How many of you caught the extraordinary “60 Minutes” segment on Palestinian Christians’ exodus from the Holy Land? I heard about it, and today I took the 14 minutes to watch it. It is a very important, compelling piece of journalism from veteran reporter Bob Simon that details how Palestinian Christians are “collateral damage” between political Israel and political Islam. I profess that I am not well-knowledgeable at all in the Israel/Palestinian conflict, but several things stood out to me in this report:
- How Christians in Bethlehem feel their town is an open-air prison because of the wall around the West Bank.
- How Palestinian Christian leaders are fearful that as the birthplace of Christianity (every Christian figuratively has “made in Palestine” stamped on his/her back) is being relegated to a place of religious tourism.
- How when Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren (who called the head of CBS News to complain about the piece even before it aired, before he knew what it would be about) stated that he thought Islamic extremism was a main cause for the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land, three Palestinian Christian leaders, including the head of the Coca Cola business in the West Bank, said emphatically that wasn’t the case at all. Islamic extremism/terrorism wasn’t a problem (terrorism by Islamic extremists, according to the report, went down by 90 percent after the wall around the West Bank was erected).
- And, perhaps most importantly, how Palestinian Church leaders published a document (Kairos Palestine) condemning both Islamic extremism and Israeli occupation of the West Bank, a document also rejected by Oren and other Israeli leaders.
As Simon said, for a parcel of land that is important to half the world, the exodus of Palestinian Christians is a story that deserves attention, as much as the rash of Church burnings and bombs across the Middle East. Take 14 minutes out of your day and watch the video.