Wednesday, November 18, 2020

DOC NYC Spotlight: ‘Til Kingdom Come

I’m excited to be covering DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, which presents its eleventh year, this time in a mostly online format, from November 11th-19th.

‘Til Kingdom Come
Directed by Maya Zinshtein
Ticket Information

Israel, in its current form, is a relatively young country, but one that has been subject to a great deal of controversy and global attention over the course of its short existence of just over seventy years. Most of the surrounding Arab nations have been engaged in wars with Israel, and many refuse to acknowledge its right to exist. Jewish communities in America and around the world have largely expressed support for a Jewish homeland, and there is another body with a vested interest in strengthening the state: evangelical Christians.

The focus of this documentary is a community in Kentucky where members describe their appreciation for Donald Trump as a messenger of sorts for their movement, affirming their existence even if they admit that he might often play to what he knows they will like. One of the most important things for the evangelical church is financial backing for Israel, which, in scripture, is purported to be the place where salvation will arrive. Through partnerships with a Jewish organization that embraces the love expressed by Christians, evangelicals make up the largest pro-Israel group in the United States.

This film comes off as an exposé, but all of its subjects are more than happy to share their opinions. They are passionate and know what they want. Pastors recite verses that reference terrible fates for those who don’t accept Jesus, and, in a chilling scene, one prominent player calls Jews arrogant for not realizing what they will need to do in order to be saved and continuing to practice their religion. Another refutes comparisons to Muslim extremists who do jihad and declares that there is no such thing as a Palestinian, elevating what is for many a political and geographical argument to an expression of supremacy over a supposedly invalid group of people.

Much of this film’s seventy-six-minute content is unsettling, even more so as a Jewish viewer who understands the implications clearly stated by many of the evangelicals interviewed. Just as Trump sees that community as his stepping stone to power, the most fervent seek to align themselves with Jews, who make up some of the current residents of the land of Israel, not in harmony but in order to eventually compel them to accept Jesus. Not everything is quite so malicious, but this brief introduction to this mindset is deeply unnerving, and this film offers only a small snapshot of this mentality and the power of the people who preach it.


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