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Thursday, November 13, 2003
ADL Shake-Up Over Mel Gibson's 'Passion'
RABBI Eugene Korn, a leading critic of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ," has resigned as Anti-Defamation League's director of interfaith affairs.
The Jewish publication Forward suggests the resignation stems from a major disagreement within the ADL over the organization's aggressive criticism of Mel Gibson's upcoming film "The Passion of Christ."
The paper quotes Korn (right) as saying that his resignation was a "mutual decision" stemming from his need for "a more reflective and contemplative environment."
"Korn's departure has some Jewish communal observers suggesting that a more diplomatic approach is needed in dealing with Gibson's upcoming film," Forward reported.
The Forward also noted that while the ADL's "strong rebuke of Gibson and his film was hailed by officials at several Jewish organizations, it has been criticized as counterproductive by an increasing number of communal experts."
Elan Steinberg, senior adviser to World Jewish Congress, said: "We have to ask questions in the Jewish community about the approach taken to this film. Have we really examined the question of whether bringing greater publicity to the film, broad charges of anti-Semitism and perhaps disenchanting those who are our allies in many struggles should be done in such a cavalier way?"
Korn "was uncomfortable with the aggressive style of the ADL's longtime national director, Abraham Foxman," on Gibson's movie and other interfaith issues, Forward reported.
Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of the organization Toward Tradition, recently denounced Foxman for condemning Gibson as an anti-Semite.
And other Jewish leaders are also worried the ADL strategy has backfired.
"I'm not sure if we're not playing into [Gibson's] hands," said Gilbert Rosenthal, director of the National Council of Synagogues. "He said he's got millions of dollars in free publicity. I'd like to see statements from the Christian community on this."
Hebrew Union College professor Rabbi Michael Cook told the Forward that the Jewish community risks "embarrassment" when the film hits theatres and the public recognizes the film is not offensive.