An Israeli movie theater plans to screen Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” a decision likely to raise an uproar in the Jewish state over accusations the movie is anti-Semitic.
The Tel Aviv Cinematheque is in final negotiations with Gibson’s production company for a one-time showing of the film in Israel, probably in a few months, cinema manager Alon Garbuz said.
The release of the movie in the United States sparked a debate over whether Jews bore responsibility for Jesus’ Crucifixion. Rabbis in the United States warned that the film would fuel anti-Semitism.
Angry Jewish reaction prompted the Vatican to reiterate its stance that Jews were not collectively responsible for Jesus’ persecution. Gibson has said he didn’t mean to portray Jews in a damaging light, and was only trying to depict the New Testament as it was written.
Palestinians have applauded the film, saying it truthfully shows Jews as the culprits, and have compared the Crucifixion to their suffering under Israeli occupation.
Garbuz said the cinematheque has been criticized for its decision to show the movie.
“I think that those who think that the film is anti-Semitic shouldn’t come see it,” he said. “No one has the moral duty to decide for the public what they can see.”
Jewish and Christian clergy will oversee a discussion with the audience after the viewing.
Israel’s censorship board could prevent the screening if it deems the movie is anti-Semitic, but Garbuz said he has received word the board won’t stop the showing.