Skip to comments.Mel Gibson and the Maccabees
Posted on 12/08/2004 11:31:33 AM PST by missyme
Anyone who took offense at Mel Gibsons "The Passion of the Christ", with its depiction of Jewish leaders condemning Jesus, should get ready soon to be offended all over again.
Gibson, it is reported, has his heart set on doing a movie version of the story commemorated by Hanukkah. His text will be the novel "My Glorious Brothers" by Howard Fast.
Ironically, this book is a sentimental favorite with the older-generation Jewish audience that also tends to be the main financial supporter of Gibsons primary antagonist, the Anti-Defamation League, which led the drive to condemn "The Passion" as anti-Semitic.
The Fast novel tells the story of Jewish heroes, circa 167 B.C.E., who defeat Greek oppressors of the Jewish people, retake the Jerusalem Temple, and relight the great menorah.
So whats so offensive? If this sounds, on the contrary, like a mollifying gesture to ADL national director Abraham Foxman, you might want to look a little more closely at what Hanukkah is actually about.
Many Jews grew up thinking of Hanukkah (which in 2004 falls on December 8-15) as an innocuous childrens festival. Actually the Maccabean revolt was deadly serious business, and it recalls one of the great tensions in our own modern American society: the conflict was between what today one might call religious fundamentalists and the secular elite.
Heres what happened. Jewish Palestine had fallen into the clutches of the Greek kingdom of the Seleucids, with their tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes, headquartered in Syria. While the Greeks were not anti-Jewish per se, they had little patience with the perceived particularism and parochialism of Judaism. (I say "perceived" because Judaisms vision, when properly understood, is in fact highly universal.)
The Greek vision was one of mutual theological acceptance. They were relativists, in the sense we know today, believing that not only the God of Israel but all the gods should be worshipped at the Jerusalem Temple--and believing that dissenters from their tolerance deserved to be suppressed.
Religiously committed Jews, however, were less troubled by the Greek Syrians themselves than by Jewish Hellenists in Palestine, and in the holy city itself, who had thrown in their lot with the Greeks. This was a way of social climbing. By embracing Greek culture, with its aggressive relativism, ambitious Jewish elites hoped to improve their own social standing in Greek eyes.
They embraced Greek customs that religious Jews found disturbing exercising naked in the gymnasium, with an emphasis on discus-throwing in the nude, or (far worse) effacing their circumcisions through a surgical operation involving cutting a flap of skin around the penis and letting it hang by weights.
In his standard history of the period, "Alexander to Actium," Professor Peter Green calls this select club of progressive Hellenizers a specially favored cosmopolitan class dedicated to social and political self-advancement, seeking sociological privilege and status.
A BIT MORE:
When the news of Gibsons interest in Howard Fasts novel was picked up in the media, Foxman reportedly told Fasts widow he would feel more comfortable putting it in the hands of Mr. [Harvey] Weinstein than Mr. Gibson. The irony is delicious.
Weinstein is the Hollywood producer who co-founded Miramax and made X-rated art movies like "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" and "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" as well as, more recently, "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Kill Bill: Vol. 2." If Harvey Weinstein and motion pictures had been around in 167 B.C.E., Weinstein would have been the guy making controversial films about naked discus-throwing
How secular liberals, Jewish and otherwise, will respond to the new Gibson effort is an interesting question. "The Passion" proved to be an embarrassment for the ADL and others who predicted that the films supposed anti-Semitism would expose Americas Jewish community to medieval-style perils. Of course, no such thing came to pass.
All that the protests succeeded in doing was to ensure that many, many more people would see Gibsons film than would have done so had there (without the ADLs efforts) been no controversy to begin with.
For the folks who made such an aggressive and pointless fuss about "The Passion," there would seem to be two choices. The first is, once again, to raise a ruckus about how Gibson again casts Jews (in this case the secular liberal Hellenizers) as bad guys, and accomplish nothing positive. The other is to let Gibson alone. Personally, not myself being a big fan of the overlong, gratuitously violent "Passion," I would like to see him get back to the kind of spiritual thriller that caught his imagination when he starred in M. Night Shyamalans fabulously gripping "Signs."
The great menorah?........Is that like the great Pumpkin?.....
This guy likes "Signs?" That movie was a yawner.
It's called I S R A E L!
Ah yes! We won't tolerate intolerance. We've heard that many times of late.
Translation: We really can't find anything to complain about, but we will anyway.
Saint Paul also addressed these same proclivities during his ministry to the Greeks
Hitler and friends also greatly admired the 'Greek' lifestyle of the day...
Read all about it....The Pink Swastika
I hope Gibson does this. I hope he portrays the Hanukkah story as a story of orthodox religious believers triumping over urban secular oppressors. I hope he uses all Jewish actors too. The social fallout from that would be a magnificent sight to behold. Do you suppose the liberal elite would cry out against it, even though they might be percieved as anti-Semetic? Or would they dare to grin and bear it?
Like John kerry's Jewish ancestor became Catholic when the boat landed in Boston
"effacing their circumcisions through a surgical operation involving cutting a flap of skin around the penis and letting it hang by weights."
I think many of the Nazi's were closet homosexuals....
(now that's GOTTA hurt!)
I am not sure what this procedure is but the Greek GOD's were pretty whacked like flaming homosexuals at the local Gay Parade....
A Mel Gibson movie without Danny Glover or Joe Pesci? Where do I get tickets?
Not likely to win any film awards. Has anyone else ever heard of it (or seen it)?
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