The above story ran on 60 Minutes tonight. It’s a powerful piece showing life under occupation, and a damning portrait of Michael Oren as the chief spokesperson for Israel’s unjust control over the West Bank. On the onerous permit regime that limits freedom of movement and defines Palestinian existence in the occupied territories Oren says, “It’s their inconvenience, it’s our survival.” Oren tries to blame the dwindling Christian community in the West Bank on Islamic extremism, and Palestinian Christians interviewed nearly break out laughing. Not surprisingly, Oren calls Israel’s Christian critics anti-Semites.
But perhaps the most revealing part of the show was Bob Simon sharing that Oren had complained to CBS News head Jeff Fager before the segment had even been aired, calling it “a hatchet job.”
From 6o Minutes:
For Israel, there could be serious economic consequences. According to Israeli government figures, tourism is a multi billion dollar business there. Most tourists are Christian. Many of them are American. That’s one reason why Israelis are very sensitive about their image in the United States. And that could be why Ambassador Oren phoned Jeff Fager, the head of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes, while we were still reporting the story, long before tonight’s broadcast. He said he had information our story was quote: “a hatchet job.”
Michael Oren: It seemed to me outrageous. Completely incomprehensible that at a time when these communities, Christian communities throughout the Middle East are being oppressed and massacred, when churches are being burnt, when one of the great stories in history is unfolding? I think it’s– I think it’s– I think you got me a little bit mystified.
Bob Simon: And it was a reason to call the president of– chairman of CBS News?
Michael Oren: Bob, I’m the ambassador of the State of Israel. I do that very, very infrequently as ambassador. It’s just– that’s an extraordinary move for me to complain about something. When I heard that you were going to do a story about Christians in the Holy Land and my assum– and– and had, I believe, information about the nature of it, and it’s been confirmed by this interview today.
Bob Simon: Nothing’s been confirmed by the interview, Mr. Ambassador, because you don’t know what’s going to be put on air.
Michael Oren: Okay. I don’t. True.
Bob Simon: Mr. Ambassador, I’ve been doing this a long time. And I’ve received lots of reactions from just about everyone I’ve done stories about. But I’ve never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn’t been broadcast yet.
Michael Oren: Well, there’s a first time for everything, Bob.
This was the 60 Minutes gotcha moment. Be sure to watch it, the reaction shots of Oren are priceless.
There are also supplemental videos available on the 60 Minutes website including this on Palestinian Christian support for BDS: