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July 3, 2018 4:02 pm

New York Times Marvels at German Hostility to BDS Movement

avatar by Ira Stoll


The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

How anti-Israel is The New York Times? More anti-Israel than many German politicians, at least to judge by a recent Times arts section story marveling at the news that a German music festival chose not to welcome supporters of the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.

The Times frames this as “a clamor that had nothing to do with the group’s music,” concluding the article with a quote from someone who insists, “Music is supposed to unite people. ..Unfortunately now it is about picking sides.” A pullquote alongside the story in the print newspaper reads, “A clamor over a Scottish rap group that had nothing to do with its music.”

This is a Times double standard in action. When ABC canceled the “Roseanne” revival because of an offensive tweet by Roseanne Barr, the Times didn’t complain that it had nothing to do with her acting. A recent Times editorial insisted that men accused of sexual misconduct leave their professions. The editorial did not take the position that the alleged sexual misconduct had nothing to do with a chef’s food or a television journalist’s interview skill.

Yet when it comes to BDS supporters, the Times gives an extended and respectful airing to the view that it’s proper not to allow bigotry to interfere with a musician’s stage presence.

The Times article appears to take a he-said, she-said approach to the question of whether BDS is bigotry, but if you think about it, the whole article is basically written from a standpoint that views BDS as not exactly equivalent to outright racism, sexism, or homophobia. The Times writes:

Young Fathers openly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as B.D.S., which asks companies and people to avoid doing business with Israel in protest of its treatment of Palestinians. But in Germany, where calling for a boycott against the Jewish state carries deep historical associations with the Nazis, the movement is widely viewed as anti-Semitic.

It’s also widely viewed as antisemitic in Israel and in America, in part because people reasonably wonder what else possibly would motivate someone to single out the Jewish state for an economic boycott in a world that is full of nations with much worse human rights records. That also calls into question whether BDS is really about Israel’s “treatment of Palestinians” or is about the mere existence of Jews in the Promised Land, who have, after all, been targets of Arab boycotts dating back to at least 1945.

The Times reports:

B.D.S. disputes the accusation that it is anti-Semitic, saying that it is protesting Israeli policies, not the Jewish people. It notes that there are Jews among its followers.

Yeah, well, the Germans quoted in the Times article don’t seem to have much patience with that line of argument. The Times, though, sure does, and the article, at least as I read it, carries a faint but perceptible tone of, “Hey Martha, listen to this, those silly Germans are still so wracked by Holocaust guilt they won’t even let a BDS-supporting band get on stage, can you believe it?”

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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