William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, however, insists Fox News columnist Roger Friedman has his facts all wrong.
Friedman, after detailing where he believes the movie will be shown, says Gibson "consciously created a divisive atmosphere for the presentation of his film."
The Fox contributor said, "All this seems designed to keep 'The Passion of the Christ' out of neighborhoods that are considered Jewish, upscale, or liberal."
"Roger Friedman says the movie will be shown in two Chicago theaters; in fact it will be shown in seven. He says it will not be shown in the L.A. neighborhood of Century City; in fact it will be shown at the AMC in Century City.
"He says it will not be shown in the 'wealthier and trendier parts' of Los Angeles; in fact it will be shown in Marina del Rey, Burbank and Santa Monica. He says it will not be shown in New York's Upper West Side; in fact it will be shown at 86th and Broadway. He says it will be shown only in the 'fringe areas' of the Upper East Side; in fact it will be shown at 86th and 3rd and 64th and 2nd.
"He says it will be shown at one theater below 34th Street; in fact it will be shown at three. He says it will be hard to find in Nassau County, Long Island; in fact it will be shown in seven theaters there. He says that theater-goers will be 'hard pressed' to find it in ‘either the south or north shore’ of Long Island; in fact it will be shown in towns like Glen Cove and Port Washington on the north shore and Merrick and Seaford on the south shore.
"He says those who live in Westchester will also find it difficult to see the movie; in fact it will be shown in Larchmont, New Rochelle and Yonkers. And so on."
Donahue suggested, wryly, "taking a course in Geography 101 might cure some of Friedman's problems, but it would not be enough."
"That's because his forced conclusion suggests something else is at work: To say that Gibson is intentionally keeping the film away from Jews and the rich is not only flatly wrong, it smacks of malice," he said. "We look for Fox to correct itself."
Friedman cited the movie's website and another website, moviefone.com, as sources for where the film will be screened.
He said the pattern for the film's distribution, "for the most part, highlights black neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. For example, all the Magic Johnson theatres in the country will show the movie, as will multiplexes in urban centers."
Newmarket Films, which is distributing the movie, Friedman said, "seems to have picked a pattern that concentrates heavily on the south and the Midwest, focusing on the Bible Belt and locations where 'The Passion of the Christ' will meet with the least resistance."
Friedman said his calls to Newmarket and to its public relations firm were not returned.
Noting the charges of anti-Semitism against Gibson and the film, Friedman writes: "The battle over 'The Passion of the Christ' is coming quickly now, and I for one am sorry that Gibson and Newmarket chose to keep it out of places where they thought the reception would be less than positive. Everyone should have the chance to see this film and decide for themselves if Gibson has done the right or wrong thing with his $25 million."
The columnist said it will "be interesting in seeing how the annual Oscar party given by Gibson's agent, Ed Limato, at his palatial Beverly Hills home will be received two days after the movie's premiere. And then there are the Oscars, where Billy Crystal is no doubt thinking of clever ways to spoof the movie."
Posted: Feb 14
Why Mel owes one to the Jews
By Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Posted: February 13, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Two weeks before Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" flashes onto two thousand screens, online ticket merchants are reporting that up to half their total sales are for advance purchases for the film. One Dallas multiplex has reserved all 20 of its screens for "The Passion." I am neither a prophet nor a movie critic. I am merely an Orthodox rabbi using ancient Jewish wisdom to make three predictions about "The Passion."
One, Mel Gibson and Icon Productions will make a great deal of money. Those distributors who surrendered to pressure from Jewish organizations and passed on the movie will be kicking themselves, while Newmarket Films will laugh all the way to the bank. Theater owners are going to love this film.
Two, "The Passion" will become famous as the most serious and substantive biblical movie ever made. It will be one of the most talked-about entertainment events in history. It is currently on the cover of Newsweek and Vanity Fair.
My third prediction is that the faith of millions of Christians will become more fervent as "The Passion" uplifts and inspires them. It will propel vast numbers of unreligious Americans to embrace Christianity. The movie will one day be seen as a harbinger of America's third great religious reawakening.
Those Jewish organizations that have squandered both time and money futilely protesting "The Passion," ostensibly in order to prevent pogroms in Pittsburgh, can hardly be proud of their performance. They failed at everything they attempted. They were hoping to ruin Gibson rather than enrich him. They were hoping to suppress "The Passion" rather than promote it. Finally, they were hoping to help Jews rather than harm them.
Here I digress slightly to exercise the Jewish value of "giving the benefit of the doubt" by discounting cynical suggestions growing in popularity that the very public nature of their attack on Gibson exposed their real purpose-fund-raising. Apparently, frightening wealthy widows in Florida about anti-Semitic thugs prowling the streets of America causes them to open their pocketbooks and refill the coffers of groups with little other raison d'ętre. But let's assume the groups were hoping to help Jews.
However, instead of helping the Jewish community, they have inflicted lasting harm. By selectively unleashing their fury only on wholesome entertainment that depicts Christianity in a positive light, they have triggered anger, hurt and resentment. Hosting the Toward Tradition radio show and speaking before many audiences nationwide, I enjoy extensive communication with Christian America, and what I hear is troubling. Fearful of attracting the ire of Jewish groups that are so quick to hurl the "anti-Semite" epithet, some Christians are reluctant to speak out. Although one can bludgeon resentful people into silence, behind closed doors emotions continue to simmer.
I consider it crucially important for Christians to know that not all Jews are in agreement with their self-appointed spokesmen. Most American Jews, experiencing warm and gracious interactions each day with their Christian fellow citizens, would feel awkward trying to explain why so many Jewish organizations seem focused on an agenda hostile to Judeo-Christian values. Many individual Jews have shared with me their embarrassment that groups, ostensibly representing them, attack "The Passion" but are silent about depraved entertainment that encourages killing cops and brutalizing women.
Citing artistic freedom, Jewish groups helped protect sacrilegious exhibits such as the anti-Christian feces extravaganza presented by the Brooklyn Museum four years ago. One can hardly blame Christians for assuming that Jews feel artistic freedom is important only when exercised by those hostile toward Christianity. However, this is not how all Jews feel.
From audiences around America, I am encountering bitterness at Jewish organizations insisting that belief in the New Testament is de facto evidence of anti-Semitism. Christians heard Jewish leaders denouncing Gibson for making a movie that follows Gospel accounts of the crucifixion long before any of them had even seen the movie.
Furthermore, Christians are hurt that Jewish groups are presuming to teach them what Christian Scripture "really means." Listen to a rabbi whom I debated on the Fox television show hosted by Bill O'Reilly last September. This is what he said, "We have a responsibility as Jews, as thinking Jews, as people of theology, to respond to our Christian brothers and to engage them, be it Protestants, be it Catholics, and say, 'Look, this is not your history, this is not your theology, this does not represent what you believe in.'"
He happens to be a respected rabbi and a good one, but he too has bought into the preposterous proposition that Jews will re-educate Christians about Christian theology and history. Is it any wonder that this breathtaking arrogance spurs bitterness?
Many Christians who, with good reason, have considered themselves to be Jews' best (and perhaps, only) friends also feel bitter at Jews believing that "The Passion" is revealing startling new information about the crucifixion. They are incredulous at Jews thinking that exposure to the Gospels in visual form will instantly transform the most philo-Semitic gentiles of history into snarling, Jew-hating predators.
Christians are baffled by Jews who don't understand that President George Washington, who knew and revered every word of the Gospels, was still able to write that oft-quoted beautiful letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, offering friendship and full participation in America to the Jewish community.
One of the directors of the AJC recently warned that "The Passion" "could undermine the sense of community between Christians and Jews that's going on in this country. We're not allowing the film to do that." No sir, it isn't the film that threatens the sense of community; it is the arrogant and intemperate response of Jewish organizations that does so.
Jewish organizations, hoping to help but failing so spectacularly, refute all myths of Jewish intelligence. How could their plans have been so misguided and the execution so inept?
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that nothing confuses one's thinking more than being in the grip of the two powerful emotions, love and hate. The actions of these Jewish organizations sadly suggest that they are in the grip of a hatred for Christianity that is only harming Jews.
Today, peril threatens all Americans, both Jews and Christians. Many of the men and women in the front lines find great support in their Christian faith. It is strange that Jewish organizations, purporting to protect Jews, think that insulting allies is the preferred way to carry out that mandate.
A ferocious Rottweiler dog in your suburban home will quickly estrange your family from the neighborhood. For those of us in the Jewish community who cherish friendship with our neighbors, some Jewish organizations have become our Rottweilers. God help us.
Radio talk-show host Rabbi Daniel Lapin is president of Toward Tradition, a bridge-building organization providing a voice for all Americans who defend the Judeo-Christian values vital for our nation's survival. For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Jennifer Brunson at (206) 236-3046.