However, what Jews need to understand is that most American Christians watching this film do not see "the Jews" as the villains in the passion story historically, let alone today. First, most American Christians -- Catholic and Protestant -- believe that a sinning humanity killed Jesus, not "the Jews." Second, they know that Christ's entire purpose was to come to this world and to be killed for humanity's sins. To the Christian, God made it happen, not the Jews or the Romans (the Book of Acts says precisely that). Third, a Christian who hates Jews today for what he believes some Jews did 2,000 years ago only reflects on the low moral, intellectual and religious state of that Christian. Imagine what Jews would think of a Jew who hated Egyptians after watching "The Ten Commandments," and you get an idea of how most Christians would regard a Christian who hated Jews after watching "The Passion."
Jews also need to understand another aspect of "The Passion" controversy. Just as Jews are responding to centuries of Christian anti-Semitism (virtually all of it in Europe), many Christians are responding to decades of Christian-bashing -- films and art mocking Christian symbols, a war on virtually any public Christian expression (from the death of the Christmas party to the moral identification of fundamentalist Christians with fundamentalist Muslims). Moreover, many Jewish groups and media people now attacking "The Passion" have a history of irresponsibly labeling conservative Christians anti-Semitic.
I cannot say that I am happy this film was made. Nevertheless, if the vast majority of Christians and Jews of goodwill try hard to understand what film the other is watching, some good can yet result. The last thing Jews need is to create tension with their best friends. And the last thing Christians need is a renewal of Christian hatred toward Jesus' people.
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