A short movie clip created by a Jews for Jesus group depicting Jesus as a victim of the Holocaust drew a sharp response from the Anti-Defamation League, which called the production a “new low.”
The film, titled “That Jew Died For You,” was posted on YouTube at the beginning of April and three weeks later had been viewed by over a million people.
Its makers clarified that the clip is aimed at changing and improving Jewish perceptions of Jesus.
In the black-and-white video, a group of Jews is seen arriving at the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where over a million Jews were killed during the Holocaust in World War II. Nazi guards begin a “selection” process in which those sent to the right must work in the camp and those sent to the left are destined to die in the gas chambers. A biblical-looking figure, seen only from behind, but carrying a large wooden cross, faces the Nazi overseers who cheerfully send the man to the left, and his death.
In statement on Wednesday the ADL blasted the video as unethical.
“The Jews for Jesus video is a cynical abuse of the Holocaust for purposes of proselytizing,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, who is himself Holocaust survivor. “It is deeply offensive not only to Jews who lost family members in the Holocaust, but also to Christians who would not want to see images of Jesus used for propaganda or shock value.”
On a website promoting the video its producers explained their motive was to show that Christians were not behind the Holocaust.
“Jesus has often been wrongly associated with the perpetrators of the Holocaust,” the website explained. “In reality, he is to be identified with those who were the victims. As a Jew, if he were in Europe at the time, Jesus may well have suffered the same fate of the six million who perished in the concentration camps.”
Foxman decried the ploy as demeaning the catastrophic events in Europe during World War II.
“Jews for Jesus has taken their abuse of Holocaust imagery to a new low,” he wrote. “This is an outrageous cheapening of the tragedy of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust for the purpose of gaining attention to the Jews for Jesus missionary cause.”
According to the ADL, it is not the first time a Christian group hoping to attract Jews has used the Holocaust in a campaign. In 2001 an advertisement in national publications such as Newsweek, Time and Rolling Stone used images of people identified as Holocaust survivors who claimed to be believing Christians.