With God on our Side Screens in Manchester
Report on a recent screening of a new film directed by Porter Speakman, Jr.
The film introduced the heavy-hitters from the ultra-conservative American Christian Zionist movement, notably John Hagee of Christians United For Israel and the more eloquent Malcolm Hedding of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. There was also an interview with a representative from Christian Friends of Israel Communities, which boasts of being the only Christian organisation exclusively supporting the settlements in Judea and Samaria (sic).
There was footage from a John Hagee conference and other audio clips from Christian Zionists explaining how they thought God had given the land of Israel to the Jewish people, and how they imagined Israel would naturally expand as part of God’s plan for the world. This was interspersed with clips of settler-Jewish nationalism, unjust Israeli policies and notes about past UN resolutions and peace negotiations which many Palestinians considered to be unfair.
The film starred the dubious cast-list of Rev Stephen Sizer, Prof Gary Burge (sounding uncannily like Agent Smith from the Matrix), Middle East “journalist” Ben White, the decidedly questionable historian Ilan Pappe, and the anti-Zionist Jewish critic Norman Finkelstein.
To the extent that the cast criticised unthinking Christian Zionist support for any Israeli policy in order for Israel to expand and develop at any cost, this was a good film. It was an excellent critique of a US-based phenomenon that has perpetuated and aggravated mistrust in the Middle East.
However, the film failed to mention the nuances of Christian support for Israel. Not all Christian supporters of Israel are obsessed with the End Times, or expanding the kingdom of God by enlarging Israel’s borders. Most Christian supporters of Israel are pragmatists. They recognise the unique freedoms that Israel provides in the Middle East, the pragmatic need for a democratic Jewish state following the horrors of the Shoah, and the continuing, menacing presence of antisemitism throughout the world.
Saving Jews from John Hagee