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. Moreover, BDS activists frequently single out Jews for bullying, using their presumed support for Israel as an excuse.
The columnist bemoans the denial of entry into America of 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 United States 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 when those foreigners’ beliefs, statements, or associations are not lawful within the United States or when the U.S. Secretary of State believes that the foreigner’s entry into the United States would “compromise a compelling U.S. foreign-policy interest.”
So an alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States that 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 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—“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—“a single state where Jews rule over Arabs.” She deceivingly suggests that this proposal negates the validity of any opposition to Barghouti’s view of eliminating a Jewish state.
But Goldberg is setting 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.
It becomes apparent that Goldberg 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.”
“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.
Ricki Hollander is a senior analyst at CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.