To its journalistic credit, Electronic Intifada has confirmed a tip that many of us got over the last few days, that Ethan Bronner’s son has joined the Israeli Defense Forces. Bronner is of course the Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times (and did not respond to my inquiry to him on the issue).
EI nailed the story with an email from Susan Chira of the Times: "Ethan Bronner referred your query to me, the foreign editor. Here is my comment: Mr. Bronner’s son is a young adult who makes his own decisions. At The Times, we have found Mr. Bronner’s coverage to be scrupulously fair and we are confident that will continue to be the case."
I don’t know that this is a tenable line. I think this could be a sore point for Bronner, who’s already a sore point… People are going to harp on it; EI regards it as a "conflict of interest." And Ethan Bronner is the burning bush of hasbara. Also, I’ve heard that Bronner’s annoyed by criticism; I wonder if this is going to keep him up at night. I have to think the Columbia Journalism Review or some other keeper of the ethical flames is going to examine the question.
Don’t expect Bronner to write about it. He should; it’s a good story. But he won’t. We don’t talk about Jewish identity and militarism in the NYT.
The larger issue here is of course Zionism in the mainstream media, how deep does it go, and will anyone ever look into it? And on from that, Why are so many of the MSM reporters on Israel/Palestine Jews with intimate ties to Israel? Bronner is married to an Israeli and has a son in the most moral military in the world. The other Times person, Isabel Kershner, is "thoroughly Israeli," per the Jewish Forward, and married to an Israeli. The new Washington Post reporter, Janine Zacharia, is a Jewish woman from Long Island (I’m told) who once went over there to work for the Jerusalem Post. Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC and the JPost. Jeffrey Goldberg was in the IDF too.
It’s like a credential.
Tribe means something: Almost all Arab-Americans I’ve met come out of a political culture that hates the occupation, hates the confiscation of land by Israel, hates the siege of Gaza, and all in all doesn’t especially care for Israel. Aren’t those legitimate American opinions? When do some of those folks get to cover this story?