The stereotypical character of Walk on Water (Israel, 2004) has represented a severe obstacle for many viewers, who have been quick to denounce it as both trite and superficial. This article argues instead that the film’s clearly intentional and self-conscious recycling of numerous clichés concerning Germans and Israelis alike points to its deeper meaning and purpose. In particular, it shows that these clichés constitute the essential infrastructure with which the film engages and attempts to resolve the problematic German–Israeli, and by extension Christian–Jewish, relationship in the aftermath of the Holocaust. It further suggests that the film offers its own “final solution” to this vexed relationship—a “messianic” deliverance from the respective traumas of each party—in the form of an allegorical synthesis of Jewish and Christian theology, directly reflected in the contrasts and evolving relationship between its two primary characters. Itself highly stereotypical, the theology upon which the film draws facilitates its critique of German and especially Israeli attitudes toward power and violence.
Israel and the Jewish people play a central role in the millennial thought of evangelical Christians. Drawing on older Christian messianic elements, as well as introducing new concepts, evangelicals have looked upon the Jews as historical Israel and at Palestine as ground zero of End-Times millennial events. Beginning in the nineteenth century, evangelicals have become actively involved in attempts to build a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. They have looked upon the building of a Jewish state as a “sign of the time,“ an indication that the current era is ending and the messianic events are about to occur. Especially in the aftermath of the 1967 war, evangelicals have become ardent supporters of Israel, turning in effect into a pro-Israel lobby in Washington and, at times, in other capitals too. Although evangelical Christians are engaged in extensive missionary work among Jews, an unprecedented cooperation has developed between groups of evangelicals and Orthodox-nationalist Jews. Among the mutual projects is the attempt to build the Temple in Jerusalem in preparation for the events preceding the arrival of the Messiah to earth.
This article deals with Modern Hebrew writers’ attempt to present Jesus as part of the national project of Zionism. It argues that Jesus functions in these works in different and sometimes opposite ways and that the Zionist project was eager to distinguish itself from the world of traditional Judaism by embracing its ultimate Other. In this sense, the reclamation of Jesus by Zionist writers can be understood as an attempt to mark the boundaries of the new Jewish self vis-à-vis traditional Judaism. But Jesus’s Otherness functioned as more than that––it provided a kind of mirror that reflected to Zionist writers their own communal identities. In order to find themselves in this mirror, they had to distinguish between the Jesus of Christianity and the historical, “authentic” Jewish Jesus.