While it's true that some evangelical leaders have become vocal supporters of Israel, it's because the return of Jews to a Jewish homeland fulfills the prophecies of the Book of Revelation, not because they harbor any particular affection for Jews. As E.L. Doctorow once put it, these Christians welcome the apocalypse in which Jews will be condemned to eternal damnation. Some love!...
For whatever personal reasons, and God knows what demons lurk in him, Mel Gibson has been spoiling for a fight with the Jews and got it by baiting them. "The Passion of the Christ," which was widely accused of anti-Semitism for its exaggerated portrayals of Jews and for assigning them primary responsibility for Jesus' death, was really not the story of Jesus' passion; it was the story of Mel Gibson's. He was the one being nailed to the critical cross. Gibson certainly could not have been caught unawares by the criticism; in fact, in many of his so-called secular movies, like "Mad Max" or "Conspiracy Theory," Gibson had also played Christ. One might even say that he made "The Passion" precisely so that he would be persecuted by liberals and Jews -- essentially crucified -- and consequently celebrated by evangelical Christians for his sacrifice.
As it turned out, martyrdom was good business. The film earned nearly $400 million, not, one assumes, because it was a great piece of entertainment or even because it was a great religious experience. What it was, was a great cultural statement -- a thumb in the eye of liberal, secular American popular culture from which Gibson himself had once benefited and which was now vilifying him as the Jews had once vilified Christ.
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