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Fair Witness Condemns America Magazine Article on Bethlehem

25 Aug

For Immediate Release

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East strongly condemns an article about Israel's security barrier in the latest edition of America Magazine.

In what has become a routine distortion of facts when it comes to America's coverage of the Arab/Israeli conflict, the article "Bethlehem's Wall" argues that Israel's "real purpose" for building the barrier (which for 95% of its length is a fence, not the looming concrete wall pictured in America) was not security but rather a land grab.

"Anyone fluent in recent Middle East history understands that this accusation makes no sense," says Rev. James Loughran, S.A., Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute. "Prior to the Second Intifada there was no security barrier. On September 29, 2000, Palestinian terrorists started coming into Israel blowing themselves up and killing Israeli civilians. There were 162 terror attacks in Jerusalem from 2000 to 2001. But it was not until March 2002, when 139 Israelis -- many of them children -- were killed in one month alone, that the Israeli government realized it had no choice but to protect its citizens from this savagery," adds Father Loughran. "The attempt by America to shrug this off as a 'guise' for building the security barrier is transparent and deeply offensive. What other government would sit back and allow terrorists to blow up its civilian population in buses, streets, cafes and shopping malls"?

"Being critical of Israel's ill-conceived policy of continued settlement building is appropriate. But downplaying the brutality of the Second Intifada by calling it a 'guise' the Israelis used for building the security barrier reveals a profound bias against the Jewish state that has no place in journalism, much less religious journalism," says Rev. Dr. Peter Pettit, Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College.

"The Christian exodus from Bethlehem is the result of a combination of factors including a corrupt and ineffective Palestinian Authority, growing Islamic extremism and the Israeli occupation," notes Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale, New York. "America's editors need to search their consciences in regard to their habit of blaming Israel alone for the tragedy of the Middle East."FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 25, 2008

Contact: Christians For Fair Witness on the Middle East
(212) 870-2320

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