‘NYT’ reporter detained at Nabi Saleh demo– colleague says it was just ‘for a bit’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 15 Comments

Today the Israeli army detained Ben Ehrenreich, a reporter for the New York Times Magazine, during the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh and later released him. 

Abir Kopty broke the story, though Marc Tracy at Tablet filled in important details. Accounts of Ehrenreich’s detention vary and the matter is already becoming controversial. Joseph Dana’s twitter feed during the last hour:

NYT reporter has been released from Israeli army custody near Nabi Saleh. He was detained for a period of about two hours.

I just spoke to the arrested NYT reporter– he told me that he repeatedly showed the IDF his press card. They arrested him anyway.

The arrest of a NYT reporter in Nabi Saleh is not a fluke, it is part of the IDF’s strategy to arrest any international in Nabi Saleh

The whole point of an Israeli gov’t issued press card is to prevent arrest. The army breaks this rule all the time.

Dana has been exchanging tweets with Times correspondent Jodi Rudoren. Rudoren tweeted,

He has been released, was never arrested but detained for a bit.

Dana:

This is not what he told me. Soldiers clearly told him that he was under arrest.

Rudoren:

Distinction I was making is detained by IDF in truck vs formally arrested by police which could have come next

I don’t know full story but I’m sure we’ll read it in the magazine soon.

Dana has also tweeted, smartly:

If (big if) the NYT discusses what happen to their reporter in Nabi Saleh today, they will likely say it was a misunderstanding. It was not…

Detaining journalists for doing their job is not an issue of politics. It is an issue of press freedom.

The exchange highlights the difficult position Rudoren is in as someone who works for a publication that has been incredibly pro-Israel and that is now trying to tack. I believe Rudoren and her boss Jill Abramson are actually not far from Dana’s camp but can’t show it at the risk of starting a firestorm. After all, Netanyahu refused to deal with the paper’s op-ed page not long ago; the newspaper of record can’t afford to be in that position, alienating the Israeli PM. This puts Rudoren in the role of a diplomat. Lately I saw the many tweets she did about travels in May with “Marcus” of the Israel Project, parroting hasbara. And pure cover, so that she has freedom to write about the things she cares about; because she is a pro, and cares about the opinion of Joseph Dana, Amira Hass, Abir Kopty, the journos who are leading the conversation about real conditions in the occupation. Of course the issue in the end is how much of Rudoren’s journalism must serve a diplomatic function. It doesn’t really matter what you believe, if you can’t express it.

Update: This post said originally that Rudoren had tweeted settler activist Itamar Marcus of the Israel Project. Her many tweets of Marcus’s hasbara (here landing at Ariel Sharon’s helipad) would seem rather to refer to Marcus Sheff,[ TIP’s Israel director. Apologies to all.

15 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    July 13, 2012, 11:55 am

    not a mention of the Levy Commission report on the Diane Rehm show during her international hour round up. Not a whisper

  2. eGuard
    July 13, 2012, 12:08 pm

    I believe Rudoren and her boss Jill Abramson are actually not far from Dana’s camp
    Her personal opinions should not matter much, right?

    because she is a pro, and cares about the opinion of …
    Useless as long as NYT does not tag her articles: “our line” or “her line”, so we know what we are reading. Cannot call that “pro” ever. Worst journalism is giving readers homework to do to understand what you write.

  3. Avi_G.
    July 13, 2012, 12:29 pm

    Distinction I was making is detained by IDF in truck vs formally arrested by police which could have come next [...]

    “formally”. Yeah.

    That’s what happens when the NYT send armchair journalists to the holy land.

    She should mention the simple fact that Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli military law while Israeli civilians and internationals are governed by Israeli civil law?

    “Formally” is a nice way of skirting that issue.

    • Avi_G.
      July 13, 2012, 12:40 pm

      Please ignore the question mark at the end there.

    • marc b.
      July 13, 2012, 3:45 pm

      yes, the ‘formally’ part is a distinction that the IDF goons probably aren’t entirely clear about to begin with. is there is a difference between being formally threatened with rape by your IDF interrogator, and being informally threatened with rape? perhaps this is a matter for the israeli high court to sort out, its decisions being ignored by the IDF in any event.

  4. HarryLaw
    July 13, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Ben Ehrenreich can count himself lucky he was not ‘dead a bit’ from the most moral army in the world.

  5. irmep
    July 13, 2012, 1:23 pm

    For the past two years, IRmep has been pitching an hour-long WAMU program about the clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons program to Diane Rehm. We’ve suggested experts such as Avner Cohen for historical aspects, John Mearsheimer for a strategic analysis including on the issue of “ambiguity”, Sasha Polakow-Suransky on proliferation dangers, and Grant Smith about the material smuggling/criminal aspects.

    They haven’t gotten back to us on that…

    • Citizen
      July 14, 2012, 1:55 pm

      irmep, thanks for the update on your efforts. Obviously, Rehm Show is not going to show–how about writing a piece about that lack of interest on such an important subject, after two years? And with war on Iran setting up fast? Where ever you publish such a piece, many of us here will do all we an to spread it around cyberspace. Counterpunch might publish it, or Veterans Today, for another example. Of If Americans Only Knew, or Anti-War.

  6. Roya
    July 13, 2012, 1:23 pm

    The exchange highlights the difficult position Rudoren is in as someone who works for a publication that has been incredibly pro-Israel and that is now trying to tack. I believe Rudoren and her boss Jill Abramson are actually not far from Dana’s camp but can’t show it at the risk of starting a firestorm.
    Not interested in excuses. Teachers don’t accept them when you try to submit homework late, so why should they be acceptable in the real world?

    • Dutch
      July 13, 2012, 7:52 pm

      “I believe Rudoren and her boss Jill Abramson are actually not far from Dana’s camp but can’t show it at the risk of starting a firestorm.”

      So everyday they return to their offices, as real pro’s, realizing that their jobs help destroy people’s lives, help distorting the truth, help to keep a gruelling reality in place. But hey — anything better than a firestorm, right? People might get hurt. Or lose their jobs.

      Roya is right: no excuses possible on this one. If they’re ‘not far from Dana’s camp’ they have just one choice: raise hell at the paper or step down and set up camp across the street. Refusing that choice makes you part of the show as an hired actor. No more, no less.

  7. Nevada Ned
    July 13, 2012, 2:16 pm

    Ben Ehrenreich, the NYT reporter, is the son of Barbara Ehrenreich, feminist author and best known for her book Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting by in America, which exposed the actual human condition of the worst-paid layers of the US working class.

    • Matthew Graber
      July 13, 2012, 2:46 pm

      Ben is extremely accomplished in his own right as a journalist and an author. He also happened to come on Radio Against Apartheid earlier this year and delivered spectacularly – link to radioagainstapartheid.libsyn.com

      • Nevada Ned
        July 13, 2012, 5:35 pm

        Thanks, I didn’t know that!
        I knew Barbara slightly some decades ago. At the time, Ben was a small child.
        Looking at his Wikipedia page, Ben has accomplished a lot already, and is still a young man.

  8. chris o
    July 14, 2012, 12:21 am

    I love the New York Times, warts and all, and I suspect you do, too. But you say it is “a publication that has been incredibly pro-Israel…” That is certainly true. But wouldn’t you agree that, as far as the US mainstream media goes, the NY Times has had the most hard-hitting and critical coverage of Israel of anyone? They are public enemy No. 1 to Netanyahu and the Likudniks. So I take your point but it is unfair to characterize their past coverage that way.

  9. mudder
    July 14, 2012, 9:34 am

    Ben penned an op-ed titled “Zionism is the problem” in the LA Times 3 years ago:

    Meanwhile, the characterization of anti-Zionism as an “epidemic” more dangerous than anti-Semitism reveals only the unsustainability of the position into which Israel’s apologists have been forced. Faced with international condemnation, they seek to limit the discourse, to erect walls that delineate what can and can’t be said.

    It’s not working. Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values seriously and no longer, as the book of Amos has it, “turn justice into wormwood and hurl righteousness to the ground.”

    Establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel and Palestine would of course mean the abandonment of the Zionist dream. It might also mean the only salvation for the Jewish ideals of justice that date back to Jeremiah.

    I wonder if he was targeted by the IDF, not just for his camera, but for his opinions.

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