Sunday, June 23, 2013

IAN Responds to Biased USA Today Article on BDS and Alicia Keys

On June 12, USA Today published an article entitled, “Alicia Keys urged to cancel concert in Israel,” which was presented as an original news story covering the Grammy-winning singer’s upcoming performance in Israel. In reality, nearly all of the content was copied-and-pasted from a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organization’s press release, resulting in a biased, subjective and misleading report. In response, the Israel Action Network penned the following letter to the editor, which we share with you in its entirety below.

To the Editor:

In response to the June 12 article, "Alicia Keys urged to cancel concert in Israel":

As an organization committed to achieving a two state solution and promoting peace and reconciliation among Israelis and Palestinians, we find your recent coverage of Alicia Keys’ upcoming performance in Israel troubling on many levels.

For starters, the story, which is printed as an original piece by the reporter Steve Jones, is actually cut and pasted nearly verbatim from a press release from the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. This is a group which supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, a global network of individuals and organizations seeking to isolate Israel politically, economically and culturally. Under the guise of seeking “peace,” the BDS movement instead seeks to undermine the “two states for two peoples” solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the commonly accepted goal of the United States, European Union and United Nations. In fact, Omar Barghouti, a BDS Movement founder, publically stated, “Good riddance! The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is finally dead. But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial and we can all move on ...”   In short, the BDS movement seeks to  delegitimize Israel by securing a one-state solution that dissolves Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. 

In addition to the blatant use of a press release by an advocacy organization as a news story, the content is nothing more than a one-sided attack on Israel that is both biased and misstates the facts. Painting Israel as an apartheid state is factually and morally incorrect.  The story only presents one side of the issue and chronicles the self-described achievements of the BDS movement, rather than presenting facts and including a list of all the artists and intellectual leaders who are performing and working and presenting in Israel.   It is irresponsible for your news outlet to not only to attempt to influence Ms. Keys, but to fail your readers with faulty reporting. To be clear, apartheid-era South Africa was a state-sanctioned system of racial segregation which dominated nearly every aspect of daily life between 1948 and 1994. This is not even remotely the case in Israel, where there is one law for all citizens and minorities have full political rights under Israel’s Declaration of Independence. The situation in the West Bank is not comparable and must be viewed within the context of the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict.

More so, the allegations of human rights abuse are also misguided and unfounded. Both the article and press release claim Israel is guilty of denying Palestinians health care and education, yet there is no mention of the fact that Israeli hospitals regularly take in hundreds of Arabs and Palestinians. In fact, the Israeli Defense Forces just released statistics revealing they treated over 1,500 patients in the West Bank in 2012. Additionally, Israel sends approximately 6,000 tons of goods into the Gaza Strip every day including medical supplies, food and constructions materials.

Finally, Alicia Keys has already rebuked BDS activists herself. In a statement to The New York Times she said, “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”

We call on the editor of USA Today to correct the story.  Further, we urge everyone concerned about a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to take a note from Ms. Keys’ and echo her sentiments, which promote peace and reconciliation over divisiveness.

Israel Action Network


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