PBS postpones debut of ‘Til Kingdom Come’ documentary on evangelicals and Israel
(JTA) — PBS has decided to postpone airing the documentary “Til Kingdom Come,” which examines the close relationship between American evangelicals and Israel, in the light of accusations that the film misleadingly spliced together two separate parts of a speech by former President Donald Trump.
The film, which was directed by the Russian-Israeli documentary filmmaker Maya Zinshtein, was released as a rental for in-home viewing in late February ahead of a planned broadcast premiere on March 29 as part of the “Independent Lens” series on PBS. It garnered significant media coverage, including in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
But the documentary did not air as scheduled on Sunday, and the “Independent Lens” website and Twitter account said the broadcast had been postponed for an “editorial review.”
“PBS takes the issue of editorial integrity very seriously,” PBS told JTA in a statement Tuesday. “After consulting with our producing partners at Independent Lens, we have decided to postpone PBS’s broadcast of ‘Til Kingdom Come’ while an independent review of the film is conducted.”
The review appears to have been triggered by a report, issued March 21, by the pro-Israel watchdog group CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
CAMERA said the documentary contained inaccurate editing of a quote by Trump during a January 2020 appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after releasing his long-awaited Middle East peace plan.
Per CAMERA, the documentary presented the then-president’s quote as stating that “the United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory that my vision provides to be part of the State of Israel, including the West Bank described so vividly in the Bible.”
This is the actual quote by Trump: “The United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory that my vision provides to be part of the State of Israel,” with the reference to “the West Bank described so vividly in the Bible” coming from a different part of the speech. The word “including” also is not part of the original quote.
A CAMERA statement said PBS has notified the watchdog group that the editorial review is in progress, the premiere has been postponed and the Trump quote has been corrected.
Trump’s Middle East peace plan delineated a possible framework for an expanded Israeli state and an official Palestinian state. It gave the Palestinians the majority of the land in the West Bank while allowing Israel to keep the settler-heavy areas it currently occupies and retain security control of the entire West Bank. The Trump administration subsequently pressured Netanyahu against unilaterally annexing the West Bank last year.
“CAMERA commends PBS for taking seriously concerns about the film’s editorial integrity,” the organization said on its website.
PBS has not said how long it plans to take for the editorial review.
“Til Kingdom Come” remains available for rental.