Mel Gibson's Jesus movie, "The Passion of the Christ," became controversial long before its release when learned critics, Christians as well as Jews, who had been invited to read a draft of the script objected that the film was, if not actually anti-Semitic, then all too apt for anti-Semitic exploitation. The initial response of the Gibson camp to these charges included a lawsuit charging the critics with a malicious attempt to sabotage the film.
There is at least one upside to the brouhaha over Mel Gibson's controversial film, "The Passion of the Christ": It has led to some serious probing of current Jewish-Christian relations and given many Jews a crash course in the varieties of Christian theology.
Just before midnight on Monday the phone rang at our house. It was a guest booker from ABC's "Good Morning America," asking if I would speak that morning to Diane Sawyer, live on air, about Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."
As both a Los Angeles city ethics commissioner and a Jewish community journalist, I was in a skeptical mood as I took a seat in the audience of a discussion on "Jewish Ethical Values in the Halls of Power: From the Board Room to the Council Chamber."