A Jewish American screenwriter and filmmaker said Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion, is not anti-Semitic and “will not create a single bigot or anti-Semite. It may, however, reveal them.”
“As a Jew, I left the movie feeling a greater sense of kinship and closeness to my Christian brothers and sisters than I ever thought imaginable,” wrote Alan Sereboff in a letter to Gibson, one month after viewing the film.
Gibson’s film on the last 12 hours of Christ has received scathing reviews from some watchdog groups and media outlets, stating that the film portrays Jewish people in a negative light. The film is expected to be released in theatres next year.
“I believe you have made one of the most breathtaking, poignant movies of our time. I cannot recall a film that has had such a profound effect on my understanding of history, religion and, perhaps most importantly, what we as human beings are capable of in relation to our treatment of one another,” wrote Sereboff, who has worked for Gibson’s Icon Productions.
“Your position as a filmmaker and as a Catholic is obvious from the beginning of the first act. Jesus died for the sins of all humanity. This simple yet powerful idea runs in direct conflict to the notion that Jesus died simply at the behest of the Jews, or for that matter, the Romans,” he said. “Further, Mary, Jesus and all of the apostles are clearly depicted as Jews. Clearly Jewish is the angry throng protesting the crucifixion. Simon, who helps Jesus carry the cross to the final station, is clearly a compassionate Jew.
“To say this film is in any way about ‘finger pointing’ or ‘assigning blame’ is akin to saying that Gladiator is a film about lion-fighting and the Romans’ and Gladiators’ penchant for animal cruelty,” he continued.
“I am deeply saddened and pained by the assault on the film and your character being perpetrated by those whose ignorance is, I’m afraid, helping to fulfil the very prophecy they so deeply fear. The irony here, relative to the movie’s story, is too great to go unmentioned,” he added.
“I would hope that fellow Jews and Christians alike would see the importance in respecting your rights to create and share whatever vision you choose, and the hypocrisy in the attempts to censure of said rights,” said Sereboff.