Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Christians of the Holy Land" A CBS failure to investigate and use all sources

Having just finished watching the Sixty Minutes segment, “Christians of the Holy Land,” I feel I should make some comments.

The program used, as one of their main experts, Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb. They are evidently unaware of Raheb’s extreme anti-Israel bias. I have written about Raheb and one of his anti-Semitic ideas at Critiquing the theologies and connections of some pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel leaders: a series # 4. He believes that those Israelis who came from Europe are not really Jews but rather ancestors of converts to Judaism.

At the 2010 Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in his speech Raheb stated:

I’m sure if we were to do a DNA test between David, who was a Bethlehemite, and Jesus, born in Bethlehem, and Mitri, born just across the street from where Jesus was born, I’m sure the DNA will show that there is a trace. While, if you put King David, Jesus and Netanyahu, you will get nothing, because Netanyahu comes from an East European tribe who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages.

Raheb is using the old ploy of various anti-Semites. I explain in the above post:

Raheb is referring to the Khazars when he writes of an East European tribe that converted to Judaism in the middle ages. And there was such a tribe that did convert. In fact the European Jews were proud that a whole tribe had converted to Judaism. But that does not make every Jew living in Diaspora a member of the Khazars.

Another problem with the Sixty Minutes program is its reference to the Kairos Document. Both the interviewer, Bob Simon, and Raheb who he speaks to about the document made it sound as though it condemns both the Islamic extremist and Israel. But it does not. In fact the document blames acts of terrorism by extreme Palestinians on Israel. And it praises all who have fought for Palestine which would include the suicide bombers.

Undoubtedly the worst problem with the Kairos Document is its insistence that the State of Israel should not be a Jewish State. I have written about the document at Presbyterian Middle East Study Team & "The Kairos Palestine Document" no longer a Jewish Nation?

One other failure of the program is their disinterest in the Palestinian Evangelicals. As I pointed out in my posting The Christians of Gaza & questions it is among the Evangelicals of Gaza that Christians have suffered. While many of the other churches are ancient nonetheless the Evangelicals are Christians. Furthermore a few of the ancient church leaders of the Middle East are as tainted with anti-Semitism as some Christians of the Medieval Ages were.   That is simply to say that the interviewer should have applied his skills of investigation in a far wider and deeper manner.

It is certain that Israel is causing many problems for Christians in Palestine, but it is even more certain that all the complexities of Middle East troubles, including extreme Islam, are influencing the Christian community to leave the Holy Land. Sixty Minutes allowed Raheb to turn “Christians of the Holy Land” into a propaganda piece against Israel.


Jodie said...

It seemed to me that the real story they were planning to tell was replaced by the story of how the Israeli ambassador to the United States called up the head of CBS to change the story.

And change the story he did, because a significant amount of time in the story was spent talking to the ambassador about how he wanted to change the story. Time taken away from actually telling the story.

The whole piece became some kind of journalistic rendition of an M. C. Escher painting.

And how is it the Israeli ambassador thought he got inside information on a story that 60 minutes was developing in the first place? Enough to call the president of CBS to complain?

It was a very strange episode indeed.

Anonymous said...

How dare the Ambassador of Israel speak out on behalf of the most threatened democracy in the world? The nation he represents! How dare he! Those Jews are are at it again - causing nothing but problems.
I am so very vexed and dismayed. The many "probems" Israel is causing the Palestinians are keeping many Jews alive today as successful terrorist attacks have been reduced by over 90% since the installation of the good neighbor fence. And if you didn't notice, the Ambassador was correct - the CBS piece was a hatchet job as Viola has noted.
My God - at least give him that?

The Christian population throughout the Middle East has been declining for decades. In 1914, Christians constituted 26.4 percent of the total population in what today is Israel, the Palestinian areas, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, while by 2005 they represented at most 9.2 percent (Phillipe Fargues, "The Arab Christians of the Middle East: A Demographic Perspective," in Christian Communities in the Arab Middle East, Andrea Pacini, ed, Oxford University Press, as cited in Justus Reid Weiner's Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.)

The exception to this regional trend is Israel, where the Christian population has thrived.

As documented in the Central Bureau of Statistics' Statistical Abstract of Israel 2008 (Chart 2.2), in the last dozen years, Israel's Christian population grew from 120,600 in 1995 to 151,600 in 2007, representing a growth rate of 25 percent. In fact, the Christian growth rate has outpaced the Jewish growth in Israel in the last 12 years!

In 1995, there were 4,522,300 Jews in Israel, and in 2007 there were 5,478,2000, representing a growth rate of 21 percent – 4 percent less than the Christian population grew during the same time....

Victor Styrsky
Christians United For Israel, CUFI
Eastern Regional Coordinator

Anonymous said...

Palestinian Sentenced to Death for Selling a Home to Jews 10:11 AM, APR 23, 2012 • BY DANIEL HALPER

The problem in the Middle East is really not all that complex...

V. Styrsky

Jodie said...

How dare he indeed. This is our country, not his. And in our country we have a constitution that guarantees the freedom of the press. Not even the President of the United States has the right to call up the president of CBS and pressure him to tell or not tell a story.

But even more curious than the fact that felt he had the right to interfere with the freedom of our press, or that he succeeded, is the fact that he obviously had spies inside of CBS telling him well in advance what it was they thought CBS was about to present.

That, my friend, is a direct assault on the very foundations of our democracy.

America has gone to war for less. How dare he indeed!

Viola Larson said...

Jodie as you know I don't usually answer you because I ask you over and over not to comment here, but just so all will know I will answer.

The Ambassador undoubtedly knew, not because he had spies, but because it was widely advertised by others including Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb that he, Raheb was interviewed. And many of us know Raheb's anti-Semitic positions. It didn't take any spying to understand what was going to happen.
Please do not comment here again.

Tejas said...

Honestly, when the press gets involved with propaganda and religion, things go to a dark place. I can't believe they actually took a beautiful title like "Christians of the Holy Land" and turned it into that kind of episode. Am I wrong in saying I'm disappointed?

Jodie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jodie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Viola Larson said...

No Tejas, you are not wrong. I was disappointed too. It could have been carefully enlarged. And I think that a question that the Israeli Ambassador asked was very interesting if looked at from another viewpoint. That is about the persecution of Christians in other Muslim lands. For the interviewer there did not seem to be any connection between those Christians leaving the Middle East and the Palestinian Christians leaving. That would have been an interesting exploration.

Viola Larson said...

I have a question that I would be interested in your answer. Recently detractors to Israeli have suggested that the reason there is a growth of Christianity in Israel is because of the foreign laborers imported into Israel to help with work. I'm certain that isn't right but could you give an answer to that?

Greg Scandlen said...

Jodie said --

"Not even the President of the United States has the right to call up the president of CBS and pressure him to tell or not tell a story."

He certainly does, and it happens all the time. Just this past week the White House asked the LA Times not to publish the photos of our soldiers with the remains of suicide bombers in Afghanistan. Everyone, including the President and the Ambassador, is free to "jaw bone"on anything. They are NOT free to coerce. There is an enormous difference.

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Jodie said...


Not sure how long Viola will allow a reply to stay up, but maybe if I keep it short and sweet...

Your point is taken. The story really was about coercive influence of the American press. If a foreign power can spy on, and coerce the outcome of journalism in the American Press, we the people should not sit idly by. Nor should we sit idly by if the US government does it, whether overtly or by subterfuge and entrapment, as appears to have happened at least occasionally in recent years.

Anonymous said...

Hey dear Viola -

The detractors of the Jewish nation of Israel say many things, as 60 Minutes so amptly allowed the world to see. Is it possible that they can supply you with information on their research concerning the importation of tens of thousands of Christian workers? Don't hold your breath.

On the other hand, the following information is accurate and easily verified:

"While Christians are fleeing the Muslim Middle East in droves, their numbers have increased by a thousand percent in Israel since the nation's re-founding in 1948.

"Christians are in every aspect, every realm of Israeli society. They're in the Knesset. They're on the Supreme Court; they're in academia," Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said.

"The Israeli Defense Forces was at one point printing out Hebrew versions of the New Testament because there's so many Christians swearing in for duty," he noted.

Oren told CBN News that Arab Christians living in the Jewish state are among the most educated and prosperous in the Middle East. And all Christians, citizens and tourists alike, have free access to their holy sites.

"And we protect them," Oren said. "Several years ago there was an attempt to build a mosque in Nazareth right over the Church of the Annunciation, and Israel intervened and stopped that from happening."

Things aren't always perfect. Jewish believers in Jesus have experienced difficulties over the years.

Yet Israel's overall acceptance of Christians is like night and day when compared with the Palestinian-controlled areas of Gaza and the West Bank, where Christians are frequently persecuted and even killed."

Am Yisrael Chai!


Viola Larson said...

Thanks Victor.

Anonymous said...


Very interesting blog!

What it really comes down to is the survival and protection of the Israeli's (and even providing them great incentives to live in Israel), at the cost of Palestinian inconvenience, and in their homes, as well, after the occupation.

I have been to Israel, they are really not happy when a Palestinian comes to visit, albeit a Christian Palestinian as myself.

My honest opinion, is that islam and islamophobia has been way overused. I have never spoken or seen any extremist muslims in my life, most of them are the "average" Joe. But, I know there are a lot of settlers that settle in "Israel" that have extremist views, and they are increasing in numbers. That is something we need to address here as well.

The truth is that the arab christian population is dwindling not increasing, folks. I have no idea where you are getting these "facts".. just go to the Holy Land and talk to the priests. I know this for a fact because I am from there.

There are so many reasons for leaving the Holy land, and are going to other countries in the Middle East (that accept christians and are muslim countries), like even Saudi! and UAE! Muslims are not against Christians, and do not harrass them like the checkpoints in Israel. People mind their business and just have to respect each other.

But occupation simply separates the Palestinians from the Israelis, and it's a fact of the matter. I know Israel might be trying to make it probably a little better, but in the end, it's the survival of the Israelis at the expense of the inconvenience of Palestinians, whether christian or muslim.

Thanks for allowing me to comment ;-)

Viola Larson said...

Several things Anonymous,

You are right there are extremist settlers I will certainly grant you that. But that is not so much the problem I am writing about.
I have encountered extremist Muslims here in California. They do exist. One cursed at me when I asked him if he was reading a Bible. Another stayed in my home. He threatened the Jews saying he wanted to line them all against a wall and shoot them.

We need a two state solution, and we need some truth. Do you know about the murder of a Evangelical in Gaza in 2008- can you tell me what you know?
Please do leave your name next time.