CAMERA Op-Ed: The New York Times Continues Its Campaign to Legtimize BDS and its Proponents

The New York Times is at it again – sanitizing Omar Barghouti and his Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement– this time in a column by its resident BDS defender, Michelle Goldberg.

The Times columnist justifies BDS as “the controversial campaign to make Israel pay an economic and cultural price for its treatment of the Palestinians” – a characterization that turns the tables to condemn Israel instead of the anti-Semitic campaign that denies Jews the right to self-determination in their ancestral land. Barghouti and his fellow BDS proponents have repeatedly declared that the goal of BDS is to eliminate any  Jewish state in the region. Moreover, BDS activists frequently single out Jews for bullying, using their presumed support for Israel as an excuse.  (For details on the anti-Semitic nature of BDS and the incriminating words of its leaders, see here.)

The columnist bemoans the denial of entry into the U.S. to Barghouti who was to come for a speaking tour to promote BDS. She suggests that this is an unjust “assault on pro-Palestinian speech…” and that the U.S. is hypocritical by presenting itself as a champion of free expression while denying Barghouti entry to express his legitimate political opinions.

The denial of U.S. entry to Barghouti is presumably based on Section 212(a) of the country’s Immigration and Nationality Act which declares would-be visitors inadmissable to the U.S. on various grounds, including on Foreign Policy Grounds when those foreigners’ beliefs, statements, or associations are not lawful within the U.S. or when the Secretary of State believes that the foreigner’s entry into the US would “compromise a compelling US foreign policy interest.”

  1. An alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is inadmissible…

Laws like this are typical for democratic countries that enact such regulations to protect themselves from foreign agitators who seek to foment unrest or promote activities deemed non-conducive to the public’s good.  (CAMERA has documented similar laws in several Western countries. See “At the New York Times, Seeing Israel Through a Jaundiced Eye”)

While acknowledging that Barghouti and BDS are committed to a single, non-Jewish state, Goldberg presents this as a reasonable but debatable political perspective – what she mildly characterizes as “a single state in which Israeli Jews, as individuals, would have civil rights, but Jews as a people would not have national rights.”  By contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s election promise to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank is portrayed as a far right, unreasonable position – what she harshly characterizes as “a single state where Jews rule over Arabs.”  Both these characterizations are deceptive and set up a false moral comparison.

Netanyahu’s proposition neither denies Palestinians the right to national self-determination in areas outside Jewish settlements nor compromises the civil rights of Arab citizens in a Jewish state.   On the other side,  Palestinian leaders have  talked about excluding Israeli Jews from a Palestinian state in the West Bank, raising real questions about Goldberg’s claim that  Israeli Jews would even be allowed to live there, much less have civil rights.   

But Goldberg apparently has no interest in debating the actual facts. Her column is devoted to whitewashing the BDS founder and demonizing Israel and its American ally.

On Barghouti and BDS:  

Barghouti assumed he was denied entry to the U.S. “because of his political views.”

“The B.D.S. movement doesn’t engage in or promote violence. Its leaders make an effort to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism…”

“Barghouti couches his opposition to Zionism in the language of humanist universalism. The official position of the B.D.S. movement, he says, is that ‘any supremacist, exclusionary state in historic Palestine — be it a ‘Jewish state,’ an ‘Islamic state,’ or a ‘Christian state’ — would by definition conflict with international law and basic human rights principles.’”

“Barghouti threatens Israel’s American defenders not because he’s hateful, but because he isn’t.”

On Israel:

“Israel has aligned itself with the global far right.”

“Israel is winning the far right around the world,” Barghouti said at an N.Y.U. event last week, where the journalist Peter Beinart interviewed him remotely. But, he added, “it is losing its moral stature around the world.”

“American authorities,” the columnist concludes, “may be able to quash this message on some college campuses, but it won’t stop being true.”

Goldberg’s column represents just the latest  salvo in a New York Times campaign designed to legitimize BDS and its proponents.

(Note: A slightly different version of this article appeared in Israel Hayom on April 21, 2019)

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