Mel Gibson, Joe Eszterhas Spar Over 'Maccabees' Movie

Studio Scraps Script

By JTA

Published April 12, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas said in a letter to Mel Gibson that the actor and filmmaker “hates Jews” after Warner Bros. rejected Eszterhas’ screenplay for Gibson’s movie about Judah Maccabee.

Mel Gibson
getty images
Mel Gibson

The letter, published on The Wrap.com, accuses Gibson of not really wanting to make the film, and sabotaging it, saying: “I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason you won’t make ‘The Maccabees’ is the ugliest possible one. You hate Jews.”

Eszterhas wrote that Gibson only wanted to make the movie so he could “convert the Jews to Christianity.”

Warner Bros. announced Wednesday that it would not go forward with Eszterhas’ script and was “analyzing what to do with the project,” according to The Wrap.

Gibson wrote a response to Eszterhas, published in the Los Angeles Times, in which he said that Eszterhas’ script was delivered late and that the draft was “substandard” and a “significant waste of time.”

“Contrary to your assertion that I was only developing “Maccabees” to burnish my tarnished reputation, I have been working on this project for over 10 years and it was publicly announced 8 years ago. I absolutely want to make this movie; it’s just that neither Warner Brothers nor I want to make this movie based on your script,” Gibson wrote.

Jewish groups criticized Gibson’s involvement in a film on the life of Judah Maccabee when he inked a production deal with Warner Bros. Studio for the movie project in September 2011.

Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” angered many in the Jewish community who felt that it played into notions of Jewish culpability for the killing of Jesus. Later he landed in hot water after spewing anti-Semitic invective during a drunken confrontation with a police officer.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Wrap Wednesday that he was pleased that the project is stalled. “Jewish history will be better off without Mel Gibson playing Judah Maccabee,” he told The Wrap.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.