Mel Gibson has cut a line from his new film The Passion of Christ, in an apparent concession to Jewish lobby groups who have accused him of stoking anti-Semitism and reviving the old accusation that Jews bear collective responsibility for killing the Son of God.
A friend of the actor-director said the final version will not include a line from St Matthew’s gospel in which the Jewish high priest Caiaphas says of the crucifixion: “His blood be on us and on our children.”
Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre have been criticising Gibson ever since it emerged his retelling of the last week of the life of Jesus Christ was based on at least some discredited and overtly anti-Semitic sources.
The excised line from Caiaphas may be an indication Gibson is listening. It is said simply the scene in question “didn’t work” in test screenings.
Gibson has apparently inflicted further damage with an interview in Reader’s Digest, in which he was challenged to acknowledge the Holocaust happened. Gibson responded: “I have friends and parents of friends who have numbers on their arms. The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust survivor. He worked in a concentration camp in France. Yes of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives.”
Gibson’s choice of words has incensed Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, who wrote in a letter to the actor-director: “To describe Jewish suffering during the Holocaust as ‘some of them were Jews in concentration camps’ is an afterthought that feeds into the hands of Holocaust deniers and revisionists.”