April 26, 2012
Below is an alert distributed by the Jewish Council of Public Affairs—of which Hadassah is a member—addressing the accuracy of Sunday's 60 Minutes report on Christians in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Sunday night, CBS's 60 Minutes aired a segment titled "Christians of the Holy Land" which cynically distorted a complicated story to slander Israel. Among the myriad errors in the report is the myth of a declining Palestinian Christian population. A report issued by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in 2011 provided extensive documentation that the Christian population in the West Bank is not decreasing – and according to Palestinian sources is actually increasing. Unfortunately, the 60 Minutes report missed these critical data and repeated the common misrepresentation that the Palestinian Christian population is in a state of exodus. The population decline, even though fabricated, is blamed on Israel.
According to Palestinian sources, the Palestinian Christian population in the West Bank is actually growing – and has been growing since 1967. The Palestinian Prime Minister noted in 2009 that the Christian population in the West Bank increased. And other data support this increase. In fact, since 1967, the Christian population in Bethlehem increased by 11% and in the Bethlehem region grew by 56%. The West Bank Christian population grew from 42,484 in 1967 to over 51,000 today The only "decline" that has been documented is the percentage Christians represent in the predominantly Muslim West Bank, a population that grew almost fourfold during the same period.
A further slander unchallenged in the 60 Minutes story was the reportage of the Kairos Palestine document, an anti-Israel manifesto that places 100% of the blame for the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel, stating "if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance" and thus Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace. This whitewashing of reality ignores the undeniable fact that groups like Hamas seek Israel's destruction and have used suicide bombs, rockets, and other terror to strike at Israel.
The "deligitimization" drive of the Kairos authors was demonstrated by a comment made by one of its authors for the 60 minutes report – that a goal of the document is the "boycott of Israel."
Sadly, the 60 Minutes report also overlooked the religious freedom guaranteed by Israel and the significant growth of the Palestinian Christian population in Israel itself. Christians live and pray in freedom in Israel, in marked contrast to the oppression they face throughout most of the Middle East.