Hadassah Magazine scores a big get, an interview with The New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, and Charley J. Levine asks her how her Jewishness affects her work. A lot.
Q. How does your Jewishness impact your job?
A. I came to Israel as a teen with United Synagogue Youth and the memory of that, particularly of Jerusalem…and the layered history that you see in the Old City and elsewhere, were things that as a journalist I found incredibly compelling. I wanted to come here to cover this fascinating beat. Being Jewish certainly is central to that. I know a decent amount about Judaism, I speak Hebrew pretty well. I come knowledgeable about the Jewish American or Jewish Israeli side of this beat.
Q. What about the non-Jewish angle?
A. One of my biggest regrets is not studying Arabic before coming over because I find working in a language that I really don’t know to be very difficult.
Q. Why does the left wing criticize you?
A. Some pro-Palestinians attack me based on the idea that I am kind of entrenched in the Israeli-Zionist-Jewish-American perspective. They complain that I live in West Jerusalem [and] spend quite a bit of time in my office there. I wish I spent much more time in the West Bank than I do, both reporting and living, because that impacts how you develop your sensibility about things.
Q. How does your perspective differ from reporters from, say, Portugal?
A. I have an American world view…[which] takes Israel’s existence as a given. There are some places in the world that do not. The argument that Israel is an amoral, ahistorical experiment that will fall like apartheid and the Soviet Union is outside the American mainstream way of seeing things. America and the United Nations have embraced Israel as a modern state and I operate from this same assumption.
We have frequently stated that Rudoren is “culturally bound,” operating inside an American-Israeli-Jewish framework.
Something else: Rudoren tells Hadassah she got pulled back on social media by the Times in November 2012 after she said on Facebook during a visit to Gaza that “many Gazans seemed almost ‘ho-hum’ about the [Israeli] attacks after all they had endured. I should have said ‘resilient.’”
Her actual statement referred to Palestinians being ho-hum about lately losing family members. And it was framed by Rudoren’s comment, “So great to hear from all these new people, and to see how FB makes the world such a shtetl.” Here’s the ho-hum bit:
while death and destruction is far more severe in Gaza than in Israel, it seems like Israelis are almost more traumatized. The Gazans have a deep culture of resistance and aspiration to martyrdom, they’re used to it from Cast Lead and other conflicts, and they have such limited lives than in many ways they have less to lose. Both sides seem intensely proud of their military “achievements” — Israel killing Jabari and taking out so many Fajr 5s, Hamas reaching TA and Jeru. And I’ve been surprised that when I talk to people who just lost a relative, or who are gathering belongings from a bombed-out house, they seem a bit ho-hum.