May 21, 2021

‘Hope in the Holy Land’ encourages godly love for Palestinians and Jews

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by Diana Chandler

Jewish Israeli Neta Hanien has forged a business partnership with Arab Israeli Ahmad Juha in Jisr, the only exclusively Arab town in Israel proper. Enemies of one or the other reside in nearby towns in Israel and Palestine.

“What does it matter if she is Jewish, Christian, French or anything else?” Ahmad says of Neta. “At the end of the day we are all humans.”

The two are featured in the new documentary “Hope in the Holy Land,” a nearly five-year labor of creators and producers Todd Morehead and Justin Kron. Premiering May 14 on the 73rd anniversary of 1948 Israeli-Palestinian war, the documentary aims to present a balanced account of the complicated relationship between the two countries and to promote godly love and understanding among all groups represented.

“If people could put what they’ve been taught aside and see people for who they are, there could be amazing partnerships,” Morehead told Baptist Press. “There could be friendships, good neighbors.”

Morehead, a member of the nondenominational Shoreline Church in San Clemente, Calif., leads tours to the Holy Land. The avid surfer directed and co-produced the 2012 documentary “Promised Land: Israel Through the Eyes of Surfers.”

Kron works to improve relationships between Christians and Jewish people through outreaches, including his Chicago-based Kesher Forum and eXperience Israel, a spiritual pilgrimage program for Christian young adults.

“Hope in the Holy Land” includes footage from three trips the two took to the Holy Land to interview Muslims, Christians and Jews of all ages on the streets, encountering stories of culturally entrenched hate, theological dissension and newfound love. The movie includes a brief history of the groups of people.

Morehead describes himself as a Christian Zionist who believes Israel’s return to the Holy Land is sanctioned by God, but completed the project with a new heart with room for the Palestinians.

“There was a time when I viewed the Palestinians as my enemy getting in the way of God’s plan for Israel,” he said in the documentary. “Now that I’ve seen life through their eyes, God has changed my heart towards them. I now see the West Bank as a beautiful place with beautiful people and a strong connection to the land.

“…Both good and evil have been carried out in the name of Zionism. As an American, I can acknowledge that parts of my country’s founding are very dark. But ultimately my country became a light to all the nations of the world.”

Morehead surmises that the majority of Palestinian Christians support a “replacement theology, which would mean that there are no future promises to the nation of Israel and that those promises have all been given to the church. That’s a dominant view in the Palestinian Christian society, by far.”

Morehead would like to see his Palestinian brothers in Christ gain “God’s heart for the Jewish people and see the roots of their faith in the Jewish people, because historically they haven’t. … They don’t even see a future restoration of the Jewish people.”

For those Christians “who do not yet have God’s heart for the Jewish people” Morehead hopes the documentary challenges them to see beyond the polarization inherent in the conflict. “Those Christians who are more pro-Palestinian … who tend to not have God’s heart for the Jewish people and Israel, I would like them to gain that.”

For Christians who already have a heart for the Jewish people, Morehead hopes the documentary instills a godly love for the Palestinians.

A diverse group of leaders have endorsed the documentary, including Southern Baptists Greg Laurie and Johnnie Moore.

The documentary “does not attempt to resolve the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it does seek to shed some helpful perspective and provide compassionate understanding on how it affects everyone living in the Holy Land,” Laurie, pastor of the multisite Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., said in his endorsement. “This film is thought-provoking, sometimes heart-breaking, and ultimately hopeful.”

Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and founder of the KAIROS Company, called the documentary artful, clear and unbiased.

“Finally, someone has just allowed the Palestinians and Israelis to speak for themselves,” Moore said. “Then, you can draw your own conclusions.”

The documentary was produced in cooperation with The Philos Project, which promotes positive Christian engagement in the Middle East with a vision of pluralism, and the Jerusalem Institute of Justice advocating for people in Israel and its adjacent territories.

Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and former president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, sits on The Philos Project’s Board of Directors.

The film won the audience award at the 2021 San Diego International Jewish Film Festival, and was an official selection of the 2020 International Christian Visual Media Crown Awards and the 2020 Justice Film Festival. The film will be available On Demand and On Blu-Ray at costs ranging from $12.99 to $24.99.


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