“60 Minutes” on Christians in the Holy Land

The exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians could eventually leave holy cities like Jerusalem and Bethlehem without a local Christian population. Why are they leaving? “60 Minutes” Sunday night found some compelling answers in a report by Bob Simon that offered a look at a subject that doesn’t get a lot of attention on broadcast television.


  1. Frederick R. Sharpe says:

    The lack of coverage by the media of the persecution of Christians throughout the Islamic world is at best very troubling. To answer this appalling void in the news 60 Minutes weighs in with a hard hitting investigative report on Christian persecution in the Middle East by Israel?
    Do they have no shame?

  2. Come on, it WAS a hatchet job. The whole focus was to blame Israel. If muslims weren’t trying to destroy the state of Israel then then the fighting wouldn’t be happening. Before that wall was built there were almost daily terrorist attacks inside of Israel, daily bombings of buses full of innocent civilians including children. The wall has greatly reduced the violence inside of Israel. Sounds like a perfectly sane and sound policy. Christians are being affected not because of Israel but because the muslims will not stop the intifada. Israel isn’t attacking Christians. That’s the bottom line.

  3. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    The report itself struck me as being fair. The Israeli ambassador was given time to clearly state Israel’s case and the spokespersons of Christian Arabs were given time to state their case. And, naturally each side tried to put the other side in the most negative light. And I think it was 60 Minutes that did a report on the persecution of Christians in Turkey a while back right after as Catholic priest was shot and killed there.
    However, as the Israeli ambassador correctly pointed out. in overall news coverage the persecution, killing, bombing, and terrorizing of Christians in the Middle East outside Israel is given pathetically little attention.

  4. We get Christian Holy Land visitors at my parish and they don’t like to discuss it but they obliquely mention that the problem is the dangerous Palestinians AND that the Israelis aren’t always pleasant.

  5. Christians in the Israeli occupied West Band are the unfortunate victims of the battle between Islam and Israel. But I can’t forget that Islam has consistently been the aggressor in that battle. Nor can I ignore the fact that the real story about Christians in the Middle East — the active oppression of Christians in every Muslim majority country there (with the possible exception of Lebanon) — has been ignored. I am disgusted that CBS has ignored that story, the oppression of millions of Christians throughout the Middle East, in order to focus on a small but important group of Christians in the Holy Land whose misfortune stems at least in large part from Israeli actions. Why not a story on the violence against the Copts in Egypt for example?

  6. Barbara P says:

    While it is important that the media tell the story of Christian persecution throughout the Middle East, it is also important that the media report on the hardships faced by Palestinian Christians as a result of Israeli policies. These Christians are suffering because they are caught in the middle of a violent battle but I was taken aback when I heard the Israeli Ambassador refer to these hardships as “inconveniences” that Palestinian Christians must deal with to ensure Israel’s survival. The Christians that were interviewed described these government policies as more than inconveniences. It seems that it is their opinion that these policies are significantly contributing to the disappearance of Christians from the Holy Land. I think we should look seriously to what the Christians are saying to see if there is anything we can do as Americans to make their lives better or to ease some of the restrictions that have been imposed upon them.

  7. Oh I didn’t realize Deacon you were replying to me. This new format makes that hard to tell.

    Yes, both sides were given time, perhaps because the Ambassador called the management of 60 Minutes. But the editorial skew was definitely anti Israel. The narration from Bob Simon’s voice was very clear where his bias was.

  8. Three decades ago, as hardcore Christian Zionist dispensationalists, my wife and I went moved to Jerusalem as missionaries to save the Jews. We had no idea what God had in mind for us. In short, largely because of the witness of the Palestinian Catholics, we would return to the US two years later and enter the Catholic Church. Bob Simon, who happens to be Jewish, did an excellent job in presenting the truth of the plight of the Christian Palestinians and the difficulties they face living under the Israeli occupation. We witnessed first hand what was shown on the segment and more. As was stated by the Christians on the segment, the Christian exodus from the Holy Land is not because of Muslims, but because of the Israeli occupation. It’s one thing for some Protestant Christians, in their misguided reading of Scripture, to blindly support the secular state of Israel. It’s quite another for a Catholic to buy into a dangerous heresy like Christian Zionism. I hope this segment gets widespread viewing among American Christians. Pray for the Christians of the Holy Land and for heaven’s sake, if you’re fortunate enough to go there on pilgrimage, please make sure you have a Christian guide.

  9. But, Manny:
    To criticize some of Israel’s policies does not mean necessarily to be anti-Israel.

  10. Ok, what’s the criticism? That they built a fence to protect their citizens? If New York City was getting bombed several times a week, you better believe we would be as harsh or harsher than the Israeli government. It’s unfortunate that life cannot be normal there. But the blame falls on the Muslims.

  11. So why do you think there is an occupation? Who started the wars and who wants to annihilate who? Who is terrorizing who? Please.

  12. Manny, simply put, the occupation came first along with Jewish terrorism by the Irgun and others (i.e. The King David Hotel bombing and the men women and children killed in Deir Yassin by a Jewish terrorist group). There are numerous books you can read regarding the forced exodus of Palestinians from their homes in 1948 and again in 1967. One of the best is “The Land Called Holy: Palestine in Christian History and Thought” by Robert Wilken. Maybe even better and shorter is “Blood Brothers” by Fr. Elias Chacour. You simply cannot oppress and entire people for so many decades and expect that their won’t be resistance and blowback. If you happen to live near or could visit NY, San Francisco, LA, Detroit, Houston, Atlanta and or any number of possibilities where there is a sizable Christian Palestinian community you could attend Mass/Church and afterwards meet some of these Christians. Most would be more than happy to take the time to tell you first hand what it was like to live under the Israeli occupation. They are a very hospitable people and who knows, you may get a dinner invitation! And for the record, far more civilians have been killed by the Israelis than by Palestinian terrorists. Of course neither can be justified.

  13. In the 1930s, some British-connected Zionists bought a farm from a Muslim near Hebron, and established a collective farm – a kibbutz. Some of their neighbors, apparently operating on the theory that “once land is Muslim-owned, always that land shall be Muslim-owned” attacked and massacred the Jews then living there. This happened about 1937.
    Muslim-dominated countries in surrounding areas have been quite willing to expel Jews who were living there, but not so willing to accept Palestinian refugees.
    Barring the unlikely event of a moderation of the neighboring nations’ desire to obliterate Israel (after all, they expelled the Crusaders after a two-Century occupation!), no end to the underlying conflict is likely.

  14. The United Nations set up a small Israeli state among the huge number of Muslim states in the middle east. The initiation of the war is in dispute and I’m not going enough of an expert to know which side to believe. There have been several agreements of which the Palistinians refuse to accept. The “occupation” wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t muslim terrorism. Obviously you believe the Palistinians. In other words you support the Palistinian war and terror on Israel. I don’t.

  15. An interesting aspect of this is that Palestinian nationalism was largely secular prior to 1980 and many of the leaders of the most radical Palestinian groups were from Christian families.

  16. Manny, you make it sound as if I am sympathetic to terrorism! As a Christian, I see all terrorism as an intrinsic evil, whether it is at the hands of Jews or Palestinians. Of course the first terrorists in the Middle East go back to April of 1948 when the Jewish Irgun terrorist squads massacred 254 Palestinian men, women and children in the village of Deir Yassin. But that was actually preceded by the bombing of the King David Hotel, in Jerusalem, an attack carried out by the militant right-wing also carried out by the Irgun, an underground Jewish organization. At the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946, 91 people of various nationalities were killed and 46 were injured. Following a couple of decades of a brutal occupation of Palestinian Christians and Muslims, in the 1960′s we see the beginning of Palestinian terrorism. A people cannot be humiliated, tortured, watch their houses bulldozed without expecting to see blowback. Think how you would react to seeing your olive grove, owned by your family for centuries bulldozed in order for a settlement to be built. This is exactly what happened to many Palestinian, Christian and Muslim, including very good friends of ours. And for the record, many more Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israelis than Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian terrorists. Again, I condemn both! As for who to believe, I can only say that I once held your beliefs on this until I lived there and saw with my own two eyes the way the Palestinian Christians were being treated by the Israelis. Aside from my two years, my brother has lived there over 30 years. Deny all you want, but I hope you will pursue some first hand sources and good reading as suggested above.

  17. Manny and William: While I have not lived in Israel, I have been there twice. On my first trip, I had a Christian tour guide and we intentionally visited with the Christian Palestinians. I received a very good education about their plight and the situation they found themselves in. My second trip was definitely more focused on the history and politics of the region, and we met with many Jewish, Palestinian and Muslim leaders. I believe between the two trips, I got a pretty balanced perspective of both sides. My heart is definitely with the Palestinian Christians, for I believe they are the ones being squeezed by both sides, and their plight is the worst of all!

    That being said, one thing that I have not seen from either of you is the acknowledgement that the state of Israel was formed by the United Nations after World War II as a homeland for the Jews, especially after the Nazi holocaust. Prior to that it was a British Mandate and not in the hands of either Jews or Palestinians. As with all “nation creating” and borders and boundaries changing because of the effects of war, people are displaced and they lose their homes and land. Unfortunately, this happened to all living there who did not want Israeli citizenship – and the Palestinians were offered citizenship. Some took it and I have met with them, too. In fact, there is an Arab Party that has membership in the Knesset – the house of representatives in the State of Israel. The state of Israel is a democracy – not a theocracy – and while most are Jewish, not all citizens are. The 60 Minutes story touched on this – mentioning that most of the Arabs in the city of Nazareth are also citizens. Those who denied citizenship and did not move have been fighting the state of Israel ever since – both Christians and Muslims.

    The state of Jordan was set up by the United Nations for the Palestinians. The country of Jordan did not exist either before WWII. Understandably, many Palestinians did not want to move there, and did not. They have been fighting ever since for their own “homeland.” Many of their leaders, especially Yasir Arafat in my opinion, sold them out for his own personal gain.

    There have been atrocities on both sides. I do not claim to know who’s are worse or more, and I’m not sure we get the whole truth from either side – but all are evil and cannot be condoned. The politics are messy and both sides have good and bad points. One thing I personally have been convinced of, however, is that I trust the Jewish state much more than I will ever trust the Muslims to take care of and respect our Christian holy sites!

  18. Jenny, in my opinion, your view is lacking in many respects, but at least you’re thinking and open to hearing both sides. Yes, I will acknowledge that the UN formed a Jewish state on Palestinians lands and they had no right to do so. Who has the right to create a nation on someone else’s homeland? The early Zionist slogan of “a land without a people for a people without a land” was a myth. Did the Palestinians have a vote at the UN? Also, you’re confusing the issue of the state of Israel which is settled vs. the Occupied Territories. I agree with about one half of the Israeli population that the occupation should end. It is the only chance left for Israel to continue to exist.

  19. Mark Greta says:

    I didn’t realize until I read these comments that the Christian Churches around the world are being burned and Christians killed by Jews from Israel. Here I thought they were Islamic nutjobs. Wow, was I wrong. And I thought those people who think Israel planned and coordinated 9/11 were also nutjobs. How could I not know that in fact they were part of the same group that burned churches around the world directed out of Israel.

    There has been a war with Islam trying to take over the world since its founding with pauses which at times lasted centuries after the Islamists got handed their hat and sent back home each time. The Islamist were on a 300 year long attack plan and had taken over much of the known world when the Catholic leadership finally organized the first crusades. Only when you identify who the people are trying to kill you can you hope to understand what your plan of attack needs to be to survive and end the evil. The koran lays out worldwide domination from how to act when the muslims are outnumbered to what you do when you gain a majority and force everyone to convert or become a slave.

    Would love to get links on those Jews running around the world chanting hatred and burning Churches. I missed that.

  20. Jack B. Nimble says:

    The most reasonable voice on the broadcast was the Israeli journalist who said that the Christians were victims of collateral damage between two grinding wheels of militant Islam and pugnacious Israeli policies. As an American who deeply values free speech and resents foreign governments (that means you Israel and your AIPAC friends here) interfering in our politics and affairs, the Israeli government’s attempt to suppress the broadcast is outrageous.

    Speaking of outrageous, the Islamophobia in some comments here is uncharitable and calumny. Would Deacon K. tolerate anyone pushing the so-called “Protocols of Zion” or accusing the Jews of centuries of wrongdoing? I hope not, but how about the Greta comment, Deacon K.? Terrorists deserve condemnation but to paint an entire religion that way is ignorant bigotry. It’s talk radio blather and undeserving of a place here.

  21. William, I really don’t think I’m confusing the state of Israel with the Occupied Territories. While some of it was land that was given through the U.N., other parts of it were “won” through wars. The fact that they didn’t make the Palestinians assimilate or get out (as is done by most countries when they win territory) seems to have muddied the water, so to speak. However, I believe that technically the Occupied Territorities are Israeli land by all modern understanding of the “spoils of war.”

    I guess part of the flip side to the whole dispute is whatever happened to Jewish land, possessions, money, etc. after the holocaust? Did Germany return what they took to the survivors or their families? Did the Jewish people bomb Germany, commit acts of terrorism and try to overthrow it in order to get back what was “theirs?” What is happening in Palestine (and I use it liberally here), has happened for centuries as a result of war. The Palestinians may not like it, as many of us don’t, but it is the way countries have evolved over time. Unfortunately, they also seem to have rejected every effort to settle the dispute peaceably and want to keep on fighting, including many of the Palestinian Christians. Personally, I’m getting weary of it all, but I do support the Palestinian Christians whenever I can through Catholic charitable organizations, and I urge everyone to do so as well! We also need to pray for peace, especially in the land of Jesus’ birth.

  22. Oh, and William, while the inhabitants of Palestine at the time of the U.N. creation of Israel were “Palestinians,” it was British territory and yes, they had a vote at the U.N. The British held that part of the world since WWI and the Palestinians didn’t complain too much that I know of. So I guess part of the question is, are they upset that they weren’t given self-rule, or are they upset that it went to Jews? While I suspect that it is a combination of both, the latter taints it with quite a bit of prejudice.

  23. “That being said, one thing that I have not seen from either of you is the acknowledgement that the state of Israel was formed by the United Nations after World War II as a homeland for the Jews, especially after the Nazi holocaust.”

    What do you mean from the both of us. I said that exact thing.

    Obviously William sympathizes withg the Palistinian cause. I don’t think he acknowledges the right for Israel to exst.

  24. William, straight up question:

    Do you acknowledge the right of Israel’s existance? Yes or no?

  25. Jenny, it’s obvious that you want an ongoing debate. I simply do not have the time or interest in an ongoing debate. If you’re really interested in the subject and I hope you do care about the suffering Christians in the Holy Land, read the suggested books, talk to the Christians who live or have lived there and if possible go there on pilgrimage with a Christian guide. Most importantly, be open that God may want to show you something (in order for you to better pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ) and pray for enlightenment on the subject. I once held the same view as you, but God insisted that I look at it with new eyes and openness. I was kicking and screaming as my views on the Middle East were closely tied to the fundamentalist theology which I held so dearly. Blessings!

  26. Allen, and perhaps you should talk to Christians living under the Israeli occupation before reading attacks on Jewish Bob Simon for presenting the truth about what life is like under the Israeli occupation. Better yet, live among them for a few weeks and see it for yourself!

  27. @William

    Either you didn’t see my question above or you refuse to answer.

    Do you acknowledge the right of Israel’s existance? Yes or no?

  28. Manny, of course I acknowledge their right to exist! Why wouldn’t I? They have the same “right” as any other country to exist…no more and no less. Our views differ because while I believe that Israel has the right to exist, you obviously do not believe that the Palestinian people have that same right. Next you’ll be telling me that Israel has the right to determine the size of the country of Palestine, where it’s borders should be, that they have to host illegal Israeli settlements within this new found country, whether they should have access to this or that water source, whether they should have an airport or control of their borders etc., etc. Same old same old. As I said, I know your views well. I used to hold them. The end!

  29. “Manny, of course I acknowledge their right to exist! Why wouldn’t I?”

    Well you brought up issues from 1938 and way before the 1967 war. That would imply you find fault in the UN establishing the Israeli state.

    The Palistinians have a right to exist. They have been offered several deals that would lead to a Palistinian state. They refuse them because their greater desire is the anihilation of Israel.

  30. To all in discussion…. The Muslim SS troops that were used by Hitler were willingly recruited in and around the Jerusalem area held by Britain since WWI. I want you to ask yourselves….particularly in consideration of the Brits holding India..WWI…and the split of “India” into India AND Pakistan..which was to give all muslims a place to go (Pakistan) like Jordan was created for. Those that stayed in “India” came under the control of the new “India”, those that left to Pakistan under Pakistani rule (muslim)…which is where Osama Bin Ladin hid for many.. many years by the way…an “ally” of ours??… Now ask yourselves….Why was Israel created???? AND would Muslim rule be better for the area in which the muslims KNEW had been determined to become Israel…why did they not go to the Jordan??…..plenty of time ….since WWI to do it…now ask why did so many leave the area… the muslims…to go to these “refugee” camps.. in Egypt etc,,,Here is the answer..because the word had spread to “get out of the way of the several nation attack on Israel”. The refuge camps are an excuse to keep people that could immigrate to any of several muslim nations in the area. [NO one forced the folks that left to go to the "refugee camps" to NOT form their own government or chose to become a citizen of any of several muslim countries...EXCEPT the very muslim nations surounding Israel...why did they not want ther own muslim brothers...OH did I fail to mention ..more muslims kill muslims than any one kills any one else combined... you know Sunni...Shia...] Why not just go ahead and form ANOTHER muslim group/State where is had been determined.. just as the UN had provided for>>>they refused to do it..think carefully…if at the end of a WORLD WAR when the WAR was won by the Allies……Why would you chose to not let the Muslims that had been willingly used by Hitler to form SS troops in Bosnia etc… for killing Jews and all other “inferior” humans including Christians…..to be in charge of Jerusalem???

  31. Hi Manny -
    Obviously the United Nations wanted to create a jewish state for the jewish people, but the arabs refused because jews made up a minority of the lands at the time of the 1940… in other words, for example, say about 10% of your land is rented out, and the renter comes back and says I want to own 50% of the land because it’s my right, would you say “sure, go ahead” or you would you resist? That’s what happened with the Arabs when the United Nations created that Jewish state.. and THEN there was terror and war in Palestine once the British moved out… and then the expelling of the Palestinians (terrible ordeal they had to go through). Read the books about what happened, it is enlightening. The muslims terrorism never happened before the state of israel was established. But Muslims are always to blame, because if we blame Israel, you are simply anti-semitic. Palestinians by the way are semitic people…. so that argument doesn’t make sense.

  32. Hi Manny,

    Acknowledging the right of Israel to exist is…. to a lot of Palestinians …. is really the acceptance of the Palestinian suffering and incoveniences, which has always been the case. So Israel would have rights, but Palestinians, cannot go to live, or wait for months for permits, or are felt “unwelcomed” to visit in the West Bank, because of Israel’s security concerns (I was detained 5 hours because I am a Palestinian (not to mention Christian) and they really interrogate you for no apparent reason, only to make you feel that you are not welcomed). But any Jew from anywhere in the world are getting paid to live in Israel. That is ironic and sad, and is the reality.

    Thanks for reading. Reality on the grounds needs to change to have Palestinians have more rights, and not be subjected to restriction of movement and they need their own state to feel “proud”. The point is not about religion, but about not taking away someone elses land when they belonged to you dating back to your ancestors.


  33. LoveOneAnother says:

    God is on NOBODY’s side when it comes to war. What I hate about all of this that it is happening in the name of the Bible. In truth, the Bible is there to spread love among people but unfortunately it was misused. As Christians, I believe Jesus freed us from the idea of being attached to anything on this earth. As a Christian, God lifted me up to His spiritual Kingdom and not to an earthly kingdom that He refused to be its King. He is the king of the heavenly kingdom. Why would be still blindly supporting the “promised land” cause on the account of all human rights and ignoring all sympathy and attention to human issues that are being violated among Palestinians, Christians and Muslims. I agree with you William, I used to have the same ideas but God safely freed me from all of this. God is the prince of peace, don’t allow that people misunderstand Him because of this war as this is happening to many. God bless you all.

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