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True, it is not the done thing among cultured people to express an opinion on a creative work without actually seeing it. I have not seen Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ," and it is doubtful that I will. Nevertheless, after reading everything I could about the movie, I would like to say something about it.

My desire to write about the movie derives, among other things, from the silence, or alternatively, the sycophantic nature of the way liberal circles in the United States are relating to this inferior movie, as well as the Gibson crowd, among whom a number of the leaders in our country can suddenly be found.

Only someone who is being disingenuous can claim that the "Passion" was born in a vacuum, or that it will not boost anti-Semitism. I understand that even Pontius Pilate is portrayed in the movie as an enlightened ruler, surrounded by cruel, bloodthirsty, long-nosed Jews with rotting teeth - so say people who have seen the movie.

Undoubtedly, within the global reality of intense inter-religious tensions, with his movie Gibson has added fuel to the ancient bonfire that alternately dies down and flares up.

If I thought the movie also provided some new, original analysis of the crucifixion, I would concede: So be it, in the name of art, we will also have to suffer this theo-pornograpy with all its sadomasochist revelations. This is not my impression. All Gibson has done is take the story of the crucifixion from the New Testament as is, and produce it for the big screen while sticking loyally to the sources. What is so artistic or creative in taking Jesus down from the cross just to crucify him again in a ketchup-filled scene?

What is to be gained in the exact reenactment of the crucifixion when the viewers are invited to watch nails being hammered into the palms of a tortured man? If this isn't an attempt to stir up passions, to promote a dispute, and to again cast darkness on Jewish-Christian relations under the heavy shadow of the cross, then what do we have here?

The "Passion" is on its way to becoming Hollywood's number one blockbuster. From the outset, it would never have made it to the big screen unless it had a sure chance of becoming a major hit. Gibson is familiar with the American soul, with the world's soul, and he also knows for sure that a movie like this, at this time, will ride on the high waves of Christian fundamentalism in his country and in others. Without supportive surroundings, Gibson, who is not exactly known as a modern-day Shakespeare, would not have dared make this movie.

Within these surroundings are to be found the best friends of Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Beni Elon, Nathan Sharansky and Effi Eitam, who are fighting fiercely, as we all know, against anti-Semitism. Sharon, Netanyahu, Elon and their friends have long entered into a blood pact, of ketchup, with the more anti-Semitic Christian groups in America, who pretend to be sworn friends of Israel.

Their friendship is conditional; for the evangelists, the return of the Jews to their land, especially to the Greater Land of Israel, free of Muslims, is a precondition for a complete Christian redemption, which includes, among other things, wiping out the Jews as a people. These evangelicals see the redemption of Israel as a crucial foundation in the return of the messiah Jesus Christ. This is the only reason they encourage Israel and donate a lot of money to it, mainly to the messianic streams within the Jewish state, who view the settlements as the start of the redemption.

Minister Elon, who lately doesn't seem to miss a single evangelical gathering, occasionally tries to calm us: I have made our cooperation with them, he says, conditional on their not engaging in any missionary activity, and they have agreed. There's no doubting that the fundamentalist Christians were impressed by the firm approach of the Israeli minister. Nevertheless, I permit myself the assumption that when it comes to choosing between Elon's conditions and the conditions needed for the return of the messiah, the good of Jesus wins out, with all due respect to the minister.

The Israeli government's battle against anti-Semitism is hypocritical, because it is selective. We are ready to join forces with anti-Semitic zealots, even with certain Holocaust deniers, if they are just willing to support the policies of the Sharon government. We will renew our ties with Austria, under suspicious circumstances, even if Joerg Haider and his party continue to play a central role in the Austrian government. A few days ago, Haider won a local election, and he is once again being seen as the great light of European fascism.

With friends like these, who vote en masse for Haider and flock en masse to see Gibson's movie, there's no need for enemies; because enemies such as these friends are hoping to inherit this land in a war of Armageddon, whose advent, if it is taking time, maybe needs to be sped up.