The Real Existential Threat To Israel: Honest Debate – OpEd


When Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, called Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes to speak about their upcoming report, “Christians of the Holy Land,” it’s clear he had only one objective: to kill the report.

When interviewed by Bob Simon, Oren did not express concern about how 60 Minutes would report on the plight of Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank. His objection was that CBS should find any merit in the topic whatsoever. Why should the fate of Christians living under Israeli occupation deserve any attention while Christians elsewhere in the Middle East face persecution? The story, Oren was convinced, was merely a pretext for attacking Israel.

In February this year, vandals — the evidence suggests they were Jewish settlers — daubed “Death to Christianity” on the walls of a Baptist church in Jerusalem. “The graffiti also included profanity about Jesus, and the vandals slashed the tires of several cars parked in the church compound,” Reuters reported.

It wasn’t long before Oren spoke up on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal denouncing attacks on Christians and the desecration of a church — though not the one in Jerusalem. The vandalism that concerned him involved the Arabic letters for Hamas being sprayed on a church in Bethlehem in 1994. About the much more recent vandalism on the church in Jerusalem he said absolutely nothing.

Oren’s message while ostensibly being an expression of concern about the plight of Christians across the Middle East, including Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank, was instead a message tailored to resonate with American Christian Zionists: Jews and Christians stand in solidarity opposed to Islamic extremism.

Kairos Palestine, a group of Palestinian Christians in the West Bank who featured in the 60 Minutes report, were quick to denounce Oren’s statement.

In this inaccurate and manipulative text, Oren… blames the plight of Palestinian Christians on oppression at the hands of Palestinian Muslims — rather than at the hands of the illegal Israeli occupation itself, as is our reality.

We add our voices to several other recently published responses that have emphasized this reality and the ways in which Oren’s op-ed attempts to mask it. Indeed, contrary to his assertions, Christian persecution is caused mainly by the occupation that systematically degrades all Palestinians, restricts our movement, confiscates our land, devastates our economy, and violates our rights — including the very basic right to a decent life.

We are particularly troubled by Oren’s attribution of migration within the Palestinian Christian community to ill-treatment by Palestinian Muslims. This damaging analysis wilfully ignores the underlying political oppression that afflicts Christians and Muslims alike. In the case of Bethlehem, for instance, it is in fact the rampant construction of Israeli settlements, the chokehold imposed by the separation wall, and the Israeli government’s confiscation of Palestinian land — largely Christian-owned land in the Bethlehem area — that has driven many Christians to leave.

In Oren’s op-ed and his dealings with CBS we see the two main thrusts of the Zionists’ communications strategy: propaganda and suppression.

If critics can’t be drowned out in the media then efforts to silence them have to become more direct. Never is their any willingness to face a challenge directly. Zionism, it would seem, even for its most strident proponents is indefensible. Rather than respond to honest criticism, first comes the hasbara, then the silencing, and if neither of those work, the plea: our survival is at stake!

But what really threatens Israel?

The breakdown of public morality, in my view, poses the greatest single existential threat to Israel. It is this threat that undermines Israel’s ability to cope with other threats; that saps the willingness of Israelis to fight, to govern themselves, and even to continue living within a sovereign Jewish state. It emboldens Israel’s enemies and sullies Israel’s international reputation. The fact that Israel is a world leader in drug and human trafficking, in money laundering, and in illicit weapons sales is not only unconscionable for a Jewish state, it also substantively reduces that state’s ability to survive.

Those being the words of Michael Oren not long before he became an ambassador and one of the pillars of Israel’s public morality.

Paul Woodward - War in Context

Paul Woodward describes himself by nature if not profession, as a bricoleur. A dictionary of obscure words defines a bricoleur as “someone who continually invents his own strategies for comprehending reality.” Woodward has at various times been an editor, designer, software knowledge architect, and Buddhist monk, while living in England, France, India, and for the last twenty years the United States. He currently lives frugally in the Southern Appalachians with his wife, Monica, two cats and a dog Woodward maintains the popular website/blog, War in Context (, which "from its inception, has been an effort to apply critical intelligence in an arena where political judgment has repeatedly been twisted by blind emotions. It presupposes that a world out of balance will inevitably be a world in conflict."

One thought on “The Real Existential Threat To Israel: Honest Debate – OpEd

  • April 26, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Posted on 04/25/2012 by Juan

    Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren not only called the head of CBS news in an attempt to quash a report on the displacement of Palestinian Christians by the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but he briefed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of the far right wing Likud Party on his attempt.

    Here are the top ten reasons Israel’s Likud Party would have wanted to censor American television news on this occasion (and of course we don’t know all the occasions they have successfully done so):

    1. The report told Americans that there are Palestinian Christians. Right wing Israelis have attempted to displace, expropriate and erase the Palestinian nation, and to convince Americans that Palestinians don’t exist or if they do are enemies of the U.S. When the foe of the US was the Soviet Union, they made the Palestinians Communists. When the foe became al-Qaeda, they made the Palestinians violent fundamentalists. But if some percentage of Palestinians is Christians, then that fact disrupts the propaganda. In fact, millions of Palestinians are descended from the 700,000 or so Palestinians ethnically cleansed by the Israelis from what is now Israel in 1948, of whom about 10 percent were Christian.

    2. The report mentioned that some Palestinians are Lutherans, Catholics and Episcopalians, establishing a link of commonality between them and Americans. The Israeli Likud Party wants Americans identifying only with Israelis, not with Palestinians.

    3. The report told Americans that Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land. Most Americans think it is the other way around because of the success of Likud disinformation.

    4. The report let it slip that Palestinians in the West Bank need a permit to travel to Arab East Jerusalem and are subjected within the West Bank to humiliating check points that turn a 7 mile journey into an all-day ordeal. This system sounds an awful lot like the old South African Apartheid.

    5. The report allowed Palestinians to speak for themselves and to refute Oren’s anti-Palestinian talking points. It is a key principle of right wing Israeli propaganda that Palestinians should never be allowed to challenge the Israeli narrative on American television.

    6. The report allowed a prominent Palestinian businessman and Coca Cola distributor to say that he knew of no Palestinian Christians who were leaving the West Bank and Jerusalem because of Muslims but that rather they were leaving because of Israeli oppression.

    7. It allowed the Palestinians to point out that the West Bank now looks like Swiss cheese, with Israeli colonies grabbing the good land and water, and the stateless Palestinians pushed into the holes.

    8. The report described the Palestinian Kairos Document, calling for nonviolent, peaceful struggle by Palestinians against Israeli Occupation and land grabs. Likud propaganda insists in racist fashion that all Palestinians are inherently angry and violent and that their protest against being made stateless and homeless by Israel is irrational.

    9. The report quotes an Israeli scholar who puts “Political Judaism” on par with “Political Islam.” It is a key principle of Likud propaganda that no movement in Israel may ever be compared to movements in the Muslim world.

    10. The report allows Palestinians to point out that the way the Israelis built the Separation Wall isolated Bethlehem, Jesus’s birthplace and a city that still is 18% Christian, had made it “an open-air prison.”


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