Episode 1 of Christiane Amanpour's God's Warriors appeared last night on CNN. This is a six hour, three night event, which highlights militancy in Judaism (last night), Islam (tonight), and Christianity (tomorrow).
Last night's episode focusing on Judaism, and more specifically the Settlement movement, was enlightening. Although I had heard and seen aspects of this story, Amanpour did a great job of showing the whole story. What we learn is that the settlement movement has had tacit support from within the Israeli government, that it continues unabated despite official US opposition (but opposition that is muted by political pressure placed on Congress), and that is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We hear from settlers, some who have engaged in violence, others who have been victims of violence. We learn how the law is circumvented -- both Israeli and international. We learn that from the beginning there have been people within the Israeli government -- for instance Theodore Meron -- who have determined that the settlements contravene the 4th Geneva Convention. But that ruling/analysis has been ignored.
Others who contribute to the conversation include Jimmy Carter, who has been unfairly vilified for his perspective and Gershom Gorenberg, the author of the Accidental Empire (Times Books, 2006). Gorenberg makes important contributions to this conversation and helps understand the complexity of the issues at hand.
There is also a somewhat frightening conversation with Christian Zionists, whose support for the Settlements and a complete takeover of the region by Israel is dangerously provocative. The pastor of the Assemblies of God church in Tampa (I believe) sees Islam as pagan and Satanic.
Tonight, as a I said, is Islam. For most Americans, Islam is seen as militant, so we're not surprised that it's included, but we don't like thinking of ourselves (Christians) as militants or of Jews as militants -- and yet all of us have distinct minorities who are of this persuasion.
I hope to see the rest, but if part 1 is any indication this is worth seeing.