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January 31, 2019 11:12 am

New York Times News Article Whitewashes BDS Movement

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avatar by Ira Stoll


The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The news columns of The New York Times are offering readers an inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading description of the goals of the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.

A news article in the January 29 Times, reporting on a Senate vote on a measure affirming the right of state and local governments to push back against the BDS movement, says, “Republican leaders added a provision by Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, that aims to curtail support for the boycott, divest and sanctions — or B.D.S. — movement, which seeks to pressure Israel into ending the occupation of the West Bank.”

Some people argue that the West Bank hasn’t actually been “occupied” by Israel since Israel turned over the area’s major Arab population centers such as Nablus and Ramallah to control of the Palestinian Authority about 25 years ago.

My point here is different: it relates to the “aims” of the BDS movement. Its official website lists as one of its goals the “return” of “more than 7.25 million Palestinian refugees” to “their homes” — not in the “West Bank,” but in the land of Israel that was established in 1948. This isn’t so much a “right of return” as a foreign invasion, because the vast majority of these “refugees” are children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who left during the War of Independence or at other points. Such an invasion would effectively eradicate and eliminate Israel as a Jewish state. No government elected by Israel’s current citizenry would allow it.

BDS, in other words, isn’t only about the “occupation” of the West Bank, but about the existence of Jews in Israel. Arabs have been boycotting Jews in the land of Israel since before the state even existed, and certainly since before the 1967 war in which Israel recaptured parts of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria that had been occupied by Jordan.

The misleading description in the news article comes after a series of recent pro-BDS moves by the Times, including an official Times staff editorial critical of steps to counter the movement, a command by the Times news columns that readers “celebrate” the election of a BDS-supporting congresswoman, and op-ed columns by two regular Times columnists, Michelle Alexander and Michelle Goldberg, who are supporters of BDS.

Ira Stoll is the former managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. More of his media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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