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OK, I’ve seen Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ and am therefore entitled to pronounce the definitive and final word on a subject over which more ink has already been spilled than cuttlefish can squirt.

I have to confess the film did nothing for me religiously and even less aesthetically. It’s a well-made movie, but the brutality inflicted on the person of Jesus I found repellent, tasteless, bordering on the blasphemous and implausible.

A human being who gets the kind of beating administered in the movie would be dead or dying, and he wouldn’t be lugging a 15-foot-tall cross for several miles an hour or so later.

I had much the same reaction to the graphic torture scene in Mr. Gibson’s earlier film Braveheart, though that was less brutal and mercifully shorter.

But the violence of the Passion is only a small part of the controversy. The bigger question has been, is The Passion of the Christ anti-Semitic?

The answer is “No.”

Yes, Jewish priests and their hired mob are depicted as engineering the execution of Jesus, carried out by Roman soldiers. This is from the New Testament account, the only historical source we have about the event, and it’s perfectly consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church today . “The Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ,” Pope Paul VI stated in his 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration.

The writers (mainly but not entirely Jewish) who have denounced the movie for anti-Semitism have dwelled on the Jewish role in the crucifixion as the main basis for their claims, and they don’t hesitate to instruct Mr. Gibson, a lifelong traditional Catholic, in his own religion.

Probably at least a dozen Jewish writers invoked the 1965 statement and Mr. Gibson’s supposed deviation from it.

But neither the Church nor Mel Gibson can rewrite historical documents the way these writers demand. The more important point is that neither Paul VI nor Mr. Gibson’s film holds Jews today or all Jews responsible for the killing of Christ, which is what most of the critics try to lump in with the historical account. The pope added , “What happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.”The movie insists on the universal responsibility of mankind for Christ’s death and dwells most of all on Christ’s own forgiveness of those who tortured and killed him.

At no time during or after the movie did I get the idea that it blamed all Jews or that you were supposed to get that idea.

Yet the response to the film has been literally hysterical. Gibson’s Blood Libel, yells Charles Krauthammer. “Fascistic” concludes Richard Cohen . “Unambiguously contrived to vilify Jews” says Frank Rich. Gibson “has chosen to give millions of people the impression that Jews are culpable for the death of Jesus,” writes Leon Wieseltier in the New Republic.

That’s only a small sample.

But probably the most bizarre reaction comes from an Orthodox Rabbi, Ariel Bar Tzadok, who writes that he feels nothing for the sufferings of the mother of Jesus watching the crucifixion of her son, a story “considered by many non-Christians to be a fictional account recorded in the Gospels.”

What the rabbi does identify with are

“the Jewish mothers who cried for their sons, suffering from German Nazis, Russian Cossacks, Spanish Inquisitors, and all types of European Crusaders. All of these persecutors of the Jews held one thing in common, they were all Christians, and they had all at one time or another seen a ‘passion play,’ similar to Mr. Gibson’s movie that motivated them to, in their eyes, take revenge for Christ against those who killed him.”

Well, now, speaking of “fictional accounts.”

Aside from his insulting parody of Christianity, what’s important here is what the rabbi’s fiction tells us about the Jewish reaction to The Passion. His response is extreme—but not really very different from other reactions.

And what that reaction reveals is that many Jews—Orthodox and traditional as well as modern and secular—seem to harbor a deep, ineradicable and obsessive hatred of Christianity itself and the central events of the New Testament.

It’s more than the normal dislike one religion often feels for another but a hatred drawn from what they insist are centuries of vicious persecution of Jews, a persecution held to come from the heart of Christianity itself.

If that kind of hatred does lurk in the Jewish psyche, then there’s a much bigger problem here than Mel Gibson’s movie.

There’s a fundamental (and perhaps irresolvable) conflict with a country and a civilization that—as the immense popularity of The Passion of Christ shows—continue to insist on calling themselves Christian.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Christianity, Jews, Mel Gibson 
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One result of government-created mass immigration in the wake of Sept. 11 is that personal and civil liberties may dwindle as “Homeland Security” swells.

Since there are legal limits on what government agencies like the FBI and the CIA can do to spy on the legal and non-violent activities of Americans, however, Homeland Security may come to include a few off-the-books agencies as well as those supposedly on the books.

So-called “watchdog” groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith rake in millions every year for the purpose of “tracking” what they call “extremist” activities—usually perfectly legal if sometimes bizarre political groups that the FBI and cops can’t touch unless they’re suspected of committing crimes.

Now, in the case of the Anti-Defamation League [ADL], a high-ranking official has acknowledged that they essentially help the FBI skirt the law and maybe even the Constitution.

David Friedman, director of the ADL’s Washington office, told the press last week that his organization

“has played a vital role protecting the homeland by providing law enforcement officials with valuable information about suspected terrorists.”

What is described as the ADL’s “comprehensive database on extremist groups” contains all sorts of good stuff on Arabic and Muslim terrorist groups – as well as even more stuff on “domestic terrorists, including neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups.”

Under guidelines and laws adopted in the 1970s, in the wake of such episodes as Watergate and various intelligence community scandals, limits were established on what intelligence agencies like the FBI and CIA could collect and how they could collect it.

What the ADL is acknowledging—perhaps unconsciously—is that it is helping such agencies evade those laws.

Mr. Friedman claims that law enforcement, including the FBI, which he admits the ADL has “helped,”

“are so burdened with the demands upon their time and so spread thin that they don’t have the time to be studying and searching for additional information.”

He neglects to point out that it’s actually illegal for the FBI and certain law enforcement agencies even to have some kinds of “additional information”—so the ADL collects and keeps it for them.

It’s far from clear how valuable that kind of service is. In the first place, if American voters and the Congress wanted these agencies to have more resources to collect more information, they’d probably provide it for them. Maybe they don’t want them to have more on purpose, and maybe it’s not really the business of the ADL to provide it anyway.

Moreover, what the ADL provides in the way of “additional information” isn’t necessarily what the FBI needs, nor is it always reliable. The ADL, a Jewish organization, is understandably concerned mainly about anti-Jewish extremism, but anti-Jewish extremism may not be the biggest threat to the country that the Bureau and the cops need to know about. There are foreign terrorists, far-left terrorists, and environmentalist and animal rights terrorists, and there’s no reason to think that what the ADL can provide the FBI about such groups is either more reliable or more useful than what it can get for itself.

As for reliability, a federal judge last year upheld most of a $10-million lawsuit against the ADL for falsely labelling a couple in Denver as “anti-Semites.” A few years ago, the ADL outraged many mainstream conservatives by claiming that Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition was anti-Semitic and harbored “Nazi sympathies,” despite the Christian right’s strong support for Israel.

Unlike public law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the ADL doesn’t have to answer to elected officials, so there’s no check on it. It can fabricate or slant the “intelligence” it peddles to push public agencies in directions it wants them to go, not where they should be going.

Even when their intelligence is accurate, it still isn’t necessarily useful. Mr. Friedman boasted that the ADL

“already had a profile on Timothy McVeigh before the Oklahoma City bombing by following anti-Semitic and anti-government movements.”

That’s swell. But obviously, the ADL’s spying didn’t help prevent the bombing – or even help catch those who committed it. So what good is it?

The only good that groups like the ADL seem to serve is their own, by impressing gullible and terrified donors with all the secret inside dope they rake up. By playing on the fears and fantasies of such people, the “watchdog” groups have raised millions for themselves.

The danger such groups present is not only that their slanted “research” and “intelligence” will misdirect and misinform professional law enforcement and intelligence services, but also that the law-abiding people they spy on and harass will wind up being smeared or framed for thoughts they never thought and deeds they never did.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Government Surveillance, Jews 
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Even as the political oligarchies of France and half a dozen other European states joined to denounce the “extremism” of Jean Marie Le Pen, German police were extracting (that’s the polite word, I think) a confession from a real-live extremist who had plotted to blow up a synagogue in France.

The extremist has no connection whatsoever with Mr. Le Pen or his Front National and undoubtedly doesn’t much care for them. His name is Aeurobui Beandali, a native of Algeria who invited himself to Germany in 1992 as an immigrant.

Mr. Beandali was nabbed on a tip from British and French police, who say the leader of the plot to bomb the synagogue in Strasbourg was another Muslim immigrant now in jail in Great Britain. U.S. authorities would also like to talk to Mr. Beandali about possible connections he has with terrorist plots in Los Angeles.

The point is that nowhere in all this argosy of global terrorism does an “extremist” of the Le Pen kidney pop up. If it’s terrorism, the violent anti-Semitism that blows up synagogues, and political extremism you’re looking for, Europe’s immigrants from the Middle East are where you’ll find them.

The New York Times reported much the same earlier this month, in the wake of a series of bombings directed against French Jews in almost a dozen different cities, what the Times calls “the worst spate of anti-Jewish violence in France since World War II.” [NYT , April 8, 2002.:The Mideast in Marseille: Violence Shakes a City (Pay archive) free version] For all the blather over the last several years about the “rebirth of fascism,” neo-Nazi skinheads and the political success of such populist right-wing leaders as Mr. Le Pen, Austria’s Joerg Haider and others in several different countries, that’s not where any of the new terrorism is coming from.

It’s coming from the very immigrants these emerging leaders have been warning about for decades.

“This is not anti-Semitic violence, it’s the Middle East conflict that’s playing out here,” the president of the Jewish Council in the Marseilles region told the Times. What has been obvious to critics of mass immigration for years is now flapping home to roost: Immigrants don’t leave their beliefs, values and habits at the border; they carry them across, and old feuds, fights and ethnic and religious conflicts are perpetuated in their new countries.

Terrorism, however, is one thing, but immigrants also become citizens, and citizens vote, and when they vote, the same cultural and political baggage they imported across the border drives their ballots. France today has 600,000 Jews. It also has five million Moslems, about a third of whom now have the vote. Guess which group will exercise more political clout.

“All the political parties have taken into account the reality of the Muslim voting potential in France,” a French sociologist recently told United Press International. If democracy knows one law, it is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and in France, as in the United States, non-Western immigrants are a wheel around which national politics is beginning to turn.

“There is an electoral cushion of about 1.5 million people of North African origin,” says the leader of a French anti-discrimination group. “They can make or unmake majorities. They can make or unmake a president. They can make or unmake a deputy. The politicians have understood.”

The brute fact of Muslim political power may go far to explain the kind of hysteria about Mr. Le Pen’s anti-immigration policies that gushed from French politicos of the left and right last week. Certainly it’s a fact that helps explain the anti-Israeli slant of President Chirac.

“Today,” UPI reported just before the first voting in the presidential election, “Mr. Chirac is winning new respect from Muslim youth, who consider him more pro-Palestinian than Mr. Jospin,” the socialist whose career was extinguished by Mr. Le Pen’s votes. Mr. Jospin, however, was no sluggard when it came to pandering to Muslims. His campaign program committed him to supporting giving non-European residents the vote.

The anti-Semitic terrorism of recent weeks in France is, in the long run, probably much less worrisome than the shape of French politics in the future. As Arabic and Muslim immigrants gain more and more power through the ballot box, they’ll have less and less need for dynamite. That may make for a more peaceful country, but the contents of Arabic-Muslim politics may not be willing to stop merely at forcing a more pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli foreign policy.

If immigrants can blow up synagogues now, what will they do to synagogues—and the Jews who worship in them—when they can actually pass and repeal laws?

Maybe some people who have long supported mass immigration in both Europe and America ought to start thinking about it again.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: European Right, Jews, Muslims 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”