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Why readers interested in balanced coverage of BDS should avoid the New York Times

US Politics

On Sunday, May 9th, The New York Times ran a front-page story discussing efforts across various U.S. campuses to divest from Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, echoing pro-Israel students’ claims that such efforts are divisive.  Unfortunately, this piece, co-authored by Jennifer Medina and Tamar Lewin, is the latest in a troubling series of prominent New York Times stories that misrepresent the campus divestment movement and strip it of essential context. The reporters excluded Jewish students involved in the Palestinian rights movement, failed to meaningfully include Palestinian voices, ignored the principles behind divestment and boycott campaigns, and engaged in inappropriate and one-sided questioning of students. We are a part of the movement and we have spoken to the reporters, so we are keenly aware of what has been omitted by The Times in recent coverage.

The headline of the story, “Campus Debates on Israel Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities,” is indicative of a major problem with the framing of this story, which erases all of the Jewish students and activists who support the BDS movement. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters are made up of students from diverse backgrounds, including both Palestinian and Jewish. Likewise, chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a U.S. Jewish organization that supports BDS as “a grassroots tactic for human rights work that has a proven track record,” are springing up across campuses nationwide. JVP is one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in the country and has more than double Hillel’s following on Facebook and more than three times their following on Twitter; these Jewish voices cannot be ignored or excluded.

It is also worth noting that JVP mission statements often invoke support for Palestinian freedom as being directly correspondent with Jewish tradition. Given all of this, the authors should have specified: if campus debates on Israel and its policies are driving a wedge between students, it is only between those who condone Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and those who do not.

But besides the obvious problems with the article’s overall framing, several students came forward to report clearly inappropriate behavior by the NYT reporters tasked with writing the story.

Photo of UCLA students at Israeli independence day that accompanied piece in NYT on BDS. By Monica Almeida

Photo of UCLA students at Israeli independence day that accompanied piece in NYT on BDS. By Monica Almeida

Reporters repeated anti-Palestinian tropes

When speaking to Palestinian students, New York Times reporters who spoke to SJP members in California repeatedly made comments that indicated stereotypes about Palestinians. In her interview with Safwan Ibrahim, a Palestinian member of UCLA SJP, reporter Jennifer Medina asked only about what the SJP member’s thoughts were on accusations that divestment incites anti-Semitism, rather than asking for any background information on divestment or the principles of the BDS movement. When Ibrahim replied that he didn’t feel comfortable with the line of questioning, Medina asked if she could be re-directed to another source that had no ancestral ties to the region, implying that being Palestinian made him an unreliable source.

This behavior was repeated at UC Berkeley, where student activist Paul Hadweh was interviewed by reporter Ronnie Cohen. For Hadweh, it was clear early on that the article he was interviewing for would be biased.  When Hadweh mentioned that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be quoted in the piece, Cohen encouraged him to continue, saying, “you’re a great spokesperson for the cause. You’re not militant.” Unfortunately, Palestinian students and SJP members are often likened to militants or terrorists.  Such racialized associations are usually levied against SJP activists by various pro-Israel organizations, but it is especially outrageous for them to come from a Times reporter.

Pre-supposing hidden motives of SJP

When interviewing a non-Palestinian member of SJP, Medina asked whether there was anything the SJP board asked members to “never say publicly.” This line of questioning suggests that the reporters were hoping to find evidence to validate their own prior-held belief that SJP has an underlying agenda that it consciously hides from the public.  Activists engaged in defending Palestinian human rights are accustomed to pro-Israel groups engaging in such fishing expeditions. The fact that the New York Times appeared to be employing this tactic is deeply troubling given its profound impact on the national conversation around these issues.

Once again, students at Berkeley experienced the same treatment. According to Hadweh, midway through the interview, Cohen announced that she was simply going to read verbatim a series of questions that her editor gave her. Among them was the particularly one-sided question, “to what extent is BDS used as a fig leaf for anti-Semitism?” Cohen continued to repeat much of the same language that pro-Israel students and organizations use against SJP, signaling that her only reason for interviewing Hadweh was to validate unfavorable claims made about SJP and BDS.

Questioning whether Jewish members of SJP were sufficiently Jewish

David McCleary, another SJP member from UC Berkeley, reached out to us to discuss his own experiences with reporter Ronnie Cohen, who he claims subjected him to a series of unprofessional and even offensive questions regarding his Jewish identity over the phone and via text message. Cohen asked McCleary if he “looked Jewish,” if he was “Bar Mitzvah’d,” and at one point told him that his name didn’t “sound Jewish.” Cohen also asked if he was “the only Jewish member of SJP,” to which McCleary said that off the top of his head, he could name three other Jewish members of SJP at UC Berkeley. Cohen’s response was to ask if that made him “one of less than a handful of Jews” within the organization. Screen shots between McCleary and Cohen captured some of Cohen’s offensive comments and questions. “These were not the types of questions that a reporter should have been asking,” McCleary told us over the phone.

How the New York Times’ reporting mirrors pro-Israel talking points

By excluding Palestinian voices and framing the story as Jews versus threatening, possibly militant, minorities, the New York Times created a narrative that parallels claims by pro-Israel groups. After the University of California Student Association endorsed divestment, UCLA Hillel’s Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller told the Sacramento Bee that he believed campus politics had been “hijacked” by a group of “oppressed minorities” who were “intent to conquer.” Earlier, Seidler-Feller expressed to the UCLA community that he believed divestment was “a periodic ritual that different minority groups have had to enact in order to legitimate their claim to victimhood.”  He also claimed that divestment was “a sick remnant of the identity politics of the ‘90s.”

An even more direct parallel can be seen in UCLA Rabbi Aaron Lerner’s public thesis on campus divestment politics.  In an open email, Lerner wrote that divestment was “only successful because [the anti-Israel student groups] have partnered with other radical and marginal groups to create coalitions in which each group supports one another’s special interest projects.  For instance, the students who want immigration reform to be one of UCLA’s student government priorities promised the Students for Justice in Palestine that they will vote for BDS as long as when it comes time to vote on their bill, the favor will be returned.”  Lerner summarizes this as a process of “colonizing various student leadership groups.” This was the exact framing used in the Times piece, where it is implied that coalitions formed between students of color are based upon surface-level strategizing rather than genuine solidarity.

Not one incident, but part of a pattern

Following their past coverage of the UCLA Judicial Board interview of potential appointee Rachel Beyda in March, one of the authors of this article, Omar Zahzah, contacted the Times‘ newsroom to let them know that a divestment resolution calling on the UC regents to pull funding from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation had been falsely described in the New York Times article as a “boycott” resolution. The distinction is crucial, as boycotts and divestment represent two entirely different forms of nonviolent political action, but the news team’s response was to say that “given the resolution’s philosophical alignment with the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement, we’re confident that this passing reference accurately characterizes the spirit of the resolution.” The response suggests, on the one hand, that the article could accurately capture the “spirit” of a resolution that the reporter in question never seems to have bothered researching or interviewing student activists about. On the other, it suggests that it is irrelevant whether or not reporting on BDS is scrupulously fact-checked. At best, refusing to change misinformation under the assumption that the reading public wouldn’t be able to spot it is careless journalism; at worst, it hints at something more calculating, especially when the publication in question is a reputable news outlet tasked with delivering the objective truth. The fact that the newsroom printed a correction about the number of UCLA Undergraduate Student Council Association members in this very same article, which is also a fact most general readers would not know, makes the refusal even more puzzling.

What is the effect? Omitting Palestinian voices, demonizing students of color, erasing Jewish solidarity

The UCLA SJP members who were contacted by Medina and Lewin to provide quotes had been anticipating this article, but were dismayed to see that the Times had ignored their quotes in favor of those from quite a number of pro-Israel individuals at UCLA. This was especially discouraging considering the amount of attention the article gave to UCLA-specific issues. During his interview with Medina, Ibrahim spoke about recent experiences of anti-Palestinian and anti-SJP hatred to which SJP members and Palestinian students were subjected, but the authors of the New York Times piece omitted these comments. Ultimately, the authors saw fit to continue with the usual narrative that BDS promotes isolation and even harassment of Jewish students, while completely ignoring well-documented instances of harassment and intimidation against Palestinian students and students in solidarity with Palestine.

Additionally, in response to the Electronic Intifada’s coverage of this issue, assistant national editor Jennifer Kingson defended the piece by claiming that “the story depicts the range of viewpoints that [the authors] encountered.”  A closer inspection of how these reporters included pro-Palestine quotes indicates how superficial her response is. Whereas pro-Israel Jewish students and commenters were given space to discuss their fears and perspectives on the issue, such humanization was denied to pro-Palestine interviewees.  SJP member Janine Salman was quoted in the piece, but the Times only used her quotes to establish a well known fact: that Zionism and Jewish identity are not the same thing. Salman was never given the space to express her personal opinions. While quoting pro-Palestine students may give the appearance that both sides’ views are included, the only students allowed to express their own emotional connections to this issue were pro-Israel.

In addition to leaving out Palestinian experiences, the New York Times’ approach over the past several months has severely damaged the reputation of students of color who support Palestinian rights. This is highlighted in the Timesreporting on Molly Horwitz’s interview with the Stanford Students of Color Coalition (SOCC). They not only emphasized Horwitz’s allegations despite the documentation and testimony of nine other students who refuted her claim, but refused to acknowledge in their follow-up coverage that the university Constitutional Council ruled in favor of SOCC and that Horwitz’s claims were refuted by SOCC both on their website and in a New York Times letter to the editor. Undoubtedly, allegations of anti-Semitism and bigotry in general should be taken very seriously, but in this case, unsubstantiated and baseless accusations in prominent national media outlets contributed to smear campaigns against SOCC and forced students of color to compromise their studies and spend time and energy refuting coverage of Horwitz’s false allegations. These stories impact students’ lives in serious ways, and one-sided, misleading coverage contributes to the stifling of free expression and student organizing on campus.

Finally, the Times’ framing would also leave readers wholly ignorant of the range of Jewish views on this issue. Readers of this piece would have no way of knowing that one in four Jewish-Americans support boycotting settlement products and one in six support broader BDS efforts to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights. Reflecting on his interview with the New York Times, McCleary stated, “It really felt like she was trying to force a particular narrative. And when I wouldn’t go along with it, I saw that she just left my interview out of the piece entirely.”

UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Stanford are only three campuses out of many, but these experiences echo those of other students in the Palestinian rights movement across the nation. In the end, it is of course up to the Times to decide how they wish to pursue and run their stories. But the level of partiality displayed even in the very gathering of information suggests that, as far as university divestment resolutions go, readers are better off considering other sources for accurate coverage.

The post originally appeared the UCLA SJP website

About Omar Zahzah, Agatha Palma, and Rahim Kurwa

Omar Zahzah, Agatha Palma, and Rahim Kurwa are members of the University of California, Los Angeles chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

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48 Responses

  1. lysias
    lysias
    May 13, 2015, 10:48 am

    I wonder if the NYT is reporting this story, from The Forward, about how Adelson may be about to go down. One of the first things you learn in law school is that you don’t dis the judge (especially if the judge happens to be a Hispanic woman): Could Sheldon Adelson Empire Be Toppled by Lawsuit?:

    At one point, The Guardian reported, Adelson contested Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez’s order that he answer a question. “Sir,” the judge replied, “you don’t get to argue with me.”

    • NickJOCW
      NickJOCW
      May 14, 2015, 10:44 am

      @ Lysias. The Chinese believe the face is a reflection of the soul which might be one good reason for him to favour a US court.

  2. just
    just
    May 13, 2015, 10:54 am

    Many thanks for this HUGELY important article Omar Zahzah, Agatha Palma and Rahim Kurwa.

    It is to your (and many others) credit that the truth is being told here @ Mondoweiss and @ Electronic Intifada. May the truth be spread far and wide, and may the NYT/MSM hang their collective heads in shame.

    I am deeply concerned about the new anti- justice group that has apparently been born from the still warm ashes of McCarthyism~ “Canary Mission”.

  3. weiss
    weiss
    May 13, 2015, 1:19 pm

    Excellent article and 100% correct.

    I’m surprised dual US/Israeli citizen and Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren “The Wicked Witch of The East” did not put her name on this blatantly distorted hack piece by the NYT.

  4. amigo
    amigo
    May 13, 2015, 2:14 pm

    Jewish press labels MW as a “running sewer of Jew hatred ” and lumps the Wapo with them.

    “The usual suspects have been pulling out all of the stops to attack Israel’s new Justice Minister, MK Ayelet Shaked. Shaked has been called a racist, accused of inciting genocide, even compared to Hitler. Until recently, this kind of verbal excrement has been confined to marginal outlets like that running sewer of Jew-hatred, the Mondoweiss blog (you can google it if you wish; I don’t provide links to running sewers). But now, amidst the overall degradation of discourse about Israel and Jews, it even appears in the Washington Post.”By: Vic Rosenthal

    http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-washington-post-sinks-to-mondoweiss-level-updated/2015/05/13/

    • just
      just
      May 13, 2015, 2:38 pm

      That’s great news, amigo! It’s a sign that MW is making a true difference.

      I’ve had my comments and links to MW often ‘trashed’/not passing moderation on MSM articles in the past…not so much anymore.

      ;-)

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail
      May 13, 2015, 2:54 pm

      Hilarious. The pompous posturing and utterly shallow attempt at denigrating MW is priceless in its vacuity. Let’s see: MW publishes intelligent, articulate pieces backed up by links, facts, eye witness accounts, video evidence and personal testimony. Israel dumps real sewage on people unfortunate enough to have lived there for centuries on land coveted by incomers, then denies it, lies about it, and attacks people who report it. Who is closer to a running sewer, and who uses this kind of language in a futile attempt to shut up debate and truth? What a bunch of transparent propagandists, so utterly unaware of their reputation and image outside of their favourite mouthpieces.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        May 14, 2015, 2:05 pm

        @jp

        its amazing how blinded people become by their own experience with indoctrination into a cause. With almost no ability to see any perspective other then their own-they truly believe that their pov is “intelligent, articulate” and that another perspective-that of middle-of-the-road American media is ‘actually’ the real sewer (and to boot-its perspective is labeled as biased towards Israel and therefore ‘Zionist’ while the truly conservative media outlets are naturally considered so far out on the extreme right.
        The truth is that a VAST majority of Americans look at the NYT, the WP and other large daily as mostly middle-road and slightly to the left which pretty much puts the MW members who scream about the NYT into the far-left fringe.

        Also- JVP can say they are a ‘Jewish’ organization until the cows come home but it doesn’t make it a Jewish org. It is an org. that uses its few Jewish members as ‘credibility passes’ to further the agenda of the BDS movement. Are their Jewish members of JVP? Yes, but they don’t put out directives not endorsed by the main BDS org. They represent the very small % of American Jews who abhor Zionism and abhor Israel as well. They may represent 2-3% of Jewish voices but they are loud voices and they must be addressed as they are not just going to go away.

        And “transparent”? To you the Times is obviously “transparent” while to their editors it is balanced and to many Zionists it is totally slanted against Israel. There are only 2 explanations for this. 1) everybody but you is nuts. 2) you represent a minority perspective on the subject and find the majority opinion to be of no use to your view. In other words-if people like you were able to take power-the majority view would be discarded like so much trash because -after all-you know the ‘right’ way.
        The Bolsheviks did the same thing at the beginning of the 20C. and we know how that turned out.

      • eljay
        eljay
        May 14, 2015, 2:34 pm

        || DaBakr: In other words-if people like you were able to take power-the majority view would be discarded like so much trash because -after all-you know the ‘right’ way. ||

        That is funny as hell coming from a Zio-supremacist! :-)

      • talknic
        talknic
        May 14, 2015, 2:46 pm

        @ DaBakr “its amazing how blinded people become by their own experience with indoctrination into a cause.”

        Indeed. There’s an easy test. The NY Times, you and other apologists for the Jewish state claim Jerusalem is in Israel.

        Read this one simple, undeniable statement http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/documents/newPDF/49.pdf — now honestly answer this very simple question. When and by what means and by agreement with who did Israel legally acquire any further territories?

        “… to their editors it is balanced and to many Zionists it is totally slanted against Israel. There are only 2 explanations for this. 1) everybody but you is nuts. 2) you represent a minority perspective on the subject and find the majority opinion to be of no use to your view.”

        Another possible explanation is the NYT, you and your kind are mouthpieces for Israeli propaganda. In which case the editors and you and your kind KNOW it ISN’T balanced and ISN’T slanted against Israel and that you’re spouting bullsh*t!

    • JWalters
      JWalters
      May 17, 2015, 6:15 pm

      For all those Jewish Americans suckered by the war profiteering banksters into supporting their perpetual war zone, conned by their lavish campaign of deception and emotional manipulation, and now feeling frantic as their fantasy is crumbling in the face of facts, here are some background facts to help make sense of it all.

      Here’s an article by Israeli founder Uri Avnery debunking some founding Zionist myths.
      https://consortiumnews.com/2015/01/03/israeli-founder-contests-founding-myths/

      Here’s a first-hand account of someone who grew up immersed in the Zionist deception and emotional manipulation.
      http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/palestine-zionist-education/

      All Jewish Americans owe it to themselves to find out the facts, and at least give themselves a chance to get free from the bondage of golden war worshippers and their blanket of control over so much of the Jewish community.

  5. just
    just
    May 13, 2015, 5:19 pm

    Sam Knight (via Rania Khalek):

    “Harry Reid Compares Peaceful Palestinian Movement with Jewish Support to Holocaust — “Glimpses of that Same Hate”

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, discussing the Holocaust from the Senate floor, said that there “are still glimpses of that same hate” in a secular and peaceful movement protesting Israel’s occupation of Palestine at academic institutions throughout the US and around the world.

    Reid said Wednesday morning that “in the midst of campus debates about boycotts of Israel, Jewish students have felt increasingly intimidated,” citing a controversial New York Times report published Sunday.

    He brought up the genocide against Jews in Europe in a speech that recognized last week’s passing of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on the continent.

    “At several colleges, Swastikas have been painted on the doors of facilities, and in some cases on the doors of Jews, on their rooms,” he said immediately after alluding to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS).

    Some students feel the need to hide their heritage, and support for Israel is getting intense backlash,” the top Senate Democrat added. “That’s sad.”

    “Let’s stand against anti-Semitism, let’s stand with Israel and the Jews throughout the world,” he concluded.”…

    more @ https://www.districtsentinel.com/harry-reid-compares-peaceful-palestinian-movement-with-jewish-support-to-holocaust-glimpses-of-that-same-hate/

  6. just
    just
    May 13, 2015, 6:48 pm

    What will the NYT print about this?

    “Former European leaders call for change in EU policy on Israel

    Europe must hold Israel to account for the way it maintains the occupation, says letter from former prime ministers and diplomats

    A high-profile group of former European political leaders and diplomats has called for the urgent reassessment of EU policy on the question of a Palestinian state and has insisted Israel must be held to account for its actions in the occupied territories.

    In a hard-hitting letter to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, the group – which includes former prime ministers, foreign ministers and ambassadors also expresses serious doubts about the ability of the US to lead substantive negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

    It charges that EU political and financial aid has achieved nothing but the “preservation of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and imprisonment of Gaza”.

    The group, known as the European Eminent Persons Group, argues that the re-election of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the head of a narrow rightwing coalition has made the issue even more pressing.

    The signatories include Hubert Védrine and Roland Dumas, former foreign ministers of France, Andreas van Agt, former prime minister of the Netherlands, John Bruton, a former prime minister of Ireland, Michel Rocard, former prime minister of France, Javier Solana, former Nato secretary general and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former UK ambassador to the UN.

    The letter comes at a time of increasingly heated debate in senior European policy circles amid heightened frustration over the moribund peace process and continued illegal Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories.

    In a damning assessment of EU policy, which the authors say has “hidden” behind US leadership in an “unedifying” manner, the letter says: “Europe has yet to find an effective way of holding Israel to account for the way it maintains the occupation. It is time now to demonstrate to both parties how seriously European public opinion takes contraventions of international law, the perpetration of atrocities and the denial of established rights.”

    Predicting that the Palestinian issue is likely to come before the UN security council again in the coming months in the shape of a new draft resolution currently being examined by France, they say: “If this means recognition of a Palestine government-in-waiting for the territories within the pre-1967 borders, or the setting of a deadline for the negotiation of a two-state solution, the EU should be united in support.”…

    …“Hiding behind American leadership on the politics of the dispute is unedifying and unproductive. The apparently more urgent crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are little excuse either, when the scope to stand up for principled action on Israel-Palestine, along lines long established by past UN decisions, is better defined than in those other cases. We seem to forget that the context in Palestine is one of 47 years of military occupation, characterised by grave violations of international law.””

    more @ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/13/israel-occupation-european-leaders-binyamin-netanyahu

    Meanwhile,

    “Strategic talks between Israel, France deteriorate into serious dispute

    Strategic consultations between the countries last week end in discord over French initiative for UN resolution on talks with Palestinians.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.656362?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    • Rodneywatts
      Rodneywatts
      May 14, 2015, 5:04 pm

      Hey Just– ‘What will the NYT print about this?’

      Not a lot I would imagine! Absolutely fabulous full letter that can be accessed through link in the Guardian article you give. I have rarely seen such a powerful, no punches pulled, piece of advice from such a large group of eminent Europeans.

      It will be interesting to see how Merkel with the recent visit by Rivlin to finalise supply of German naval vessels and Cameron, our newly elected PM in UK with problems with EU membership, view the demands. I will also be watching what our UKIP MEP’s say or not say.
      Interesting and hopeful times!
      Thank you Just.

      • just
        just
        May 14, 2015, 5:59 pm

        I haven’t heard/read a word since! Have you, Rodney?

        Thanks, Rodney.

    • italian ex-pat
      italian ex-pat
      May 14, 2015, 8:56 pm

      just:

      In the interest of fairness, yesterday’s NYT article (co-authored by Rudoren, about Pope Francis recognizing the Palestinian State) DOES provide links to both the Guardian article and the letter itself.

      • just
        just
        May 14, 2015, 10:19 pm

        Thanks, italian ex-pat. I didn’t read that article in the NYT.

        I hope that they will do an article on the letter itself.

  7. Bornajoo
    Bornajoo
    May 13, 2015, 7:01 pm

    “…. readers are better off considering other sources for accurate coverage.”

    You bet!

    Thanks for the article

  8. James North
    James North
    May 13, 2015, 8:08 pm

    I hope that the New York Times reporters and editors who worked on their slanted article are ashamed when they read this calm, persuasive, truthful account of BDS on campus.

    • DaBakr
      DaBakr
      May 14, 2015, 2:36 pm

      BDS is totally lame and hypocritical. They make a lot of noise but in the end are only willing to boycott the few products that cause almost no harm to our economy and have some kind of ‘clause’ that allows them to bypass boycotting most of the Israeli items , technology and innovations that would truly make their lives difficult-and-make beds more problematic for Israel and not just cosmetic. I wonder how that ‘truth’ would play out on campus

      As for the absurd ‘comparisons’ to SA and its apartheid regime….there was almost ZERO cost for Americans or EUs to boycott SA. What came from there that boycotters could not find elsewhere and that inconvenienced their lives?

      • John O
        John O
        May 14, 2015, 3:28 pm

        Er, gold and diamonds?

        And the SA rugby and cricket teams – always potential world champions in their respective sports. Lots of great sporting events forgone – hence the universal rejoicing when SA won the rugby world cup in 1995 after being welcomed back into company of nations.

  9. niass2
    niass2
    May 13, 2015, 11:09 pm

    Great article. The information is useful. By the way, I am also named Cohen and other parent’s last name is also the name of a town wiped out by the Einsatzgrupen during our beloved cherished Holocaust. So, I, as a Cohen whole heartedly supports BDS and it’s objectives. BDS has nothing to do with anything but getting these Palestinian people their State, which is a no-brainer after all these years. Most Cohen’s and Schwartz and Lipschitz…that I know agree this is the objective of BDS, but they are generally rational and don’t want their name associated with what Israel does, as most of it is immoral in every way.

    Regardless of the politics, last month a friend had some Jaffa Mandarins. I tried one and they were sour and very dry anyways so that makes BDS simpler…the products are yucky. USA # 1 anyways so buy USA only. ,..moc

  10. just
    just
    May 13, 2015, 11:16 pm

    Ari Shavit has seriously gone off the deep end. It’s hysteria and drama worthy of a Hollywood B movie or a horror slasher flick :

    “Israel has abandoned young U.S. Jews in fight against BDS

    The Jewish students at UCLA will never forget the night of February 25, 2014. For 13 nightmarish hours, they were confronted with the hateful words and wild eyes of hundreds of fellow students — supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement — who alleged that defending Israel was tantamount to defending racism, genocide and infanticide. For one long night they experienced a debate on boycotting Israel that turned into a horror show of persecution.

    They had not been prepared for such a near-violent conflict, and many of them were emotionally wounded. Thus when the vote — … — went narrowly in their favor, they felt no sense of triumph; on the contrary. More than a hundred students left the meeting at dawn, hugged each other on a campus lawn and cried.

    In recent months I have visited 27 American universities. I did not come to preach, but to listen. I tried to conduct an open, candid dialogue with the sons and daughters of a new Jewish generation that faces a challenge their parents and grandparents never did. Day after day I sat for entire days with groups of Jewish students — more than 100 groups in all — and asked them to share with me what was on their minds and in their hearts.

    In Hillel houses at Princeton, Brown, Yale, Dartmouth, Michigan, Northwestern, the University of California San Diego and 20 other campuses, I repeatedly heard variations of the same heartbreaking story: Jewish students who (still) love Israel and (still) feel close to it, but who are asking tough ethical questions that Israel has no answers for. These are students facing near-overt anti-Semitism who themselves have harsh questions about the Jewish state that the Jewish establishment forbids them to express.

    Thousands find themselves in a very tough jam. In front of them are professors and students who argue that Israel is Goliath, but behind them there’s no Israel proving that it is a David.

    We feel like we’ve been abandoned on the battlefield, many of them told me. The anti-Zionists, they said, are accusing us of collaborating with evil, but Zionism doesn’t understand us and doesn’t speak to us; instead, it’s busy building more and more and more settlements.

    That’s why their internal struggle is so agonizing and their pain so deep. That’s why many of their in-depth conversations with me came to tears, too.

    The contemptible, sophisticated and well-oiled offensive by the BDS movement is a strategic threat to Israel. If it isn’t halted, it could position the democratic Jewish state as the South Africa of 2020. But the real existential threat facing the Jewish people is the increasing tension between the liberal identity of most young American Jews and the distorted image of Israel as an unjust oppressor and occupier.

    As a result of this tension, some come out against Israel, some are confused and many are simply indifferent. For too long, the right has been telling these young people that everything here is great – startups, Tel Aviv parties and cherry tomatoes.

    For too long the left has been telling these young people that everything here is awful — checkpoints, discrimination and the exclusion of women. For too long these intelligent, impressive and warm young Jews have not heard a strong Israeli voice talking with pride about the Israeli miracle while acknowledging that Israel does have some flaws.

    Birthright has done wonders and lit a Jewish-Israeli spark in the hearts of hundreds of thousands in the past 15 years. But since Zionism has not provided a reliable, relevant and inspirational narrative to galvanize these millennials, many are simply keeping their distance. And when they arrive on campus and are exposed to anti-Israel venom, the Jewish and pro-Israel identity of many of them collapses.

    There is no greater danger to Israel and the Jewish people than this collapse. Our fate will not only be determined on the country’s southern or northern borders, but on the quads of American campuses. To win the hearts and minds of young American Jews, we must define a revitalized, moral and liberal Zionism.

    If there is still a Jewish national leadership in Jerusalem, New York or Los Angeles, it must wake up and take immediate action. As things stand now, the Jewish future is slipping through our fingers.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.656352?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    • Kris
      Kris
      May 14, 2015, 1:29 am

      Thanks, just, for all the great articles you share!

      Ari Shavit: “The Jewish students at UCLA will never forget the night of February 25, 2014. For 13 nightmarish hours, they were confronted with the hateful words and wild eyes of hundreds of fellow students — supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement — who alleged that defending Israel was tantamount to defending racism, genocide and infanticide. For one long night they experienced a debate on boycotting Israel that turned into a horror show of persecution.”

      Wow. “hateful words and wild eyes”? “A horror show of persecution” because students supporting BDS “alleged that defending Israel was tantamount to defending racism, genocide and infanticide”? The BDS crowd was no doubt presenting evidence, readily available to everyone, of Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians.

      It is rough when you want to believe something but all the evidence is on the other side. But education is about critical thinking, not about helping students preserve their ignorance.

      If Jewish students can’t handle having their assumptions challenged, they should stay away from universities. Maybe they should take online courses. Or study in places like Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, in Israel, where they can take advantage of large scholarships given to non-Israeli Jews, making their “education” very cheap.

      Fundamentalist Christian students are funneled into schools like Bob Jones University and online schools to protect their assumptions from being challenged, too.

      • just
        just
        May 14, 2015, 10:43 am

        Thank you, Kris.

    • a blah chick
      a blah chick
      May 14, 2015, 7:21 am

      “To win the hearts and minds of young American Jews, we must define a revitalized, moral and liberal Zionism”

      You might want to rearrange those deck chairs while you’re at it.

  11. eljay
    eljay
    May 14, 2015, 8:12 am

    The Jewish students at UCLA will never forget the night of February 25, 2014. For 13 nightmarish hours, they were confronted with the hateful words and wild eyes of hundreds of fellow students — supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement — who alleged that defending Israel was tantamount to defending racism, genocide and infanticide.

    Defending Israel is most definitely tantamount to defending oppression, occupation, colonization and Jewish supremacism.

    For one long night they experienced a debate on boycotting Israel that turned into a horror show of persecution. They had not been prepared for such a near-violent conflict, and many of them were emotionally wounded.

    I wonder if they ever give any thought to how the victims of their “Jewish State” must feel after decades of persecution and actually-violent conflict.

    But the real existential threat facing the Jewish people is the increasing tension between the liberal identity of most young American Jews and the distorted image of Israel as an unjust oppressor and occupier.

    1. The image is not distorted: Israel is an unjust oppressor and occupier (and colonizer).
    2. An Israeli bullet to the head of a Palestinian represents a real existential threat to that Palestinian. “Tension” does not represent a “real existential threat” to Jewish people throughout the world.

    • Bornajoo
      Bornajoo
      May 14, 2015, 10:40 am

      “1. The image is not distorted: Israel is an unjust oppressor and occupier (and colonizer).
      2. An Israeli bullet to the head of a Palestinian represents a real existential threat to that Palestinian. “Tension” does not represent a “real existential threat” to Jewish people throughout the world.” (Ejay)

      Well stated Ejay

      • John O
        John O
        May 14, 2015, 1:34 pm

        “The Jewish students at UCLA will never forget the night of February 25, 2014. For 13 nightmarish hours, they were confronted with the hateful words and wild eyes of hundreds of fellow students …” – Ari Shavit

        “If looks could kill, it would have been us instead of him…” – John Lennon

  12. RobertHenryEller
    RobertHenryEller
    May 14, 2015, 12:27 pm

    “Questioning whether Jewish members of SJP were sufficiently Jewish.”

    Suggestion: Turn such questions back on the New York Times, especially the NYT “Jewish” reporters.

    Ask those reporters how “Jewish” they are if they either disobey at least three of Ten Commandments (Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not lie), or pimp for people who disobey at least three of Ten Commandments? Ask those reporters how “Jewish” they are if they or the people they pimp for do not follow the teachings of Rabbi Hillel (Speaking of the namesake of Hillel on campus. Not to get too ironic.).

    I won’t get into how Jewish I consider self-styled ultra-orthodox “settler” rabbis who spit on and curse at 8 year old “merely” orthodox girls for not being quite conservatively dressed enough for the rabbis tastes.

  13. RobertHenryEller
    RobertHenryEller
    May 14, 2015, 12:32 pm

    “Why readers interested in balanced coverage of BDS should avoid the New York Times”

    Like there’s ever been balanced coverage in the NYT about anything related to Israel, Palestine and Zionism?

    Reading anything in the NYT about Israel, Palestine or Zionism, is done simply to keep up with what is being said in the NYT.

    There’s Fox News, represented by Fox News. And then there’s Foxman News, represented by the New York Times.

    • just
      just
      May 14, 2015, 2:45 pm

      “There’s Fox News, represented by Fox News. And then there’s Foxman News, represented by the New York Times.”

      Well done, RobertHenryEller.

      Joseph Massad has a article up at EI that is worth a good look, imho. Here’s a bit that is about BDS:

      “Palestinians and the dilemmas of solidarity

      Solidarity with the Palestinian people retreated internationally since the early 1990s in view of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) collaboration with the US and Israel to liquidate the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle through the Oslo accords. In recent years, however, this solidarity has made a comeback with the expanding endorsement of the Palestinian campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, or BDS. …

      …Countering BDS

      The enormous success of BDS across Western universities and increasingly across European labor unions, academic associations and within the artistic field, is such a great achievement that international power brokers are attempting two simultaneous strategies to break it, with a third subsidiary strategy emerging that is complementary to both: …

      …Those in solidarity with the Palestinians should be ever so vigilant and steer clear of these three counterstrategies. Powerful as the colonial enemy of the Palestinians is, the fate of the Palestinian struggle, including that of international solidarity, lies in the balance. This is why those in solidarity with the Palestinians should not tire of emphasizing the core principles of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle — namely ending Israeli state racism inside present-day Israel in order to bring about both the equalization of the Palestinian citizens of Israel with their Jewish counterparts and allow the Palestinian refugees to return, and the ending of Israel’s colonial occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza.

      On this 67th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish settler colony on the ruins of Palestine, it should be emphasized yet again that it is not a pragmatic accommodation of different aspects of Israeli racism and colonialism that will bring about lasting justice and peace for the Palestinians, as international power brokers and their Palestinian and non-Palestinian liberal supporters insist. Rather, it is the end of the Zionist colonial venture, starting with the removal (and not the reform) of all the racist and colonial legal and institutional structures that it has erected that is the precondition for lasting justice and peace for all the inhabitants of historic Palestine. On that, those in solidarity with the Palestinians should brook no compromise.”

      http://electronicintifada.net/content/palestinians-and-dilemmas-solidarity/14518

  14. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    May 14, 2015, 2:20 pm

    my other thought is the commenters here at MW should be kissing the butts of the NYT. IThe times has almost DAILY coverage of the I/P conflict and provides anti-ZIonist bloggers from pw to angryArb with endless blog threads and commentary. What the hell would MW do w/o the Times? Try only reading AJ and see how far you get with discussions on the “war-of-ideas” meme that PW has supposedly dedicated his career to.
    If MW members really believe that a paper who gives prominent Op-Ed pages to academics or crack-pots who a) question the right of Israel to exist, b)discuss the dissolution of the ‘Zionist’ nation and c) creating a “new” nation called “israstan” is that slanted towards Zionism then it would be no wonder why Zionists continue to see the times as a mouth-piece of the anti-Zionist left.

    Funny how a paper can be two things to two different groups of people and neither can convince the other to see it their way. its actually humourous .

    • talknic
      talknic
      May 14, 2015, 2:52 pm

      DaBakr ” What the hell would MW do w/o the Times? “

      Move on to the other propaganda rags and people like you until Israel is eventually made to adhere to the law.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      May 14, 2015, 6:14 pm

      “Dabakr” I can smell the flop-sweat on you all the way up in the Great Northwest. BDS has you all spun up.
      But you just keep ordering us around. Get more imperious, and don’t forget to tell us who isn’t a Jew. Reducing the number of possible supporters is a smart way to go. More Zion for you!

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        May 14, 2015, 8:28 pm

        @ms

        making so much sense, as usual.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        May 14, 2015, 10:23 pm

        Dabakr did I mix you up with one of the other ilk? Sorry, but all of you are pretty much interchangeable. I don’t see any reason to make an effort to tell you apart. Maybe it was JeffyB

  15. just
    just
    May 14, 2015, 3:06 pm

    Meanwhile on Tuesday, next door to NYT’s headquarters in Manhatten, this happened in Westport, Connecticut:

    “Peaceful protest at Connecticut fundraiser for Israeli army prompts police lockdown

    Two Jewish men protested inside a Connecticut synagogue that was hosting a fundraiser for the Israeli army on Tuesday, prompting a security lockdown in area schools.

    Gregory Williams and Daniel Fischer were arrested after being forcibly restrained inside Temple Israel in Westport, where they had come to read a statement at a luncheon for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).

    The fundraiser featured Brigadier-General Gila Klifi-Amir as keynote speaker and provided attendees a chance to “meet IDF officers and hear them talk about their important roles in the Israeli army.”

    “Brave Temple Israel staff, rapidly followed by Westport police, quickly apprehended two individuals who terrorized a woman’s FIDF luncheon at Temple Israel, with screaming and banging attempting entry,” the Town of Westport said on its official Facebook page. “Many of the terrified women at the luncheon sought cover under tables while other terrified women fled from another door.””……

    much more @ http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/peaceful-protest-connecticut-fundraiser-israeli-army-prompts-police-lockdown

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer
      May 14, 2015, 3:16 pm

      Just as a curiousity point, by first hand knowledge are synagogues frequently used for political purposes such as this? By any first hand knowledge, are other places of worship in other religions similarly used? The questions should not construed as a comment on the appropriateness of such activity.

      • just
        just
        May 14, 2015, 3:51 pm

        I really don’t know the answer, but I do know that some synagogues have refused to hold other “political events”

        “NY synagogue banishes panel on Israel, saying BDS discussion is ‘forbidden’ “- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/synagogue-banishes-israel#sthash.GovUmH16.dpuf

        “Raising money for Israelis being bombed in hospitals and schools, NY synagogue has not one breath for Palestinian dead” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/hospitals-synagogue-palestinian#sthash.ZRFMBxBp.dpuf

        So it seems that they pick and choose while retaining their tax- exempt status.

        So, from local Westport news:

        “ADL commends police, Temple Israel response to protest”

        http://www.westport-news.com/news/article/ADL-commends-police-Temple-Israel-response-to-6263849.php

        And this over-the-top attendee’s letter:

        “Letter: Terror at Temple Israel — A first-hand account

        Since 1994, the United Nations General Assembly has condemned terrorist acts using the following political description of terrorism: “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”

        As over 100 women and several men sat peaceably at Temple Israel enjoying lunch and ready to listen to the planned discussion, loud clamoring and yelling which turned to pounding and screaming began by the door to the room. We looked over and saw — through the glass cutout in the door — a large figure appearing to be wearing head garb trying to enter the room.

        Everyone around me panicked. My heart sank lower than I had ever thought possible and my instinct was to get as far away from that door as possible. Thoughts of Sandy Hook, Columbine and Paris flooded my mind as I tried to remember/determine, within seconds, whether I would be killed more readily by hiding in one of the many classrooms within the building or attempting to escape it. …

        …Intentionally inciting panic and terror results in psychological and bodily harm and I am feeling both very severely today, and for who knows how many more days to come. Many people in our community were affected by this terrifying invasion, not only the people in the building but their loved ones as well, and it is important that such acts are punished severely, for the sake of both justice and deterrence.”…

        read more from the ‘poor dear’ @ http://www.westport-news.com/news/article/Letter-Terror-at-Temple-Israel-a-first-hand-6262800.php

        I find this entire incident to be very instructive, to put it mildly. These 2 young men, who happen to be Jewish, were peacefully protesting by trying to read a letter to other Jewish people. Please avail yourselves of reading the whole piece at EI, including the statement by Gregory Williams!

      • just
        just
        May 14, 2015, 5:21 pm

        fyi:

        “@ArabTalk starts in few minutes on KPOO 89.5 FM San Francisco–@AliAbunimah at 2:30 PM/PT”

        https://twitter.com/JamalDajani/status/598955773427724289

        You can listen here: http://tunein.com/radio/KPOO-895-s34706/

      • Kris
        Kris
        May 14, 2015, 8:22 pm

        Typical hysterical Zionist, falling apart because two young Jewish men peacefully spoke out for the Palestinians: “Intentionally inciting panic and terror results in psychological and bodily harm and I am feeling both very severely today, and for who knows how many more days to come. Many people in our community were affected by this terrifying invasion, not only the people in the building but their loved ones as well, and it is important that such acts are punished severely, for the sake of both justice and deterrence.”

        Here is what really happened: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/peaceful-protest-connecticut-fundraiser-israeli-army-prompts-police-lockdown#

        Thanks for the link, just.

    • a blah chick
      a blah chick
      May 14, 2015, 8:40 pm

      “Many of the terrified women at the luncheon sought cover under tables while other terrified women fled from another door.”

      Oh my dear Lord, were they dangling spiders as well? Wimps.

  16. spokelse
    spokelse
    May 14, 2015, 4:52 pm

    This is a great critique of the Times and we should continue to hold their feet to the fire. The Times is an important gauge of where the US establishment is on Israel, we should use it as such and see if we can “move the needle” on this gauge. My sense is that we will, it’s inevitable.

  17. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    May 15, 2015, 12:24 am

    another example of the double standard of accusing the NYT of being slanted from a well regarded (popular) pro-Zionist organization. This snippet was in regards to far left fringe Israeli critics (e.g.B’tzlm -which presumably lends ‘jewish’ credibility) given plenty of op-ed space in the Times:

    “Indeed, anything seems to go when it comes to twisting the facts to support accusations of Israeli racism. Racism and heinous actions by some Israelis are amplified to reflect Israeli society as a whole. For example, when protests were voiced by some Israeli soccer fans against the recruitment of Muslim players, the New York Times published a news article entitled “Some Fear a Soccer Team’s Racist Fans Hold a Mirror Up to Israel,” and used the incident to present a sweeping indictment of Israeli society. Contrast this with the newspaper’s coverage of soccer racism in Europe at about the same time. That coverage did not include any suggestion that racism among soccer fans in Russia, Ukraine, the Balkans, Britain, France and Italy, represented racism or the values of their respective nations. And when it comes to anti-Jewish racism and incitement against Israelis and Jews by Palestinians and their leadership, The New York Times rigorously avoids drawing attention to the phenomenon, on the opinion and on the news pages alike”.

    Just another perspective which I happen to agree with. It can be accepted, challenged or dismissed but it can not be ignored as a legitimate opinion.

  18. just
    just
    May 15, 2015, 9:32 am

    Margaret Sullivan @ NYT:

    “A ‘Jewish Litmus Test’ Was Unacceptable

    A Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, David McCleary, wrote to me this week with a complaint about being subjected to what he called “a Jewish litmus test” during a Times interview.

    The interview (conducted by a Times stringer, or regular freelancer, who is not on the full-time staff) was done for an article that eventually appeared on the front page, “Campus Debates on Israel Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities.” It took up efforts on college campuses to pressure Israel over its policies toward Palestinians and its occupation of the West Bank.

    Mr. McCleary, who is Jewish, said that the reporter, Ronnie Cohen, asked him “insulting and demeaning questions,” including whether he “looked Jewish,” after telling him that his name didn’t sound Jewish and asking if he had been bar mitzvahed. He also said that after talking with the reporter for more than an hour, he was displeased to find that none of that interview made its way into the article, and that no other Jewish student who supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was quoted or represented in the story.

    The article and its aftermath are generating a great deal of criticism on Twitter, in commentary pieces and in letters to my office, not only because of Mr. McCleary’s experience but also because of other aspects of the story. …

    …She stood behind its reporting and conclusions, and disagreed that the story was divisive, saying rather that the issues involved are divisive.

    After speaking to Ms. Cohen, who confirmed, in general terms, the nature of the questions to Mr. McCleary, Ms. Mitchell told me, “If she indeed pursued that line of questioning, it was inappropriate.”

    Here’s my take: Exploring the fraught subject of B.D.S. efforts on campus is, of course, valid. It’s easy to pick the article apart from every side, as I’ve found happens with nearly every piece of Times journalism involving Israel and the Palestinians. I also heard criticism that the story does not pin down B.D.S. supporters about what they think should happen in the future: Do they believe in two states? Do they believe Israel should exist in its current form?

    And it doesn’t surprise me at all that lengthy interviews such as the one with Mr. McCleary may not be represented in a story. Reporters almost always have more material than they can use; in this case, two staff reporters and a stringer were all reporting from campuses around the country.

    However, in this case, the article certainly would have benefited from quoting one or more Jewish students who support B.D.S. (The story does nod in that direction twice – including in a mention of Jewish Voice for Peace at Columbia University.)

    As for the interview questions that Mr. McCleary complained about, they were indeed unprofessional and unacceptable.”

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/publiceditor/2015/05/15/a-jewish-litmus-test-was-unacceptable/?smid=tw-share&_r=1&referrer=

    Excuses, excuses, excuses! Still very focused on Jewish- only voices. No mention of the rest of it, including their exclusion of SJP, Palestinian voices, or the other “minorities” that they refer to.

    • just
      just
      May 15, 2015, 9:47 am

      The only ‘nod’ that Sullivan gives to the other voices is this:

      …”For example, David Nasaw, the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. professor of history at Graduate Center, City University of New York, wrote:

      I am distressed about the lack of evidence in the piece to support the authors’ assertions about this deeply sensitive and volatile issue. Divestment is supported by a large group of individuals — some of them members of minority groups, and some Jews. (I, incidentally, do not support the movement). To make this into a “Minority vs. Jewish” question, without supplying evidence, is to distort the issue.

      I talked to Alison Mitchell, the national editor, who was involved in the story’s conception.

      “This is a very emotional issue, and a very hot one on many campuses,” she said. “The story set out to explain that.””…

  19. piotr
    piotr
    May 15, 2015, 11:05 am

    I am not canceling my subscription yet. Most of the cases of bias cited in this story are in the experience with reporters rather than the report itself, and to be “unbiased”, reporters of Mondoweiss should be a bit more intrepid and get some words on the experience on the Zionist side. As it is, the article is almost meticulously “unbiased”, at least formally, with paragraphs citing proponents and opponents of BDS on campus roughly equal in number and length. Additionally, the article is open to comments, and they to seem favor the Palestinian side 2:1.

    That said, some lines were of the kind “should one laugh or weep?” “Medina asked if she could be re-directed to another source that had no ancestral ties to the region, implying that being Palestinian made him an unreliable source. ” Presumably, immigrants with no ancestral bias would be less biased. ??!!

    Criticising activism for being “divisive” would question if College Republicans and College Democrats should operate (but this was a quote; even so, Zionist celebrations of campus are as “divisive”). But this was a quote. A more interesting angle is why the college administrators are so united, vehement even. Current situation seems to be: economic, political and administrative establishment: 99.9% pro-Israel, media: 50-70? Students seem 50-50, but Israel is definitely trending down.

    In any case, the coverage of the issues of Israel and Palestine is now less biased than most. Check the coverage of Ukraine.

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