NASHVILLE — In an increasingly divided society, a powerful new documentary highlighting the increase in violent anti-Semitism worldwide shows audiences why “loving thy neighbor” is key to bringing peace on earth.
“We often use the word ‘tolerance’ instead of ‘love’ today, but tolerance has limitations. Love is universal,” producer Rick Eldridge told The Christian Post during an interview about the film, "Never Again."
“Jesus didn't say, ‘Tolerate your enemies.’ He said, ‘Love your enemies.’ Love, and not hate, is the only way we can move forward as a society.”
Eldridge, along with Christians United for Israel, the nation’s largest pro-Israel organization, is behind “Never Again,” which hit theaters on Oct. 15. With strong demand for its first showing, the producers have scheduled an Oct. 19 encore performance.
The documentary features the compelling stories of a Holocaust survivor and a formerly radicalized anti-Semite who formed an unlikely friendship after the latter denounced his extremist ideologies. It also features insights from ambassadors from multiple countries and world leaders about the horrors of anti-Semitism.
The goal of the film, Eldridge told CP, is to bring awareness to rising anti-Semitism and how each individual has the power to say, “For Zion’s sake, we will not rest or be silent. Never Again!”
“We want to educate audiences,” Eldridge said, adding that a recent Pew Research survey showed that 45% of Americans did not know 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.
“There’s such a lack of education about this issue. We’re dealing with hard questions in this film through the course of telling these stories in parallel with one another. As we see these stories evolve, we witness the transformative power of love. We see redemption is possible. We see a terrorist have a change of heart.”
Though 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the title of the film, “Never Again,” is a sobering reminder that violence, anti-Semitism and bigotry in all of its forms will be an ongoing battle until Christ's return.
“There’s a reason we included a question mark (in the film's title); we’re saying, ‘Could this happen again? And the reality is: yes, it can,” he warned. “Maybe in different ways than a concentration camp. But it's happening on the streets of Brooklyn, it's happening in different places and around our world. It hasn't just gone away," the producer stressed.
Eldridge, who was also behind the "Four Blood Moons" docu-drama in 2015, said that hate begins with “indoctrination.”
“As little kids, we learn the phrase ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me,’” he said. “The problem is, that’s not true. Words become actions and then actions become philosophies and ways of life. Before long, we just have this built into us. We've seen it in our culture throughout history."
“I think if we stop and look and listen and really begin to evaluate why we feel a certain way, maybe it'll affect some change. Maybe we realize someone probably told us we needed to hate that person.”
Eldridge stressed that Christians, in particular, are called to support their Jewish brothers and sisters and educate themselves about the reality of anti-Semitism.
“We're taught to love and honor all life,” he stressed. “But according to Scripture, we’re called to bless and support Israel and the Jewish people, which are God's chosen. As Christians, we need to love all people. We need to understand that anti-Semitism is saying that the Jewish people don’t have a place, they don’t have a home, they’re not deserving of that.”
‘When we look at that across any culture, especially in our Jewish heritage, there needs to be an understanding of love and care.”
Eldridge added that anti-Semitism has been on the rise around the world, with the last few years witnessing a surge in anti-Semitic assaults in synagogues and on college campuses. Through “Never Again,” he hopes to be a part of enacting true change.
“The topic of this documentary is unfortunately extremely relevant today,” he told CP. “Our hope is it will educate people, that it will help them understand the heart of this matter. We hope people will leave with a better understanding of anti-Semitism, and maybe with a better personal place of, 'What can I do to make a difference?’”
“Never Again” is scheduled to show at 800 theaters nationwide on Oct. 19.