There has been a lot of feedback about CSB’s 60 Minutes segment on Christians in the Holy Land. Veteran journalist Bob Simon examined some of the reasons for the declining number of Christians in the Holy Land. As with so much of the news reporting from the Middle East, this account neglected the persecution of Christians by Islamists by laying the blame for the Christian Palestinian exodus at the feet of Israel. A great story would have included the role of Radical Islam, the Arab League, and the UN play in perpetuating the conflict. But as the IRD noted in its press release on Tuesday,
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.
The uncritical acceptance of the statements by the Palestinians was perhaps what Ambassador Oren had in mind when he got word that this piece was going to be a “hatched job.” A prime example is found in Bob Simon’s parroting of the narrative that Bethlehem is completely surrounded by walls. In his description of the security barrier he states,
The wall was built to stop Palestinian terrorists from getting into Israel. And it’s worked. Terrorism has gone down 90 percent.
At the same time, the wall completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the “little town” where Christ was born into what its residents call “an open air prison.”
But a map, which is put out by the Israel-based anti-occupation organization B’Tselem shows the “little town” is hardly surrounded. (The red line is the path of the security barrier)
Bob Simon should have known that every statement made in the 12 minute segment was going to be examined, checked, and likely criticized. But it is careless statements like this that contribute to the misinformation about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and marks the difference between good journalism and great journalism.
Watch the entire video here and decide for yourself.