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Media Analyses





60 Minutes Source Undermines Credibility of Segment Aired in 2012


The truth had to come out, eventually.

In 2012, CBS aired a notoriously dishonest “60 Minutes” segment about Christians in the Holy Land. In the segment, prominent Palestinian Christians tried to dismiss legitimate concern about the suffering of Christians in Muslim-majority Palestinian society as a “great selling point.”

Now, one of the sources who appeared in the segment, Christy Anastas, has stepped into the spotlight to reveal the truth about the suffering endured by Christians living under the Palestinian Authority, a truth that is completely at odds with the “60 Minutes” story.

Anastas, who appeared in the 60 Minutes segment along with her mother came forward earlier this month in a talk she gave at Uppsala University in Sweden and which is now posted on Youtube.

During her talk, which can be seen here, Christy directly contradicts the story told by Bob Simon in the “60 Minutes” segment on Christians in Bethlehem that aired in 2012.

After speaking in defense of Israel's right to exist with her fellow Palestinians, Christy reports she was threatened by one of her own family members – who said he would put a bullet in her head if she didn't stop talking in defense of Israel. The explanation for the threat was that she was putting her family in danger by speaking out in Israel's defense.

During her talk in Sweden, Christy also described how one of her uncles was shot in the head and blinded for his refusal to pay protection money, or “al-jizyah,” to Muslim extremists in the West Bank.

His life was only saved by the treatment he received in an Israeli hospital. She also describes how Palestinian judges have colluded with the theft of land from Christians in Palestinian society.

After her talk was published on YouTube by the Jerusalem Institute for Justice (JIJ), she was threatened and her family has been harassed.

The video was taken down for a few days and then reposted (with a new introduction and a new ending) by the Emmaus Group, a Christian group in the United Kingdom that draws attention to the mistreatment of Christians in Muslim-majority settings.

The video attracted the attention of people in her hometown of Bethlehem. Her own father has denounced her for telling her story in a Palestinian newspaper.

The 60 Minutes Segment

On April 22, 2012, “60 Minutes” aired a segment titled “Christians in the Holy Land,” that featured testimony from a number of Palestinian Christians including Zahi Khouri, a Palestinian Christian businessman who owns a Coca-Cola franchise.

Speaking on camera, Khouri dismissed then Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's concerns about the Muslim oppression of Christians in Palestinian society as a “Great selling point. Easy to sell to the American public.”

Khouri continued: “I'll tell you I don't know of anybody and I probably have 12,000 customers here. I've never heard that someone is leaving because of Islamic persecution.”

The segment also included testimony from Claire and Christy Anastas, who speak about the security barrier and its impact on their family.

The Uppsala Video

Fast forward to April 2014. Christy Anastas is now living in the United Kingdom, where she has been given asylum after being threatened with murder for speaking out in defense of Israel's right to exist.

She speaks to audiences about the lack of freedom in Palestinian society. Her talks are left unrecorded and she does not reveal any identifying characteristics that might have an impact on her safety. One article that did provide some detail that could connect Christy to her family's home is taken down at the author's request.

Christy delivered a talk at Uppsala University in Sweden earlier this month. During her talk, she testified in a manner that directly contradicts the “everything is fine and whatever is bad is Israel's fault” story told by Palestinian leaders on “60 Minutes” in 2012.

Christy spoke about Palestinian Muslims threatening and in some instances, murdering Palestinian Christians. She talks about wealthy Christians paying the jizya (a tax historically levied on non-Muslims in Muslim countries) and she talks about the impact of sharia on Palestinian society.

She talks about Palestinian Authority judges colluding with a Muslim “mafia” that steals land from Palestinian Christians. She speaks about the corruption of the Palestinian Authority.

“After learning the amount of money my people have been given, I should be rich,” she says, referring to the aid money given to the Palestinian Authority from donor countries and skimmed off by corrupt Palestinian officials.

She also talks about how women are treated in Palestinian society. “I can tell you so many stories about young women being killed by their own families in honor killings,” she says.

She tells how she was threatened by one of her own family members for publicly speaking in defense of Israel's right to exist. “I have a bullet, I have a gun. […] I put it in your head and end your life. You're playing with a big fire here. You're going to burn your family. First of all you're going to burn yourself and I was sent to stop you,” she relates.

After the video appeared on YouTube, a Bethlehem newspaper visits her family's home and interviews Christy's father, who denounces her in an obvious attempt to deflect hostility from the rest of his family.

In sum, Christy's story affirms what CAMERA published in 2012:

Palestinian Christians, like other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East, are the target of mistreatment, harassment and in some instances, violent oppression at the hands of their Muslim neighbors.
 
Nevertheless, much of the media coverage about Palestinian Christians downplays Muslim hostility toward this community and falsely portrays Israel as the sole cause of its suffering.
 
The reality is Palestinian Christians cannot speak freely about the Muslim dominated environment in which they live. Their leaders often publicly condemn Israel while remaining silent about groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Occasionally, they might admit that Muslim hostility is a problem, but not very often and not very loudly.
 
It is safe for Palestinian Christian leaders to condemn Israel – a democracy that has a tradition of respecting religious freedom and human rights. It is not safe, however, for Palestinian Christians to condemn the misdeeds of their Islamist neighbors who regard Christians as infidels and obstacles to the creation of an Islamic state.

It is time for “60 Minutes” to face the truth. It bungled its story on Christians in Palestinian society and needs to revisit the issue, honestly and accurately this time.


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