What happened when a Jewish academic tried to convince Mel Gibson not to make his Maccabee movie?
Jeffrey Goldberg is a prominent reporter for The Atlantic and previously for The New Yorker. He won the Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize in 2005 and a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC. He is also Jewish. Goldberg was working on a biography on Judah Maccabee, the so-called Hero of Hanukkah, when it came to his attention that Mel Gibson was developing the biblical tale into a movie. A few of his colleagues sat Goldberg down with a direct order, "You must go to Los Angeles and stop him."
Spoiler alert: Goldberg did not stop Gibson from continuing development of his Maccabee movie as the project was formally announced last week. But Goldberg did spend an afternoon with Gibson, confronting him on his anti-Semitism and convincing him to leave well-enough alone. This is what happened.
Before conversation of the movie could even get underway, Goldberg had to address Gibson's infamous tirade. Said Gibson, "I was loaded, and some stupid shit can come out of your mouth when you're loaded." But stupid shit about how Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world? "That day they were marching into Lebanon. It was one of those things. It was on the news."
That was about all the evidence Goldberg needed to be convinced of Gibson's anti-Semitic leanings but when asked if he wanted to tell the story of a Jewish hero, Gibson insists it's not about money or personal redemption. It's just a "ripping good read."
For more on Goldberg's encounter with Gibson, which includes detailed quotes as the whole conversation was recorded, check out his article on The Atlantic site. You'll also get Mel Gibson's bonus circumcision joke as well as the context for the quote, "God can do what he damn well pleases!" (It doesn't make him sound any less crazy.)