Sunday, August 26, 2007

God's War Machine

Christiane Amanpour's special documentary mini-series, "God's Warriors", which aired on CNN this week, was an interesting series. Each episode focused on the fanatics of a different religion - Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Here's my take on the series, episode by episode.

God's Jewish Warriors
To Israelis who have watched Chaim Yavin's documentary series "The Land of the Settlers", most of the information in this episode was not new. Yavin's series exposed the settler's violent and expansionist tactics.

Amanpour seemed to be giving a history lesson on the Middle Eastern conflict which at first I thought was too much. But now that I think of it, Israel is the only place where this form of militaristic Jewish fanaticism exists. Unlike Christian and Muslim fundamentalists who would like to create theocracies world-wide, Jewish fundies only want to establish one here in the Holy Land, so I guess it is natural for a show about the modern day's God's Jewish Warriors to focus on Israel.

I found the most interesting part of the episode to be the fundraisers in the United States. I know about the Evangelical support Israel gets, but I never realized how much money from American Jews and Christians is going into the settlements. It is scary.

The main problem with this episode was that Amanpour implied that Zionism equals support for settlements. It is also too bad she didn't show more of the opposition to the settlers, like she showed protesters against Christian fundies in the US.

God's Muslim Warriors
This was the least informative episode. Though the interviews were interesting, most of it has already been said before, including in Amanpour's previous special report about Muslim extremists in the UK. The most interesting part was when I finally understood who the hell the hidden Imam is and what he means to Shiites.

I was surprised Amanpour didn't report about the state of affairs in Saudi Arabia. The reports from Iran were interesting, but hearing about the even more repressive Saudi Arabia would be interesting. Maybe as a woman the Saudis would not allow Amanpour to come in and report.

God's Christian Warriors
Amanpour did the right thing when she avoided "Jesus Camp"-style mega churches as much as possible, since that aspect of the rise of Evangelicals has been told many times. The interview with Jerry Falwell and the tour of his Liberty University were interesting, but they pale in comparison with the most interesting segments. These were the reports about varying degrees of resistance to the mainstream fundies.

First of all, there was the Rev. Greg Boyd, who opposes using Jesus to bolster conservative politicians and political goals. Then there was Richard Cizik, a man who agrees with the Evangelicals on basically everything except for environmental issues, which is enough for other fundies to call for his resignation.

One of the most interesting segments was when the leader of Battlecry, Ron Luce, faces a protest against him in San Francisco. Luce claims he was surprised by the anger. Is he just pretending? I don't think he is. He really doesn't understand what's wrong with his fundamentalist values.

One part I didn't like about this episode was the return to an issue already covered in the first episode - the Evangelical support of Israel. But as long as Amanpour was already interviewing Pastor John Hagee, she should have asked him whether he would continue to support Israel if it made a peace deal with the Palestinians which created a Palestinian state. He probably would not, since that would delay the Second Coming in his warped mind. Instead she said that in Hagee's mind, Israel could do no wrong.

All in all, it was an interesting series, though far from perfect. Christiane Amanpour said in an interview for Israel's Channel 2 that she feels connected to all three religions she investigated, since she has a Christian mother, Muslim father and Jewish husband. I'd like to see a fourth installment, one about the extremists of other religions. Sure, they don't affect our lives as much as the monotheistic fundamentalists, but it is still interesting.


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  2. Hello,

    "Yavin's series exposed the settler's violent and expansionist tactics."

    Well, I didn't see that one but I don't believe the settlers to be particularly violent (there is some violence, of course, but not that much). They rather deploy a different tactic: create a few facts on the ground and then get others to support you. By doing so they create a fait accompli and present the Israeli government with a serious dilemma.

    I would rather than brand them violent consider them to be hypocritical on two levels:

    1. They flaunt the laws of the State of Israel (but not completely either, as there seems to be some state complicity, at least in some cases), then expect protection from the IDF.
    2. The concept of the land of Biblical Israel seems more important to them (at least to the deeply religious ones) than the State of Israel, yet they rely on the latter for checkpoints, connecting roads etc.

    "The main problem with this episode was that Amanpour implied that Zionism equals support for settlements."

    I believe that's not really true. Only the usual suspects will equate Zionism with support for settlers. There were plenty of Zionists on display that oppose the settlement movement.

    I haven't seen Part 2 and 3 yet.