Earlier in the day, Hier issued a statement made available to me. “It appears that Mel Gibson launched into a drunken diatribe against Jews during a DUI arrest this weekend. In his statement, Mr. Gibson ackowledged a longstanding drinking problem and apologized for his behavior without a specific reference to his anti-Semitic statements. We hope Mr. Gibson will get help for his problems. But, in the meantime, he should drop any plans to produce a movie on the Nazi Holocaust. Anyone spouting the canard that Jews are “responsible for all wars” — a lie touted by bigots from Nazis to Hezbollah — does not have the legitimacy to make a film about Jewish martyrdrom and suffering during the Nazi era.”
Hier was referring to an ABC nonfiction mini-series that Gibson’s TV company late last year announced he was developing for ABC based on the self-published memoir of a Dutch Jew whose gentile neighbors hid her from the Nazis but who lost several relatives in concentration camps. In addition, ABC’s parent company Disney, through Buena Vista, is distributing the Oscar winner’s upcoming movie Apocalypto, an action epic about the bloody decline of the Mayan civilization.
Hier is not only an international religious and political figure of note, but also a central and revered figure within Hollywood which helps support the Simon Wiesenthal Center both financially and substantively. In 2003, a year before Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was released, Hier co-wrote a Los Angeles Times opinion piece worrying whether the movie would stir anti-Semitic sentiments. “It’s true that the final script hasn’t been made available, and there is currently no release date, or even distributor, for the film. Still, there are reasons for concern,” Hier wrote. He was even more outspoken against the film once it began screening, reiterating his belief that the film denigrated Jews and could spark anti-Semitism abroad and in the U.S..
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