Media Analysis of the Anti-Israeli BDS Movement

Posted on December 11, 2015 by


The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement was a hot topic in the past few months, and serves as one of many events that continue to color the public’s views of Israel and their actions, as well as further polarizing the perception of Israel. All manner of types of reporting has been performed on this movement, many of them neutral on the subject, and many others either supporting it or condemning it, and a sizable chunk only offering Gossip, not discourse. This essay will examine the media’s perceptions of these events happening in Israel and throughout the world, analyzing it and pointing out its strengths and faults, and how these reports will affect the average reader.

First, reports and articles supporting the BDS movement will be examined, and the affects an observer will have reading them. First, the relatively neutral and presentable article, “BDS, a legitimate and moral response to Israeli policy,” by James Zogby in the Huffington Post will be examined. The face of the article remains presentable, but a cursory glance in its innards reveals a colorful perception of the conflict, one that is not necessarily incorrect but certainly does offer a biased viewpoint. It is an opinion piece, however, so limited perception is to be expected, nevertheless, less biased reporting would be appreciated, as it is articles like these that continue to divide supporters and opponents of certain ideas. Anyone reading this article would either, or at least the average person, would either support this article and its somewhat juvenile tone, or would deny it, and possibly ignore more serious ideas and legitimate criticisms the BDS movement espouses.

Secondly, two different but underlyingly similar articles will be examined. “Leading U.S anthropologist signs on with BDS despite qualms,” by James North, and “5 reasons why the BDS movement is actually working,” by Yusaf Munayer. At first glance, the two articles, besides offering support for the BDS movement, are very different, the first presenting and leading authority figure in the field, and using that legitimacy to support their argument, while the second is cheap and easy read that doesn’t offer much in support of their argument, and being designed for easier mass consumption. Regardless, the two articles have many similarities in how they affect the people reading them, and the perceptions they have. Both of these articles are easy articles for supporters to read and use reaffirm their beliefs, without actually offering much in the way of content or discussion. They do it in different ways, one offering an authority figure that doesn’t actually explain his findings in any great detail, and the other showing easy to understand arguments that don’t hold up to much scrutiny. Neither of these articles offer much of value to anyone looking to understand the conflict and the BDS motivations and goals, they both continue to easy rhetoric that makes a deep discussion shallow.

Next, three different articles that are opposed to the BDS Movement will be investigated, the first of which is the hostile article, “BDS suffers humiliating reversal in Iceland,” by Ari Lieberman. Only the most cursory glance at this article is needed to comprehend everything that is wrong with it. To its omnipresent biases to its comprehensively hostile tone, this article stands as a clear example of everything wrong with reporting. Articles such as these are clearly written for a specific, dedicated audience to engorge themselves on while laughing and ridiculing their opponents, no matter how such close minded these thoughts are. The only positive thing that can be said of this article is that it has a limited audience, but it would be unfortunate if this hateful mess is the first thing a  more impressionable mind finds instead of something more reasonable. Overall, this article gleefully adds more fuel to the everburning cycle of hate and intolerance.

The second article is the more reputable “Cutting through the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction about Israel,” from the Daily Beast by Maajid Nawaz. Reputable being subjective, of course. Compared to the previous article, this one is far more subdued, and more willing to offer fair points and criticism, but nevertheless hostile and agitated, as can likely be gleaned from the title. While this article offers fair points and criticism, it is unfortunately poor reporting due to the authors anger and hostility. Rage is never an effective means of communications, and while the author and his supporters may find the read cathartic, it unfortunately does nothing but continue to fan the flames of hostility, as opponents are unlikely to listen to the report due to its hostile tone. This article serves as a waringin amount to much emotion in reporting, fair points can be buried under hostility, despite the ideas the article presents, they are unlikely to be considered by opponents, and supporters are now enflamed by hostile rhetoric.

The third and final anti-BDS article is “For the Women’s studies Association, the BDS Vote was Over Before it Began,” from foreword magazine, by Janet L Freedman. Out of all the opposition articles, this one is by far the most measured and considered, and likely to make supporters of the BDS consider its criticisms, due to the articles calm and measured tone. Even though the author focuses more on the Women’s studies group than the actual BDS, points are still made about the organization, and how blindly supporting one policy and not considering all aspects is a poor idea. regrettably limited in scope, this writing of this article would be excellent for a comprehensive view of the BDS movement.

One of the largest factions of reporting on the BDS are the actual news articles, unbiased and focused on events, that have so far gone unmentioned and unfocused during this writing. While there are many neutral and unbiased articles on the BDS movement, these articles tend to be focused on single events, they do not offer opinions as a whole. there are very few neutral, overall articles focused on the BDS movement. The articles that will actually color people’s perceptions of this movement are the ones previously mentioned, opinion pieces riddled with biases and narrow mindedness, with few exceptions. There are many reason discussions about Israel are so volatile, and the lack of comprehensive, unbiased reporting is one of those factors.

In conclusion, while there are neutral articles about the BDS movement, they are narrow in scope and it is the inflammatory and hostile opinion articles that will serve to shape and alter people’s opinions and perceptions.


Works Cited

Robert Mackey. “Advocates of Israel Boycott Dismayed by Colbert’s Hummus Ad,” New York Times. 09/09/15

James Zogby. “BDS, A legitimate and Moral Response to Israel Policy,” Huffington Post. 06/13/2015.

Maajid Nawaz. “Cutting Throught the Boycott, Divestment, and Samction BS About Israel. The Daily Beast,” 10/23/15.

Janet L Freedman. “For the Women’s Studies Association, The BDS vote was over before it began,” 11/30/15.

Ari LieberMan. “BDS suffers humiliating setback in Iceland,” Frontpagemag. 09/21/15

James North. “Leadin Us Anthrpologist signs on to BDS despite Qualms,” Mondoweiss. 11/05/15.

Yusef Munayer. ” 5 Reasons Why the BDS Movement is Actually Working,” thenation 07/09/15.

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