So the news has just broke that Hollywood whipping boy Mel Gibson will improbably be teaming up with grizzled, leathery, flame-out screenwriter Joe Eszterhas on a film project detailing the story of legendary Jewish warrior-hero, Judah Maccabee. Maccabee, along with his father and four brothers, led the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies in the second century B.C., taking back Jerusalem and reconsecrating the Holy Temple, a victory commemorated by Hannukah each year.
You might remember Eszterhas as the screenwriter for erotic pulp like Basic Instinct and Showgirls, which can be boiled down to Sharon Stone crossing her legs, and the tall chick from Saved by the Bell pole-dancing. It's an interesting double-comeback (if you pretend The Beaver didn't happen), and Gibson will be producing, co-writing, and possibly directing and acting in the film. I can't see the fifty-five-year-old Gibson as another William Wallace-type though, so maybe he'll take on the role of Judah's priest father, Mattathias.
Prominent Jewish leaders aren't happy about the prospect of Gibson — who's on record as saying "Fucking Jews… Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" — tackling the heroic exploits of the religious icon. Said Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League:
"Judah Maccabee deserves better. He is a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty. It would be a travesty to have his story told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people's religious views."
And Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center thinks Gibson hasn't been sufficiently repentant for his anti-Semitic comments in the past. Pulling no punches, Hier said of Gibson:
"He's had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King, Jr. It's simply an insult to Jews."
Hier also criticized Warner Brothers for distributing the movie, hinting at a possible Jewish boycott.
So what do you think? Is there too much of a fox-in-the-henhouse aspect to this, or should Gibson be forgiven and allowed to move on?