and anti-Semitism," she said.
But targeting Christians as anti-
Semitic is ignoring the real villain,
'Anti-Semitism is scary, but it's not
coming from traditional Christians
(Catholic and Protestant) as it did a hun-
dred or 50 years ago, but from Muslims
and the secular international left," he
"The old strategy for beating anti-
Semitism has been discredited," he said.
The old thought was the more secular a
society — and less Christian it is — the
safer that society is for Jews.
"That's outmoded," Medved said.
"Where are Jews safer today — in France
or in the USA? France is one of the most
militantly secular nations; they ban head-
scarves and yarmulkes — but secularism
hasn't worked to protect the Jews. By
Mel Gibson directs actor im Caviezel who plays Jesus in "The Passion."
contrast, the most Christian nation in
In his interview with Sawyer, however,
the western world is here.
Gibson denied that his is the only view.
"Christianity is not always a threat to
"No, it's my version, my version,"
Jews despite the horrific and bloody his-
Gibson told Sawyer emphatically.
tory of Christian persecution over the
The actor-director talked openly about
last 2,000 years," he said.
his addictions and near-suicide with
Dr. Cunningham also sees the relation-
Sawyer, then explained how religion
ship between Christians and Jews as pret-
saved his life. He also denied claims he is
ty solid; not fragile, but more like a mar-
"It's against my faith to be a racist or to
"The controversy over the film repre-
be anti-Semitic," he told Sawyer.
sents one of those 'conflicted moments'
Still, Dr. Ruth Langer, the Jewish asso-
where Christians and Jews re-examine
ciate director at Boston College's Center
where they are in relationship to each
Dr. Ruth Langer
for Christian Jewish Learning, does place
other," he said. The film won't lead to an
some responsibility for the firestorm of
annulment of that.
Jewish people who see this film may respect its artistry;
controversy at Gibson's feet.
"And if conversations over this film between Jews
it's a beautifully made film and most Jews will come
Last Easter, a script of the movie landed — literally
and Christians can help understand one another's dif-
out feeling numb and think what's the point of all that
— on the doorstep of the Rev. John Pawlikowski, who
ferent perspectives on the Passion — like the core of
suffering that didn't redeem us?
turned it over to the United States Council of Catholic
Jewish suffering — that would be a positive outcome
"Christians will see every flick of the whip and poke
Bishops, she explained. They convened a group for
of the film." El
in the eye and sadistic torture of Christ as serving a
feedback about the film with Gibson's knowledge.
purpose. The only reason I would recommend that
When their feedback was negative, however, Gibson
Related coverage: pages 18-19
Jewish people see it, is to reassure themselves it is not
threatened a lawsuit, which cranked the publicity
Related editorial and commentary: page 29 and 69
some anti-Semitic screed ..."
For more background and perspective, log on to
He called some Jews' reactions arrogant, leaving
The Jewish community, however, should not lose
Christian neighbors a Hobson's choice: Either have a
sight of their responsibility, Langer said. "It shouldn't
good relationship with us or rerhain faithful to your
be using this discussion as a point of confrontation
with the Christians. The centrality of the Passion to
"But no one is asking Christians to reject the
A two-part session on "The Passion:
Christian piety is something that Jews need to deeply
Gospels," Langer said.
Understanding Through Jewish Eyes" will be
honor," she said.
She sees how the Jewish-Christian dialogue has led
presented by the Seminars for Adult Jewish
to positive results. For example, that dialogue placed an
Enrichment (SAJE) at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays,
Keep It In Perspective
extra emphasis on a problem raised internally in
March 4 and 11, at the JCC in West
Critic Medved doesn't lose sight of the film and the
Christianity over the last several centuries, she said.
Bloomfield. $2/members; $5/others.
And this debate resulted in changes like Vatican II.
disservice done to it.
"We can teach people how to understand the New
"This film is for Christians, by Christians and about
Testament in ways that will not lead to anti Judaism
Christians," he said. "It's not about us. I think most
ing claims about religious truths, then
religious bodies are drawn into the con-
versation as to whether or not those
claims are accurate.
"The film doesn't pay attention to dif-
ferences among the four Gospels," he
said. "It combines elements from the dif-
ferent Gospels in an arbitrary fashion
with the result of a combined script that
is more anti-Jewish than any single one
of the Gospels.
"The producers of the film claim that
the Holy Ghost inspired the writing of
this script and that the film represents
the most accurate portrayal of the cruci-
fixion of Jesus ever," he said. "They have
also claimed that anyone who criticizes
the film is criticizing the New