Gibson's Passion may have increased anti-Semitic attacks - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
March 16, 2005

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Gibson's Passion may have increased anti-Semitic attacks


Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has been cited by a report as the cause of an upsurge last year in Canadian anti-Semitic attacks, now running at a record pace reports the Reuters news agency.

The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith, releasing its 2004 audit of anti-Semitic attacks in Canada, said last year's media coverage of Gibson's film and its alleged depiction of Jews as the "Christ killer" led to an often violent spike in attacks against the Canadian Jewish community.

When the film was released it was labelled a setback to the achievements in Christian-Jewish relations over the past 40 years, by such organisations as the American Jewish Committee. It was suggested that the film was based more on a novel from the visionary meditations of an early nineteenth-century nun than on the gospels.

Religious and social activists called on Mel Gibson to donate the profits of the film to causes they suggested truly represented and symbolised Jesus Christ's life, principles, and teachings.

A 'Passion Fund' it was suggested would be an appropriate vehicle for healing because making money from the death of Jesus "is another kind of crucifixion that distorts the true meaning of Jesus' suffering and death."

A poll released by the Pew Research Center in Washington almost exactly a year ago provided the first statistical suggestion that the film's box-office success might be associated with an increase in anti-Jewish feeling.

The B'nai Brith study published this weeks states; "Whereas only nine incidents in 2003 had religious connotations to the story of Jesus' death, there were 32 such incidents in 2004, nine of them in February when the movie opened and a further 15 in the three months following its release,"

In a statement, B'nai Brith Canada vp Frank Dimant said incidents of anti-Semitism last year reached an all-time high and were becoming more violent.

The B'nai Brith audit cited instances last year in which a Montreal caller to a Jewish organization exclaimed, "We don't need Mel Gibson's film to hate you!"; a synagogue in Thornhill, Ontario, was defaced with crosses; and a minister on a local Toronto TV channel alleged there was a "Jewish plot for world control."

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