Reuters Corrects Arabic Report: BDS Not Illegal in Israel

Following the CAMERA-prompted Reuters correction of an article earlier this month which had erroneously reported that Israel has “criminalized” support for the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaign, CAMERA Arabic elicited correction of the identical error at Reuters Arabic. The Nov. 5 Arabic article (“Israeli Court Upholds the Decision to Deport a Human Rights Watch official“) had erred: “Israel has criminalized the movement [i.e. BDS] and has called Western powers to follow suit.” (Translation by CAMERA Arabic.)

Illustrative image of a BDS protest in Australia, 2010 (Photo by Mohamed Ouda/Wikimedia)

As previously reported by CAMERA, Israel’s anti-BDS legislation treats calls for BDS as a civil, not criminal offense. Specifically, the 2011 “Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel Through Boycott,” as amended by the Supreme Court, allows businesses that have suffered economic harm as a result of such boycotts to sue for civil damages. There is no criminal component. 

Incidentally, the English text of the 2011 bill is helpfully provided by Adalah, an Israel-based organization which itself has engaged in BDS activity. Speaking at Cambridge University in November 2017, Adalah Justice Project Director Nadia Ben-Youssef stated: 
Adalah as a Palestinian organization based in Israel – because of this law has a prohibition on it with regard to the call for BDS. The law says that if you call for boycott- it had creating a new civil wrong, you can be sued in court if you call for a boycott of Israel. So Adalah has pivoted its argument about BDS, for the right to boycott… Adalah supports the right to boycott…we believe in the pillars of the BDS movement.
(According to itsweb site, the “Adalah Justice Project began as the US Program ofAdalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rightsin Israel (Adalah).” As of this writing, Ben-Youssef’sLinkedInprofile indicates that she has worked for Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel since 2013, but Adalah’ssitedoes not list her as an employee.) Thus, Ben-Youssef confirms that a) calling for BDS in Israel is a civil, not criminal, offense; and b) Adalah in Israel “believe[s] in the pillars of the BDS movement.”
In response to communication from CAMERA Arabic, Reuters amended the Arabic report. It now accurately reports: “Calling for a boycott of the state is not a crime in Israel, but those who do so may be subject to civil lawsuits.”
In addition, editors commendably added a prominent note (at left) at the top of the article alerting readers to the change.



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