"60 Minutes" Report Gives Free Pass to Palestinian Polemic as Methodists to Debate "Kairos," Divestment
B’nai B’rith International is deeply concerned that the April 22 CBS news program “60 Minutes” mischaracterized the Palestinian Christian document “Kairos” as a harmless call for non-violent resistance to the “Israeli occupation.”
This was likely the highest-profile media coverage to date of the inflammatory “Kairos” polemic, which—along with boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, also advocated by “Kairos”—is on the agenda of the national convention of the United Methodist Church (UMC) commencing April 24 in Tampa, Fla. The General Conference of the UMC, the largest mainline Protestant denomination, is held once every four years.
“The ‘60 Minutes’ story was flawed at best and these flaws only serve to distract from the very real problems facing Christians in the Middle East,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “Meanwhile, the piece failed to present any contrary views to Palestinian pastor Mitri Raheb, who denies the document is anti-Semitic, saying it ‘doesn’t ask for violence’ or ‘revenge,’ only hope, love and faith. But “Kairos” demonizes Israel alone, calling the presence of Israeli Jews in disputed territories a ‘sin against God’ and denying the very legitimacy of the Jewish state.”
The “60 Minutes” piece also erroneously reported that the “Kairos” document was endorsed by the leaders of 13 Christian denominations in Israel. While a pastoral letter by these leaders was appended to “Kairos,” they did not endorse the document.
“Kairos,” released in 2009, features Palestinian Christian declarations that the Israeli “military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity.” It accuses Israel of “apartheid” and calls for a systematic boycott of Israel alone.
“Perhaps most disturbing,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, “the ‘60 Minutes’ report failed to point out that Israel is the only pluralistic democracy in the region, where Christians are able to live free from persecution and have grown in actual numbers, unlike so many other places in the Middle East.”
B’nai B’rith International will closely monitor relevant proceedings at the UMC conference, including a resolution promoting the “Kairos” document and another motion for divestment from companies seen as complicit in Israeli policies of which the UMC disapproves, beginning with Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard.