USA Today Irresponsibly Runs Boycott of Israel (BDS) Press Release as a Story

June 17, 2013 10:50

Alicia Keys
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Alicia Keys

On June 12, USA Today published a story concerning efforts by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to force Alicia Keys to cancel a concert in Israel.

It included some particularly nasty language such as a reference to “reports from rights organizations documenting Israel’s violation of Palestinian children rights” and the following paragraphs:

Andrew Kadi of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation who delivered the petition explained, “We assume Alicia Keys wasn’t familiar with Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights, when scheduling, because her performance is legitimizing a country that systematically undermines her non-profit’s mission, that ‘every person has the right to health care and that all children deserve a future.’ “

In response to Israel’s large-scale abuses of Palestinian rights, Palestinian Civil Society launched a call for a global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel in 2005, modeled on the call by black South Africans for a boycott of apartheid South Africa that helped bring an end to the racist system.

Why did USA Today’s article contain charges against Israel that were presented as fact rather than conjecture? Why did the article accuse Israel of “large-scale abuses of Palestinian rights” and include the above quote accusing Israel of denying Palestinians health care and of torturing children?

Because the article was copied almost verbatim from a press release put out by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

Many different organizations send press releases to the media and there is nothing unusual or untoward about this. The entire point of a press release is to promote a potential story and to get one’s comments into a published story.

While it is an accepted practice to lift whole sections from a press release, media outlets are duty bound to recognize the innate editorializing and self-promotion that is part and parcel of many such press releases and to write up an article accordingly. In the case of USA Today, there are two possible explanations, neither of which reflect well on the paper:

1. The journalist involved was simply lazy and unprofessional when he read and then reproduced the BDS press release or;

2. USA Today not only sees nothing wrong with BDS or its charges against Israel but is also happy to promote these views.

Had USA Today bothered to do some more background research into the BDS movement it would have found that BDS is a comprehensive, international strategy that seeks to present Israel as a pariah state analogous to Apartheid South Africa.

Designed to isolate Israel politically, economically, militarily, academically and culturally, many of its member organizations aim to delegitimize the Two-State Solution and promote one state for both people, effectively replacing Israel with an Arab-majority state in all the territories of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. BDS has become the central organizing principle around which almost all anti-Israel activity now revolves.

You can find more resources on BDS here.

Send your considered comments to USA Today by clicking on to open a feedback box. Remember to give the link to the article you are commenting on (

(H/T: The Algemeiner)

Image: CC BY-SA, flickr/theilr.

Source material can be found at this site.

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