Jewish Leaders Outraged by Mel Gibson's Maccabee Film

Entertainment Sep. 9, 2011 AT 1:28PM
Jewish Leaders Outraged by Mel Gibson's Maccabee Film Credit: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images

Maybe he should have considered a nice Mad Max Thunderdome sequel instead?

Mel Gibson is raising hackles in the Jewish community and beyond -- yet again -- with his just-announced new film project.

PHOTOS: Mel's many meltdowns

As first reported by Deadline, the controversial actor and director, 55, is set to collaborate (through Warner Brother studios) with Basic Instinct screenwriter Joe Eszterhas to make a film about Jewish hero Judah Maccabee -- who helped liberate Jerusalem in an ancient biblical story, and inspired the Hannukah holiday.

Gibson, of course, has been repeatedly taped making offensive, anti-Semitic remarks over the years, including a drunken rant during a 2006 arrest in Malibu. (Hungarian-born Eszterhas, meanwhile, won the Emanuel Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his writings about the Holocaust in his native country.)

PHOTOS: Mel's vicious feud with his ex Oksana Grigorieva

Says Abe Foxman, head of the Anti Defamation League, to The Hollywood Reporter: "It would be a travesty to have [Judah Maccabee's] story told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people’s religious views."

PHOTOS: Other stars who've flipped out

Added Rabbi Marvin Heir of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance to THR: "Casting [Gibson] as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr...It's a complete misfit for the role of Judah Maccabee, one of the greatest Jewish heroes in all of history to be portrayed by someone who has shown nothing but antagonism and anti-Semitism toward Jews."

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