“Christians of the Holy Land,” as the [CBS 60 Minutes] piece was titled, revealed itself to be exactly what Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, who was interviewed for the segment, told interviewer Bob Simon he feared it would be: a well-produced piece of propaganda that cast Israel as solely responsible for the ills of Christians in the areas it controls.
60 Minutes tipped its hand early on in the segment. Mitri Raheb, the Palestinian Lutheran pastor interviewed for the piece, has a long record of harsh bias against Israel. Raheb and others interviewed in this report cite the Kairos Document, issued in 2009 and signed by the leaders of 13 Christian denominations, as a model of moral, non-violent resistance to the Israeli “occupation.” The 60 Minutes report fails to mention that this document was almost universally condemned as unfair and biased by the Jewish community — even by the left-leaning lobbying group J-Street, which is often critical of Israel’s policies — and that the Central Conference of American Rabbis blasted it for its “supersessionist and anti-Semitic nature.” In short, “Christians of the Holy Land” offered no balance, no moderation, and no attempt to introduce viewers to Christian leaders who might step up to Israel’s defense.
The report is notable, too, for what it doesn’t say. In fact, demographic data, including data from Palestinian sources, points to an increase in the number of Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Jerusalem since 1967, the year Israel took control of the West Bank from Jordan. (While the number of Palestinian Christians has decreased as a percentage, this is largely due to the dramatic increase in the Muslim population.) When it comes to the treatment and rights of people of faith, Israel is unique in the Middle East. In no other country in the region is freedom of religion for all written into law and respected in practice as it is in Israel.
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