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Thursday, April 07, 2005

[26.1] HAS THE PASSION EXACERBATED PREJUDICE?

A new poll has found that 30 percent of Americans believe Jews were responsible for the death of Christ - up from 25 percent in 2002.The survey is interpreted by some as offering more evidence that it has contributed to growing anti-semitism.

But the poll actually found that the percentage of Americans holding "unquestionably anti-Semitic" views declined from 17 percent in 2002 to 14 percent today. The "2005 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America" was released in Washington at the Anti-Defamation-League's annual convention.

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was last month cited by a report as the cause of an upsurge last year in Canadian anti-Semitic attacks, now running at a record pace.The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith, releasing its 2004 audit of anti-Semitic attacks in Canada, said last year's media coverage of Gibson's film and its alleged depiction of Jews as the "Christ killer" led to an often violent spike in attacks against the Canadian Jewish community.

When the film was released it was labelled a setback to the achievements in Christian-Jewish relations over the past 40 years.. It was suggested that the film was based more on a novel from the visionary meditations of an early nineteenth-century nun than on the gospels. Religious and social activists called on Mel Gibson to donate the profits of the film to causes they suggested truly represented and symbolised Jesus Christ's life, principles, and teachings.

A 'Passion Fund' it was suggested would be an appropriate vehicle for healing because making money from the death of Jesus "is another kind of crucifixion that distorts the true meaning of Jesus' suffering and death." A poll released by the Pew Research Center in Washington almost exactly a year ago provided the first statistical suggestion that the film's box-office success might be associated with an increase in anti-Jewish feeling.

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