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March 12, 2004

Anti-Catholicism Is Not Film Criticism

Why would the Forward print an article that mocks the crucifix? It is not enough for Daniel Jonah Goldhagen to simply disagree with “The Passion of the Christ,” he must attack Catholicism in doing so (“Mel Gibson’s Cross of Vengeance,” March 5).

Those Jews wondering whether the movie will engender antisemitism need also to address the anti-Catholic commentary of those Jews who cannot resist slamming Catholicism over this film.

William A. Donohue


Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

New York, N.Y.

The Bishops’ Failure

Rabbi Michael J. Cook is absolutely correct to refer to the American Catholic bishops’ response to “The Passion of the Christ” as “intentional avoidance” (“The Bishops’ Cop-Out,” March 5).

Mel Gibson has made a very simplistic, pre-Vatican II interpretation of the Christ story. This vision is very appealing to ecclesiastical leaders in the Vatican and their ideological allies such as Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, who recently praised the film in a Sunday homily.

The controversy surrounding this film was a great teaching moment that my church’s leadership failed to take advantage of. As a Catholic, I have stopped looking for any kind of moral courage from John Paul II and his bishops. On this issue, I stand proudly with all of my Jewish friends.

Gene Roman

Bronx, N.Y.

A Laughable Denial

In performing damage control, Senator John Kerry tries to dismiss with a laugh the position he propounded in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, that he would appoint former president Jimmy Carter or former secretary of state James Baker as his Middle East envoy (“Campaign Confidential,” March 5).

A speech to the Council is a big deal, and Kerry spoke to Carter before he delivered it, in order to get the former president’s approval to mention his name. But supporters of Israel consider Carter (and Baker) to be hostile to the Jewish state and biased in favor of the Palestinians, so Kerry has laughed and belatedly changed his tune. Sorry, Senator Kerry, while this may be a laughing matter to you, the original proposal in your speech, to appoint Carter or Baker, could have had a real and serious adverse impact on the security and survival of Israel.

Nathan Dodell

Rockville, Md.

Mel Gibson’s Stooges

As more and more of the cultural illuminati come to regard the Three Stooges as worthy of serious contemplation, it’s interesting to note that Mel Gibson’s association with the trio is via a biography for which he wrote the preface and from which he executive-produced a sweeps-weeks No. 5-rated TV movie that aired on ABC in April 2000 (“Passion and Redemption,” February 27).

What’s interesting is that this is the only recent book about the Stooges that completely misses the presence and significance of the yidishkayt that was a large and important part of the trio’s act. The book drove me nuts: Where the Stooges spoke Yiddish, the book’s author heard only gibberish. And not one instance of a character’s or a place name’s rendering in a Stooge film in Yiddish is picked up either by the Irish-American author or by producer Gibson. Maybe Mel’s “genuine affection for scrappy Jewish underdogs,” as your editorial put it, is, in this case, correlated with the fact that he apparently didn’t know that the Stooges were Jewish.

Gregg Sneirson

Wellington, Fla.

Hamas Is No Mystery

I read with disappointment, not to mention irritation, actor Jason Alexander’s account of his recent involvement in the Middle East. (“‘Seinfeld’ Star Puts Famous Face on Peace Initiative,” March 5).

I want to disabuse Alexander of the notion that Hamas is a Middle Eastern delicacy, or a new brand of shampoo. If he honestly entertains the notion that it isn’t a terrorist organization, I have the perfect photo op for him — a visit to Gaza, where he can break bread (or pita) with members of the organization. If that sounds unappealing, I urge him instead to visit the Internet, where he can find dozens of sites describing the organization’s history and mission.

Leann Sherman

West Hartford, Conn.


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