Saturday, April 28, 2012

60 Minutes With Zionhass

This past Thursday, Israel's Independence Day, I caught a screening of the film Israel Inside: How A Small Nation Makes a Big Difference. In emphasizing Israel's creativity/diversity/manifold accomplishments, it did a pretty good job, even if was a tad too "tikkun olam-y" for my taste. One thing that really bugged me though was that it incorporated a clip from CBS's 60 Minutes. The reason it bugged me is that I knew that the show had just done another of its trademark hatchet jobs on Israel--this one a Bob Simon blood libel about how Israel (yes, Israel!) is primarily responsible for the Christian exodus from the Middle East--and that Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., was embroiled in the controversy. Robert Fulford describes the kerfuffle here:
It was clearly a most serious offence against the gods of journalism. It was a "You went over my head! You called my boss!" crime, the kind of thing that makes self-important TV stars jump onto high horses in their eagerness to prove they are more important and have more inalienable rights than anyone they write or talk about. Journalists hate it when their own bosses are called, but never hesitate to use the same strategy when roles are reversed.

Why in the world, Simon wanted to know, would Israel express concern about an item that hadn't yet been aired? By Simon's account, no one, not even he, could guess the final shape of the story, even when the interview with Oren was being recorded.

Surely the Israeli government couldn't imagine that CBS journalists would know the slant of a story even before the reporting and editing were done?

Perhaps Michael Oren, being a historian, remembered a few things in the past, such as the last 15 or 20 stories about Israel that 60 Minutes had produced.

And as it turned out, his experience-based prediction was precisely accurate.
Based on experience, 60 Minutes did not deserve to be in a movie about Israel's achievements, even if its filmmakers thought that including a clip from that show would give their film extra "cred" with certain viewers.

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