And the PA continues to take actions that virtually insure increased radicalization by barring West Bank Palestinians from contact with Israeli officials to obtain medical treatment or work. Palestinians have been warned that anyone who violates the ban "will be punished," Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reports.
These actions, he writes, "will only increase bitterness and suffering among Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority is hoping that the anger on the Palestinian street will ultimately be directed against Israel.
A more subtle form of anti-Israel incitement aired Sunday on CBS Television's "60 Minutes." The program broadcast a story claiming that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem was largely to blame for the decline of Christian communities there.
Correspondent Bob Simon fleetingly mentioned that Christians in Egypt and Iraq have been targets of violence. But his focus was on Palestinian criticisms of Israeli actions such as the building of Israel's West Bank security barrier.
"The wall completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the little town where Christ was born into what its residents call 'an open air prison,'" Simon said. "Palestinian Christians, once a powerful minority, are becoming the invisible people, squeezed between a growing Muslim majority and burgeoning Israeli settlements.
Palestinians in Bethlehem must go through Israeli checkpoints to reach Jerusalem, located seven miles away. Simon interviewed Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, who was allowed to briefly argue that Islamist persecution has played a far greater role than Israeli security measures in driving out Christians. But immediately his comment, "60 Minutes" aired a clip from an interview with a West Bank businessman who scoffed at the notion that Islamist persecution was a problem.
Oren "came off lamely, almost deliberately so, as though he feared appearing impotent less than he did all-powerful," Marc Tracy wrote in Tablet magazine. "From the segment, you would think Islamist parties like, say, Hamas, play a negligible role in contemporary Palestinian politics."
In fact, as Oren pointed out in this Wall Street Journal article last month, in Bethlehem, the city's Christian population grew by 57 percent when it was controlled by Israel. But in 1995, the Palestinian Authority assumed responsibility for governing the city and Christian population numbers plummeted.
"Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes – compelling Israel to build a protective barrier between them and Jewish neighborhoods – and then occupied the Church of the Nativity, looting it and using it as a latrine," Oren wrote.
Read more about the plight of Christians under the Palestinian Authority here.