wanted a film about love and not of
hate," Foxman said. "If he was sincere,
then he would have cared to dia-
Foxman said there is a danger in
labeling the film anti-Semitic.
"You don't want a lot of good peo-
ple to feel that they had a cathartic
spiritual experience at an anti-Semitic
event," he said.
Foxman said he'd take credit for
KI RS BAUM
Passion of the Christ.
50,000 extra people who saw it, but
maintains his protests led to some
director of the Anti-
"If we had not raised the issue, I
had been a critic of the film for
think Newsweek or U.S. News 6-
months before it opened on Feb. 25
Report would have had cover
and even before he saw the movie
stories on who killed Jesus. I don't
think CNN or NBC or Fox would
When The Passion opened, I criti-
have had two-hour specials on who
cized Foxman for his stance and said
killed Jesus," he said. "I don't
he should at least see the
think that the Catholic bish-
movie before making a deci-
ops conference would have
issued a compendium. I don't
Foxman came into town
think there would have been a
on June 9 at the Jewish
debate in this country."
Federation of Metropolitan
You can't understand the
Detroit's invitation, and I sat
without seeing the
down with him to ask him if
he said. "It's riot
he had any regrets. Had he J,-1
to say that the Jews
spoken too soon or should he
Jewish eyes and
have spoken at all?
Christians see it with Christian
"We did not have the luxury
to be silent on this issue," Foxman
He did say he'll be worried when
said firmly. "This dealt with the issue
DVDs start coming horrie.
that the Jews killed Christ. That's
millions of people are going
what Western civilization's anti-
in the next six months to a
Semitism was all about.
seen passion plays in
"We knew [Gibson] was a tradition-
the last 2,000 years," he said. "You
alist and that he rejects Vatican II,
cannot show films in Arab countries
which removed the blame from the
about other religions, but they made
Jews," he said. "We didn't have a
an exception to this one. Why?"
choice. I think there would have been
The controversial scenario will be
more criticism had we not spoken
come Oscar time, Foxman
He said he wanted to clarify a few
"Gibson is being asked, 'With all
things with the filmmaker-actor dur-
the gross sales aren't you going to get
ing a meeting, but Gibson refused to
the Oscar?' and he is saying, They
meet with him.
not let me get the Oscar.' Who's
"I believe that if we had an oppor-
We are the they. He has said,
tunity — it didn't have to be me —
a career breaker. After this
just somebody to sit across the table
will not let me work.
and say to him, 'You have the right to
They won't let me make a movie.'"
do whatever you want and how you
Gibson has been ranked most pow-
want to do it. Just have in mind what
erful celebrity in the 2004 Forbes
you're playing with. You're dealing
magazine Celebrity 100 list. So far,
with four words [The Jews killed
The Passion of the Christ has pulled in
million in domestic ticket sales
"I gave him the benefit of the
doubt, that he was a true believer, that
If they don't give Mel an Oscar or
he was sincere in what he said, that he
let him make another movie, my
guess is Mel won't end up collecting
Harry Kirsbaums e-mail address is
unfazed about the
heat he got from
including some in
the Jewish commu-
nity, about Mel
Gibson's movie The
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