In a recent email list of headlines which she's been sending out every day recently, Jan Markell included her article, Changing the Minds of Evangelicals in which she calls attention to a film, With God on Our Side, that promotes evangelical support of the Palestinians over Israel. This is what is known as the Leftist Evangelical point of view. I watched it and here are some comments:
It's a deceitful movie. It's mostly accusations of misconduct by Israel toward the Palestinians, intended to shame American Christian Zionists out of supporting Israel. Israel's misconduct includes restrictions on the movements of Palestinians, by checkpoints, the high walls built to keep them out and so on. It wasn't until the end of the film that anybody said why Israel considers these measures necessary, then explaining that the walls had almost completely ended the suicide bombings that had been plaguing Israel for years. But not one single "Palestinian" complained about the terrorism in their own population which is the reason for the restrictions. The complaint was always that it's Israel's fault and it's a hardship for the Palestinians.
Supposedly the Palestinians are suffering from all this, it even "ruins lives" as one spokesman said, but then the film takes you briefly into their community to show you what a "vibrant" community it is, not a suffering community.
I was alert to hear any mention of "Replacement Theology" as the reason Zionists shouldn't be supporting Israel, but it was only at the very end that two of the Christian spokesmen brought it up. Otherwise the complaints against Israel were of unethical behavior which was criticized from a Biblical point of view. The Old Testament is not so much about a covenant of land, one critic said, but a covenant of ethics, how you treat the foreigner, the orphan and the widow. Without regard to why Israel has taken the measures it has taken.
The pastor's son who said he grew up with the understanding that Christians are to support Israel, had come to rethink all that, "started looking into things like the separation barrier and Israeli policies that are really having an effect on Palestinian life; so I don't know" he says, "does supporting Israel mean we fully support every one of those policies?" His brother adds "I still think that there is some truth there, to supporting Israel, but I don't think you can support any group of people... when they do things that violate other Biblical principles." Not a word about the reason for those policies, not a word. Apparently self-defense isn't an acceptable reason.
Gary Burge says "Palestinians are not defined by the radical wing of Hamas or Hezbollah." Which I think was the first mention of those terrorist groups in the film. What does it mean "not defined by?" As I recall, for a long time it was clear that a suicide bomber could arise from any part of the Palestinian population, how would anyone know in advance who was "defined" by such a possible expression of Islam and who wasn't? And again, shouldn't the Palestinians have been identifying terrorism from their own population as the cause of the restrictions on them?
And it is always referred to as the "Israeli occupation" without the slightest nod to the complicated history of the region in which time after time it was the Palestinians who refused to accept any offer of an independent Palestinian state, and wars initiated by the Arab states against Israel, in which Israel won back land.
And "land confiscation." Nothing in this film is explained, it's all accusations directed against Israel with very little in the way of context. Even though supposedly the historical footage was supposed to explain what happened it was almost impossible to decipher. The usual war pictures but I couldn't tell who the soldiers were. Some breaking into somebody's house but no clear explanation, just the insinuation that it must have been one of the many indefensible actions by Israel. This is an irresponsible deceitful film.
Salim Munayer uses his own family history as the only argument against the claim that the area was a wilderness when the Jews started settling there. "There were people here" he says. Well, nobody ever said there weren't some people there, what was said was that they were few and far between, and Mark Twain who visited the region in the late 19th century is often cited for his report that the area was a desolate wilderness. People few and far between. And certainly no "Palestinians," such a people group never existed and still doesn't exist. Where possible the arriving Jews purchased the property of those living there, but nothing about any of this was mentioned by Mr. Munayer. What happened to his own family's property? Did they keep it, sell it, what? He insinuates something about how his family was badly treated by the Jews but the footage supplied at that point is ambiguous and probably had nothing to do with his personal experience anyway. They were told to leave their home in 1948 right after Israel became a state, but who told them is not said, only insinuated, and who killed those who refused to leave is also not clear, but it was insinuated that it was Israelis, and for no good reason of course. I end up having no idea about what happened to Salim Munayer's family or why, and the strong impression that they don't want me to know.
"Wait," says the narrator, "I'd always been told that the Palestinians were the aggressors." Well, I was never told that. I was told that the Arab states made war on Israel and that they warned the Arab people in the area to leave, and they are the ones who became the refugees without a state of their own. Not aggressors, pawns of their own Arab people. Numbers of refugees are mentioned in the film without one mention of how they became refugees, just the usual insinuation that this was Israel's fault.
One interview that was almost funny was the guy who said the intifada, which was an uprising of the Arabs, was very hard on his family because the Israelis closed the schools, they couldn't go to work, water was cut off, etc etc etc., without once mentioning that this was connected to Israeli self-defense in response to an Arab uprising. Occasionally in the film the Israeli side is defended, but only in general terms, we never find out one thing about what happened in the specific events mentioned, such as this man's experience or Salim Munayer's.
Another mystery was the statement that after the Oslo accords "everybody agrees that there was a drastic deterioration in the standard of living of the Palestinians." Not a word about why this occurred.
I end up knowing less about the situation over there as a result of this movie than I thought I knew before.
Replacement Theology really doesn't explain much in this movie. Are we not to support Israel because it really doesn't figure in prophecy after all, or because supposedly they've committed all these ethical offenses against the Palestinians? The two are not connected. I think of Israel as a political ally of America, whether there is anything to the prophecies or not. We can't expect the unbelieving world to accept explanations based on Biblical prophecies anyway; Israel has to succeed as a political entity. And I don't believe those accusations. If any of them is in any sense true the film utterly failed to prove it.
Arutz Sheva report on movie.
Mark Tooley at Front Page Magazine review of movie.
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