Guest on CBC Radio Program Accuses Israel of Genocide & Compares Jewish State to Roman Empire

December 27, 2023

It is the Christmas season, and that means it’s time for another predictable segment blaming Israel for the suffering of Bethlehem’s Christian population, this time from CBC.

The CBC radio show “Day 6” produced a segment on December 23, “Palestinian Christians prepare for a subdued Christmas in Bethlehem,” which was a vicious assault on three thousand years of Jewish history.

In the program, host Brent Bambury – who has been the subject of two other HonestReporting Canada alerts over the last month for problematic anti-Israel content on his radio program – interviewed Mitri Raheb, a Palestinian Christian leader in Bethlehem, a town under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The interview, which was ostensibly about the state of Christians in Bethlehem, instead became an ongoing attack on Israel. Raheb told Bambury that “The Christmas story…talks about a Palestinian, Jewish family in north of Palestine in Nazareth who is ordered by an imperial decree to leave Nazareth and to go to Bethlehem,” before egregiously comparing Israel to the ancient Roman Empire.

Jesus was born two thousand years ago, as a Jew in the Jewish town of Bethlehem, located in Judea (the word from which Jew originates), though Raheb falsely refers to the land as Palestine. In fact, Palestine was a general geographic term referring to much of the Levant, not specifically to Judea.

Despite the unassailable fact that Jesus was a Jew who was born and lived in Judea, long before the advent of Islam or the Arab conquest of the area, Raheb entirely twists reality on its head, and compares Israel, the modern-day Jewish State inhabiting the same land as the Jews of two thousand years ago, not to the Jews in Judea, but to the foreign conquerors, the Roman Empire.

The ludicrousness of such a comment cannot be overstated. Rehab compared the Jewish State, not to the Jews of Judea from two thousand years ago, who practiced the same faith in the same location, but to the Roman Empire which oppressed those very same people. This is not simply ahistorical; it is anti-historical.

Raheb continued by defaming Israel as a “settler colonial project,” seemingly oblivious to the fact that only moments earlier, he had acknowledged the Jewish identity of Jesus two thousand years earlier. By definition, one cannot be a colonialist in a land that one has had a presence in for thousands of years.

While Rehab is certainly entitled to express his own opinions, as anti-historical as they may be, at no time during the interview did Bambury ever challenge his guest, including when Rehab accused Israel of carrying out “genocide” against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

But listeners never heard any of this context, instead hearing only that Israel was committing “genocide” in Gaza, that Israel is akin to the Roman Empire, and that Bethlehem is “besieged” by Israel.

Rehab’s interview with Bambury was not an introduction to Bethlehem’s Christians; it was a smear of Israel under the thin veneer of a Christmas-themed broadcast. At one point, Rehab bizarrely told Bambury that “If we want to look for Jesus today, he is in Gaza,” an incoherent comment that – like all of Rehab’s other nonsensical statements – went entirely unchallenged by the host.

There is no disputing the sorry state of Christian life in Bethlehem. Today, just over ten per cent of Bethlehem’s population is Christian, a far cry from the majority that once made up the city. That decline is mirrored across the Palestinian territories, including in Gaza, where Christians have all but totally disappeared, numbering at most 1,000 people, down almost 70 per cent since Hamas violently took control in 2007. This is in contrast to the growing Christian population in Israel.Unfortunately, while Bambury could have informed listeners about what life is like for Christians in Bethlehem, all he provided was an unabashed rewriting of history and an indefensible assault on thousands of years of Jewish life in Israel.

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