'Portrait of an Anti-Semite'
Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman accuses Mel Gibson of 'spouting classic anti-Semitism.'The Jewish Week
Mel Gibson's mouth has turned into a lethal weapon.
So suggests Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, following a series of published and oral comments made by the award-winning Hollywood actor and director concerning his controversial upcoming movie about the death of Jesus of Nazareth.
"Recent statements by Mel Gibson paint the portrait of an anti-Semite," Foxman told The Jewish Week Tuesday.
While the debate has been raging for months over "The Passion" and its negative portrayal of Jews, no mainstream Christian or Jewish community leader has until now made such a direct charge against Gibson, who is directing and financing his $30 million labor of love.
Interfaith critics instead have focused on the bloody movie, saying that by promoting the 2,000-year-old charge of Christ killers against Jews, the film would fuel anti-Semitism around the world.
It would come, they say, from people who were never taught that the Vatican officially repudiated the deicide charge against Jews nearly 40 years ago in the Vatican II document called Nostra Aetate.
But Foxman says it is clear now that the 47-year-old Gibson, an ultra-conservative Catholic who does not accept the Vatican reforms, is spouting "classic anti-Semitism."
Foxman adds that it is clear the actor doesn't fall far from the tree. Gibson's 85-year-old father, Hutton, has been quoted as saying far fewer Jews died in the Holocaust than 6 million, and is a conspiracist who says Jews are behind recent Vatican reforms.
"There's no longer a debate where [Mel Gibson] is coming from," Foxman said Tuesday. "He is a true believer that the true story of the suffering [of Jesus] is that the Jews made him suffer."
Foxman cited Gibson's statements at an interfaith screening of "The Passion" in Houston last month, and in the Sept. 15 issue of The New Yorker magazine. In the latter, the Oscar-winning director of "Braveheart" portrays himself as being persecuted like Jesus for making the film, and as a victim of a murderous cabal who forced him to make changes in the film that could end his career.