Gibson Asks Jews For Help To Find “Appropriate Path To Healing”
First Published: August 1, 2006 8:01 PM EDT Credit: AP
-- STATEMENT FROM MEL GIBSON
August 2, 2006 — There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of Anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.
I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.
The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God?s child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.
I?m not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.
I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.
This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. It?s about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad.
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LOS ANGELES (August 1, 2006) — Mel Gibson acknowledged making anti-Semitic slurs during a drunken driving arrest and begged Jewish community leaders Tuesday to meet with him to find “the appropriate path for healing.” A sheriff’s watchdog, meanwhile, said deputies appeared to have handled Gibson’s arrest properly.
It was the actor’s second apology since sheriff’s deputies stopped him for speeding early Friday on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, where officials said he was doing 87 in a 45 mph zone. He was arrested for investigation of drunken driving after a hostile, offensive confrontation with deputies.
The latest apology went far beyond the first — which spoke primarily to deputies-- by addressing Jewish groups directly.
“I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words,” Gibson said in a statement issued by his publicist Tuesday. “Please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith. … There will be many in that (Jewish) community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.”
Jewish groups generally said they wanted to see proof of Gibson’s repentance before meeting with him.
“We always felt that there was another agenda, but we never called him an anti-Semite. I guess this moment in Malibu finished the circle, and so now it all comes together,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “But I’d like to put it behind him, I hope he wants to put it behind him, but you need to work at it. You can’t just say I’m no longer a drunk; you can’t just say I’m no longer a bigot. You need to work hard at it, and we’re ready to help him.”
County prosecutors were reviewing the sheriff’s report Tuesday to decide what charges, if any, would be filed against Gibson.
A civilian watchdog attorney, investigating allegations of a cover-up by the Sheriff’s Department, said a preliminary review found nothing wrong with the handling of Gibson’s arrest.
“In this case, the information reviewed to date indicates that LASD did ensure that the arrest of Mr. Gibson was handled in accord with its policies and practices,” said Michael Gennaco, head of the county Office of Independent Review.
According to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the sheriff’s report says Gibson told the arresting deputy “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” and asked him, “Are you a Jew?”
Gibson’s publicist, Alan Nierob, said Tuesday the actor was in ongoing program for alcohol abuse before his arrest and had entered a new program since his arrest Friday. Both were described as outpatient programs.
As a public person, “when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena,” Gibson’s latest statement said.
ABC announced late Monday that it had scrapped plans for Gibson to produce a miniseries on the Holocaust, saying it had not seen even the draft of a script in nearly two years.
Gibson, 50, has had an edgy relationship with Jewish organizations since the success of his 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ,” which some criticized for portraying Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus. Supporters said the movie merely followed the Gospel story.
“Anti-Semitism is not born in one day and cannot be cured in one day and certainly not through the issuing of a press release,” said a statement from Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Gibson should read about Jewish persecution and the Holocaust and “visit sites where it occurred,” Hier added by telephone from Israel.
“When Mr. Gibson embarks on a serious long-term effort to address that bigotry and anti-Semitism, he will find the Jewish community more than willing to engage and help him,” he said.
Gibson, a top star of the 1980s for the “Lethal Weapon” series and winner of the best-director Oscar for 1995’s “Braveheart,” has long acknowledged problems with alcohol. In a Saturday statement, he said he acted “completely out of control” during his arrest.
Witnesses said Gibson had been drinking at a Malibu beachfront restaurant called Moonshadows before his car was stopped. Widely distributed photos show Gibson with his arms around several young women at the restaurant shortly before his arrest.
The Sheriff’s Department initially did not mention Gibson’s remarks when giving an account of his arrest, with a sheriff’s spokesman claiming the arrest was made “without incident.”
Gennaco, the lawyer who oversees the sheriff’s watchdog, said he wouldn’t have described the arrest that way. The deputy’s decision not to handcuff Gibson was within department policy, added Gennaco, saying the department generally prefers to have suspects handcuffed but that officers have discretion whether to do that.
Also, the department turned over all necessary information to the district attorney’s office, he said. Gennaco, however, couldn’t say whether the department had tried to shield Gibson’s remarks from the public when the original arrest report was ordered modified and the comments placed in a supplemental report instead.
“That question I don’t have an answer to,” he said.
The department has denied any cover-up.
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