60 Minutes Falsely (as usual) Smears Israel for Christian Exodus from Holy Land

(Bob Simon, (perennial, arch-typical, self-hating Jew) ignores intimidation, property seizure and violence by the dominant Muslim majority and, as usual, he and 60 minutes finds a way to blame the Jews. What in the world would they do without us – their favorite fall guy,) jsk

http://israel-commentary.org/?p=4460
Redacted from a far more detailed, inclusive article

By Dexter Van Zile
CAMERA MEDIA REPORT, SUMMER 2012

Palestinian Christians, like other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East, are the target of mistreatment, harassment and in some instances, violent oppression at the hands of their Muslim neighbors. Nevertheless, much of the media coverage about Palestinian Christians downplays Muslim hostility toward this community and falsely portrays Israel as the sole cause of its suffering.

The reality is Palestinian Christians cannot speak freely about the Muslim dominated environment in which they live. Their leaders often publicly condemn Israel while remaining silent about groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Occasionally, they might admit that Muslim hostility is a problem, but not very often and not very loudly.

It is safe for Palestinian Christian leaders to condemn Israel – a democracy that has a tradition of respecting religious freedom and human rights. It is not safe, however, for Palestinian Christians to condemn the misdeeds of their Islamist neighbors who regard Christians as infidels and obstacles to the creation of an Islamic state.

Journalists obviously have an obligation to dig into the underlying facts regarding the status of Christians in Palestinian areas. This information is harder to obtain than anti-Israel comments from prominent Palestinian Christians. It is not however, impossible to get testimony about Muslim oppression of Christians in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. For example, Khaled Abu Toameh has written about mistreatment of Christians by their Muslim neighbors, a problem that has gotten worse since Bethlehem and the surrounding towns have become hotbeds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

In a piece published by the Gatestone Institute in 2009 (when it was then called the Hudson Institute), Toameh reported that Christians have complained about acts “of intimidation land theft by Muslims, especially those working for the Palestinian Authority.” And if that wasn’t enough, “several Christian women living in these areas have complained about verbal and sexual assaults by Muslim men.” Toameh also recounts hearing stories of shakedowns by Muslim gangs. He writes:

Over the past few years, a number of Christian businessmen told me that they were forced to shut down their businesses because they could no longer afford to pay “protection” money to local Muslim gangs. This is however, not the story that Palestinian Christian leaders tell to Westerners. Toameh reports:

Ironically, leaders of the Palestinian Christians are also to blame for the ongoing plight of their people because they refuse to see the reality as it is. And the reality is that many Christians feel insecure and intimidated because of what we Muslims are doing to them and not only because of the bad economy.

When they go on the record, these leaders always insist that Israel and the occupation are the only reason behind the plight of their constituents. They stubbornly refuse to admit that many Christians are being targeted by Muslims. By not talking openly about the problem, the Christian leaders are encouraging the perpetrators to continue their harassment and assaults against Christian families. This is an important story that journalists should highlight.

Given the time and resources available to reporters and producers at 60 Minutes, it would seem reasonable to expect that they would be able to give viewers an accurate picture. Apparently, it is simply a story they do not want to tell. This became evident during a segment that appeared on April 22, 2012. This segment, titled “Christians of the Holy Land” reported by Bob Simon and produced by Harry Radliffe, severely misinformed 60 Minutes viewers.

In the opening, Simon reports that the “one place where Christians are not suffering from violence is the Holy Land but Palestinian Christians have been leaving in large numbers for years.” He continues: So many [are leaving], the Christian population there is down to less than two percent, and the prospect of holy sites, like Jerusalem and Bethlehem, without local Christians is looming as a real possibility. In this passage, Simon is wrong on two issues.

First, Simon reports the Christian population in the Holy Land is down to less than two percent but he deceives viewers in this statement. Yes, the percentage of the total is down due to an increased Muslim population, but the actual number is up in Bethlehem and the surrounding area since Israel took control of the West Bank. He also fails to report that this increased stands in marked contrast to the decline of the Christian population in the West Bank when it was under Jordanian control.

The numbers, compiled by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, reveal that in the late 1940s, there were approximately 60,000 Christians living in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza and that this population declined to approximately 40,000 just prior to the Six Day War in 1967. Today, there are approximately 52,000 Christians living in these areas.

Secondly, despite what Simon reports, Palestinian Christians have been the target of violence at the hands of Muslim extremists in the Holy Land. In 2005, more than a dozen homes were burnt to the ground by a Muslim mob. This act of arson was perpetrated in the village of Taybeh located in the West Bank by Muslims outraged over a romantic affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman. Ha’aretz reported the following about the incident:

PA security sources said that the rampage was triggered by an incident last week in which a 23-year-old woman was killed by her relatives because they suspected her of carrying on a romance with a Christian man from Taybeh. The woman was quickly buried, but last Tuesday, the PA police exhumed the body for an autopsy.

Did Simon and Radcliffe not hear about this terrible attack and the apparent honor killing that preceded it? In a four-minute video featured on 60 Minutes’ website, Simon profiled the village of Taybeh, which the show billed as “The Last Christian village in the Holy Land.” Judging from this video, it’s clear both Simon, and his producer Radcliffe spent some time in the town where the attack took place, but for one reason or another, this notorious act of arson was never mentioned in either the segment shown on television or the segment broadcast on 60 Minutes’ website.

Simon also used a confrontation with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren as a pretext to downplay impact of Muslim hostility toward Christians. After Oren stated that the “major duress” felt by Palestinian Christians was coming from Muslims, Simon introduced Zahi Khouri, a Palestinian Christian businessman (he owns a Coca-Cola franchise). Khouri dismissed Oren’s assessment as a “Great selling point. Easy to sell to the American public.”n\ Khouri continues: “I’ll tell you I don’t know of anybody and I probably have 12,000 customers here. I’ve never heard that someone is leaving because of Islamic persecution.”

Did Simon really expect to get Khouri, a prominent businessman with a lot to lose – and exactly the type of person who would be forced to pay the protection described by Khaled Abu Toameh in the piece referenced above – to admit to problems with the Muslim majority in Palestinian society in an on-camera conversation with two other people sitting next to him? Is this what passes for investigative reporting at 60 Minutes?

Why is it that Simon relied on Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for testimony about Islamist hostility toward Christians when Christians themselves are talking about it? And why did he work so assiduously to discount Oren’s testimony? Evidently, Simon was not interested in the truth about the status of Christians in Palestinian society but instead was more interested in scoring a cheap shot at Oren’s expense.

…Simon’s most obnoxious moment came when he complained about the Ambassador calling his boss, Jeffrey Fager, head of CBS news and executive producer of 60 Minutes about the segment before it aired. Simon stated that he has been doing his job a long time and that “he’s never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn’t been broadcast yet.”

This is newsworthy? Christians are being murdered in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria and Simon’s scoop – his big reveal before he signs off – is that Oren called his boss to complain about a story that hasn’t aired yet? This is simply outrageous. Simon and his producer, Harry Radliffe failed to treat the subject they were covering with the seriousness it requires.

They owe the American people an apology for their journalistic misdeeds. (DAMN LIES!) jsk

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