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CHRISTIANITY is incompatible with anti-Semitism. Which is why we are incredulous that so many are fixated on whether Mel Gibson's film The Passion, due for release next year, will cause violence against Jews. "If it turns out that the controversial film is as brutal as the already-released trailer, then Israel may have to absorb a massive flight of European Jewry this coming spring, when the Jews get all the credit for committing deicide," Rabbi Tovia Singer recently wrote for Israel's Arutz Sheva.

The memory of the Inquisition and the Holocaust—among other anti-Jewish atrocities—remains fresh for many. But given the universal Christian repudiation of anti-Semitism, Singer's suggestion seems ludicrous and borders on anti-Christian bigotry. Ultimately, the campaign to brand The Passion as anti-Semitic with a potential "tinderbox effect" is dangerous to Jews.

Yes, we've seen an early cut of The Passion and in no way does it blame "the Jews" for Jesus' death. As in the gospels themselves, the implication is that humanity—each of us—put Christ on the cross. In several places, Gibson clearly took measures to make this clear. (Most notably, he omitted the cry, "His blood be on us and on our children," from Matthew 27.)

There's much to debate concerning this film. But now it's impossible to discuss the film apart from the trumped up charges of anti-Semitism. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the few other Jewish and liberal Catholic critics of the film are using the worst sort of scare tactics to dominate discussion of the film and the filmmaker. ADL president Abraham Foxman recently told The Jewish Week, "Recent statements by Mel Gibson paint the portrait of an anti-Semite." Singer said, "If in fact it turns out that Gibson relied ...

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November 2003

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