In an national atmosphere of heightened anti-Semitism tragically and violently portrayed here in Seattle, Friday, Mel Gibson added to the fire by spewing profane and anti-Jewish language at cops arresting him in Malibu for drunk driving.
There's a local talk radio connection- both Seattle-based syndicated talker Michael Medved and fellow Mercer Island resident, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, radio host at San Francisco's KSFO were leading national apologists and ran the right-wing Jewish offense for Gibson through the controversies around the launch of his harsh, bloody, Jew-baiting Christian screed-flick, The Passion of The Christ in 2004.
Marketing genius broke attendance records by enticing fundamentalist Christian churches to buy tickets in blocks; rent out entire theaters, and fill them up with evangelicals who usually reject the offerings of Hollywood, especially movies rated R, which this one was because of the gratuitous and bloody torture scenes.
The incredibly successful (more than $611 million gross) cinematic depiction of Christ's last days was widely criticized by many mainline rabbis as anti-Semitic. The portrayal of Jews as manipulative, hook-nosed thugs was considered by many Jews as a suspicious bit of editorializing by Gibson.
Although he's told the media that he regards The Passion as having actually been directed by the Holy Ghost, he otherwise had total artistic control of the production.
Lapin and Medved were among the right-wing Jews shown the film before it was released. When non right-wing Jews such as New York Times critic Frank Rich asked to view it, they were turned away, "thus allowing Mr. Gibson's defenders, in a perfect orchestration of Catch-22," wrote Rich at the time, "to say we were attacking or trying to censor a film we 'haven't seen.'''
(Let us inject here what Gibson (fine Christian gentleman that he is) wants for Frank Rich. Presumably sober at the time, he told the The New Yorker in 2003: ''I want to kill him, I want his intestines on a stick... I want to kill his dog.'')
Lapin, who Rich has described as the "show rabbi of the religious right," called the gruesome, Christian-proselytizing film, "wholesome entertainment that depicts Christianity in a positive light," and castigated other rabbis' protests. "The very public nature of their attack on Gibson," he said, "exposed their real purpose- fundraising."