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

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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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