Mel Gibson said today he is not a bigot and he apologised to “everyone in the Jewish community or the vitriolic and harmful words” he used when he was arrested for investigation of drunken driving.
“Hatred of any kind goes against my faith,” he said in a statement released through publicist Alan Nierob.
“I’m not just asking for forgiveness,” Gibson said. “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.”
It was the second apology the 50-year-old Oscar winner has issued through Nierob since his arrest last Friday.
Gibson said he is “in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display” and hopes members of the Jewish community, “whom I have personally offended”, will help him in his recovery efforts.
“There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark,” Gibson said.
“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.”
Jewish leaders said they appreciated the apology, and that they were open to meeting with the actor.
“We are glad that Mel Gibson has finally owned up to the fact that he made anti-Semitic remarks, and his apology sounds sincere. We welcome his efforts to repair the damage he has caused,” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement.
“Once he completes his rehabilitation for alcohol abuse, we will be ready and willing to help him with his second rehabilitation to combat this disease of prejudice.”
“I welcome his words. And I hope and pray that they are sincere and heartfelt,” but Gibson needs to show ”tangible actions” of repentance, said Rabbi Mark Diamond of the 280-member Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
“I don’t want to minimise for a moment the hurt and anger, the anguish, his words have created in our community,” he said.
Gibson acknowledged “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.”
Gibson was pulled over for speeding early Friday in Malibu and arrested for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol.
He was released several hours later after posting $2,500 bail (€1,951).
Yesterday the Sheriff’s Department sent its case to prosecutors, according to a law enforcement official. According to the official, the report states that a tequila bottle was found in Gibson’s car when he was pulled over on Pacific Coast Highway.
The department’s initial account of the arrest did not mention Gibson’s remarks.
However, the law enforcement official quoted Gibson as saying: “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”, and asking the arresting officer: “Are you a Jew?”
The sheriff’s deputy who arrested Gibson said he is not happy that the star’s reputation has been damaged, but he hopes Gibson will think twice before drinking and driving again.
“I don’t take pride in hurting Mr Gibson,” Deputy James Mee said. Mee, who is Jewish, said he did not take Gibson’s remarks seriously.
“That stuff is booze talking,” the deputy said.
Gibson noted that his apology and efforts to repair relations with the Jewish community “is not about a film”.
ABC announced last night that it had scrapped plans for Gibson to produce a miniseries on the Holocaust.
This is not the first time Gibson has faced accusations of anti-Semitism.
Gibson produced, directed and financed the 2004 blockbuster The Passion of the Christ, which some Jewish leaders said cast Jews as the killers of Jesus.
Days before “Passion” was released, Gibson’s father, Hutton Gibson, was quoted as saying the Holocaust was mostly “fiction”.
Gibson won a best director Oscar for 1995’s Braveheart and starred in the Lethal Weapon and Mad Max films, among others.
In recent years, he has turned his attention to producing films and TV shows through his Icon Productions.
The hundreds of millions of dollars he made from The Passion has given the star the ability to finance his own films, giving him a measure of independence from the major studios.
His last major starring role was in the 2002 film Signs. He played a supporting part in the 2003 film, The Singing Detective, which he also produced.