Two weeks before Mel Gibson's Passion flashes onto two thousand screens,online ticket merchants are reporting that up to half their total sales arefor advance purchases for Passion. One Dallas multiplex has reserved alltwenty of its screens for The Passion. I am neither a prophet nor a moviecritic. I am merely an Orthodox rabbi using ancient Jewish wisdom to makethree predictions about The Passion.

One, Mel Gibson and Icon Productions will make a great deal of money. Thosedistributors who surrendered to pressure from Jewish organizations andpassed on Passion will be kicking themselves, while Newmarket Films willlaugh all the way to the bank. Theater owners are going to love this film.

Two, Passion will become famous as the most serious and substantive Biblicalmovie ever made. It will be one of the most talked-about entertainmentevents in history; it is currently on the cover of Newsweek and Vanity Fair.

My third prediction is that the faith of millions of Christians will becomemore fervent as Passion uplifts and inspires them. Passion will propel vast numbers of unreligious Americans to embrace Christianity. The movie will one day be seen as a harbinger of America's third great religious reawakening.

Those Jewish organizations that have squandered both time and money futilelyprotesting Passion, ostensibly in order to prevent pogroms in Pittsburgh,can hardly be proud of their performance. They failed at everything theyattempted. They were hoping to ruin Gibson rather than enrich him. They werehoping to suppress Passion rather than promote it. Finally, they were hoping to help Jews rather than harm them.

Here I digress slightly to exercise the Jewish value of "giving the benefitof the doubt" by discounting cynical suggestions growing in popularity, thatthe very public nature of their attack on Gibson exposed their realpurpose-fundraising. Apparently, frightening wealthy widows in Florida aboutanti-Semitic thugs prowling the streets of America causes them to open theirpocketbooks and refill the coffers of groups with little other raisond'être. But let's assume they were hoping to help Jews.

However, instead of helping the Jewish community, they have inflictedlasting harm. By selectively unleashing their fury only on wholesomeentertainment that depicts Christianity in a positive light, they havetriggered anger, hurt, and resentment. Hosting the Toward Tradition RadioShow and speaking before many audiences nationwide, I enjoy extensivecommunication with Christian America, and what I hear is troubling. Fearfulof attracting the ire of Jewish groups that are so quick to hurl the"anti-Semite" epithet, some Christians are reluctant to speak out. Althoughone can bludgeon resentful people into silence, behind closed doors emotionscontinue to simmer.

I consider it crucially important for Christians to know that not all Jewsare in agreement with their self-appointed spokesmen. Most American Jews,experiencing warm and gracious interactions each day with their Christianfellow-citizens, would feel awkward trying to explain why so many Jewishorganizations seem focused on an agenda hostile to Judeo-Christian values.Many individual Jews have shared with me their embarrassment that groups,ostensibly representing them, attack Passion but are silent about depravedentertainment that encourages killing cops and brutalizing women. Citingartistic freedom, Jewish groups helped protect sacrilegious exhibits such asthe anti-Christian feces extravaganza presented by the Brooklyn Museum fouryears ago. One can hardly blame Christians for assuming that Jews feelartistic freedom is important only when exercised by those hostile towardChristianity. However, this is not how all Jews feel.

From audiences around America, I am encountering bitterness at Jewishorganizations insisting that belief in the New Testament is de factoevidence of anti-Semitism. Christians heard Jewish leaders denouncing Gibsonfor making a movie that follows Gospel accounts of the Crucifixion longbefore any of them had even seen the movie. Furthermore, Christians are hurtthat Jewish groups are presuming to teach them what Christian Scripture"really means." Listen to a rabbi whom I debated on the Fox television showhosted by Bill O'Reilly last September. This is what he said, "We have aresponsibility as Jews, as thinking Jews, as people of theology, to respondto our Christian brothers and to engage them, be it Protestants, be itCatholics, and say, look, this is not your history, this is not yourtheology, this does not represent what you believe in."

He happens to be a respected rabbi and a good one, but he too has boughtinto the preposterous proposition that Jews will reeducate Christians aboutChristian theology and history. Is it any wonder that this breathtakingarrogance spurs bitterness?

Many Christians who, with good reason, have considered themselves to beJews' best (and perhaps, only) friends also feel bitter at Jews believingthat Passion is revealing startling new information about the Crucifixion. They are incredulous at Jews thinking that exposure to the Gospels in visualform will instantly transform the most philo-Semitic gentiles of history into snarling, Jew-hating predators.

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