- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2006

LOS ANGELES

Mel Gibson said yesterday that he is not a bigot, and he apologized to “everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words” he used when he was arrested for investigation of drunken driving.

“Hatred of any kind goes against my faith,” he said in a statement released through publicist Alan Nierob.

“I’m not just asking for forgiveness,” Mr. Gibson said. “I would like to take it one step further and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.”

It was the second apology the 50-year-old Academy Award winner has issued through Mr. Nierob since his Friday arrest.

Mr. Gibson said he’s “in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display” and added that he hopes members of the Jewish community, “whom I have personally offended,” will help him in his recovery efforts.

“There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark,” Mr. Gibson said.

“But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.”

“We are glad that Mel Gibson has finally owned up to the fact that he made anti-Semitic remarks, and his apology sounds sincere. We welcome his efforts to repair the damage he has caused,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Once he completes his rehabilitation for alcohol abuse, we will be ready and willing to help him with his second rehabilitation to combat this disease of prejudice.”

“I welcome his words. And I hope and pray that they are sincere and heartfelt,” said Rabbi Mark S. Diamond of the 280-member Board of Rabbis of Southern California. However, he added that Mr. Gibson needs to show “tangible actions” of repentance.

“I don’t want to minimize for a moment the hurt and anger, the anguish, his words have created in our community,” the rabbi said.

Mr. Gibson acknowledged “there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.”

The actor was pulled over early Friday in Malibu for speeding and was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol.

He was released several hours later after posting $5,000 bail.

On Monday, the Sheriff’s Department sent its case to prosecutors, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. According to the official, the report states that a tequila bottle was found in Mr. Gibson’s car when he was pulled over on Pacific Coast Highway.

The department’s initial account of the arrest did not mention Mr. Gibson’s remarks. However, the law enforcement official quoted Mr. Gibson as saying, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” and asking the arresting officer, “Are you a Jew?”

The sheriff’s deputy who made the arrest said Monday he feels bad that the star’s reputation has been damaged but said he hopes Mr. Gibson will think twice before drinking and driving again.

“I don’t take pride in hurting Mr. Gibson,” Deputy James Mee told Associated Press during an interview outside his home.

Deputy Mee, who is Jewish, said he didn’t take Mr. Gibson’s remarks seriously.

“That stuff is booze talking,” the deputy said.

However, Mr. Gibson’s latest statement said he must take responsibility for making anti-Semitic remarks because as a public person, “when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena.”

Mr. Gibson said that his apology and efforts to repair relations with the Jewish community “is not about a film.”

ABC announced late Monday that it had scrapped plans for Mr. Gibson to produce a miniseries on the Holocaust.

“This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have,” Mr. Gibson said.

To some people, however, it is about movies.

“I don’t think I want to see any more Mel Gibson movies,” Barbara Walters said Monday on the ABC talk show “The View.” ABC is owned by Disney, which was in the early stages of planning the marketing for Mr. Gibson’s next film, “Apocalypto.”

This is not the first time Mr. Gibson has faced accusations of anti-Semitism. He produced, directed and financed the 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ,” which some Jewish leaders said cast Jews as the killers of Jesus. Days before “Passion” was released, Mr. Gibson’s father, Hutton Gibson, was quoted as saying the Holocaust was mostly “fiction.”

Mr. Gibson won a best-director Oscar for 1995’s “Braveheart” and starred in the “Lethal Weapon” and “Mad Max” films, among others.

In recent years, he has turned his attention to producing films and TV shows through his Icon Productions. The hundreds of millions of dollars he made from “The Passion” has given the star the ability to finance his own films, giving him a measure of independence from major studios. His last major starring role was in the 2002 film “Signs.” He played a supporting part in the 2003 film “The Singing Detective,” which he also produced.

Associated Press writers Solvej Schou, Jeremiah Marquez and Andrew Glazer contributed to this report.

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