The Anti-Defamation League has officially responded to the news that Mel Gibson and Warner Bros. are cooperating to make a film based on the life of Judah Maccabee, the Jewish religious hero whose revolt against the Seleucid Empire is celebrated each Hannukah. In an official statement, the ADL’s national director Abraham H. Foxman says:
We would have hoped that Warner Bros. could have found someone better than Mel Gibson to direct or perhaps even star in a film on the life of the Jewish historical icon Judah Maccabee. As a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty, Judah Maccabee deserves better. It would be a travesty to have the story of the Maccabees told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people’s religious views.
Not only has Mel Gibson shown outward antagonism toward Jews and Judaism in his public statements and actions, but his previous attempt to bring biblical history to life on the screen was marred by anti-Semitism. Rather than listen to respected religious leaders, both Christian and Jewish, who voiced concerns then about the insensitive elements of his depiction of the last hours and crucifixion of Jesus, Gibson showed contempt for those voices and refused to make changes that might have helped turn his passion of hate into a passion of love.
While we do not argue with Mel Gibson’s right to make this film, we still strongly believe that Warner Bros. should reconsider Gibson’s involvement in this project.