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New York, February 4, 2004
Gibson to Delete
a Scene in 'Passion'
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 3 -- Mel
Gibson, responding to focus groups as much as to
protests by Jewish critics, has decided to delete a
controversial scene about Jews from his film, "The
Passion of the Christ," a close associate said
A scene in the film, in which the Jewish high
priest Caiaphas calls down a kind of curse on the
Jewish people by declaring of the Crucifixion, "His
blood be on us and on our children," will not be in
the movie's final version, said the Gibson
associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
I HAVE refrained from
posting on this website the volume of
material relating to Mel Gibson's
film, as it appears to me a manufactured
controversy in which each side has its own
axe to grind.
A lot of the arguments seem false.
Abe Foxman and his corrupt cronies
argue that this film will feed the ancient
"anti-Semitic slur" that the Jews killed
Jesus Christ. From my own knowledge of the
working-class mentality and the thinking
of the common man, there is virtually no
discussion of that in the pubs of Wapping,
so to speak.
What enrages stevedores,
steelworkers and the rest -- the ordinary
human beings -- about "the Jews" is the
kind of thing I have been patiently
documenting in my website dossier on the
origins of anti-Semitism, offering little
or no comment, in real time, over the last
three years: Graft, networking, greed,
criminality, brutality, intimidation,
espionage, conspiracy, extortion, drug
racketeering, land grabbing, and
belligerence being just some of the
IN the case of the preposterous Abraham
Foxman -- who has been called the Jewish
community's own worst enemy -- let it
suffice to recall the manner in which he
solicited a quarter million dollar bribe
(it may have been more) from billionaire
criminal Marc Rich, another Jew,
who fled into exile rather than pay the
taxes he owes to the US people.
In return for the secret
bribe, which became known from captured
e-mails, Foxman agreed to write a letter
to President Bill Clinton, urging
that Rich be pardoned. Both men's hands
are soiled, so to speak, but Clinton
shapes up to Jesus Christ in saintliness
when glimpsed standing next to the corrupt
head of the Anti-Defamation League.
The passage had been included in some versions
of the film that were shown before select groups,
mostly of priests and ministers.
"It didn't work in the focus screenings," the
associate said. "Maybe it was thought to be too
hurtful, or taken not in the way it was intended.
It has been used terribly over the years."
Jewish leaders had
warned that the passage from Matthew
27:25 was the historic source for many of
the charges of deicide and Jews' collective
guilt in the death of Jesus.
Gibson's decision to remove the scene could
indicate that he was being responsive to concerns
of Jewish groups that the film will fuel anti-
Semitism. Mr. Gibson (left) was the
co-writer, director, producer and financier of the
$25 million film, which will be released in more
than 2,000 theaters on Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday.
Mr. Gibson also responded to a letter from
Abraham Foxman, national director of the
League, who had requested a meeting and asked
Mr. Gibson to consider a postscript that would
"implore your viewers to not let the movie turn
some toward a passion of hatred."
Mr. Gibson did not respond to those requests
directly, writing only: "I hope and I pray that you
will join me in setting an example for all of our
brethren; that the truest path to follow, the only
path, is that of respect and, most importantly,
that of love for each other despite our
Mr. Foxman responded in turn on Monday that
"your words do not mitigate our concerns about the
potential consequences of your film -- to fuel and
This reporter was shown a two-hour version of
the R-rated movie this week. The film features
agonizing passages as Jesus, played by Jim
Caviezel, is mercilessly beaten by Jewish and
then Roman guards, and jeered and hounded by a
Jewish mob on his way to his Crucifixion. It is
unclear how close this version is to Mr. Gibson's
In this version, the Roman leader Pontius Pilate
is depicted as being reluctant to harm Jesus, who
Pilate's wife warns is holy. Largely to mollify a
restive Jewish mob outside his window, Pilate
agrees to a severe lashing and scourging of Jesus,
but the crowd and the high priest demand more.
Pilate says in Latin: "Ecce homo" -- "Behold the
man" -- displaying the broken and bleeding Jesus to
the crowd. But the high priest insists, in Aramaic,
"Crucify him." Pilate responds, "Isn't this
enough?" The mob roars, "No," and only then does
the Roman leader agree to the Crucifixion.
Because passion plays historically preceded
outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence in Europe, the
film passage is a particularly sensitive matter
with Jewish groups at a time when anti-Semitism is
on the rise in parts of Europe, the Middle East and
But Mr. Gibson further raised hackles among
Jewish leaders in an exclusive interview by the
writer Peggy Noonan published in the March
issue of Reader's Digest.
(right) director of
Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, accused Mr.
insensitivity when he
compared Jewish suffering in the Holocaust to that
of millions of others who died in the war.
Ms. Noonan, a former speechwriter for President
Ronald Reagan, asked Mr. Gibson about his
father, a conservative Catholic who was quoted in a
New York Times Magazine article last March
denying that Holocaust took place. Mr. Gibson
answered that he loved his father. Ms. Noonan
"You're going to have
to go on record. The Holocaust happened,
Mr. Gibson responded: "I have friends and
parents of friends who have numbers on their arms.
The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust
survivor. He worked in a concentration camp in
France. Yes of course. Atrocities happened. War is
horrible. The Second World War killed tens of
millions of people. Some of them were Jews in
concentration camps. Many people lost their lives.
In the Ukraine several million starved to death
between 1932 and 1933. During the last century 20
million people died in the Soviet Union."
In a letter to Mr. Gibson, Rabbi Hier wrote:
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
"Never Again? The Threat of the New
Anti-Semitism," foreword by
($24.95, 304 pages).
"We are not engaging in competitive
martyrdom, but in historical truth. To describe
Jewish suffering during the Holocaust as 'some
of them were Jews in concentration camps' is an
afterthought that feeds right into the hands of
Holocaust deniers and revisionists."
Mr. Gibson's spokesman, Alan Nierob,
denied that the director was looking to further
inflame those leaders.
"There's no doubt in my mind that not only does
he know the Holocaust and acknowledge it, he has
shed tears over it, with me," he said.
Rabbi Hier responded that Mr. Gibson missed a
chance to reduce the tension with Jewish groups. "I
think he was lobbed an easy question. He could've
used the occasion to take us on a different road,
instead he marginalized the Holocaust, he diluted
its significance, and it's a lie," he said. "Either
he is very ignorant of sensitivities in Jewish
communities of riling survivors, those who have
lost loved ones, or he is doing it
Mr. Foxman also protested Mr. Gibson's remark on
the Holocaust. "At the very least it was ignorant,
at the very most its insensitive. And you know
what? He doesn't get that either. He doesn't begin
to understand the difference between dying in a
famine and people being cremated solely for what
dossier on Abraham Foxman and the
dossier on the origins of
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