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.