Pollak: Tucker Carlson Interviews Anti-Israel Pastor from Palestinian-run Bethlehem

Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Tucker Carlson interviewed an anti-Israel pastor from the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Bethlehem, portraying his views as representative of Christians “in the region — in Gaza, the West Bank, and in Israel proper.”

Carlson interviewed Rev. Munther Isaac of Bethlehem for the latest episode of his show, Tucker Carlson Uncensored.

Isaac is an activist who opposes evangelical Christian support for Israel and says Jews do not need Israel to feel safe.

His organization, Christ at the Checkpoint, was first profiled by Breitbart News in 2013:

Christ at the Checkpoint hosts a myriad of religious leaders at a biannual conference in the West Bank under the guise of promoting peace and spreading the gospel. Yet a look at the conference keynote speakers, public pronouncements, and agenda betrays the true agenda of these activists.

Not only does the organization’s leadership maintain ties with radical political leaders, but the organization also aligns with theological sentiments far outside the evangelical mainstream.

An organization truly intent on fostering peace would draw attention to the fact that Arab nations force Palestinian refugees to suffer through lifetimes of isolation by refusing to grant citizenship or economic opportunities.  Or such an organization could work to counter the overt racism taught in Palestinian schools.

Instead, Christ at the Checkpoint erodes support for Israel and hinders lasting peace through its distortion of evangelical theology and by lending credibility to extremists.

Isaac also recently posted about “76 years” of “suffering and pain” since Israel was created in 1948, suggesting he does not think Israel should exist. (Palestinians and several Arab states attacked Israel at its founding, and lost the war.)

Carlson did not provide any of this context, but merely presented Isaac as an authority on how Israel treats Christians.

Christians worship freely in Israel, and make up almost 2% of the population. (Jews are roughly 80%; most of the remainder are Muslim Arabs, along with Druze and other ethnic groups.) The Christian population of Israel is growing — one of the few places in the Middle East where that is true. Moreover, Christian Arabs are among the most successful groups in Israel in terms of economic achievement.

Isaac also criticized the Abraham Accords, a peace treaty between Israel and several Arab countries that has endured the war. His primary interest is not peace, but rather the advancement of the Palestinian struggle against Israel.

Carlson added his own commentary, criticizing “self-professed Christians” in the U.S. who are “sending money to oppress Christians” in the Palestinian territories. He added that some “evangelical leaders care much more about the highly secular government of Israel than they care about Christian communities in the Middle East.”

The pastor blamed “Zionism” — the belief that Jews have the right to self-determination in their spiritual homeland — for that.

Isaac also blamed U.S. support for Israel for the Hamas terror attack on October 7, and repeated dubious claims against the Israeli military, such that Israeli snipers killed two people in a church in Gaza (which the IDF rejects).

He also falsely claimed that people in Gaza are not able to obtain medical care, and cannot travel to hospitals in Israel. In fact, many Israelis, including some later attacked by Hamas on October 7, drove Palestinians to Israeli hospitals. Gaza had many hospitals prior to the war, and patients do travel to Israel to receive specialized care. It can be difficult to arrange, but it is a priority for Israeli physicians — or it was, at least, prior to the war. (Ironically, Hamas’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, was saved from cancer by Israeli doctors while serving tim in an Israeli prison.)

Carlson suggested that the U.S. cut off all aid to Israel if a single Christian was harmed by its military operations. He overlooked the fact that Bethlehem was a prosperous city with a flourishing Christian majority when it was under Israeli control following the 1967 war, until after the Palestinian Authority took control in 1995.

In the West Bank as a whole, the Christian population is stable, and has actually increased since Israel took over the territory in 1967, though the Christian percentage of the population is declining relative to the growth of the Muslim population.

Christians are leaving Bethlehem partly due to social pressure and poor economic conditions under the Palestinian Authority, where the official religion is Islam. Isaac blamed “the occupation” for the decline in Bethlehem, which is not the full story. The checkpoints and the security barrier (the “wall”) that Israel built in the West Bank 15 years ago were a reaction to Palestinian suicide bombings in Israeli cities and sniper attacks against drivers on nearby roads.

Isaac claimed that Israel is “not as free as people say” for Christians to worship in Israel. He claimed that it was difficult, for example, for Christian converts to register their change of religion, ignoring that many aspects of religious life — for all faiths — are governed by religious authorities under laws dating to the Ottoman era. Carlson falsely extrapolated that story falsely to say that Christian converts in Israel have “fewer rights,” and said that Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), a pro-Israel evangelical Christian, should be asked what he thinks about that.

Isaac added that evangelical Christians should not believe that the Bible encourages them to support Israel, because it would depend on the “context” of Israel’s behavior. He added that Zionism was not the solution to Christian antisemitism.

Carlson agreed that the U.S. should not support a government that is guilty of “blowing up churches and killing Christians,” which Israel is not doing. (Two churches and a convent have been damaged in Gaza as the result of the war, and one was badly damaged, killing several people inside, but that was the result of nearby airstrikes, not intentional targeting.)

Many commenters on social media were harshly critical of Carlson.

Carlson, who experienced a conversion to the isolationist cause after the Iraq War, has been skeptical of U.S. support for foreign wars, and appears to reject the idea that Israel, as a close U.S. ally against Islamic terror, deserves support.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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