Skip to comments.Who's the Anti-Semite? Arguments over bad movies show perils of self-hatred
Posted on 02/10/2005 7:02:09 AM PST by malakhi
This week's nominations for the film industry's Oscars for the best movies of the year 2004 provided a sigh of relief to some, as it stoked the conspiracy theories harbored by others.
Nearly a year after Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" launched 1,000 commentaries, the 77th Academy Awards ceremony closes the parenthesis on this remarkable cultural phenomenon.
As much as critics blasted it -- while others condemned it for incitement of anti-Semitism -- "The Passion" turned into the surprise blockbuster of the year. As such, its popularity was widely considered a slap in the face to the liberal media/culture establishment.
So while some feared that an Oscar for Gibson or the film would revive the controversy, the unsurprising refusal of the same Hollywood elite that despised the film to honor it will cause the argument to be revisited anyway.
Let us waste no more ink debating the merits of this thoroughly bad film. But I am still interested in the way this story pushes buttons and illustrates the way some Jews look at the world.
Case in point is the way two people have hung on to the controversy and done their best to keep it alive.
They are the Anti-Defamation League's national director, Abe Foxman, and Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a Seattle-based talk-radio host and the head of a small conservative group called Toward Tradition.
Foxman led the charge against the film and its seeming reaffirmation of the myth that placed the responsibility for the death of the Christian messiah on the Jews. He also took the lion's share of blame from those who believed that Gibson used critics to hype a small film into a mega-hit.
Foxman's still smarting from that charge.
He responded in a recent Jerusalem Post opinion piece that restated his reasons for protest and his fears that those who see it in the future will be exposed to "the film's vile notions of Jews."
Blame it on Barbra
On the other end of the spectrum is Lapin, a marginal figure among Jews but someone who enjoys some notoriety among evangelicals who flocked to see the movie. At the time that most other Jews were following Foxman's lead, Lapin was part of Gibson's cheering section.
But rather than merely gloat about Foxman's discomfort, Lapin is attempting to use the "Passion" anniversary to refloat one of his own ideas. He doesn't think the real cause for anti-Semitism lies in the age-old canards that Foxman and others have sought to debunk. For the South African-born rabbi, the cause of hatred for the Jews can be found in the behavior of actors Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.
What has this famous Jewish duo done?
The answer is that they made a movie that the right-wing rabbi considered far worse than Gibson's.
For Lapin, the Streisand-Hoffman appearance in the regrettable "Meet the Fockers" wasn't merely an exercise in bad taste. For him, it was a defamation of American Jewry.
In the film -- the sequel to the extremely popular "Meet the Parents" -- Streisand and Hoffman portray the oversexed and eccentric Jewish parents of a character played by actor Ben Stiller, a dorky Jewish male nurse who's marrying a gentile goddess. The conceit of the piece lies in a visit by the girl's uptight parents to Miami, home of their Jewish hippy in-laws. Comic complications ensue, some of which deal with the stereotyped connections of the Jewish couple to Judaism.
But rather than dismiss this as cinematic nonsense, Lapin, in a piece widely distributed by his organization, considers it a prime example of how Jews are destroying American morals.
"You'd have to be a recent immigrant from Outer Mongolia not to know of the role that people with Jewish names play in the coarsening of our culture," fulminates Lapin. "Almost every American knows this. It is just that most gentiles are too polite to mention it."
Was Hitler right?
Acknowledging that any ordinary reader would be shocked at such a statement, Lapin remains undaunted, and goes even further with a quote from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. Lapin observes that "that evil megalomaniac roused his nation" not through use of the deicide myth, but by noting the Jewish influence in German cultural life.
"It does not excuse Hitler or his Nazi thugs for us to acknowledge that this maniacal, master propagandist focused on a reality that resonated with the educated, and cultured Germans of his day," writes Lapin.
In other words, according to Lapin, avant-garde Jewish artists "linked Jews and deviant sexuality" in the German imagination, and so set the stage for the Shoah. He sees American Jews as similarly responsible for our country's "cultural decline" -- something that "angers more Americans than the crucifixion."
Lapin is right that some Jews on the left have been all too quick to wrongly stigmatize Christian conservatives as anti-Semites when, in fact, many are ardent supporters of Israel.
He's also right when he condemns the decline of public morality. But who but an anti-Semite or a Jew who hates liberals more than he despises Jew-haters would place the blame for this solely on the Jews?
Blaming liberals for anti-Semitism is as vile as blaming it on Jewish actors.
When Lapin claims that actors who spoof Jewish secularism are practicing anti-Semitism while at the same time rationalizing those who would single out "the Jews" as the destroyers of American decency, the rabbi has crossed the boundary from irresponsible commentary to fomenting hatred of his own people.
Out of all the loopy things that have been said and written about Gibson's film, Lapin's article qualifies as the low point of the discussion. In his zeal to condemn his foes, the talking rabbi has proven that self-hatred isn't a virus that can be solely linked to the Jewish left.
Say what you will about Foxman's dogged attempt to justify his role as Gibson's unwitting foil in last year's cultural follies. But Daniel Lapin represents an example of how "The Passion" helped motivate a cultural conservative to turn on his own people. Viewed in that context, it turns out to be a far scarier movie than anyone may have dreamed.
Would it be possible to fix the apostrophe problem in the title? That didn't show up in 'preview'. Thanks!
I'm not a chr*stian and I disagree with Rabbi Lapin's apparent (lehavdil) "endorsement" of chr*stianity as the American religion (there is one true religion for everyone, not one for each country), but he was right about The Passion and its critics. Jonathan Tobin (who evidently would have considered Yehoshu`a Bin Nun a "right wing extremist") owes Rabbi Lapin an apology, not only for accusing him of self-hatred, but for belittling his organization and campaign.
Rabbi Lapin is a scion of a distinguished Lithuanian Rabbinic dynasty. I doubt that Tobin can claim the same.
Why don't you apply to Robinson for a forum entitled "antisemitism", then it can be listed on the right with the others.
Those wishing to view could do so at their leisure. Posting daily diatribes as you post has nothing to do with breaking news.
You, in turn, are free to ignore any threads you don't want to read. Of course this is probably the 1,000th time someone has told you that.
Oh, and this wasn't posted in "Breaking News".
I really don't care what Hollywood thinks anyway. If they laud any depiction of Christ's life or Passion in any new film I would be suspicious because it would most likely would have been done in a politically correct way anyway. The mere fact that Hollywood trashes and/or ignores this tremendous film is a testament to it.
Chaps you a tad when someone exposes your agenda, does it not?
Your point is irrelevant as to ancestry. Breeding has nothing to do with it and even if Tobin came from the line of Seabiscuit he would still be wrong and Lapin right.
The portrayal of an average Jewish family as decadent and degenerate by Hollywood contributes to a general misperception especially when played by actors of Jewish ancestry who are decadent and degenerate.
As to Barbra and Dustin, Fok them.
One observation from "The Passion": Leaving the theater after the film had ended was like leaving Mass on Good Friday, it was absolutely quiet and solemn. It did not seem to me anybody was in the mood for antisocial behavior...
I'm glad you noted that. My posting of this article was prompted by a different thread posted yesterday: America isn't a 'Christian' nation [BARF!].
Jonathan Tobin (who evidently would have considered Yehoshu`a Bin Nun a "right wing extremist") owes Rabbi Lapin an apology, not only for accusing him of self-hatred, but for belittling his organization and campaign.
I disagree. Tobin acknowledges that Lapin is right on two major points: that some Jews on the left have been too quick to stigmatize Christians as anti-Semites, and that there is a problem with the decline of public morality. Tobin's objection is the extent to which Lapin is willing to blame this moral decline on Jews. For Lapin to cite Mein Kampf to buttress his argument is, IMO, beyond the realm of acceptability.
Rabbi Lapin is a scion of a distinguished Lithuanian Rabbinic dynasty.
Frankly, so what?
LOL, you give yourself way too much credit. You are a one note little gadfly who dreams of being a curmudgeon. Feel free to stick around on the thread, though, as your griping seems to provide you with meaning and a sense of purpose.
"(there is one true religion for everyone, not one for each country)"
Sorry, but I have to disagree with you on this. I could agree that there is one true God but there are many ways to follow Him.
Don't kid yourself. The media is very selective as to which "experts" and "pundits" they interview. There were no worries in my local Jewish community about antisemitism or riots as a result of this film.
Gibson and Foxman used each other -- Gibson as part of a clever guerilla marketing campaign to garner millions in free publicity, and Foxman to gin up big donations by scaring elderly Jews. Quid pro quo.
I'd love to see proof of this charge. Also, any film on the subject of Christ is going to get automatic publicity no matter what the adjenda of the film is. Gibson did not need any free publicity because it was coming, bad or good.
Yours must be about breaking wind..
In January, the star had gone on "The O'Reilly Factor" to counter Jewish criticism of his cinematic account of Jesus's final hours - a provocative opening volley given that no critic of any faith had yet said anything about his movie (and wouldn't for another three months). Clearly he was looking for a brawl, and he hasn't let up since...
"Inadvertently, all the problems and the conflicts and stuff - this is some of the best marketing and publicity I have ever seen," Gibson told The New Yorker. That's true - with the possible exception of the word "inadvertently" - and I realize that I've been skillfully roped into his remarkably successful p.r. juggernaut. But I'm glad to play my cameo role - and unlike the conservative author Bill O'Reilly, who sold the film rights to one of his books to Gibson's production company, I am not being paid by him to do so.
This isn't the only aspect of the marketing campaign, of course. There was the direct marketing to church groups. And there was the screening of the film for the pope, who was reported to have said, "it is as it was". The Vatican later confirmed that the pope had seen the movied, but denied that he had endorsed the film.
First, I don't give a rat's tachat who founded this country or any other. That has nothing to do with Objective Religious Truth. People who scream "this is a chr*stian nation!" are implying that each nation has its own "true" religion to which it is bound, and since America was founded by chr*stians, Americans are "supposed" to be chr*stians. All people everywhere are supposed to acknowledge the objective truth! Anyone who calls himself a chr*stian because that's what George Washington supposedly was simply cannot be very orthodox in his beliefs!
Secondly, Rabbi Lapin is sanctifying the Name of G-d and vindicating the good name of Israel by attacking Jews who not only reject HaShem and the Torah, but do so publicly and imply that the essence of Jewishness is disobedience of G-d and immorality.
As for Mein Kampf, while Hitler (yimach shemo vezikhro!) was actually opposed to morality (which he considered Jewish) he used the moral sensibilities of chr*stianized (and therefore Judaized) Germans and their repugnance of decadence to turn them against `Am Yisra'el. The absence of decadent leftist Jews would not have changed his hatred, but he would not have had them to use in order to manipulate the population into hating the Jews.
There is Qiddush HaShem and there is chillul HaShem. People like Foxman, Streisand, and Hoffman commit the latter. Rabbi Lapin is bringing about the former.
And if you think that his criticisms of fellow Jews is "beyond the pale," kindly consider the Torah's penalties for violations of Torah Law (including not only the death penalty, but also the `ir haniddachat). If criticism of Jews for decadence makes a Rabbi an anti-Semite, then HaShem must surely be the greatest anti-Semite of all (with Moses a close second!).
If you're a moderator, simply ban all posts attacking anti-Semitism.
If you're not a moderator, then shut the frick up and don't read these posts!!!
I know you've been here since '97 (you must be one of the moderator's grandpa or something), but I'm getting sick and tired of your horning in on each and every post dealing with anti-Semitism in order to cry like a widdwe baby about it. Why don't you start your own forum somewhere for people who were tortured by Jewish North Korean soldiers?
I think it's about time that someone dealt with your immature little tantrums, whoever's grandpa you might be.
- a provocative opening volley given that no critic of any faith had yet said anything about his movie (and wouldn't for another three months). Clearly he was looking for a brawl, and he hasn't let up since..
I saw the interview and it was basically O'Reilly talking to Gibson about the reporter (NY Times?) going after Gibson's father in a personal attack. It had already happened. Gibson's family was already being attacked for his making this movie. That was the jist of the interview.
And there was the screening of the film for the pope, who was reported to have said, "it is as it was". The Vatican later confirmed that the pope had seen the movied, but denied that he had endorsed the film.
Whether the Pope said this or not is still up for debate.
What is your problem, cynicom? Are you becoming a troll? If you don't like the Jewish threads, stay off of them!
Yeah they did. They were perfect marketers for each other.
That's fine, I can live with that.
For Tobin to disagree with Lapin because he quoted from Mein Kampf is an ad hominem, by definition distracting from the point. Lapin makes sense that if a group is portrayed as seriously out of sync with its culture, you can expect the culture to strike back in some way and that it is worse still that members of the group contribute to the smear. That is all.
Tobin, in order to slime Lapin, took a cheap shot. What's new?
Thanks for the ping, malakhi; Rabbi Lapin lives in my area, and though I have the opportunity to listen to his radio show weekly, I don't. Some of his views on women have offended me in the past. It's possible that they were just awkwardly put and I misunderstood him, but I haven't listened to his show since.
Having said that, I do appreciate the fact that he isn't on auto-hate regarding Christians - and he is correct that many of us consider ourselves friends of the Jewish community.
So, Hitler and the Nazis were right, then? They were justified in what they did? Or is the objection that they didn't limit their killing to secular Jews?
As do I. I just disagree with him on a number of other things.
So, Hitler and the Nazis were right, then? They were justified in what they did? Or is the objection that they didn't limit their killing to secular Jews?
Maybe I'm wrong, but I took what was said in italics (reflecting Rabbi Lapin's argument) as commentary purely on a psychological level - as a study of culture, human beings, and their responses - not specific to any particular group of people. I don't believe anyone intended to say that Hitler was right to do what he did, but instead to offer commentary on human nature.
I should have pinged you to 32, but I couldn't recall your screen name. So...ping. : )
That's a mighty fine line to draw. Let me offer an analogy.
Suppose a woman goes to a bar and is sexually assaulted. Suppose that, after the fact, an observer comments that, well, she was dressed rather provocatively, and she probably shouldn't have been in that neighborhood anyway. At what point does this cross from a "study of human beings and their responses" to blaming the victim?
Straw man; I never made such a claim. I said that Gibson used unconventional marketing tactics to garner millions of dollars worth of free publicity. The film would have been just as successful at the box office had it been promoted the same way most other movies are -- but it would have cost much more to do so. Since Gibson was footing the bill himself, he obviously had an incentive to get the most bang for his marketing buck.
I see it as God's way of promoting what He wanted people to see.
God wanted people to see Mel Gibson's movie?
Are there any other movies God wants people to see?
I understand your point, malakhi - I was only hoping to point out that there is a major distinction between suggesting Hitler was correct in his prediction of a cultural reaction to something, and saying he was morally "right". I think the argument being made was the former, but you seemed to interpret it as the latter in your post.
I was simply offering that I read it as the former.
Christians actually believe we're commanded by God to spread the Gospel, and a lot of us think that's what Mel Gibson was doing.
We're a nutty bunch, huh? ; )
Im not sure making use of free publicity is unconventional. Remember the films publicist was Alan Nierob, whos represented folk like Rob Lowe, Denzel Washington, Richard Gere, Victoria Principal, and was fresh off JoLos remake. Plenty of free publicity there. He took advantage of the circumstances he was presented with.
Its well know that Republicans are often portrayed as intolerant bigots. Frequently on FR posters accuse the left of the same sin, and wonder why minorities dont get it. Cynicoms attempt to erase anti-semitism and the Holocaust from the sphere of acceptable discussion on a conservative forum, and to demean selected posters, mostly Jewish but Im sure thats a coincidence, serves as a fine example to any lurkers that bigotry exists on both ends of the spectrum.
Hey, cynicom, heres two new ones for you.
As much as critics blasted it -- while others condemned it for incitement of anti-Semitism -- "The Passion" turned into the surprise blockbuster of the year.
The only surprise in Britain was that Gibson did not blame us for killing Jesus. He seemingly blames us and distorts history in all his other films.
Another victim of Mel Gibson...pretty soon, we'll have enough for a parade. [Rolls eyes.]
Well he managed to reinvent and make up all new facts in Bravheart and the Patriot. He is a known Brit-hater. Luckily he had facts to base the Passion on.
I agree with you totally.The old joke of Norman Podhoretz that " they live like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans" is less and less true (gracias a Dios).
How Mel Gibson helped to turn us into Nazis
Mel Gibson's deadly boring film, not to mention his commentary, mangles history and his fellow actors -- all for the sake of a good fight.