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Boycott Israel Movement at University of Pennsylvania Disinvites Jewish Media from Conference

February 5th 2012

Israel Topics - BDS_Israel

A Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) effort organized by students at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania actively disinvited a reporter of the local newspaper, the Exponent, from attending their forum. Last week, the Jewish Exponent published an article reporting that organizers of the National BDS Conference had barred the paper from covering the weekend conference, but the organizer denied the claim.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Matt Berkman, a BDS conference organizer and graduate student at Penn, argued that a writer for the Exponent had published biased articles against the BDS effort to “bring an end to Israel’s system of oppression, segregation and dispossession,” through calls for boycotts and divestment of Israel and Israeli products. Due to the alleged biased reporting, the Penn BDS group disinvited the reporter. They did say that another Jewish Exponent reporter, whose coverage he felt had been fairer, may be able to attend.

Lisa Hostein, the paper’s executive editor, wrote in an article, “It is ironic that a group that purports to be interested in open dialogue, is operating under the cover of free speech and insists it is not anti-Semitic is barring the only Jewish news outlet in town from covering the conference.”

Berkman had emailed the reporter in question saying that organizers were “disinviting” him, because they felt his earlier article titled “BDS Reveals its Real Agenda,” was biased.

Hostein felt the alternate invite was “totally disingenuous,” citing that Berkman knew the other reporter was out of town, but that “nobody has the right to tell a news outlet who should or should not cover an event.”

Berkman told the JTA that “They [The Exponent] have not proposed an alternative, and if they do we will discuss it.”

As an observation; for a movement that claims it is fair and balanced in covering the situation in the Middle East and Israel, and therefore promnotes its cause as just, it would seem that choosing to remove a journalist for not agreeing is as controlling and unjust as it purports Israel to be. From a purely public relations perspective, it shows the BDS movement, in particular the one lead by the students at Penn, to be disingenous at the very least.

Juda Engelmayer is an executive with the NY PR agency, 5W Public Relations and a contributor to the Cutting Edge News.


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