Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA, is a terrific researcher and writer. His work, and that of his colleague, Tricia Miller, is critical in understanding not only the evangelical issues involved in the Middle East, but also mainline and Catholic.
The last several years have seen a string of documentaries purporting to show a balanced view of the elusive search for peace in the region, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians. I’ve written extensively about such left-wing propaganda efforts as “Little Town of Bethlehem” and “With God On Our Side.” These films were hatchet-jobs that did untold damage to Israel.
Now comes a film, a rare film in this genre, that challenges those other narratives. Filmmaker Todd Morehead has produced “Hope in the Holy Land.” In it, he interviews people who know firsthand about anti-Semitism in the West Bank. Van Zile writes about it for CAMERA:
“Maybe we have turned a corner with ‘Hope in the Holy Land’ produced by the Philos Project and set for release in May 2021. This film, produced by Todd Morehead and Justin Kron, does something that some Christian filmmakers such as Porter Speakman, Jr. and Jim Hanon and writers like Bruce Fisk and Gary Burge have a tough time doing — confronting the misdeeds of Palestinian leaders and the profound obstacles to peace inherent in Palestinian society.”
For example, an Israeli friend of mine has had encounters with Burge, formerly of Wheaton College. It seems the good professor likes to take college students to the region and bash Israel. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
After taking legitimate issue with a couple points in Morehead’s film, Van Zile makes an excellent point:
“That being said, the movie does a particularly good job of countering the theology offered by ‘Peter’ by including testimony from Evangelical theologian Gerald McDermott, who demolishes Palestinian Liberation Theology as anti-biblical. McDermott does this in the scene after which ‘Peter’ indicates that the book of Exodus is not canonical for Palestinian Christian Liberation Theologians. Even with its problematic treatment of the battle of Deir Yassin, ‘Peter’s’ testimony coupled with McDermott’s response highlights the how Palestinian Christians manipulate scripture to suit their ideological and political agenda.”
This is fascinating. Did you catch that, that Exodus is “not canonical”? That’s astonishing. It means that whenever left-wing Palestinians don’t like something in the Bible (which would be most if not all the Hebrew Scriptures), they simply sanitize it from their experience. I once spoke with a highly placed person at Bethlehem Bible College (or, Liberation Theology U.) and he told me that they simply “don’t like” the land promises to the Jewish people. Their Bible is considerably smaller than ours, I can assure you.
Morehead also makes the important point that the Palestinian people themselves are like the rest of us: some good, some bad. It is important to differentiate between them and their evil leaders. Many among the population simply want to live in peace.
Morehead’s film goes a long way in presenting a (finally) balanced view. Kudos to him and to Philos Project for spotlighting these issues. And as usual, make CAMERA one of your first stops every week for news about Israel.