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Are You Anti-Christian? (An Open Letter to Roger Friedman)

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I just read your most recent hit piece, "The Poisonous Legacy of The Passion," blasting Mel Gibson for promoting anti-Semitism.

You wrote:
Is the movie anti-Semitic? Several reviewers have already said it is. I can tell you this: Thanks to Gibson, when non-Jews around the world now see the Jewish prayer shawl, the tallis, on the heads of praying Jews, they will think, "Oh yeah, those were worn by the angry crowds in The Passion who insisted that Jesus be killed and then patiently watched him be tortured to death." Thanks to Gibson, we are reminded that Jesus' friend Judas - a Jew - was easily sold out for some gold that was thrown at him in exchange for his betrayal. It's the return of the money-grubbing Jew, straight out of the old anti-Semite playbook.
Bravo, Mr. Friedman. You managed to sink to a new low. You dance around the issue in an attempt to make it appear that your only problem is with Gibson's film, but some of us just aren't buying it. We're not that stupid. It is clear that you think Christianity - or at least the New Testament - is inherently anti-Semitic. How else can we interpret your reaction to a movie based on a factual, historical event?

You also wrote:
We have no idea why Christ is so reviled by the Jews, what he's done to earn their anger, or what he's done to earn Gibson's respect. From the moment the film begins, Jesus is simply a target for unbridled, unrestrained bloodlust...Since we don't know who Jesus was before the day of his death, and since all we see are rabid packs of Jews in shawls who want him dead, followed by the long merciless death itself, what is Gibson's point? That Christ died for our sins? Or that he was murdered by crazy, vicious mobs who didn't understand him?
The Passion depicts the final hours leading up to the crucifixion. It is a snapshot of a particular event in history. I am sure Mel Gibson assumed that the viewer would have at least a rudimentary understanding of some of the background information, so that might explain why you failed to understand the hatred many of the Jews at that time - especially the religious leaders - had for Jesus. In essence, he posed a radical threat to their entire belief system by claiming divine status as Messiah and "King of the Jews." Considered a blasphemer and an instigator, he had to be dealt with severely and permanently. Yes, the Roman government carried out the execution, but the Jews who had gathered to witness the event were the ones crying out, "His blood be on us and on our children" (Matt. 27:25).

There were, however, many Jews who believed in Jesus as the Messiah. In case you forgot, Jesus himself was a Jew, as were most of his followers. If you had any knowledge at all of the Bible, you might have grasped that.

Let me turn the tables for a minute and ask you this: when Steven Spielberg released Schindler's List, were you just as confused by the fact that the Jews in the movie were so reviled by the Nazis? After all, the movie didn't offer a clear explanation for the brutal persecution of the Jews. Did you sit there, staring at the screen, wondering why these people were being rounded up and slaughtered? Why did so many Germans want them dead? Were you disappointed that Spielberg didn't do a better job outlining the series of events leading up to the Holocaust? Probably not. I'm sure you and everyone else who saw it had a basic idea of what was going on and why.

But I am curious. Did you worry about the possible anti-German behavior Schindler's List would inspire? No, I'll bet you thought it was an important movie addressing one of the darkest periods of the 20th century that should have been seen by as many people as possible. You probably even thought that the graphic violence only heightened the movie's impact. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

The problem with your position is that you expect us to believe that this dramatization of Christ's ultimate act of love and sacrifice on the cross will ignite the fires of anti-Semitism. You want us to think that those who are sick and twisted enough to commit acts of violence against another human being are the kinds of people who will flock to see this movie. Come on, Mr. Friedman. You're smarter than that.

I submit that your hateful words - along with those of Abraham Foxman of the ADL - actually have more potential for fueling anti-Semitism than this film ever will. If you ask me, I think you owe Christians and Jews everywhere an apology.

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