'60 Minutes' Accused of Anti-Semitism at CBS Shareholders Meeting
A pro-Israel media watchdog accused "60 Minutes" of anti-Semitism at CBS's shareholders meeting Thursday.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the complaint stemmed from a segment aired April 22, 2012, called "Christians of the Holy Land" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary).
The segment began:
BOB SIMON: Christianity may have been born in the Middle East, but Arab Christians have never had it easy there, especially not today. In Iraq and Egypt, scores of churches have been attacked, hundreds murdered. In Syria, revolution seriously threatens Christian communities. The one place where Christians are not suffering from violence is the Holy Land. But Palestinian Christians have been leaving in large numbers for years. So many, the Christian population there is down to less than two percent. And the prospect of holy sites, like Jerusalem and Bethlehem, without local Christians is looming as a real possibility. This is what the Holy Land looks like today. Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Nazareth, where he grew up. Jerusalem, where he died and where Christians believe he was resurrected. Nazareth is inside the state of Israel. Bethlehem is on the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Christian section of Jerusalem is also under Israeli control. [...]
BOB SIMON (voiceover): Theophilos III, the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox, has lived through the decline. His church, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is the most sacred site in Christendom. He took us up to the roof. You`ve got to know a patriarch to get here.
PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS III: Come in. So you are in Holy Sepulcher. Inside the Holy Sepulcher. Just inside here is the tomb.
BOB SIMON (voiceover): That is the tomb which covers the site of the resurrection.
When you first came here in 1964, what was the percentage of Christians in the old city?
PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS III: There were around thirty thousand of Christians living in the Old City.
BOB SIMON: And now how many are there?
PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS III: Very few.
BOB SIMON (voiceover): So few, some eleven thousand Christians out of a population of almost eight hundred thousand, just one and a half percent.
At Thursday's meeting, Talia Shulman Gold of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America told CBS executive chairman Sumner Redstone and CEO Les Moonves that Simon's numbers were wrong and that it was the Muslim majority in the region that is persecuting Christians.
“The failure of CBS News to take action on this matter remains astonishing and inexplicable,” said Goldn.
CAMERA's general counsel Edward Schwartz claimed the inaccuracies in the piece were so egregious they could be interpreted as anti-Semitic.
“We anticipated that factual errors denigrating the state of Israel would be corrected and the record set straight,” Schwartz said. “Instead, the detailed letter sent to Jeff Fager enumerating errors in the Bob Simon segment that we shared with this board a year ago received a totally un-serious, four-sentence reply that did not address even one of the factual errors cited.”
For the record, Islamic influence was mentioned in the piece:
BOB SIMON (voiceover): For Palestinian Christians, the survival of their culture is in danger. In towns like Bethlehem, which used to be distinctively Christian, Muslims now are a clear and growing majority. The veil is replacing the cross. But inside Israel, in Christian towns like Nazareth, Arabs are Israeli citizens and, according to Ambassador Oren, they`re thriving. The reason Christians are leaving the West Bank, he says, is Islamic extremism.
MICHAEL OREN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: I think that the major problem in the West Bank, as in elsewhere in the Middle East, is that the Christian communities are living under duress.
BOB SIMON: And this duress is coming from Muslims, not from the Israel occupation?
MICHAEL OREN: I believe that the major duress is coming from that.
Moonves said he was standing by the segment.