by Isaac Luria / Online Director J Street / January 29, 2009
All week, 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon has been under attack for supposed “anti-Israel bias” for this past Sunday’s accurate and thoughtful report on the danger that Israeli settlements pose to the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace. If you haven’t yet seen the segment, view it here.
CAMERA (the Orwellian-named Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) alerted their activist network – flooding the 60 Minutes’ offices and their advertisers with angry phone calls charging media bias.  Jewish community leader Abe Foxman fired off a letter calling the piece “a hatchet job on Israel.” 
Journalists – as well as rabbis, professors and elected officials – know that if they raise questions about what Israel does – they’ll often get attacked as anti-Israel. It’s one way the forces of the status quo constrain debate and discussion on what’s really best for Israel and the United States.
We hear plenty from American media about the threats that Israel faces from terrorism, rockets, and a nuclear Iran.
While those threats are real and should be covered, Americans also need to hear about another threat that is just as real: that time is running out for a two-state solution with the Palestinians in part due to Israeli settlements and the occupation of the West Bank. Without a two-state solution soon through assertive American diplomacy, Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic homeland is at risk.
During Sunday’s 60 Minutes segment, anchor Bob Simon interviewed pro-settlement activist Daniella Weiss who readily admitted that she thinks “settlements prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state in the land of Israel. This is the goal. And this is the reality.”
Simon also restated what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been saying for years  about what would happen if the two-state solution peace process falls apart.
“Demographers predict that within ten years Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Without a separate Palestinian state the Israelis would have three options, none of them good. They could try ethnic cleansing, drive the Palestinians out of the West Bank, or they could give the Palestinians the vote. That would be the democratic option but it would mean the end of the Jewish state. Or they could try apartheid – have the minority Israelis rule the majority Palestinians, but apartheid regimes don’t have a very long life.”
Simon also interviewed Israeli Foreign Minister and Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians Tzipi Livni who said that evacuating the settlers in the West Bank is “not going to be easy. But this is the only solution.”
But groups like CAMERA are opposed to mainstream media reporting that Israeli extremists, in addition to Palestinian extremists, undermine efforts to achieve a two-state solution. CAMERA resorts to claims of anti-Israel bias – when the reality is that Israeli extremists on the West Bank make real peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians more difficult to achieve.
We can’t let fringe groups like CAMERA define what it means to be pro-Israel through intimidation and fear tactics.
Bob Simon should receive support from the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement for his accurate and thoughtful assessment of the threat that Israeli settlements pose to the two-state solution peace process.
Click here to write a note of support to 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon.
 “CBS’s 60 Minutes Scapegoats Israel,” Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. January 26, 2009.
 “ADL Letter to CBS News’ 60 Minutes,” Anti-Defamation League. January 26, 2009.
 “Olmert to Haaretz: Two-state solution, of Israel is done for,” by Aluf Benn, David Landau, Barak Ravid, Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondents and AP. Haaretz. November 29, 2007.