By Dexter Van Zile/JNS.org
Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS
News, has a problem. Either he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or he’s
lying about the security fence that Israel built to protect its citizens from
suicide bombers coming from the West Bank during the Second Intifada.
I came to this troubling conclusion during a talk he gave at
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Canaan, Conn., on Sunday, April 7,
2013. Invited to speak at the church by his pastor Rev. Peter Walsh, Fager
showed an audience of more than 200 of his fellow parishioners a segment about
Palestinian Christians that aired on the CBS
“60 Minutes” program in
During the segment, correspondent Bob Simon stated that the
security fence “completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the ‘little town’ where Christ
was born into what its residents call ‘an open air prison.’”
The fence does not completely surround Bethlehem, as
Simon reported. The security fence is located to the north and west of
Bethlehem and leaves the rest of the city’s perimeter open to the West Bank.
The factual misstatement raised some questions about the notion that Bethlehem
is an “open air prison.” If conditions in the city are so bad, it shouldn’t be
necessary to exaggerate the extent of the security fence, but Palestinians
spokespeople do it all the time. And journalists fall for it on a regular
basis—even “60 Minutes.”
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
(CAMERA), pointed out the “60 Minutes” error in an article on its website soon
after the segment aired and in a half-page ad that appeared in the Wall
Street Journal on Aug. 14, 2012.
Nevertheless, the CBS show
has not issued a correction to this day.
After showing his fellow parishioners the “60 Minutes” segment, Fager complained
about the angry response the show elicited. In particular, he condemned the Wall
Street Journal’s decision to run CAMERA’s ad, which he said was intended to
create havoc on the CBS show’s
Fager then told his audience that CAMERA got it wrong about
the security fence in its ad and that “Bethlehem is surrounded by a wall.”
This is a patent falsehood. Maps provided by theIsraeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, theUnited
Nations,B’tselem, and even thePLO all indicate that the security fence does not
completely surround Bethlehem. People can go to Bethlehem and see for
But instead of telling his fellow parishioners the truth
about the fence and that “60 Minutes”
made a mistake, Fager of CBS doubled
Because I was in attendance, I felt obligated to call his
During the question and answer period, I raised my hand,
stated I worked for CAMERA, the organization responsible for the ad in
question, and then issued a simple and direct challenge: If Jeff Fager could
prove that the security fence completely surrounds Bethlehem like he said a few
moments before, I would donate $5,000 to a charity of his choosing.
His response was a simple “Okay.”
After the event concluded and the people in attendance
started to leave for the church’s Sunday services, I gave him my business card.
So far, no response.