The screenplay writer of Judah Maccabee, the forthcoming film being directed by Mel Gibson about the biblical Jewish war hero, has changed his stance on Gibson’s alleged antisemitism.
Before the actor’s 2006 drunken tirade in which he claimed “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”, Joe Eszterhas, the man in charge of writing the Judah Maccabee script said Gibson “worked very hard as a director to absolve himself of those charges and to strip his film of the antisemitism that suffused Emmerich’s book.”
(The film he was referring to is The Passion of the Christ while Emmerich refers to the 18th century nun Catherine Emmerich who wrote The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a widely viewed antisemetic piece in which The Passion was reported to have been based off in large part).
Citing Mel Gibson’s Jewish publicist, Alan Neirob, who also happened to be Eszterhas’s publicist, the writer surmized that a “strong Jew like Alan” would never work with an antisemite, and thus Gibson could not be labeled as such.
“I knew Alan well and respected and admired him and felt sure he wouldn’t work so hard for a man who was either anti- Semitic himself or had created something that would fuel the flames of antisemitism worldwide. In other words, nothing could convince me that a proud and strong Jew like Alan would put his energy and talent to work on behalf of something that would make people hate,” Eszterhas said.
These statements all came before Gibson’s now infamous rant during a 2006 arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, in which he said “f*cking Jews…the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
Now, Eszterhas seems to have changed his mind.
“So that was it. Ball game. Open and shut. No doubt now. Mel was a raving antisemite. The man who had composed his prayer of a movie about Christ shared the mind-set of Adolf Hitler,” Esterhas wrote in his 2008 memoir Crossbearer.
And in a 2012 interview with Andrew Goldman of The New York Times Magazine, he seemed to have changed yet again, saying he’s merely “concerned” about Gibson’s anti-Semitic DUI incident.
In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic in Septemeber, 2011, Gibson addressed the perception that he is antisemetic.
“I was loaded, and some stupid shit can come out of your mouth when you’re loaded,” he said.
“That day they [Israel] were marching into Lebanon. It was one of those things. It was on the news,” he continued.
Eszterhas is no stranger to the hatred of Jews. His father was a Nazi living in Europe during World War II.
“I decided then—in 1989—that my father was a true-believing, heartfelt antisemite, one of those sick Christian freaks who still blamed the Jews for crucifying Christ.,” he wrote.
‘Did those who read his words abuse and exterminate the Jews they found in their Hungarian neighborhoods? Did my father’s words cause the injury or death of human beings? Because if they did, then my father was as guilty of murder as those who actually pulled the trigger or slit the throat,” he wrote.
Likening his father’s views of the Jewish people to those depicted in The Passion, Eszterhas was clear.
“I still maintained that The Passion of the Christ was a prayer and not anti-Semitic filth, but then I was stubborn and I had certainly been wrong about a great many things in my life.”