Gibson, who directed the historic epics "Braveheart" and "Apocalypto," is producing the Maccabee project and will decide whether he will act in or direct the film once Joe Eszterhas finishes the screenplay, The Hollywood Reporter said.
Several years ago, Gibson apologized for making anti-Semitic remarks during a drunken driving arrest. However, the Oscar-winner's public image was further tarnished when audio featuring him making racist and abusive remarks towards his girlfriend were leaked on the Internet.
"Judah Maccabee deserves better. He is a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty. It would be a travesty to have his story told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people's religious views," Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman told The Hollywood Reporter.
Rabbi Marvin Heir, founder and dean of Los Angeles's Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, also said he thinks Gibson's involvement in a Maccabee project is a bad idea.
"Mel Gibson has shown nothing but antagonism and disrespect to Jews. First of all, there were the anti-Semitic remarks he made, his portrayal of Jews in 'The Passion of Christ.' I'm talking about those Jews who did not accept Christ, they were all portrayed as idiots, buffoons or people who were tyrants, with a very unfair portrayal. 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 (convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard) 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," Heir told the entertainment industry trade newspaper.