60 Minutes on the Plight of Palestinian Christians

HT: AOI Source: The Atlantic

APR 23 2012, 8:46 AM ET 280

By Robert Wright

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.


  1. A Message to CBS:

    ““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.””

    Sign Christians United For Israel letter to Bob Simon at CBS:

    “By focusing on the wrong story and blaming the wrong party, you have squandered a precious opportunity.”

  2. another anon says

    This is an extremely complicated issue. Admittedly, the number of Christians in this region is declining. But the coverage of these circumstances by CBS was also extremely shallow, and I felt, a hit job on Israel. I feel the frustration of Palestinians who live in the little towns nearby as they are unable to move freely because of Israeli restrictions. On the other hand, I feel the frustration of Israelis who are fearful for their state. The reasons why Palestinians are leaving are complex. Many are coming to the U.S. for (simply and purely) economic reasons as millions of others have come to our shores. Palestinians are hard-working people, deeply committed to maintaining family ties. Family is everything, and they come to be with families as well as to enhance their economic circumstances. I think it is a myth to suggest that Muslims and Christians get along well in this region. Christians have been harassed for centuries by their Muslim brothers, and I have heard personal testimony about these circumstances in recent years. And their Muslim “brothers” did not assist them in re-settlement when they were displaced by the creation of Israel as a new state. Arab solidarity is a myth, except when used as a cudgel against Israel. There is definitely a “pecking order” among Arabs and the benighted Palestinians are at the bottom of the order.

    I guess the reason why this segment was frustrating to me was because the situation in Jerusalem and surrounding areas is so complex that there is no way it can be summarized in the pitiful segment presented to the watcher. It did nothing but confuse anyone who saw it. I would love to hear from others who saw it and to know what they got from this presentation. I thought it was awful.

  3. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    Have you ever talked with a Palestinian Orthodox Christian about what their life is like under Israeli domination? If you did, I think that you would have a different point of view. The Zionists have shown no regard for the civil rights of the Palestinians. They have been driven from their homes, denied economic opportunities and made to live as second class citizens in their homeland. The 60 Minutes piece was one of the few efforts by the American media to report what is really happening to the Palestinian people. Our media and political system has been captive to Israel and it American supporters for far too long. It is not an exaggeration to state that the Zionists introduced terrorism into the Middle East. Read something about what happened to Deir Yassin in 1948 and you will see what I mean. The growth of Islamic militancy is at least partially a reaction to the persecution of the Palestinian people by the Zionists. Study the history of the modern Middle East, and you will see what I mean. The problem is that the pro-Zionist lobby here is so powerful that the American people have not been told the truth about the fate of the Palestinian people. The state of Israel was the product of European imperialism after the First World War. Instead of recognizing the right of the Palestinians to national self-determination, the victors established the British Mandate. The Zionists used this as an opportunity to deprive the Palestinian people of their civil rights and establish a state that treats the native population as second class citizens.

    Archpriest John Morris

    • another anon says

      Actually, I have talked with Palestinian Christians about their plight, and I’m very sympathetic with them. It is a tragic, complicated situation there with no easy solutions. And yes, the U.S. has been a strong supporter of Israel. But an anti-semitic rant against “zionists” is not the answer to the tragedy. The language you use in your message betrays your bias.

      • Archpriest John Morris says

        Why is it that any time that someone tries to express sympathy for the Palestinians that they are immediately accused of antisemitism? As an American, I believe that we should not give unconditional support to any foreign country. Israel is a foreign country. For far too long we have allowed the Zionist lobby to determine our foreign policy in the Middle East. We give no such support to any other foreign country. As Americans our first concern should be justice and our second should be our national interests. By giving unconditional support to Israel we do not support justice. We also compromise our national interests. Because of the power of the pro-Zionist forces the American people have not been told the truth about the state of Israel and the terrible way that the Zionists have treated the Palestinians. The 60 Minutes report illustrated the nature of the problem. Before they even saw it, the Israeli government tried to pressure CBS not to broadcast the report. Before you give such support to Israel you should read something about the history of the modern Middle East. You will find most respected historians are very critical of Zionism. You should also read some of the statements issued by the Orthodox Christians living under Israeli domination. As Orthodox Christians we should be concerned with the plight of any Orthodox Christian living under oppression. By any objective standard, the Palestinians are living under oppression. Any hope that they had of having a state of their own has been destroyed by the Israeli settlements that are strategically placed to control the area, especially the water. The Israelis try to interfere in the internal affairs of our Church in the Holy Land, and have taken land from the Orthodox Church without just compensation. The Israeli government even demands the right to veto any candidate for the office of Patriarch of Jerusalem. As an historian before I even considered converting to Orthodoxy, I came to the conclusion that Zionism is one of the last gasps of European imperialism. Since I became Orthodox, I have gotten to know many Palestinians and have heard how they have suffered. Have you ever talked with a Palestinian Christian about how hard it is to get through Israeli check points to go to the doctor or attend a special service of the Church? One man in one of my parishes watched his father die because the Israelis would not let him receive treatment in Jewish hospital. I could spend all day relating stories that I have heard from Palestinian Orthodox Christians about the horrors of living under the Zionists. Do you know that Orthodox Jews routinely spit upon Orthodox clergy as they walk down the street and harass our people during processions on feast days? These are our people because they are fellow Orthodox Christians. They are suffering. We do everything that we can to help them.

        Archpriest John W. Morris

        • I think your use of the term “Zionist” is what people take umbrage at or at least I know I do.Its not Zionists ,,its Israelis… I know many Palestinians and they indeed left because of oppression.I have also been to Isreal about six times. The first time was with my grandmother when she and my greatgrandmother were honored at the Yad Vashem for hiding jews during the Shoah. I do wish Israel would work this out with the Palestinians.. Let us all pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
          I’d rather live under the Israeli’s than under Assad. Watch the news much?

          • Stephen, Zionist is a better term than Israeli. Israeli means a citizen of Israel, which includes many Jews, Christians, and Muslims who oppose the Israeli government’s actions in the West Bank . . . though one can still be a Zionist and oppose the settlers’ annexation of West Bank towns and resources. Perhaps, “extreme/imperial Zionist” would be a better description. “Pro-settler” may carry less baggage and be more informative, though.

            • Yes indeed..”pro-settler” would do better for me or Right Wing forces as the Labor Govt was anti-settler..I was shocked the last time I was in Israel at the size of the wall that the Israeli government has put up across its borders..I am old enough to remember how outraged people were when the East German put a wall up on the East German border {and not just in Berlin as some peope think}.What is the difference..The Right Wing Israeli forces are destroying Isreal. The Right Wing in Israel is very close to the Evangelical Right here in America. A few people were shocked when I told them I was Orthodox.

          • Archpriest John Morris says

            Why do you find the term “Zionists” offensive? I deliberately use that term to avoid charges of antisemitism. Zionism is an ideology began by Theodore Herzl that is responsible for the belief that Jews have special rights in the Holy Land to the exclusion of all other people. The slogan of Zionism was “a people without a land for a land without people.” The problem is that it was not a land without people. It has been the homeland of the Palestinian people for centuries. The Romans destroyed Israel and exiled the Jews from the Holy Land after the revolt of 70 a.d. Just because modern Jews are descended from people who lived there 2,000 years ago does not give them a right to displace the people living there now. Everyone is descended from someone who was at one time or another driven from their homeland. I could not go to England and claim the right to live someplace if my ancestors lived there before they came to America. There is also a very important theological issue here. As Orthodox Christians we believe that the Jews forfeited their status as God’s chosen people when they rejected Christ. The Church has taken the place of the old Israel and is now the true Israel of God. So called Christian Zionism is an heresy from an Orthodox point of view.

            Archpriest John W. Morris

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              I personally don’t find the word “zionist” to be offensive. Although many who are Jew-haters do use the word as a proxy for Jew and to disguise their anti-Judaism. (I also avoid the term “anti-Semite” because Arabs, Chaldeans, and Assyrians are Semites as well.) As for the ethnic nature of the “Palestinian” people, many of them are descended from the Jews who were not driven out by the Romans during the First and Second Jewish Wars. During the Second Jewish War (the Bar-Kokhba Revolt), the Romans were able to go door-to-door in Jerusalem and forcibly remove the natives. This was very difficult to do in the outlying countryside where the natives were able to melt into the hills. Anyway, many of the remnants made deals with the Muslims some 500 years later and accepted an Islam of convenience. Together with the Arabs, they were able to drive out the Romans (Byzantines) from Palestine.

            • Jim of Olym says

              There is a family in my OCA parish from Beit Jalla, which is in the ‘occupied territories’. When they are here in the US they are citizens of this country. when they go back home they are ‘Palestinians’ and their US passports are not honored. They have to go through checkpoints like all the other ‘Palestinians’. The US government does not protest this but allows ‘some’ of its citizens to be treated like drek. sorry for the offensive word but that is exactly what it s. That is one of the major reasons that I will not ever go to the holy places of my Orthodox faith as long as the present Israeli government is in power.

        • Dear Archpriest John Morris, it is so refreshing to read your well explained and historically accurate description of what is going on with the apartheid Israel impose at the Palestinians. Unfortunate this blog has become a meeting place for right-wing ideologues full of hate and lack of empathy towards the poor and the downcast (here in the US or anywhere in the world for that matter). It is quite sad to read the rhetoric of hate that spills from some of the so called “Orthodox Christians” in this forum, so I want to thank you for trying to open the eyes of the blind by showing them how deluded and brainwashed they are.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Joseph, as for being a “right-wing” person you are correct. I stand proudly in the company of great right-wingers like our Founding Fathers, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan. To say however that we are “against” the “poor and downcast” is preposterous. Free-market liberalism (classical liberalism, not the modern “progressivism”) has done more to lift up the poor and downcast of this world than any other economic system. Besides, the fact that I put this piece by “60 Minutes” on shows that I am no reflexive “right-winger” but am willing to look at both sides of an issue.

            As for the treatment of Palestinian Christians, I am fully aware that the situation is far more complicated than we give it credit for. The wall that separates them from Israel proper is very hurtful but I totally understand why the Israelis feel that they had to build it. We should remember that almost nobody in Israel wanted it at one time. The Left didn’t want it because they liked the idea of no borders (because of their happy-clappy “we are the world” view of national sovereignty); the Right didn’t like it because it would permanently cut off Judea and Samaria from Israel proper, and the business elite didn’t like it because it cut off masses of migrant workers who could undercut Israeli workers’ wages. The terrorism unleashed by that vile sodomite Yasir Arafat (who btw died of AIDS) during the Second Intifadah made the wall a necessity.

            I personally hope that someday we will build a wall along the Rio Grande. Sovereignty is a good thing.

    • You’re forgetting one thing: In 2000, Yasser Arafat turned down a deal that would have given him about 95% of what the Arabs had been demanding—the Israelis were ready to sign on the dotted line.

      But Arafat turned it down. Turned. It. Down.

      “In December 2000, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were brought to Washington. And on December 23, President Clinton presented a new plan to them. The Palestinians would get 97 percent of the West Bank, Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new Palestinian state, refugees would be allowed to return to Palestine but not Israel, and a $30 billion fund would be established to compensate refugees. ”

      So every single one of the ideas that was asked of him [Arafat], he rejected.” How can Ross be so sure of that? He was in the room with Clinton and Arafat when it happened.

      He turned it down.

      The ramifications were these:

      1) It assured that the Arabs—I do not call them “Palestinians” as they were not called “Palestinians” until the American media started doing so in the 70s— would be satisfied with nothing less than getting 100% of what they demanded, thus perpetuating the hostilities of their own free will.

      2) It told Arab families that their sacrifices had been futile and would be continue to be absolutely necessary until Arab goals had been achieved 100%. No compromise was acceptable. They, therefore, had not choice but to fight on to the bitter end.

      3) It cemented the idea in the Arab world that nothing less than the complete annihilation of Israel could be considered victory. The total annihilation of Israel is the goal of every Arab organization: Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO.

      The Arabs could have had peace years ago. They did not want it.

      Yeah, I know about Menachim Begin and the Irgun. There is no excuse for terrorism. There is never any excuse for terrorism. And I know some of the Arabs must be suffering, but not to the extent made out by the Leftist media. Read, for example, this article from the Wall Street Journal from December of 2009: Building Peace Without Obama’s Interference. Neither side is blameless.

      It’s a tragedy that this has worked out as it has. As George suggests, it is a complex issue—far from black and white. Unfortunately, anti-semitism is fashionable once again, and we should take into account the horrible events of the 1930s-40s before we jump on that bandwagon again.


      Clearly, one of us is ‘deluded and brainwashed’. Time will tell.

      • Pravoslavnie says

        There are many missed opportunities in the Holy Land. In January 1919, Prince Feisal and Chaim Weitzman signed an agreement whereby Zionists would have supported an Arab state in exchange for Arab support of Jewish settlement in Palestine. This rare example of Arab-Jewish cooperation encouraged Jewish immigration, and even allowed for Jewish representation in the governing assembly of a Greater Syria. The whole agreement fell apart when the British and French refused independence to the Arabs, and instead agreed to divide the Middle East into their own spheres of influence. While Feisal and Weitzman both supported the agreement until their deaths, it never gained traction even when the Arab countries eventually received independence, and especially following the Zionist declaration of a Jewish state in 1948.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          That’s a good point. The Arab Rebellion (led by Prince Feisal and T E Lawrence) placed significant, good-faith feelers out to the Zionists to create more allies against the Ottomans. Politics always makes strange bedfellows.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        That is not exactly true. The offer made by Israel would have given Palestinians sovereignty over an area that would be surrounded and filled with Jewish settlements that would effectively prevent the Palestinian state from existing free of Israeli domination. The settlements are placed to give the Israelis control over the water and to allow them to exercise domination over the proposed Palestinian state. Thus the offer was not fair to the Palestinians. The U.S. government has opposed the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank under both Democratic and Republican administrations. If you read an objective study of the offers made by Israel since 1948 you will see that they all have so many conditions that it would be impossible for a Palestinian state to function and survive except under Israeli domination.

        Archpriest John W. Morris

        • But isn’t that always the case with “ethno-states” (and what is an “ethno-state” but a nation)? The present multicultural experiment that is the result of the disastrous “reform” of immigration laws in the United States post-1965 (thank you, Ted Kennedy) has not worked in our nation very well. In fact, it is now drawing to a close with disastrous results.

          I have had major disagreements with Woodrow Wilson, but he was right about one thing: and that is for a nation to survive, it must be as mono-cultural as possible. The idea that Jews and Arabs could ever live in peace was a chimera foisted upon a gullible public. The Arabs of Palestine for their part have been honest in the sense that they won’t allow Jews to live anywhere in the Gaza or the PA. The Turks likewise have gone out of their way to de-recognize the existence of a vast Kurdish minority living within their borders –going so far as to call them “Mountain Turks.”

          The question of whether the Jews should have been allowed to emigrate to Palestine is another issue. The fact remains though that there are about 7 million of them there and they aren’t going anyplace, so unless someone is advocating another genocide, it’s rather late in the day to cry about Jewish immigration.

          I do agree with you though that the PA as presently constituted is an unviable statelet. Having said that, I’m not at all sure whether any Arab state can function in the modern world as a viable state. Look at what happened to Egypt and what is happening to Syria. Perhaps the best solution would have been to allow the Ottoman Empire to survive, or the Caliphate to be reconstituted –a broad transnational empire encompassing many peoples but which was administered by the Turks. (Excepting the Balkans of course.)

          • George,

            I am shocked! Have you been belittling your tribe for so long that you overlook the best scenario — the resurrection of the Christian Empire? Now that the Omogenia is having such a difficult time, we could give them all cushy bureaucratic jobs paid for by the Levant’s black gold. This fantasy would solve so many problems:

            * Defection of Orthodox states from the godless E.U.

            * Return of the Greek Orthodox Church to Constantinople so the E.P. would be a real Church, again.

            * Guaranteed religious freedom (within reason, of course) and holy sites access throughout the Middle East for Christians, rabbinical Jews, and Muslims.

            * Forced peace between Jews and Arabs.

            * End of Christian persecution and emigration.

            * Aggressive campaign for Christian Arabs, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Armenians, and such to return from the West, where their families quickly assimilate into the hedonistic lifestyle and their daughters dress like tacky whores. Possible slogan: “Move back; keep Anastasia, Sophia, and Eftihia from becoming sluts.”

            * Return of economic vitality to the cradle of civilization, fueled by natural resources (rather than having them wasted by silver car driving despots and their Gucci wearing harems).

            * Killing the millet mentality and seeing the end of ethnocentric ecclesial politics in our Churches in the area (Greeks will get their power trips in the bureaucracy, leaving the Church for real churchmen).

            * Finally getting some important conciliar work done.

            * Freeing Antioch from their dhimmi Stockholm Syndrome.

            * Rebuilding the Nea in grand fashion. The Church of the Resurrection would be restored to its former glory.

            * Finally, the Temple Mount would be open to all Abrahamic faiths for use on a shared basis. If the Church of the Resurrection can be shared, so can the Dome of the Rock. If the Muslims behave themselves, they may keep Al-Aqsa. If not, why not bring back an ecumenical version of the Templars . . .

            Of course, it is far fetched. So would have the Paschal celebrations in Christ the Savior Cathedral seemed just forty years ago. History is a quirky and surprising thing.

  4. another anon says

    I just watched 60 Minutes overtime on my computer, about Taybeh, and the interview with Maria Khoury and found it to be quite moving. She could have explained first hand the plight of Christians, and oppression of the people of Taybeh by Israelis and Muslims much better than the 60 minutes episode.
    One of the best accounts of the depletion of Christians in the Middle East that I have read is William Dalrymple’s book From the Holy Mountain. It’s something that’s happening throughout the Middle East as we see in Egypt and Syria. And you can’t blame that on the Jews.

  5. Thank you for the link. The segment was certainly not a “hit piece,” and Fr. John’s criticism is not “anti-semitic.” I thought that the news segment was balanced and that it interviewed very insightful people. The Palestinian problem is a classic lose-lose, everyone-is-screwed microcosm of the human condition. Our melodramatic media overuse the term, but here it is quite appropriate — the situation is a tragedy.

    Most Israelis want to live in peace, but they are surrounded by a much larger hostile population.

    Most Palestinians want to live in peace, but the occupied status of the West Bank leaves them in a perpetual political limbo.

    Palestinian Christians leave principally for economic reasons, yes, but the occupation is the main cause of poor economic conditions. Trade is difficult through walls and across militarized borders.

    Elsewhere in the Middle East, Christians suffer Mohammedan persecution. In the West Bank, this doesn’t seem to be a major problem. Perhaps the kinship between Palestinian Muslims and Christians minimizes that hostility, or perhaps they have gotten along because they see the Israelis as a larger threat. An outside force makes friendship easy — from Sparta and Athens to Mao and Chiang Kai-shek — just as all human beings would lay aside our squabbles instantly if hostile aliens ever visited our planet.

    When I visited the West Bank last year, I only experienced anti-Christian sentiment once. As I was leaving the monastery on the Mount of Temptation with my mother and three Russian ladies, some teenagers threw rocks at us from above. The steward explained that local youths often hurl stones at pilgrims. Besides that, people were extraordinarily cordial (I cannot exaggerate how welcoming) in Jericho. We also visited Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Hebron. Everywhere we went, the locals were happy to see us, knowing that we were Christians and Americans. On several occasions, Muslims told us, non-sequitur, that Palestinians are not terrorists and that Muslims don’t hate Americans, even though that is what we (Americans) hear on our television. That was awkward, but interesting.

    Similarly, we were treated well by Israeli Arabs and Jews in Israel proper. Even in the middle of the mess, most folks are decent and hospitable to strangers. Maybe the divisions in Israeli society lead them to be so welcoming to outsiders. It was clear that everyone wanted to “represent” well in front of us as Americans. Indeed, the only rude Muslims we met were the pushy cleric in the Hebron mosque and the patriarch’s shriner-looking henchman in the Church of the Resurrection.

    My favorite political graffiti from the separation wall was a slogan that I saw in Ramallah: “One Wall, Two Prisons.” It captures the truth well.

    What to do about it?

    People criticize the Israelis for being like Afrikaaner run South Africa, but I wish that they would follow a road not taken by the South Africans. First, there should be a joint call for repentance and forgiveness. Then, I think that a one state solution would be best — make the occupied territories part of Israel and make the Palestinians Israeli citizens. The Palestinians were conquered. That’s history. Now, let’s move on. If a Palestinian does not want Israeli citizenship, then he may sell his property and emigrate to Jordan or wherever. Only such a solution would allow the Israelis to maintain order while also allowing for human cultural and economic flourishing in the West Bank — without walls.

    Both the Jews and the Palestinians would have to give up their dream of their own exclusive ethnostates. More power would have to devolve to localities. On the national level is where the proposed but not implemented South African model comes in. Israel would remain a Jewish hegemony . . . a Jewish homeland was and will always be Israel’s main purpose. The principle of one man, one vote threatens that identity, and it is the main reason that Israelis oppose the true annexation of the occupied territories. If we chucked dogmatic liberalism, though, a stable multiethnic, religiously diverse state that respected Jewish hegemony would become possible. There could be a constitutional order that represented all groups in various ways. For instance, a certain percentage of the Knesset could be reserved for Jews and another for Arabs. Maybe, minority ethnic and religious groups like Christians, Druze, Bedouins, and others could have some special representation. The president and prime minister would have to be Jews.

    Israel should also actively welcome Arab Christians from the West and from Arab states where they suffer persecution to settle as a buffer population. If the Israelis got rid of liberal electoral principles, such immigration would not be a demographic threat. The Christians’ arrival would also lessen resentment toward Jewish immigrants (“settlers”) who are reclaiming the desert.

    Finally, the secular Israelis need to face religious reality. The future of their state is a religious one; the atheistic socialists will die out. There should be some formal state sanctioned meeting of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders wherein they promote peace and justice in Israel in the name of God rather than war, strife, and hatred.

    • another anon says


      Thank you for your very thoughtful remarks.

    • Jim of Olym says

      Nice thoughts, but the Muslims are outbreeding the Jews in Israel. I think the Israelis recognize this. And it’s the Israelis that have the nuclulear bombs, not the Muslims. Hope I’m wrong.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      The problem with this is that the Arab countries will refuse to accept these immigrants and fully integrate them into their society.

  6. It isn’t complicated and really rather simple to understand. Anyone who really studies the history of this region and the wrongful creation of the State of Israel in 1948 can see what happened. Originally, England & the U.S. thought they were doing the right thing in giving Jews their ancient homeland back to them. However, as more & more “European Jews” arrived, they began pushing out the indigenous people with force. The killed many Palestinians, eradicated their towns, created isolation camps for women & children and then even murdered them! Since 1948, the right-wing element in Israel has been eradicating the Palestinian peoples; taking their land, killing them and forcing them to leave. It’s going on today! So how does anyone think this will end? Years & years of killing a people and destroying them. Somewhere along the line, someone will get an atomic weapon into Israel. And why – because the European Jews stole land not theirs and eradicated the indigenous people. The South Africans were smart enough to wake up to their destruction of indigenous peoples; will Israel?

    • The Israelis did not “eradicate” the indigenous people. Had they done so — Canaanite style — they would not have their present problems. Such is the perennial wisdom of genocide. Unfortunately for political harmony, such practical action is evil.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Diogenes, I would be very careful about singing the praises of the South African experiment. The Afrikaaners were present in South Africa for centuries. Their voluntary expulsion is quickly sinking that country into a wave of violence and anarchy that is horrifying to behold. Please read “South Africa’s Rape Culture.” (www.takimag.com/article/south-africas-rape-culture-hannas-wessels/page-2.)

  7. Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo has a roundup of opinion from both sides of the politcal spectrum.

    • I can’t imagine why you would think that Rubin’s discussion includes “both sides” of the political spectrum, unless you mean “from far right to extreme right.” And why does the fact that there are worse offenders against Christian populations in the Middle East get Israel off the hook? It is a constant talking point of Israeli apolgists that they embrace and uphold Western values. So shouldn’t they be judged by those same values of fairness and tolerance, and not those held by, say, the Saudis?

  8. Jim of Olym says

    I remember many years ago meeting an elderly man, Albert Mansour, who had owned a bakery in Jerusalem. His family had lived there for many generations, and his grandfather was a ‘cleaner’ in the Church of the Anastasis (holy Sepulcher). He was forced out of his home and business by the Israelis, and went first to South America and then to southern California where he had extended family. All because the Israelis wanted to take over the part of town where he and his family lived originally. I’m sure his story could be repeated many times by Christian people who have left ‘under the gun’ as it were. If we are a Christian nation, which I doubt, Israel is not our friend in the long run.

  9. The “60 Minutes” report really bent over backward to be fair, and anyone who sees this as a “hit piece” is simply uninformed. I was once a reluctant supporter of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, seeing the wall as a necessary evil. And then I visited Israel and the West Bank twice, spending significant time both in Arab cities in Israel, such as Nazareth, and in various parts of the West Bank, interviewing people on both sides of the conflict. This experience has changed my views quite dramatically, and I would like to share some of what I learned, since a number of comments in this blog show that there is much misinformation out there.

    1) Arabs in Israel and the West Bank are not seething with hatred. Never once did I hear rancor or rage expressed against the Jewish people. Arab peoples, Christian and Muslim, with whom I talked just want to live out their lives in peace, without the kind of harassment to which they are constantly subjected, and which I shall very partially document in what follows.

    2) First, take a look at an Israeli “settlement.” To most of us, the word conjures up log cabins and “Little House on the Prairie,” but the “settlements” are densely populated and highly developed areas, almost always on the top of hills, looking down on the Arabs in the surrounding areas, both for “security” and for the symbolic effect. Here is a photograph of one that is fairly representative:http://www.imemc.org/article/58154 Or you can just google “West Bank Settlement” to view hundreds of images. They are populated by heavily armed “settlers’ who will not hesitate to shoot any hapless Arab who may wander into range. The settlements are connected by a sophisticated series of highways, which the Palestinians are not allowed to use, or even to cross except at checkpoints, which are staffed by Uzi-toting Israeli teenagers. Moreover, in a semi-arid part of the world, the settlements suck up the lion’s share of the water, while the surrounding Arab villages often have only a few days per week when they can use the water systems. (Settlers get water freely to sustains lawns, etc.)

    3) At this point, a map is useful. You can view one here: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/israels-generous-offer/ Or there are many other settlement maps easily available. You will immediately see that in what is supposed to be their own country, they are faced with an intricate web of impassible roads and checkpoints and vast restricted areas where Arabs are not even allowed at all. Note too that the “Wall” is often well within the West Bank boundaries, leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs in a “no man’s land,” which makes life exceedingly difficult. George advocates a wall across the border with Mexico, but I’m sure he would want it to remain on the U.S. side, and not encompassing (for example) huge parts of Tijuana or Juarez.

    4) What I have said so far can be immediately verified by anyone with good will and an open mind. And remember that all this is in a country that has been occupied for nearly 50 years. (How many “occupations” can you think of that have gone on even a fraction of that period?) But innumerable books, articles, and personal anecdotes give consistent testimony that the land for the settlements, highways, etc. is acquired through the most high-handed manipulation of the legal system, along with “gotcha” rules and regulations that are rigged against the indigenous peoples.

    5) There are a host of voices, both right-wind Israelis and crazed Christian Dispensationalists in America, who are entirely candid in their advocacy of outright ethnic cleansing to finish the job, and these people are by no means marginal. In America, they make up a significant percentage of the Christian Evangelical world, and in Israel, they have the ear of Netanyahu and other decision makers, as well as an inordinate influence on Israeli politics

    6) in view of this, the notion that Christians are leaving Israel and Palestine solely because of the Muslims is just naive and absurd. It cannot be sustained by a fair-minded person who looks into the facts, apart from some ideologically-driven political narrative.

    • Thank you Seraphim for sharing your “hands on” experiences and knowledge. It is quite scary when you watch Christians (Evangelicals or Orthodox) becoming so narrow minded by veering to extreme right-wing ideologies like “us” against “them” like becoming part of a club for the dominant race, the superior race, the chosen ones, deprived of any empathy for the suffering of others. Tragic!

      • Now which Joseph would this be? It is not me, Joseph I. it is not Joseph A. either… George, can’t we get this sorted out? How many Joseph are on this blog?
        I don’t want to have opinions promulgated, as coming from Joseph, with which I do not concur… As I said before, I was first…

  10. I will immediately grab your rss feed as I can’t to find your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me recognise in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  11. As BT would say, “Now here’s a howler!”

    Spokesman for Moscow Patriarchate sees Russia as alternative to capitalism
    April 24, 2012

    The chief public-affairs representative of the Russian Orthodox Church has said that Russia today offers a viable alternative to a capitalist economic system.

    Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said that while Russia made some economic progress under the Soviet regime, that system of government was profoundly flawed by an atheist ideology. Nevertheless, he said, “the idea of a society where money, profit, and private economic interests do not dominate was very important.” The cleric said that today’s Russian government, no longer encumbered by Marxist ideology, “is designed to offer the world its recipe for a social order in which money and selfish personal gain are not be the primary goal.”

    The statement by Archpriest Chaplin appeared to be aimed at addressing both the widespread fears of a general breakdown in the world’s financial system and the nostalgia that some Russians feel for the powerful Soviet government. At the same time his remarks underline the steadily closer alliance between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Putin government.