The International Campaign for Real History


Posted Monday, March 24, 2003

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New York Times
March 12, 2003

To: The New York Times Magazine

Letter to the Editor

WE are concerned that Mel Gibson's cinematic attempt to portray the suffering of Jesus and the crucifixion in his new film, "The Passion," could call up a dangerous anti-Semitic canard that has for centuries been used to validate the persecution and wanton killing of Jews. ("Is the Pope Catholic Enough?" Mar. 9)

The centuries-old charge of deicide against Jews, simply put, that "the Jews killed Christ," has been discredited by history and unequivocally rejected by the Roman Catholic Church in the 1965 Vatican proclamation, "Nostra Aetate."

Website note: Abraham Foxman, wealthy and controversial chief of the Anti Defamation League, likes to refer to himself as a "Holocaust survivor." As a biography on this website shows, he was not even born when Hitler invaded his native Poland, and he was looked after by Polish Catholics throughout the war; his parents also "survived".

Yet the deicide charge against Jews still has staying power among fringe movements and even in some mainstream segments of the Catholic Church. A film graphically portraying the life of Christ, one that aims to lay the blame for the death of Christ "where it belongs" - code words for deicide - could turn back the clock on decades of interfaith work toward mutual respect and understanding, work that has been championed by Pope John Paul II and prominent Jewish and Catholic leaders.

Just what is "the truth" that Gibson wishes to tell? Christian Scriptures themselves relate conflicting accounts of the death of Jesus. The truth is always in the eye of the beholder. The danger is that an old-style retelling of Christ's passion, given the imprimatur of a high-profile and iconic Hollywood celebrity like Mel Gibson, could serve as a toxic recipe for religious hatred.


Abraham H. Foxman
National Director


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