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60 Minutes criticized over Christians leaving Israel video

April 27, 2012

“60 Minutes” Targets Israel and Ignores Real Persecution of Christians in the Middle East Says IRD
By Institute on Religion & Democracy

In a segment entitled “Christians in the Holy Land,” that aired on Sunday, April 22, CBS’s “60 Minutes” focused on the plight of Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Correspondent Bob Simon declared that the “exodus of Christians from the Holy Land,” could eventually leave it “without a Christian population.” Although facts show that the oppression, persecution, and killing of these Christians for their faith is part of the pattern of persecution experienced by Christians elsewhere in the Islamic world, “60 Minutes” ignored Islamic violence against Christians and laid blame for the Christian migration squarely at the feet of Israel, the only country in the Middle East where Christians actually have religious freedom.

Simon’s biased interviewees testified to the pain of living under Israeli occupation and struggling with the inconvenience of Israel’s security wall/fence. Although admitting that terrorism has gone down 90 percent since the building of the security fence, Simon said that “the wall completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the ‘little town’ where Christ was born into what its residents call ‘an open air prison.’” However, a map of Israel and the West Bank shows that the wall is on one side of Bethlehem only.

Simon also interviewed Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Responding to the condemnation of the security fence that Israel regrets “any inconvenience caused by the security precautions,” Oren reminded Simon that what is a matter of inconvenience for the Palestinians is “survival” for the Israelis. Oren said that inside Israel, in Christian towns like Nazareth, Arabs are Israeli citizens and are thriving. It is in the West Bank, “as in elsewhere in the Middle East, Christian communities are living under duress,” Oren said. He explained to a skeptical Simon that the duress is coming from Muslims, not from the Israel occupation. But when Simon asked the opinion of a group of Palestinian interviewees on this matter, Palestinian businessman Zahi Khoury exclaimed that out of the 12,000 customers of his West Bank Coca-Cola franchise, he had “never heard” of anyone leaving because of Islamic persecution.

At the end of the story, Simon confronted Oren, concerned that the “60 Minutes” story would be a “hatchet job” on Israel, about contacting officials at CBS. “60 Minutes” closed the story stressing that the migration of Christians from the region is no longer a religious question, but a matter of politics.

IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith McDonnell commented:

“Throughout the “60 Minutes” report, the statements of Palestinians are accepted without question, while the words of Israel’s Ambassador to the United States are challenged and brought back to a panel of Palestinians for their rebuttal and derision.”

“Does CBS not realize that Palestinian Christians have a gun to their heads? If they blame Israel, they stay off the radar screen of Hamas and other Palestinian extremists. If they criticize the Islamic authorities, they run the very high risk of being labeled a “collaborator” with Israel and becoming the victim of the horrible atrocities reserved for those who are considered traitors to the Arab Islamists.”

“The story reveals far more about how the mainstream media’s Israel obsession causes it to ignore the real war on Christians throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world than it reveals about the reality of life for Arab Christians in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

“Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali also reported recently on the plight of Christians. But in her Newsweek cover story, “The War on Christians,” Hirsi Ali describes the “rise of Christophobia,” and says, “from one end of the Muslim world to the other, Christians are being murdered for their faith. “60 Minutes” wasted an opportunity to reveal this real persecution of Christians in the Middle East in favor of attacking the mainstream media’s favorite scapegoat.”

The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church’s biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.

  
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Discuss this article

Brent April 27, 2012

Israel has a major public relations problem.

Bob Simon as a Jewish American and former resident of Israel, along with thousands of well-informed American Jews consider current Israeli policy as unjust and are not afraid to come out and expose what they consider Israeli injustice.

Another Jewish American Peter Beinart, has written a book recently called “The Crisis of Zionism” in which he expresses his opinion that Israel has no future if the current Israel policies toward Christian and Muslim Palestinians is not changed.

Peter Beinart also describes young American Jews as a generation that cares little about Israel and cares even less about Judaism.

The day may come when only a portion of American Christians support what we have become to know as Zionism.

gazalla April 27, 2012

Hi there!

I am a Palestinian Christian from the west bank town of Zababdeh which is a christian town of 80% christian and 20% muslim. I have NEVER been harrassed by any muslim, because we are all Palestinian of one nationality, with one language and culture. However, I am always interrogated by the Israeli Security forces because I am Palestinian and as a Christian as well, even though I am an American. 60 minutes is a true exact reflection of the conditions of christians and all palestinian, BECAUSE THERE IS AN OCCUPATION. Israel tries to blame the problem on “ISLAM” and “HAMAS”, but it’s just a way to justify the occupation, folks! Please do not distort the facts here. Simply ask a Christian Palestinian what they think. The Palestinian businessman says the truth. There is no pressure from the Muslim side, it is the israel security who control the land, water resources, and entry and exit points into the west bank. I , and all my relatives get detained and interrogated for hours on hours. It is a way to say to us, palestinian (whether christian or muslim), don’t come back, you are not welcome here. They don’t welcome you, they only welcome the tourists from the western world, because as 60 minutes mentioned, Israel thrives on tourism.

My hope, as a christian, is to help stop the occupation, stop making things unbearable for muslims and christians, and live in peace side by side. But Oren mentions that protecting the Israelis are definitely more important for their survival and that is less important than protecting the Palestinians themselves whom they see as a “threat” so that is the problem. The wall has surrounded the bethlehem area, and it is a “ghost town” folks! I have been there.. the streets are EMPTY… a lot of christians are leaving because of no jobs!

I hope my answer helps you see the other side of things.

Thanks again for allowing me to comment!

Bobz April 28, 2012

the issue here is colonization… there is about 11 millions Palestinians today… about 6 million do not live in Palestine… this is because of zionism and their colonization of our land plus the ethnic cleansing of Palestine….

PJW5552 April 28, 2012

The problem is “perspective” and the ability to see either what you wish to believe (blind faith) or to see the truth. There is absolutely no reason Jewish and Palestinians cannot live together in peace, other than decisions by the most powerful they will not. Look no further than the building in occupied territories to see the reason for this. If there was “peace” how would the continued building be justified? Unless there is a continued perceived threat, how would the military state of Israel be excused?

Let us be honest, Israel has not been invaded by outsiders for nearly 40 years (last time was 1973), but Israel has invaded others in the region multiple times in the last 30 years — Lebanon twice, Gaza several times and it continues to maintain all control over the land it covets the most “the West Bank” for nearly 40 years. It now seeks to expand its list of enemies with efforts to justify bombing Iran.

I think we are missing the point. Israel does what it wishes because it continues to be protected in doing this by the US and the US Congress in particular. Unless that dynamic changes, nothing in the Middle East will. Israel has shown it could care less about what anyone thinks, so long as it has the full, undying, unquestioning support of the US government, bought and paid for by special interests like AIPAC. A support so strong, the Israeli government has killed US citizens in cold blood without so much as a “sorry”. Look up Rachael Corrie. Look up Khaled Satah, or Fukan Dogan. All US citizens, all unarmed and unthreatening and all killed by Israeli military without so much as an apology or compensation to the families. Why bother, when the US Congress excuses each and every US death by Israel as “unimportant” and nothing to worry about, while it jumps at the chance to blame everyone else for Israel’s problems and never Israel.

Wake up America, it is long past time we stop supporting this military regime that places the lives of everyone else well below its own. You want peace in the Middle East, quit supporting EVERYTHING Israel does. It is that simple. When the US thinks Israel can do no wrong, guess what, so does Israel.

Pierre April 28, 2012

60 Minutes did something your article steadfastly refuses to do: it let the “least of these,” the Palestinian Christians, speak in their own words. This article is one long attempt to silence their pleas. It is easy to verify what 60 Minutes and the Palestinian Christians are saying: go to the Holy Land and visit them! Bethlehem is surrounded by walls, checkpoints, and settlements. And it will be quickly obvious that Israel’s occupation is THE DOMINANT FEATURE of their lives.

The demonization of Muslims in this article is curiously used to silence Christians who have a different story to tell. In Palestine, both Christians and Muslims are suffering TOGETHER. And the story of Palestine is also one where Christians and Muslims (and in older times Jews) have found ways to live together, something we could learn more about.

Another sad fact is that the Palestinian Christians, who call themselves the “living stones” of the wider Christian church live the Bible in a concrete and sweet way: they can tell you, point to you, where Jesus probably walked going from one town to another, and indeed, they have walked that way themselves. What other Christians live this story in such a natural and authentic way? What a tragedy that fellow Christians willfully choose to ignore and despise the indigenous Christians of the Holy Land.

Elaine Kelley April 28, 2012

I lived in Bethlehem for four years and, believe me, Islam has nothing to do with the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land. The ONLY reason Christians are leaving in such large numbers is the Israeli military occupation, which has ruined the lives of Christians AND Muslims in teh West Bank (and of course Gaza), destroyed their economy, reduced them to prisoners in ghettos surrounded by a concrete wall over 25 feet high. This is the new form of Apartheid, which South Africans are saying is much worse that the Apartheid they experienced in their country. It is a tool of the Israeli propaganda machine to blame the plight of Christians on Muslims. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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