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“With God on our Side,” with Sizer and producer Porter Speakman of Colorado as the chief promoters, is gaining an audience among some evangelicals. They screened their film at prestigious evangelical Wheaton College earlier this year. (The film features a Wheaton professor.) And “Christianity Today,” a flagship evangelical magazine, favorably reviewed the film this Summer. “A Christian pastor, Speakman asks such Zionists to reevaluate their absolute support of Israel,” the review observed. “He presents historical context, theological perspective, and on-the-ground impressions.” Agreeing with the film that “Palestinians’ claims to the land cannot be easily dismissed,” the reviewer uncritically accepted the film’s premise that “ordinary Palestinians, including fellow Christians, are being hurt by Israel’s policies,” without examining other more potent threats to Palestinian Christians. Admitting that “some” might see the film as “slanted,” the reviewer defended the film for ostensibly “telling a story” that its “intended audience has not heard.”
That audience is supposedly naïve and mindless evangelicals who have been insulated from any criticism of Israel until exposed to “With God on our Side.” It’s not clear what caves or compounds those pious fools live in. But this film, no less propagandistic and vapid than it alleges its Christian Zionist targets to be, offers a simplistic counter narrative that portrays Israel as the moral equivalent of apartheid South Africa. The tiny percentage of Palestinians who are Christian are useful props for this film and its advocates who, like much of the Evangelical Left, are not typically interested in persecuted Christians unless Israel is the villain.
Anti-Israel activists often especially fault U.S. evangelicals for America’s pro-Israel tilt. But polls usually show that pro-Israel sentiment in America includes not just evangelicals but also Mainline Protestants, Catholics and Jews. End times scenarios do not motivate the pro-Israel beliefs of most Americans or even most evangelicals. But “With God on our Side” constructed a cheap straw man based on stereotypes, maybe because it could not proffer more substantive arguments.
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