Actor Mel Gibson Crazier Than Previously Thought - The Jewish Voice
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Actor Mel Gibson Crazier Than Previously Thought

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Mugshot taken after Mel Gibson’s arrest, July 28, 2006.Letter by ‘Maccabee’ Screenwriter Scolds Anti-Semitic A-Lister

Hollywood legend Mel Gibson has again been accused of anti-Semitism, this time by a screenwriter whom Gibson had hired to work on a script for a film about the 2nd Century B.C.E. Maccabean Revolt against the Syrian-Greek occupation of Judea. Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who penned the script, wrote a letter to Gibson accusing him of making a variety of anti-Semitic remarks, and of never really wanting to make the Maccabee project, rather only wanting to use his attachment to the film to dissuade people from believing his anti-Semitic reputation.

Eszterhas made a number of disturbing allegations in a nine-page letter to Gibson obtained by celebrity news site The Wrap.  Eszterhas, who has written over a dozen films, including Flashdance and Basic Instinct, said that Gibson used a slew of offensive terms to describe Jews, including “heebs, “oven-dodgers” and “Jew-boys” and that he mentioned his feelings that the number of Jews described as dying in the Holocaust was an exaggeration.  Later in the letter, Eszterhas explained why he believed Gibson did not want to make the film, saying ‘I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason you will not make ‘The Maccabees’ is the ugliest possible one.  You hate Jews.” 

Gibson has denied the allegations wholeheartedly, and claimed that the reason the project didn’t move forward is because the script was poor. Gibson responded, “Both Warner Brothers and I were extraordinarily disappointed with the draft. In 25 years of script development I have never seen a more substandard first draft or a more significant waste of time. The decision not to proceed with you was based on the quality of your script, not on any other factor.”

Jewish organizations were aghast about the recent series of events.  Anti-Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman said the recent comments just compound what we already know about Gibson, explaining, “Had these allegations been made against any other actor, we would be skeptical, and certainly one could chalk them up to the words of a disgruntled screenwriter whose script was rejected.  But with Mel Gibson they follow a distinct pattern of anti-Semitic conduct.”  Other Jewish leaders agreed.  Rabbi Marvin Hier, founding and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, said, in a statement, “Mel Gibson has shown nothing but antagonism and disrespect to Jews. First of all there were the anti-Semitic remarks he made, his portrayal of Jews in The Passion of Christ. I’m talking about those Jews who did not accept Christ, they were all portrayed as idiots, buffoons or people who were tyrants, with a very unfair portrayal. He’s had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Mel Gibson’s reputation for anti-Semitism was at issue before with the release of his film, The Passion of the Christ, in 2004.  Jewish leaders complained that the film showed false portrayals of Jews as causing the death of Jesus.  The ADL released a statement at the time, which said, “For filmmakers to do justice to the biblical accounts of the passion, they must complement their artistic vision with sound scholarship, which includes knowledge of how the passion accounts have been used historically to disparage and attack Jews and Judaism. Absent such scholarly and theological understanding, productions such as The Passion could likely falsify history and fuel the animus of those who hate Jews.”  Gibson also spouted anti-Semitic remarks when arrested for drunken driving in 2006, saying “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”

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