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January 11, 2018 10:02 am

Sanitizing the BDS Movement?

avatar by Simon Plosker

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A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: FOA / Facebook.

The announcement of 20 pro-boycott organizations that have been blacklisted by Israeli authorities — and denied entry to the country — has brought the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement back into the news.

The first prize for sanitizing BDS goes to The Irish Times, for this description:

Of course, plenty of people — Israelis included — criticize Israeli policies, which is a perfectly legitimate activity. But to simply say that this is what BDS is about, is to utterly downplay its real aims — which are to delegitimize Israel, and bring an end to the country as a Jewish state.

Credit then to The New York Times, which did include some vital context in its story. However, while describing how Israelis perceive BDS and how its aims would have the practical effect of destroying Israel, there does appear to be an error in the Times’ text:

It is highly significant that the Times states that BDS support for the so-called Palestinian ‘right of return,’ “would probably spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state.”

However, “Palestinian citizens of Israel” are actually Israeli Arabs — and already have full equality under the law. The BDS movement’s website doesn’t even go as far as to suggest that this is not the case, referring instead to general “discrimination.”

The New York Times has thus taken a BDS charge against Israel and made it worse, by falsely suggesting that Israeli-Arab citizens are legally discriminated against.

HonestReporting has requested a correction.

The Washington Post included the BDS movement’s own description of the group’s activities in its story:

BDS, which stands for ”boycott, divestment and sanctions,” aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law vis-à-vis its policies toward the Palestinians. The movement discourages the purchase of Israeli goods, pressures international companies not to conduct business in Israel and urges celebrities not to visit or perform in the country.

While we do not believe that BDS has anything to do with “complying with international law,” what stood out in the article was a lack of context, and not providing an Israeli perspective.

After contacting the Post, it was discovered that the correct version of the story had not been uploaded online. The error was caught, and the updated version was posted — which includes the following:

The Israeli government says that the boycott campaign actively promotes the country’s demise and denies Israel’s basic right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. In recent years, Israel has ramped up efforts to fight against what it sees as an increasing threat.

Having corresponded with the Post, it is clear that this omission was a technical error rather than anything untoward and we thank the Post for fixing the problem once it was brought to their attention.

This article was originally published by HonestReporting.

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