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Why is there such knee-jerk hatred of Mel Gibson? Is it because he can never be forgiven for making an incredible success of The Passion of the Christ?

Or can there be redemption?

It would seem not, considering the chorus of repudiation following Gibson’s announcement that he will be doing a movie on one of Judaism’s greatest heroes — Judas Macabbeus. So, why is such vitriol directed at Gibson?

“There are certainly plenty of places in the world to find dangerous, theologically embedded anti-Semitism,” writes Jewish commentator David Harsanyi — acknowledging that a drunken Gibson said some pretty horrific things to a Jewish traffic cop several years ago.

“Sure, Gibson’s words were ugly,” writes Harsanyi. “But if a Polish director who drugged and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old can cast stars in his films, find funding and win Oscars, why not Mel? If Jeff Spicoli can buddy up with a fleshy two-bit dictator and continue to find work, why not Mel? If Al Sharpton — a man whose vile and consequential anti-Semitism has incited violence, destruction and social unrest — has a TV show funded by NBC, why not Mel?”

Actually the Jewish community has a rare opportunity, notes Harsanyi:

As strange as it seems, artistically speaking, the Jews could use Gibson on this one. The story of Hanukkah isn’t only the tale of miraculous candles and Christmas envy, you know. It’s about slaying unarmed Hellenistic interlopers and taking names (afterward). It is about populist Jewish rebellion, the unsheathing of theocratic swords and the struggle for freedom (Jewish freedom, anyway). Surely, this kind of material can’t be entrusted to some hand-wringing, weak-kneed director who will slather his Jewish liberal sensibilities all over history. Have you seen Steven Spielberg’s “Munich“? No, we need crazy on this.

Charles Dickens, Edmund Burke, Virginia Woolf and Edgar Degas, to name very few, had some bad words for the Jews on occasion. But we can put these things in perspective. You can love the art (or whatever this movie will be classified as) and believe that the creator might be in need of psychiatric help or even that he might just be a bad guy. There are limits, of course, but if I stopped watching actors and directors who spewed absurdity, I would have, for instance, missed the entire Jason Bourne series.

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