Palestinians Passionate About Gibson Film
Thu Apr 1, 2004 11:02 AM ET
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA (Reuters) - Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ" is all the rage among Palestinians, curious about complaints by Jews that it is anti-Semitic.
Meanwhile, local distributors in Israel are shunning the film, which Jewish groups say demonizes Jews by depicting them as pressuring the Romans into crucifying Jesus. "The Passion" has banked more than $315 million since its release in February.
Only one percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are Christians while the other 99 percent are Muslims, who revere Jesus as a prophet but do not believe he was crucified.
The portrayal of a prophet in a film is forbidden under Islam. But many Palestinians, locked in conflict against Israel, say they hope "The Passion" will rouse angry emotions against Jews by Christian audiences around the world.
"People are calling me from everywhere in the West Bank -- from Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah and Nablus -- to ask for copies of the movie," said the owner of a Gaza city video shop, which sells pirated copies of new release movies.
The shop owner, who declined to be identified, said he received a flood of telephone calls after placing an advertisement for the film in a leading Palestinian newspaper.
"The Passion of the Christ" had outsold other Hollywood blockbusters in Gaza and the West Bank's pirated video market, including "Matrix Revolutions" and "The Last Samurai."
In Israel, the local agent for the film's international distributor Icon Entertainment said it passed on its option to show "The Passion of the Christ," but declined to specify its reasons other than to say the movie was "sensitive." Industry insiders in Israel say local distributors are not interested in the film because of allegations it is anti-Semitic and concerns they are unlikely to recoup their investment as films about Jesus draw few movie-goers in the Jewish state.
Jewish groups and some Roman Catholic clerics have expressed concern the film by Gibson could foment anti-Jewish attacks.
Gibson has denied the movie is anti-Semitic. He is a traditionalist Catholic who rejects the Vatican's 1965 renunciation of the notion that the Jews were collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. In Gaza, some Palestinians exposed to daily bloodshed since a Palestinian uprising began in September 2000 complained that the film's graphic depiction of the crucifixion was too gruesome for their tastes. "It looked like more of a horror movie than a historical one," said one viewer, Mohammed Rezik Ahmed. Others thought it was not gory enough. "We believe Jesus suffered more in his life from the Jews than what we saw in the movie," said Hanna Anton.
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat watched a preview of the film at his West Bank headquarters earlier this month. Aides said he found the film "moving."
But not all Palestinians were passionate about the film.
"It was nothing special but was simply something that will increase hatred against the Jews," said Ala, a librarian.
In other news....
Israel is making up stories about child suicide bombers.
NABLUS, March 29 (IslamOnline.net) - Israeli media has embarked on a new stage of distorting the Palestinian resistance image, accusing Palestinian resistance fighters of making use of children and minors to execute bombing operations; a matter categorically denied by Palestinian families and factions as being "an Israeli intelligence fabrication."