NY Times’ Flimsy Attempt to Smear BDS

After months of silence on the steamrolling campus movement in favor of boycott, divestment and sanctions aimed at Israel, The New York Times has at last spoken out—in a not-so-subtle attempt to tarnish the movement as anti-Semitic.

In a page 1 piece, which was also prominent online, the Times presents Jewish students as victims of a poisoned atmosphere on universities nationwide. The article is titled “Debate Over Treatment of Jews Is Amplified on Many Campuses” (in the print edition) but manages to cite only a single example of this “debate”—a discussion over the confirmation of a Jewish student to a University of California-Los Angeles board.

The story by Adam Nagourney states that the discussion “served to spotlight what appears to be a surge of hostile sentiments directed against Jews at many campuses in the country.” He then links this sentiment to the passage of a UCLA student government resolution in favor of divestment from companies that profit from Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.

Nagourney notes that UCLA is “one of many campuses” to take such an action, but he provides readers with no further details. Readers never learn, for instance, that many Jewish students work to pass BDS resolutions at their schools.

The Times has failed to deliver any serious coverage of student BDS actions in the United States and beyond, although the movement has steadily racked up victories, even in the face of intense lobbying efforts by pro-Israel activists. The UCLA vote last November, for instance, was the sixth University of California undergraduate vote in favor of divestment.

Another significant victory came in December, when graduate and undergraduate workers throughout the statewide University of California system voted in favor of divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and its violations of human rights. The vote was taken under the auspices of the United Auto Workers Union Local 2865, which represents 13,000 students. The resolution passed by a two-thirds margin.

In February the Stanford undergraduate student senate voted in favor of divestment by more than two to one (10-4, with one abstention), and last week the student senate of the University of Toledo in Ohio approved a similar resolution by the landslide vote of 21 to 4. Other schools joining the movement in the past year include the University of New Mexico, Loyola University in Chicago and Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

The movement has been successful overseas also. In 2014, the United Kingdom National Union of Students voted to support BDS movements on campuses, and student unions at the University of Exeter, the University of Kent and the National University of Ireland voted in support of BDS measures.

Last month the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London handed the campaign a major victory when more than 2,000 students, faculty and contract workers endorsed an academic boycott of Israel by an overwhelming 73 percent. The vote took place over five days and called for SOAS to cut all ties with Israeli academic institutions.

None of this is newsworthy, according to the Times. Nagourney’s story glosses over the movement with a single reference to UCLA as “one of many campuses” to vote for BDS measures. Readers learn nothing about the factors that inspire students to take up the cause or the debates over Palestine and Israel taking place on a number of campuses.

Instead, the Times gives prominence to a single incident at UCLA and blows this into an unsubstantiated claim about a “surge of hostile sentiments” toward Jews. The evidence for this charge, as the news site Mondoweiss stated, “is laughably thin. No statistics, no research, not even a biased survey from the [Anti-Defamation League].”

The BDS movement is a story of national and international significance, but rather than inform readers, the Times attempts to deflect attention from the campaign, the facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine and the growing support for BDS. It is Israel first and foremost, once again.

Barbara Erickson

11 thoughts on “NY Times’ Flimsy Attempt to Smear BDS

  1. I wonder if the New York Times can give advice on how the U.S. can be more evenhanded in its deliberations on the Palestine issue to help them get rid of Israel’s criminal occupation ,Nagourneys article does not pass the smell test.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Barbara, for yet again turning a much needed spotlight on the New York Times and its intractable transparent bias in favor of the rogue “State” of Israel. This refusal to recognize boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is wholly characteristic of the Times refusal to publish anything at all that criticizes Zionist Israel. I have repeatedly submitted comments containing fact on Israel’s Apartheid regime, its unlawful 47-year brutal and murderous forced (at gunpoint) military occupation of the Palestinian territories (Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank), only to see these comments invariably trashed by Times editors. Contrary to what the Times would have the world believe, that it is America’s “newspaper of record”, the Times “coverage” of Palestine-Israel represents the epitome of hypocrisy, a glaring violation of “journalist integrity”, and the behavior of a propaganda rag for a “state” in daily violation of International Law and Geneva Conventions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point Jim Mitchie about commenting at the NYT. I have had made many good comments that never are posted, although for some reason I’m getting posted now. I have been studying what makes it through to game the system better.

      One thing that sometimes stuns me, is reading through the NYT “picks” as opposed to the readers’ picks, which are always more Israel-critical. Some of the NYT picks are right out of a hasbara play book. That amazes me. Like, WHO is combing through the comments to choose? The person who wrote the article? Random editors? A team of interns on break from Yeshiva?

      LOL Jim Michie I always enjoy your signature style of writing. I’d recognize it anywhere.


  3. Outrageous. The shallow “journalist” Nagourney — surely influenced by his editor/censor and the whole fabric of what passes as news at the NYTimes — could be a bit more acceptable to me had he used “Zionists” in place of “Jews.” Thanks for outing him, Ms. Erickson.


    • You may know this already, but the reporter doesn’t write the headlines. This confirms what you say about the editors and others at the times, that they are all in this, because the headline here is as bad as they get.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Barbara for this post. There is clearly a lot of fear in the older Zionist establishment about BDS activism and activism wrt to Palestinian human rights on college campuses and articles like this one are reflective of that fear — that the younger generations of Jews and non-Jews are not buying the old BS narrative. As Mel Gibson once said, “the toothpaste is out of the tube.” College is a good time to engage forward thinking ideas. Because 10 years from now when those kids are in their early 30s and trying to hang on to cushy jobs at Comcast, they will feel the pressure to conform, and not rock the boat by being critical of Israel.

    Cary Nelson, who was one of the establishment henchmen at University of Illinois that helped do in Steven Salaita, likened the pro-Palestinian/BDS movement on campuses today to the Vietnam war protests in the sixties. Here’s hoping it has the same kind of legs.

    Did you see Nick Kristof’s piece on Gaza? A little timid maybe, but well intentioned. You have to be grateful for even a little progress. The pro-Israel backlash in the comments section was astounding. These people fight and argue as if they were locked in mortal combat for their very survival. And they usually have their facts wrong. You can blame the Times for that I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks I looked and saw only three, but was glad you pointed me there because then I noticed Roger Cohen’s 3/6 article – Netanyahu’s Iran Thing. Wow, that was nice to see, and surprising. It was an intelligent analysis. Netanyahu is the gift that keeps on giving. His last visit here will, I predict, be remembered as historically significant, but not for the reasons Bibi wants.


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