Teen Vogue Uses Sally Rooney to Promote BDS Talking Points

See 10/15/2021 Update below

Teen Vogue, the youth-oriented fashion magazine that has recently styled itself as an authority on news and politics as well, is once again promoting anti-Israel propaganda on its pages.

Now under the auspices of a new Editor-in-Chief, Versha Sharma, the magazine has  reported on author Sally Rooney’s decision to decline translation of her most recent work by an Israeli publishing house in a biased and one-sided article. (“Sally Rooney Boycotts Israeli ‘Apartheid,’ Refuses Work With Publishers,” by Lexi McMenamin, October 12, 2021.)

Teen Vogue focused on Sally Rooney’s statement about why she chose not to work with Israeli publishers. The article subheading tells readers that the author “was inaccurately accused of boycotting the Hebrew language,” asserting that she would be happy to have her work translated into Hebrew – just not by an Israeli publishing house. Where Rooney might find a publisher to translate her work into Hebrew, outside of the only Hebrew-speaking nation, and to whom that publishing house might sell Hebrew language copies, outside of the only Hebrew-speaking country, is a question that does not appear to have occurred either to Rooney or to Teen Vogue

Teen Vogue also hides the goal of the BDS movement and ignores the movement’s inherent antisemitism, writing only that it “calls for global supporters of Palestinian rights to refuse to financially support institutions based in Israel or connected to the Israeli government.” 

In fact, as BDS founder Omar Barghouti and other BDS leaders have made clear, the movement’s goal is to turn the world’s only Jewish-majority state into the world’s 57th Muslim-majority state. Moreover, BDS singles out Israel alone for boycott, ignoring actual, grave human rights abuses in countries such as China, where Rooney has no problem having her book translated.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called BDS a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.” Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi has said that “BDS is an antisemitic movement, plain and simple.” Republican Senator Ted Cruz, too, has said that, “campaigns to boycott or discriminate against Israel and Israeli Jews are driven by antisemitic hate.” In 2019, 398 members of the U.S. Congress from both parties voted to condemn the movement. 

Even the German Parliament has called BDS antisemitic, and, according to the Jerusalem Post, “called on governmental bodies not to finance or support any organizations that support BDS or question Israel’s right to exist.”

Yet, Teen Vogue quotes only supporters of BDS, including the fringe groups Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. They don’t quote any opponents of BDS, who might explain why so many people believe it to be an antisemitic movement, and they don’t quote any mainstream Jewish American groups.

Nor did they mention that antisemitism researcher David Collier has just published a lengthy report on antisemitism in Rooney’s native Ireland, which, according to the Jerusalem Post, showed that, “in Ireland, anti-Jewish racism spreads within the corridors of power and unlike in the UK or US, appears to be as much driven from the top down as the reverse.” Instead, Teen Vogue writes, “Ireland has a particularly vibrant solidarity campaign with Palestine.”

Teen Vogue uncritically quotes Rooney saying, “Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law.” But as CAMERA has explained in depth, in order for B’tselem – a group Rooney cites by name in her statement – to make the claim that there is apartheid in Israel, it had to change the definition of apartheid:

Even B’tselem inadvertently admits that its report fails to meet the definition of apartheid. While the Rome Statute refers to crimes to further oppression “by one racial group over any other racial group,” B’tselem, in a passage admitting fundamental differences between apartheid South Africa and the Jewish state, says race isn’t involved: “The division in South Africa was based on race and skin color, while in Israel it is based on nationality and ethnicity,” the organization states.

As noted above, most of the B’tselem report indeed refers to divisions based on nationality. This isn’t apartheid. It is the nature of citizenship.

And as also noted above, Israel doesn’t divide based on ethnicity. It is, rather, a multi-ethnic country in which all citizens have the same individual rights. 

Also contrary to Rooney’s claim, BDS did not originate with “Palestinian civil society,” but rather with Iran, and has been shown to be merely a continuation of the 20th century Arab boycott of Israel.

Teen Vogue concludes that:

As noted by The Guardian, Rooney is not the first acclaimed author to refuse the publication of her works in Israel. In 2012, for example, Alice Walker refused to have her acclaimed 1982 novel The Color Purple published in Israel. 

Comparing Rooney with Alice Walker might not be the best way to refute the charge that Rooney’s actions are antisemitic; Walker has promoted deranged, antisemitic conspiracy theories involving alien lizards.

Despite pretensions to bringing news to a teen audience, when it comes to Israel, Teen Vogue is only pushing propaganda.

10/15/2021 Update: Within hours after this article was published, and after being contacted by some of CAMERA’s members, Teen Vogue removed the reference to Walker and appended an Editor’s Note explaining the deletion:

Editor’s note: The original version of this story mentioned that Alice Walker refused to have her acclaimed 1982 novel The Color Purple published in Israel. Teen Vogue removed the mention in light of Walker’s past promotion of antisemitic conspiracy theories.

CAMERA commends Teen Vogue for this action, however, the other problems with the article described above remain.  

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