60 Minutes on the Plight of Palestinian Christians

Last night's 60 Minutes segment about the plight of Christians in the West Bank has gotten a lot of attention, in part because of the attempt by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren to intervene with CBS brass while the segment was being put together. (See the 11-minute point in the video below, where CBS correspondent Bob Simon confronts Oren with this fact.)

You can see why Oren might rather the piece hadn't aired. Things that Palestinian Muslims routinely say about the Israeli occupation may get more traction in America when Palestinian Christians say them. Such as this, from a Christian clergyman: "The West Bank is becoming more and more like a piece of Swiss cheese, where Israel gets the cheese--that is, the land the water resources, the archaeological sites, and the Palestinians are pushed in the holes."

Also, Oren clearly doesn't want this document, mentioned by Simon, to get attention. In it an interdominational group of Middle Eastern Christian clergy--Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant--refer to the occupation as "clear apartheid." (Oren hints that they're anti-Semitic.)

Finally, the 60 Minutes piece complicates the post-9/11 Israeli narrative according to which Israel and Judeo-Christian America are involved in a common struggle against Islamic radicals, and the occupation should be viewed in that context. Hence the importance of the moment when Oren insists Christians are leaving the West Bank under duress from Islamic radicals, not because of the occupation, and Simon presents testimony to the contrary.

Notwithstanding Oren's understandable qualms, the piece struck me as legitimate and balanced. Its subject--the ongoing exodus of Christians from the Holy Land--is of undeniable interest to American viewers. And Simon emphasizes that Israel isn't singling out Christians for persecution; their plight is simply the plight of Palestinians in general--a plight that, Simon notes, is due partly to actions taken by Israel to secure itself against terrorism. Now that Oren has had a chance to see the 60 Minutes piece, I'd be interested in hearing what, if any, parts of the story he thinks CBS should have included but didn't.

Presented by

Robert Wright is the author of The Evolution of God and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Global

Just In