The Holocaust-Deniers in Mel Gibson’s Closet

by Dr. Rafael Medoff

So it wasn’t just “the alcohol talking,” after all.

The excuses that Mel Gibson’s defenders trotted out after his antisemitic outburst are crumbling amid the disclosure of new evidence that Gibson –not just his father, but Mel himself– has been involved with a Holocaust-denial group in Australia.

First, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported (Aug. 6) that Gibson had supported Rob Taylor of the Australian League for Rights (ALR), an extremist group that denies the Holocaust, when Taylor ran for local office in Australia 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.”

Now New York Post investigative reporter Philip Recchia has revealed (Aug. 21) that Gibson and his father in recent years attended the ALR’s annual dinner. The group’s newsletter described the Gibsons’ attendance as the “sensation” of the event, and ALR director Don Autherlonie “didn’t deny Gibson’s attendance when contacted” by the Post.

Gibson spokesman Alan Nierob claims the actor “has never heard of” the ALR,” but that’s a little hard to believe. Gibson supported Taylor’s candidacy–but didn’t know of Taylor’s beliefs or associations? Gibson, accompanied by his Holocaust-denying father, attended the ALR’s annual dinner–but he didn’t know where he was?

A more plausible explanation is that Mel Gibson is hiding a closet full of extremist and antisemitic connections, and the deeper reporters dig, the more skeletons they will find.

Two years ago, Gibson was asked by several interviewers about his father’s statements denying the Holocaust. His slippery replies should have raised red flags. In a February 2004 interview on ABC Television, Diane Sawyer asked him about it. 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.”

But now it seems that Gibson was not merely speaking out of a sense of family loyalty, protecting his elderly father. He was apparently speaking out of ideological affinity, as well.

The new evidence should be a wake-up call to the assorted celebrities who came to Gibson’s defense after his declaration that “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” The actor Patrick Swayze, for example, called Gibson “a wonderful human being” and insisted that “people say stupid things when they happen to have a few [drinks].” It’s time for Swayze to admit that bigots are not wonderful human beings, and Gibson’s pattern of associating with Holocaust-deniers cannot be chalked up to his drinking problem.

Likewise, the actress Jodie Foster called Gibson “kind” and “honest,” and “absolutely not antisemitic.” There was, however, more than a touch of irony in her statements, since 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.

The new evidence should also be a wake-up call to the various Jewish organizations that hoped to bring about a reconciliation with Gibson, and invited him to speak to them. No matter how good their intentions, it’s clear that these groups were engaging in wishful thinking. Mel Gibson is not a decent person who had one alcohol-induced tirade that is not representative of his thinking. He clearly has a history, at least two decades long, of involvement with antisemites.

And make no mistake about it: Holocaust-denial is a form of antisemitism. It’s not an alternative interpretation of history. It’s an alternative way of attacking Jews. Indeed, the U.S. State Department officially considers Holocaust-denial to be antisemitism. Its January 2005 “Report on Global Anti-Semitism” includes nine separate references to incidents of Holocaust-denial among the report’s listing of antisemitic incidents in various countries.

The real Mel Gibson has been exposed. There are no excuses left.

August 2006