On January 23, 2001, the CBS program “60 Minutes II” focused on the Palestinian town of Beit Jala and the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. The broadcast, entitled “No Way Out” and hosted by Bob Simon, presents a badly biased picture of the conflict.
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Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.
To the Producers of “60 Minutes II”:
The January 23 segment “No Way Out” contains so many violations of media objectivity that I am surprised you would allow it to air on your reputable program.
Bob Simon argues that a peaceful solution in the region is “virtually impossible” because “there are just too many Israeli settlements on captured Arab lands, too many neighborhoods like Gilo.” Simons implies that fault for the extended conflict lies with Israeli, and that everything would be okay if they’d just give up the Gilo land.
Is there truly “No Way Out” but to blame Israel?
Simon omits mention of Arab rejection of the 1947 UN partition plan, and rejection of Barak’s unprecedented concessions which include the division of Jerusalem and the dismantling of settlements. Simon ignores the existence of Arab aggression prior to Israel’s capture of the West Bank, as well as Arafat’s recent release of huge numbers of terrorists from jail. Simon also fails to mention the official Palestinian policy of incitement against Israel in Palestinian schools and the media.
Wouldn’t this information be vital to give viewers a fair perspective?
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The “60 Minutes II” segment is based on the faulty premise that Gilo was built on captured Arab lands. In fact, the majority of Gilo is built on land legally purchased by Jews prior to 1948. It is an “open secret” in Beit Jala that Jabra Hamis, former mayor of Beit Jala, sold Israelis the land on which parts of Gilo are built.
In the 1948 war, Jewish lands in Gilo were captured and confiscated by the Jordanian government. From 1948-67, Jewish landowners did not relinquish ownership to their land in Gilo, and when Israel recaptured the land in 1967, Gilo was built — not because of war victories, but because of longstanding legal land purchases.
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Bob Simon presents Beit Jala as sieged by Israeli attacks.
The true tragedy of Beit Jala is that a peaceful Christian town finds itself at the mercy of Tanzim gunmen affiliated with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement. The Tanzim are not residents of Beit Jala, but have invaded Beit Jala and intimidate Christian residents into allowing their homes to be used as a launching pad for shooting attacks against Israelis.
If homes in Beit Jala were damaged [Simon: "Israel gunners did a little remodeling of their own"], it is because Palestinian gunmen have used these homes or nearby buildings for firing positions.
Earlier this year, the tombstones in Beit Jala’s Christian cemetery were destroyed. It seems that “60 Minutes II” has missed the real story.