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GORIN The Decent Anti-Semites
by Julia Gorin
[pundit/comedian] 8/18/06

As of last week, we're up to two non-Jewish celebrities who have come forward to defend Mel Gibson as a non-anti-Semite — Jodie Foster and Patrick Swayze. And at least three Jewish ones have defended him publicly as well, including comedian Jackie Mason, producer Dean Devlin, who considers Gibson one of his best friends in Hollywood, and intellectual David Horowitz — all of whom say he is a very decent man who treats everyone well.

These defenses make sense, considering that the man isn't any more anti-Semitic than the average person. The average person being one who is suggestible — for example, by the popular mythology that Jews made the Iraq War happen, that it's being waged more for Israel's interests than for America's, or that Israel is "occupying" Palestinian lands. These have become mainstream views and even common wisdom.

Julia Gorin

Pundit, comedian and opinionist Julia Gorin is proprietor of www.JuliaGorin.com and is a contributing editor to www.JewishWorldReview.com..[go to Gorin index]

What Mel Gibson gave voice to in his not-so-drunken eruption last week wasn't very different from what a sizeable chunk of the country has been saying about recent wars. The only difference is that Mel slipped and actually used the word "Jews" instead of code words like neocons, Zionists or the Jewish/Israeli lobby. (Recall the Harvard report which said essentially that the U.S. is being led around by the nose by the Israeli lobby and friends of Israel against our own national interests.) So the "truth serum" that everyone is talking about exposed a lot of people, who were then — as you might imagine — all too eager to slam Gibson, as a way of distinguishing their anti-Semitism from his. This includes Jews who also rail against "the neocons."

Most anti-Semites are not consciously such. That's how it became possible to wipe out one-third of the Jewish population worldwide. It's not just the small number of out-and-proud anti-Semites who make such a feat possible.

(Of course, this number isn't so small today amid 1.5 billion Muslims who almost uniformly dislike Jews, to say the least.) But it takes the duping, and then the complicity, of those who can't recognize the driving force behind the perceptions being peddled, and who don't know that they are themselves open to discriminating against what they perceive to be a powerful, privileged, successful and wealthy group.

While forgiveness is right and fair and natural, the eagerness to forgive Gibson — as was on display from at least two late-night TV audiences the very week that the incident surfaced — may have as much to do with people being annoyed by Jews as with their sympathy for Mel. Of all the minorities, for some reason Jews tend to have the shortest window of grievance opportunity before sentiment turns against them for taking offense (frequently called whining), eyes start rolling and the Jews start apologizing for complaining ("Sorry, uh-no, there's nothing wrong with blaming Jews. Why, some of my best friends are anti-Semites!")

To illustrate, let's imagine an equivalent scenario, in which Gibson goes on an anti-black tirade in his drunkenness, yelling something to the effect of "The blacks are ruining this country!" Would black people come out to defend him, saying that he's just an alcoholic and his words in no way reflect the way he really feels about black people? Add to the mix a father who has said that the problem of slavery was overblown, and the son telling everyone to back off his dad, who "taught me everything I know." What black person would come to this man's defense? What white person would?

Gibson himself has been more forthcoming than those who are defending him, writing in his statement that he wants to work with the Jewish community to find out "where these feelings are coming from." That's not exactly blaming the alcohol, as others have been doing for him — and as we know, the first step is admitting you have a problem. For that, he may be the most honest man in America.

As they work together to get to the bottom of Gibson's anti-Jewish sentiments, one place that he and the Jewish community should look is the new church he's building near his Malibu home. As People Magazine reports, The Holy Family church "will house a so-called 'traditionalist' Catholic congregation, where Mass is said in Latin and parishioners subscribe to pre-Vatican II beliefs." As we know, one of the most significant points of departure of Vatican II was the lifting of culpability from Jews for Christ's death and warning against passion plays. One certainly wonders why some Catholics are more fixated on whether Jews killed a Jew two thousand years ago than on the countless Muslims killing Christians today.

In a way, Gibson's arrest and the non-event that the public wants it to hurry up and become are a metaphor for the world's relapse into anti-Semitism, which is frequently called by other names.

In the early history of anti-Semitism, Jews were persecuted for their religion. Next, it was Jewish blood that was the problem. Today the virus has mutated into targeting "Israeli policies," "Zionism" or the "disproportionate influence" of the Jews. The incident with the decent Mel Gibson belies the disconnect that the "non-anti-Semites" indulge in between these "valid criticisms" and anti-Semitism. Perhaps we're all just reluctant to admit that we're looking down the dark barrel of what we've only read about in the history books. CRO

This piece first appeared at JewishWorldReview.com

copyright 2006 Julia Gorin





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