It grieves me to object to Mel Gibson's movie because I know that millions of Christians in this country and around the world will be moved and possibly even transformed by it -- and that is a welcome thing. As a Jew, I can unhesitatingly declare that the world would be a better place if it contained more believing Christians.
And yet Gibson has seeded his film with images of Jewish guilt and perfidy that will fall on fertile anti-Semitic soil around the world. Most audiences in the United States will doubtless see the film as it was intended -- as a depiction of universal guilt in the crucifixion and universal salvation because of it. But in light of the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere around the globe, it's a safe bet that it will not be so perceived abroad.
After 40 years of quiescence, Jew-hatred has blossomed anew in Europe. As Gabriel Schoenfeld details in his careful and learned exploration of the subject, "The Return of Anti-Semitism," the influx into Europe of Muslims from the Middle East has transformed the landscape. Muslim immigrants are responsible for a wave of terror attacks against Jews and synagogues in Europe.
"From east to west, the list of incidents in April 2002 alone is too long to summarize. In the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, some 50 youths chanting, "Kill the kikes," descended on the city's central synagogue on a Saturday evening, broke 20 windows and beat the director of the religious school with stones. In Greece, Jewish cemeteries were vandalized in what the press termed ?anti-Jewish acts of revenge,' and the Holocaust memorial in Salonika, a city whose 50,000 Jews had been rounded up and deported to Nazi death camps in 1943, was defaced with Palestinian slogans. ... In the heart of democratic Europe, one particular scene of violent anti-Israel demonstrations was Amsterdam. ... Jewish memorials in Berlin were defaced with swastikas. A synagogue was spray-painted with the words, ?Six million is not enough.' ... In Tuzla, 1,500 demonstrators carried placards reading, ?Sharon and Hitler: Two Eyes in the Same Head,' and, ?Israel -- The Real Face of Terrorism' ... in Dublin, the banners, several featuring swastikas superimposed over Stars of David, read, ?Stop the Palestinian Holocaust.'"
There has been a change in Europe's intellectual landscape, as well. A transposition has taken place. Once the province of the right -- in Europe and the United States -- anti-Semitism has moved to the left. Expressions of anti-Semitism that would earn instant condemnation if committed by skinheads or neo-Nazis can issue from the lips of Europe's leftists with barely a ripple of protest from anyone.