Christians of the Holy Land - Bob Simon reports on the slow exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians, who say life in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become too difficult. Harry Radliffe is the producer.It looks like this is going to be another of those typical news articles on how horribly Israel treats Christians in the territories, the type that usually crop up every Christmas.
The meme goes like this: Christians are leaving Palestinian territories, and this has accelerated since the second intifada, so it must be Israel's fault. In Bethlehem, where they used to be the majority, they can no longer maintain their businesses because of stifling Israeli restrictions.
What the meme doesn't explain is that the Muslim population of Bethlehem has actually increased in the same time period, as has the total population of Bethlehem. So how can Israeli policies only be affecting Christians and not their Muslim neighbors who also have businesses and family there? (I looked at the demographic issue in Bethlehem in 2007.)
In reality, it is the Muslims who are forcing the Christians out, exactly as they are in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and every other Middle East country - except for Israel. Here are some links to articles over the years that show this to be true:
In 2005, Muslims instigated a pogrom against the Christian village of Taybeh over rumors of an affair beteeen a Christian man and a Muslim woman. (The woman was murdered by her own family.)
In early 2007, many Christians in Bethlehem started talking openly about how they are persecuted by their Muslim neighbors - including how the Muslims were stealing their land.
Similarly, it is notable that in 1967, Fatah - the leading political party of the PA - directly threatened Christian pilgrims to Bethlehem.
This 2008 article goes into great detail of the Muslim persecution of Christians in the territories.
In Gaza, the few remaining Christians are keeping a low profile and hoping that Hamas doesn't notice them.
Michael Oren's article this past Easter is a must-read.
Bethlehem is not the only city where Muslims have forced out the Christian majority. Ramallah was also once a Christian town, and now there are virtually none left.
Chances are, 60 Minutes tonight will tell you none of this.
UPDATE: The transcript is here, video here. It sort of went nowhere.