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Mel Gibson

Why I Want to Make A

Jewish Hero Movie

9/10/2011 8:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

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Mel Gibson has a passion for the story of Judah Maccabee, one of the greatest Jewish heroes of all time, but is not doing the movie as an act of contrition.

Sources very close to Mel tell TMZ ... Gibson does not feel the need to bridge a gap between himself and the Jewish community, because he doesn't believe a gap exists.  They say Mel is adamant -- he does not hate Jews, noting that his lawyers are Jewish, his publicist is Jewish, and he has many Jewish friends and employees.

As for Mel's anti-Semitic rant during his 2006 DUI arrest, Mel has written two public letters of apology and also met with numerous leaders in the Jewish community to discuss where he went wrong.

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As for the movie, Mel has wanted to produce it for a decade, telling our sources it's actually a statement against corruption in the church.  Mel believes Maccabee's story parallels the modern church, and he thinks the movie will help force change.

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