May 21, 2021

‘Hope in the Holy Land’: New film helps Christians understand Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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by Emily Wood

An organization that promotes Christian engagement in the Middle East has produced a new film that aims to show how Christians should respond and understand the complexities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The Philos Project released its “Hope in the Holy Land” film for on-demand viewing last Friday as the militant group Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel and Israel Defense Forces responded with airstrikes of its own, marking the worst outbreak of violence in the region since 2014.

Robert Nicholson, president and founder of The Philos Project, said it is essential that Christians understand the complexity of the conflict.

In the film, American Christian Todd Morehead travels to the Holy Land to gain a deeper understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is “one of the most contested conflicts in the world” and involves Jews, Muslims and Christians. Morehead discovered the struggles of Jews, Muslims and Christians on both sides of the conflict.

The film, which is an official selection of the 2020 Justice Film Festival, dives into Israel’s spiritual and geopolitical issues and the reasons conflict persists today from multiple perspectives.

Nicholson hosted a journalists’ briefing on the day of the film’s release to discuss the factors causing the violence toward Israel and how Christians should respond.

The most important thing Christians can do for Israel is to pray for peace and for those impacted, Nicholson said.

Christians should also engage in “models of careful and compassionate speech” when discussing the conflict, especially on social media.

“There are ways that Christians should speak in moments of conflict that are geared toward mitigation rather than the aggravation of violence,” Nicholson stressed. “I think Christians should be diligent … to read carefully to look more deeply, and more importantly to seek some context to get a sense of what’s really happening, not the perception, but the reality as much as possible.”

He warned that Christians should “display a phenomenal amount of discernment” by “helping people gain clarity, not conflating things or putting large slogans or using vague generalities about these sides.”

“But really sort of discerning what is true and speaking in public accordingly,” he continued.

Since Christianity derives from Judaism, the two religions share a unique relationship, which should be “recognized and fostered,” he said.

Christians should stand with Israelis, and “at the same time we need to stand with the Palestinians.”

“I can name many of them, who do seek peace and pluralism with their Jewish neighbors,” Nicholson assured.

Christians must learn to discern truth from the media and look more deeply into the issue, he said.

“There are, to my great dismay, a lot of unhelpful voices in the media more often than not,” he stressed.

He said some people who don’t know anything about the conflict or have never been to the region and “don’t really know anything about what’s happening” “feel called to make allegations of genocide or apartheid or ethnic cleansing against Israel that are really just completely divorced from reality.”

“In fact, [they] exacerbate the conflict in an irresponsible way,” Nicholson added.

The newly released feature-length film offers a perspective “rarely seen in the media” and “a challenge to a man’s heart to love his enemy.”

The film has a goal for viewers to gain a heart for both Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land, learn the history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, discern the truth from propaganda and stand with people who are taking risks for peace.

“It gives a lot of color to what is really a black and white picture” and answers the question of how to turn “goodwill into action,” Nicholson said.

Messianic Jewish radio host Michael Brown, author of Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the “Church” and the Jewish People, praised the film.

“[It] is far and away the best documentary I have seen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Brown said. “It is compelling, it is moving, it is fair-minded, it is accurate, and it is beautiful. Above all, it is filled with hope, hope for a better future for all who dwell in the Promised Land.”


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