‘Bring Down the State of Israel’: Media Outlets Obscure BDS Campaign’s True Goal in Sally Rooney Boycott Coverage

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.

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The debate over Irish author Sally Rooney’s severing of ties with an Israeli publisher in line with her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement continues.

Over the last two days, numerous international media outlets have published articles about Rooney’s decision to partake in a “cultural boycott” of the Jewish state by preventing her latest novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You?, from being translated into Hebrew by Modan Publishing House.

A striking theme that many of these news reports have in common is how thoroughly they distort and misrepresent the true aims of BDS, making it seem palatable to the uninformed reader.

For example, the BDS website clearly advocates “for a boycott of Israel’s entire regime of oppression” and appeals to supporters to “pressure [their] respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”

Yet, The Washington Post minimizes the scope of the movement’s goal in its October 12 article, Sally Rooney won’t release new bestseller in Israel, publisher says, intensifying debate on cultural boycott: 

The BDS campaign aims to change Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians by encouraging boycotts, stock divestiture and sanctions against Israeli and international companies that operate on land that Palestinians consider theirs. Land that Palestinians consider theirs encompasses the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

However, BDS does not discriminate between Israeli businesses that operate in the contested areas and those that do not. Rather, it urges the blacklisting of all companies – Israeli or foreign – that do any kind of business in any part of the Jewish state.

A list published by BDSGuide, which works to expose “the hypocrisy of BDS,” points out that proponents of BDS would have to boycott corporations including, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Amazon, Facebook, Google, eBay, Viacom, Universal Studios, Coca-Cola, Nestle, McDonald’s and Walmart.

Indeed, were people to fully acquiesce to the BDS movement’s demands, it is unlikely they would ever eat, drink or use technology again. 

Read More: Ben & Jerry Struggle to Defend Israel Boycott Decision in Sanctimonious Interview

However, in summarizing BDS, The Cut, which is part of New York Magazine, states:

BDS has a few key aims: to get Israel to grant its Palestinian citizens equal rights; to let Palestinian refugees displaced in the conflict that followed Israel’s establishment back into their homes; and to reclaim the occupied land Israel took in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, including the West Bank. In service of those goals, BDS promotes an international boycott along the lines of the one that helped end South Africa’s apartheid.”

The Cut effectively parrots the movement’s misrepresentations and outright lies by presenting them as facts.

The reality is that there are no laws in Israel that are akin to South Africa’s former system of apartheid that discriminated against citizens on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity. Arab-Israelis, only a small percentage of whom self-identify as Palestinian, comprise 20 percent of Israel’s population and have full citizenship and equal rights.

The publication also takes aim at those who have denounced BDS:

Some critics read the movement’s objectives as reflecting a desire to do away with Israel as a Jewish state and as anti-Semitic in its targeting of Israel when many other countries are also guilty of human-rights violations.”

This suggests there is a handful of pro-Israelis who are conspiratorially distorting BDS’ goal as “reflecting a desire to do away with Israel as a Jewish state.” 

However, Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the movement, has previously been unequivocal in his view that all of Israel is Palestinian territory while confirming his opposition to a “Jewish state in any part of [British Mandatory] Palestine.” 

Asked whether he supports a two-state solution, Barghouti has repeatedly advocated for one state: a Palestinian one.

Read More: Ben & Jerry’s ‘Settlements’ Boycott: NYT, WaPo Cover Up Eliminationist Goal of BDS, Giving Free Pass to Orgs That Support It

Teen Vogue tweeted out its mangled version of the story to its 3.2 million followers that contained the following sentence: 

BDS, or Boycott, Divest, Sanctions, calls for global supporters of Palestinian rights to refuse to financially support institutions based in Israel or connected to the Israeli government.”

At the very least it makes clear that BDS is focused on boycotting the entirety of Israel, not just Jewish “settlements” in Palestinian-claimed territory.

Nevertheless, leading BDS activist and US college professor, As’ad AbuKhalil, would most likely disagree with this tame assessment of the movement’s goals considering he once unambiguously stated its primary motive was “to bring down the state of Israel.”

Sally Rooney’s decision to not publish her novel with an Israeli company may be a symbolic win for the BDS campaign.

But this would have been impossible if not for so many media outlets having obscured the reality of the movement’s central ambition: that is, to end Jewish self-determination in all of Israel.

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