Mel Gibson and the Judeo-Christian myth
By Gilad Atzmon
"I hope and I pray that you will join me in setting an example for all of our brethren; that the truest path to follow, the only path, is that of respect and, most importantly, that of love for each other despite our differences." (Mr. Mel. Gibson, Hollywood director, responding to a letter from Abraham Foxman, national director of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League who demands some cuts from so-called inflammatory scenes)
"Your words do not mitigate our concerns about the potential consequences of your film - to fuel and legitimise anti-Semitism." (Mr. Foxman's response to Mr. Gibson)
I find myself wondering whether it is possible that Mr. Foxman is really so concerned with the growth of anti Semitism. In practice, it is his own reaction to Gibson's film that fuels far more anti Jewish feelings than the film itself. In a non-Jewish perspective, Foxman's intervention into aspects of the Christian historical narrative is pretty bizarre. Foxman should know from personal experience: he is far from being enthusiastic about 'holocaust revisionists' interfering with the Zionist official narrative. From a Jewish point of view, Foxman's reaction doesn't look any better. Foxman's reaction leads towards an association between the contemporary Jew and the biblical mob that put pressure on Pontius Pilate to go ahead with the crucifixion. This is clearly a very dangerous and irresponsible act.
The fears addressed by Mr. Foxman are confusing. I would like to state clearly that I don't believe the majority of Jewish people associate themselves with their biblical ancestors. I do not think that gentiles tend to do so either. None of the Jewish people I know feel remotely responsible for Christ's death and what's more none of my Jewish friends have ever been blamed for the killing of Christ. The majority of Jewish people would never consider exploiting the Israeli racist 'law of return' which welcomes every Jew, wherever he is and whoever he is (even alleged criminals) to settle in Palestine at the expense of the Palestinian people. But the truth must be revealed; there are some Jews that happily endorse this Israeli open invitation. Those people regard themselves as the offspring of their biblical ancestors. Those Jews are called Zionists. Since the late 19th century they have migrated to Palestine, they have revived the Hebraic language. They regard themselves as reborn biblical entities. So far it sounds pretty romantic and even heroic but some problems are entangled with this 'new' nationalistic identity. It is expansionist, racist, and fundamentally intolerant not only to its neighbours but to any realisation of peaceful existence. The Zionist endorsement of the biblical lesson is pretty narrow-minded. Somehow it ignores the spiritual and ethical teaching of the Jewish religion while blindly adopting the most brutal interpretation of the biblical notion of conquest. It should be mentioned that the land of Zion has never been free of indigenous inhabitants, neither in biblical times nor in the late 19th century. This very fact didn't stop the Zionists. On the contrary, fuelled with missionary zeal, they followed their biblical ancestors in the conquest of the holy land. In their new reborn Hebraic terminology they named their violent assault 'redeeming the land', injecting their viciousness with some historic content. As if an historic repetition is a form of moral justification.
And here we get to the core of Mr. Foxman concerns. Perhaps the Zionist tendency to associate themselves with their ancestors can help us to understand the oppression and the atrocities against the Palestinian people in terms of a repetition of Christ's via dolorosa, the way of suffering. Apparently the Palestinian people are today's Jesus.
In the film Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine, says, "Behold the man" displaying the broken and bleeding Jesus to the crowd. But the high priest insists, in Aramaic, "Crucify him." Pilate responds, "Isn't this enough?" The mob roars, "No," and only then does the Roman leader agree to the Crucifixion.
In today's reality the world says, "Behold the man" displaying the broken and bleeding Palestinians asking 'isn't it enough?' The Palestinians, the indigenous inhabitants of the land of 'milk and honey', are now reaching a level of starvation and malnutrition that puts them amongst the populations of the poorest African regions. But the Israeli mob do not care, they roar "No" to requests for mercy. If anything, they want more persecution and misery. Evidently, the popularity of the high priest Sharon rises sharply after each killing of Palestinians. Like their biblical ancestors, the image of blood fills the Zionist with cheer.
So often the Israeli crowds shout 'death to the Arabs'. The Israeli 'democratically' elected 'priests' whether it be Sharon, Peres, Rabin or Ben Gurion, have managed to perfect the Palestinian's via dolorosa. Everything goes: massacres, legal persecution, financial pressure, continual humiliation, assassinations and now the 'Separation wall'. From time to time the European community or even the American administration ask like Pilate 'isn't it enough?' but somehow they always give-in and allow the Zionists to continue the outrageous destruction of the Palestinian people.
Mr. Foxman realises very well that such an interpretation of Gibson's film will lead western people towards some rethinking. A pang of conscience towards the Palestinians misery is inevitable. I would guess that Mr. Foxman and his Zionists allies realise that the artificial myth of Judo-Christian companionship is about to collapse. Again, it isn't that surprising. A brief reading of the history of those rival beliefs reveals a story rich in bitter conflicts. We are talking here about two distinct worldviews. The differentiation is clearly reflected in the quotes above. While Foxman's reaction is pretty precise, addressing the favourite Jewish topic of economy of hatred, Christianity as it is reflected in Gibson's response is all about "love for each other".
It is more than likely that Gibson's film can lead towards a wide realisation of the role of the Palestinian people, the new Christ, in redeeming the world from its current evil, whether this evil is the Israeli State, the Zionist identity, Bush or Blair. When we acknowledge the crime against the Palestinians we will be ready to bridge the imposed gap between 'West' and 'non West', between 'us' and 'them', between the US and the Arab world. It is clear that Foxman and his Zionist associates are not too happy about that. They feel far more secure in the corridors of evil, in the kingdom of endless war and bloodshed.