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The short film comes amid a coordinated U.S. and Israeli attack on the global movement for BDS, which was initiated over ten years ago by Palestinian civil society groups to demand human rights and self-determination and force Israel into compliance with international conventions. The Israeli government recently revealed that it is earmarking $26 million in this year’s budget for the purpose of sabotaging and spying on BDS supporters and Muslim activists in the United States and Europe.
This new video, released by HaYovel as part of a contest organized by the Israel Video Network, appears to be the latest salvo in the anti-BDS onslaught – this time fired from the U.S. Christian Zionist camp. It is a transparent effort to reach to reach out to young people with a slick and smooth – if outrageous – video which casts an ordinary, light-haired, church-going young American man named Wyatt at the center of the story.
Because Wyatt “cares deeply about the world and people,” he is seduced by “social media and Internet” messages about the oppression and occupation of Palestinians. Under this spell, the young man makes the bold decision to round up all of his possessions that were manufactured in Israel, take them outside, and shoot them on-by-one with an actual rifle. Among the items Wyatt riddles with bullets are a jar of Dannon yogurt, an iPhone, and a bag of McDonald’s hamburgers — items manufactured by companies that have never been targeted by the BDS movement.
Wyatt is stopped by a friend, who explains that if he is going to fire at his SodaStream device and computer monitor, then he may as well shoot the Bible, because it was “made in Israel.”
Our light-haired hero is finally brought to his senses by his wise friend, who stunningly proclaims: “Most Palestinians aren’t oppressed. Those who are are oppressed by their own government. Israel provides them with work, free electricity, health care and loads of humanitarian aid. I was there and saw it.”
The video closes with the proclamation, “Don’t boycott God.”
While HaYovel – and the propaganda it produces – may seem fringe, the organization is part of a U.S. Christian Zionist camp that has real clout. The group was founded by a Tennessee couple, and its stated mission is to “take an active role in, and educate people about, the prophetic RESTORATION of the land of Israel that is happening TODAY!”
HaYovel is just one of 40 U.S.-based organizations that, aided by American taxpayers’ subsidies, have together donated over $200 million to ethnically cleanse Palestinians for the construction of illegal settlements.
HaYovel has collaborated with Christians United for Israel, which received a glowing endorsement from the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has teamed up with powerful pro-Israel lobby organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. These alliances continue to grow even though the leaders of Christian Zionism profess profoundly anti-Semitic teachings, including that Jews should be instrumentalized to hasten Armageddon, upon which only Christians will be saved.
As many have pointed out, the political ideology of Christian Zionism is also deeply racist against Palestinians. In a statement released in 2006, heads of Palestinian churches in Jerusalem rejected Christian Zionism as “a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism.”
David Wildman, executive secretary for human rights and racial justice with the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, told AlterNet that the video trivializes and demonizes the BDS movement, which emerged from “over 100 Palestinian organizations from various political views coming together in commitment to human rights and nonviolent moral economic action.” He argued that the short film also “shows the danger of social media linked with young men with guns.”
And Rev. Dr. Don Wagner of Friends of Sabeel – North America, warned that the short film “may provoke laughter or ridicule from astute observers but I urge everyone to recognize the dangerous theology and “Hasbara” (propaganda) motivations behind it.” He emphasized, “The deeper issues are the misuse of the Bible and theology in the messaging of the video that is designed to advance an extreme political agenda.”
Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, Sarah co-edited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.