March 2, 2004

by Joe Sobran

     Mel Gibson's movie THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST has 
been greeted by some remarkable expressions of hatred for 
Christianity -- all in the name of fighting 
anti-Semitism, of course. By now it would take a whole 
book to deal with them thoroughly, but the prize for 
venom goes to columnist William Safire of the NEW YORK 
TIMES, who blames the Holocaust on Christ.

     After the standard rundown of the Gospels, medieval 
Passion plays, and the "sadism" of Gibson's film, Safire 
quotes Christ himself in Matthew 10:34: "I have come to 
bring not peace, but a sword."

     Get it? Christ preached hatred and violence. If you 
connect the dots, his teaching ultimately bore fruit in 
millennia of anti-Semitism, culminating in Hitler's mass 
murders of Jews.

     Of course Safire, who seems to be writing for people 
who don't know the New Testament too well, doesn't 
mention that Christ is speaking metaphorically, as the 
rest of the passage immediately makes clear: "For I have 
come to set son against father, daughter against mother, 
daughter-in-law against mother-in-law; and a man's foes 
will be those of his own house." That is, Christ's truth 
will divide people even from their closest relatives. As 
it often still does.

     Safire overlooks an even more famous metaphor of the 
sword, though Jesus speaks it in the new film: "He who 
lives by the sword will die by the sword."

     Jews like Safire can't shake the obsessive belief 
that they are the victims of hatred, even when they're 
spreading hatred themselves. Among Jewish writers during 
the present controversy, only David Klinghoffer, writing 
in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, has been candid enough to 
mention that the Talmud proudly gives the Jews "credit" 
for killing Jesus.

     The Talmud's account is historically incredible, but 
it shows that the notion that some Jews played their part 
in killing Christ isn't just a fiction of the Gospels. 
The Talmud doesn't even mention the Romans' role in the 
story, whereas the Apostles' Creed doesn't mention the 
Jewish role: it merely says that Christ "suffered under 
Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried." If the 
early Church was so eager to blame the Jews, it muffed 
its big chance.

     Moving along to the WASHINGTON POST, we find 
columnist Richard Cohen charging that Gibson's film is 
"anti-Semitic, maybe not purposely so but in the way 
portions of the New Testament are -- an assignment of 
blame that culminated in the Holocaust."

     Cohen doesn't quite reach the heights of slander 
Safire has set; in fact, it's a standard Jewish 
anti-Christian calumny -- a "hoary canard," to use 
another regular cliche. As history, it's naive in the 
extreme; if the Gospels were going to "culminate in the 
Holocaust," they should have done so when Europe was 
still Christian, not under the pagan Nazi regime, which 
left something to be desired in the way of Christian 
piety and ethics.

     The attempt to link Christianity to Nazism has 
become a heavy industry, culminating, if you will, in 
recent books smearing Pope Pius XII and the entire 
Catholic Church from New Testament times to 1965 -- when, 
we are falsely told, the Second Vatican Council 
"reversed" a teaching the Church had never in fact 
taught. Little did the bishops of 1965 imagine that their 
goodwill gestures toward Jews would soon be used to 
vilify their predecessors.

     Lately we've witnessed a somewhat new kind of 
vilification: the calumnious prediction. Jews -- not all, 
but not a few, either -- have said flatly that Gibson's 
movie "will," not "may," incite anti-Jewish violence. 
They were saying this for months, while the film was 
still in production.

     Well, the movie has been an astounding success. 
Millions of Christians have seen it, yet not even one 
violent incident has been reported in or near the 
theaters. Not even one! The Christians have been behaving 
like -- well, like Christians. Is anyone surprised? Of 
course not.

     Yet, at the urging of some rabid rabbis, the New 
York Police Department has assigned its Hate Crimes Unit 
to attend the movie and nab law-breaking Christian bigots 
who are "pushed over the edge" by the story of the 
Crucifixion. Arrests so far: zero.

     If Gibson's aim is what he says it is, namely, to 
bring Christ's Passion home to millions, he has scored a 
huge triumph. If his goal is what his Jewish enemies say 
it is, namely, to cause the persecution of Jews, he has 
fizzled miserably.

     "Hate," anyone?


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