Dear Mr. Nelson:
We were greatly troubled by the first installment of the three-part examination of religious extremism, CNN Presents: God's Warriors.
In the program on Jewish extremists, we were astonished by the inclusion of a discussion on American Jewish advocacy for Israel. 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. 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.
Moreover, the issue of settlements is a complex one. 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 – as correctly documented in your program.
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.
Second, we were surprised to see a discussion of Israel's security barrier in the piece. It, too, made no sense in an examination of Jewish extremism.
While both of these subjects would have been legitimate topics in a documentary of current issues 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.
Abraham H. Foxman