"The Passion of The Christ" by Mel Gibson is an obscene movie. It will incite contempt for Jews. It is a blasphemous insult to the memory of Jesus Christ. It is an icon of religious violence. Like many others, I anticipated the Gibson film warily, especially because an uncritical rendition of problematic Gospel texts which unfairly blame "the Jews" for the death of Jesus threatened to resuscitate the old "Christ-killer" myth.Uh, does that mean you didn't like it?
...It is a lie. It is sick. Jews have every reason to be offended by "The Passion of The Christ." Even more so, if possible, do Christians.
Jeff Jacoby, in the same paper, dredges up the old "unintended consequences" saw. At least he is willing to admit (which few other critics will) that his main problem is with the Gospels themselves--indeed, with Christianity itself, rather than with Gibson's film:
I don't believe that Jesus was God come to earth in human form -- I believe that God is one, incorporeal and indivisible. To me, the Passion is not a manifestation of divine love but a vicious and evil ordeal inflicted on a victim who didn't deserve it. As a Jew I cannot look at the savage murder of an innocent man as anything but a grievous sin.I mean this as a serious question: why isn't Jeff Jacoby worried that his column will result in attacks on Jews?
...But there is no getting around the fact that the parts of "The Passion" that are the most unflattering to Jews -- the bloody-minded and hateful Temple priests, the Judean mob howling for Jesus' death -- come straight out of the Gospels. I shudder at those depictions and reject them as historically false, but I cannot call a Christian anti-Semitic for believing in the truth of his Bible. I will not smear Gibson as a Jew-hater.
But neither will I pretend that he is unaware of the long and horrid history of Passion plays or of the millions of Jews who died at the hands of killers demonizing them as "Christ killers." It is not unreasonable to worry about the effect of a movie like "The Passion" at a time of surging anti-Semitism.
The theory, supposedly, is that hateful Christians will be stirred to wrath against Jews by Gibson's portrayal of Christ's suffering. But if there are all sorts of bloodthirsty Christians just waiting to attack, won't Jacoby's anti-Christian, Christ-denying column incite the same violence? Sure, that's not Jacoby's intention. But we always have to be aware of those pesky "unintended consequences." Why does Gibson have to forsee them, but Jacoby does not?
Indeed, the outrageous, anti-Christian rhetoric spewing from the critics of this film will do at least as much to encourage anti-Jewish sentiment as anything Gibson has put on celluloid.
Jacoby goes on:
I don't believe that Jesus was God come to earth in human form -- I believe that God is one, incorporeal and indivisible. To me, the Passion is not a manifestation of divine love but a vicious and evil ordeal inflicted on a victim who didn't deserve it. As a Jew I cannot look at the savage murder of an innocent man as anything but a grievous sin.What is happening is that a hardened American people is finally beginning to see the scandal of the cross for what it is, and many are recoiling from it. The Apostle Paul pointed it out 2000 years ago:
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God....we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24)