Jewish Groups Should Withdraw Invitations to Gibson, in Response to News of his Ties to Holocaust-Deniers

News Release
August 21, 2006

In the wake of the new disclosure that Mel Gibson has been involved with a Holocaust-denial group in Australia, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies is urging Jewish and other organizations that recently extended speaking invitations to Gibson to withdraw them.

Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff said: “Holocaust-denial is a form of antisemitism, and Gibson’s involvement with Holocaust-deniers in Australia indicates that his apology for his recent antisemitic outburst was not sincere. Gibson seems to be hiding a closet full of extremist and antisemitic connections. Under these circumstances, those groups which sought reconciliation and invited him to speak should cancel those invitations.”

New York Post investigative reporter Philip Recchia revealed (Aug. 21, 2006) that Gibson and his father, Hutton Gibson, in recent years attended a dinner sponsored by the Australian League of Rights, a group that denies the Holocaust. An ALR publication described their attendance as the “sensation” of the event, and ALR director Don Autherlonie “didn’t deny Gibson’s attendance when contacted last week” by the Post.

Earlier this month, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported (Aug. 6, 2006) that Mel Gibson had supported the political candidacy of the ALR’s Rob Taylor, when he ran for local office in northern Victoria in 1987. A former ALR leader, Charles Pinwill, confirmed to the Sun that both Mel Gibson and his father Hutton “were interested in some of our ideas.”

Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute, said that the claim by Gibson spokesman Alan Nierob that Mel Gibson “has never heard of” the ALR (New York Post, Aug. 21, 2006) “is hard to believe, given the mounting evidence of Gibson’s association with the League.”

Following Gibson’s recent apology for his antisemitic outburst, a number of Hollywood personalities came to his defense. Ironically, one of Gibson’s most ardent supporters was Jodie Foster, who said, “Is he an anti-Semite? Absolutely not.” Yet just last year, Foster also claimed, implausibly, that Nazi propaganda filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl was not really a Nazi. “No matter how much she admires Gibson or Riefenstahl, Ms. Foster needs to judge them according to their actual statements and actions, not according to her fantasy image of them,” Dr. Medoff said. “Other celebrities who defended Mel Gibson in recent weeks must likewise reconsider, in view of the new evidence of his links to Holocaust-deniers.”

The U.S. State Department officially considers Holocaust-denial to be a form of antisemitism. In the State Department’s January 2005 “Report on Global Anti-Semitism,” there are nine separate references to incidents of Holocaust-denial included among the report’s listing of antisemitic incidents in various countries.

The Wyman Institute is the only organization that publishes an annual report on Holocaust-denial activity around the world.

Tthe Wyman Institute previously raised questions about Mel Gibson’s view of the Holocaust, following his failure to clearly repudiate his father’s Holocaust-denial. In a February 2004 interview on ABC Television, Gibson was asked by Diane Sawyer about his father’s Holocaust-denial statements. Gibson replied: “He’s my father. Gotta leave it alone, Diane. Gotta leave it alone.” In a March 2004 interview with Reader’s Digest, Gibson was asked by interviewer Peggy Noonan, “The Holocaust happened, right?” Gibson responded by minimizing the uniqueness and enormity of the Holocaust, saying: “Yes, of course, Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine, several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933.”