The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) has produced a powerful new film, titled “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem,” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the city of Jerusalem under Israeli control. The docudrama shares the story of Israel’s extraordinary battle for survival in June of 1967, when four neighboring Arab nations mobilized for the purpose of wiping Israel off the map.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) partnered with CBN to promote the one night premier of the film in over 700 theaters in the United States on Tuesday, May 23, and again on June 1 and 6. In anticipation of the release of “In Our Hands,” CAMERA talked with Gordon Robertson, the CEO of CBN and the Executive Producer of the documentary, about the significance of the events portrayed in the movie.
“In Our Hands” is the most recent in a series of documentaries that CBN has produced about Israel. According to Robertson, it is the result of two years of research, including primary sources such as the diaries of soldiers involved in the battle for Jerusalem, and interviews with members of the 55th Paratrooper brigade, the first ones to enter the part of Jerusalem previously occupied by Jordan. The Israel Defense Forces helped CBN with the recreation of the battle scenes, all of which were shot at the actual locations where the battle for Jerusalem occurred.
As a result, the film gives the viewer an accurate historical picture of the events that occurred during the battle that reunited the city of Jerusalem. Robertson told CAMERA, “We wanted to make sure every line in this movie had an historical backdrop and was historically accurate.”
Most people in the West do not know what was happening in 1967 when Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq decided that the time had come to destroy the Jewish State. They do not know just how high the stakes were.
“Israel faced extinction,” Robertson said. “Rabbis dedicated public parks in Tel Aviv to receive the dead. They stockpiled body bags because they were expecting a second holocaust.” Furthermore, “Israel was fighting a war with reservists. These were people who were not professional soldiers and they weren’t backed with US weapons. They were outnumbered, outgunned and without a professional army.”
Unfortunately, the war in 1967 was not the last war Israel has been forced to fight for self-preservation. Even now, 50 years later, there are those in the Middle East who seek to destroy the Jewish State. Indeed, the hostile neighborhood in which Israel lives has only gotten more dangerous.
“You won’t understand the headlines today until you understand the history of the 1967 war,” Robertson pointed out. “What I’m trying to do with this film ‘In Our Hands,’ is to let people know the real history, how Israel faced extinction and still faces extinction.”
Israel faces existential threats from other nations in the region, and it is also forced to deal with terrorism quite close to home. Consider the fact that the Palestinian Authority names streets and squares in Ramallah after terrorists who have killed Israeli citizens, and the reality that terrorists and their families are on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority. “It’s the pay to slay program, where you are paid according to the severity of your crime, on how many Israelis did you kill,” Robertson said.
It is true that people in the West cannot understand what is happening in the Middle East in relation to Israel today without knowing the history of the 1967 war. It is also true that the constant danger Israel finds itself in cannot be understood without a clear understanding of the conflict between Israel’s love for life, and its enemies’ idolization of death.
Perhaps this contrast is best illustrated by a poignant scene from the movie, in which battle-weary soldiers, rejoicing at standing in front of the Western Wall for the first time in their lives, leave their celebrations to help an Arab woman deliver her baby. When the baby was born, a soldier is quoted as saying, “I laughed, I was happy. We brought life into the world instead of death.”
This scene demonstrates Israel’s celebration of life, “not just Jewish life, but Christian life, Arab life, Muslim life,” Robertson said. “They want to see life.”