About three dozen Jewish demonstrators rallied in front of a Times Square movie theater Tuesday to protest the depiction of Jews in the Mel Gibson film “The Passion of the Christ.”
A New York state assemblyman and member of the City Council led the crowd, which carried signs reading “The Passion is Dangerous,” “To incite violence is to commit violence” and “The Passion is a Lethal Weapon,” the latter a reference to Gibson’s series of violent action movies of the same name.
“I was horrified. It was beyond anything that I imagined prior to seeing the film,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat from Brooklyn who said he attended an advance screening of the film in New Jersey Monday night for an audience of black Baptist church groups.
The film opens Wednesday.
“I don’t have any doubt this film will cause anti-Semitism. I don’t have any doubt that this film will result in violence,” said Hikind.
David Weprin, chairman of the City Council’s finance committee, said: “This is not the type of film we need in New York. It brings back ancient divisions.”
The film, which depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life, has been assailed as “savage” and “gory” by some critics of the graphic violence in the movie, and hailed by others as a “great film.”
“I don’t know the purpose of the extent of violence,” Hikind said. “But why create hate? That’s what the movie does.
“Nobody says, ’dirty Jew’ in the movie, but boy is the message clear.
“It really is a blood libel against Jews. Mel Gibson has done a tremendous disservice to the real message of Jesus, which is about love.”