The always-offensive evangelistic group, Jews for Jesus, released the above video just in time for Easter last week. It is, quite honestly, one of the most blatantly offensive and disgusting pieces of Christian propaganda that I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’m not going to link to it, because I don’t want you to watch it, and I don’t want them to receive any more permanent inbound links.
The video is called “That Jew Died for You.” It’s a cheaply produced piece of crap, in which “Jews” are pushed around by Nazi soldiers and sorted between the work camp and the showers. The, the only colorized character comes to the front of the line. It’s Jesus! And he is sent to the gas chambers. After that, the Suffering Servant text rolls across the screen and some images of Marc Chagall paintings of the crucifixion are shown. Get it? Since Chagall was a brilliant Jewish painter who used a Christian image in his work, Christians can take the Holocaust and use it for evangelism!
The accompanying website attempts to justify the video by stating that Jesus has often been associated with the perpetrators of the Holocaust (which is negligibly true), when in fact Jesus would have been a victim of the Holocaust had he lived in Europe during WWII. It then equates the Jewish understanding of martyrdom (kedoshim) with Jesus’ execution.
This is, on any reading, a tortured distortion of both history and theology. But that’s not even what concerns me. What is truly over the line about this video is that it takes the single most grievous act in modern Jewish history and using it as a tool to convert modern Jews to another religion.
How offensive is it? It’s like this: Let’s imagine that you’re an investment banker, and you think that investment bankers have been unfairly scapegoated in the Great Recession. So you make a video. In the video, you show an investment banker at Cantor Fitzgerald from behind as he looks out the window of the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He sees a plane approaching the building. Just before the plane hits the building, you cut to a statement saying that investment bankers are good people, too.
What you’ve done is taken an event both terrible and tragic and used it for your own purposes. Were someone to produce a video like this, it would be roundly condemned by everyone but the most freakish outliers.
While evangelical news outlets say that this video will “offend some, bring hope to others,” let me be among the voices to condemn this video and the tactics behind it. The Shoah is the most terrible and tragic of the many offenses against Jews by non-Jews, and the last thing it should be leveraged for is Christian evangelism. I do hope that many Christians will join me in condemning this video.