The Washington Post Whitewashes BDS and Ignores Palestinian Terrorism

On Oct. 7, 2018, a Palestinian terrorist entered the Barkan Industrial Park, located near Ariel, and murdered two Israelis, Kim Levengrod Yehezkel and Ziv Hajibi, and shot and wounded another victim, Sara Vituri. The terrorist, Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, fled the scene and Israeli authorities are in pursuit. Na’alowa and his victims, Yehezkel and Hajibi, worked in the Alon Group, one of several businesses located in the Barkan Industrial Park, where an estimated 8,000 Israelis and Palestinians work.

As of this writing, The Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau—whose former head, William Booth, once claimed that the paper covers every terror attack in Israel—has failed to report the murders. Instead the paper has devoted column space to misleading about the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort and its supporters.

Misleading on BDS

An Oct. 8, 2018 Post report by Jerusalem-based reporter Ruth Eglash described BDS activities as merely ranging from “discouraging the purchase of goods produced in Israeli settlements to pressuring international companies not to conduct business in Israel and urging celebrities not to visit or perform in the Jewish state (“Israel is refusing entry to an American student because she once supported a boycott).”

The article detailed Israel’s refusal to grant entry to Lara Alqasem, a former chapter president of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Florida. Alqasem claims that she is hoping to start a law degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. SJP supports BDS and so has Alqasem. As The Post noted, the refusal to grant her entry is based on a 2017 law barring entry to foreign nationals who “publicly back or call for any kind of boycott — economic, cultural or academic — against Israel or its West Bank settlements.”

BDS seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state and single it out for opprobrium. Its goal, as expressed by several of its leaders, is the end of Israel as Jewish state. For example, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has called for a “one-state solution” and proclaimed that all of Israel should be “renamed Palestine.” Enunciating on the movement’s goals, Anna Baltzer, a pro-BDS activist, said, “We need to wipe Israel out.”

Numerous governments and organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, have highlighted the discriminatory nature of BDS, whose objective is not merely “discouraging the purchase of goods” or “pressuring international companies,” as The Post would have it.

Indeed, as CAMERA has noted, U.S.-designated terrorist groups like Hamas, whose charter calls for the genocide of Jews and the destruction of Israel, have exhorted, “We salute and support the influential BDS movement.” And—according to U.S. Congressional testimony by a former U.S. Treasury Department terror analyst named Jonathan Schanzer—some BDS groups have links to terrorist organizations like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“Ties Exist Between Hamas-Linked Charities and BDS,” CAMERA, April 22, 2016).

The boycott movement’s links to terror

An Oct. 10, 2018 New York Times Op-Ed on Alqasem managed to note the links between American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a financial supporter of SJP, and “groups flagged by the U.S. Department of Treasury for their ties to the terrorist group Hamas (“Why is Israel Scared of This Young American”).” But The Post, for some reason, did not do so. However, it’s certainly aware of the information; CAMERA has previously supplied Schanzer’s April 16, 2018 testimony to the newspaper’s staff.

Some SJP members have expressed “solidarity” with murderers. On March 21, 2013, Alqasem’s chapter of SJP held a “24-hour solidarity hunger strike” to support Samer Issawi, who received a twenty-six year prison sentence in 2002 for manufacturing and distributing pipe bombs and shooting at Israeli civilians. The Post, however, sought to minimize Alqasem’s support for BDS, acknowledging that she was a chapter president, but writing that she merely “called for a boycott of Israeli hummus.” The Post cited Canary Mission as its source, but failed to detail other aspects about the University of Florida’s SJP chapter. As Canary Mission noted, UF’s SJP group has promoted anti-Israel propaganda and supported Rasmea Odeh, a terrorist convicted for helping murder two college students in a 1969 bombing in Jerusalem.

Other recent Post reports have also obfuscated and mislead about BDS. A Sept. 20, 2018 article about a University of Michigan professor’s refusal to grant a student’s request to study abroad in Israel offers several examples. The professor, John Cheney-Lippold, supports the BDS movement, which The Post minimized as seeking “the end of Israeli occupation of ‘all Arab lands,’ the full equality of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of return for Palestinian refugees as stipulated in U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.” The report omitted that BDS supporters and its co-founder have called for the end of the Jewish nation of Israel. But that “right of return” doesn’t exist.

As a U.N. General Assembly Resolution and not a U.N. Security Council measure, Resolution 194 is non-binding; it does not carry the force of law nor does it stipulate anything. Rather, it merely recommends. Additionally, the resolution was not agreed to by all parties, as the Arab states voted against it—having done so, in part, because it explicitly did not contain a “right of return.” Instead the resolution recommends that those refugees wishing to return and “live at peace with their neighbors” be permitted to do so—provided that returnees first accept living “at peace with their neighbors.”

Further, U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 does not specify ‘Palestinian Arab refugees’ rather it “Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” As CAMERA has noted, this could be read as applying to all refugees from the 1948 War, including the estimated 850,000 Jewish residents of Arab countries who were expelled. 

The antisemitic nature of BDS

A follow-up Post report about BDS at University of Michigan claimed “BDS supporters have often sought to distinguish their opposition to the actions of the Israeli government from antagonism towards Jews.” This must be news to Hamas and other groups and individuals that support BDS and call for the destruction of the world’s sole Jewish state. (“A second Michigan instructors withheld letter from student headed to Israel,” Oct. 9, 2018).

The Post’s claim that BDS supporters “distinguish” between the Israeli government and Jews is equally false. Indeed, on Oct. 4, 2018—a mere five days before that Post article—BDS activists “disrupted the presentation of an Israeli Holocaust film in Berlin (“Boycott-Israel activists disrupt Holocaust film in Berlin,” The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2018).”

As CAMERA has frequently highlighted (see, for example “The media is not pro-Palestinian, just anti-Israel,” The Daily Caller, June 29, 2018), the paper often ignores Palestinian politics and culture.

Leading Palestinian cleric and figures are trying to prevent Arabs from participating in Oct. 30, 2018 municipal elections in Jerusalem. A Sept. 20, 2018 report by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli think tank, noted that Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority (PA), “has issued a fatwa (religious ruling) banning the participation in the municipal elections or running for mayor.” Saeb Erekat, a top PA official, announced that the Palestinian leadership wants Arabs to boycott the elections.

In other words: Palestinian leaders, and not Israel, are trying to prevent Arabs from voting. And neither the BDS movement, with its pretensions to caring about the rights of Palestinian Arabs, nor The Washington Post, with its pretensions to providing full and fair reporting, has made a sound.

(Note: This article initially misspelled BDS activist Anna Baltzer’s last name. It was corrected on Oct. 24, 2018)