Monday, March 01, 2004

passion shmassion

so about a week ago, during one of several all-nighters i pulled over the vacation for no good reason, i decided to start writing about mel gibson's movie. i think we all know what it's called, as people can't seem to shut up about it. well, i'm no exception. i haven't seen the film yet, because, ironically, in the land from whence jesus came, we have yet to receive the film about him. actually, my understanding is that the film has little to do with jesus as a person so much as a piece of meat that just gets beaten, and beaten, and beaten, and then beaten some more until he's tacked up on a cross like so many things that are tacked up on crosses.

anyway, here's what i wrote.

You’d think that somewhere out there was a Jewish leader with an ounce of PR skills. Alas, that does not seem to be the case. Let’s leave Israeli politics aside for the moment; that would be like throwing myself head first into quicksand. Let’s focus on the latest media craze, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion.” Do a Yahoo news search and you’ll come up with just over 3000 articles as of the wee hours of February 26. To quote Reuters, “’The Passion of the Christ’ opened in cinemas across the United States on Wednesday as Jewish groups decried it as anti-Semitic and New York's Roman Catholic cardinal stressed Jews did not kill Jesus.” I would like to introduce many of my fellow American Jews to the notion of productivity, as clearly they are working very hard at being the opposite thereof.
Let’s take a look at Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League National Director. Mr. Foxman lied his way into private screenings of “The Passion.” Presumably to get to the bottom of the controversy. Well, sneaking your way into a screening reserved for leaders of the catholic community certainly doesn’t seem to uphold many Jewish values. Foxman’s loose tongue doesn’t help him either. Quoting him in today’s New York Observer, “Only for sadists, only for masochists could this be beautiful.” I imagine one could say the same thing about every holocaust film ever made. Is “The Passion” violent? Sure, but so is Kill Bill and much of the bible as well (that’s new and old testament).
To the “never-forgeters” who would probably love to nail me to a cross for that last comment, let me say this. You are the one’s who have forgotten. When a Jewish-American group like Amcha decides to protest “The Passion” by dressing up in concentration camp uniforms it is indeed they whom have forgotten.
Of course there are many leaders in American Jewry who have stood up against the preemptive anti-anti-Semitism cry-fest. Although their mild finger wagging in the direction of ADL & Co. get much less press coverage than protesters on the upper-east side of Manhatten with signs reading “The Passion is a cruci-fiction.” Can you imagine Egyptians protesting “The Ten Commandments?”
If American Jews want to worry about “The Passion,” then they should go see it. For all the box office revenue their protesting has raised, they might as well throw some more cash in Mel’s direction. At least then they’d have something they might be able to complain about. For all I know, this may be the worst film about Jews since Leni Riefenstahl was directing. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to call it a blood libel without having seen it yet. Particularly not when it’s a film about a man whom the vast majority of the Western world (and Israel’s supporters) view as much more than just a man.
I’ll leave off with another of Foxman’s snippets of insight. “When Cardinal O’Connor first came, he compared abortion to the Holocaust. But, you know, he learned.” So tell us Mr. Foxman, when are you going to learn?


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