Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Museum of Tolerance, said Mr Gibson should not be cast in the film or involved in it in any way.In the Independent, Rob Sharp covers some of the same ground more briefly and also gives a British reaction ("First he ranted against Judaism, now he's making a film about it"):
"He has shown nothing but antagonism and disrespect to Jews," said Rabbi Hier. "There were the antisemitic remarks he made, his portrayal of Jews in The Passion of Christ.
"He's had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr.
"It's simply an insult to Jews."
The Anti-Defamation League also expressed regret that "someone better" could not be found to film the story.
"As a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty, Judah Maccabee deserves better," said national director Abraham Foxman. "It would be a travesty to have the story of the Maccabees told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people's religious views.
"Not only has Mel Gibson shown outward antagonism toward Jews and Judaism in his public statements and actions, but his previous attempt to bring biblical history to life on the screen was marred by antisemitism," he added.
"While we do not argue with Mel Gibson's right to make this film, we still strongly believe that Warner Bros. should reconsider Gibson's involvement in this project."
British Jewish groups have reacted with anger to the news. "It is astonishing, frankly, that he should choose to take this story on," said Dave Rich, a spokesman for the Jewish charity Community Security Trust, which seeks to protect Britain's Jewish community from "bigotry, anti-Semitism and terrorism". "You have to question what his motivation is. On the surface of it, it's as inappropriate as it gets for him to make a film about of the great heroes of Jewish history."Background here.