Jerusalem: Center of the World

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Jerusalem: Center of the World
It is hard to imagine how a two hour documentary could ever be considered a brief summary of anything, but Jerusalem: Center of the World can be called exactly that. This PBS documentary is an overview of Jerusalem’s four-thousand year history of religious fanaticism, disproportionate bloodshed, and tentative peace agreements.

The documentary also points out that over the centuries, countless religious followers have flocked to this city in search of God, the ultimate beacon of peace. Today, tourists and pilgrims still visit Jerusalem, hoping to feel the presence of God in the centuries-old temples, churches, and mosques that populate the skyline of this religiously diverse city. Jerusalem begins with the journey of Abraham from his homeland of Ur (modern-day Iraq) to the Holy Land of Canaan (modern-day Israel), and it ends in the modern era, highlighting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It recounts the stories of Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad and explains how their descendent followers have revered and laid claim to the Holy Land. The documentary is evenhanded, acknowledging that the inhabitants of Jerusalem have not always coexisted peacefully. The diplomatic Muslim capture of the city in 638 C.E., the Roman Catholic Church’s First Crusade of the eleventh century, and Saladin’s twelfth century victory are all discussed, and Suarez notes that on the whole, Muslims treated the Jews of Jerusalem much more humanely than Christians did.

They give a historically compelling account of the pilgrims and inhabitants of Jerusalem with visuals that only a documentary filmed on location can provide. Among the many beautiful locations visited are underground tunnels (hewn by hand tools over 2,500 years ago) that provided fresh water to Jerusalem’s inhabitants. Under Christian rule, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built to mark Golgotha (where Jesus was crucified) and the place of his burial and ascension. Golgotha also became...
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