My correspondence with NYT’s Rudoren

Israel/Palestine
on 175 Comments

This post appeared lately on Jerome Slater’s site.

In the last few days I have had an interesting email exchange with Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times, concerning in the first instance her August 17th profile of Dani Dayan, but more generally the larger issues concerning the responsibilities of serious journalism.  Rudoren is a clear improvement over Ethan Bronner as the Times’ chief Israeli correspondent, and she comes across as a serious and well-intentioned journalist–and one willing to engage with a blunt critic–but also one who has a long way to go in her understanding not only of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also of what serious journalism must include.

If you haven’t read Rudoren’s profile, here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/18/world/middleeast/dani-dayan-worldly-and-pragmatic-leader-of-israels-settler-movement.html?_r=1&ref=jodirudoren

Rudoren has generously given me permission to publish our correspondence, so (with a few deletions dealing with minor or irrelevant matters) here it is.  I must also say that she is clearly a most courteous and admirable gentlewoman, responding to my no-holds-barred bluntness with great restraint.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that she is wrong on the merits of our disagreement.

I’ll be glad to hear your reactions.

On August 18th, I wrote the following:

Dear Ms. Rudoren: 
I am a retired 77 year old political science professor, still active in writing for both professional journals and the general reading public.  My father was one of the generation of Russian Jews who escaped the pogroms and grew up in the lower East Side of NYC in the early 20th century.   Growing up in New York in the 1940s-1950s I experienced plenty of anti-Semitism and was a passionate Zionist.  In 1970, after serving three years as an anti-submarine warfare officer on a U.S. destroyer, I volunteered my services to the Israeli Navy in the event of war with Egypt (which had recently acquired four Soviet subs).  In 1989 I was a Fulbright lecturer at Haifa University, and I have visited and lectured in Israel on many other occasions.

I trust these facts establish my Zionist credentials. However, for the last forty years I have specialized, both in my writing and teaching, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and as a consequence I now regard Israel as a moral disaster–a betrayer of what we have long believed to be  Jewish rationalism, enlightenment, and commitment to the highest values of civilization.   It is a disgraceful state, and an increasingly ignorant and in many ways disgraceful society, a pariah state that fully deserves its pariah status.  Aside from its moral evil, it is also insanely self-destructive, and it will be something of a miracle if it survives.

I am no longer in a tiny minority in holding these views; they have become increasingly common among American Jewish intellectuals, and indeed among the best Israelis–people who you would be sure to (or already do) respect and admire.  And all of us are in deep despair of what Israel has already become and is well on the way–probably irreversibly–to becoming worse yet.

All this by way of background to my comment: your story of Dani Dayan today is simply shameful.  He represents nearly all that is not merely “wrong” or “self-destructive” about Israel, but what is evil.   It is entirely irrelevant if you find him to be pleasant, “worldly,” and “pragmatic,” nor whether he genuinely believes–or purports to believe–that he is serving the true interests or security of Israel.   It is also irrelevant that he might not be quite as evil as some of the people that he represents.

When evil, insanity, violence, thuggery, and self-destructiveness reach a certain level, it longer matters how “worldly” or “pragmatic,” or  personally seemingly genial and pleasant some of its leaders may  be, and any discussion of them that focuses on such trivialities is not merely irrelevant but dangerously misleading.   I’m sure you can think of some of the obvious examples.

Those of us–in the U.S. and in Israel–who had given up on the NY Times in general and Ethan Bronner in particular, and who had hoped for awhile that you might make a real difference, are already in shock at your apparent naivite.   I hope you will come to grips with the reality and with your own responsibilities as soon as possible.  Even Thomas Friedman is finally beginning to grasp the full realities; I hope it won’t take you as long.

Rudoren responded:

I chose to profile Dayan because I think he is both interesting and important, the main two criteria for journalistic relevance. The fact that you think he represents all that is evil in Israeli politics to me does not undercut the need for profiling him, it only enhances it; that view, I think, was represented in my piece by Yariv Oppenheimer, who spoke of the importance of “exposing” Dayan’s agenda from beneath his palatable exterior.

You may have seen that I also recently profiled Michael Sfard’, Israel’s leading left-leaning human rights lawyer. My choice of both men is not about ideology, obviously I can’t agree with both of their perspectives. I chose to write about each of them because I think they’re important figures in Israeli society, and because I think their personal stories, perspectives, etc, are intriguing (and somewhat surprising) for readers. I completely disagree that delving into newsmakers’ backgrounds and personalities is irrelevant or dangerous; I find such profiles to be among the most revelatory types of journalism, and I gravitate toward them as both a reader and a writer. I think it is absolutely critical to understand who these people are, what motivates them, how they live, who they hang out with, in order to make sense of their doings in the public sphere. One of the key pieces of advice I got when covering the 2004 presidential campaign was that revealing what kind of people the principles were would help people know what kind of president they would be, and I wrote many profiles of the candidates and the people around them that are among the most memorable work I have done.

It is of course painful to hear that you or anyone has “given up on The New York Times,” or that people think I am naive. As you know, I do not have particular background in the Middle East, but extensive experience in American journalism. I can assure you that I am devoting myself fully to, as you put it, coming to grips with the realities around me and with my responsibilities. I hope I will not continue to disappoint you, but my coverage will continue to include all ideological perspectives.

I responded:

I appreciate your taking the time and effort to explain your position.  I continue to vigorously disagree with it.  Your answer suggests that my critique implies that I have a different view of the function of journalism than you do, in particular that what I think is irrelevant or dangerous is “delving into newsmakers’ backgrounds and personalities.”  That is hardly the case, since that is obviously an important part of normal  journalism—such as covering a presidential campaign.   But much more importantly: the more serious the issues, the more important serious and informed substantive analysis becomes, as compared  with personal profiles of the contestants.

It is that kind of analysis that was precisely what was lacking your piece.   On the contrary, you painted an essentially positive picture of Dayan, regardless of what he represents or the consequences not merely of his views, but of his power.

Let’s test your argument with a different case.  Let’s say you had been assigned to cover South Africa in the apartheid era.  Would you wish to write a profile of, say, the head of the secret police that was torturing and murdering  ANC activists,  implying that he was really a pleasant, pragmatic family man with a nice home, with a view of Cape Town, which he saw himself as protecting?   Do you think that would be appropriate, or would have been counterbalanced if you had also profiled, say,  Mandela? 

Undoubtedly you will protest that Israel today isn’t as bad as South Africa, but even if that is marginally the case, the differences become slimmer nearly day by day–including the secret police torturing and murdering Palestinians fighting in a just cause.  Do you think I am exaggerating?   And with a little thought you could come up with even more revealing cases that would undermine your argument.

I’m afraid your most revealing comment is that you think it should be “obvious” that you can’t agree either with Sfard–who represents what is best about Israel–nor Dayan, who represents the worse.  As you say, you have no particular background in the Middle East, and I do hope you learn quickly.   Like most other  liberal Jewish Zionists, including me before I became aware of the realities, you have a picture in your head of an “Israel” that never existed and is now so far removed from Herzl’s vision as to be a nightmare. 

I imagine you will think that I am expressing mere “ideology,” and that would be a grave error.  The facts about Israel’s behavior towards the Palestinians are overwhelming, past and present, and you need to immerse yourself in them as soon as you can.  Even if you lack the time for serious historical reading, at the least you should read Haaretz with great care–Eldar, Levy, Hass, Sarid, Burston, Bar’el, Burg, the editorialists, etc, etc..  And you might ask them about what they–journalists all–thought of your Dayan piece.   

Please bear in mind that we are dealing with matters of the highest gravity, and you occupy a position of enormous responsibility and potential consequences.   Nearly everyone–especially on the Israeli left–understands that there is no prospect of serious change in Israeli policies in the absence of serious U.S. pressures, and there is no prospect of such pressures in the absence of change in the views of the  American Jewish community.  

The Times in general, and you in particular, have a major role to play in influencing those views.  
Israel is heading straight to catastrophe of one kind or another.  I used to think–and write–that its policies were beyond comprehension, for even leaving aside the moral issues–which we Jews, of all people, cannot do–what do they think will be the outcome of the hatreds they provoke in a region replete with fanatics who sooner or later inevitably will acquire nuclear or other wmd?  

What I did not anticipate was that the catastrophe could also take the form of the collapse of liberal democracy.   You don’t want to tell yourself sometime in the dark future that you were in a position to have done something about it, but failed.

Rudoren responded:

In terms of your South Africa analogy: I would absolutely want to profile the head of the secret police if I were covering apartheid. What that profile would look like would depend what kind of person he was. I do think your analogy gets problematic when you include the torture and murder. Settlements are of course extremely controversial, and many believe illegal, and many settlers do act abusively towards their Palestinian neighbors, and the Israeli occupation government does restrict their rights, but I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that my profile of Dayan is akin to describing a torturing murderer as pleasant. Also I never said he was pleasant. Yes, I described his home and his relationship with his daughter and brother. Yes, I described his strategic approach and his educational and professional background. But search again; I described these things and did not judge them.

My biggest concern in your note is your assumptions about me and my views. You seem to include me in a group called “liberal Jewish Zionists” and I don’t know why you do. I’m a journalist. Yes, I’m Jewish, both by birth and by choice in terms of how I live my life. But otherwise, I’m pretty category-free beyond being a professional observer. So please don’t make such assumptions.

As for Haaretz, I’m a subscriber and read it daily  I am not only reading the columnists you mention, but I have spoken with and met many of them and will continue to do so. Similarly with the leading writers at other Israeli newspapers. I have not asked any of them what they thought of the Dayan piece, as I don’t tend to go around asking colleagues what they think of my work, but for what it’s worth, I had coffee this afternoon with someone from Human Rights Watch — someone who certainly believes all West Bank settlements are illegal and worse –  and he (unsolicited) said he thought the profile was terrific. Which, I know, does not mean that all people who care about human rights violations, or whatever other buckets you might throw him into, would think that, too.

Look, you have a side in this conflict, you are passionate about it. Kol hakavod, your passion is impressive and your positions well articulated. But I do not have a side in it, I am interested in telling about all sides. What I am perhaps most interested in exploring is what lives between the sides. And I don’t think it’s fair to assume that my doing that means somehow I am not taking my responsibilities seriously enough. I am working hard and long, consulting widely and deeply, and absorbing everything as fast as I can.  The two profiles we’re discussing were two of dozens of stories I have filed since arriving.  A lot of them have been in the “serious and substantive” vein. Others have been lighter, more featurey. I believe strongly in a diverse, balanced, well-rounded report, and will continue to try to do major analyses as well as profiles, even if the news cycle grows more intense.

I’m certain that if you publish your parts of the exchange as well as mine, it will be clear to those who appreciate the role of mainstream journalism that the crux of our disagreement is that you are speaking from the position of advocacy and I from the point of observation.

My followup: 

You close by contrasting your “observation” with my “advocacy,” but you are mistaken on both grounds in suggesting that you are driven by the facts and I am driven by some kind of pre-factual or non-factual “advocacy.”  But it is quite clear that you are far from fully aware of the facts and their implications, and my “advocacy” is the outcome of forty years of reading and writing that has made the facts and their implications impossible to ignore.  

And finally, Rudoren:

I did not mean to say, by defining yours as a position of advocacy and mine as one as observation, that I am the only one interested in facts. I have not read your work yet, but I have no reason to suspect that it is devoid of facts. Only that you are seeking to use facts and evidence to build an argument based on an advocacy position. That it is one derived from your observation of facts in my view makes it more respectable, but still in the realm of advocacy, which is not where I work.

After I sent the last email, I did have two more thoughts I wanted to add. One was regarding my Human Rights Watch reader. I should have explained what he said about why he liked the profile, which was that it told him things that he did not know about someone who he reads about/deals with all the time. That was very gratifying, because it is exactly the point.
Also, if you do decide to publish the correspondence, I hope one of the things your readers will take from it is that I am willing and eager to engage readers and critics. Ultimately I am here to serve readers, and I believe that engaging with them is part of the job.

About Jerome Slater

Jerome Slater is a professor (emeritus) of political science and now a University Research Scholar at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has taught and written about U.S. foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly 50 years, both for professional journals (such as International Security, Security Studies, and Political Science Quarterly) and for many general periodicals. He writes foreign policy columns for the Sunday Viewpoints section of the Buffalo News. And his website it www.jeromeslater.com.

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175 Responses

  1. OlegR
    August 21, 2012, 10:57 am

    I like her , she gave good honest replies.
    The professor indeed mixes his advocacy with journalism as do many
    journalists unfortunately.Apparently Rudoren is not one of them.

    • Donald
      August 21, 2012, 11:51 am

      I liked her too, but her replies only work if she goes on to give equally sympathetic and one-sided PR space to Palestinians of varying views, including those most NYT readers probably wouldn’t like. Such as Hamas. (I wouldn’t be too crazy about Hamas either, but fair is fair.)

      • OlegR
        August 21, 2012, 12:00 pm

        I would have no problem with her interviewing Hania or Nasrallah
        or whomever.

      • Theo
        August 22, 2012, 9:24 am

        Donald

        Hamas is a democratically elected government and represents the majority of the gazan population!!
        Did the USA and Israel accept them as a legal government, they would not have to result to military activities to fight for the freedom of their constitutents. The real bloody killers sit in the Knesset and presently plan another attack on a foreign country.

      • hophmi
        August 23, 2012, 1:48 pm

        “Hamas is a democratically elected government and represents the majority of the gazan population!!’

        So, does that mean that the entire population is responsible for whatever they do? That’s one defense Hamas uses for killing civilians – it’s a democratic government and therefore everyone is responsible.

      • sardelapasti
        August 24, 2012, 9:44 pm

        “So, does that mean that the entire population is responsible for whatever they do?”
        That is not a “defense”: look at the Zionist entity government, a mass murderer, criminal against peace, war criminal, and generally abcess on the asscheek of the world with uninterrupted >90% support from the Master Race population, who is an acessory at best and directly guilty at worst.

        “That’s one defense Hamas uses for killing civilians”
        What civilians? All the occupied population is made up of civilians (except perhaps the PA police force) while practically none of the invaders can claim civilian status! And “Hamas killing”? Let’s be serious. Especially you, a dedicated accomplice of mass murderers.

      • Shingo
        August 26, 2012, 8:05 pm

        So, does that mean that the entire population is responsible for whatever they do

        So, does that mean that the entire Israeli population is responsible for whatever the IDF do? That would legitimise the targetting of civlians and all those rockets wouldn’t it Hop?

    • American
      August 21, 2012, 4:11 pm

      “”The professor indeed mixes his advocacy with journalism as do many
      journalists unfortunately”…..Oleg

      LOL….like your Israeli life doesn’t depend, and always has, on zionist using journalism to ‘unfortunately’ advocate for Israel.

  2. Madrid
    August 21, 2012, 11:09 am

    The lack of moral clarity of this woman is bad enough, but put all that aside.

    How is it possible in 2012 that a major American paper– better yet THE American newspaper– sends such a person to cover such a complex region, when that person lacks any education or background in the region in question? Here is a reporter who presumably knows not a word of Arabic or Persian– does she even speak Hebrew?–, does not know the cultural differences between the various Arab ethnicities, has never lived in the region before this. Her only qualification for the NYTimes editorial board seems to be that she is a practicing Jew, which I suppose is so that she doesn’t offend those readers who have a passionate love affair with Israel, who vastly outnumber Israel’s detractors.

    And this neophyte, who has not spent one minute studying the region, is supposed to pass on vital information and knowledge about the region for the American public. That is essentially the reason that I will never subscribe to a major American paper again– except perhaps the Wall Street Journal, which for all its conservatism, at least employs people who are experts in their field.

    In what other profession in the US or in the Western world could you send a complete neophyte to do such an important job? What next? Professors of Political Science whose only qualification for teaching Latin American politics is that they are learning Spanish as a hobby? Shakespeare teachers whose only qualification is that they like to read novels and watch plays? Chemistry teachers whose only qualification is that they take drugs for a heart condition? How does the NYTimes get away with this, and how do they expect to compete with bloggers like the Asad Abu Khalil, Juan Cole, Gary Sick, and Josh Landis, who are real expects in their fields?

    • Charles Barwin
      August 21, 2012, 12:01 pm

      “Her only qualification for the NYTimes editorial board seems to be that she is a practicing Jew”

      If she wasn’t a practicing Jew, she’d be at risk of becoming too biased and agenda driven, instead of pure, kosher, objective observation.

      And she is ultimately in Israel to serve readers. Not to rock their worlds.

      • Madrid
        August 21, 2012, 1:14 pm

        Is this a joke? She is there to inform us– to get to the truth, not to serve readers, whatever that means. Are you saying that only a practicing jew could do the job, because a gentile would automatically be too biased? I really hope you are being sarcastic.

        Otherwise, I don’t know what kind of Orwellian agenda you are pushing, but something tells me you are a few short of a six pack….

      • thankgodimatheist
        August 21, 2012, 10:05 pm

        “I really hope you are being sarcastic.”
        Well, duh!

      • Madrid
        August 23, 2012, 8:50 am

        Sorry, I guess I’m a little dense sometimes.

    • OlegR
      August 21, 2012, 12:04 pm

      Who would you propose they send ?
      Professor Finkelstein ?
      How many American journalists are there that speak Hebrew and Arabic (not to mention Farsi)
      and can claim some sort of objectivity.

      • JohnAdamTurnbull
        August 21, 2012, 12:41 pm

        How many? Dozens, of course.

        But your question provides the key: the New York Times covers Israel, Israel, and only Israel. The rest of the world’s interest extends to Palestinians and Arabs.

      • OlegR
        August 21, 2012, 1:09 pm

        Names please.

      • Madrid
        August 21, 2012, 1:16 pm

        She seems to imply that she doesn’t speak a word of any of them. At least one would be nice, but it seems to me that a basic grasp of reading Arabic would be a must for anyone who wants to cover the region.

      • OlegR
        August 21, 2012, 4:25 pm

        I agree and Hebrew as well, sure.
        If she wants to become a great journalist in our region she has to learn both languages no question about it.

      • Mooser
        August 21, 2012, 5:50 pm

        “How many American journalists are there that speak Hebrew and Arabic (not to mention Farsi)”

        There is no law saying the NYTs must hire “Americans”. I would think there are a great many Palestinians and others with those languages and qualifications. Why shouldn’t the NYTs hire one of them?

        and can claim some sort of objectivity.
        What on earth does that mean. If they are a journalist, they know how to write a facual report. It’s actually supposed to be easier than writing good fiction, although the circumstances of newsgathering are often much more dangerous.
        Oh, please tell us, what are the requirements of “objectivity” in this situation.

      • OlegR
        August 21, 2012, 6:08 pm

        /There is no law saying the NYTs must hire “Americans”. I would think there are a great many Palestinians and others with those languages and qualifications. Why shouldn’t the NYTs hire one of them?/

        Probably for the same reason that they should not hire Israeli settlers living in Judea and Samaria that would meet the same qualifications.
        Many western news agencies frequently use Palestinians as journalists
        (though not in such prominent positions as Rudoren’s) that cover I/P
        on the ground and not once and not twice they got burned by it.

        /What on earth does that mean. If they are a journalist, they know how to write a facual report. It’s actually supposed to be easier than writing good fiction, although the circumstances of newsgathering are often much more dangerous./

        Sure you do, the question is, to what effect you allow your own world
        view to have an impact on that factual report.Journalist don’t write cut and dry telegrams after all.

        /Oh, please tell us, what are the requirements of “objectivity” in this situation./

        Not sure that i am qualified to answer that , invariably my world view is not objective on this issue therefore anything i would write would be affected by it.

        The best i can give you is that objective journalist cannot have a dichotomous world view on the subject he covers, this is white this is black.

      • Rusty Pipes
        August 21, 2012, 6:09 pm

        objectivity requirements such as: one person claims that [Palestinians] deserve human rights, another person claims that [Palestinians] are subhuman. Discuss their wine preferences.

      • straightline
        August 21, 2012, 6:32 pm

        Are you saying that any American journalists who speak both Hebrew and Arabic don’t agree with your view of the world? Interesting observation Oleg.

      • OlegR
        August 22, 2012, 3:39 am

        I am saying my world view is not necessarily objective on the issue ,
        just like most commentators around here are not objective but from the other side.

      • ColinWright
        August 21, 2012, 6:53 pm

        OlegR says: “…How many American journalists are there that speak Hebrew and Arabic (not to mention Farsi)
        and can claim some sort of objectivity.”

        Well, this is a self-fulfilling prophesy in a way.

        One can be wildly biased in favor of Israel and still be considered ‘obejctive.’ Ethan Bronner actually wrote a piece called ‘Bullets in my in-box’ in which he complained about all the hate mail he got from both sides when he was just trying to be ‘fair’ — and he may well have thought he was being ‘fair.’

        He was the ‘respected reporter.’ And yet half the pieces he wrote were rank pro-Israel propaganda. His wife was an Israeli Jew and his son was in the IDF.

        Conversely, if someone had an Arabic or Farsi background, if they were even slightly tilted, they would be considered at best an Edward Said — a redoubtable but clearly partisan figure. Certainly not someone the New York Times would consider hiring. I suppose there’s that guy that died in Syria — but wouldn’t he be more the exception that proves the rule?

      • eljay
        August 21, 2012, 7:19 pm

        >> How many American journalists are there that speak Hebrew and Arabic (not to mention Farsi) and can claim some sort of objectivity.

        To Zio-supremacists, a person’s level of “some sort of objectivity” is measured by their willingness to overlook the fact that Israel is an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” born of terrorism and ethnic cleansing and maintained and expanded by means of a 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.

        Given that, I’m certain there are many “American journalists … that speak Hebrew and Arabic (not to mention Farsi) and can claim some sort of objectivity.”

    • Donald
      August 21, 2012, 12:07 pm

      “How does the NYTimes get away with this, and how do they expect to compete with bloggers like the Asad Abu Khalil, Juan Cole, Gary Sick, and Josh Landis, who are real expects in their fields?”

      They’ve been doing it for awhile, and in the pre-internet age where one had to go to a very good library to find any alternative views they could essentially send these people out and they would give a heavily American-centric (or Israeli-centric) spin on the news if they wanted and it wouldn’t be easy for the average reader to question it. Now it looks outdated. They did have Anthony Shadid to their credit, but unfortunately he died of asthma while covering Syria.

      I always felt the Iraq War was badly covered by the NYT–they had too many embedded reporters like Dexter Filkins, when what they needed were a lot of brave people who could speak Arabic and could cover what American troops and the various insurgent groups and death squads looked like from the perspective of various Iraqi civilians. That would have been tough to do–life threatening, in fact. But I don’t think they really wanted too much of that perspective, risky or not.

    • JohnAdamTurnbull
      August 21, 2012, 12:34 pm

      Yes Madrid, you hit that nail on the head.

      Is it the curse of “executivism” — that a trained Executive can run anything, regardless what the fundamental technologies or skills may be? Do we regard Journalism now as merely the capacity to make sentences or, failing that, appear before a camera?

      We are far more interested in the abstracted representation of news events than in what they really are. The observation of a genuinely dangerous politician becomes a “profile” that seems limited to the view from his living room.

    • G. Seauton
      August 22, 2012, 1:03 am

      “In what other profession in the US or in the Western world could you send a complete neophyte to do such an important job?”

      True enough, journalism in America is in such a seriously degenerate state of affairs that the New York Times, of all papers, could send a neophyte to cover the Middle East. I’m with you here.

      The rationale one gets from journalists — indoctrinated as many are in the major journalism programs, which, these days, teach their graduates to be brainless stenographers — is that a veteran journalist has the skills and the experience to be thrown into unfamiliar situations and nonetheless “hit the ground running,” i.e., cover the situation brilliantly despite knowing nothing a priori simply because they are trained journalists.

      It’s an excuse that’s wearing a bit thin, to put it mildly.

    • Chu
      August 22, 2012, 10:09 am

      What you’re saying almost sounds like when the NYTimes chose buffoon Tom Freidman (or head goof – Marc Bittman). It’s not about meritocracy in the NY Times, but more about reverse racism on a corporate level.
      They recently hired Frank Bruni to be an op-ed Contributor. Maureen Dowd and Bruni can now spew venom in unison – and if you’re toxic enough you should apply for the position.

    • Chu
      August 22, 2012, 10:12 am

      Madrid,

      here’s an article by Alex Cockburn about the NYTimes for your pleasure.
      http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2000/2000-September/016822.html

  3. rensanceman
    August 21, 2012, 12:15 pm

    Slater’s essential point is irrefutable: that by profiling a state or person and to omit informing the reader that this connoisseur of fine wines is living the high life on land that has been ethnically cleansed of its indiginous population, is not presenting an accurate reality. Imagine presenting Joseph Stalin as a doting father who weeps when his dog dies and omit the fact that he was paranoid mass murderer of millions of his own people. Ruderon has not yet grasped the Zionist delusion that by depicting Israel as a beacon of light to all nations citing its many Nobel prize winners and technological prowess, the world will overlook the brutal facts if its origins ( I.e. Nakba), the pre-emptive strike against Egypt igniting the ’67 war, the murderous USS Liberty attack, Mossad death squads just to name a few crimes in a very long list. Slater’s description of Israel as a pariah state among nations is accurate and a painful observation for a Jew who follows the Judaic precepts of rationality, enlightenment, and the goodness of helping one’s fellow man. Ruderon must get up to speed with the true realities of the I/P conflict and not be another conduit for AIPAC inspired hasbara. Slater is right to bemoan the soiling of Judaic precepts by this rogue monster called (Zionist) Israel.

    • Shingo
      August 26, 2012, 8:12 pm

      Slater’s essential point is irrefutable: that by profiling a state or person and to omit informing the reader that this connoisseur of fine wines is living the high life on land that has been ethnically cleansed of its indiginous population, is not presenting an accurate reality

      I agree.

      Ruderon’s wanting to have her cake and eat it. She claims that she is new to all this and learning about the issues, yet she expects her readers to read between the lines and assume or alredy know all of this without mentinioning it explicitly.

  4. Mooser
    August 21, 2012, 1:12 pm

    “a painful observation for a Jew who follows the Judaic precepts of rationality, enlightenment, and the goodness of helping one’s fellow man.”

    Sure, he’s a great guy and all that, but what about the rest of us? If that’s how holy you must be to admit a degree of Israel-critical thought, Zionism will continue to reign triumphant.
    This whole idea that we will be giving up something, performing a philanthropic act, by criticising Zionism, is ridiculous. Being anti-Zionist is not some holy altruistic state of mind, it’s simply self-defense (for a Jew, anyway). What the hell have the Zionists achieved, that I shouldn’t be eager to chuck the entire thing, with relief. You know what? I’m much more scared of what the Zionists will lead us to if they remain in charge, than I am of anything which may happen if Zionism is discredited and defeated.
    Frankly, the implicit idea that we have gained anything through Zionism, which we will now be so noble and give up, is a crock. We’re getting a murderous, barbarous and ravenous monkey off our back, one which will eat us, as fast as it would eat anyone else. So they can take all that “Judaic precepts of rationality, enlightenment, and the goodness of helping one’s fellow man” and shove it wear the sun don’t shine. I don’t dislike Zionism for the world’s sake, any more than I could honestly say I’ve always lived according to all that “Judaic precepts” hooey. I dislike Zionism because I think it would hurt me or enslave me if it gets the chance, and has already done so.
    My God, next these shmegeggies will want the world to pay us to get out of Israel, instead of us paying reparations we already owe.
    You know, if I was ever going to assign for an “inherent” trait, it would be the ability to congratulate yourself even while indicting yourself.
    “Soiling Judaic precepts”, yeah, I’ll bet words like that terrifies them over in Israel.
    Formulas for doing nothing while congratulating yourself.

    • Mooser
      August 21, 2012, 1:20 pm

      If anti-Zionism, or even weak-tea criticisms of Israel, becomes an method of out-Jewing each other around here, I’ll puke. ‘Oh, look at me, I’m more critical of Israel than you, so I’m a better Jew, one devoted to “Judaic-precepts”. How noble we are, although we could, in our mid-millions, rule the world, to notice there are other people around. Just a couple hundred for each one of us, but what is that to a Jew?’ Give me a mother….oh, never mind.

      • evets
        August 21, 2012, 5:02 pm

        ‘If anti-Zionism, or even weak-tea criticisms of Israel, becomes an method of out-Jewing each other around here, I’ll puke.’

        What about responding angrily to your own comment — isn’t that a method of out-Jewing yourself?

      • Mooser
        August 21, 2012, 5:46 pm

        “What about responding angrily to your own comment — isn’t that a method of out-Jewing yourself?”

        My gosh, you’re right! Where will this end? There’s no hope! I could say that…I could say this…but…nope, you’re right, evets. I out-Jewed myself!
        Man, you weren’t supposed to notice.

      • Chu
        August 22, 2012, 10:13 am

        busted…

      • Mooser
        August 22, 2012, 12:32 pm

        Flat busted, and as an out-Jewer! Going to have to watch that. And I was so proud of what a bad Jew I thought I was. Of course, I thought I was such a good Jew because I was such a bad Jew… Oy Gevalt!!

    • OlegR
      August 21, 2012, 4:36 pm

      So you Mooser are basically a scared
      that Israel might eventually provoke all those nice gentiles that you live among in the bastion of freedom and civil liberties
      to pogrom you a little, maybe even send you to a Konzentrationslager.
      How pathetic of you…

      • Mooser
        August 21, 2012, 5:04 pm

        “Israel might eventually provoke all those nice gentiles that you live among”

        No Ferdfortz, you got it backwards. I’m not scared of the Gentiles, I’m scared of Israel. I don’t know where you got the Gentiles part. AFter all, with 15+ plus Jewish intelligence advantage, I can out-wit them, even if I can’t outrun them. The only thing Gentiles could do which might scare me is make a law saying Jews belong to Israel. And if they did that, I’d know who to blame.

        Now, do you have that straight, dummy?

      • MRW
        August 21, 2012, 6:53 pm

        Smart posts, Mooser, starting with August 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm.

      • Mooser
        August 22, 2012, 1:23 pm

        “Smart posts, Mooser, starting with August 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm.”

        Please don’t worry, MRW, it won’t last too long. But there it is, the next big deception, that we are doing the world, and Judaism, a great big favor by restraining or moderating Zionism. What a crock. That we are giving up such wonderful personal advantages out of nobility and progressive values. No, it didn’t work, it looks like it’s going to blow up in our face, so we’re gonna drop it, dump it off on whoever we can.
        Can’t say: We got taken to the cleaners, we’re dumb.

      • Mooser
        August 21, 2012, 5:11 pm

        “How pathetic of you…”

        Aw, how nice, I taught you a new word, (when I said you “put the ick in pathetic”) and it has three syllables! Word-searched your archive and it’s the first time you’ve used it. You’ll be picking up my anti-Zionism before you know it. You can’t help it, you’re a born follower.

      • OlegR
        August 21, 2012, 5:40 pm

        I knew that there would be some benefit in hanging out at this site.

      • evets
        August 21, 2012, 5:14 pm

        ‘How pathetic of you…’.

        Why are you taking it seriously. When you’re as prolific as Mooser is you need to follow many lines of attack at once and entertain all possible arguments.

        I believe it’s the sign of genius.

      • American
        August 21, 2012, 5:31 pm

        “How pathetic of you…” Oleg

        Hmmm…I’m betting you think it’s pathetic for a whole different reason then I would think it’s patheic.

      • OlegR
        August 21, 2012, 6:14 pm

        State your reason and we could compare.

      • ColinWright
        August 21, 2012, 9:56 pm

        OlegR says: “…So you Mooser are basically a scared
        that Israel might eventually provoke all those nice gentiles that you live among in the bastion of freedom and civil liberties
        to pogrom you a little, maybe even send you to a Konzentrationslager.
        How pathetic of you…”

        …and what an indictment of Israel that it could even be conceived that it could have that effect.

        I mean, let’s think about Norwegian-Americans, for example. How much of their time do they have to spend cringing at the sight of what Norway just did? Or standing tall for Norway? Or worrying about Norway at all?

    • LeaNder
      August 23, 2012, 9:00 am

      You know, if I was ever going to assign for an “inherent” trait, it would be the ability to congratulate yourself even while indicting yourself.

      I am enormously prejudiced pro-Moose of course, but you again circle exactly what caught my attention. The old mirror game of Zionists and anti-Semites:

      Israel as a moral disaster–a betrayer of what we have long believed to be Jewish rationalism, enlightenment, and commitment to the highest values of civilization.

      To the extend Zionism tried to fight anti-Semitism with high-gloss-polished ideals, it was bound to fail like any other utopia, can one really call this betrayal if things turn out differently? Utopia betrayed?

      What is the relation between Utopia and political science and how does the latter handle the issue of “evil incarnate”?

      I definitely love your self-reflections triggered by evets and Chu’s interjection, dear Moose

      • seanmcbride
        August 23, 2012, 10:40 am

        LeaNder,

        Your fellow German here — German Lefty — does she rock or what? Mind like a steel trap and an English prose style that exceeds in mastery and polish that of the great majority of Americans.

      • LeaNder
        August 23, 2012, 6:55 pm

        Sean, I prefer Mooser’s uncomparable lightness in tumbling past steel traps and snares. Quite a feat considering his weight. What a pity it is not contagious.

        You take the steel traps, I prefer watching this palmate antler turn his somersaults:

        Mooser: Flat busted, and as an out-Jewer! Going to have to watch that. And I was so proud of what a bad Jew I thought I was. Of course, I thought I was such a good Jew because I was such a bad Jew… Oy Gevalt!!

      • Mooser
        August 23, 2012, 10:19 pm

        LeaNder, thanks!

  5. Ranjit Suresh
    August 21, 2012, 1:14 pm

    The bottom line is that the New York Times, by having policies like ensuring foreign correspondent positions for members of a particular ethnic group, is effectively in violation of the spirit, if not the letter of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Does Rudoren have bona fide occupational qualifications that an Arab scholar or Christian American journalist bilingual in Hebrew, and versed in regional affairs do not? Of course not. We’ve become inured to blatant discrimination and violation of civil rights in journalism and employment in the media. At best we flatter it by calling it ethnic networking. But it needs to stop.

    • libra
      August 21, 2012, 6:25 pm

      RS: At best we flatter it by calling it ethnic networking.

      No Ranjit, at best we flatter it by calling it “a meritocracy” or “a Jewish success story”. Indeed, I’ve even seen it described as both a meritocracy and a Jewish success story – one naturally leading to the other. Though in this case there may have been an element of self-flattery involved.

  6. seanmcbride
    August 21, 2012, 1:27 pm

    What I liked best about Slater’s remarks is that he is standing foursquare, with no equivocations, behind Enlightenment values. I view him, basically, as a brother-in-arms. We are both Americans and we both understand what authentic Americanism is all about. I don’t get the sense that Jodi Rudoren comprehends the urgency of the crisis that is now facing Israel and Zionism. She is fiddling and diddling.

    • evets
      August 21, 2012, 5:38 pm

      ‘She is fiddling and diddling.’

      Are you by any chance from Boston?

  7. tokyobk
    August 21, 2012, 1:27 pm

    The most interesting article I read about Mohamed Atta, leader of the Sept 11 attacks, was about his career as an architect and city planner.

    Without a doubt Rudoren is going to publish a personality profile of a Palestinian leader that is going to anger pro-Israel people because it emphasizes human rather than explicitly political texture.

    Frankly, that is journalism and yes the biography of Hitler published by his last living secretary was riveting precisely because it gave human details of the leader who was having pleasant dinner conversation (even being talked back to by his staff) while Europe burned.

    • ColinWright
      August 21, 2012, 6:36 pm

      tokyobk says: “The most interesting article I read about Mohamed Atta, leader of the Sept 11 attacks, was about his career as an architect and city planner. “

      This does shed new light on the attack. Aesthetically, he just couldn’t stand the Twin Towers. The hatred for our freedom was only a pretext.

      • Mooser
        August 22, 2012, 1:29 pm

        “Mohamed Atta, leader of the Sept 11 attacks, was about his career as an architect and city planner.”

        Of course! That’s how he knew that if he hit the towers in just the right spot, they would explode and disintegrate, and collapse roughly into their own footprint, like a demolition! Now that’s what I call evil genius! He probably had it down to exactly which window to go in….just like the garbage chute in Star Wars!

      • irishmoses
        August 23, 2012, 11:30 am

        re: //ColinWright: tokyobk says: “The most interesting article I read about Mohamed Atta, leader of the Sept 11 attacks, was about his career as an architect and city planner.” Colin replies: “This does shed new light on the attack. Aesthetically, he just couldn’t stand the Twin Towers…. “The hatred for our freedom was only a pretext.”//

        Colin, your “hatred for our freedom” comment troubled me. Do you actually believe Atta, el al, were motivated by a hatred of our freedoms? How about hatred for our military, diplomatic and economic support for Israel in its seven decade campaign to gain all of Palestine for itself? Per the 9-11 Commission investigation, virtually every Islamic terrorist act against us, foreign and domestic, for the past several decades, has been expressly motivated by the latter, never the former. The former (“they hate us for who we are…”) provides a basis for likudnik hasbarists to claim Israel and the US are fellow victims/allies in the war on terror. Bush, unfortunately, bought into that narrative post 9-11. Then the 9-11 Commission deliberately avoided any finding or conclusion re overwhelming evidence of the direct connection between Islamic terrorism and Israel’s anti-Palestinian actions and US support of those actions. Not a minor oversight, even if you were being ironic.

      • seafoid
        August 23, 2012, 12:06 pm

        I thought he was being ironic.

        Yanks are now free to eat from food banks. That is what America has become. I guess the wars were worth the money.

    • eljay
      August 21, 2012, 7:24 pm

      >> tokyobk @ August 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Good post, tokyobk.

    • anonymouscomments
      August 22, 2012, 12:18 am

      The most interesting things I read about Mohamed Atta, “leader of the Sept 11 attacks”, indicated he drank, dabbled in drugs, went to clubs, lived with a stripper, etc.

      Personality profiles are great, when they actually tell you about a person *truly*, not some BS cover story either played out in “real life” and/or stitched together by the powers that be.

      I suggest you read more about Mohamed Atta. You might want to look into the owner of the FL flight school he drank with, which trained him and other *cough* patsies, fall-guys, and/or operatives.

      • tokyobk
        August 22, 2012, 9:00 am

        Actually, no anon. It indicated he was a thoughtful, educated mild-mannered man. The kind any of us could have long talks with and be impressed with. And then he flew scramming passengers into a building. Which is exactly the point about human beings represented in the infamous construction “Hitler was a vegetarian who loved his dog, Blondie.”

        Colin: Mark my words. She -will- profile a leading Palestinian in the same manner and will get the reaction here from the other side. No, I am not making equivalencies, I am predicting the behavior of a journalist who has indicated her priorities and preferences of style.

      • Philip Weiss
        August 22, 2012, 10:02 am

        i think you’re right tobyobk. Rudoren is highly intelligent, and she will respond to this pressure as she should, by extending herself to the larger story

      • ColinWright
        August 22, 2012, 1:51 pm

        tokyobk and Philip:

        Well, there you are. If Rudoren does now write a puff piece on (probably the most moderate) Palestinian she can find, I suspect it will be a result of pressure from those like us. She’ll want to demonstrate that she is ‘balanced.’

        Whether absent that pressure she would ever have written this hypothetical piece is unknowable, and whatever the flaws of the piece, it will be better than nothing. Inevitably, the piece will have the effect of demonstrating that Palestinians are human, and do have a right to live in Palestine.

        As I said, this is a game of inches.

      • eljay
        August 22, 2012, 2:08 pm

        >> i think you’re right tobyobk. Rudoren is highly intelligent, and she will respond to this pressure as she should, by extending herself to the larger story

        I would be very interested to see Ms. Rudoren write a similar advocacy-free profile of a militant Palestinian and then defend it against criticism from the Zio-supremacist crowd.

      • MRW
        August 22, 2012, 2:16 pm

        Getting it printed is another matter. Also, is she enough of a geo-political player to understand what’s at stake? I’ve seen no evidence of that.

      • MHughes976
        August 23, 2012, 1:07 pm

        I too would be interested and quite surprised if any mainstream Western journalist – not merely one employed by the traditionally pro-Israel NYT – found a Palestinian who was as offensive to the Israelis as Mr. Dayan is to the Palestinians, declared that (s)he was an interesting person who deserved to be known internationally, remarked on the person’s cultured manner and then let his/her own words dominate the article. Maybe Robert Fisk has done something like this? He has interviews, presented in a rather sceptical tone, with pro-Assad Syrian soldiers in today’s Independent.

      • David Nelson
        August 23, 2012, 7:01 pm

        Octavia Nasr is the prime example here. All she said was “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot…” and got fired for it.

    • ToivoS
      August 22, 2012, 1:58 am

      Those stories about Atta, Hitler and the personal life of Stalin were definitely interesting and worthwhile. However, in each case I had fairly clear idea about the crimes each had committed. I had never heard of Dani Dayan before nor do I suspect does the average NYT reader. Maybe if there had been a few hundred articles in the US press describing his crimes and land thieving ways before Rudoren decided to make him an international celebrity her article could be properly appreciated. Now all she has done is glamorize a thief.

      • ColinWright
        August 22, 2012, 5:54 am

        “…I had never heard of Dani Dayan before nor do I suspect does the average NYT reader. Maybe if there had been a few hundred articles in the US press describing his crimes and land thieving ways before Rudoren decided to make him an international celebrity her article could be properly appreciated. Now all she has done is glamorize a thief.”

        Yeah. Rudoren’s rationalizations are total bullshit. What she is doing — and however she puts it to herself, what she knows she is doing — is cleaning up the settler and making him presentable. She’s making him something many or most of her readers can decide is really okay — can feel comfortable siding with against that great, unknown but vaguely vile Palestinian mass out there.

        It takes some care to put this over. But in the end, Rudoren may be worse than Pam Geller. Considerably worse. Damn few are going to be able to swallow Pam Geller. Many will be only to happy to swallow Rudoren. She’ll put it to them in a way they can feel comfortable with.

    • PeaceThroughJustice
      August 23, 2012, 12:04 pm

      “Without a doubt Rudoren is going to publish a personality profile of a Palestinian leader that is going to anger pro-Israel people because it emphasizes human rather than explicitly political texture.”

      I’m sure you’re right, but the problem is she’s going to have to publish hundreds of them to even begin to remedy the imbalance created by years of Zionist media.

    • lysias
      August 24, 2012, 3:59 pm

      Frankly, that is journalism and yes the biography of Hitler published by his last living secretary was riveting precisely because it gave human details of the leader who was having pleasant dinner conversation (even being talked back to by his staff) while Europe burned.

      As long as he wasn’t talked back to too much.

      One can read in Henriette von Schirach’s memoir Der Preis der Herrlichkeit how Hitler, when Henriette protested to Hitler about the treatment of Jews she had just observed on a visit to Holland, threw a fit, expelled both Henriette (the daughter of his photographer, whom he had known since she was a teenager in the old Munich days) and her husband Baldur (the former head of the Hitler Youth) from the Berghof, and never again met with either of them during the surviving years of the Third Reich.

  8. Mooser
    August 21, 2012, 1:54 pm

    Those aren’t doubts, Slater, those are redoubts.

  9. David Samel
    August 21, 2012, 2:01 pm

    I thought Rudoren did somewhat better in this correspondence than she did in her article. Doing a profile of Dani Dayan was not a bad idea by itself. Her principal sins were (1) her emphasis on his worldly personal tastes – his secularism, his negotiating style were relevant but not his taste in wine; (2) her failure to provide more context of international law and obvious failure to ask tough questions of Dayan; and (3) worst of all, her failure to seek comment from Palestinians, who are the victims of Dayan’s efforts. While her profile of Sfard is admirable, the acid test will be whether she tries to interview people on Israel’s hit list, like Haniyah, Meshal, Nasrallah. I’m sure she would ask more pointed questions of such subjects about targeting civilians, recognizing Israel, etc. She treated Dayan with kid gloves.

    • evets
      August 21, 2012, 5:29 pm

      I think she somehow assumed that everyone was familiar with the context. They’d appreciate the subtle way she rendered the ironies. It may also have been more comfortable for her as a Jew to assume this and leave out the dark stuff. So it was a win win.

      • Shingo
        August 26, 2012, 8:18 pm

        I think she somehow assumed that everyone was familiar with the context. They’d appreciate the subtle way she rendered the ironies.

        That doesn’t wash. She keeps insiosting that she’s a babe in the woods on the Israeli/Palestine conflict, yet she expects her readers to be sufficilently well informed about the issue to read between the lines?

        Sorry, that sounds like BS to me.

    • eljay
      August 21, 2012, 7:42 pm

      >> While her profile of Sfard is admirable, the acid test will be whether she tries to interview people on Israel’s hit list, like Haniyah, Meshal, Nasrallah. I’m sure she would ask more pointed questions of such subjects about targeting civilians, recognizing Israel, etc. She treated Dayan with kid gloves.

      Well said, and I agree.

  10. marc b.
    August 21, 2012, 2:23 pm

    i disagree with some of the criticism leveled at rudoren and her piece. she’s actually much worse than she’s given credit for. i don’t believe for a moment that she is ‘naive’ or ‘delusional’ about the state of affairs in eretz israel. despite her feather-weight resume, naiveté is not a word i would associate with any professional who had spent any time covering US politics. (two weeks on the press bus following the campaign of candidates for state representative in idaho, and my dog would turn cynical.) so let’s set aside the patronizing ‘she’ still learning meme’. rudoren has already learned what’s she learned, and perhaps her wolf-in-sheep’s clothing defense of zionism will become more eloquent, more nuanced and less head-smackingly obvious, but her treatment of dayan is not the result of inexperience, or her ‘let’s-play-stupid-girley-pose’ of the public interest puff artist. (did an adult, ‘experienced’ writer just use the word ‘featurey’ in an exchange about the seriousness of her journalism?) which brings me to her piece. it is revolting. and to be clear, it’s not about dayan (“who wears a bald spot in place of his yarmulke”, or whatever bit of bad writing she uses to ‘humanize’ him.) the piece is about de-pathologizing the settler movement, the one group that even liberal american jews find unsettling. (pardon the pun.) rudoren’s article performs the same function as the multitude of cop movies, or spy thrillers, built to reassure us that although there may be bad apples in the bunch, at the heart of the enterprise there is a stable, rational presence (presumably ritually turning the stock in his wine cellar) to protect us from ‘our’ villains. this is nonsense of course. that dayan is ‘secular’, even if accurate, is meaningless in the context of biblical geographic imperative shared by most israelis. dayan’s ideology of defend and conquest is indistinguishable from the ideology of any frothing lunatic from brooklyn. rudoren is not naive, and she’s not delusional. she knows what she’s doing, she knows why she was sent there, and she has all the experience she needs to get the job done.

    in other words, you’re wasting your valuable time professor.

    • David Nelson
      August 21, 2012, 3:13 pm

      Marc b. , I agree your cynical view is most likely true. Rudoren is part of the “Re-brand” Israel campaign and her function is known to her and her superiors.

      It is all part of the effort to spin Israel from the murderous, thieving apartheid state it is into some sort of Enlightenment gem.

      She is a refurbished relic from the pre-Internet era. The New York Times and the Zionists of America should update their strategy to avoid being so transparent.

      • Mooser
        August 21, 2012, 5:17 pm

        They are also, both of them preparing the last-ditch line of defense: the idea that the Jews giving up Zionism is a big favor to the rest of the world, done only because our superior Jewish values force us to abandon this successful enterprise.

    • American
      August 21, 2012, 3:37 pm

      A F****** MEN marc b….totally said.

      I’m not buying Ruderon’s ”girly-featurey-journalism” act either.

      If she ever does a profile on a Hamas or Palestine figure someone let me know. I’d like to see if she describes Hamas as a ”underground military group” or a terrorist group. And anti opccupation Palestine advocates as ‘radical lefty anti zionist.’

      ”MR. DAYAN whose father, Moshe, was a second cousin of Gen. Moshe Dayan — came from Buenos Aires to Tel Aviv in 1971, in a family that revered Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the revisionist Zionist who led the underground military organization Irgun”. But his brother, Aryeh, who declined to be interviewed, became a “radical leftist anti-Zionist” journalist”

    • Sibiriak
      August 22, 2012, 11:47 am

      rudoren is not naive, and she’s not delusional. she knows what she’s doing, she knows why she was sent there, and she has all the experience she needs to get the job done.

      I agree. She’s very slick.

      • Mooser
        August 22, 2012, 12:41 pm

        “I agree. She’s very slick.”

        Oh, there’s quite a bit of slickness creeping in here, given that we are going to do a whole lot of useless work unpacking the phrase “not a Zionist”.

    • Shingo
      August 26, 2012, 8:37 pm

      Excellent post Marc B, my sentiments exactly. She’s very likeable and affable but like you, the whole distzy babe in the woods routine is simply laughable.

  11. chinese box
    August 21, 2012, 2:46 pm

    @marc b.

    I agree, for someone who’s supposedly a blank slate on this issue she seems to know a lot of the usual catch phrases and where the red lines are. For example, in the correspondence, she states that “some people” believe the settlements are illegal. (I guess “some people” equals the UN and most of the world). The NYT wouldn’t risk putting someone who wasn’t “reliable” on Israel in her position.

    Now if the dams finally start to break (we can only hope) and the general tenor of the MSM on I/P begins to change, I think they will jump onboard, but they won’t be the first to move on this issue.

    • marc b.
      August 21, 2012, 7:04 pm

      for someone who’s supposedly a blank slate on this issue

      yes, indeed. her lack of journalistic or academic experience in matters ME is part of her ‘objectivity’ cover.

    • ColinWright
      August 22, 2012, 5:58 am

      chinese box says: ” For example, in the correspondence, she states that “some people” believe the settlements are illegal…”

      Lol. That is such bullshit. The settlements are illegal. They’re a concrete fact that is necessarily a violation of the law.

      It’s like stating ‘some people believe doing 112 mph on city streets is illegal.’ The settlements are illegal. It’s not complicated or subtle. There aren’t any debating points involved.

      • Shingo
        August 26, 2012, 8:47 pm

        That is such bullshit. The settlements are illegal. They’re a concrete fact that is necessarily a violation of the law.

        Yes, I look forward to her writing that “some people” consider Hamas or Hezbollah to be a terrorist group.

    • Sibiriak
      August 22, 2012, 11:51 am

      The NYT wouldn’t risk putting someone who wasn’t “reliable” on Israel in her position.

      So true.

  12. ColinWright
    August 21, 2012, 3:18 pm

    It all strikes me as just more of that insiduous New York Times ploy of dressing up what is actually propaganda as ‘balanced reporting.’

    One can look at Fox News or the Jerusalem Post and it’s fairly obvious what one is getting: there might be some superficial protests that they are even-handed, ‘objective,’ etc — but the disguise isn’t too serious. They’re out of the closet, so to speak.

    Something like the Times — well. It’s artwork — and probably very effective. Assuming one actually is interested in other things, and is mildly predisposed to accept that Israel is good, her enemies are bad, and howzabout that upcoming show at the Met, it will all work quite well. It’s calculated to deftly and effectively insinuate a view of matters that is as pro-Israel as possible into even a reasonably discerning and intelligent reader’s mind without him ever realizing that he’s being snowed.

    I suspect the Times has picked Rudoren as someone (1) who is inclined to sympathize with those she interviews, and (2) who will feel considerably more comfortable with Ashkenazi Jews than with Palestinians. They can let her go, and she’ll write propaganda without even trying.

    • chinese box
      August 21, 2012, 4:27 pm

      @ColinWright

      It can be very subtle. I remember years ago there was a long piece in either WaPo or NYT Sunday “magazine” written by an American Jewish woman who had a summer romance with a Palestinian man in Israel. On the surface the piece seemed to be very even-handed towards the Palestinians however at the same time the narrative was being controlled and shaped from a Jewish-American POV and certain assumptions were being made and presented in the text. I doubt the casual reader would have picked up on that.

      • ColinWright
        August 22, 2012, 6:06 am

        chinese box: ‘It can be very subtle. ..’

        Oh indeed. And so manifold. And the lies are built on other lies, in an edifice that is almost awe-inspiring in its complexity. They range from the most brazen to the most subtle. There’s every variety of lie: the denial, the omission, the distortion, the fabrication… There are lies that are meant to be believed by all, and lies that are meant to be believed by some, and lies that are meant to be understood one way by one audience and another way by another audience, and lies that aren’t even meant to be believed by anyone at all. Watching someone else lie in comparison to Israel is like watching some kid doing a somersault and comparing it to an Olympic Gold Medal floor exercise.

        When all this is over, whenever someone comes to write a history of lying, Israel is going to mark the apogee of human achievement in the field. Israel is going to be lying as Renaissance Italy was to fine art.

  13. Rusty Pipes
    August 21, 2012, 3:52 pm

    Great to know the NYT has someone on the job who knows how to humanize the other in the complex complexities between the differing narratives of two sides (both of which suffer). Such coverage is sure to strike just the right balance between the concerns of the Times’ advertisers and its average imagined reader (like Mr. Witty).

    The question for the rest of the country is why the NYT is still regarded as the paper of record when it obviously caters to provincial tastes. The slogan of the Lake Wobegone Herald Star is “I have to live here too, you know.” While Ms. Rudoren is a great improvement over her predecessor, I’m not seeing much reason to grant more validity to such articles in New York’s version of the Herald Star.

  14. Mooser
    August 21, 2012, 4:14 pm

    You know what they are both basically saying? “Hold Your Mud!! No Snitching!” They are making a pact between them and Slater is instructing her in pleading ignorant, and gatekeeping.
    A correspondent with the requisite skills and knowledge and a different attitude could blow the entire thing wide open. They want to keep that from happening, so as Rusty Pipes says “has someone on the job who knows how to humanize the other in the complex complexities between the differing narratives of two sides…”

  15. MRW
    August 21, 2012, 7:21 pm

    Given the importance of the region, the Israel correspondent for the NYT should be neither Jewish nor Israeli. That used to be a given in newspapers. That was called objectivity, which obviously no longer exists.

    David Binder was the NYT correspondent for Serbia and environs for decades. Christopher Dickey is still Bureau Chief for Newsweek in Paris. Chris Hedges was Middle East Bureau Chief for the NYT until he quit in disgust over the Iraq War.

    As a result of this serious lapse in judgment on the part of the NYT, I completely ignore anything Rudoren writes. I don’t even bother to read her. As far as I’m concerned she’s a tribal chronicler, writing for the tribe back home with all its inside code and secret handshakes. It’s not international reporting by any stretch, which would be concerned with explaining consequences for the world. Those seem to escape her. She’s no Richard Sale.

    • marc b.
      August 22, 2012, 11:46 am

      It’s not international reporting by any stretch …

      no, it’s clearly not. it’s not competent ‘reporting’ of any species. if rudoren had an interest in setting a new ‘tone’, after the disappearances from the ME scene of the dopey friedman and wired-in what’s-his-face, she could have written her puff piece on a palestinian and his/her love of opera and salmon fishing in the yemen (as if the NYT hadn’t already expended its quota on pro-israeli propaganda). but weiss and tokyoBKing are patiently reserving judgment, swirling the bits of sludge and tea leaves at the bottom of their cups divning signs of her evolution from blank slate to seasoned reporter. zzzzzzzzz. (some handwringing, saddish purple prose on the next israeli-induced military conflict might do the trick.) in the meantime, as they fiddle, israel and the US continue to plummet in the polls, the US and israel 47th and 92nd respectively in the press freedom index, israel trailing behind such beacons of freedom and political stability as haiti, nicaragua and east timor.

      http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=classement&id_rubrique=1043

  16. dbroncos
    August 21, 2012, 10:30 pm

    “When evil, insanity, violence, thuggery, and self-destructiveness reach a certain level, it longer matters how “worldly” or “pragmatic,” or personally seemingly genial and pleasant some of its leaders may be, and any discussion of them that focuses on such trivialities is not merely irrelevant but dangerously misleading. I’m sure you can think of some of the obvious examples.”

    Love this example. Thank you Mr. Slater for challenging Jodi Rudoren. I’m pleased to see that she considered your views and got back to you. More than we could expect from Bronner or Kirshner. Her responses provide a window into why she was hired for the job in the first place. I’m sure her “I’m not an advocate” stance was cemented securely in place before she set foot in Israel. the NYT brass made doubly sure that this mutual understanding was included in their terms of reference. No surprises there. The fix is still in at the NYT. Based on how she explains her responsibilities as a journalist I see next to no chance that Rudoren will turn into a Trojan horse who, “blows the entire thing wide open”, as Mooser put it – or that the Times wouldn’t fire her as soon as she did. But you never know, the realities of the I/P story is ripe for a high profile media outlet with risk taking journalists to go “all in” with a relentless expose of Israel’s descent into fascism.

    I don’t mean to sell short the important work that Phil, Adam, Mr. Slater, Glenn Greenwald, MJ Rosenburg, Jimmy Carter, Beinart, Walt, Mearsheimer etc… have done and are doing in their efforts to expose this vexing issue. As yet, however, their collective audience is much smaller than the NYT readership. In any case, their contributions will turn out to be essential components of the catalyst that turns the idealogical tide in the US. Thanks to all.

  17. Edward Q
    August 22, 2012, 2:34 am

    Rudoren’s profile of Dayan sounds like one of the submissions in the “New Yorker parody contest”; she is profiling a cog in a system of oppression as an “everyman”. It reminds me of the Anne Frank parody in that contest, among others.

  18. giladg
    August 22, 2012, 9:56 am

    I am willing to wager that Slater did not visit South Africa in the apartheid days, and thus does not know what it really was like back then, and also has not visited Israel in the past 20 years. And yet he makes the comparison. Sounds to me like Slater was active in the in-fashion movement against South Africa in the 70’s and 80’s and is looking to revive the good old days, once again. And so he has latched onto the Palestinian story, or part of it anyway, and tries to fit a square peg into a round hole.
    Why don’t you tell us Mr. Slater?

    • Woody Tanaka
      August 22, 2012, 10:39 am

      “I am willing to wager that Slater did not visit South Africa in the apartheid days, and thus does not know what it really was like back then, and also has not visited Israel in the past 20 years. And yet he makes the comparison. ”

      Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu say israel is practicing Apartheid. But what do they know about the subject, right giladg?

      • giladg
        August 22, 2012, 1:50 pm

        Please do not put Mandela and Tutu together in the same image.
        Tutu has said things that Mandela has never matched.
        In any case, there many others, who also lived in South Africa, who strongly disagree with making the connection, who say that making the connection is an insult to those who took part in the South African struggle.

      • seanmcbride
        August 22, 2012, 2:05 pm

        giladg,

        Smart people do not waste time and energy trying to defend indefensible policies that are on the wrong side of history. They apprise the situation and get on the right side of history. It’s a matter of simple self-interest, ego and pride as much as morality, ethics, honor or any other factor. No one likes to get entangled with losing and disreputable causes.

        How smart are you, giladg? How good is your crystal ball?

      • MRW
        August 22, 2012, 2:10 pm

        Tony Karon has made the connection. He grew up in South Africa under apartheid and later lived in Israel. He’s written that he and the other South Africans who lived on a kibbutz were patently aware that Israel was practicing apartheid and said so among themselves while they lived in Israel.

      • Cliff
        August 22, 2012, 2:34 pm

        http://anc.org.za/show.php?id=3384 – Mandela

        http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-s-apartheid-is-worse-than-south-africa-s-1.4590 – Yitzhak Laor

        http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2012/05/201251511343828397.htm
        Article: Israeli Apartheid Week: South Africa Rejoins Palestine

        http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1682
        Article: South African student bodies slam “Israeli Apartheid Agents” and endorse nationwide Israel boycott

        http://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/f-w-de-klerk-on-why-apartheid-will-fail-in-israelpalestine.html
        Article: Former South African President De Klerk Compares Israel’s Apartheid Policies to South Africa’s: “In Our Case, We Failed”

        http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/south-africa-israel-actions-in-east-jerusalem-akin-to-apartheid-1.3411
        Article: South Africa: Israel actions in East Jerusalem akin to apartheid
        S. African gov’t condemns Israel for approving 900 new homes in Gilo and evicting Palestinians from E.J’lem.

      • American
        August 22, 2012, 2:44 pm

        ”In any case, there many others, who also lived in South Africa, who strongly disagree with making the connection, who say that making the connection is an insult to those who took part in the South African struggle”‘….giladg

        Who cares what Israel’s Palestine actions are called.
        Doesn’t make a rats ass of difference what it’s called.
        All you should be concerned about is the ”majority” of world opinion is ”against” what you are doing.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 22, 2012, 3:31 pm

        many others, who also lived in South Africa, who strongly disagree with making the connection

        uh, many black people? you are aware are you not South African student bodies declare, ‘We recognise apartheid when we see it’ http://mondoweiss.net/2011/08/south-african-student-bodies-declare-we-recognise-apartheid-when-we-see-it.html

        An Israeli mission to South African campuses is expected to arrive on August 11. Palestinian students have written to South African colleagues asking them to challenge and boycott the Israeli delegation. Three South African student bodies– the South African Union of Students, the South African Student Congress, and the Young Communist League of South Africa issued the following statement at a joint press conference yesterday at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The groups included South Africa’s oldest and most representative student bodies.

        Israeli propaganda tried (and failed) to use Mandela:

        http://newritings.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/israeli-propaganda-tried-and-failed-to-use-mandela/

        so where’s your evidence many others, who also lived in South Africa, strongly disagree with making the connection to apartheid?

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 22, 2012, 3:35 pm

        “Please do not put Mandela and Tutu together in the same image.”

        Why not? They don’t seem to mind. And they see right through you and see you zionists for what you are: practitioners of Apartheid.

        “In any case, there many others, who also lived in South Africa, who strongly disagree”

        LMAO. Oh, if the best you can come up with is “Some of the lesser known fighters against Apartheid don’t think that’s what we’re doing to the Arabs” you pretty much should know you lost.

      • Blake
        August 22, 2012, 4:41 pm

        giladg: Name one.

      • ColinWright
        August 22, 2012, 5:17 pm

        Woody says: ““Please do not put Mandela and Tutu together in the same image.”

        Why not? “

        Yeah. I don’t understand that myself. I once actually bestirred myself to read up on Mandela: seems pretty saintly and all that.

      • Shingo
        August 26, 2012, 9:06 pm

        Please do not put Mandela and Tutu together in the same image.

        Yes, please don’t do that Woddy, it make’s Gilad’s already pathetic and desperate position all that more difficult.

        BTW Gilad, how many times did you visit South Africa in the apartheid days? You obviously consider yourself an expert on the matter.

        In any case, there many others, who also lived in South Africa, who strongly disagree with making the connection, who say that making the connection is an insult to those who took part in the South African struggle.

        Not many, justa handful that hasbrats cite repeatedly.

    • MRW
      August 22, 2012, 2:08 pm

      Idiotic challenge to Slater.

  19. evets
    August 22, 2012, 11:14 am

    ‘Sounds to me like Slater was active in the in-fashion movement against South Africa in the 70′s and 80′s and is looking to revive the good old days….’

    I know you’re not a tikkun olam guy, Gilad, since you’ve stated that the concept contradicts Torah values, but are you suggesting that the anti-apartheid movement was just a ‘fashion’ and lacked real validity? How about the abolitionist movement in the 1800’s, the civil rights movement? Just fashions?

    Also, were you in South Africa in those years?

    • Mooser
      August 22, 2012, 3:14 pm

      evets, I’m sure giladg understands that being “out of fashion” brought down Apartheid South Africa, and understands the same thing will likely happen to Israel.
      Sure, put it down to “fashion” but it’s gone. If I were him, I’d search for a different rational, not one which demonstrates just how little Israel has supporting it.

      • giladg
        August 23, 2012, 4:22 pm

        Unlike South Africa, Israel has a lot of support and supporters in the US.
        The two are not the same. There was very little Black South Africans in the apartheid era did that warranted criticism from those wanting change in that country. Their embracing reconciliation deserved praise, and they got it. On the other hand, there is a lot that Palestinians have done, that warranted and still warrants harsh criticism from those who want change for the Palestinians, but not criticism can be heard. This means that those who have joined the Israeli bashing bandwagon, are doing this more out of hate for Jews and Israel than for the love of Palestinians. Palestinians are immune from criticism and can do no wrong, which is a complete distortion of what has gone down over the past 150 years.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 23, 2012, 4:40 pm

        “Their embracing reconciliation deserved praise, and they got it. On the other hand, there is a lot that Palestinians have done, that warranted and still warrants harsh criticism…”

        Yeah, it’s all the rape victim’s fault. I’m sure if she stopped struggling, zionism would stop raping her.

        Fool.

      • RoHa
        August 23, 2012, 8:39 pm

        “This means that those who have joined the Israeli bashing bandwagon, are doing this more out of hate for … Israel”

        What’s wrong with hating Israel? The country was evil in conception, evil in creation, and is evil in conduct.

      • ColinWright
        August 23, 2012, 11:18 pm

        giladg says: “Unlike South Africa, Israel has a lot of support and supporters in the US.
        The two are not the same. There was very little Black South Africans in the apartheid era did that warranted criticism from those wanting change in that country. “

        First, I don’t want to get into taking shots at Black South Africans, but there was a great deal they did in the apartheid era that warranted criticism.

        Second, yes, Israel has a great many supporters in the US — now. Through about 1975, serious criticism of South Africa was more or less a fringe cause — like serious criticism of Israel was a few years back.

        Israel is following the same trajectory as South Africa — only about forty years later. So now you’re where South Africa was in 1972. We can figure the end for Jewish rule in Palestine for around 2030, I would say.

        Maybe a lot sooner. Depends how loony you are, I suppose. Sometimes I think you’ll be gone by 2020.

      • Shingo
        August 26, 2012, 9:14 pm

        Unlike South Africa, Israel has a lot of support and supporters in the US.

        South Africa had huge support from Washington until it became untennable. The two are identical. South Africans, like Israelis caused trouble for decades by claiming the League of Nations gave them the territory of another people. There were several ICJ cases which declared South Africa in breach of its obligations under international law and the UN Charter in South West Africa/Namibia, just like the resolutions and case involving the Occupied Palestinian territory.

        The United States kept the Security Council from taking action against South Africa, even while the General Assembly was adopting resolutions opening treaties for signature that a) declared its occupation of Southwest Africa illegal and b) its apartheid policies there and at home a crime against humanity. The General Assembly did exactly the same thing when it created the International Criminal Court over US objections. The majority of other states are already member states and no state enjoys a veto.

    • giladg
      August 25, 2012, 2:40 pm

      evets, I never said that tikkun olam contradicts Torah values. I have nothing against tikkun olam unless it is made to be the central theme of communities attending the same synagogue. If you want to fix the world, go ahead. Everyone wants the world to be a better place. But it is not a Jewish value taught in the Torah. Charity is. The Torah teaches and encourages the giving of charity and to help build up your community. Tikkun olam, as a concept to fix the world is a universal value. It aims way to high and ultimately is unrealistic as expectations will explode. What I don’t like about tikkun olam from a Jewish point of view is that communities begin to lose their Jewish identity when they place their focus on the world and not on their immediate, close problems. And so we see how many Jews in the US have assimilated. Communities with tikkun olam central to their existence, find themselves in a situation where Judaism becomes a secondary, procedural thing to get out of the way on the Sabbath and the holidays, so that other “more important” objectives can be quickly pursued. It does not become a way of life. The Torah has kept the Jewish people together for thousands of years. Don’t try and re-invent the wheel and then call it as a part of Judaism. It is not.

      • evets
        August 25, 2012, 10:13 pm

        ‘But it is not a Jewish value taught in the Torah.’

        As an Orthodox Jew I beg to differ with you, though I’ve heard the argument before and feel it’s often prompted by political animus. I think you’re selling Judaism (yes, real Torah Judaism) short and unnecessarily restricting its scope — which should extend beyond simply keeping the Jewish people together. There needs to be a reason to keep them together, something to justify all that effort. I’ll settle for improving the world a little.

        I actually think the liberal branches of Judaism have been moving in a more particularist direction in the last decade or so. It would be nice if Orthodox Judaism mirrored that movement by placing some emphasis on Judaism’s universalist elements.

  20. eljay
    August 22, 2012, 11:48 am

    >> Just fashions?

    Hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists like giladgeee dislike movements that promote ideals such as freedom, equality, justice, morality and accountability because they interfere with their wet dreams of an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist state.

  21. Sibiriak
    August 22, 2012, 12:14 pm

    It’s interesting to compare Rudoren’s piece with Jeffrey Goldberg’s 2004 “Among the Settlers”:

    http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/05/31/040531fa_fact2_a

    Personally, I find Rudoren insidious and repugnant.

    [Dayan] defies the caricature of settlers as gun-toting radicals who attribute their politics to God and the Torah…

    I think that reveals the precise predetermined purpose behind Ruderen’s portrait of “the leader of Israel’s settler movement” — to counteract the increasingly negative image of the settlers. No objective journalism there, at all.

    …expanding the Jewish presence in those and other disputed historic places across the West Bank …

    “Disputed historic places”. Nice.

    • marc b.
      August 22, 2012, 2:37 pm

      “Disputed historic places”.

      that is too much. having read the article twice now, i feel like i’m at home, sniffing out the latest turd dropped by the family dog. are there ahistoric places? are historic places ever undisputed? since rudoren is admittedly only at the beginning of a serious effort at reading the history of the ME, what are the foundations of her opinon that these places are ‘historically disputed’? does she even know what the hell she intended that phrase to mean? it feels the like mythological, ahistorical mush intended to convey incomprehensible historical depth instead of being the racially loaded nonsense it is.

  22. Mooser
    August 22, 2012, 12:46 pm

    I think “not a Zionist” will be the next redoubt for liberal Zionists. If “Jewish extremeism” now only applies to the most extreme nuts in Israel, anybody who says they don’t want the Greater Israel project to come to fruition will call themselves “not a Zionist”.

    • seanmcbride
      August 22, 2012, 1:40 pm

      We are witnessing a major reshuffling of the semantics of all the major terms concerning Zionism. The distinction between Likud (extreme) Zionists and liberal (moderate) Zionists has completely collapsed. If you are a Zionist you are a Zionist, period. You own the entire Zionist package, including the settlers, the Greater Israelists, the Ovadia Yosefs, the Pamela Gellers, the apartheid policies, the price tag attacks, the rabid and rampant racism in Israeli society, the endless Mideast wars, the hysterical Islamophobia, etc.

      So we now have three basic categories in this domain: Zionists, anti-Zionists and non-Zionists. Non-Zionists don’t concern themselves with Israeli affairs at all — they have more important issues on their mind. Anti-Zionists oppose Zionism and all it stands for. Zionists support Zionism and Israel.

      Former “liberal Zionists” will need to sort out precisely where they stand on this semantic spectrum. If they continue to define themselves as Zionists they will need to stop absurdly pretending that they are “liberals” (or even supporters of Western democratic values or simple human decency). They will in fact need to acknowledge up-front that they are right-wing extremists, fascists and racists — no more equivocating bullshit that insults our intelligence.

      • Mooser
        August 22, 2012, 3:26 pm

        Sean, the locution I’ve seen, from people whose postings seem to me to be Zionist, when they want to show that I am wrong, is to say “I am not a Zionist” They don’t say they are “anti-Zionist” (for whatever that’s worth) but use the locution “not a Zionist” I do believe one of the people who uses that one is here on this thread, and Newclench, who is, as he says, a refusenik, used it. So I’d like to know what that one means, because that’s the one that seems to be coming into fashion. I am wondering if yesterday’s “liberal Zionist” is becoming today’s “not a Zionist”
        I’m no navigator, but when I train my sextant on the peregrinating Zionist star, I reckon a “not a Zionist” by now would be somebody who didn’t think Israel should expand any more. I’d like to find out.
        When you consider that “Jewish extremeist” is supposed to mean somebody who wants actually to harm non-Jews, but no longer applies to those who think a state for Jews should be furnished them at other’s expense. That’s just a moderate position, now. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if somebody tried to say it was a “not a Zionist” one either.

      • evets
        August 26, 2012, 9:33 am

        It seems ‘not a Zionist’ would be an apt description for those who neither
        a) long for Israel’s comeuppance and dismantling (though they’d like to see profound political change, ending in something like a truly equitable 2ss)
        nor
        b) feel the need to celebrate the state as a kind of miracle and the axis of Jewish existence (while remaining critical of its direction and hoping for some kind of 2ss).

        There is room, in other words, between anti-Zionism and liberal Zionism.

  23. American
    August 22, 2012, 12:58 pm

    @ Sibiriak

    Exactly.
    Any astute reader familiar with the issue could pick up on her choice of words….”caricature”…and ‘disputed historic places”?
    Who does she think she’s kidding.

  24. ColinWright
    August 23, 2012, 1:42 am

    Speaking of the good ol’ NYT…

    They’ve got an article now discussing Israel’s concerns about Egypt moving tanks into the Sinai — and Israel’s concerns about Egypt is mytseriously not picking up her phone.

    The Times goes on about how the troop movements are a violation of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. They manage to get through the whole article without noting that Israel herself has been in violation of the treaty for some time — since she was supposed to have granted ‘full autonomy’ to the Palestinians within five years after it went into effect and to have conformed with the provisions of SC242.

  25. eGuard
    August 23, 2012, 4:28 am

    So you talked August 17 – August 21? Should not Rudoren and the NYT have covered the lynching of “Arabs” in Jerusalem exactly in that period?

    • David Samel
      August 23, 2012, 8:56 am

      Good Point, eguard. As far as I know, the Times did not cover the incident, despite its prominence in the Israeli press, until seven were arrested, which merited an article by Isabel Kershner. In other words, it was not newsworthy that Israelis attacked Palestinian youth and nearly killed one in the center of Jerusalem, but it was newsworthy that Israel itself arrested the perpetrators and presumably will bring them to justice. The paper was silent on the racism itself until it could publicize Israel’s crackdown on racism. Not a good sign for the Rudoren Administration.

  26. hophmi
    August 23, 2012, 12:55 pm

    Of course, when she didn’t concede that he was right about everything, Jerome Slater turned into a jerk:

    ” But it is quite clear that you are far from fully aware of the facts and their implications, and my “advocacy” is the outcome of forty years of reading and writing that has made the facts and their implications impossible to ignore. ”

    It’s not her job to be an advocacy journalist, and it’s not her job to agree with everything you say.

    You display the arrogance that characterizes advocates like you. There are many who disagree with your point of view, and you apparently are not capable of acknowledging their existence.

    • evets
      August 26, 2012, 9:12 am

      ‘You display the arrogance that characterizes advocates like you.’

      Hophmi , aren’t you an advocate, and one who feels, at a minimum, confident in his views.

      Do you start off every sentence with ‘You know — I may be wrong but gosh it kinda seems to me that….’?

      I haven’t seen you take that approach.

  27. chinese box
    August 23, 2012, 2:54 pm

    “It’s not her job to be an advocacy journalist”

    No one is asking her to do that; we are only asking her to try to be objective. The problem is that when this conflict is reported objectively, Israel fares very, very badly. And the NYT editors and owners just cannot have that.

    • hophmi
      August 23, 2012, 3:07 pm

      “No one is asking her to do that;”

      LOL. That’s exactly what you’re doing.

      ” we are only asking her to try to be objective. The problem is that when this conflict is reported objectively, Israel fares very, very badly. ”

      Yes, everyone just wants objectivity. Which they define as no criticism of their side.

      • Donald
        August 23, 2012, 3:57 pm

        “Yes, everyone just wants objectivity. Which they define as no criticism of their side.”

        Wrong. Objectivity in this case would mean doing equally sympathetic portrayals of individuals on both sides of the conflict, no matter what views they have. She may do this–so far she’s done an Israeli human rights lawyer and a rightwinger who leads the settler movement. The rough equivalent on the other side would be a nonviolent protestor and a Hamas leader. With no criticism in the portrayals of the Palestinians, except maybe one paragraph given to a Palestinian who might have something critical to say.

        So I’m not going to write her off, but she will have to do something like that to be considered objective.

      • hophmi
        August 23, 2012, 4:32 pm

        “The rough equivalent on the other side would be a nonviolent protestor and a Hamas leader”

        What makes you think she won’t do that or that a portrait of Dani Dayan is inconsistent with that?

      • hophmi
        August 23, 2012, 4:34 pm

        And by the way, Donald, do you find the Guardian objective? They offer a lot more sympathetic portrayal of Palestinians, including Hamas members, than they do Israelis, and they tend to exclude mainstream Israelis from the discussion altogether most of the time. They’ve had correspondents who’ve clearly acted as advocacy journalists at times.

      • Donald
        August 23, 2012, 5:03 pm

        “What makes you think she won’t do that or that a portrait of Dani Dayan is inconsistent with that?”

        What part of “She may do this–so far she’s done an Israeli human rights lawyer and a rightwinger who leads the settler movement. The rough equivalent on the other side would be a nonviolent protestor and a Hamas leader” did you not understand? What part of “So I’m not going to write her off” was unclear? It’s like you just passed your eyes over my comment and then fired off a response.

        I don’t write her off. I told Oleg upthread that I like her–by that I mean I was impressed by her willingness to engage Slater rather than simply ignore him, which is what a lot of reporters do with their critics. And I think she might in fact do some profiles of Palestinians in the future. But until she does I think it is fair to point out that so far the profiles have only been of Israelis and they’ve been one-sided. If she does equally favorable portrayals of Palestinians in the near future (say within the next few months) then much or most of the criticism here will be wrong.

      • Donald
        August 23, 2012, 5:12 pm

        I haven’t read the Guardian much. But yes, they should inform their readers of what Israelis think (whether they do this I don’t know) and when innocent people (especially children) are harmed the sympathy should be given to the victims no matter which side they are on. Now since the majority of the victims in this conflict are Palestinian and they are the ones living under occupation I think a fairminded person would give more sympathy to them, just as was the case in apartheid South Africa. South Africa had its complexities too–there was a near civil war between Inkatha (supported by the government) and the ANC in the townships and not all of the ANC people were what I would call good people (I believe there was torture in their camps in Namibia, if I remember right, and then there was necklacing in the townships and Winnie Mandela said some hair-raising things). So an objective reporter covering South Africa in the 80’s would report all that, would humanize people on all sides, including those guilty of atrocities, but I think the reader should be able to tell who the oppressor was.

      • hophmi
        August 23, 2012, 5:22 pm

        I think she’s making a mistake by engaging Slater publicly. I don’t think journalists in Middle East should in general take their cues from Western political activists, if for no other reason than that whatever they say will be taken out of context and used for partisan purposes for sure.

        Journalists should be people with experience in the region who know the languages and who report what they see on the ground and in doing so, convey as much of the complexity and context as they can.

        I find in general sending a journalist with no experience and no knowledge of either Hebrew or Arabic to the region to head the Jerusalem bureau a strange idea, but I guess, in the sense that she has more of a chance of going in with less predispositions, it makes a little sense.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 23, 2012, 6:34 pm

        “I find in general sending a journalist with no experience and no knowledge of either Hebrew or Arabic to the region to head the Jerusalem bureau a strange idea, but I guess, in the sense that she has more of a chance of going in with less predispositions, it makes a little sense.”

        LMAO. Someone who describes herself as “Jewish, both by birth and by choice in terms of how I live my life,” being assigned to cover the self-proclaimed “Jewish state” is going to go in with less predispostions? Than who? Golda Maier?

      • Donald
        August 23, 2012, 6:35 pm

        “I think she’s making a mistake by engaging Slater publicly. I don’t think journalists in Middle East should in general take their cues from Western political activists, if ”

        Ideally they wouldn’t need to–their reporting would be so transparently fair and mostly accurate there’d be no point to it. But Slater probably knows much more about the history of the conflict than she does (which isn’t necessarily a slap at her and as I said before, I’m somewhat optimistic about her and think she might in fact try to be balanced, even if these first two profiles are Israel-centric.) And most Mideast reporters these days aren’t experts about the region, or so I gather.

        On the whole I think it’s better that reporters engage their more knowledgeable critics–not that they should spend half their time in email controversies back and forth, but this is the internet age and there’s more opportunity for ordinary people (some of whom might actually know something about a given subject) to talk back to the reporters.

      • chinese box
        August 23, 2012, 7:09 pm

        “I find in general sending a journalist with no experience and no knowledge of either Hebrew or Arabic to the region to head the Jerusalem bureau a strange idea, but I guess, in the sense that she has more of a chance of going in with less predispositions, it makes a little sense.”

        It’s a win win for the Times in that it may convince some readers that’s she’s more even-handed because she doesn’t know anything about the region; at the same time, the fact that she’s in over her head makes her more malleable and dependent and thus more willing to tow the NYT line on this issue.

        But as I stated before she’s a quick study and seems to have a good grasp on the acceptable catchphrases and formulations, what to omit and what to emphasize. She clearly knows the drill.

      • Jerry Slater
        August 23, 2012, 7:39 pm

        Donald: “If she does equally favorable portrayals of Palestinians in the near future (say within the next few months) then much or most of the criticism here will be wrong.”

        While I almost always agree with Donald, in this case I have reservations with his point of view. I don’t think a favorable portrayal of a Palestinian leader would balance out Rudoren’s favorable portrait of Dayan. There is no equivalence: the Palestinians are the victims and the Israelis the oppressors, it is the Palestinian “narrative” that is far more in accord with history and the observable facts, and the mainstream Israeli narrative–let alone the narrative of settlers–that is demonstrably false in almost all of its major beliefs and arguments.

        Yes, Hophmi: “demonstrably false.” It is not a matter of ideology or “advocacy,” it’s a matter of caring about truth as well as right and wrong. The failure of Israelis like you to understand this–and you seem to be quite representative, unfortunately, of most Israelis–is precisely why Israel has gone from being one of the states most admired in the world, or least the west, to being a pariah.

      • chinese box
        August 23, 2012, 7:57 pm

        @Jerry

        Thanks for that post. I believe the damage has already been done with the glowing portrait of that settler. The idea is to report what’s really happening on the ground as accurately as possible and to provide analysis of those events, not to artificially “balance” the reporting so as to give the impression that both sides are equally “bad” or at fault when in fact 90% of the blame can clearly be laid on one side when situation is looked at objectively without the aid of special pleading and hidden agendas based on advertisers, readers and “access” to high level Israeli government officials for interviews, etc.

      • Cliff
        August 23, 2012, 8:34 pm

        The character known as hophmi is apparently American, Prof. Slater.

        Although it would be fair to assume he is Israeli based on briefly looking over his comments – which is what most people do I think.

      • Donald
        August 23, 2012, 8:58 pm

        “it is the Palestinian “narrative” that is far more in accord with history and the observable facts, and the mainstream Israeli narrative–let alone the narrative of settlers–that is demonstrably false in almost all of its major beliefs and arguments.”

        I agree with that, but as I think I said in my email to Rudoren (reproduced in the comment section of your blog) I think there’s value in stories that show all the protagonists as human beings, disgusting as their views and actions might be in some cases. I’d say that about all sides in South Africa too. Moral equivalence is a separate issue–I think the Palestinians are the oppressed side just as blacks in apartheid South Africa were. I still want to understand the various factions and how they see themselves. For that matter, I grew up in the immediate post Jim Crow South and I think people should understand that white racists weren’t all slavering monsters that reveled in the idea of lynching. Many looked down their noses at the at the more blatant sort of racist, much as Dayan seems to do with the more openly racist settlers. He reminds me in every way of some of the comments of the ,um, sophisticated white racists I used to hear, right down to that notion that Palestinians and settlers get along fine and understand each other, which is what some defensive Southerners used to say about whites and blacks before those meddling Yankees and civil rights troublemakers came along. They were often intelligent people except for their enormous moral blindspot on race. A reporter covering that time period would be doing her readers a service if she gave an accurate portrayal of a worldly, secular, racist.

        Frankly, I find it interesting (and ironic and disgusting) that Dayan sees himself as someone who wouldn’t visit South Africa under apartheid and that he’s secular and “pragmatic”. It doesn’t make me think better of him. I also think it’d be interesting to know how a Hamas leader, one who has planned or authorized terrorist attacks on civilians, sees himself.

        If Rudoren goes on to give the same kid gloves treatment to various Palestinians, including Hamas leaders, then I’d say she’d succeeded in doing something journalistically interesting. If she doesn’t, either by not portraying Palestinians at all or by using tougher standards and not allowing them to present themselves without Israeli criticism, then she will have only succeeded in showing bias.

        I’m going offline for a few days, so if this argument continues I’m going to miss it.

      • ColinWright
        August 23, 2012, 11:02 pm

        Weedy says: “…LMAO. Someone who describes herself as “Jewish, both by birth and by choice in terms of how I live my life,” being assigned to cover the self-proclaimed “Jewish state” is going to go in with less predispostions? Than who? Golda Maier?”

        That is funny when you put it that way. Can you imagine the same in any other connection?

        Northern Ireland. ‘Hey — we got any fervent Catholics on the staff?’

        Gay Rights. ‘There’s Jim. He feels pretty strongly that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God.’

        Etc. Yep, that’s how you get fair reporting.

      • ColinWright
        August 23, 2012, 11:20 pm

        hophmi: “…What makes you think she won’t do that or that a portrait of Dani Dayan is inconsistent with that?”

        I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s scared of ‘Arabs.’

        She’s certainly avoided talking to any to this point.

  28. NickJOCW
    August 23, 2012, 3:15 pm

    There is a danger of making too much of this. The lady is a relatively lightweight journalist and I imagine she was appointed for precisely that reason, as someone to send back readable images of certain aspects of Israel today avoiding those political or moral issues which she is not quailified to pursue. Objectivity is an abstract notion, prejudice is not. A journalist who is not prejudiced simply writes from her own perspective, limited though that may seem to others. Think of her as sent to write about Israeli restaurants and interview their chefs, and give her a break.

  29. ColinWright
    August 23, 2012, 4:49 pm

    Nick says: ” Think of her as sent to write about Israeli restaurants and interview their chefs, and give her a break.”

    Nonsense. She’s not giving us glowing reports of restaurants — she’s giving us glowing reports of racial supremacist leaders.

    “There is a danger of making too much of this. The lady is a relatively lightweight journalist…”

    She’s the Israel bureau chief for one of the most important newspapers in the world.

    • NickJOCW
      August 23, 2012, 10:27 pm

      Colin, being the NYT Israel bureau chief does not make the lady a heavyweight journalist. You can tell from her email replies that she’s a nice, simple, honest, workaday girl. You can’t blame an apple for not being a peach. As for the NYT as one of the ‘most important newspapers in the world’. Even if one accepted such a US-centric value judgement, I don’t see what it has to do with carrying lightweight background profiles, acres of the NYT are lightweight. For what it’s worth, her piece on Dani Dayan (of whom I previously new nothing) left me with the impression of an arrogant little monster with the morals and intellect of a small town sheriff on the make.

      • ColinWright
        August 23, 2012, 11:06 pm

        Nick says: “Colin, being the NYT Israel bureau chief does not make the lady a heavyweight journalist. You can tell from her email replies that she’s a nice, simple, honest, workaday girl. “

        This is simply a red herring. You were trying to compare whitewashing a Nazi thug to writing a glowing restaurant review. Now you’re trying to paint Rudoren as Molly the Milkmaid — kind of dim-witted, but a good heart. That’s (a) highly unlikely to be true, and (b) unrelated to what we were discussing.

  30. lobewyper
    August 23, 2012, 9:32 pm

    A few thoughts. I’m not sure why Jerry wanted to post up this email exchange unless it was to publicize her supposed “commitment” to objectivity and facts about “interesting and important” issues/people. Somehow, making this exchange public is going to encourage Rudoren to be more fair and reasoned, instead of using the Ethan Bronner approach to history and current events. We shall see, but given the history of the NYT’s treatment of I-P (which Jerry has critiqued and documented at length), I’m not going to hold my breath.

    Rudoren’s basic response to Jerry is, “I deal only in objective realities and I’m not an advocate. I deal with important and interesting issues and the key players involved.”
    So, Ms. Rudoren, you dig up interesting facts about important folks and write about them. Your selection of those facts itself reveals your and all other journalists’ sympathies–if not outright advocacy. In this particular article, you cite a few who disagree with Dayan’s views, but keep them very general. Why didn’t you ask Mr. Dayan how he reconciles WB colonization with international law, stated US policy, and UN resolutions? That would have been more interesting. I’m not really sure of what a good journalist does, except seek the truth. The truth of I-P is horrific as Jerry and others (e.g., Beinart) have recently pointed out, and the NYT is simply not going to foster or permit open discussion of this in their newspaper. You have accepted a position that will punish you for speaking truth to power; ergo, you will not speak truth to power except perhaps occasionally.

    I agree with Marc b. , Colin Wright, and others that your appointment is very unlikely to alter the NYT’s biased coverage of the conflict. Your Dayan profile’s message seems to be, “Folks, you’ll be happy to know that an important settler leader is intelligent, capable of compromise, and far-sighted–i.e., he’s not a crazed individual that runs around beating up Palestinians and setting their olive trees on fire.”

    hophmi, I seldom agree with you, but I do agree with this:

    “I find in general sending a journalist with no experience and no knowledge of either Hebrew or Arabic to the region to head the Jerusalem bureau a strange idea, but I guess, in the sense that she has more of a chance of going in with less predispositions, it makes a little sense.” Me too!

    • Jerry Slater
      August 24, 2012, 7:50 am

      Lobewyper: As you surmise, my purpose in publishing my exchange with Rudoren was to focus attention on her arguments and her apparent journalistic philosophy. While her understanding of the purpose of journalism is perfectly respectable in most cases, you can’t be neutral and removed if the rights and wrongs of the situation are so overwhelmingly obvious.

      That said, I don’t disagree with your assessment that the Times is unlikely to undergo a major change in how it deals with I-P; on the other hand, the possibility can’t be dismissed out of hand–especially if Rudoren is open to a reassessment of her position and responsibilities.

      For that reason (and that’s another reason why I published our exchange) I am hoping that she hears from others–like you, for example.

      Let’s call this the Educating Rudoren project.

      • lobewyper
        August 24, 2012, 9:30 am

        Jerry, thanks for your response. The single most hopeful sign for me was Rudoren’s willingness to allow you to post up your correspondence with her. Maybe I’m underestimating her…

  31. NickJOCW
    August 23, 2012, 11:33 pm

    lobewyper, I think you all protest too much. How do you account for the fact that I with no knowledge of Dani Dayan read the profile and came away with an indelible negative impression of him? And what about the Human Rights Watch reader who ‘learned useful things he did not know about someone who he reads about/deals with all the time.’ Jodi Rudoren deploys her impressions rather than her opinions and does so with an integrity that would appear to have illuminated a path in the general direction of the view you take, but a path one followed for oneself without being prodded by ready made opinions. Had I emerged from the piece with a positive and adulatory opinion of Dayan you might have a point but surely you cannot be opposed to readers being enabled to make up their own minds?

  32. yescolleen
    August 24, 2012, 6:43 am

    This article about NYT reporters in Israel is quite interesting. I had no idea that the NYT’s house for NYT reporters in Jerusalem is, according to Alison Weir, “The home is stolen property. It once belonged to a Palestinian family. In Israel’s War of Independence, they were dispossessed and lost everything. They and descendants can’t return.” http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/08/23/new-york-times-pro-israeli-bias/

  33. lobewyper
    August 24, 2012, 7:12 am

    NickJOCW,

    Jerry Slater points out that Rudoren is writing what she and others view as “informative” pieces while Rome is burning. It is now generally agreed that the primary obstacle to a peaceful I-P resolution is the settlement enterprise, but Rudoren says little about this crucial issue and instead suggests that Dayan is “pragmatic.” Tell us, please, Ms. Rudoren, how it has all “come to this,” and how Mr. Dayan explains his enthusiastic participation in an enterprise (the settlements) which many informed and wise observers consider to be a disaster for Israel as well as Jews generally.

    Look, Rudoren is the NYT’s Israel Bureau Chief. How is she not going to essentially cooperate with the status quo and wishes of the Israeli government? Her sources would dry up immediately if she were to take a truly objective view. With her appointment, the NYT will continue to play Israel’s game.

    As for readers making up their own minds, this is a great abstract idea, but it is highly dependent on what the author chooses to include in his/her article. Most readers lack adequate historical context for what they read and need the essential elements of such to be included in the article itself to reach a sensible conclusion (a point Jerry and others have made before). Do you really believe Rudoren has the knowledge base (let alone motivation) to do this?

    Finally, you say that Rudoren offers her impressions rather than opinions. However, many opinions are entirely appropriate for journalists to share with their readers, so long as they are clearly identified as such.

    • lobewyper
      August 24, 2012, 7:39 am

      Finally, to present Mr. Dayan as a reasonable, wine-loving entrepeneur is to portray him as somebody “just like us.” If this is not an attempt to legitimize this man, I don’t know what it is. And to legitimize a person is, by implication, to legitimize that individual’s political views. The article can, I think, be seen as an indirect attempt to portray the whole settlement enterprise as “reasonable,” and such would be in keeping with the general tone of the NYT’s position on I-P.

      I think Jerry is absolutely correct when he says:

      “When evil, insanity, violence, thuggery, and self-destructiveness reach a certain level, it longer matters how “worldly” or “pragmatic,” or personally seemingly genial and pleasant some of its leaders may be, and any discussion of them that focuses on such trivialities is not merely irrelevant but dangerously misleading.”

    • NickJOCW
      August 24, 2012, 10:42 am

      lobewyper, Insisting that a newspaper promote a particular perception of events is exactly what AIPAC and others are rightly accused of. Most readers lack adequate historical context for what they read and need the essential elements of such to be included in the article itself to reach a sensible conclusion. You mean NYT readers are not bright enough to make up their own minds and must be told what to think? Isn’t that somewhat arrogant and pretty insulting? I can imagine such sentiments issuing in his strangulated vowels from the frozen visage of Mark Regev, but Mondoweiss?

      • American
        August 24, 2012, 1:50 pm

        “lobewyper, Insisting that a newspaper promote a particular perception of events is exactly what AIPAC and others are rightly accused of.
        “”Most readers lack adequate historical context for what they read and need the essential elements of such to be included in the article itself to reach a sensible conclusion.”” You mean NYT readers are not bright enough to make up their own minds and must be told what to think? Isn’t that somewhat arrogant and pretty insulting?”…Nick

        No it isn’t really.
        Considering that NYT readers on Israel don’t usually get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but on Israel.
        But as for readers being bright I’d say a lot are getting brighter considering the comments always show the majority isn’t falling for their bs on Israel.
        But that’s no thanks to the NYT. It’s thanks to alternate sources.

      • lobewyper
        August 24, 2012, 5:41 pm

        American wrote:

        “But as for readers being bright I’d say a lot are getting brighter considering the comments always show the majority isn’t falling for their bs on Israel.
        But that’s no thanks to the NYT. It’s thanks to alternate sources.”

        How true!

      • ColinWright
        August 24, 2012, 2:04 pm

        Nick says: ‘You mean NYT readers are not bright enough to make up their own minds and must be told what to think? Isn’t that somewhat arrogant and pretty insulting? . ‘

        I do think the average New York Times reader is not necessarily all that well informed about affairs in Palestine. I frequently read remarks even from their columnists and reporters that are grossly erroneous. So it seems unlikely the readers would be better informed.

  34. David Samel
    August 24, 2012, 10:26 am

    I’m quite sure that Rudoren receives a lot of pressure from both sides, and I would expect that the pro-Israel side pressures her a lot more. People here have criticized the times for sending a relative neophyte to do this job, but for better or worse, she probably is more susceptible to influence than someone like Bronner was or Kershner is. That’s why Jerry Slater’s earnest intervention was quite valuable. While she defended herself, I’m sure his well-reasoned, detailed criticism, combined with his academic and, quite frankly, Jewish Zionist history, made quite an impression on her, even if she stood her ground. She must get zillions of emails from both sides complaining about her reporting, and the fact that she devoted a big chunk of time to answering him shows she took him seriously. Great job, Jerry.

    • NickJOCW
      August 24, 2012, 10:49 am

      My impression was that she thought him a dear old fuddy-duddy and was trying to be kind to him. But then, in 24 hours recently I had the epithets ignorant, bigoted, bullshit and crap leveled my way here so I may not the best one to judge.

      • Jerry Slater
        August 24, 2012, 1:18 pm

        “My impression was that she thought him a dear old fuddy-duddy…” Quite right, too–she hit the nail on the head!

      • lobewyper
        August 24, 2012, 5:43 pm

        Yeah, a dear old fuddy-duddy, who just happens to have a world-class mind and is one of the most informed people on this planet regarding the matters under discussion…

    • Cliff
      August 24, 2012, 2:06 pm

      David Samuel, excellent insight. My thoughts too.

  35. NickJOCW
    August 24, 2012, 2:59 pm

    Look, all of you, if I who had never heard of Dayan came away from the article with the impression of a cocky little upstart promoting incendiary ideas, what more do you want?

  36. lobewyper
    August 25, 2012, 1:03 pm

    To Ms. Rudoren:

    Please consider inviting Prof. Slater to write an op-ed for the NYT to help stimulate the fascinating I-P debate currently underway.

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