Rudoren responds to the Twitter kerfuffle

Politico’s Dylan Byers interviews new New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren about her recent Twitter controversy. Too bad she seems to refer to Ali Abunimah as an “extremist” (“of course I will talk to him. And I will talk to extremists on both sides”) whatever that means. (Update: Actually, in reading it over, I don’t think she’s calling Abunimah an extremist, but it is a little unclear)

From the interview:

What is your response to the suggestion that you’re showing anti-Zionist bias?

It’s wildly premature to assess my biases. I have written nothing, other than a few tweets. It is certainly possible, as some have suggested, that I was not careful enough in what I wrote in some tweets, and what exactly I tweeted. But I hardly think that the half-a-dozen or dozen tweets that I’ve sent out in the last 24 hours add up to anything. This is a fleeting medium, in which you react to what you see. So some of the retweets that I’ve done happened to be what I was reading at that moment. It was not a comprehensive review.

Let’s take the two things that people have criticized most in succession:

The first was what I wrote to Ali Abuminah [the editor of Electronic Intifada]. I meant to write him a Direct Message and I instead hit reply. That isn’t an excuse — I don’t mind that people saw it — but it wasn’t intended to be for the public, it was intended to be for him.

But yes, of course I will talk to him. And I will talk to extremists on both sides. And I will talk to moderates. I will talk to lots and lots of people from all sides of this conflict… I will not apologize for reaching out to Ali Abuminah; he seems to be an important person to me. Anyone who thinks that I shouldn’t talk to him doesn’t understand how we do our jobs.

But anyone who thinks I shouldn’t talk to him — I want to talk to them, too. Adam Kredo [a reporter at Washington Free Beacon] said I didn’t respond to him, but I never heard from Adam. So I emailed him back, but I haven’t heard from him. But I would be eager to talk to him about anything.

In terms of Peter Beinart’s book, I will absolutely not apologize for thinking that this is a good book. Peter is someone I’ve known for 20 years, he’s a journalist, he’s written a really interesting book. I don’t agree with everything in the book, I don’t even have an opinion about the arguments in the book, but it’s really well written, it’s really provocative, there’s tons of reporting in it with things people don’t know. I think people should read it. I think hard-right Zionists should read it and Palestinian activists should read it. And you American Jews, who are really the audience for  the book, should read it.

I will not apologize for tweeting about the book at all. Will I tweet about books written by people more closely aligned with Netanyahu? Absolutely. I’m reading one book at a time. I expect to have a long and robust and diverse reading list, and when the spirit moves me I may tweet about it.

Rudoren also talked with Marc Tracy at Tablet:

On her tweet praising Peter Beinart’s book.
I did write that tweet carefully with my role in mind. I’m trying to read widely right now on this issue. This happens to be the thing I just read. And it’s a really good book! It doesn’t mean I agree with his argument. It’s readable, it’s filled with new reporting, and its provocative. That’s a journalist’s take on another journalist’s book. He’s obviously more of an advocacy journalist than I am. It doesn’t mean I think his argument is correct, it doesn’t mean I think everyone should line up behind him. It’s well-written, it’s filled with interesting reporting and facts. I’ll say it on any medium you want. I expect some of the books I read from the Palestinian perspective and from the Likud perspective will be good books, and I expect some of them to be crappy!

My editorialization: re-reading this, her balancing “Palestinian” and “Likud” strikes me as another rookie mistake. If somebody more well versed in the conflict said it, I would question their balancing of the two. But, honestly, I really think she’s just getting her feet wet. Which is further argument, for me, on why she shouldn’t be tweeting about it yet.

It happens that I went to college with Peter and we are demographically simiilar, but I don’t do what he does. I’m not an activist.

On the wayward Abunimah direct message.
I’m not going to apologize for wanting to talk with Ali Abunimah either. I really am not prepared to tell you who the right counterpart is on the other side, but I want to meet that guy, too, and all the people in between. I’m going to talk to you and Ron Dermer and settlers and Palestinians and Haredim and Arab-Israelis and secular Israelis.

I tend to agree with Tracy about Rudoren’s odd comparison between “Palestinian” and “Likud.” By her own omission she’s reading up on the issue, and there can be a steep learning curve. I think it’s admirable she’s open to many different perspectives, and impressive that she’s holding her ground in the face of pressure from the usual gate keepers. She arrives in Israel/Palestine in late April, should be interesting to watch.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of
Posted in Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Media, US Politics

{ 19 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. pabelmont says:

    As I said on the other comment thread:

    Assuming that she’s aware of this lovely “perfect” fire-storm of “welcome”, well – – hrmmmfff — might we not wait to see how she performs as a , dare I say it in the contect of the NYT-in-Jerusalem, REPORTER?

    After all, maybe NYT is a-changing.

    Apropos of that lovely hope, did people see Roger Cohen’s wonderful book review of Beinart’s “The Dilemmas of Israeli Power”?

    Looks to be a fabulous book, just as Rudoren says.

    • RE: “…did people see Roger Cohen’s wonderful book review of Beinart’s The Dilemmas of Israeli Power?” ~ pabelmont

      THE “MONEY SHOT” FROM The Dilemmas of Israeli Power, by Roger Cohen, New York Times Op-Ed, 2/13/12

      (excerpt)…Some of the most fascinating pages of “The Crisis of Zionism” [by Peter Beinart] trace the ideological backdrop to the bitter clash between Obama and Netanyahu. Beinart demonstrates the strong liberal Zionist influence of Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf on Obama during his Chicago years. Wolf hated the idea of “an Israel besieged by anti-Semites;” his teaching was “interfaith” and “integrationist.” It cleaved to the liberal roots of American Zionism and the ethical teachings of the prophets who, as expressed in Exodus, commanded Jews not to oppress strangers “having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.”
      The contrast with Netanyahu — raised in the Jabotinsky strain of Zionism by a father who viewed Arabs as “semi-barbaric” and rejected an “emasculating moralism” in favor of a new warrior breed of Jew — could scarcely be greater. . .

      ENTIRE OP-ED – link to

      P.S. FROM TED RALL, 07/22/10: …Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay “Eternal Fascism” describes the cult of action for its own sake under fascist regimes and movements: “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”…[I.e. "emasculating moralism"! - J.L.D.]
      SOURCE – link to

      P.P.S. Money shot – link to

      • Citizen says:

        Dickerson, action was/is a high value in Fascist thought, e.g., if you got gyped by a dishonest shopkeeper, the fascist remedy was to have thugs beat the crap out of that shopkeeper. This was a form of justice common people could appreciate when they are submerged in the myriad ways due process can benefit those who can pay off the links in the police-judicial system de facto, rather than de jure. OTOH, not sure beyond that reality, if the cult of action is not more aesthetic, e.g., Futurism, than not. If thinking is a form of emasculation, than Dick and Jane have no sex organs? Are they really Barb and Ken? Maybe so. Meh.
        I think Bernays thought so, and proved it, and so did Goebbels, his avid student. And now we have our handful of complicit major media organs giving us “all the news good for youse.” NYT recently spokesperson recently defended its coverage of the ME by saying it catered to the middle audience, not to the extreme on either end. Hamburger helper, anyone? What’s not to like for dinner?

        • RE: “Hamburger helper, anyone?” ~ Citizen

          MY REPLY: No thanks, I’m very partial to Shake ‘N Bake®! “And I helped!”

          Shake n Bake commercial “And we helped!” (VIDEO, 00:30) – link to
          1972 Shake ‘n Bake Commercial with Judy Graubart (VIDEO, 00:31) – link to
          Shake ‘N Bake Taylor Momsen commercial (VIDEO, 00:31) – link to
          Talladega Nights, “shake and bake” (VIDEO, 02:37) – link to
          Yelawolf – Shake ‘N’ Bake (VIDEO, 04:06) – link to

          P.S. RE: “And now we have our handful of complicit major media organs giving us ‘all the news good for youse’.” ~ Citizen

          AT THE BALLPARK: “Git ya beer here!” “Git ya beer here!” “Git ya beer here!” “Come on youse guys, get ya beer here!”

        • Citizen says:

          Back in the day, two of my nieces use to always say in unison, “Shake n bake n Ah Heped!”
          & yeah, that was it at the ballpark too.


        • RE: “Dickerson, action was/is a high value in Fascist
          thought” ~ citizen

          SEE: Shaking the Kaleidoscope in Iran, By Lara Friedman, Foreign Policy, 2/21/12

          (excerpt) Discussion of military action against Iran is again taking center stage. It takes me back to a late September 2002 meeting, when I brought a former senior Israeli official to see the late Congressman Tom Lantos, then the ranking minority member of the House International Relations Committee. Our meeting focused on Iraq, with Lantos arguing passionately for pre-emptive U.S. military action against Saddam Hussein, who he compared to Hitler. Lantos dismissed out of hand our Israeli visitor’s suggestion that a war might be destabilizing to the region and to Israel, telling us (and this is close to a direct quote):
          The Middle East is like a kaleidoscope. If you pick up a kaleidoscope and look through it, you don’t see anything special. But if you shake the kaleidoscope and look through it again, you see something more beautiful than was there before.

          We were taken aback. One of the most powerful members of Congress — a Holocaust survivor with unchallenged moral authority — was saying, in effect, that the U.S. should wage war not to achieve a specific goal, but to shake things up, in the hopes that out of the chaos would emerge more attractive options…

          SOURCE – link to

  2. American says:

    Rudoren attitude sounds reasonable so far.

  3. iamuglow says:

    “It is certainly possible, as some have suggested, that I was not careful enough in what I wrote in some tweets”

    sigh…the shame is that now matter how biased and openly manipulative the people who police the debate about Israel are…as this shows. It does work. It does put the fear into the people…so that next time they self censor themselves…’don’t want Goldberg making a target of me and calling me a terrorist sympathizer, etc.’

    As pathetic and slimey a tactic it is…it does work. Shame.

    • RE: “the shame is that now matter how biased and openly manipulative the people who police the debate about Israel are…as this shows. It does work. It does put the fear into the people…” ~ iamuglow

      FROM Dahlia Scheindlin, +972 Magazine, 2/14/12:

      (excerpts)…After two weeks in America visiting family and friends, two
      observations struck me powerfully. First, the understanding that Israel is committing terrible deeds that are destroying itself and its neighbors, has penetrated among you…
      …On this trip, I was stunned to learn that now you don’t even really want to visit Israel because you can’t face what you’re increasingly coming to see as a brutal occupying entity flirting with fascist notions. . .
      …My second observation is that because of your fear – not of the goyim or the anti-Semites, but of yourselves! – you are keeping a low public profile. On this trip, I suddenly realized how naïve it was to imagine that J Street had sufficiently opened the door for anyone who cares critically for Israel to speak out. I underestimated how deep and terrible the intimidation has become and that one political lobby group is far from enough.
      I do understand: those of you who still call the Jewish community home, are afraid of the onslaught that you will receive from your (our) very own people. I hold no illusions about how vicious the attacks might be. We Jews, not the goyim, will call you the most painful names, will threaten in various ways to label you as beyond the pale of your people, should you voice your critique. You might be chastised in your professional community. You will be hit not only by shadowy bloggers but by the very cherished and established groups you have loyally, even automatically, supported over the years. The anger might come from your friends and it might even come from your family. . .
      …Here’s how that made me feel: abandoned, by the liberal Jews of America. You were swept away by Ruth Wisse’s thesis that liberals betrayed the Jewish cause by believing too much in rational universalism and failing to acknowledge the unique, everlasting threat of anti-Semitism…

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to

      P.S. TED RALL, 07/22/10: …Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay “Eternal Fascism” describes the cult of action for its own sake under fascist regimes and movements: “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.
      ["Thinking"="rational universalism"="emasculation"! - J.L.D.]
      SOURCE – link to

      • RE: Ruth Wisse’s dreaded “rational universalism”
        AN EXCELLENT FILM: “Welcome”, 2009, NR, 105 minutes
        When authorities forbid young Kurdish refugee Bilal (Firat Ayverdi) from crossing the English Channel to reunite with his girlfriend in England, the 17-year-old resolves to swim to his love — and finds an unlikely ally in the form of swim instructor Simon (Vincent Lindon). Facing an inevitable divorce from his wife (Audrey Dana), the middle-aged teacher takes the resolute youth under his wing in this stirring, beautifully acted French drama.
        Director: Philippe Lioret
        Language: French (English subtitles)
        Netflix availability: Streaming and DVD
        NETFLIX LISTING – link to
        “WELCOME”, Official HD Trailer (VIDEO, 02:32) – link to

  4. ritzl says:

    Could it be she’s not aware of the public, but particularly the private, firestorm to come.

    Goldstone didn’t seem to be.

    Her former beat/bio seems like it wouldn’t have engendered the level of acrimony she’s about to encounter.

    As American said, she seems pretty reasonable so far. It’ll be interesting to see if she moves into a house taken from/owned by a Palestinian family (and the tweets that ensue).

    It’ll be interesting, if and how she gets shaped in the next few weeks. I hope that, before she gets “direction,” she visits, and stays in, a WB and/or Gaza village for a week.

    At least there’ll be that.

  5. Cliff says:

    Not going to get my hopes up.

    She has no reason to be supportive of the Palestinian struggle or at least sympathetic to their plight.

    And by reason, I mean careerism.

  6. GalenSword says:

    As far as I can tell, Ali Abunimah has attained some competence in Hebrew and fails to reject a large part of the Jewish-Zionist narrative that serious Jewish studies scholars like Michael Stanislawski, Lindemann, the Boyarians, the Magnes Zionist (in his real life job), etc. reject as hasbarah.

    How is Abunimah an extremist? As far as I can tell, he is far too easy on Zionists.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Why would the NYT pick someone so uninformed. Who does she know?

  8. Kathleen says:

    “. I don’t agree with everything in the book, I don’t even have an opinion about the arguments in the book,” What?

  9. American says:

    We’ll never see this in the NYT..

    “(AIPAC) is attempting to block a brief filed by Director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) Grant F. Smith”

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire — The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is attempting to block a brief filed by Director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) Grant F. Smith in the DC Court of Appeals on February 3, 2012. The 78-page IRmep filing asserts “AIPAC has never abandoned its original role as an arm of the Israeli government in the United States.” link to

    Citing declassified criminal investigations, IRmep underscores the public’s interest in the outcome of the case. “AIPAC’s observable standard for employees is ‘solicit, obtain and leverage classified information without being criminally indicted.’ AIPAC is never held publicly accountable for these types of activities which harm governance and public perception of rule of law.”

    Exhibits include State Department files declassified on January 20, 2012 revealing in detail how former AIPAC Director Morris Amitay endangered US national security when he obtained Department of Defense secrets in 1974. The IRmep brief also analyzes ongoing financial damages from a 1984-1987 incident. The FBI investigated how AIPAC acquired an International Trade Commission report full of still-classified confidential business information.

    AIPAC characterized the IRmep brief as “completely inaccurate portrayals of events that occurred decades ago” but seeks dismissal on procedural grounds. IRmep argues for its acceptance even though oral arguments begin February 14, because “AIPAC is an organization that has long ‘had it both ways’ in functioning as an agent of the Israeli government without registering, influencing funding flows to political candidates while claiming charitable tax-exempt status, and rewarding employees who obtained classified information–until they are criminally indicted.”

    Former employee Steven J. Rosen sued AIPAC and its board of directors for defamation in 2009. AIPAC fired Rosen after FBI wiretaps alleged Rosen had received classified national defense information. Rosen was indicted for espionage in 2005 though charges were later dropped. AIPAC claimed Rosen’s behavior “did not comport with standards that AIPAC expects of its employees.” Rosen immediately appealed after the defamation suit was dismissed in 2011.

    IRmep has previously filed formal complaints seeking the revocation of AIPAC’s tax exempt status and registration under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. In filing the appellate court brief, IRmep’s director seeks to protect and advance growing popular demands that AIPAC be properly regulated. Major briefs filed in the Rosen v AIPAC et. al. court case may be viewed online at: link to

    SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

    Full IRmep Filing: link to

    Full AIPAC Filing: link to

    News Release: link to Releted Court Filings: link to

  10. “She arrives in Israel/Palestine in late April, should be interesting to watch.”

    To prepare her for the propaganda barrage mostly from the Israelis, she should read “People Like Us” from Joris Luyendijk. It was once featured here on Mondo, and it’s a fascinating account of how correspondents are mislead by various parties all the time in the Middle East. Of course, the Israeli government being the most effective and bold (=lying) of them all.

  11. chris o says:

    She sounds eminently reasonable but she should just shut up because she can never win no matter what she says. Of course, there is an inevitable tilt towards Israel bias. But in a slight and pro forma way. This is the New York Times after all. While it is a great institution, it is very mainstream and much less interested in Palestinians than Israelis.