Opinions & Commentary

Anti-Israel bias in Boston Globe revealed in discrimination op-ed

By Alan H. Stein

Alan H. Stein is the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel, and president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut. Alan H. Stein is the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel, and president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut. The July 18 Boston Globe op-ed by Katherine Franke headlined, “Mass. shouldn’t outlaw boycotts,” was so biased and hateful that CAMERA felt compelled to issue a major alert devoted entirely to it. But it wasn’t out of character for the Boston Globe, which has a long track record of strong anti-Israel bias.

Franke’s op-ed was not only factually flawed and misrepresented the anti-discrimination bill before the Massachusetts Legislature in order to unfairly malign Israel, it was given a misleading headline designed to imply something false: that the Legislature was considering a bill that would outlaw boycotts.

I’ve been keeping a log of Globe opinion pieces – editorials, op-eds and letters – relating to Israel since September 2014, and categorized each as either pro-Israel, anti-Israel or neutral. During that time, the anti-Israel opinion pieces have outnumbered the pro-Israel pieces 92-75. I’m sure I missed some items, but the disparity is pretty clear.

The most telling category is editorials, since that reflects the official opinion of the newspaper. During this period, I found only one Globe editorial that could be considered pro-Israel; published last November, it deplored the UNESCO decision “denying the Jewish people’s historic connection to the holiest site in Judaism.” In contrast, I found seven anti-Israel editorials.

There were 33 pro-Israel op-eds, compared with 48 anti-Israel op-eds. Of the pro-Israel op-eds, 18 were from Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby and 7 were from famed attorney Alan Dershowitz. Take those away, and we see the Boston Globe published only eight pro-Israel op-eds, in contrast to 48 anti-Israel op-eds!

There have been slightly more pro-Israel than anti-Israel letters, 41- 37, but even here, but it seems like when the Globe publishes pro- and anti- letters in the same issue, it generally gives more prominence to the anti-Israel letters.

For example, the Boston Globe chose to publish just two letters about Katherine Franke’s anti-Israel op-ed, one supporting the op-ed and one criticizing it. This may seem balanced, but the Globe put the anti-Israel letter prominently on top. The anti-Israel letter was two-and-a-half times as long as the pro-Israel letter it published – 235 words to 92 words – and exceeded the Globe’s 200-word limit.

Franke’s op-ed itself was nominally in opposition to a bill before the legislature, “An Act prohibiting discrimination in state contracts.” The key provisions are that companies entering into significant contracts with the state must certify they are in compliance with certain existing anti-discrimination laws and will not refuse “to do business with any other person when that action is based upon such other person’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Franke misrepresented that provision as a “pledge that they will not engage in a boycott.” She then used that misrepresentation to link the anti-discrimination bill to the prohibition on political boycotts in Alabama at the time of the Montgomery bus boycott.

We can argue about whether Massachusetts should enact a bill to punish hateful anti-Israel boycotters; however, the bill under consideration was written to avoid including the word boycott. This was pointed out to the Boston Globe, with a request for a correction. The Globe acknowledged receiving the request but dismissed it, arguing that ‘pretending discrimination’ and ‘boycotting’ are synonymous.

The headline, “Mass. shouldn’t outlaw boycotts,” clearly implies the bill would outlaw boycotts. Even if one buys the Globe’s argument about boycotts and discrimination being the same, the bill does nothing to outlaw anything. When pressed on this, the Globe claimed the headline was, “smart, pertinent, and accurate!”

At the same time, it is hard to imagine the Globe publishing an oped with the headline, “Mass. shouldn’t outlaw discrimination.”

Yet the Boston Globe not only published an op-ed supporting discrimination against Israelis, the newspaper defended it.


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