Program On 'God's Jewish Warriors' Left Viewers Misinformed, ADL Tells CNN
New York, NY, August 27, 2007 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was deeply troubled by various aspects of a CNN special on Jewish religious extremists – most notably the inclusion of a discussion on American Jewish advocacy for Israel, which it said "had no place in a discussion of religious fundamentalism."
In a letter to Mark Nelson, Vice President and Senior Executive Producer at CNN Productions, ADL said the first installment of "God's Warriors" – which dealt with Jewish religious extremism -- made "a huge and unfounded leap" from legitimate pro-Israel advocacy in the United States to what was portrayed as nefarious support for Jewish extremists.
"In the program on Jewish extremists, we were astonished by the inclusion of a discussion on American Jewish advocacy for Israel," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in the letter to CNN. "This segment had no place in this piece, and indeed left viewers with the erroneous impression that American Jewish advocacy in support of Israel is the same as support for settlements or for extremist Jewish ideology."
ADL also voiced concern over the inclusion of a discussion about Israel's security barrier in the program, which first aired August 21.
"While these subjects would have been legitimate topics in a documentary of current events in Israel-U.S. relations, neither the U.S. pro-Israel community, nor Israel's security barrier has any relevance when connected to a discussion of religious fundamentalism," said Mr. Foxman.
ADL's specific concerns with the program "God's Jewish Warriors" include:
• Israel Advocacy: The program made a huge and unfounded leap from legitimate pro-Israel advocacy in the U.S. to nefarious support for Jewish extremists. In reality, American Jewish advocates for Israel have a variety of policies and opinions on settlements. All, however, are united in their support for strong U.S.-Israel ties and of U.S. support for Israel, which is the basic message of their advocacy efforts.
• Settlements: The issue of settlements complex. Within the Israeli political system, supporters of settlements are motivated by a variety of factors. There are many, to be sure, who believe that settling the West Bank is carrying out God's vision. However, there are others for whom religion plays no role. These supporters strongly believe that settlements are important on security grounds – a position former prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon held. Neither U.S. policy nor Israeli government policy on settlements is based on religious considerations, nor can such policy ever be construed as reflecting extremist religious ideology.
• Security Barrier: A discussion of Israel's security barrier made no sense in an examination of Jewish extremism. The West Bank security barrier has no relevance when connected to a discussion of religious fundamentalism.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.