Has Mel Gibson Defeated George W. Bush?
- Has Mel Gibson Defeated George W. Bush?
Politicians, radio and television talk show hosts, and others in the
public eye, including Jay Leno, "Mel Gibson with Jay Leno on
Thursday's "Tonight" show.
have blown vast amounts of their own credibility through their kid
gloves treatments of Gibson and company. By doing so they not only
have harmed themselves, but have harmed the causes they espouse. As
the messengers of those causes cease to be credible the messages
those messengers profess lose also. That many of those messengers
have been right-wingers ought not to be lost on the White House. In
this volatile election year Gibson and company may have done more to
assure the defeat of George W. Bush than anyone else. If Bush's
media messengers are tarnished by their "hear no evil, see no evil,
speak no evil" kid gloves treatments of Gibson and company the
messages those same messengers seek to deliver on Bush's behalf
As Bush's right wing media messengers' credibility is tarnished by
their failure to condemn Gibson and company so too is the right wing
message those right wing media messengers try to deliver on Bush's
behalf. If you support Bush you ought to convey both to Bush, and
to his right wing messengers in the media, and in politics, that
they have harmed Bush's cause by their failure to condemn Gibson and
company. If you oppose Bush you probably want to deliver more rope
to those right wing Bush messengers, who are hanging themselves, and
destroying their credibility, in the process of their failures to
condemn Gibson and company. In so doing they are damaging their own
abilities to bring Bush's message to the people.
It is the Syrian Baath Party and the Assad regime in Damascus that
will benefit from all of this. Most of those who are murdering
Americans, and others from the civilized world, in Iraq, are Syrians
sent by the Assad regime to try to drive the U.S. out of Iraq just
as Syria drove the U.S. out of Lebanon by bombing the U.S. Embassy
and the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon decades ago.
George W. Bush, like him or not, has liberated Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now all of that is threatened should Bush be replaced by an American
President who would cut and run from those 2 nations and turn things
over to "the international community". If he is to be credible, the
presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, John F. Kerry, needs to
stop saying that Bush "rushed to war". In fact he threatens his own
election prospects by doing so. Rather, Kerry should wear his vote
to authorize the liberation of Iraq as a badge of honor. Kerry
should warn Syria that regime change in Damascus will quickly follow
on his inauguration as President in 2005 should Syria continue to
attack Americans in Iraq.
Signs which portray John F. Kerry as (JFK) Jane Fonda Kerry are
popping up all over and no doubt will soon become bumper stickers.
Kerry needs to assure the American people that he is no Jane Fonda.
He can do that best by choosing a running-mate who supported the
liberation of Iraq. If that running mate comes from the Senate we
believe it should be Joe Lieberman or Dick Gephardt. So if you want
to see a President Kerry or a President Edwards (and
we think, as we have said, that Kerry is the most likely Democratic
nominee at this point) you really need to make sure that Kerry or
Edwards do not fall for the Nader trap. No reaching out to the
servants of Saddam out there. What Kerry or Edwards need is the most
hawkish running-mate there is. That can be someone like Joe
Lieberman (Draft Joe Lieberman for Vice President in 2004)
or Dick Gephardt, both of
whom voted for the liberation of Iraq, as did, Kerry and Edwards,
and both of whom (Gephardt and Lieberman) also voted for the $87
dollars to fund that liberation (Kerry and Edwards missed the boat on
that one and it will come back to bite them in the general election
the Republicans seek to paint Kerry, or Edwards if he is the nominee,
as soft on Saddam). Nader an anagram of Dean with an R for
Republican added to it
Back before we changed the name of one our groups from BushBusters to
DeanBusters,For more information:
before Gore switched from hawk to dove on Saddam and Bush switched
from dove to
hawk on Saddam we looked into just how Remorseless Ralphie Nader, an
Dean with an R for Republican added to it,
might or might not have been CIA,(Yes, Central Intelligence Agency),
get go. We've changed the urls from BushBusters to DeanBusters so
that you can
read them if you click on them below.
Nader, Princeton, and the CIA???
PART TWO Nader, Princeton, and the CIA???
Part Three Nader, Princeton, and the CIA???
Part Four NADER, Princeton, and the CIA???
Well we have some more fun news for you. While we are keeping
for awhile to make sure that Dean is not the Democratic Vice
nominee this year we have made another group name change from JOIN-
Post message: NaderBusters@yahoogroups.com
For those who cannot recall just what JOIN-CATNIP stoop for it stood
Court Appointed Tyrants Need Impeachment Pronto So what's up with
unrepentant Ralphie Nader's attempt to once again
White House to Bush by splitting the left?
Here's what we think the plot is, well beyond the obvious one of
getting enough leftists to vote for Nader to elect Bush. That's iffy
days if leftists have earned their lessons from Florida.
What the larger plot seems to be is to scare Kerry (assuming he is
Democratic Party's Presidential nominee, or Edwards (if he somehow
a really unimaginable upset), into siding with Nader on the
Iraq,(Nader was and is against it), and thus scare off Republicans,
centrists, etc. in large enough numbers that Bush gets those
votes and really wins this election, which should otherwise belong to
the Democrats because of jobs, health care, and the economy in
That may have been behind Gore's 180 degree turn from hawk to dove
Dubya was the son of the man who had left Saddam in power and
Al Gore was someone who was famous for opposing Saddam.
In 2002 However Al Gore was either replaced by a clone or robot from
an alternate universe, bribed, had a nervous breakdown, threatened,
or in some other way became the Bizarro Al Gore, the complete
of the Al Gore who had for so long opposed Saddam Hussein, and
became an advocate for Iraq and an opponent of the liberation of
have felt that he needed to reach out to Nader's pro-Saddam Hussein
supporters, hence the birth of the Bizarro Al Gore. But it really
work. The Al Gore I got onto the 1992 Clinton ticket was a hawk on
He was one of a couple of handfuls of Democratic Senators to vote
1991 Gulf War. He even gave a very hawkish on Saddam speech during
campaign. Date: Wed Sep 25, 2002 12:10 pm
Subject: If it ain't broke don't fix it!
If it ain't broke don't fix it!
Al Gore's hawkish policy on Iraq prior
to his recent disastrous speech
in California was far from broken.
Indeed it was just what the country
needed. Now Gore, the man I pitched as
the ideal running-mate for Bill
Clinton to key Clinton influencers in
1992, primarily because of that
hawkish policy on Iraq, has gone and
shot himself, and anyone dumb
enough to associate himself or herself
with the new Gore in the foot,
no make that in the head! This is
political suicide pure and simple.
Why did he do it? I don't think Saddam
bribed him but I do recall a
mysterious powder sent to Gore's office
recently. Was that a threat
from Saddam? Could Gore's family have been threatened by Saddam?
Gore's son recently got arrested for DWI. One recalls the tragic
automobile accident, (or assassination attempt? ), that left Gore's
son hospitalized years ago. We may never know WHY Gore destroyed
himself politically. We can certainly see how he did it by looking at
his nauseating speech.
Frankly I'm sickened by the whole affair. Just sickened.
"September 25, 2002
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 the former vice president may have undercut some
of the work he has done over the last 10 years in positioning himself
as a Democratic hawk. With his speech in San Francisco on Monday
challenging President Bush on Iraq, Mr. Gore may have complicated his
party's political tasks in this mid-term election year as much as he
has his own ambitions. Several Democratic strategists said today that
Mr. Gore's speech was likely to feed into a Republican strategy of
portraying Democrats as antiwar during the final weeks of a close
Congressional election. *** several Democrats suggested that Mr.
Gore's speech, or at least the way it was portrayed, gave ammunition
to Republicans who have been looking to spotlight what Representative
Thomas M. Davis III, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the
National Republican Congressional Committee, memorably described as
the "peace wing" of the Democratic Party. "What worries me is it gets
associated with a national climate where the public identifies the
Democrats as the antiwar party," one senior Democratic strategist
said.*** some Democrats expressed skepticism that Mr. Gore had
enhanced his standing. For one thing, Mr. Gore's skepticism about the
Bush administration's approach to Iraq would seem at odds with his
frequent efforts to present himself as one of the few Democrats who
voted to give President Bush's father the authority to oust Mr.
Hussein more than 10 years ago.
With so many Democratic presidential contenders sounding like Mr.
Gore, he has moved to the other side of the line.*** several
said this could be problematic for a candidate who has constantly
accused of reinventing himself.
Republicans today were quick to accuse Mr. Gore of precisely what
Democrats have been trying to say about Republicans this week:
politics with an international crisis.*** Mr. Gore has been
by some Democrats , including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of
Connecticut, who was his running mate in 2000. Mr. Lieberman said he
disagreed with Mr. Gore's contention that the White House might turn
its attention to Mr. Hussein at a time when it was still fighting Al
"I am confident that the American military can do and will do both at
once," Mr. Lieberman said. "But I also feel that there is a
between Saddam Hussein's regime and the war against terrorism."
Gore, Kerry and the late Senator Heinz were all good friends in
the Senate working to expose the arming of Saddam by Reagan and Bush
Yes there really were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but guess
the CIA really does NOT want to find them, at least that is what we
but what do we know? if the CIA did find them it might just have to
explain how Saddam got them in the first place. So the weapons have
vanished. Hear no weapons, see no weapons, speak no weapons.
Yes a whole lot of them probably did get shipped to Syria right
the 2003 liberation of Iraq, and some probably did get blown up in
bombings, or by the Iraqis themselves, and quite a few probably are
like Saddam was, in Spider Holes all over Iraq. But the really
cover-up is being run by the media, mostly corporate owned with ties
arab sheiks and oil companies and the rest in more than a few cases.
Every intelligence agency on earth knew, and knows, there were
mass destruction in Iraq before it was liberated in 2003. The U.N.
Council voted unanimously on that one. Unanimously, that included the
permament member states like the US, UK, Russia, China, France.
Get it? They were there. Where are they now? Targeting Saddam's
Please see: http://webu6102.ntx.net/goc/ao980329.html
"Saddam's investments in large European companies such as Hachette,
Matra and Daimler Benz, to name a few." Quote from : "Targeting
Saddam's personal fortune" Please see:
"Window On The World Of Magazines With high-profile magazines such as
George, Premiere, Car and Driver, and Elle, Hachette Filipacchi is
of the most powerful publishers in the world."
Please see: http://www.eds.com/95annual_text/features/ear29000.html
"George Magazine Online can be found
exclusively on America Online." http://www.georgemag.com/index2.html
the above magazine was the magazine of the late
John F. Kennedy Jr. sadly it featured Saddam's ally FARRAKHAN
see also: ADL DECLINES TO MEET WITH FARRAKHAN CALLS ON HIM TO
IMMEDIATELY STOP HIS RACIST AND ANTI-SEMITIC ORATORY"
In Florida Nader got 97,419 votes. Nader got 2% of the votes cast in
Florida. In 1992 Clinton beat Bush in NJ by 2%. Polls show NJ
tilting towards Bush. I remember Tipper Gore saying a week before
the 1992 election that the Clinton-Gore ticket was 10% ahead of Bush
in NJ. By election day Bush narrowed that to 2%. A few more days and
Bush might have taken NJ and other states.We think that is what Bush
II intends to do in 2004. Paint Kerry, or Edwards as soft on Saddam.
This whole process is called triangulation. If Kerry or Edwards fall
for the Nader trap and become me-too servants of Saddam they will
lose voters who see national security as the key issue in this
election. Bush will win in 2004 if Kerry or Edwards fall for the
Nader trap. The right move for Kerry or Edwards is to paint BOTH
Bush and Nader as soft on Saddam. Nader for the obvious reaons, and
Bush for having to be awakened to the dangers of Saddam by September
11th. For being asleep at the switch before that.That's the way to
win. Have a hawk on Iraq like Lieberman or Gephardt as running-mate.
Kerry or Edwards must stop appearing to fawn on "the international
community" (code names for France and Germany, where Saddam
allegedly had vast investments in firms like Matra, the French
missile manufacturer, Daimler-Benz,(which now owns Chrysler)
Hachette, (the French publishing company that owns Elle, Car and
Driver and owned George, JFK Jr.'s publication) etc. Winning means
taking a page from Clinton's 1992 playbook.
Excerpted from the Text Of Bill Clinton's Speech: `Hope For The
Future' NEW YORK, July 16, 1992 "An America that will never coddle
tyrants, from Baghdad to Beijing."
"Pope's Syrian visit overshadowed by anti-Semitic diatribes
By Ellis Shuman May 8, 2001
Pope John Paul II completed a four-day visit to Syria today, a visit
of religious significance that was overshadowed by his hosts'
attempts to gain papal political support for the Syrian and
Syrian President Basher al-Assad greeted the Pope at Damascus
International Airport on Saturday with a speech that connected the
Palestinian plight to that of Jesus. "[The Jews] try to kill all the
principles of divine faiths with the same mentality of betraying
Jesus Christ and torturing Him, and in the same way that they tried
to commit treachery against Prophet Mohammad," Assad said. The Pope
declined to respond to Assad's attack against
Jews and opted to stick to his prepared speech in which he praised
the Syrian President profusely.
The stance of Basher al-Assad didn't come as a surprise to
observers. On his trip to Spain last week, the Syrian President
denounced Israelis as being "more racist than the Nazis." Despite
the desire of the Pope to take a personal journey honoring one of
the saints whose name the pope assumed as head of the Roman Catholic
Church, observers and analysts suggested that the papal visit was
being manipulated by his hosts. Katsav attacks Assad's remarks
Israeli President Moshe Katsav attacked Assad's remarks on Sunday,
suggesting that the young Syrian leader would be better off if he
followed his late father's example of exercising self-control when
criticizing Israel. "He [Hafez Assad] was not a partner with whom we
could reach peace but he did not express himself in such a careless,
racist, anti-Semitic, illogical manner as that in which the current
president expresses himself," Katsav said.
Katsav also called upon the Vatican "to respond to Assad's remarks
and to correct his historic mistake."
Wayne Firestone, director of the Anti-Defamation League's Israel
office, said that the organization was "deeply upset at the show
that was staged for the pope, who is on record as working for the
reconciliation between Jews and Christians." Firestone added that
Assad's "repugnant accusations that Jews murdered Christ" attempted
to mix religion with politics in an already volatile situation.
"In wake of Assad's remarks, Jews blast pope's silence
MICHAEL J. JORDAN
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
NEW YORKWhen the Western-educated Bashar Assad succeeded his
father, Hafez Assad, as president of Syria last summer, Israeli
officials hoped the changing of the guard from the Lion of Damascus
to the Optometrist of Damascus would usher in a gentler approach
Young Assad has lost no time in establishing animosity toward
Israel, however, greeting Pope John Paul II to Syria this week by
resuscitating one of the great anti-Jewish canards: the accusation
that Jews killed Jesus.
Even more galling to many Jewish leaders, however, was the pope's
silence in the face of the Christ-killer charge, as well as Assad's
call for Christians and Muslims to unite against Jews and an
apparently novel claim that Jews even tried to kill the prophet
The following day, Assad's minister for religious affairs weighed in
by warning the pope: "We must be fully aware of what the enemies of
God and malicious Zionism conspire to commit against Christianity
As is his policy, the pope stuck to his script and did not attempt
to counter his hosts' harangues.
To some Jewish leaders, the pope's silence raises the question of
whether a man often hailed for his moves toward Jewish-Christian
reconciliation really is committed to stamping out the insidious
anti-Semitism that the Roman Catholic Church helped propagate
through the ages.
And now the popewhose reign has seen international criticism of the
Vatican's silence in the face of Nazi atrocitiesalso held his
tongue while Assad picked up a theme that the Catholic Church itself
finally repudiated in 1965.
"If there's one thing we've learned from the 1930s, it's that words
especially the words of leadershave consequences," said Rabbi A.
James Rudin, the senior interreligious adviser to the American
Jewish Committee. "And these words should not go unchecked or
A spokesman for American Catholics responded that it's not necessary
for the pope to criticize Assad's comments.
"The Catholic Church has stated that it is inappropriate and wrong
to say directly or indirectly that the Jews are to blame for the
death of Jesus," said Eugene Fisher, who directs Catholic-Jewish
relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Nothing Mr.
Assad says will change the mind of the pope or of 1 billion
Fisher's words do not mollify Jewish critics, however. Several are
writing letters to the pope or issuing press releases.
After all, they note, it was the pope's high-profile visit, covered
at length by the world media, that provided Assad with a rare
international platform for his statements.
"It's one thing for the Vatican to repair relations with the Muslim
world, as long as it's not done at the expense of the Jewish
people," said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-
"It's nonsense for the Vatican to say we had nothing to do with
this, because they provided a megaphone for this bigotry," Foxman
While the Vatican remains mum, Washington has denounced Assad and
"These comments are as regrettable as they are unacceptable," State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday.
"There's no place from anyone or from any side for statements that
inflame religious passions and hatred," he said. "We hold with the
pope's call for reconciliation. That is really the only way forward,
especially in these difficult times, and the only way to achieve the
peace that all parties profess to want."
Still, a papal clarification would help reassure Jews that this does
not mark a shift in Catholic-Jewish relations, according to Mark
Weitzman, who directs the Simon Wiesenthal Center's task force
"This flies in the face of all their condemnations of anti-
Semitism," Weitzman said. "Is this going to be a case of Vatican
policyto the Westof repudiation of anti-Semitism, and to the
Mideast, silence in the face of it? A lesson they say they've
learned is that the crime of indifference is one of the greatest
Fisher, however, said it is customary for the pope to devise a
blueprint of what he will do and say during an upcoming trip, and
then not deviate from the script.
This strategy allows the pope "to have control of what he says" and
avoid getting embroiled in a tit-for-tat with his often roguish
"I can understand the pope's practices," said Seymour Reich, the
chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious
Consultations, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations. "But I am
a little disappointed that there wasn't some sort of diplomatic way
for the pope to indicate his annoyance and irritationwhich he must
have felt at Assad for taking advantage of his pilgrimage."
"Gibson's `Passion of Christ' A Potential Setback for Christian-
New York, NY, February 25, 2004 After screening the commercially
released version of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ,"
which was virtually indistinguishable from earlier versions of the
film shown to select audiences, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
today said Mr. Gibson's failure to make alterations to the film and
its unambiguous portrayal of Jews as being responsible for the death
of Christ, "represents a potential setback for Jewish-Christian
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, and Gary Bretton-
Granatoor, ADL Advisor on Interfaith Affairs, issued the following
The final version of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" now in
theaters repeats all of the stereotypes and images surrounding the
death of Jesus that have generated anti-Semitism for 2,000 years.
We had hoped that Mel Gibson would hear our concerns and make
changes; sadly, the epiphany did not happen. Instead of listening
to our concerns about the history of the charge of deicide being
used to foment anti-Semitism through the centuries, Mr. Gibson
attacked his critics and refused to listen to the concerns of
Christians and Jews.
All we have asked for the past 11 months is for Mr. Gibson to
understand our concerns. Our request that he add a postscript to the
film, or to make other changes to help sensitize his viewers, was
not so outlandish, for another director in history, when filming his
version of the Passion, listened to our concerns and did just that.
In 1928, Cecil B. DeMille decided to revise his film "The King of
Kings" after hearing concerns from Jews, Catholics and others.
Additionally, Mr. DeMille added a forward to his film in which he
explained that the Jews, then and now, should not be held
responsible for the death of Jesus.
Unfortunately, Mr. Gibson's film represents a setback to more than
40 years of Jewish-Christian relations. Yet as problematic as the
film is, its negative consequences can be contained. The last 40
years of Church teaching has eroded the base of anti-Semitic
thinking among many Christians. We are heartened that since the
controversy began, some Christian leaders, including the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Ecumenical and
Evangelical Protestant leaders, have stood up for the new Church
teachings about Jews. It is critical that in the weeks and months
ahead, many more Christians stand up against the demonizing of Jews
that has led to tragic anti-Semitism.
We are greatly concerned about how this film will be received by the
public in countries in Europe, South America and the Middle East
that will not have had the benefit of the discussion, debate and
sensitivity that has taken place in this country surrounding Mr.
Gibson's film. The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the
world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs
and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry."
February 16, 2004
IN WAKE OF "PASSION" CONTROVERSYWIESENTHAL CENTER LAUNCHES "AN
APPEAL TO PEOPLE OF FAITH" CAMPAIGN TO STRENGTHEN JEWISH/CHRISTIAN
The controversy surrounding the film The Passion of the Christ has
given rise to misconceptions and distortions that threaten the
status of Jewish/Christian relations. With the hope of continuing
the attitude of fruitful and collegial dialogue that has marked
these relations in the United States for the past half-century, the
Center is sending "An Appeal to People of Faith" to select
leadership of all branches of the Christian faith. "Though we may
differ over the film," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder of the
Wiesenthal Center, "our long term objectives to fighting bigotry and
speaking out against antiSemitism are too important to ignore."
"An Appeal to People of Faith" is a document that has a three-fold
· To address the spate of misinformation regarding Jewish
sentiment to the film.
· To reiterate the Jewish community's gratitude for decades of
work on the part of the Christian community to distance itself from
the religious roots of antiSemitism.
· To encourage the Christian community to proclaim that the
Crucifixion's message is not one of violence or blame and that there
is no room in Christian teaching to support the notion that today's
Jews should be seen as the killers of God.
Included in the document is a background document that details the
progress of Jewish/Christian relations in the 20th Century and how
the recent worldwide resurgence of antiSemitism threatens to
undermine much of that progress.
"An Appeal to People of Faith"
AN APPEAL TO PEOPLE OF FAITH
Pope Pius XI, 1937: "Anti-Semitism is a movement which is repulsive.
It is not possible for Christians to be a part of it. Anti-Semitism
is not permitted. We are spiritually Jews though Christ."
Pope John Paul II, 1997: "In the Christian worldI do not say on the
part of the Church as sucherroneous and unjust interpretations of
the New Testament regarding the Jewish people and their alleged
culpability have circulated for too long, engendering feelings of
hostility towards this people."
Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1944: "Only those who cry out for
the Jews may sing Gregorian chants."
With much of the world spiraling towards ever-greater religious
conflict, the United States remains the merciful exception. In so
many ways, the last few decades have nudged Jews and Christians
closer to the brotherhood they should share.
Across the spectrum, Catholic and Protestant churches have taken
extraordinary measures, rare in the previous two millennia, to
preach understanding and tolerance for Jews. In both Catholic and
Protestant publications, articles in church papers and entries in
religious encyclopedias have urged the work of urging tolerance and
respect for the people into whose midst Jesus was born, and the
religion he himself observed.
Among millions of good, church-going Americans, these beliefs are
taken for granted. Many see them as so self-evident that they are
troubled and pained by the reaction of many Jewish leaders to the
forthcoming release of Mel Gibson's dramatization of the Passion. A
succession of Christian leaders from the gamut of churches and
denominations has declared that the Passion is about love, and love
alone. Nothing in the story or its depiction should ever incite
prejudice, let alone violence, against Jews. Finally, they ask: What
do Jews want?
This letter is an explanation and a plea for understandingand for
To strengthen the growing harmony that has marked the relationship
between our communities in recent decades, we would like you to
understand what is trueand what is not true about Jewish concerns.
We also need your help as Christians to prevent what we see as a
potential problem. It is a problem we Jews cannot solve, and so we
appeal to you.
Firstly, we want you to understand that many claims about our
position are patently false. There was no Jewish plot to prevent the
release of The Passion of the Christ. We recognize the centrality of
the Crucifixion to Christians, and we appreciate your frustration
with an entertainment industry that often trivializes or travesties
religious conviction and feeling.
We do want you to understand why we are concerned. The issue is as
urgent as global anti-Semitism.
We thank God that church groups, increasingly since World War II,
have strongly and forcefully distanced themselves from anti-Jewish
behaviors of the past. We know that adherents to Christian teaching
relate to the Passion as a source of love. For many hundreds of
years, however, there were those who often came away from depictions
of the Passion in both Catholic and Protestant landswith a very
different conclusion. It was not one of love, but of hatred and
rapacious anti-Jewish violence. We know what lessons your followers
will take from the film, but we are not so sure about others who are
ignorant or ill-disposed. The world has not changed as much as we
would like. Especially outside of the United Statesin Latin
America, in Europe, in the Middle East, in Muslim areas of Asiaanti-
Semitism has snowballed in recent years, escalating to levels not
seen since the 1930s. We want you to understand the source and
seriousness of our fears
We hope you will counsel us and cooperate with us regarding prudent
action now, even if our concerns ultimately prove exaggerated.
In earlier times, before the recent, strong statements of church
groups condemning anti-Semitism, there was a direct, unmistakable
line that could be drawn from assumptions about the Jewish role in
the Crucifixion, and the way Jews were mistreated over the course of
many centuries. We believe that not all of that feeling has
disappeared. We can show that graphic depictions of Jewish
involvement has led to mortal danger to Jews in the past, that anti-
Jewish depictions are still being exploited today for political
purposes, and that there is no guarantee that such violence could
not happen again.
People of faith have an obligation to see that mutual ignorance does
not complicate and escalate their disagreements. This is a two-way
street. For Jews, it means understanding Christian doctrine and
respect for sacred scripture. For Christians, it means understanding
and appreciation of the well-founded basis of Jewish fears that, now
as in the past, portrayals of Jesus' arrest, trial, and execution
may be misunderstood or distorted to incite antisemitic hatred and
violence, thereby falsifying the authentic Christian message.
· In Slovakia in 1942, a Vatican official refused to intervene
on behalf of Jewish children slated for deportation because: "There
is no innocent blood of Jewish children in the world. All Jewish
blood is guilty. You have to die. This is the punishment that has
been awaiting you because of that sin [of deicide]."
· In the 1960s, at the height of Christian and Jewish
cooperation in the moral crusade for Civil Rights, the sociologists
Charles Y. Glock and Rodney Stark discovered that 60 percent of
American Protestants and 46 percent of American Catholics believed
that "Jews are still unforgiven for the death of Jesus." Glock and
Stark "were entirely unprepared to find the religious roots of anti-
Semitism so widespread in modern society."
· In 2004, the official web site of the government of Qatar
complains that Jews have "gotten the Vatican to drop the Catholic
belief that the Jews were the Christ's killers!"
· Visiting Syria in 2001, Pope John Paul II had to bear in
silence a tirade by young President Bashir Assad against those
who "try to kill the principles of all religions with the same
mentality in which they betrayed Jesus Christ and the same way they
tried to betray and kill the Prophet Muhammad."
· A study of current-day Hungarian text books showed that they
virtually ignored the Holocaust while portraying ancient Jews
as "murderers of Christ" and modern Jews as "enemies of the Germans."
· In April, 2002, the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, ran a
front-page cartoon showing the Baby Jesus hiding from an Israeli
tank in a manger with the caption: "Surely they don't want to kill
· Earlier this year, a New Jersey college campus was blanketed
with 500 posters showing a Palestinian crucified on a Star of David.
· Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass's 1985 book, The
Matzah of Zion, reviving the charge that Jews committed ritual
murder in Damascus in 1840, may soon be made into a motion picture,
touted by the producer as "the Arab answer to Schindler's List."
The current controversy over Mel Gibson's film is often treated as
if it were exclusively a matter of disagreement between Christians
and Jews. In fact, it is also a challenge to Christiansincluding
supporters of Gibson's The Passion of the Christto unite against
the misuse of the good news of the Christian scriptures for hateful
purposes. Christians share with Jews a stake not only in a general
ethic of tolerance, but in faith-based values at the heart of both
our religions. We owe it to each other and to God to work together
so that the "Christ-killer" accusation and epithet have no place in
the twenty-first century world.
We do not have the ability to prevent what we fear may become a
serious, possibly lethal problem for Jews, especially those outside
the United States. We hope that you can help us counter these
fearsome dangersperhaps through effective teaching, writing,
preaching, and public pronouncements. We hope that you will work
with us to develop tools that will combat any threats to our
community. With your help, we can turn an anticipated problem into
an opportunity to reinforce Christian teaching while bringing Jews
and Christians closer together, rather than drive a wedge between us.
We are providing you with a document that gives some of the
background to our concerns in greater detail. Please accept it the
way it is respectfully offered not as an accusation or demand, but
an explanation of the feelings of fellow Americans outside your
community . Whether or not you read this "backgrounder," we hope
that you will respond to our plea on its own merit.
We would love to hear from you, whether with ideas and help, or just
with words of encouragement.
"Background To A Dilemma"
BACKGROUND TO A DILEMMA
Introduction: Interfaith Cooperation
Not too many decades ago, the Jews were branded as Christ-killersas
deicides. Judaism was caricatured as a fossilized religion, and
Jewish-Christian dialogue was virtually unknown. This has changed
dramatically. Many Christians have always repudiated anti-Jewish
stereotypes. Certainly, we can all learn a lesson in courage and
sacrifice from righteous men and women like Pastor Dietrich
Bonhoeffer who was martyred by the Nazis during World War II for
trying to save Jews from Hitler's "Final Solution." And who among us
is not inspired by such shining examples of courage and faith as
Sister Alfonsja (Eugenia Wasowska), who at the age of 19 in 1939
became director of a Catholic orphanage in Przemysl, Poland, and
then secretly sheltered 13 Jewish children until the end of the war?
Both the Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations have
worked with Jews in recent decades to achieve hard-won progress
against anti-Jewish prejudice. In this new century, we need to
continue to affirm our shared heritage and work together against any
possible revival of the deicide accusation and the shameful legacy
The Flowering of Jewish-Catholic Dialogue
The American Catholic Bishops were at the forefront of the adoption
by their Church in 1965 of the landmark document, Nostra Aetate,
declaring that "the Jews should not be presented as rejected or
accursed by God, as if that followed from Holy Scriptures." The
declaration was issued by Pope Paul VI, but it was conceived during
the papacy of Pope John XXIII who as Apostolic Delegate to Greece
and Turkey during World War II helped save thousands of Jews from
the death camps. Pope Paul VI took a new initiative in 1974 by
establishing the Commission for the Catholic Church's Religious
Relations with the Jews. The Commission issued specific, practical
suggestions for bridging the gap between the two faiths.
In June, 1985, on the twentieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the
Commission accelerated its work at the urging of Pope John Paul II
who had declared: "We should aim . . . that Catholic teaching at its
different levels, in Catechesis to children and young people,
presents Jews and Judaism, not only in an honest and objective
manner, free from prejudices and without offences, but also with
full awareness of the heritage common to Jews and Christians." The
U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops followed suit in 1988
by recommending new preaching guidelines, and issuing guidance on
the avoidance of prejudicial media portrayals of Jews and Judaism.
The 1990s witnessed more progress, stimulated by the example of Pope
John Paul II, who himself suffered at the hands of the Nazi
occupiers and witnessed the deportation of his Jewish neighbors to
death camps during world War II. Having made it clear from the
outset of his papacy that "no theological justification could ever
be found for acts of discrimination or persecution against Jews,"
the Pope acknowledged in a 1997 speech that by "blaming the Jews for
the death of Jesus, certain Christian teachings had helped fuel anti-
Pope John Paul II has also earned the deep respect of world Jewry
for his first trip to the Auschwitz memorial (1979), his attendance
at a special service in Rome's Great Synagogue (1996), and his
historic prayer at Jerusalem's Western Wall during his historic
pilgrimage to the Jewish state (2000). He's expressed the Church's
sorrow over the Holocaust and has continued the process of
rapprochement with the Jewish people by establishing diplomatic
relations with Israel. His positive legacy for Catholic-Jewish
relations is enshrined in two new Vatican declarationsWe Remember:
A Reflection on the Shoah (1998), making "an act of repentance
(teshuva)" for "erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New
Testament in the Christian world," and Memory and Reconciliation:
The Church and the Faults of the Past (1999), expressing "profound
remorse" for how "hostility or diffidence of numerous Christians
toward Jews" contributed to the Holocaust.
The Jewish-Protestant Rapprochement
Among Protestant denominations, there has been a parallel
exploration of common ground with Jews and Judaism. This has
involved repudiation of anti-Jewish prejudice, and a new commitment
to the State of Israel. Here are some examples across six decades:
· In 1948 in the Shoah's immediate wake, the First Assembly of
World Council of Churches acknowledged that: "The extermination of
six million Jews" was made possible by failure "to fight with all
our strength the age-old disorder of man which anti-Semitism
represents. . . . The churches in the past have helped to foster an
image of Jews as the sole enemies of Christ which has contributed to
anti-Semitism in the secular world."
· In 1964, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church
declared "the charge of deicide against the Jews is a tragic
misunderstanding of the inner significance of the crucifixion."
Also, the Episcopal Church's General Convention of the adopted a
resolution explicitly rejecting the "Christ killer" label applied to
Jews because "within the Church throughout the centuries, loveless
attitudes, including the charge of deicide, have frequently resulted
in the persecution of the Jewish people and a concomitant revulsion
on the part of the Jewish people towards un-Christ-like witness thus
made . . . ." Then in 1979, the General Convention recognized "a
special urgency for Christians to listen, through study and
dialogue, to ways in which Jews understand their own history, their
Scriptures, their traditions, their faith and their practice, " and
recommended that its member churches observe liturgically every
year, on or near Yom HaShoah, their bond with the Jewish people.
· In 1987, the 199th General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.), adopted a statement, "A Theological Understanding
of the Relationship Between Christians and Jews," affirming "the
gracious and irrevocable election of both" the Presbyterian church
and the Jewish people. Acknowledging "the church's long and deep
complicity in the proliferation of anti-Jewish attitudes and actions
through its `teaching of contempt'," the Presbyterian General
Assembly recognized "the continuity of God's promise of land along
with the obligations of that promise to the people of Israel."
· In 1989, the Willowbank Declaration of the Lausanne
Committee for World Evangelism (LCWE) adopted a particularly strong
resolution condemning anti-Jewish prejudice and supporting
Israel: "[W]e are resolved to uphold the right of Jewish people to a
just and peaceful existence everywhere, both in the land of Israel
and in their communities throughout the world. We repudiate past
persecutions of Jews by those identified as Christians, and we
pledge ourselves to resist every form of anti-Semitism."
· In 1994, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America committed itself to "live out our faith in Jesus
Christ with love and respect for the Jewish people," declaring
that: "In the long history of Christianity, there exists no more
tragic development than the treatment of the Jewish people on the
part of Christian believers." The Council also acknowledged "a
special burden in this regard" borne by Lutherans because of Martin
Luther's "anti-Judaic diatribes and violent recommendations." And it
warned that "the New Testament . . . must not be used as
justification for hostility towards present-day Jews," and
that "blame for the death of Jesus should not be attributed to
Judaism or the Jewish people."
· Also in 1994, the Commission on Theology of the Disciples of
Christ adopted a resolution that states: "We confess and repent the
church's long and deep collusion in the spread of anti-Jewish
attitudes and actions through its `teaching of contempt' for Jews
The Jewish Response
In the late twentieth century, everywhere that American Jews looked,
they saw Catholic and Protestant churches, across the spectrum, take
extraordinary measures, almost unprecedented during the previous two
millennia, to preach understanding and tolerance for Jews. They
watched, sometimes with initial suspicion and incredulity, as
Christian groups clamored to learn more about Jewish ideas and
practices, while flocking to Passover Seders.
More and more Jews have learned that Christianity should not be seen
as hostile to Jews. They have learned that Christians could and did
change the attitudes that had cost the Jewish people so many lives.
They heard powerful voices denouncing antiSemitism in the strongest
terms to their flocks. They have read articles in church papers and
entries in religious encyclopedias urging tolerance and respect for
the people into whose midst Jesus was born, and the religion he
himself observed. They have seen hands of sincere friendship offered
repeatedly by Christian churches that, for example, commemorated Yom
Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. They also have discovered that
the strongest support for a beleaguered Israel came from millions of
Christians, some of whom saw the Jewish state as the welcome
fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
Jews saw churches addressing what they considered the single
greatest sticking point in Christian/Jewish relations. Jews as a
people did not have to carry the stain of deicide; that Jesus died
for all people; and that the Passion itself is far more an
indication of the love God has for humanity than an eternal
indictment of Jews or Romans. Centuries ago, the Council of Trent
(1545) anticipated this doctrinal insight. While many Christians
affirmed this through the ages, many Jews heard it proclaimed loud
and clearby Catholics and Protestantsfor the first time.
Jews also became aware that for millions of good, church-going
Americans, these were not really new developments, and that
Christians took such enlightened beliefs for granted.
To a significant extent, Jews got what they wanted: official
recognition by Christian church bodies of the long history of pseudo-
religious Jew hatred that was exploited by the racists who
perpetrated the Holocaust. Rabbi James A. Rudin, long-time
interreligious affairs director for the American Jewish Committee,
recognized the importance of declarations like the Vatican's We
Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah (1998) in providing such
recognition: "50, 75, 100 years from now, there can never be any
doubt that the Holocaust took place, because here is a definitive
statement from the Catholic Church by a pope from Poland."
Yet Jews are disturbed that many Christians fail to recognize how
large is the looming specter of resurgent antiSemitism. Despite real
progress narrowing gaps, both communities continue to misunderstand
each other, and to ignore that mutual understanding is a two-way
street. Too many Jews are unaware of the theme of love that
permeates the understanding of the Passion by contemporary
Christians; they need to put more effort into understanding
Christian doctrine and respect for Christianity's sacred Scriptures.
Too many Christians seem unaware that, for hundreds of years,
dramatizations of the Passion heightened ill-will against Jews; they
need to understand well-founded Jewish fears that, now as in the
past, portrayals of Jesus' arrest, trial, and execution may be
misunderstood or distorted to incite antisemitic hatred and
violence, thereby falsifying authentic church teachings.
Threats to Progress
Today, new controversies are emerging that threaten hard-won common
ground. Now more than ever, communities of faith need to re-unite
against divisive forces of nihilism and hate.
As the twenty-first century begins, there are troubling signs that
the work of interfaith reconciliation is dangerously incomplete, and
that the deicide accusation and blood libel stubbornly persist in
popular culture and political discourse, and have even made new
Last year, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia
compiled a report on antiSemitism in Europe that showed such an
alarming trend that the European Union, which sponsored the report,
tried to suppress it. The reported concluded:
The attacks in New York and Washington on September 11 and the
conflict in the Middle East have contributed to an atmosphere in
Europe, which gives latent anti-Semitism and hate and incitement a
new strength and power of seduction. Even rumours that Israel was
responsible for 11 September 2001, for the attacks on the World
Trade Centre and the Pentagon, and that Jews bring about a situation
in their interest in order to put the blame on somebody else, found
a receptive audience in some places. Anti-Semitic conspiracy
theories are spreading over the Internet, which provides a cheap
vehicle for the distribution of hate.
Here are some examples of troubling worldwide developments:
· In Western Europe, as the Middle East conflict spread to
Bethlehem, involving the Church of the Nativity, some church leaders
joined both conservative and liberal journalists in reviving anti-
Jewish religious images of "the massacre of innocents" in the
Nativity narratives as well as of the Crucifixion to use as a
polemical weapon against Israel and its Jewish supporters. .
· In Western Europe, a rising volume of acts of "street-level
antiSemitism," including physical attacks on Jews and the
desecration and destruction of cemeteries and synagogues, has been
perpetrated by both young Muslims and non-Muslim youths who often
commit "thrill hate crimes" against Jews "just for fun."
· In Durban, South Africa, at the United Nations' World
Conference Against Racism held just days before the 9/11 terrorist
attacks, the conference degenerated into an anti-Israel, anti-Jewish
circus, and a representative of the World Council of Churches
unaccountably took the lead in deleting a resolution condemning
antiSemitism from the statement by the UN's nongovernmental
· In Western Europe, also increasingly common is "salon
antiSemitism"manifested "in the media, university common rooms, and
at dinner parties of the chattering classes."
· In Western and Eastern Europe, the U.S., Canada, and
Australia, the extreme right is utilizing the Internet to link with
radical Islamists, anti-globalization campaigners, and the anti-
American far left around a conspiratorial ideology denying the
Holocaust, demonizing Israel, and alleging a Jewish plot to dominate
· In Russia, Hizb-ut-tahrir (the Party of Islamic Liberation)
operates an internet server that broadcasts messages in German,
English, Danish and French inciting Muslims throughout Europe "to
kill all Jews wherever you find them."
· In Germany, Jewish community organizations have been
targeted by a massive and increasingly menacing deluge of
antisemitic letters, e-mails, and phone calls.
· In Belgium, Rabbi Albert Gigi was assaulted by a gang
shouting "dirty Jew" in Arabic, the Saudi-based Salafi Movement has
created "a state within a state" that functions as a recruiting
agent for Islamic terrorists.
· In Poland, after there was an order removing the Christian
crosses that had been placed at Auschwitz, a bitter-end defender of
the display reacted: "Our [Polish] bishops have sold the cross to
the sons of Satan, in other words, the Jews."
· In Greece, the Orthodox Church continues to include in the
liturgy ritual of Good Friday anti-Jewish references; "Christ
killer" imagery pervades mainstream anti-Israel political discourse;
and almost half of Greeks believe that the Israel is responsible for
the attack on the World Trade Center. Leading newspapers have also
carried stories claiming that Israelis were trafficking the organs
of dead Palestinian fighters and performing medical experiments on
· In Spain, where the Madrid synagogue requires 24-hour police
protection, 72 percent of those polled agreed that "Jews are more
loyal to Israel than to this country," and 63 percent agreed
that "Jews have too much power in the business world." These are the
highest levels of prejudice in Europe.
· In Italy, the web site, Holy War/Tradizione Cattolica,
popularizes a message combining antiSemitism with a call to return
to the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church.
· In France, between September 2000 and January 2002, 405
antisemitic incidentsone third of all those world-widewere
documented. In Montpelier, a French priest distributed at a
Christmas midnight mass a few years ago a hymn reading: "He was born
in Bethlehem, Palestine. He was born in Bethlehem, poor and
innocent. Sharon shot him down."
· In the Netherlands, pro-Palestinian demonstrators regularly
shout, "Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas," a slogan that has been
taken up by supporters of the Feyenoord Rotterdam football (soccer)
· In Portugal, Nobel Prize winning novelist José Saramago
compared the Israeli presence in the West Bank to "what happened at
· In Sweden, the daily newspaper, Aftonbladet, printed an anti-
Israeli story under the headline: "The crucified Arafat." The
leftist party, Vänsterpartiet, announced itself against xenophobia,
homophobia, and other forms of racismbut not antiSemitism.
· In the United Kingdom, there were 22 synagogue desecrations
in the 22 months before October 2000, but 78 in the following 22
months. Physical assaults on Jews have become more common and more
violent, often leading to hospitalization. In Edinburgh, a clergyman
defended a mural showing a crucified Jesus flanked by Roman soldiers
and modern-day Israeli troops.
· In the U.S. and Latin America, some fashionable "liberation
theologians" are breathing new life into old defamations of Judaism
and Jews. As one such theologian quoted in The Post-Modern Bible
puts it, "As long as people believe in the Yahweh of deliverance,
the world will not be safe from Yahweh the conqueror."
· In Canada, a member of the Victorian Order of Nurses
recollected that, three times during her career, she was ordered to
leave by patients screaming: "Christ killer! Get out of my home."
· Back in the United States, a Florida state employee had to
sue because his superiors refuse to do anything about a coworker
tormenting him with the taunt of "Christ killer."
The polling data from the United Statescausing the Gallup
Organization to conclude that "the Christ-killer charge remains
pervasive"tells part of the same troubling story:
· In the 1960s, at the height of Christian and Jewish
cooperation in the moral crusade for Civil Rights, sociologists
Charles Y. Glock and Rodney Stark studied the attitudes of American
Protestants and Catholics towards holding contemporary Jews
responsible for the death of Jesus. In their words, they "were
entirely unprepared to find the religious roots of anti-Semitism so
widespread in modern society."
· A 2002 poll by International Communications Research in
Pennsylvania asked respondents if they thought that "the Jews were
primarily responsible for the killing of Jesus Christ." The results:
37 percent agreed, 47 percent disagreed, and 16 percent said they
did not know. Note that the poll asked about "the Jews"not
about "Jewish leaders" or Temple authorities. With anti-Jewish
sentiment increasing for the first time in thirty years, the
combined 53 percent who "agreed" or "didn't know" reflect a
dangerous level of hostility or ignorance that ought to be the
concern of religious leaders and educators.
Today's political cartoonsreviving the ritual murder and "Christ
killer" motifsare yet another mirror reflecting hate:
· On December 26, 2001, the French newspaper, Liberation, ran
a cartoon by "Willem" showing Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, holding
nails between his teeth and a hammer in his hand, and standing next
to a cross surrounded by tanks. Under the caption"No Christmas for
Arafat"Sharon is made to declare: "But He Is Welcome for Easter."
· In April, 2002, the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, ran a
front-page cartoon showing the Baby Jesus hiding from an Israeli
tank in a manger with the caption: "Surely they don't want to kill
· That same month, a poster was displayed on the San Francisco
State University Campus, entitled "Made in Israel" and showing an
infant labeled "Palestinian Children Meat . . . Slaughtered
According to Jewish Rites under American License" by "Sharon."
Produced by Palestinian and Muslim student groups, the poster was
funded by the SFSU Student Association.
· Earlier this year, a New Jersey college campus was blanketed
with 500 posters showing a Palestinian crucified on a Star of David.
· A 2003 cartoon from the Palestinian Authority's largest
daily, Al Quds, depicted Palestinians and Iraqis as victims of
a "double crucifixion." In the cartoon, two Arab figures are nailed
to a cross back to back, with one victim identified as "Brother from
Iraq," and the other as "Relative from Palestine."
Of course, not all objections to Israeli policies fuel the flames of
anti-Jewish hatred. Yet we need to draw a line between harsh but
acceptable criticism and unscrupulous exploitation of the hateful
history of deicide and blood libels.
We also need to remember that antisemitic scapegoating does not
require real grievances against Israel or Jews. In the jungles of
Central America on the eve of World War II, an anthropologist
studied an isolated tribe that had never seen a Jew. Yet sometime in
the past, the tribe had encountered Catholic missionaries. The
result was not conversion to Christianity, but adoption of a bizarre
ritual in which dancers, wearing horns and tails and identified
as "Jew Kings," were symbolically burned for having "killed God."
Unfortunately, such aberrations are not the monopoly of so-
called "primitive" societies. In post-World War II Japan, a country
virtually without Jews, the best-seller lists have featured books
demonizing Jews as "Christ killers" as well as modern-day
Nor should it be forgotten that, during the twentieth century, those
who foment antisemitic religious prejudice often have had a hidden
agenda. Their ostensible target is Judaism and Jews, but their
ultimate purpose is to delegitimize Christianity and to substitute
for it a non-Christian ideologywhether that be secular fascism or
communism or radical Islam. Christians have compelling reasons not
to play into their hands.
Conclusion: What Should Be Done?
Christians educated in the ethic of interreligious dialogue and
tolerance are not going to be transformed into antiSemites by a
film, no matter how graphic and controversial its portrayal of the
Crucifixion. The greater concern is impressionable minds, shaped by
mass media and secular society and often addicted to violent
imagery. Medieval passion plays captured the popular imagination to
the extent of igniting pogroms and expulsions of Jews. For example,
during the sixteenth century crowds numbering as many as 70,000
walked in procession on Good Friday from the Santa Lucia Church,
through Rome's Jewish Quarter, to the Coliseum to perform a
dramatization of the Passion notable for demonizing Jews. At the end
of the play, spectators carried an actor representing the dead
Christ back from the Coliseum to their churches, singing hymns and
flagellating as they walked. Though Jewish residents stayed in doors
so as not to provoke violence, an anti-Jewish riot broke out in 1539
that caused Pope Paul III to ban any further productions of the
Passion Play in Rome.
We in the postmodern, post-Holocaust era ought to be even more
concerned about the potentially negative impact of state-of-the-art
Hollywood productions dramatizing the same theme. Early in the
history of Hollywood, D. W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille offered
versions New Testament epics redolent with "Christ-killer"
stereotypes. Only after the Holocaust did biblical films, such as
Samuel Bronston's King of Kings (1961) and George Stevens' The
Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), begin to take real pains not to
portray the Romans as innocent dupes and Jesus' fellow Jews as
murderers collectively responsible forever for his death.
At the time of this writing, we do not know with certainty how Mel
Gibson's film will portray Jews in its final cut, although we are
profoundly disturbed by what we saw in one of the earlier versions.
All mainstream Jewish organizations were shut out of the process of
advising during the making of the film. We think that this was a
great error, besides a wasted opportunity. We also know that self-
avowed antiSemites plan to exploit the film for their own ungodly
purposes. As one racist web site puts it, "Imagine the Jews in power
shaking in their boots at the prospect of being accurately portrayed
In 1988, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued
guidelines and suggestions for the depiction of the Passion. We
surmise that the path the Bishops charted is a reflection of good
sense and judgment, and not the exclusive province of the Catholic
Church. They could be useful to many church groups, some of which,
including the Evangelical Lutheran Church, have already drawn up
their own parallel guidelines.
The Catholic Bishops' document insisted, first and foremost,
that: "The overall aim of any depiction of the Passion should be the
unambiguous presentation of the doctrinal understanding of the event
in the light of faith, that is, of the Church's traditional
interpretation of the meaning of Christ's death for all humanity."
Nonetheless, the bishops found a modus vivendi. Depictions could be
loyal to the text of the Gospels, without compromising Jewish
safety. Specifically, they argued that "`negative stock ideas',
unfortunately, can become vividly alive in passion dramatizations.
It is all too easy in dramatic presentations to resort to artificial
oppositions in order to heighten interest or provide sharp contrasts
between the characters." Suggestions included that "Jews should not
be portrayed as avaricious (e.g., in Temple money-changer scenes);
blood thirsty (e.g., in certain depiction's of Jesus' appearances
before the Temple priesthood or before Pilate); or implacable
enemies of Christ (e.g., by changing the `crowd' at the governor's
palace into a teeming mob)." Most important, "the Jews should not be
presented as rejected or accursed by God as if this followed from
Reports to date indicate that Gibson's Passion ignores several of
these recommendations. The Jewish mob, according to those who have
reported to us, is in fact teeming with ugly, unkempt, malicious-
looking figures who deride Jesus, not only before Pilate, but on the
way to the Cross. Jesus' mother, Mary, appeals to Roman soldiers to
save Jesus from the Temple police. Jesus is brutalized by the Temple
police, and mistreated by the Sanhedrin, prompting a well-meaning
Pilate to challenge Jewish cruelty. The High Priest looks on as
Jesus is scourged. All these characterizations are either
exaggerations of the Gospel accounts or inventions not in the
Had the guidelines concerning these matters been consulted, and
responsible Jewish groups been involved in the process, we are
certain that a new film based on the Gospels could have been made
that would have been acceptable to Christians and Jews alike. That
is all Jewish groups ever wanted. Instead, the very exclusion of
Jewish mainstream input broadcast a dangerous and false message:
that they could not be consulted because, if they were, the Jews
would use their influence and control to quash the film, implacable
enemies of Christians that they are. Instead, you are our brothers
and sisters in biblical revelationnot our enemies!
Just how little "control" Jews have should be obvious in this
letter. By now, millions of Christians have been fed an ugly and
destructive stereotypical view, in which the Jews would take away
from Christians their right to cherish their Holy Scriptures.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We cannot erase that stereotype alone. We can only ask you to help
us set the record straight, so that we can reembark on the journey
of friendship and respect that has marked the last few decades.
For more information, contact the Wiesenthal Center's Public
Relations department, 310-553-9036.
"Statement by the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar
General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA
New York, N.Y., February 20, 2004
Speaking on behalf of the National Council of Churches, I condemn in
the strongest terms the recent anti-Semitic remarks of Hutton
Gibson, father of film producer Mel Gibson, including his bizarre
assertion that the Holocaust did not occur. The Holocaust is a
tragic historical fact.
The elder Gibson's comments are offensive in the extreme, not only
to Jews, but also to all persons of good will. I understand that
Hutton Gibson has made similar remarks in the past. However, the
controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the
Christ" now has attracted substantial media attention to his
father's vitriolic tirade and it must not stand unchallenged.
The leadership of the Council's 36 member denominations, who are the
spiritual leaders of some 50<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)