News flash: the BDS movement does not, in fact, urge supporters to shoot Dannon yogurt containers with rifles.
That, however, is how it’s depicted in a four-minute video titled “BDS or the Bible.” Social media users are already having a field day with the video — Sarah Schulman dubs it “a cross between an after-school special and weird gun porn.”
In it, we find twinky young Wyatt, a rosy-cheeked, all-American teen who gets a text saying “BDS Movement. Check it Out.” Online, he learns that Israel is oppressing the Palestinians and that activists have called for a boycott of Israeli goods. Thus, inspired, the narrator says, “kind-hearted Wyatt decides to act.”
Specifically, Wyatt gathers his Israel-infected electronics and food products, heads out to the woods behind his parent’s farm, and blasts them to bits with his twelve-gauge shotgun. Which, you know, is what one does.
Luckily, Wyatt’s wise older friend drives up to bring him a Big Mac, which Wyatt promptly grabs and blows away because McDonald’s, too, is connected to Israel. Not at all distressed that a teenager is firing a rifle at his Happy Meal, the unnamed friend — let’s call him Elijah — inquires as to his political motivations, and learns of Wyatt’s confused compassion. In a cute malapropism, Wyatt states, “The Palestinians are being depressed by Israel.”
Elijah hatches a pedagogical plan. He places a Bible on the firing line and prepares to blow it, too, to smithereens. “I’m shooting the Bible!” he exclaims. “It was made in Israel.” (Well, Babylonia and the Roman Empire, but whatever.) Aghast, Wyatt stops him.
Finally, Elijah explains, “God made an irrevoke-able covenant with the people and the land of Israel… a lot of it in the, quote, West Bank and Gaza.” And as for the “so-called Palestinian plight,” Elijah mansplains, “most Palestinians are not oppressed. The ones that are, it’s from their own government. Israel provides jobs, healthcare, free electricity and humanitarian aid.”
In conclusion, he says, “It’s a dangerous thing to go boycotting God.”
Indeed it is, which is why the video concludes with the words “Don’t Boycott God” and a URL for a made-in-Israel online store.
Behind the laughable misrepresentation of BDS, the laughable acting and the laughably ham-fisted messaging, of course, lies some pretty sinister politics. The Palestinians are oppressed by their own government, rather than by a military occupation that denies them the rights of free movement and self-determination, and occasionally explodes into “shock-and-awe” bombing campaigns? God made a covenant with the political state of Israel, founded in 1948? Israel’s main relationship to the Palestinians is giving them free stuff?
All of which begs another question: Where did this video come from?
The video is a production of the Israel Video Network, a project of 12 Tribe Films, itself a project of management-consultant-turned-activist-filmmaker Avi Abelow, who also made a film called “Home Game” about the evacuation of Gush Katif.
“BDS or the Bible,” though, has all the cadences, politics and production values of Christian Zionism. Its actors certainly do a convincing imitation of Christians. And like the Jews for Jesus video featuring Christ going to Auschwitz, it seems quite unaware of its own absurdity, preaching only to the converted in a ridiculous misrepresentation of everything it discusses.
Yet while it’s not clear who is funding the nonprofit 12 Tribe Films, there is no apparent financial connection to the Christian Zionist movement. It does, indeed, appear to be the brainchild of the American-born Abelow, and its other films are focused on an array of right-wing Israeli issues.
In a way, then, “BDS or the Bible” is a work of genius. It so successfully parodies the absurdity, ignorance and extreme danger of the Christian Zionist movement that it seems to be a part of it. It’s a very smart impression of very stupid (and terrifying) ideas.
CORRECTION: Although the Israel Video Network posted “BDS or the Bible” on its website, that group did not create the video. The video was produced by HaYovel, a Christian Zionist group based in Tennessee.
This article was written and originally published by Forward on February 3, 2016