It does not take sixty minutes but a mere few moments to level a smear against an entire nation. The recent CBS 60 Minutes program on Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Christians was nothing less than a version of a modern day blood libel against the Jewish State. Program host Bob Simon even described Israel’s security fence as “completely surrounding” Bethlehem, which is simply false.
The program ignored the real facts and the realities, as well as the many testimonies of Muslim persecution against Christians in the PA territories. A letter by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) director Andrea Levin to Jeffrey B. Fager, chairman of CBS News, quoted one such testimony by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the guardian of the Roman Catholic Church’s property in the Holy Land, which appeared in the New York Sun in 2005: “Almost every day — I repeat, almost every day — our communities are harassed by the Islamic extremists in these regions. And if it’s not the members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, there are clashes with…the Palestinian Authority.”
It is truly unfortunate in light of the tragic persecution of Christians in so many Islamic nations that 60 Minutes conjured up a spurious account in order to malign Israel, while disregarding those whose stories truly need to be told.
One must appreciate the efforts of the organization CAMERA and others like it that refuted the tendentious reporting by Simon.
On May 24, at a CBS shareholders meeting board members of CAMERA were in attendance to respond to the charges leveled in the program. A letter by Andrea Levin, which was distributed just prior to the meeting, expressed the organization’s goals: “Although we have attempted through Mr. Radcliffe to elicit corrections for a number of material errors and omissions, our efforts have been unsuccessful. These factual shortcomings do need to be rectified and we are writing once more to urge that CBS adhere to the fundamental tenets of journalism that require news reporting to be accurate and fair and that instances of false reporting be fully and forthrightly corrected-on the air.”
When CBS called for a vote on the new directors, CAMERA board member Carol Greenwald arose and asked if CBS had a policy in line with standards of professional journalism which requires prompt corrections of factual issues. Another CAMERA board member, Richard Allen, then asked if CBS had taken into account the impact on earnings if CBS News lost the confidence of the public as an institution devoted to accurate and balanced reporting.
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