Hollywood star Mel Gibson has been slammed as "ignorant" and "insensitive" for defending his dad over his view that the Holocaust has been exaggerated.

The LOADED WEAPON actor - whose new pet project The Passion Of The Christ has incurred the wrath of many groups for supposedly blaming Jews for JESUS' crucifixion - stated his unwavering support of HUTTON GIBSON during a magazine interview, even though his father has previously rubbished the belief six million Jews were exterminated by NAZI Germany during World War II.

Gibson told next month's (MAR04) edition of READER'S DIGEST when asked about Hutton's views, "My dad taught me my faith and I believe what he taught me. The man never lied to me in his life."

He added, "He lost his mother at two years of age. He lost his father at 15. He went through the Depression.

"He signed up for World War II, served his country fighting the forces of fascism. Came back, worked very hard physically, raised a family, put a roof over my head, clothed me, fed me, taught me my faith, loved me.

"I love him back. So I'll slug it out, until my heart is black and blue, if anyone ever tries to hurt him."

When asked whether he believed himself that the Holocaust happened, Gibson answered, "I have friends and parents of friends who have numbers on their arms. The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust survivor."

However, he then appeared to downplay the genocide, saying, "Yes, of course. Atrocities happen. War is horrible. World War II killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. In the Ukraine, several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933."

The ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE President ABRAHAM FOXMAN comments, "He doesn't get it. There are wars, and people die in wars, and it is tragic. (But in the holocaust) people died because of who they were.

"Nowhere in this quote, if it's complete, is there a recognition that he understands what (the Holocaust) was all about.

"I wouldn't put it in the Holocaust denial category. At best, it's insensitive; at worst, it's ignorant."

Interviewer PEGGY NOONAN comments, "It was clearly a sensitive issue; his voice changed. Mel felt his father was unfairly brought into this whole controversy."

Both Mel, 48, and Hutton, 84, follow the Catholic traditionalist faith.

04/02/2004 09:12