Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CBS 60 Minutes: An Unholy Attack on Israel

Broken 60 Minutes

Yesterday I was alerted to Sunday’s (4/22/12) 60 Minutes story lamely being used as the propaganda tool of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The propaganda is Israel policies are scaring Arab-Christians out of Judea-Samaria (aka West Bank) and not Arab-Muslims dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the obliteration of Jews. The alert was sent via the San Fernando Valley ACT for America email list and the story was by Yuval Zaliouk. I was outraged especially after I watched the clip of the CBS news magazine!

I received another email alert from Honest Reporting has a bit more details. I am cross posting the Honest Reporting article along with some supportive articles that demonstrate is simply an Israel hating Left Wing media tool.

CBS 60 Minutes: An Unholy Attack on Israel

April 24, 2012 11:04

The status of Christians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza has been featured in the media on numerous occasions. The April 22 edition of CBS’s 60 Minutes, however, presented an unbalanced picture blaming Israel for virtually every difficulty experienced by Palestinian Christians.

After watching the segment, one is left with the impression that Christians are being deliberately targeted by malevolent Israeli policies when nothing could be further from the truth. Undoubtedly, Palestinian Christians are affected by Israeli security measures such as the West Bank security barrier, referred to by Bob Simon as a “wall” despite the majority of the structure consisting of chain-link fencing.

According to Simon:

Palestinian Christians, once a powerful minority, are becoming the invisible people, squeezed between a growing Muslim majority and burgeoning Israeli settlements.

Could Israeli settlements really be responsible for the plight of Palestinian Christians? Or is it due to issues that Bob Simon fails to fully investigate?

Simon refers to settlements to explain the plight of Palestinian Christians. But his analysis is naive and demonstrates a weak grasp of the issues he’s presenting.

Reporters with more experience reporting on the region repeatedly point to the suppression of voices critical of the Muslim majority in Palestinian cities.

The Associated Press reports:

The number of Christians in the West Bank is on the decline. While some leave for economic reasons, many speak of persecution by the Muslim majority, but always anonymously, fearing retribution.

Justus Reid Weiner has researched the plight of Christians in the Palestinian territories extensively. According to Weiner, Arab Christians rarely speak about their situation in public:

The human rights crimes against the Christian Arabs in the disputed territories are committed by Muslims. Yet many Palestinian Christian leaders accuse Israel of these crimes rather than the actual perpetrators. This motif has been adopted by a variety of Christian leaders in the Western world. Others who are aware of the human rights crimes choose to remain silent about them.

Ha’aretz looks at Israeli reaction to the broadcast even before it was aired:

“We conducted a thorough examination and we found out that no official Israeli source was asked to comment on the assertions in the report,” an Israeli diplomat said.

Israel’s embassy in Washington met with “60 Minutes” several times and found that the report was almost ready for broadcast. In one of the meetings with the investigative reporters, an Israeli diplomat presented an issue of Newsweek with a cover story about the persecution of Christian communities in Arab states.

“The ’60 Minutes’ reporters said that this was not the subject of their article so it was not relevant,” said an Israeli diplomat.

How could Muslim persecution of Christians not be relevant to the subject matter? And how could a supposedly credible media outlet initially fail to consider asking Israeli officials for their views?

Attacking the Ambassador

Legitimate lobbying, advocacy or dialogue on behalf of Israel’s position is all too often crudely portrayed as illegitimate pressure applied by an all-powerful Israel or Jewish lobby. Perhaps that’s why Bob Simon felt it appropriate to turn Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s intervention with CBS into part of the story.

Why is Simon prepared to let Palestinian statements go unchallenged or taken as read while Ambassador Oren is subjected to a grilling, including on why he felt it necessary to address CBS’s report before it had been aired.

The Kairos Document

Presented in the 60 Minutes report as a document based on hope, love and non-violence, the Kairos Document, endorsed by a number of Palestinian church leaders is anything but. According to the ADL:

Kairos is a prime example of an effort to undercut the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish State. It calls terror a form of legal resistance, it endorses boycotts and divestment against Israel, and it denies any connection between biblical covenants and the Jewish people.

For more on the theology behind the Kairos Document, see CAMERA‘s analysis.

While 60 Minutes may have attempted to present a consensus of Christian opinion firmly against Israel, the reality is quite different. Millions of other Christians are fully aware of the real dangers posed to their co-religionists throughout the Middle East as Christians are subjected to real violence and persecution by Israel’s Muslim neighbors. Christians United For Israel states the following facts in a campaign letter to CBS:

·         Since its birth in 1948, Israel’s Christian population has grown dramatically.

·         In the West Bank, the Christian population has not shrunk in absolute terms since 1967. On the contrary, the Palestinian Authority recently reported that the Christian population is growing.

·         The only way in which the Christian population is shrinking is as a percentage of the overall population. This shift is due overwhelmingly to the fact that the region’s Muslim population is growing so quickly.

The Christians of the Middle East do face unprecedented threats. As Islamic terrorists have stepped up their attacks against Christians, we are witnessing the collapse of the ancient Christian communities of Iraq, Egypt and Syria. Yet you chose to ignore these threats and focus instead on the security measures that Israel has taken to protect its citizens — Jewish, Christian and Muslim — from the very same Islamic terror.

We wholeheartedly concur. Please send your considered comments to CBS through its online feedback form, selecting 60 Minutes as the Category and add your voice to the many who have been outraged by Bob Simon’s unbalanced and unholy attack on Israel.
Ignoring the Real Causes of Christian Exodus

May 13, 2009 22:00

Pope Benedicts visit to Israel this week has increased media attention on the plight of Christians in the Middle East and their declining numbers. But while the visit should serve as an opportunity for an honest look at Christian flight, one reporter blamed Israel and the West instead.

In an article describing Christian apprehensions over Pope Benedicts visit, Time magazines Andrew Lee Butters calls the presence of Christians in the region a reminder of the multi-sectarian and tolerant history of Arab and Islamic culture. However, this tolerance is threatened, he writes, from the rise of religious extremism.

At this point, one would assume Butters would delve into largely overlooked issues such as

1) the persecution of Christians in the PA and Gaza,
2) creeping fundamentalism,
3) the intimidation of Christian media
4) forced conversions
5) Christians frozen out of the Palestinian national dialogue.

But instead, Butters points his finger in the opposite direction: Clash-of-civilizations pundits and Western leaders like the Pope often ignore how the West helped spark such intolerance, especially through its one-sided support of Israel.

Butters would be hard pressed to prove that Europe has been one-sided in its support for Israel. More importantly, however, Butters statement implies that Muslims are not responsible for their actions because the West backs Israels right to exist in peace with its neighbors. In fact, Butters goes even further, calling Israels creation a disaster for Christians in the Middle East.

Many of the Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced from their homes in 1948 never to be allowed back were Christians. The flood of Palestinian refugees into Lebanon helped spark a civil war between Muslims and Christians there. And the ongoing occupation of the West Bank is strangling the life out of those Christian communities that are left.

Blaming Israel for the civil war in Lebanon ignores the complex political arrangements in Lebanon at the time and the destabilizing effect of the PLO inside Lebanon’s borders. He also neglects to mention what might be strangling the life out of the 2,000 Christians living in Gaza. But Butters doesn’t stop there. He also holds Israel responsible for Muslim abuses of Christians in Egypt:

The ongoing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has also helped fuel the rise of Islamic extremism, especially in countries that have unpopular peace agreements with Israel. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition to the American-backed Mubarak dictatorship, waged a small-scale terror campaign against both the government and the country’s Coptic Christians during the 1990s.

According to Butters, therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood isnt ultimately responsible for small-scale terror against the Christians it carries out. Its really Israels presence in the Palestinian territories that is behind it all.

The BBCs Tim Franks also covered the decline of Arab Christians in Bethlehem. In his article, Franks quoted several Palestinians who claim that Christians are leaving the city because of Israels security barrier. However, Franks also acknowledges that there could be another reason for the exodus.

Privately, some Christians in Bethlehem say another factor sometimes motivates their decision to leave – concern about the rise of radical Islam – but they are unwilling to put such views on the record.

Indeed, Franks admission is consistent with finding from Justus Reid Weiner, who has researched the plight of Christians in the Palestinian territories extensively. According to Weiner, Arab Christians rarely speak about their situation in public:

The human rights crimes against the Christian Arabs in the disputed territories are committed by Muslims. Yet many Palestinian Christian leaders accuse Israel of these crimes rather than the actual perpetrators. This motif has been adopted by a variety of Christian leaders in the Western world. Others who are aware of the human rights crimes choose to remain silent about them.

The media has on obligation to report the truth. Insist that reporters tell the whole story when they cover the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

Write to Time magazine at
Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians
Just as Jews were once expelled from Arab lands, Christians are now being forced from countries they have long inhabited.

March 9, 2012

The church in Bethlehem had survived more than 1,000 years, through wars and conquests, but its future now seemed in jeopardy. Spray-painted all over its ancient stone walls were the Arabic letters for Hamas. The year was 1994 and the city was about to pass from Israeli to Palestinian control. I was meeting with the church's clergy as an Israeli government adviser on inter-religious affairs. They were despondent but too frightened to file a complaint. The same Hamas thugs who had desecrated their sanctuary were liable to take their lives.

The trauma of those priests is now commonplace among Middle Eastern Christians. Their share of the region's population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.

As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they've inhabited for centuries.

The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel's founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%.

Christians are prominent in all aspects of Israeli life, serving in the Knesset, the Foreign Ministry and on the Supreme Court. They are exempt from military service, but thousands have volunteered and been sworn in on special New Testaments printed in Hebrew. Israeli Arab Christians are on average more affluent than Israeli Jews and better-educated, even scoring higher on their SATs.

This does not mean that Israeli Christians do not occasionally encounter intolerance. But in contrast to elsewhere in the Middle East where hatred of Christians is ignored or encouraged, Israel remains committed to its Declaration of Independence pledge to "ensure the complete equality of all its citizens irrespective of religion." It guarantees free access to all Christian holy places, which are under the exclusive aegis of Christian clergy. When Muslims tried to erect a mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Israeli government interceded to preserve the sanctity of the shrine.

Israel abounds with such sites (Capernaum, the Hill of the Beatitudes, the birth place of St. John the Baptist) but the state constitutes only part of the Holy Land. The rest, according to Jewish and Christian tradition, is in Gaza and the West Bank. Christians in those areas suffer the same plight as their co-religionists throughout the region.

Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, half the Christian community has fled. Christmas decorations and public displays of crucifixes are forbidden. In a December 2010 broadcast, Hamas officials exhorted Muslims to slaughter their Christian neighbors. Rami Ayad, owner of Gaza's only Christian bookstore, was murdered, his store reduced to ash. This is the same Hamas with which the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank recently signed a unity pact.

Little wonder, then, that the West Bank is also hemorrhaging Christians. Once 15% of the population, they now make up less than 2%. Some have attributed the flight to Israeli policies that allegedly deny Christians economic opportunities, stunt demographic growth, and impede access to the holy sites of Jerusalem. In fact, most West Bank Christians live in cities such as Nablus, Jericho and Ramallah, which are under Palestinian Authority control. All those cities have experienced marked economic growth and sharp population increase—among Muslims.

Israel, in spite of its need to safeguard its borders from terrorists, allows holiday access to Jerusalem's churches to Christians from both the West Bank and Gaza. In Jerusalem, the number of Arabs—among them Christians—has tripled since the city's reunification by Israel in 1967.

There must be another reason, then, for the West Bank's Christian exodus. The answer lies in Bethlehem. Under Israeli auspices, the city's Christian population grew by 57%. But under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, those numbers have plummeted. Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes—compelling Israel to build a protective barrier between them and Jewish neighborhoods—and then occupied the Church of the Nativity, looting it and using it as a latrine. Today, Christians comprise a mere one-fifth of their holy city's population.

The extinction of the Middle East's Christian communities is an injustice of historic magnitude. Yet Israel provides an example of how this trend can not only be prevented but reversed. With the respect and appreciation that they receive in the Jewish state, the Christians of Muslim countries could not only survive but thrive.

Mr. Oren is Israel's ambassador to the United States.

A version of this article appeared March 9, 2012, on page A13 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians.
CBS 60 Minutes: An Unholy Attack on Israel


Ignoring the Real Causes of Christian Exodus

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Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians

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