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New York Times Hails Boycott-Israel Fashion Advocate as ‘Visionary’

avatar by Ira Stoll


A taxi passes by in front of The New York Times head office, Feb. 7, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri / File.

The New York Times is cheering on an “organizer and activist” law student who wears Iranian fashion labels while promoting a boycott of Israel.

The paper’s “visionaries” series — devoted to “figures who are trying to transform the way we live” — features an admiring profile and interview of Hoda Katebi, 27. She “works as a community organizer, speaker and writer, all while attending law school at the University of California, Berkeley.” The article is headlined “Taking On Fast Fashion by Taking It Down,” and subheadlined, “The organizer Hoda Katebi is tacking the global garment industry not as a reformer but as an abolitionist.”

The interview goes like this:

How did fashion become your focus?

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I discovered fashion blogs just before college. It was a fun outlet. But some of my favorite people were working with brands on the BDS list, [a list of companies and individuals that support Israel]. They weren’t thinking about the politics behind the aesthetics.

Tamar Sternthal of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis writes, “And just like that, The New York Times uncritically conveys the activist’s assertion that a bigoted movement dedicated to the elimination of the Jewish state is a social justice cause par excellence.”

A photo cutline in the Times says, “‘At Blue Tin we try to prioritize people who are ‘unhirable’ by the labor industry’s standards,” said Ms. Katebi, who is wearing a top from the Iranian label Aassttiinn.’”

The Times doesn’t press Katebi on why terrorist theocracy Iran is okay for commerce, while democratic Israel deserves a boycott. The “abolitionist” in the subheadline subtly aligns the boycott-Israel-and-wear-Iranian-fashion-instead crowd with the virtue of the American antislavery movement, in an echo of the Soviet “Zionism Is Racism” lie that now sadly lives on on college campuses from Berkeley, California to Cambridge, Massachusetts, even after the defeat of the Soviet Union.

This particular case is an example of how the Times’ bias against Israel reaches far beyond the newspaper’s news coverage coming from the Jerusalem bureau, and even beyond the positions espoused by the paper’s editorial board. The skew is everywhere, permeating practically the entire paper — from the food coverage to the movie reviews to, in this case, a business section article about the fashion industry.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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