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Arts and Entertainment

Anti-Defamation League is Not Psyched About Mel Gibson's Film About a Jewish Hero

Mel Gibson Heads to Rehab
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And, of course, we're not referring to Jesus.

Mel Gibson's latest project is catching some people by surprise on two counts. First, that there is a latest project. Second, that a man whose alcohol-fueled anti-Semitic tirade was heard around the world is choosing to make a biopic about Judah Maccabee, the Jewish freedom fighter and hero of the Hannukah story.

Warner Bros. is backing the project by Gibson and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas.

But the Anti-Defamation League is less than thrilled by the project. The group has issued statements in the past calling out Gibson on his anti-Semitic drunken tirades and the anti-Semitic overtones in his movies. It has even accepted his apology. But it's still not sure that Gibson is the man for this project:

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We would have hoped that Warner Bros. could have found someone better than Mel Gibson to direct or perhaps even star in a film on the life of the Jewish historical icon Judah Maccabee. As a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty, Judah Maccabee deserves better. It would be a travesty to have the story of the Maccabees told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people's religious views.

Jeffrey Goldberg over at The Atlantic, who is working on a book about the "original Hebrew Hammer," sheds some insight into Mel Gibson's interest in the project:

"I just read it when I was teenager, and it's amazing. It's almost like" — here, he grabbed my digital recorder, held it to his mouth, and spoke in a portentous movie-announcer voice — "They profaned his Temple. They killed his father. They... all kinds of stuff. In the face of great odds for something he believed in" — here he switched out of movie-announcer voice — "Oh, my God, the odds they faced. The armies they faced had elephants! How cinematic is this! Even Judah's dad — what's his name? Mattathias? -- you kind of get this guy who more or less is trying to avoid the whole thing, but he just gets to a place where had enough, and he just snapped!" In other words, Judah Maccabee, his father, and his brothers, are like the heroes of every Mel Gibson movie.

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