Jodi Rudoren intentionally obscured reality in her recent piece on Beit Ommar

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 29 Comments

This is video taken when Jodi Rudoren came to watch a funeral in Beit Ommar. Rudoren spent several weeks following the Abu Hashem family, a family I know quite well. Yet it has become clear that she had no intention of reporting facts on the ground, even ones she witnessed personally.

Perhaps a unique experience for a New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, Rudoren was in the home of a Palestinian family the night that the Israeli forces invaded the home, terrifying the children, assaulting the father, Ahmed Abu Hashem, and eventually arresting both Ahmed and his 17 year old son Mohammed.

Yet Rudoren’s article “In a West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield the Weapon at Hand” inexplicably spends a total of 7 sentences describing this assault, while writing for over two paragraphs, including video, of Ahmed’s children and neighbors playing “Army and Arabs”. Rudoren does not describe the children during the invasion of their home, their reactions, nor did she include the interviews she conducted of family members.

Clearly, Rudoren had an agenda: to intentionally obscure the harsh realities of life under an occupying regime, and instead present Palestinian youth throwing stones at occupying Israeli soldiers and settlers as merely “a hobby”.

What is even more disturbing is the footage that has come to light of the final day Rudoren spent in Beit Ommar. When she arrived at my house on August 3, she was waiting for a funeral to begin. She told me she needed to see a funeral since “everyone is always talking about them”. She commented to her photographer that she was sure “with her luck, nothing would happen at the funeral” (i.e. there would be no ‘action’). In her article, Rudoren interviews a settler whose car she implies was hit by stones during that funeral. She writes:

On Thursday, after the burial of a 63-year-old retired teacher, a teenager hurled a rock at a passing car with yellow Israeli plates: whack. Another teenager, two more stones: another direct hit.

The settlers stopped their car, got out, and began shouting at the small crowd. Soon, there were soldiers, rifles raised and tear gas at the ready, who eventually hauled a Palestinian taxi driver into a waiting army jeep.

Menuha Shvat, who has lived in a settlement near here since 1984, long ago lost count of the stones that have hit her car’s reinforced windows. “It’s crazy: I’m going to get pizza, and I’m driving through a war zone,” said Ms. Shvat, who knew a man and his 1-year-old son who died when their car flipped in 2011 after being pelted with stones on Road 60. “It’s a game that can kill.”

What Rudoren leaves out, just as she left out the behavior of real Israeli soldiers during the night invasion Rudoren herself witnessed, was a settler’s vicious attack on a local videographer who was documenting the funeral and subsequent clashes. 

Guess Rudoren didn’t realize there was video. You can see her talking to soldiers at the very beginning of the video above when they are harassing Nayef Hashlamon (he has a credit in her New York Times article, and was her fixer/translator). Later, after a settler charges at the videographer, you can see Rudoren behind the settler.

It seems beyond comprehension that Rudoren did not find the settler’s attack on a Palestinian videographer “newsworthy” especially as she later quotes a settler saying, “I’m going to get pizza, and I’m driving through a war zone”.  And stone-throwing is “a game that can kill”.

Depicting settlers as a frightened bystanders and young Palestinian boys as little more than bored trouble-makers, flew in the face of what I know Rudoren to have personally witnessed. To obfuscate these circumstances, in favor of painting a picture that bears little resemblance to reality, is a disgrace, and can hardly be called ‘journalism’.

The video is by a man named Mohammed Awad who videotapes most stuff in the village.

I can verify all of this, Jodi Rudoren was sitting at my house just before the funeral.

(Correction: An original version of this article assumed Ms. Shvat was the settler in the video, our mistake. ~Ed. )

About Bekah Wolf

Bekah Wolf has worked in Palestine since 2003. In 2006 she co-founded the Palestine Solidarity Project with her husband, former administrative detainee and current popular committee leader Mousa Abu Maria. She lived for 4 years in her husband's village of Beit Ommar, Hebron District and currently splits her time between the U.S. and Beit Ommar with her daughter Rafeef.

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29 Responses

  1. justicewillprevail
    August 10, 2013, 7:05 pm

    Great exposure of the cynical, career-oriented ‘journalist’ and how the NYT is a sham of a newspaper. She knew the story wanted to write before she got there, and duly wrote it, ignoring and misrepresenting everything she heard and saw. But she knows what her bosses and audience want to hear, and she likes her nice salary and career prospects, especially churning out PR for the lobby like this. Whatever it is, it isn’t journalism. Opinion has replaced journalism, which in the msm is a mere branch of the PR industry. And the clients are more important than the public, or any quaint old-fashioned ideas of the ethics of journalism. Why should she care about the lives of poor Palestinians, when she has got her index-linked salary and benefits, plus the approval of her peers. What was it Rumsfeld said about creating reality, rather than reporting it?

  2. Annie Robbins
    August 10, 2013, 7:35 pm

    i’m getting sketchy reception on that video. if that’s happening to you too it can be viewed here: link to facebook.com

    “It’s crazy: I’m going to get pizza, and I’m driving through a war zone,”

    the reason it looks like a war zone is because there’s soldiers and tanks all over the place in the middle of cars (leaving?) in a funeral procession. i can see how that might disrupt Menuha Shvat’s trip to get pizza. notice how she did a u turn in the middle of the road?

    and where are the rock throwers?

  3. R2mi
    August 10, 2013, 7:52 pm

    What did happen to the brave Palestinian man who standed up against the armed Israelis ?

  4. dbroncos
    August 10, 2013, 8:30 pm

    Great reporting, Bekah Wolf. Rudoren carries on the longstanding NYT tradition of posting bigots in the office of Jerusalem bureau chief. Should we understand this story to mean that even when the bureau chief is actually “on the beat” in the occupied territories, rather than reclining on her sofa with an iced tea and her laptop taking her stories directly from the IDF wire, that we still shouldn’t expect any form of real historical context? I guess so. Rudoren has her marching orders and she seems to enjoy abiding by them.

  5. just
    August 10, 2013, 9:27 pm

    Jodi is “owned” and I feel sorry for those kind of slaves that should know better– how do they all sleep at night? I feel much more sorry, though, for the victims of the untruths and brutality of a seemingly endless Occupation.

    I guess that $$$$$ does “talk” and gives a platform for far too many.

    Many thanks to you, Bekah Wolf, and to your family.

    • thankgodimatheist
      August 11, 2013, 7:58 am

      I doubt she’s doing any of this servile stuff for money rewards. It’s much simpler than that. A deep seated sense of loyalty to the tribe right or wrong. Strangely enough, I feel very ashamed for her myself. Yuk!

  6. Bumblebye
    August 10, 2013, 9:34 pm

    Rudoren – a bovine propagandist.
    Ms Wolf’s article proves the fact. Jodi, go write some *honest* fiction!
    It’s clear that the remit of the NYT leaves no room for anything other than lies. Presentation of Illegal, Belligerent Settlers as “normal, everyday” folk and Palestinians, living in their OWN town, for heaven only knows how many generations must be presented as the alien “other”, the scary Ayrab/Moooslim etc.
    Disgusting.

    And so pathetically craven.

  7. ritzl
    August 10, 2013, 10:19 pm

    Is there a link or something that states that she was actually in the home at 2am?…

    Perhaps a unique experience for a New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, Rudoren was in the home of a Palestinian family the night that the Israeli forces invaded the home, terrifying the children, assaulting the father, Ahmed Abu Hashem, and eventually arresting both Ahmed and his 17 year old son Mohammed.

    Just want to be sure I’m understanding this correctly. It’s pretty damning stuff, in terms of Rudoren’s suitability, redeemability, and/or duration as a decision-maker on conflict reportage.

    How can a reporter of all people (do I need to throw in with a “western” [cough] sense of rights) sit in the home of someone who’s kids are terrorized and arrested at 2AM and not mention a word of it? Even as context?

  8. southernobserver
    August 10, 2013, 10:29 pm

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it. (attrib. Upton Sinclair).

    • Citizen
      August 11, 2013, 1:55 am

      @ southernobserver

      Apt quote. Applies today to everybody in US reporting, writing, working on anything involving Israel and US foreign policy. All congress critters, of course.

    • elephantine
      August 12, 2013, 2:48 am

      @ southernobserver

      Absolutely! That’s exactly what I was thinking. She’d be screwed, in an impossible situation and out of a job – among other unpleasant things!

      Which is why we end up with Cognitive dissonance..

      In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel “disequilibrium”: frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc.

      The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements. Cognitive dissonance is the distressing mental state that people feel when they “find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold.” A key assumption is that people want their expectations to meet reality, creating a sense of equilibrium. Likewise, another assumption is that a person will avoid situations or information sources that give rise to feelings of uneasiness, or dissonance.

      Cognitive dissonance theory explains human behavior by positing that people have a bias to seek consonance between their expectations and reality. According to Festinger, people engage in a process he termed “dissonance reduction,” which can be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors. This bias sheds light on otherwise puzzling, irrational, and even destructive behavior.

  9. rsmatesic
    August 10, 2013, 11:03 pm

    Beginning at 0:26, and while gesturing with her left hand, Rudoren says something to Hashlamon, who’s holding a camera. It sounds like “keep it [the camera] down.” This comes after what appears to be a somewhat hostile exchange with the tall male settler in the white shirt [the driver of the silver van?] and is immediately followed by the soon-to-be attacking female [Shvat?], looking directly at Awad, who’s video recording her from several yards away as she sits in the van’s passenger seat.

    In the next scene, as the attack begins, Awad is recording the female from even further away. Along with what I take to be Rudoren’s remarks after the earlier exchange with the male settler, I’m guessing both the soldiers and Rudoren had every reason to expect the settlers would retaliate against anyone filming the incident, and that they would do so, in broad daylight, before numerous witnesses, including soldiers, with no regard for the consequences. Because there wouldn’t be any.

    But maybe we shouldn’t complain. After all, had Rudoren mentioned the settler’s attack in her piece, one would expect she’d have managed to explain it away. Because it’s so unfair these people are forced to do battle with stone throwers and D.W. Griffith-wannabes while their pizza gets cold.

  10. joemowrey
    August 10, 2013, 11:25 pm

    Like I said before, in a comment on a previous article (an article suggesting that Rudoren should be “congratulated” for referring to Israeli settlements as illegal, and that we should “sympathize” with her because some rabid pro-Zionists wrote nasty letters to her when she happened to mention an actual fact in one of her articles) this woman is nothing more than a paid shill for Zionism. To refer to her as a journalist is a serious mistake. To encourage her or complement her in any way is just plain wrong. She should be exposed at every turn for the sleazy propagandist she really is. Let’s face it, she wouldn’t have the job she has if she were anything but.

  11. HPH
    August 11, 2013, 12:48 am

    This post and the video seems to be a unique opportunity to examine a New York Times (NYT) article from another point of view. It appears that this situation for a NYT reporter required not only reporting skills and storytelling skills but also an awareness of the perspective of the NYT that had to be kept in mind to further a career. As soon as I began thinking about the events in this way, I began to recall some of the analysis of the behavior of the “good German” that I heard when I was a young man. Having begun to reread Shirer’s book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” again, I will look for information about how people rationalize their behavior when they focus mostly on rewards, not only financial, but also those involving approval by their peers and authority figures. Perhaps the next book that I read will be one written by Hannah Arendt.

  12. Citizen
    August 11, 2013, 1:53 am

    Thanks, Bekah Wolf. Rudoren would have been a great employee of Joe Goebbels. He’d would’ve appreciated her style of “journalism,” just as Joe appreciated Bernays.

  13. eGuard
    August 11, 2013, 6:03 am

    Perhaps a unique experience for a New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, Rudoren was in the home of a Palestinian family the night that the Israeli forces invaded the home, terrifying the children, assaulting the father, …

    For a NYT Jerusalem bureau chief indeed. But for a chiefs son, it could be habitual in his job.

  14. just
    August 11, 2013, 6:06 am

    I miss Anthony Shadid……………………..

    RIP, gentle & brave & honest man.

    link to mondoweiss.net

  15. amigo
    August 11, 2013, 6:27 am

    Simple really.

    If it makes Israel look good,print it.Need I elaborate.

  16. gingershot
    August 11, 2013, 8:08 am

    Jodi is a willow in a howling gale force wind of organized Israeli Lobby manipulation and intimidation of her reporting –

    Any balance she displays at this point is more a calculated pretence for portrayal of a Potemkin village independence (which will be duly retracted should it ever stray over the line of the fake Israeli village)

    For Gd’s sake she has already had a chaperone assigned (astonishing!!!) to ensure Israeli Lobby-certified political correctness. It’s a Israeli Lobby political officer, like the old movie Russian ‘Political Officer’, by any other name

    Giving Jodi the benefit of the doubt of being anything other than a mouthpiece of the Israelis is a joke. If she didn’t start off as a mouthpiece she has been beaten into being one at this point – which is the Israeli Lobby/Soprano Family speciality

    Funny that Isabel Kershner or Eitan Bronner never have had a ‘Political Officer’ assigned to their reporting.

    I guess they have demonstrated their Jerusalem Post-flavor of Israelism enough that they themselves are actually functioning Israeli Lobby Political Officers themselves, in good standing

    The Jersualem Post and New York Times coverage of Israel/Palestine are both rags written by and for the Diaspora and as an important part of the Israeli/Israeli Lobby propaganda machine’s manipulation of the discussion in America

  17. Balfour
    August 11, 2013, 12:42 pm

    Jodi Rudoren: a Zionist flack writing for the New York Times, or an honest reporter that is heavily censored and edited by her own paper’s internal Editorial Board policies? Or, perhaps, a bit of both?

    In any case, future generations will note that Rudoren’s copy will not age gracefully as America’s “Paper of Record” documenting the occupation of the Palestinian Territorities.

  18. Les
    August 11, 2013, 1:20 pm

    Why aren’t the Ochs and Sulzberger owners being blamed for an employee doing their bidding?

  19. Kathleen
    August 11, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Ms Shvat might want to think about getting off of the stolen Palestinian land that she is living on. “settlers” on “settlements” just sounds way to folksy.

    “Ruderon had (and has) an agenda”

  20. Kathleen
    August 11, 2013, 3:53 pm

    Finished reading Ruderon’s piece. From the title to the bulk of the piece stone throwers are the problem. As if they are just throwing stones for hoo ha! Has nothing to do with the theft of Palestinian land and folksy illegal settlers who just happen to be illegally living on that stolen Palestinian land.

    Israel has morphed into the alleged Philistine bully Goliath. But since these stories were created by people with an agenda maybe this has been the case for longer than imagined.

  21. Henry Norr
    August 11, 2013, 6:17 pm

    Can anyone translate or summarize the exchanges between the Palestinians and the soldiers recorded in the video?

    Thanks to Bekah Wolfe for highlighting some of the omissions and distortions in Rudoren’s reporting from Beit Ommar. To me, though, there’s a larger and deeper problem Wolfe doesn’t mention here: Rudoren’s grotesque failure to explain the real reasons the people of Beit Ommar and other Palestinians young and old are so determined to stand up against the occupation. In the NYT article focused on the young people’s stone throwing, you’ll recall, the only explanation she offers for it is this:

    The youths, and their parents, say they are provoked by the situation: soldiers stationed at the village entrance, settlers tending trees beyond. They throw because there is little else to do in Beit Ommar — no pool or cinema, no music lessons after school, no part-time jobs other than peddling produce along the road. They do it because their brothers and fathers did.

    All that is true, I believe, as far as it goes. What Rudoren doesn’t mention:

    • the land on which those settlers are “tending trees” is land stolen from Beit Ommar;

    • the settlers regularly attack the villagers, burning their vehicles, spray-painting racist slogans on their homes, and destroying their crops. (As of June 6, the settlers had attacked one 75-year-old farmer’s land seven times since the beginning of the year. In the last attack, they cut down more than 20 olive trees, removed them in trucks, and flooded his crops with sewage water, leaving them unharvestable.) In 2011 attacking settlers shot and killed a 17-year-old resident of Beit Ommar as he stood among grapes vines he had planted on his family’s land.

    • the Israelis are about to steal another large chunk of village land for a new highway connecting two major settlements (Efrat and Kiryat Arba) – and to bar Palestinians from living, building, or farming on any land within 70 meters on either side of the road.

    • the problem with the Israeli soldiers is not just that they hang out at the village entrance and occasionally come after alleged stone throwers. They routinely (most recently this past Wednesday, on the occasion of pre-Eid festivities) stage mass incursions, firing tear gas, sound grenades, rubber bullets, and sometimes live ammunition. Worst of all, it’s their presence that makes possible the settler attacks, the land theft, and all the other abuses that make up the occupation.

    Even among Americans who are somewhat critical of Israel, most (at least in my experience) seem to think the problem is simply that the Palestinians don’t have a state or equal rights or the right to vote. They don’t have much sense of the much more concrete abuses Palestinians face every day at the hands of the settlers and soldiers. In my view, the failure to communicate what occupation really means is the biggest crime of the American press.

  22. Tuyzentfloot
    August 12, 2013, 4:27 am

    in defense of Rudoren I’d refer to the reporting of Taghreed El-Khodary. She knew her reporting was heavily compromised but she settled for the small bits that got through. Rudoren will have a much larger say in what finally ends up in print but there too there will be a mixture of putting something in the article that is later removed, not putting in because you know it will not get published, and picking your fights carefully. Well maybe it’s not in defense of Rudoren, but the lack of context is a shared responsibility with the NYTimes editors. It’s also something one adapts to until it’s forgotten.

    Apart from the lack of context another subject of the comments to her article is what a vicious violent deadly thing these rocks are. Cue Abe Foxman. And that’s a bit the trap of unarmed/nonviolent protest: it’s never nonviolent enough. The bar is raised higher and higher and every failure to reach that bar is seen as proof that Palestinians are not a legitimate party. At first it is absolutely impossible to get along with Palestinians because they’re natural haters and suicidebombers. Now it’s just as impossible to get along with them because they’re natural stonethrowers. The comments have a lot of sincere indignation about those dangerous stones and I recall well the slideshows on the NYTimes with just kids throwing stones, as if this captured the whole West Bank situation. One does wonder how far one can extrapolate that kind of thinking. These demonstrations have not been approved. All these people walking around at random in the streets could cause really dangerous traffic situations. Irresponsible really.

    • eljay
      August 12, 2013, 9:49 am

      >> One does wonder how far one can extrapolate that kind of thinking.

      It’s a good thing Palestinians haven’t gone in for self-immolation – I can only imagine how the sight of it would traumatize Israeli Jews. Why, they’d have no choice but to continue stealing, ethnically cleansing, colonizing, torturing, killing and destroying, all the while sobbing about how those evil Mooslim Aye-rabs made them do it… :-(

  23. Mayhem
    August 12, 2013, 7:58 pm

    In this article there is a ludicrous attempt to blacken Rudoren’s name over relatively innocuous events. Because she doesn’t trumpet the Palestinian cause she faces criticism. She doesn’t lie or mislead. She just doesn’t put a particular fracas up in neon lights for the Israel bashers so she gets shit-canned.
    No doubt many here would prefer the totally blatant bias of Harriet Sherwood at the Guardian. Sherwood goes all out unabashedly to beat the propaganda drum – refer http://cifwatch.com, canvassing one of the lies that Mondoweiss likes to support about Israel denying Palestinians fair access to water.

    • Shingo
      August 12, 2013, 10:26 pm

      In this article there is a ludicrous attempt to blacken Rudoren’s name over relatively innocuous events.

      Innocent, like bystanders who watch a woman being raped and continue about their daily business.

      She doesn’t lie or mislead.

      She does by omission.

      refer link to cifwatch.com, canvassing one of the lies that Mondoweiss likes to support about Israel denying Palestinians fair access to water.

      I remember that hasbara thread that was based on some BS propaganda piece that cites a BS piece byProf. Haim Gvirtzman that tries to argue the settlers use 4 times as much water as the Palestinian instead fo 6 – as though that is supposed to absolve the Israelis of water apartheid

      cifwatch is about as credible and pathetic as CAMERA. They even banned Talknic because they couldn’t bear to have their BS hasbara refuted.

      • Mayhem
        August 14, 2013, 2:11 am

        Sorry Shingo, can’t you do any better than that? You have not dealt with my remarks, resorting to the usual anti-hasbara bluster and slamming the source without even responding to its message. Naturally no apology for team member Sherwood either. Typical.

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