A Yom Kippur appearance at a synagogue. A trip to Washington’s Holocaust museum. A circumcision?
Ever since Mel Gibson said he wanted the Jewish community to help him make amends for his anti-Semitic comments, suggestions have been pouring in, some in jest and some quite serious.
“I don’t think he should be totally drummed out of the business,” said radio host and comedian Al Franken. “I think he should just have to start all over again.” Writing on the Huffington Post blog, he proposed putting Gibson in a movie as an “under-five,” an actor who has fewer than five lines.
“Watching the dailies, a producer might say, ’Hey, that busboy who said, ’You dropped your napkin, sir’ — he’s pretty good.’ Then the director will say, ’Of course, he’s good. That’s Mel Gibson.”’
Another talk show host, Joy Behar on ABC’s “The View,” had a more extreme proposal for the actor, whose anti-Jewish tirade during a drunk driving arrest has been a source of incessant talk for a week. “He needs to be welcomed into the Jewish community,” Behar said to whoops of audience laughter, “by a public circumcision.”
Taking a more serious approach, New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage wrote the actor to propose a visit.
“His apology attracted my attention,” museum director David Marwell said in a phone interview. “I thought, if this guy’s serious, then we’d be a pretty good first stop.” The museum has often worked with juvenile bias crime offenders, teaching them how “words have an impact,” Marwell said. Many of its guides are Holocaust survivors.
Susan Estrich, a Fox News commentator and law professor, suggested Gibson visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. “From where I sit, it doesn’t matter that he was drunk, but there’s no choice but to work with the apology and make the best lemonade you can with it,” Estrich wrote on FoxNews.com.
And a Beverly Hills rabbi invited Gibson to speak on Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, according to TMZ, the celebrity Web site that broke the initial news of Gibson’s arrest and outburst.
“It is one thing to issue a statement but coming directly into the presence of a community is more effective,” read a letter from Rabbi David Baron of the Temple of the Arts that was posted on the site. “I feel that Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, would be an appropriate time.” The temple did not immediately return a call for comment.
Tour guide at Auschwitz
A more general offer came from the Anti-Defamation League, which had sharply rejected Gibson’s first apology but accepted his second, which specifically acknowledged anti-Semitic remarks. “Once he completes his rehabilitation for alcohol abuse,” the group said, it was ready to “help him with his second rehabilitation to combat this disease of prejudice.”
Amid all the talk, some were also focusing on those who weren’t talking.
Former TV producer Merv Adelson took out an ad in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times criticizing studio heads for not publicly condemning Gibson. And a columnist at the paper, Patrick Goldstein, leveled the same charge in a column entitled, “The Shame is That So Few Say ’Shame,”’ singling out Jewish figures such as Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks and Barry Meyer of Warner Bros.
Yet there was debate over whether such figures should be expected to speak publicly.
“Why do we expect them to speak out — because they are Jews?” asked ADL’s national director, Abraham H. Foxman, in an interview. “That in itself is stereotypic. These people are in Hollywood because they are writers, producers and actors, not because they are Jews.”
Behar, who jokingly suggested the circumcision, said in a phone interview later that it’s not just Jews who should be expected to speak. “Any bigoted remarks should be addressed by right-thinking people of all kinds,” she said.
One former talent agent saw it all as too public an excoriation of one individual.
“I have difficulty with this public burying of a person,” said Alan Kannof, a former chief operating officer at the William Morris Agency. “It’s kind of like a mob reaction, a public stoning.”
“I myself wouldn’t see his movies and I wouldn’t hire him,” said Kannof, now an independent manager and producer. “But he’s an individual, and what he says and does kind of speaks for itself.”