By Jennifer Lipman
April 12, 2012
So, does Mel Gibson really “hate Jews” quite as much as Joe Eszterhas claims he does?
According to Eszterhas, Gibson is an unrepentant antisemite, who used him to clean up his reputation after that infamous drink-driving anti-Jew rant, and all the rest. Mel Gibson will no longer star as Judah Maccabee, the Jewish hero and warrior, or at least not in the Warner Bros version of the film as scripted by Eszterhas.
Eszterhas’ private letter to the actor, made public on a gossip website as all good Hollywood take-downs are these days, includes some pretty strong accusations; Gibson wanting to convert Jews through the film (he thinks his acting is just that damn good?), rubbishing the Holocaust (that old faithful) and repeating the blood libel of “the sacrifice of Christian babies and infants” (FYI, Mel, that’s not what the Torah says).
Here’s the thing. Ezterhas is clearly pissed, and the letter is certainly an attempt to clear his reputation after he lost an important project. He’s got an axe to grind – nine pages of axe, in fact.
But the allegations he makes are so specific that it’s hard to believe there’s no substance to them. If it was all a “fabrication”, as Gibson argued, then why the details – why not just say he’s still anti-Jewish, he hasn’t changed, and leave it at that? Eszterhas might be a successful screenwriter, but these are some particularly elaborate fictional slurs.
And then, of course, there’s Gibson’s 2006 rant, or Winona Ryder’s revelation that at a party years ago he joked about “oven dodgers” on finding that she was Jewish.
To quote Lady Bracknell, for a Hollywood star to be caught in one antisemitic scandal may be regarded as a misfortune. To be caught in several looks like carelessness, or worse, like you’ve genuinely got a problem with Jews.