The frontrunner in an online video contest in which filmmakers vie to make the best short positive video about Israel is stirring up a storm of controversy. Called “weird gun porn” by one critic, the video takes a unique stand against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and has people, almost literally, up in arms. In an exclusive interview with its pro-Israel Christian producers, Breaking Israel News attempted to get to the bottom of why this video is pushing the buttons of religious Christians, secularists, and atheists alike.
The four-minute video, which is currently winning the the Israel Video Network’s online competition, attempts to bring down BDS with a dramatic claim: supporting the anti-Israel movement is comparable to shooting a Bible to bits.
“I think it struck a nerve because it brought out what is really the truth about BDS and this whole anti-Israel program. We made it for Christians but most of the negative comments come from the secular and atheists, who seem to be the strongest supporters of BDS,” Luke Hilton, producer and star of the four-minute film, told Breaking Israel News.
Hilton is part of the Waller clan, the Christian family which founded HaYovel, the organization behind the video. HaYovel supports Israel by bringing Christian Zionists to the holy land every year to assist in the grape harvests in Samaria and spreading its message of the Biblical significance of Israel through music and videos.
The controversial video depicts an average Christian youth, Wyatt, who discovers the BDS movement on the internet and decides to take a stand. He takes all of the Israeli products from his house – including his cell phone, flat-screen monitor, and a bottle of wine – to his backyard, and proceeds to blow them all to smithereens with his shotgun.
Wyatt explains his newfound mission to his friend, Elijah, who thinks for a moment before saying he wants to join in. Elijah enters the house, returning with a Bible. He prepares to shoot, but Wyatt, alarmed by this sacrilege, stops him. Elijah then points out that Israel and the covenant between God and Jews which granted them the land – including the West Bank and Gaza – are central to the Bible.
“The Bible was made in Israel,” Elijah states. “If you really want to boycott Israel, then getting rid of your Bible and rejecting God would be a great place to start.”
The video’s main message is unique in that it entirely sidesteps the normal debates over rights to the land, violence, and other political issues, and focuses instead on the religious basis of the conflict. It has garnered over a thousand votes in the contest, but its stark argument has angered quite a number of people, drawing harsh criticism on the site and social media.
Many comments on the site praise the video, but many others criticize it, referring to “evil Zionists” and citing Israeli crimes. One comment objects to the religious theme, saying, “Israel is trying to take credit for being the birthplace of Christianity, but deliberately neglects to mention that it was the Jewish rabbis who requested Jesus be crucified”. Other critics of the video defend BDS by disparaging the Bible as an inaccurate or invalid source.
Professor Sarah Schulman, a novelist and lesbian rights activist, called the video “a cross between an after-school-special and weird gun porn” on her Facebook page. The Forward, a Jewish online magazine, described the video as both “laughable” and “sinister” and asked incredulously, “God made a covenant with the political state of Israel, founded in 1948?” Mondoweiss, an anti-Israel political website, stated as its main objection, “Boycotting Israel is not boycotting God.”
Avi Abelow, CEO and founder of Israel Video Network, rejected that claim in a conversation with Breaking Israel News.
“Can you be a good American and object to the exist of America?” Abelow asked. “There is a difference between a critique of certain qualities and policies, and objecting to the very existence of the entire entity. Anyone who takes the time to research will see that the ultimate goal of BDS is not to change policy or bring negotiations. Their goal is to destroy the state of Israel.
“The Bible states it is our land. So, yes, anyone who supports BDS is going against the Bible, which states that this is our homeland,” Abelow concluded.
Tommy Waller, the patriarch of this remarkable family, agreed. “Liberal people have a hard time identifying the Bible as the legitimate truth of anything. The spirit of the Bible rests in the land of Israel,” Waller said. “When you divest from Israel, you are sanctioning the Bible, and the Bible represents the people that are being belittled, the Christians and the Jews,” he told Breaking Israel News.
Mrs. Waller addressed religious supporters of BDS – the main targets of their video. ”They don’t realize they have stepped away from the covenant. They may think they believe, but what they don’t realize is that God has definition. When you go for the jugular and tell it to them straight, it riles them up.”
Hilton had a question for the critics. “People who support BDS should ask themselves if they are ignoring or rejecting the Bible? If you are a Christian and you believe in the Bible, you should be supporting Israel and not supporting BDS.”