Ever since Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and I squared off against each other on the December 8 edition of MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," he has been on a tear lambasting me for commenting that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular."

Context is always important, so let's take a look at it. Just before I spoke, Boteach mocked "The Passion of the Christ," saying, "It really should win the World Wrestling Federation Oscar for best movie. It's a guy for two hours being kicked, beaten, his blood gushing everywhere. It's just a diabolical, criminal, violent mess." Thanks, Shmuley, for being so sensitive about that "guy."

In the same segment that I made the remark Boteach is so upset about, I also said the following: "You have got secular Jews. You have got embittered ex-Catholics, including a lot of ex-Catholic priests who hate the Catholic Church, wacko Protestants in the same group..." Nor did Boteach mention that I later said, "There are secularists from every ethnic and religious stock," and when people talk about Hollywood, they are "talking mostly about secular Jews."

In short, I did not single out secular Jews as Boteach would have the reader believe. Nonetheless, I do regret using the verb "controlled," and that is because it suggests that there is some kind of cabal among secular Jews. That's nonsense. But is there a segment of the secular Jewish community that is anti-Catholic? Absolutely.

The day after our debate, Boteach was kind enough to have me on his radio show to mix it up again. During the course of that conversation, I admitted that there was a segment of the Catholic community that is anti- Semitic. I then asked him if he would agree that there is a segment of the secular Jewish community that is anti-Catholic, and he denied it without equivocation. That's also nonsense.

Getting back to the original topic, consider what the New York Times said about "The Passion" on June 24: "Significantly, in the movie industry, which tends to be liberal and secular in outlook, as well as disproportionately Jewish, few people interviewed about `The Passion' said they had actually seen the movie." Even Times columnist Frank Rich, who criticized me for my comments, has said that when the term "entertainment elite" is invoked by Mel's defenders, they are referring to a group that "just happens to be Jewish." And it is he who has said that "Jews have had no shortage of clout in show business from day one."

The "Today Show," Newsweek magazine, the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets have all reported on the Hollywood animus against "The Passion." As one Oscar-campaign veteran put it, "a lot of older Academy voters, who are largely Jewish, refuse to even see this movie." Tom O'Neil, who is one of the most prominent students of the Oscars, recently described what happened when the Mel Gibson film was being considered by the experts: "At this religious movie, there was more cussing and swearing by Oscar voters than has ever been seen in an Academy screening before." This says it all.

The point is that no one seriously disputes the fact that Hollywood is a heavily secular Jewish community. And while some may want to defend Hollywood against the charge that it is anti-Christian in general and anti-Catholic in particular, those who do so carry a heavy burden. It is not for nothing that Hollywood has been turning out one Christian-bashing film after another for the past few decades. There are books and tapes available that document the animus in detail.

Indeed, a report released on December 16 by the Parents Television Council shows that Hollywood has a real problem with religion. The study of CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, WB, UPN and Pax contained 2,344 treatments of religion constituting 2,385 hours of primetime television. L. Brent Bozell, the president of the organization, said the findings of his study "lend credibility to the idea that Hollywood accepts spirituality but shies away from endorsing, or even tolerating, organized religion." As important as anything, Bozell said that "anti-Catholic bigotry" was "rampant" on network shows. "Catholicism is in the bull's-eye of the entertainment media," he said.

Beliefnet readers should know that while Boteach has been railing against me, I have been tagged as "a neocon plant inside the Catholic right." And do you know who did the planting? Jews.

Over the summer, in the Catholic League journal, Catalyst, I published an article that took to task a piece in the Catholic monthly, Culture Wars.

It was not because the article was anti-Catholic; it was because it was anti-Semitic. Here is what we said about the person who runs the magazine, E. Michael Jones: "The Catholic League condemns Jones' anti-Semitism and repudiates his efforts to justify it in the name of Catholic theology." And because of this, Culture Wars has published two cover articles attacking me, partly because I credit Jews as helping my career.

Now it is not likely that a Catholic who is the "tool of the Jews" is also someone who wants to foment problems between Christians and Jews. That both charges are patently false will be denied by no one save those with an agenda. Christians and Jews need each other, but they also need to have honest dialogue. If there is a problem between the two communities, then it should be discussed rationally and dealt with decisively.

My hope is that Rabbi Boteach will now take the opportunity to apologize to Jennifer Giroux, director of Women Influencing the Nation, for calling her an "ignorant peasant" on that same MSNBC show. That's no way to treat a lady.

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