“’Til Kingdom Come,” the new documentary by Maya Zinshtein, probes the entanglements of politics and prophecy that bind two strange bedfellows: American evangelical Christians and Israeli Jews.
The film follows Yael Eckstein, the president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and the Kentucky pastors William Bingham III and his son Boyd Bingham IV. The hefty donations that the Binghams’ church makes to Eckstein’s organization — which is advertised through sentimental videos of older Israelis receiving care packages — belies a curious logic: Many Evangelicals believe that the return of Jews to Israel portends Armageddon, leading Christians to the rapture and Jews to hell.
Why would Israelis want to court such views? Talking-head interviews with politicians and commentators point to geopolitical opportunism. In recent years, as evangelicals gained a powerful platform under President Trump, Israel’s settler community — which seeks to normalize the occupation of Palestine — sought their support, successfully campaigning for the U.S. embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Zinshtein’s patient, observant approach catches her subjects in moments of damning irony: Eckstein smiles awkwardly whenever the End Times are mentioned by her evangelical allies; the Binghams encourage their poverty-stricken congregation to send their spare change to the Holy Land. When a pastor in Bethlehem explains to Bingham IV that his donations support a theocracy that makes Palestinian Christians second-class citizens, Bingham simply insists that it’s all part of God’s plan.
Zinshtein’s own Jewish identity brings this doublespeak to a head. In the film’s striking ending, Bingham IV tries to proselytize to the director and her crew during a sermon. He “wants to get them saved right now,” he says. His seeming good will cannot disguise his troubling convictions.
’Til Kingdom Come
Not Rated. In Hebrew, Arabic and English, with subtitles. Running time: Running time: 1 hour 16 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.