Actor and director Mel Gibson has been quietly aiding Holocaust survivors for several years.
The “Hacksaw Ridge” director has been working with the Survivor Mitzvah Project to provide “emergency aid to Holocaust survivors in eastern Europe who are in desperate need of food, medicine, heat and shelter” as well as “friendship and hope,” Zane Buzby, founder of the charity, told Extra last week.
Buzby is also a director, known for her work on “The Van Dyke Show,” “The Golden Girls,” Married … with Children” and several other programs.
“The goal of the Survivor Mitzvah Project,” Buzby said, “is to make sure that no Holocaust survivor who has endured the darkest days of human history will ever be hungry again or suffer or be forgotten or neglected.”
Gibson made headlines in 2006 when he went on a drunken, anti-Semitic rant.
“Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” he said at the time, while being arrested by a police officer in Malibu, California.
In an October interview on Variety’s “Playback” podcast, Gibson called his 2006 remarks “unfortunate.”
“I don’t understand why after 10 years it’s any kind of issue,” he said. “Surely, if I was really what they say — I was, some kind of hater — there’d be evidence of actions somewhere.”
“I’ve never discriminated against anyone or done anything that sort of supports that reputation,” he continued. “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.”
One source told People that the star has been working hard to turn his life around.
“Mel has showed some remorse over his past behavior,” the source told the magazine. “Mel wants to be remembered for his work. He has worked on his issues and has definitely shaped up.”
Buzby said Gibson has “educated himself” on the Holocaust, adding, “He’s done philanthropic work now, and I think that actions speak very loudly … and his actions have helped a lot of people.”
Buzby went on to say Gibson is now helping Holocaust survivors in eight countries — something she called “remarkable.”
The Survivor Mitzvah Project founder said Gibson has “been to the office and personally learned about” the charity. She said the well-known director has helped raise funds for the organization and get others involved in the work.
“Mel feels great compassion for what this organization does,” Buzby said. “And he doesn’t publicly promote most of his philanthropy but quietly helps out.”
“I have a great respect for people who turn their lives around. 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,” she later added.
Gibson’s 2016 film, “Hacksaw Ridge” — which detailed the story of Pfc. Desmond Doss (played by actor Andrew Garfield), who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to use weapons during World War II on religious grounds — won two Academy Awards and was nominated for six.