Wednesday, August 22, 2007

God's Warriors

10:23 AM Posted by: M., 0 comments

I watched the first episode of God's Warriors last night on CNN. Here is my quick review of it...

So last night I watched the first installment of "God's Warrors," a three-part miniseries on CNN created by Christiane Amanpour. If you haven't heard of it, the series profiles three of the world's major religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity). She examines the root of the religion, major contentious issues concerning that religion, and how these issues manifest themselves in the daily lives of more militant/hardcore followers. Each religion is given a 2-hour block on three consecutive nights.

I saw a preview for this series in early Summer and have been looking forward to it ever since. What really sucked me in initially was the cool music they had playing behind the ad! It is this lower pitch, eerie but powerful brief thing, but I really liked it.

Well enough of the music. Last night I watched the special on Judaism. Please keep in mind that I drank like 3 beers as I watched, so the end might be a little foggy.

The special was really well done in my opinion. There was great footage from the Holy Land, they interviewed a lot of people, including Jimmy Carter, this crazy Jewish power couple from New York, and I think Ariel Sharon--wait, is he dead? just kidding--it was a good series, BUT, I would only watch it on TV, I would not buy this. The reason I say that, is that this is not a quintissential documentary on the subject. IN my opinion, this was a good general introduction to the faith and extremism, but it did not dig as deep as I would have liked. In that, I still think it is good to watch. It put faces with the Israel/Palestine conflict, and it didn't seem to paint Jews as necessarily good or bad--which is not easy for many reporters to do. I do think it did a good job of highlighting the issue, introducing us to who is behind it, and discussing major events in the Jew/Palestinian history.

Here are some highlights: I am being vague here because either you know more than me, or you will watch this series and get the details yourself

-There was a basic outline of the issues surrounding the West Bank and Gaza, why the Jews want to be there, and why the Muslims want to be there as well--it did a pretty good job of making it more clear as to why the Jews and Muslims value the same sites

-There was an interview with a devote Jew who led the initial settlement efforts, and another non-religious Jew who lives in Israel but doesn't really give a shit

-A lot of the beginning was about the history of the settlements--how Jews came onto the land saying they were only staying temporarily, and then they stayed perm. --I think this provided a nice groundwork to understanding why the settlements are such a divisive issue.

-Then they profiled this Jewish power couple in New York who raise millions of dollars to reclaim Jerusalem--they seemed kind of crazy

-They also went into the jewish lobby in the US which I found very interesting. They talked about AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) which a lot of my college classmates worshipped (they were mostly from New Jersey) and how the US doesn't really want to be supporting Israel in all the ways it does (US gives roughly $3B to Israel annually?) but it is the Jewish lobbies that get Congress to vote for this stuff

-An interesting part examined partnerships between Jews and Christians to preserve Israel. It was kind of funny because the Christians were like trying to say they support the Jews and Israel--but also that the Jews are probably going to Hell. It wasn't that black-and-white, but it was pretty much what they were saying...

-there was more I am forgetting

But yeah, this was a nice thing to watch and well put together, but if I wanted to dig deeper, I probably would rent like 6 different Frontline documentaries or something rather than just watch this one episode. As sad as it is, I actually think it did miss the connection between religion and extremism at the core. The documentary showed that there are extremists, and why they are extreme--but I think they could have done a better job showing how the issues connected with the Torah, or Judaism more closely. It was definitely there, but in my opinion, I thought they could have spent more time and detail on that--which oddly enough seemed to be the core of the entire program.

In all, I liked it and I recommend it; however, I would have preferred this documentary portion on Judaism to be about 4 hours long with input from Tom Friedman and other people who write a lot about this topic, more from Jimmy Carter, and others. Oh- and I wish Larry David was on it also haha just kidding.

With that said, I am still really looking forward to the next two segments on Islam and Christianity.


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