Now that Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Director Abraham Foxman has finally seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, he still doesn’t like it. The movie “continues its unambiguous portrayal of Jews as being responsible for the death of Jesus,” he said in a statement last week. Perhaps Foxman wants Gibson to ignore the involvement of the Jewish establishment at that time in the death of Christ, and perhaps he himself wants to ignore the movie’s reportedly unambiguous portrayal of the pagan Pontius Pilate’s responsibility for the death of Christ. Pilate made the final decision to crucify Christ despite knowing that He was innocent, and the oldest Christian creed, the Apostles Creed, says that Christ suffered and died “under Pontius Pilate” while making no mention of Jewish involvement.
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights President William Donohue has been doing battle with Foxman and ADL, who with other left-leaning allies have generated far more controversy over this Gospel-based movie than they have over the real problems of anti-Semitism on college campuses and among many American blacks and Muslims. On January 26, Donohue sent a letter to Foxman asking for an apology for one of Foxman’s recent outbursts: “Regarding the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of the Christ, you were quoted on January 23 in the Los Angeles Times saying, ‘[Gibson is] hawking it on a commercial crusade to the churches of this country. That’s what makes it dangerous.'” “This is very disturbing,” wrote Donohue. “To say the film is dangerous because the people who are previewing it are church-going Christians is an insult to practicing Christians. The subtext of this remark is that church-going Christians are latent anti-Semitic bigots ready to lash out at Jews at any given moment.”
Foxman, who acknowledges that he was saved as a child by Catholics during the Holocaust, twists every fact to fit his theory that the movie-which I have not seen-portrays Jews and only Jews as responsible for the death of Christ. For example, he co-authored an op-ed in the Palm Beach Post (January 25) that said:
- “In Mr. Gibson’s film, there is absolutely no ambiguity as to who is responsible for the death of Jesus-it is the Jews. Roman soldiers are seen bribing Jews to come out en masse to his trial by the Sanhedrin, in the Jewish Temple and at night. Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, calls for Jesus’ death time and time again, and all the Jews (literally hundreds and hundreds) rally behind this cry.”
So aren’t the Romans involved in getting together this bloodthirsty crowd? Aren’t they partially responsible, based on Foxman’s own account of the film, for manipulating the situation? Or are we supposed to believe that these pagans spent money bribing Jews to come to the trial in the hope that they would call for the release of this troublesome Jewish prophet?
For more information on The Passion of the Christ, click here.