Anti-Semitism is a big charge and it requires, I think, not just uttered words to make it stick. It requires a pattern of behaviour over decades that shows a person to be always hostile to, dismissive of, and angry about, and keen to persecute Israelis and Diaspora Jews.
But Mel has employed Jews, and worked for them and alongside them. Silver and Goldblatt on four Lethal Weapons, Warren Mitchell in Death Of A Salesman (a play by a Jew), Matt Groening and the many Jewish writers on The Simpsons he dubbed his own voice for in the episode that sent him up are significant examples of what seems an aberrant PRO-Semitic tendency in a punishing proto-fascist who seems not to put his money where his mouth is though he has hundreds of millions of it.
The most remarkable example of this tendency is in his casting of Maia Morgenstern, a practising Bucharest Jew and a star of the State Jewish Theatre as the Virgin Mary in his controversial Aramaic-speaking film about a Jewish hero, The Passion of the Christ.
It is not as though he was strapped for choices. Marisa Tomei, an Oscar-winning Catholic, was available. The cradle Catholics Anna Maria Monticelli, Greta Schacci and Judy Davis were available. Kristin Scott Thomas. Charlotte Rampling. Sophia Loren. The obvious blue-eyed Aryan Michele Pfeiffer. The tongue-speaking Sarah Palin. The ever-available Elizabeth Taylor. His fellow NIDA graduates Cate Blanchett, Rachel Griffiths, Frances O’Connor, Jackie Weaver, Wendy Hughes. Nicole Kidman, who was very big then, and a famous reconverted Catholic.
Yet he chose a Synagogue-attending Jew. Why did he do this? To secure the Romanian audience? I doubt it.
I suspect it was because he had seen her work, and he liked it.
And he didn’t think her being a Jew was a difficulty, although she would be playing the primary female Saint in the Christian iconography; the original Bleeding Heart.
Does this sound like the work of a round-the-clock anti-Semite to you? Me neither.
What then are we talking about? What then are we TALKING about? A man determined to do harm to the Jews? Or not? A man for eight years determined to make a pro-Jewish film with some Christian colorations to it, like Ben-Hur, who sometimes in drink or drugs runs off at the mouth as his fanatical father taught him to (the exact comparison is Phillip Larkin) and has never punched a Jew in his life? Or some odious, murderous moral equivalent of Adolf Eichmann?
Does anyone reading this believe the latter?
Apologies all round then.
You first, Terrance.