New York Times Coverage Follows Narrative of Israeli State Power

The New York Times ran two very different stories recently related to Israel. An analysis of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement titled “Campus Debates on Israel Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities,” portrays the nonviolent campaign to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law as a cause of tensions between ethnic groups. Several days later, the Gray Lady printed “Israel Says Hezbollah Positions Put Lebanese at Risk,” uncritically repeating Israeli propaganda justifying a future violent, illegal invasion that would likely kill thousands of civilians.

In the article on BDS, the Times pursues a biased preconceived narrative that BDS is sparking a conflict between ethnic groups. In reality, to the extent there is a conflict, it is between two different political groups — Zionists and anti-Zionists. It has nothing to do with one’s race or religion, but with their political views on whether all people enjoy equal rights or not.

Writing in Salon, David Palumbo-Liu calls the piece “race-baiting.” Ali Abunimah writes that Jewish students involved in the BDS movement were interviewed by the Times but “when their words didn’t fit a preordained story, their voices were excluded altogether.” Even the Times’ Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote that interview questions subjecting Jewish BDS supporters to a “Jewish litmus test” were “unprofessional and unacceptable.”

A Palestinian student at UC Berkeley who spoke with Abunimah was asked questions by a Times reporter from her editor including: “To what extent is BDS used as a fig leaf for anti-Semitism?” It appears obvious that the angle of the story came before the reporting done to back it up.


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