‘Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ mounts denial campaign against ’60 Minutes’

US Politics
on 19 Comments

Historian/political writer Rick Perlstein writing in Rolling Stone explaining why media folks don’t speak out on the issue:

People are cowed at the thought of taking on the shrieking Israel absolutists, the ones who imagine themselves every day saving six million lives and their critics as hastening the slaughter.

From the Jewish Council for Public Affairs:

In Response to Flawed 60 Minutes Report on Israel, Thousands Join Letter Writing Campaign

Following an inaccurate report on the Palestinian Christian population, over 3,600 people have independently reached out to 60 Minutes through the Jewish Council for Public Affairs asking the television news magazine to correct the record. The report, “Christians of the Holy Land” which aired Sunday April 22nd, falsely claimed that the Palestinian Christian population had decreased and blamed the spurious change on Israeli policies….

…“This has really been a grassroots response from the community looking for honest discussion about Palestinian Christians and Israel,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “We cannot have a productive and fair conversation if facts are misrepresented and the record is distorted.” 

More from the email, to answer commenter Scott:

A report on the demographic data released by the JCPA last summer conclusively demonstrates that the population Palestinian Christian population has either remained the same or increased in West Bank over the last few decades…

JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles: “60 Minutes took unchallenged the Kairos Palestine document, an anti-Israel manifesto that places 100% of the blame for the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel. We hope this broad call for a more responsible conversation on Israel does not go unnoticed.”

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. Scott
    May 4, 2012, 9:03 am

    They’re claiming the Palestinian Christian population hasn’t decreased?

    • W.Jones
      May 4, 2012, 3:51 pm

      Scott,

      The film focused on Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, rather than in Israel proper. All over the Holy Land, the percent of Pal.Christians is decreasing.

      Quantitatively:
      In Israel proper, the number of Pal.Christians is increasing.
      In the Christian town of Taybeh in the West Bank (one of the very few), the number is drastically decreasing- by half or 3/4.
      In Jerusalem, the number of Christians fell by about half in 1948 and 1967. The Christians would ascribe this to the Nakba and Naksa.

      Since then, in the West Bank, their numbers are generally in stagnant flux, sometimes increasing and other times decreasing by several thousand every few years (out of a population of about 40-55,000, so this means alot).

      Unfortunately, I have alot of trouble finding yearly survey information for the Palestinian Christian population of Jerusalem- the surveys I found talk about Jerusalem’s general Christian population, which is buttressed by immigrants. For example, I read that in 2005 off the top of my head there were 15,800 Christians there, and then in 2010 there were 15,100. However, in 2010, of them only 11,600 or so were Christians.

      What someone would need to answer your question would be surveys from past decades of Palestinian Christians.

  2. Boulos
    May 4, 2012, 9:49 am

    what i can’t figure out is what right american jews or american christians or american anyone have to speak out on behalf of another group of people half a world away. i mean, really, how many people in Christians for Israel actually know Palestinian Christians or an actual living, breathing palestinian christian? How many of the people who are writing in through the JCPA know a Palestinian, much less a Palestinian Christian? Why should CBS give their opinions any weight at all? What do these people know? How do they know it? The whole thing’s ludicrous if you think about it for more than two seconds. This all goes back to one of the most fundamental issues in the entire conflict, at least in the US, one of representation. Who has the right to speak for Palestinians in general and, in this case, for Palestinian Christians in particular? Are they not human beings who can express themselves and speak to their own experience and their own situation without being told that they are delusional and deceived by people thousands of miles away. It’s so ridiculous that it beggars belief.

    • Don
      May 4, 2012, 12:44 pm

      Good point, Boulos.

      Here is a Palestinian Christian…Philip Farrah… responding to Michael Oren a few days ago in Huffington Post…

      “I am a Palestinian Christian, now a U.S. citizen, and my own experience and that of my family attest to the falsity of Ambassador Oren’s assertion.”

      Here is a link to his article…
      link to huffingtonpost.com

    • American
      May 4, 2012, 2:17 pm

      Boulos says:
      May 4, 2012 at 9:49 am
      + Show content
      what i can’t figure out is what right american jews or american christians or american anyone have to speak out on behalf of another group of people half a world away. i mean, really, how many people in Christians for Israel actually know Palestinian Christians or an actual living, breathing palestinian christian?”

      I don’t know why you can’t figure it out.

      “Something happens….then you make a choice and take a side”…
      ‘The Quiet American’, Graham Green.

  3. pabelmont
    May 4, 2012, 10:03 am

    I look forward to CBS mentioning all the letters that say the population record was fudged and the Christian population has actually not decreased — and explaining why they are both wrong and the writers deliberately misguided.

  4. Annie Robbins
    May 4, 2012, 11:00 am

    population has either remained the same or increased in West Bank over the last few decades

    notice how the word percentage is not used.

    • Talkback
      May 4, 2012, 12:16 pm

      Exactly Annie,

      in other words the decrease was as high as the natural growth, if the population has remained the same.

  5. Pixel
    May 4, 2012, 11:04 am

    “… shrieking Israel absolutists…”

    best description, yet.

  6. Pixel
    May 4, 2012, 11:32 am

    Let’s increase the signatures at thankyou60minutes.org

    To counter the 26,000 negative responses sent to CBS before the show, thankyou60minutes.org was hoping to get 29,000 in support.

    They now have 38347.

    Let’s make it 38348 and counting..

  7. DICKERSON3870
    May 4, 2012, 11:53 am

    RE: “People are cowed at the thought of taking on the shrieking Israel absolutists, the ones who imagine themselves every day saving six million lives and their critics as hastening the slaughter.” ~ Rick Perlstein (author of “Nixonland”)

    MY COMMENT: I knew Rick Perlstein was an I.F. Stoner! I just knew it! That’s how the light gets in.

    I.F. STONE (1967): “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” ~ from In a Time of Torment, 1961-1967 (1967), p. 317
    SOURCE – link to en.wikiquote.org

    P.S. Thank CBS for Telling the Story of Palestinian Christians!
    CBS reporter Bob Simon highlighted the story of Palestinian Christians on the April 22nd episode of 60 Minutes. Express your appreciation to CBS for telling the often forgotten story of Palestinian Christians by sending them an email (pre-written and editable).
    • TO SEND EMAIL - link to org2.democracyinaction.org

    • ALSO: CLICK HERE to sign JVP’s petition which has already gathered over 38,000 signatures. (Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots organization dedicated to promoting equality, democracy and self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians.)

    P.P.S. ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM RICK PERLSTEIN:

    (excerpt) . . . In the suburban Midwestern Reform Jewish world I was raised in, in the nineteen-seventies and eighties, grown men built plastic scale models of Israeli tanks and F-15 jets and displayed them throughout the house, dangling the warplanes from bedroom ceilings with fishing line. My dad, who had a replica Uzi sub-machine gun on his office wall, wore a tiepin that read, in Hebrew letters, Zachor, which means “remember.” What was meant to be remembered was the “six million,” the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, a number seared into all of our souls – at home, in Sunday school, at religious services, and at the Jewish Community Center summer camp in the Wisconsin North Woods, where we began each morning by raising the Israeli and American flags side by side.
    This all felt right and proper. What didn’t sit so well (with me, at any rate) was the catechism that accompanied the injunction to remember. It held that the next six million, just like the poem says, were still getting ready to die, right here in River City – or in Australia, in Timbuktu, in our own Milwaukee, or anywhere else Jews were granted the privilege – the temporary, conditional privilege — to live. The one safe haven: Israel, whose formidable tanks and planes would hold the line against the eliminationist contempt in which most of the world held us. The message provided a kind of quasi-spiritual ballast to our acquisitive upper-middle-class lives; but as an morally precocious little dude I found it all so far from observable reality, it made me want to puke. . .

    SOURCE – link to m.rollingstone.com

  8. radii
    May 4, 2012, 3:34 pm

    ha-ha, zio-crazies fighting on all sides now – even rear-guard actions after-the-fact … Simon and 60 Minutes are highly credible and the report is out there – it is fact – and no zio-spin will change it or mitigate it … the hubris of zio-leaders thinking they still drive the machine shaping public perception

  9. Rusty Pipes
    May 4, 2012, 4:00 pm

    Great close to the article beyond the paragraph Phil cites:

    That reflexive intimidation, in the end, is what most fascinates me about The Crisis of Zionism. I’d heard great things from friends about the book — but read almost nothing admiring about it in the public prints. People are cowed at the thought of taking on the shrieking Israel absolutists, the ones who imagine themselves every day saving six million lives and their critics as hastening the slaughter. Apropos: In one stunning story Beinart tells in his book, a group of young Jewish leaders declined to stand together at a Jewish gathering and sing the national anthem, but also declined to join a public resolution opposing settlement growth: “In the organized Jewish world, left-leaning young Jews often rely on establishment Jewish institutions for financial support. And publicly criticism is an excellent way to endanger that support.” Again and again, he prints quotations from unidentified sources, who apparently fear attaching their name to even innocuous opinions: like the former official of the American Defamation League who says it is “first and foremost a fund-raising organization”; and the “prominent Jewish journalist” who remarks that one major institutional conference “looks like the day room at the old-age home.”

    Another anonymous source is a “senior State Department official,” who recently traveled with Secretary Clinton from Jerusalem to Ramallah in the West Bank: “There was a kind of silence and people were careful, but it was like, my God, you crossed that border and it was apartheid.” For the most prominent victim of this climate of intimidation, and the retreat from reason and empirical observation it enforces, is the president whose Chicago home sits across the street from a venerable synagogue where, Beinart argues, he learned from the Jewish community that embraced him a Zionism that was both deeply felt and opposed to settlement growth. But then Barack Obama moved into the White House, where he found it impossible to follow through on his convictions, thanks to “Jewish pressure,” as a revealing headline in Time magazine puts it.

    Jewish pressure issues from people like Malcolm Honlein, not from any preponderance of actual Jews; polling finds “the gap between Jews and other Americans has not narrowed at all” on approval of Obama, and only 10 percent of American Jews make Israel their primary voting issue. “Members of Congress,” Beinart concludes, “worried that the administration did not fully grasp what he had gotten himself into” when he made a halt to the growth in settlements by the Israeli government a precondition for further diplomatic progress. Now, however, he has given up, and his statements sound like “they were faxed to his office by the Israeli prime minister’s office,” according to one Israeli commentary Beinart quotes. “‘If you’re going to pick a fight with a bully, you need to win.’” This quote is from a “Congressional staffer who works on Israel policy” – who, naturally, asked not to be named.

  10. Avi_G.
    May 4, 2012, 9:49 pm

    JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “We cannot have a productive and fair conversation if facts are misrepresented and the record is distorted.”

    Nice try rabbi Steve Gutow, but the fact is that this so-called “conversation” of which you speak has been made a taboo topic by the likes of you. You know that very well and yet you call yourself a rabbi? Cute.

  11. Boulos
    May 4, 2012, 10:43 pm

    yeah, but what if something happens, and you choose to speak out on behalf of people, going against their explicit statements about their plight and self-interest to the contrary. Where do they get off? Who gave them the right to (mis)represent another people? The Kairos Document, which the 60 Minutes segment highlighted, was supported by the leadership of all the various stripes of Palestinian Christian groups. American Jewish groups are then going to come in and say that these leaders actually do not know what the interest of their communities and what is going on, on the ground in their communities? Is there something in the water in the Tri-State area that gives people an x-ray vision to see through Palestinian Christian False Consciousness?

    ‘Something happens…then you make a choice and take a side…’ And then others, half a world a way and with no first-hand knowledge of what is going on, much less the language you speak, come in and say that choice and side you have made and taken really aren’t your choice and side, the opposite is. And in fact, nothing has really happened.

    Please.

  12. W.Jones
    May 5, 2012, 12:41 am

    60 Minutes Smears Israel for Christian Exodus from Holy Land
    By Chad Groening

    Jan Markell is founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries in Minnesota. She says the Palestinian Christian flight is not because of some perceived “Israeli occupation.”

    “This is being done by the Arab community,” says the ministry leader. “This is not being done by Israel. Israel is a democracy. She’s pro-freedom of religion. She’s not chasing anybody out—particularly Arab Christians … many of [whom] take the Bible literally and properly that Israel would be God’s chosen people.”

    Neither Markell nor McDonnell is surprised that Simon, who is Jewish, would do a “hatchet job” on Israel. Most American Jews, they say, are very liberal and not pro-Israel.
    link to bibleprophecyblog.com

    Well, I for one am at least alittle surprised that someone who isn’t Christian would focus his report on Christians. On a sidenote, if most Jewish Americans consider themselves pro-Israel, would they consider Groening (“Most American Jews, they say, are… not pro-Israel”) as smearing them in his article “60 Minutes Smears Israel”?

    By the way relatively few Pal.Christians are Evangelical despite the claim that “many of [them] take the Bible literally”.

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