As a member of Christians United for Israel, I am writing to express my concern with the 60 Minutes story “Christians of the Holy Land” which aired on April 22nd. This story scapegoated Israel and ignored the greatest threats facing the Christians of the Middle East. By focusing on the wrong story and blaming the wrong party, you have squandered a precious opportunity.
Since you didn’t report them, let me remind you of some of the facts:
* 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.
By failing to see past your own bias, you have done a tremendous disservice to all who truly care about the fate of the Middle East’s Christians.
CUFI executive director David Brog has provided us the following statement:
“Christians in the Middle East are facing a tragedy of historic proportions. As Islamic terrorists step up their attacks on Christians and their houses of worship, we are witnessing the collapse of ancient Christian communities in Iraq, Egypt and Syria. Yet Bob Simon and 60 Minutes chose to focus on Israel’s response to this shared threat — rather than the terror itself — as the true source of Christian suffering in the region. It is deeply disturbing that Simon seems interested in the plight of the region’s Christians only to the extent that he can use it to bash Israel.”
We are informed that in just four hours today CUFI activists have sent more than 16,000 email messages to CBS.
Consistent with the CUFI message, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs has posted a report on the West Bank’s Christian population. Page 8 of the report looks at the actual numbers. The JCPA notes that its paper “exposes a common myth used to slander Israel….that Israel’s policies are causing a mass exodus of Palestinian Christians.” I don’t know whether the Christian population of the West Bank is up or down, or whether it has shifted in response to local threats. But it is precisely the “slander” identified by the JCPA that 60 Minutes effectively propagated last night in a report notably short of facts or context.