24/7 Featured Story 05-07-03
MEL GIBSON'S THE PASSION
A TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC INTERPRETATION OF
THE CRUCIFIXION DRAWS FIRE FROM CHRIST DENIERS
A REAL NEWS 24/7 STAFF REPORT
The Jews freely rejected Christ before Pontius Pilate, as they freely
reject Him today. God the Father drew good out of evil then, as He does
now, but the rejection was and is against the order of the world and therefore evil.
Father Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp., The Mystical Body of Christ & the Reorganization of Society
When Hollywood megastar Mel Gibson announced last summer that he was preparing to film in Italy an account of the last twelve hours in the life of Jesus Christ, he was met immediately with opposition. Some of the controversy was built-in the almost Quixotic nature of the project, some of it was not.
The first contrarians were those who scoffed at his plans to make the movie using exclusively dead languages (Latin and Aramaic) and, to make matters worse, not include subtitles. Gibson understood their skepticism: "Obviously, nobody wants to touch something filmed in two dead languages. They think I'm crazy, and maybe I am. But maybe I'm a genius."
Second, some critics objected to the intense violencean odd protest, given the standard fare of ultra-realism in cinema these days, including Gibson's Oscar-winning epic, Braveheart. (Well, this may end up being far more intense than that bloodbath, since Gibson has warned that some viewers may have a hard time staying to the end.) The third thing that rankled some observers, and one that would presage a far greater furor to come, was the realization that this version of Christ's Agony and Crucifixion would reflect the staunchly traditional Roman Catholic beliefs for which he is well-known, but not necessarily well-liked, in liberal Tinseltown.
MEL GIBSON'S The Passion will approach Christ's last twelve hours with an epic sweep, emotional intensity and unflinching gaze upon His unspeakable sufferings that no previous film about the Redeemer has ever approached. But if the enemies of the Cross have their way, this work of profound spiritual vision may never be seenat least not in a form Gibson would approve of or, perhaps, even recognize.
For Gibson, who is reportedly covering The Passion's estimated $24 million in production expenses entirely out of his own pocket, the film seems to be much more about answering some all-consuming need at the very core of his being than serving the crass commercialism that drives the studios. Of this labor of love, he's joked: "It's good for the soul, but not for the pocketbook." Make no mistake: This will be the defining film in Mel Gibson's career.
The first inkling Gibson had that there was something afoot beyond the standard carping of critics was when he learned that people back in the States were snooping into his private life. This revelation was made known when he appeared on the January 14th edition of the Fox News television program, The O'Reilly Factor. In response to a question by host Bill O'Reilly, Gibson said:
it's interesting that, when you do touch this subject [the Crucifixion], it does have a lot of enemies. And there are people sent. I've seen it happening. Since I've been in Rome here, for example, I know that there are people sent from reputable publicationsthey go about, while you're busy over here, they start digging into your private life and sort of getting into your banking affairs and any charities you might be involved in.
And then they start bothering your friends and your business associates and harassing your family, including my 85-year-old father. I find it a little spooky.
Nearly two months after the O'Reilly interview, one of the "people sent from reputable publications" struck the article, "Is the Pope Catholic Enough?", by freelance writer Christopher Noxon appeared in the New York Times Magazine for March 9th, 2003. A smear from its inception, Noxon's story dropped the bombshell that Gibson's father, Hutton, himself a traditional Catholic and an author, questioned both the six million figure held sacrosanct by true believers of "Holocaust" lore and the official version of the 9/11 attacks (he believes the planes were flown into the WTC and Pentagon by remote controlnot suicidal Arabs). According to the article, the elder Gibson also asserted that the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) was "a Masonic plot backed by the Jews." (For more on infiltration of the Catholic Church, see "The Anti-Priests", and an entire section on the Freemason Watch website.) The elder Gibson also raised the possibility that all the occupants of the Chair of Peter since 1958 have been anti-Popes. More on this complex subject, and further comments by Hutton Gibson, will be covered in a subsequent installment.
Far more useful for the enemies of the Cross to run with, however, was a remark attributed to a friend of the Gibsons, who said that The Passion will, as Noxon phrased it, "lay the blame for the death of Christ where it belongswhich some traditionalists believe means the Jewish authorities who presided over his trial and delivered him to the Romans to be crucified."
Many Jews took umbrage at these and other statements in the Noxon article, but also at something Gibson innocently had said on the O'Reilly show. When asked if The Passion is "going to upset any Jewish people?" He answered:
It may. It's not meant to. I think it's meant to just tell the truth. I want to be as truthful as possible. But, when you look at the reasons behind why Christ came, why he was crucified, he died for all mankind and he suffered for all mankind, so that, really, anybody who transgresses has to look at their own part or look at their own culpability.
Among the first to express public "alarm" was Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of Yeshiva University of Los Angeles and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, of which he is also Dean. He is also the recipient of two Academy Awardsas co-producer of the 1997 Best Documentary Feature, The Long Way Home, and as co-producer and co-writer of Genocide, winner of the 1981 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. He was also a consultant for Schindler's List.
Apparently, a staffer at the Times leaked him a copy of "Is the Pope Catholic Enough"; the Wiesenthal Center's press release is dated March 7th, two days before Noxon's hatchet job hit the news stands. Someone, it seems, wanted the word out; someone wanted the flames fanned.
RABBI MARVIN HIER, the founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, expressed his concern that "the films purpose is to undo the changes made by Vatican II."
After Rabbi Hier affirms "Mel Gibsons right to believe as he sees fit or make any movie he wants to, he immediately refers to the concern he has "when [he] read[s] that the films purpose is to undo the changes made by Vatican II." Specifically, he called to mind that among that Council's reforms was:
the rejection of the notion that the Jews were collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. The simple truth is crucifixion was a Roman punishment, not a Jewish one, and Rome was in control of Jerusalem, not the Jews. As Nostra Aetate says, " what happened in His passion cannot be blamed upon all the Jews then living, without distinction, nor against the Jews of today."
The claim that the Catholic Church taught at any time in her history that "all Jews then living, without distinction [or] the Jews of today" (emphasis added) were accountable above and beyond non-Jewish sinners for the death of Christ is simply without merit. Nearly all of the first of Jesus' disciples were Jews, and of the Jews who weren't, some may not have actively opposed Him, while many others, living in the Diaspora, might never have even heard of Him. So to that extent, Nostra Aetate wasn't stating anything new. And Mel Gibson clearly distances himself from the idea that Jews wereor aresolely responsible for the Crucifixion, when he added the thoroughly Catholic thought that: "anybody (as in any non-Jew or Jew) who transgresses has to look at their own part or look at their own culpability."
But in the press release, Rabbi Hier does not even acknowledge that Gibson made any such sstatement. (If someone in defense of the rabbi argues that perhaps he wasn't aware of the statement, then it must be countered that he should get all the facts before rushing to judgment. As will be seen shortly, this isn't the only time he behaves in such a fashion.) In fact, reading what he does acknowledge leads to the impression that he isn't just concerned about people having the misperception that "the Jews were collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus," he wants to convince them that Jews were in no way responsible. Why else would he include the following sentence: "The simple truth is crucifixion was a Roman punishment, not a Jewish one, and Rome was in control of Jerusalem, not the Jews."
Extras from The Passion take a break.
Anyone familiar with the Gospels knows the facts Hier records here, but as he has assembled them they form a non sequitur, since the role of certain evil Jewish leaders and their followers in the Crucifixion was plotting against Jesus to have Him arrested and put to death, having Him betrayed, captured, beaten and otherwise contemptuously treated, falsely accused, dishonestly called a deceiver of His own people, unjustly judged a blasphemer, turned over to Pilate, rejected in favor of Barabbas, denounced as a rival of Caesar, and mocked while dying on the Cross. These are the men Rabbi Hier wants to exculpate?
He continued by declaring: "The notion that the Jews killed Christ has fanned the flames of anti-Semitism for the last 2,000 years and paved the way for the wanton slaughter of Jews." And here is another of Rabbi Hier's main themes, which amounts to a calumny against the Catholic Church. It is well known to any careful student of European history that down through the ages the Vatican policy's towards the Jews has always been, despite its opposition to their pertinacious denial of their Messiah, to protect them against attacks. Most recently there is the example of Pope Pius XII, who assisted nearly a million Jews to escape the clutches of the Nazis. Despite attempts to blacken the name of that pontiff by suggesting the contrary, information demonstrating the fatherly solicitude with which he aided them is continuing to surface. To cite but one example from many: "The 1943-1944 American Jewish Yearbook said that Pius XII 'took an unequivocal stand against the oppression of Jews throughout Europe.'"
Finally, Rabbi Hier takes a parting shot at Hutton Gibson for questioning purported "Holocaust" proof as defined by Hollywood: "To bigots and anti-Semites, no amount of evidence or scientific proof is ever enough. In their world only hate matters." For the record, there is not a single word in Noxon's article where Gibson's father spews hatred. He challenged the figure of six million, true, but is not quoted as denying that Jewish deaths occurred under the Nazis or in any way praising that dictatorship. While it is true that some who dispute that number are extremists who hate the Jews, many people who don't hate them also take exception to this and other purported aspects of the "Holocaust." In fact, there are even Jews who are critical, such as Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry: the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering.
According to Noxon, there was talk of another occurrence from Third Reich:
The entire catastrophe was manufactured, said Hutton, as part of an arrangement between Hitler and "financiers" to move Jews out of Germany. Hitler "had this deal where he was supposed to make it rough on them so they would all get out and migrate to Israel because they needed people there to fight the Arabs," he said.
Is there anything "anti-Semitic" about what Gibson's father said? No, it only shows that he would appear to be better read than Noxon on the subject. In 1933 a Haavara, or Transfer Agreement, was signed between the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Nazi regime. This has been explored in a number of books, including Francis R. Nicosia's definitive The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, published in 1985 by the University of Texas Press. So, this is hardly an extremist position. Additionally, certain Jewish leaders, such as Rabbi Gedalya Liebermann, have shown that subsequent attempts at emigrating Jews from Germany and its occupied lands were consistently frustrated by Zionist leaders, who believed Jewish deaths in the camps could be used as a post-war bargaining chip for establishing the State of Israel.
It is thus outrageous for Rabbi Hier to accuse Hutton Gibson of anti-Semitism. Here he engages in a politically correct, socially accepted prejudicenamely, accusing someone of being a hate-filled person merely because he doesn't take at face value everything claimed about those dark days. This sort of rash judging goes on every day in the USA. But it's more than that. It is an attempt to stifle any criticism of Jewish/Israeli First policy makers. So well-ensconced are Jews (who believe as Hier) today in many areas of influence that it can be a career-killer to challenge this influence or (incredibly) even to acknowledge its existence (if you doubt this, just ask Representative Jim Moran, or former US Congressman Paul Findlay, who wrote the book, They Dare to Speak Out) This name-calling, however unwarranted it often is, is so effective that good people are afraid of speaking out, even to analyze the merits of evidence, for fear that the Rabbi Hiers of the world will smear them with cries of Bigot, Anti-Semite, Hater. (See Fr. Fahey's explanation of anti-Semitism.)
Yet the ill-tempered outburst of Rabbi Marvin was only the opening volley in what would soon become an attempted siege against Mel Gibson and The Passion, for while the rabbi simply vented at what he sees as a cinematic symbol of a denial clung to by he and his coreligionist for the past two thousand years, those entering the battlefield along side Hier for the next engagement had something much bigger in mind. For next would come the pressure groups with "requests" to Mel Gibson and an unspoken ultimatum: bend to our will or face the consequences!
TO BE CONTINUED
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