- Two weeks before Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the
Christ" flashes onto two thousand screens, online ticket merchants
are reporting that up to half their total sales are for advance purchases
for the film. One Dallas multiplex has reserved all 20 of its screens for
"The Passion." I am neither a prophet nor a movie critic. I am
merely an Orthodox rabbi using ancient Jewish wisdom to make three predictions
about "The Passion."
- One, Mel Gibson and Icon Productions will make a great
deal of money. Those distributors who surrendered to pressure from Jewish
organizations and passed on the movie will be kicking themselves, while
Newmarket Films will laugh all the way to the bank. Theater owners are
going to love this film.
- Two, "The Passion" will become famous as the
most serious and substantive biblical movie ever made. It will be one of
the most talked-about entertainment events in history. It is currently
on the cover of Newsweek and Vanity Fair.
- My third prediction is that the faith of millions of
Christians will become more fervent as "The Passion" uplifts
and inspires them. It will propel vast numbers of unreligious Americans
to embrace Christianity. The movie will one day be seen as a harbinger
of America's third great religious reawakening.
- Those Jewish organizations that have squandered both
time and money futilely protesting "The Passion," ostensibly
in order to prevent pogroms in Pittsburgh, can hardly be proud of their
performance. They failed at everything they attempted. They were hoping
to ruin Gibson rather than enrich him. They were hoping to suppress "The
Passion" rather than promote it. Finally, they were hoping to help
Jews rather than harm them.
- Here I digress slightly to exercise the Jewish value
of "giving the benefit of the doubt" by discounting cynical suggestions
growing in popularity that the very public nature of their attack on Gibson
exposed their real purpose-fund-raising. Apparently, frightening wealthy
widows in Florida about anti-Semitic thugs prowling the streets of America
causes them to open their pocketbooks and refill the coffers of groups
with little other raison d'etre. But let's assume the groups were hoping
to help Jews.
- However, instead of helping the Jewish community, they
have inflicted lasting harm. By selectively unleashing their fury only
on wholesome entertainment that depicts Christianity in a positive light,
they have triggered anger, hurt and resentment. Hosting the Toward Tradition
radio show and speaking before many audiences nationwide, I enjoy extensive
communication with Christian America, and what I hear is troubling. Fearful
of attracting the ire of Jewish groups that are so quick to hurl the "anti-Semite"
epithet, some Christians are reluctant to speak out. Although one can bludgeon
resentful people into silence, behind closed doors emotions continue to
- I consider it crucially important for Christians to know
that not all Jews are in agreement with their self-appointed spokesmen.
Most American Jews, experiencing warm and gracious interactions each day
with their Christian fellow citizens, would feel awkward trying to explain
why so many Jewish organizations seem focused on an agenda hostile to Judeo-Christian
values. Many individual Jews have shared with me their embarrassment that
groups, ostensibly representing them, attack "The Passion" but
are silent about depraved entertainment that encourages killing cops and
- Citing artistic freedom, Jewish groups helped protect
sacrilegious exhibits such as the anti-Christian feces extravaganza presented
by the Brooklyn Museum four years ago. One can hardly blame Christians
for assuming that Jews feel artistic freedom is important only when exercised
by those hostile toward Christianity. However, this is not how all Jews
- >From audiences around America, I am encountering
bitterness at Jewish organizations insisting that belief in the New Testament
is de facto evidence of anti-Semitism. Christians heard Jewish leaders
denouncing Gibson for making a movie that follows Gospel accounts of the
crucifixion long before any of them had even seen the movie.
- Furthermore, Christians are hurt that Jewish groups are
presuming to teach them what Christian Scripture "really means."
Listen to a rabbi whom I debated on the Fox television show hosted by Bill
O'Reilly last September. This is what he said, "We have a responsibility
as Jews, as thinking Jews, as people of theology, to respond to our Christian
brothers and to engage them, be it Protestants, be it Catholics, and say,
'Look, this is not your history, this is not your theology, this does not
represent what you believe in.'"
- He happens to be a respected rabbi and a good one, but
he too has bought into the preposterous proposition that Jews will re-educate
Christians about Christian theology and history. Is it any wonder that
this breathtaking arrogance spurs bitterness?
- Many Christians who, with good reason, have considered
themselves to be Jews' best (and perhaps, only) friends also feel bitter
at Jews believing that "The Passion" is revealing startling new
information about the crucifixion. They are incredulous at Jews thinking
that exposure to the Gospels in visual form will instantly transform the
most philo-Semitic gentiles of history into snarling, Jew-hating predators.
- Christians are baffled by Jews who don't understand that
President George Washington, who knew and revered every word of the Gospels,
was still able to write that oft-quoted beautiful letter to the Touro Synagogue
in Newport, offering friendship and full participation in America to the
- One of the directors of the AJC recently warned that
"The Passion" "could undermine the sense of community between
Christians and Jews that's going on in this country. We're not allowing
the film to do that." No sir, it isn't the film that threatens the
sense of community; it is the arrogant and intemperate response of Jewish
organizations that does so.
- Jewish organizations, hoping to help but failing so spectacularly,
refute all myths of Jewish intelligence. How could their plans have been
so misguided and the execution so inept?
- Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that nothing confuses one's
thinking more than being in the grip of the two powerful emotions, love
and hate. The actions of these Jewish organizations sadly suggest that
they are in the grip of a hatred for Christianity that is only harming
- Today, peril threatens all Americans, both Jews and Christians.
Many of the men and women in the front lines find great support in their
Christian faith. It is strange that Jewish organizations, purporting to
protect Jews, think that insulting allies is the preferred way to carry
out that mandate.
- A ferocious Rottweiler dog in your suburban home will
quickly estrange your family from the neighborhood. For those of us in
the Jewish community who cherish friendship with our neighbors, some Jewish
organizations have become our Rottweilers. God help us.
- - Radio talk-show host Rabbi Daniel Lapin is president
of Toward Tradition, a bridge-building organization providing a voice for
all Americans who defend the Judeo-Christian values vital for our nation's
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