The Passion is Anti-Semitic, You Say?!

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Abraham Foxman, President of the Anti-Defamation League

This is years old, I know, but I think it still applies today.  The movie The Passion of the Christ (2004) has been labeled anti-Semitic by ADL’s president Abraham Foxman who has demanded that it be altered as it “is also a storyline rejected by the Roman Catholic Church at Vatican II in its document Nostrae aetate”.  So subsequently, not only should the movie have been altered, but the Passion narrative itself should be altered to please 21st century sensitivities.

Rabbi Daniel Lapide responded to Foxman’s absurd assertion saying that “what he is saying is that the only way to escape the wrath of Foxman is to repudiate your faith.”  Accusing the Passion story of promoting anti-Semitic rhetoric is like accusing historians of anti-Christianity for mentioning those Christians who did resort to anti-Semitic violence.  It is recorded that Jesus’ persecutors were Jewish and Roman; that’s a fact; it’s not about promoting hate against one another.  The same is that some of the persecutors of Jews were Christians; that’s also a fact and simply mentioning it alone does not entail anti-Christian propaganda per se although plenty of people do employ this historical fact for that reason and quite more so than those who use historical events of Jewish violence against non-Jews and those deemed heretics or apostates.

Coming from the Holy See is this comment.

“Anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, distorts the truth in order to put a whole race of people in a bad light. This film does nothing of the sort. It draws out from the historical objectivity of the Gospel narratives sentiments of forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation. It captures the subtleties and the horror of sin, as well as the gentle power of love and forgiveness, without making or insinuating blanket condemnations against one group. This film expressed the exact opposite, that learning from the example of Christ, there should never be any more violence against any other human being.” ~ H.E. Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos

Foxman is basically the Jewish equivalent of Al Sharpton.  Their kind (race-baiters) see racism even where there is none and they make lots of money off of it.  This is not a defense of Mel Gibson.  His comments on Jews during his drunken stupor are another topic on its own.  This is to defend not just a movie, but the Gospel narrative from which the movie is based on.  Many out there want us to alter Scripture passages so as to appease them.  That’s not going to happen.

It’s ironic how critics — both of the movie and the Gospel narrative — fail to mention the negative role the Romans play in the Passion.  It is after all, Roman soldiers who carried out the punishments: scourging Jesus at the pillar, striking Him with rods, placing a crown of thorns on His head and a rod in His hand along with a scarlet military cloak around Him while mockingly proclaiming, “Hail King of the Jews”, made Him carry His Cross, took His cloak and cast lots for it, nailed Him to the Cross and pierced His side.  They choose who to talk about so as to propagate an anti-Christian agenda.  Both Jews and Gentiles have negative and positive portrayals in the Gospels.  Critics forget this.  There are pious Gentiles like the Roman centurion and Jews like the disciples who believed in Christ and followed Him.  There were bad Gentiles like the Roman soldiers or Jews like the Pharisees, Sadducees, King Herod, the chief priests and scribes.  This isn’t about what race is good or bad it’s representative of the sinfulness of the whole; it calls to mind a sinful world in need of a Savior to take away its sins by means of the Cross.  As Saint John the Baptist — a Jew — said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  If anybody uses the Gospel to blame the Jews or Gentiles collectively, then they are wrong and are misunderstanding the point.

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