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August 30, 2019 10:24 am

New York Times Issues a Bizarre BDS-Related Correction

avatar by Ira Stoll


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

The New York Times has issued a bizarre correction to an article about the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.

The correction, published on Aug. 29, states: “An article on Aug. 21 about President Trump’s assertion that Jewish Democrats are guilty of ‘great disloyalty’ referred incompletely to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. It is an organization that promotes strong advocacy for Palestinian interests and hostility to the policies of the Israeli government.”

If the original article refers to the BDS movement “incompletely,” so, too, does this correction. The Times correction is an absurdly benign description of the BDS movement. That movement doesn’t merely oppose the “policies of the Israeli government,” but Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

The official BDS movement 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 areas that were part of Israel after its establishment 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.

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The pro-Israel watchdog group the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) said that the Times correction was “imperfect.”

“Readers should have been informed that the campaign isn’t just hostile to the policies of this Israeli government, as the correction put it, but to the Jewish state’s very existence,” CAMERA said.

That’s exactly right: the Times correction itself could use a correction.

CAMERA did characterize the correction as an “improvement” over the previous language in the Times article, which had claimed inaccurately only that BDS “advocates cutting ties with Israel until it ends its occupation of the West Bank.”

The Algemeiner pointed out similar language, which remains uncorrected, in a January Times article that said the BDS movement “seeks to pressure Israel into ending the occupation of the West Bank.” The Algemeiner headline on that column was “New York Times News Article Whitewashes BDS Movement.”

It’s at least the third correction The New York Times has issued in two months related to the BDS movement, suggesting that the Times is having a hard time covering it accurately. A full-page Sunday examination of the BDS movement that the Times published in July includes many so-far-uncorrected significant problems. It has, however, triggered two separate corrections, one of them a two-parter:

Correction: July 27, 2019

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the status of legislation in Ireland concerning goods produced by Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Ireland has advanced legislation to ban the import of those goods, it has not banned them. Also, the article misstated the status of Omar Barghouti, a B.D.S. spokesman. He is a Palestinian resident of Israel, not a citizen.


Correction: July 30, 2019

An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the position that the World Council of Churches in Europe has taken on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. While some members of the organization publicly support the movement, the organization itself is not among the groups leading the charge for B.D.S.

Understanding precisely what BDS is is important, because without such an understanding, it can be hard to judge the reaction to members of Congress such as Ilhan Omar and Rashid Tlaib who openly (at least after their election) support the movement. The spate of Times corrections, while mildly entertaining, unfortunately don’t really get Times readers much closer to such an understanding.

Ira Stoll was 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.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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