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Mel Gibson (news in brief, June 2005, p.30).

Your article takes issue with the finding by the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada that the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was a contributing factor to the rise of anti-Semitism in this country last year. While it is true that a confluence of extreme left-wing and right-wing forces was the major reason attributed to the unprecedented rise in anti-Semitism, as well as tensions associated with the Middle East--857 incidents were reported in 2004, up 46.7% from the year before--other dynamics at play also influenced the trend toward increased numbers.

The annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents published by the League reported that whereas only nine incidents in 2003 had religious connotations to the story of Jesus' death, there were 32 such incidents in 2004, nine of them in February when The Passion opened, and a further fifteen in the three months following its release. To turn a blind eye to this sad fact, as your article attempts to do, sets a dangerous precedent for dismissing anti-Semitic undercurrents more generally.

Adding insult to injury, the article then labels the tone of my remarks on this subject as "anti-Catholic"--a characterization hat I find both deeply offensive and outrageously irresponsible. The Passion's revisionist portrayal of the Jews as supposed Christ-killers flies in the face of Vatican II pronouncements. Its impact has the effect of seeking to undermine the progress that has been made in fostering positive Christian-Jewish relations since the time of that historic Council.

Lastly, the article, in its concluding paragraph, refers to my "rejection" of history, by virtue of my rejection of Jesus Christ as the "God-Man." While it is absolutely true that I and my fellow Jews do not believe in Jesus the messiah--our Jewish faith precludes that belief--this is not a rejection of history. I am saddened that the magazine is apparently ill-equipped to distinguish between historical fact and that which falls to the realm of interpretation, as viewed from the vantage point of our differing religions. I would have hoped that a publication such as yours would have been more sensitive to, and respectful of, the tenets of other religions.

Frank Dimant

Executive Vice-President

B'nai Brith, Toronto

Editor's reply: First, I deeply disapprove of all anti-Semitic acts. I also disapprove of attributing such acts to a film like The Passion when, in fact, not a single serious act of anti-Semitism had been traced to it, even after it had been viewed by 300 million people around the globe. I don't accept the graffiti or acts of some ignorant teenage punks as "serious," even though they are terribly annoying.

Second, The Passion is not revisionist nor has it undermined Catholic-Jewish relations other than the irritation caused to Catholics when activist spokesmen of the secular Jewish community condemned it before it was even finished; and condemned it for the wrong reason, namely for remaining faithful to the biblical text. Catholic teaching is clear: Christ died because of the sins of everybody just as he came to save all people of goodwill.

Third, secular Jewish individuals across Europe and North America, including Canada, continue to be the lead agitators for the removal of Christian symbols, and the undermining and removal of Christian principles in law, politics, and almost every other area where morality plays a role. This aggressiveness is rooted in their radical rejection of Christ as the true measure of human history.

See also "Benedict and the Jews" (Vatican) and "Vatican-Israel talks" (Israel) in News in Brief.
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Author:Dimant, Frank
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Previous Article:Bill C-38.
Next Article:Catholic News Times (C.I., April 2005, pp.34-43).

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