Monday, August 11, 2003

Well, it seems as if Mel Gibson's production company is finally allowing Jews into the private screenings of his new movie. Rabbi Eugene Korn, the Anti-Defamation League's Director of Interfaith Affairs, saw the movie yesterday. In a press release posted on the ADL's web site, ADL Concerned Mel Gibson's 'Passion' Will Fuel Anti-Semitism if Released in Present Form, Rabbi Korn said, "Sadly, the film contains many of the dangerous teachings that Christians and Jews have worked for so many years to counter. . . . This is not a disagreement between the Jews and Mr. Gibson. Many theologically informed Catholics and Protestants have expressed the same concerns regarding anti-Semitism, and that this film may undermine Christian-Jewish dialogue and could turn back the clock on decades of positive progress in interfaith relations."

Many of the problems that were already flagged by Paula Fredriksen in her New Republic article have seemingly remained in the film, as outlined in the ADL statement:

ADL's concerns include:
 * The film portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish "mob" as forcing the decision to torture and execute Jesus, thus assuming responsibility for the crucifixion.
* The film relies on sinister medieval stereotypes, portraying Jews as blood-thirsty, sadistic and money-hungry enemies of God who lack compassion and humanity.
*  The film relies on historical errors, chief among them its depiction of the Jewish high priest controlling Pontius Pilate
*  The film uses an anti-Jewish account of a 19th century mystical anti-Semitic nun, distorts New Testament interpretation by selectively citing passages to weave a narrative that oversimplifies history, and is hostile to Jews and Judaism.
*  The film portrays Jews who adhere to their Jewish faith as enemies of God and the locus of evil.

I guess the reemergence of antisemitism in its various forms in the last few years has given new vigor to the old canards of Christian anti-Judaism.

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