- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 7, 2004

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, head of the New York BoardofRabbis, whose commentaries are heard on New York radio, said of the Mel Gibson film “The Passion of the Christ” to members of his Brooklyn Synagogue that “we don’t have to come to agreement on this film … We can walk away as friends.” But he did ask why Mel Gibson has not said anything about his father’s widely reported anti-Semitic views.

“The sins of the father should not be visited upon the cinema of the son,” said the rabbi, as reported in the New York Post. “But love of a parent doesn’t mean you have to look the other way when a father indulges in anti-Semitism.”

Indeed, it’s a superb opportunity for Mel Gibson — who has strenuously denied that he or his film are anti-Semitic — to speak unequivocally about comments his father, Hutton Gibson, made during a Feb. 16 radio telephone interview on “Speak your Piece!” — a program syndicated by Talkline, a major syndicator of Jewish programming in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The program is also available on the World Wide Web.

The New York Daily News printed excerpts from the Feb. 19 interview, but I obtained more of the interview fromtheSimon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

I emphasize that I am not commenting on Mel Gibson’s film until I see it. But what I am reporting and commenting on is a prototype of anti-Semitism at a time when it has been flourishing in Arab nations, increasing in Europe, and measurably existing in the United States long before anyone heard of Mr. Gibson’s movie. As Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon WiesenthalCenter,says, “These remarks (by Hutton Gibson) should be resoundingly condemned by Christian leaders everywhere.”

What follows is from the transcript of Steven Feuerstein’s interview with Hutton Gibson: “(The Holocaust) may not (be) all fiction, but most of it is … there were work camps.”

Asked why Jews construct Holocaust museums, the elder Gibson answered: “They have to go where the money is … they are the superior people and therefore they are entitled to the top jobs, supervisory stuff and so on, because they hire each other. They have so much influence in the banks, for instance.

“I don’t know what their (the Jews’) agenda is except that it’s all about control. They’re after one world religion and one world government.”

At one point, Hutton Gibson, speaking of the Vatican, said that “the ones we have there are all involved in the (Jewish) plot.”

Asked what plot he was referring to, Hutton Gibson said the “Jewish conspiracy,” the Jewish “drive for control” that goes back to the time of Jesus. The Sanhedrin (the highest court of the Jews at that time) had a good thing going in the temple, he added. They were selling the victims to be sacrificed. And he (Jesus) went in and overturned their tables.

“They knew what he was after,” Hutton Gibson continued, “and they were killing him just for that. They (the Jews) cannot admit that they were wrong. They have been at it for all of history. They are the people with an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Is the Jew still actively anti-Christian? He is, for by being a Jew, he is anti-everyone else.”

This almost endless construction of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy has been familiar to me since I was a boy, listening to the Rev. Charles E. Coughlin on national radio and reading the pamphlets and magazines of the other fervent anti-Semites of the time.

My children, now grown, have had practically no direct experience of this virulent anti-Semitism until recently, when they learned of swastikas being scrawled on synagogues in Jewish neighborhoods in New York and outside Jewish centers on college campuses.

On Feb. 19, at a conference in Brussels on what Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has called “a European disease,” German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said, according to a New York Times report, that the debate between “old anti-Semitism and new anti-Semitism” is unimportant. “It boils down to the same thing,” he said, “hatred and exclusion of the Jewish people.”

And Cobi Benatoff, president of the European Jewish Congress said that “the monster is here with us again.”

UnlikemanyJewsin France, who have suffered what many consider the worst onslaught of anti-Semitism since World War II, American Jews have no intention of leaving the country if the monster emerges here. The great majority of Americans are repelled by the minority of the Hutton Gibsons, who have no power to cut down our protections under the Constitution.

But it’s useful for all Americans to recognize that the “European disease” has never been entirely cured in this nation, either. And if Mel Gibson is actually concerned about that, he should speak firmly to what his father — fully utilizing his First Amendment rights — is saying. And where — as Rabbi Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center asks — are the condemnations of Hutton Gibson’s comments from the Christian leaders?

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