Hollywood actor and director Mel Gibson has been secretly donating to Holocaust survivors for nearly a decade, according to a report by Extra on Friday. Gibson was the subject of fierce public backlash for the last decade due to a drunken 2006 antisemitic rant.
Zane Buzby, actress and founder of the Survivor Mitzvah Project, which provides financial aid to elderly Holocaust survivors in isolated areas of Europe, said "Mel Gibson is helping Holocaust survivors in eight countries, it's remarkable."
"I have a great respect for people who turn their lives around," she added. "And I think that everyone makes mistakes in life, and I think the real proof of what kind of human being you are is what you do with that mistake. He's educated himself. He's done philanthropic work now, and I think that actions speak very loudly... and his actions have helped a lot of people."
In July 2006, Gibson was arrested for a DUI in Malibu, California, where he was subsequently recorded making antisemitic remarks. During questioning, Gibson reportedly said to one of the officers: “F**king Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world... Are you a Jew?”
"It was an unfortunate incident," Gibson said in a 2016 episode of Variety
's "Playback" podcast when asked about the fact that there are many who feel they can no longer support him or his work. "I was loaded and angry and arrested. I was recorded illegally by an unscrupulous police officer who was never prosecuted for that crime. And then it was made public by him for profit, and by members of -- we'll call it the press. So, not fair. I guess as who I am, I'm not allowed to have a nervous breakdown, ever."
The "Passion of the Christ" director acknowledged that he had already apologized for the behavior and that people should move on from the incident.
"Ten years have gone by," Gibson stated. "I'm feeling good. I'm sober, all of that kind of stuff, and for me it's a dim thing in the past. But others bring it up, which kind of I find annoying, because I don't understand why after 10 years it's any kind of issue. Surely if I was really what they say I was, some kind of hater, there'd be evidence of actions somewhere. There never has been."
Gibson also said he doesn't consider himself a hateful person, and that his actions were a result of the copious amount of alcohol he consumed on that night.
"I've never discriminated against anyone
or done anything that sort of supports that reputation," the actor/director said. "And for one episode in the back of a police car on eight double tequilas to sort of dictate all the work, life's work and beliefs and everything else that I have and maintain for my life is really unfair."
On the other hand, conservative radio talk-show host Glenn Beck claimed that in a 2016 conversation with Gibson, ten years later, Gibson claimed "Jewish people" stole an early copy of "The Passion of the Christ
" and used it to defame him.
"I kind of got the impression – I don’t even know if this is true – that Mel has really turned his life around, you know, he’s an alcoholic with 10 years of sobriety behind him. He’s really changed. He’s learned a lot. And he’s kind of alone,” Beck said, according to a post uploaded to GlennBeck.com.
The conversation touched on a number of different topics, finally settling on "The Passion," which, according to Beck, was the beginning of Gibson’s downward trajectory and his ultimate “undoing.”
According to Beck, Gibson claimed the movie was stolen before its release date, allegedly by “Jewish people,” in order to slander the director as an antisemite.
Recalling Gibson’s comments, Beck said: “And then some Jewish people – I guess some rabbis or something, I didn’t get into it – somebody stole a copy of the movie before it was shown to anybody... And then they did a deal in The New York Times
with all these rabbis trashing him as an antisemite. And he said, ‘I couldn’t believe it... Nobody was really upset that these guys stole the movie.”
Released in 2004, "The Passion of the Christ" earned a whopping $612 million on worldwide ticket sales, but proved controversial once Jewish and other religious groups pounced on the film’s imposition that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus.
The idea has caused considerable harm to the Jewish community throughout contemporary history, stoking antisemitic sentiments around the world.
Gibson claimed that the fallout from the event caused considerable damage to his reputation and that he suffered abuse as a result.
“I expected Hollywood to not like it, but I lost my friends,” Gibson said, according to Beck. “People wouldn’t even speak to me because I made this movie... All of a sudden I’m a pariah.”
Following Beck’s comments on his radio broadcast, a Gibson representative said that the actor was unaware of such a conversation held between the two, according to The Daily Beast.
GlennBeck.com has also removed material from the website in connection to the conversation, with an editor’s note stating: “This post has been removed because it inadvertently revealed details of an off the record conversation. We regret the error.”Reuters and Daniel J. Roth contributed to this report.