Mel Gibson's religious epic The Passion has sparked a furious row between the film's producers and the ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE OF AMERICA (ADL) - the ADL fears the film will "promote anti-Semitism".

The ADL yesterday (24JUN03) stated that the film about the last days of Jesus Christ, which is directed, co-written by and stars Gibson, could "falsify" the truth.

In its statement, the ADL added that Gibson and the filmmakers "must complement their artistic vision with sound scholarship, which includes knowledge of how the passion accounts have been used historically to disparage and attack Jews and Judaism.

"Absent such scholarly and theological understanding, and productions such as The Passion could likely falsify history and fuel the animus of those who hate Jews."

Gibson, a practicing Catholic, has stated, "To be certain, neither I nor my film are anti-Semitic. Nor do I hate anybody - certainly not the Jews. They are my friends and associates, both in my work and social life.

"Thankfully, treasured friendships forged over decades are not easily shaken by nasty innuendo. Anti-Semitism is not only contrary to my personal beliefs, it is also contrary to the core message of my movie."

The ADL first raised concerns about the film in March (03), although the controversy erupted again earlier this month (JUN03) when a report was leaked to the media that had been prepared by scholars based on a study of an early version of the script and containing a long list of objections.

25/06/2003 21:05