A Kinder, Gentler Maccabee

Far be it from me to question Abraham Foxman’s right to complain about Mel Gibson’s latest film venture. This is something he has every right to do. In fact, it’s how he makes his living.

But he might like to have a logician check out his press releases first:

[W]e do not argue with Mel Gibson’s right to make this film.

I don’t blame you, Abe. It’s such a waste of time to argue with a right. In fact, some people can be difficult enough to argue with. Arguing with their rights is just goofy.

OK, so Abe’s not a logician. He’ll do better on religious questions, I bet. After all, as Tertullian famously quipped, “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” So, let’s see Abe make a religious observation:

It would be a travesty to have the story of the Maccabees told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people’s religious views.

Now, Mel is about to direct a film version of the story of the Maccabees. In the only inspired account of that story we are told:

On the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred and forty-fifth year, king Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God, and they built altars throughout all the cities of Juda round about. (I Macc 1:57)

It would appear that the Maccabees were not sensitive to the religious views of the Syrians.

Of course, the books of the Maccabees are only canonical to Catholics (and Orthodox), not to Protestants and Jews. But in a Jewish edition of Psalm 96:4-5, we read:

For great is HaShem, and highly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are things of nought [Ouch!]; but HaShem made the heavens.

And in Exodus 34:12-14, we read

Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest they be for a snare in the midst of thee. But ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and ye shall cut down their Asherim. For thou shalt bow down to no other god; for HaShem, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous G-d.

Could it be that, as one who has “no respect and sensitivity for other people’s religious views,” Mel’s actually in good company?