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Middle East Issues





VICE News Parrots BDS Talking Points


VICE News has earned itself a reputation for leaving out important context in reporting on diverse issues. The issue of Israel is no exception. Recently, CAMERA researchers analyzed two VICE articles about Israel that were found to be riddled with distortions and omissions of critical facts.

On June 2nd, VICE News again failed to provide substantive information, this time on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. VICE reporter Justin Ling published a piece investigating recent cyber-attacks on websites that support BDS. In the article, Ling describes BDS as a movement that:

…seeks to encourage individuals and businesses to end their financial relationship with Israel and any organizations based there, in order to apply pressure on the government to end the occupation of Palestine and improve human rights conditions for those living in the occupied territories.

That is a wholesale distortion of what the movement actually believes and what actions they take to achieve their goals. Reading Ling's description would cause one to regard BDS as nothing more than a group of peace-loving world citizens who display benign signs at protests and congregate at community centers to brainstorm non-violent ideas on how to make the world a better place.

As we have seen, time and again, BDS does nothing to improve “human rights conditions” for Palestinians. In fact, the campaign onlyworsens the economic status of Palestinians. Notable Palestinian public figures Bassem Eid and Khaled Abu Toameh have written extensively on this.

The best known example of this is the Israeli company SodaStream, which was pressured by the BDS movement to move its factory out of the West Bank. As a result, over 600 Palestinians lost their jobs and, on average, are now earning less than a quarter of what the Israeli company was paying them, if they are gainfully employed at all.Israel employs tens of thousands of Palestinians and provides them with salaries and benefits. Even the PA Daily News praised the working conditions for Palestinians employed by Israelis, and condemned the low wages and lack of benefits given to Palestinians employed by other Palestinians:

Whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers, they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers - for reasons having to do with salaries and other rights.[...] The [Israeli] work conditions are very good, and include transportation, medical insurance and pensions. These things do not exist with Palestinian employers.

If the BDS movement was genuinely concerned with human rights, then why are they silent about the violence and oppression inflicted on the Palestinians by their own leadership? In both Gaza and the West Bank, homosexuals face severe punishment or death. Women do not enjoy equal rights and female genital mutilation, rape, stoning, and honor killings abide. Freedom of speech is severely limited and freedom of the press is nearly non-existent.

Billions in aid funds to Gaza as well as thousands of tons of building materials have been diverted to building terror tunnels and conducting terror attacks against Israel instead of building hospitals, roads, schools and factories.

In the VICE article, the only motive behind these cyber-attacks that Ling offers is the putative “strategic threat” that BDS poses to Israel. Beyond that, he offers no reasons why people would wish to thwart BDS activity. In reality, there are many reasons, such as the BDS campaign's bullying tactics, incitement to violence, hateful rhetoric, and anti-Semitic associations.

In 2015, BDS activists singled out recording artist Matisyahu, a non-political Jewish-American (not Israeli), and bulliedSpain's Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Music Festival into demandingthat Matisyahu issue a statement in support of Palestinian statehood or be banned from performing at the festival. This incident made it clear that BDS is more of a hate group than a human rights group, having targeted Matisyahu because he was Jewish and therefore seen to represent Israel. VICE News never reported these events. Imagine if any other minority were singled out in the same way. VICE News would not have omitted it from their coverage.

A recent study by AMCHA Initiative found that BDS activity on college campuses was directly linked to increasing levels of anti-Semitism in the form of physical assaults, harassment, destruction of property, discrimination, and suppression of speech.

Ling reports that the BDS movement aims to “end the occupation in Palestine,” but does not clarify what landmass constitutes “Palestine.” Is he referring to the West Bank? Gaza? Jordan? Israel? The Palestine Mandate included all of these regions, and more. If Ling is deferring to the BDS definition of what “Palestine” incorporates, then this is none other than a euphemism for the destruction of Israel. In their own words, BDS activists frequently chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” meaning that Palestine will be liberated from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Does VICE, as does BDS, support the notion that Israel itself is occupied territory?
 
If the BDS movement realized their aims, the one and only Jewish state would be replaced with either a bi-national or a single Arab state, alongside 22 already existing Arab nations. Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement has made this clear: "Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine." Omar Barghouti has stated in several interviews that he does not believe in a two state solution, and that ending the West Bank “occupation” will not end BDS efforts.

Yet VICE News feels no obligation to report on any of this, and blindly accepts the BDS talking points.

VICE News's superficial and misleading description of BDS is evidence of either their own ignorance or their own bias. Both are markers of bad journalism; one might think deliberately bad journalism.

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