Not long after Mel Gibson announced his project to adapt the story of Jewish hero Judah Maccabee to the big screen, some prominent Jewish leaders sounded off their protest. One of those who was not impressed with the actor's plan is Rabbi Marvin Heir, founder and dean of Los Angeles' Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance.
To The Hollywood Reporter, Heir said, "Mel Gibson has shown nothing but antagonism and disrespect to Jews. First of all there were the anti-Semitic remarks he made, his portrayal of Jews in The Passion of Christ. I'm talking about those Jews who did not accept Christ, they were all portrayed as idiots, buffoons or people who were tyrants, with a very unfair portrayal."
"He's had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr. It's simply an insult to Jews."
Beside slamming Gibson, Heir also criticized Warner Bros. for agreeing to do partnership with the actor. "Warner Bros. is making a terrible mistake," he stated. "Most of the people that are going to come to a film about Judah Maccabee are the Jewish community. Surely they know the Jewish communities are not going to come to this film."
Additionally, Heir claimed that what Gibson said when apologizing for his anti-Semitic remarks was not enough. He said the "Braveheart" star should try to show his remorse once again in a more proper way. "Nobody would say a person doesn't deserve another chance. There's no question about that. But he has not shown any of that evidence at all," he reasoned.
The other person who was upset with Gibson over his Maccabee film is Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman. A few years ago when "The Beaver" actor first expressed his interest to do the movie, Foxman was furious and called it as a way to ruin a "sacred history." Now, he stepped forward once again to show his objection.
"Judah Maccabee deserves better. He is a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty. It would be a travesty to have his story told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people's religious views," he said before adding, "America is a free country and anyone can do whatever they want, so long as they don't hurt others."