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‘NYT”s Dershowitz reviewer lately participated in ‘celebrate’ Israel mission

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imagesLast Sunday The New York Times did a favorable review of Alan Dershowitz’s autobiography that described his legacy as huge and enduring (as Donald Johnson pointed out on our site). The treatment was predictable inasmuch as the author of the review, Slate legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick, is fond of Dershowitz’s main cause. Lithwick lately went on a “celebrate” Israel mission for the National Council of Jewish Women

The Road to Tomorrow: Women Leading Change
NCJW Mission to Israel 2013
October 10–16, 2013

Celebrate NCJW’s 65-year commitment to Israel on this special educational tour and mission, an exciting opportunity for experienced Israel travelers or first time visitors.

The Road to Tomorrow: Women Leading Change will feature Dahlia Lithwick, judicial scholar and award-winning American journalist, who will serve as our scholar-in-residence. Throughout the mission we plan to explore the issues that NCJW women care about and advocate for — both in the United States and Israel. The itinerary will offer meetings with all levels of Israeli women: grassroots activists, politicians, policy-makers and other leading change-makers who contribute to the betterment of women, children, and families in Israel.

Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren also played a part in that NCJW trip. From NCJW’s own coverage of the trip, by its CEO, Nancy Kaufman:

NCJW’s Israel Mission, “The Road to Tomorrow, Women Leading Change” began last night with a captivating dialogue between Dahlia Lithwick, our scholar-in-residence, and Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times. Dahlia engaged Jodi in an enlightening discussion about how Jodi covers Israel issues as an American Jewish woman. Jodi shared many examples of the highs and lows of her work, but was quite clear in her explanation that she works hard to not “have an opinion” on anything political. She makes every effort to report the news as she experiences it and to be balanced and fair in her coverage. Jodi shared examples of how often she is criticized by people both on the Right and the Left for not “expressing an opinion” but feels strongly that her job is to observe and report, not engage and react.

I cut Rudoren a break here; I don’t think she was there to celebrate Israel. She speaks to lots of visiting groups that invite her– including, she tells me, a CUNY class, a group of Massachusetts legislators, a group of women run non-profits in the US.

But is it any surprise the Times has an image problem among Palestinians? The Lithwick assignment– and Isabel Kershner’s being married to an Israel propagandist, and former Times correspondent Ethan Bronner’s son joining the Israeli Defense Forces– speak to why Yousef Munayyer is enraged at the Times. Culturally, geographically, its reporters operate inside Israeli life. So it marginalizes the Palestinian experience, lately a man put in a coma by a settler dropping a huge rock on him. Would the Times publicize such an attack on an Israeli? I believe it would. As Max Blumenthal said last month (at 1:17): “The idea that these people are objective is completely ridiculous to me.” He wears his bias on his sleeve.

Update: I forgot to mention that Lithwick also appeared at a pro-Israel event seeking to counteract the country’s delegitimization, hosted by the Israel Project.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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10 Responses

  1. just on November 14, 2013, 1:23 pm

    So , why doesn’t “Slate legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick ” report on the perpetual illegality perpetrated by Israel– of both International laws & Israeli ‘laws’?

    She’s Canadian, educated here in the US, but her heart belongs to Israel.


    • seafoid on November 14, 2013, 1:51 pm

      I suppose the French in Algeria had intellectuals supporting the carnage too but they are all forgotten. Enduring is a real stretch for a narrowminded bigot like Dersh.

      • gamal on November 14, 2013, 6:12 pm


      • philweiss on November 14, 2013, 10:49 pm


  2. Krauss on November 14, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Reminds me of what Ethan Bronner said in his speech. He told an anecdote how a young Palestinian woman said he’s from a Zionist propaganist newspaper. He said, how do you know? Have you read it? She said, I don’t need to, it’s obvious from the way you ask your questions.

    He then went on to say that he was “neutral” and trafficking in “gray areas”(classic journalistic claptrap). He later equated Palestininan refugees from the ’48 ethnic cleansing with the settlers. His point? Because the Palestinian refugees refuse to give up their ancestral homeland, they are an ‘obstacle to peace’ just like the violently racist settlers. And this man self-deludes himself of being an ‘objective’ journalist.

    His definition of ‘neutral’ is liberal Zionism. On his left are those wishing for democracy. On his right are those with fascistic tendecies or outright sympathies.

    To assume that all narratives are equal in value is moral abdication. Would the NYT give equal time to ‘liberal’ Afrikaaners who supported Apartheid? There were those who weren’t as fanatic as the crazies. I doubt they would, in fact I knew they didn’t. They were much clearer on the evils of Apartheid when Gentiles did it. But Zionism has a much deeper cachet in American journalism than the South African Apartheid ideology ever had.

    I wonder if Bronner would have been able to keep his job if he had dismissed poor blacks who had been ethnically cleansed or put in bantustans as ‘an obstacle to peace’. This is almost Richard Cohen-territory.

    • seafoid on November 14, 2013, 4:37 pm

      It may have a deeper cachet but it is equally immoral and very unlikely to make it. A judaism stripped of morality isworthless.

    • RoHa on November 14, 2013, 8:40 pm

      “To assume that all narratives are equal in value is moral abdication. ”

      Exactly. This is why I reject all this fashionable tripe about “narratives”.

  3. Henry Norr on November 14, 2013, 5:27 pm

    Even for those who already think they (we) have no illusions about how the New York Times practices “objective journalism” in its coverage of Israel/Palestine, the Yousef Munayyer exposé Phil links to in passing in the last paragraph is well worth a read – especially, IMO, the second half, where he dissects Isabel Kershner’s report on the recent killing of an Israeli soldier.

    Phil, since you’re apparently in contact with Rudoren, why don’t you send it to her and ask for her reaction? (No point in sending it to Kershner, I’m sure.)

    • annie on November 14, 2013, 11:37 pm

      thanks henry. just finished reading it myself and was coming back to say …

      Yousef Munayyer exposé Phil links to in passing in the last paragraph is well worth a read – especially, IMO, the second half, where he dissects Isabel Kershner’s report on the recent killing of an Israeli soldier.

      and the first part of 2013 was much more deadly and devastating. the nyt is worthless as a paper of record for i/p.

  4. pabelmont on November 14, 2013, 6:31 pm

    Well, OK, maybe she can also review “Goliath” for NYT. Objectively, of course, and squeezing out tears of frustration that Israel is being presented in such a harsh light. Or, NYT could get Joan Peters, author of “From Time Immemorial” to do a review. Or The Dersh ™. A fine writer as he himself blushingly admits.

    Or NYT could let Rashid Khalidi or another Palestinian intellectual do a review, so that when a FOI reviews The Dersh ™’s book, it is right and fitting that a FOP review “Goliath”.

    But — faced with such a richness of choices — we expect NYT to decline to review the book at all, or ever mention it, to the end of time.

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