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‘NYT’ piece on Israel coexistence singer leaves out his latest gig: AIPAC

Israel/Palestine
on 16 Comments
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An imagined poster at the AIPAC 2014 Conference.

In her column of Friday (Saturday, March 8 in the print edition) titled “Seeking to Bridge the Arab-Jewish Divide with Music,” the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, Jodi Rudoren, provides a fawning sketch of the Israeli singer David Broza and his efforts to promote Palestinian/Israeli coexistence.  The focus of the article is the music workshops the singer provides Palestinian youths at the Shuafat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem and Broza’s recent album, a collaboration with G-Town, a hip-hop duo from the camp.

What Rudoren neglected to mention in her report is that last Monday evening David Broza was the entertainment headliner at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC).

Most observers are of the opinion that one of the main focuses of AIPAC is supporting the Israeli settlement project and deflecting any criticism aimed at the Jewish State for its policies toward the Palestinians.  Both of these goals are, obviously, in direct contradiction to fostering understanding and coexistence between the Palestinians and Jewish Israelis.

Playing AIPAC was a bizarre choice for a musician who is presented in the New York Times as part of the vanguard for reconciliation efforts in Jerusalem.  However, this anomaly may not be perceived as such by Broza nor Rudoren, who both appear to possess a well-developed tribal loyalty that would prohibit any strong aversion to a powerful Zionist organization such as AIPAC.

I have already written about my view of Broza performing for AIPAC, here. I included the opposing opinion of the American Israeli liberal Zionist Emily Hauser in her reply to me below via twitter.com.

I’ve heard David Broza talk about peace, and the truth is we should be glad he’s there talking to these folks.

To this I can only state the obvious.  Broza was hired as the entertainment and not as a lecturer.  This is an audience containing members who booed President Obama and walked out on John Kerry.  If Broza “talked to” these zealots, as Hauser suggests he would, I doubt it would have gone well for him.

After all, his audience was comprised of a very large group of  super-pumped pro-Israel, pro-Iran-sanction fanatics, who after two days of listening to overwrought rhetoric at the conference had been expecting patriotic Israeli Zionist anthems mingled with all-American Jewish schmaltz.   If the Israeli singer had started talking about real peace, he would have very likely faced a lynch mob and not a group of eager open-minded thoughtful listeners.  They probably would, at least, have withheld what I am sure was Broza’s very generous remuneration.

There is one additional point I would make in regard to the puff piece in the Times on Broza. Rudoren wrote:

Few Israeli Jews visit Shuafat, a garbage-laden, outrage-filled, crowded outpost in the northeast corner of Jerusalem with 35,000 residents, most from families displaced around Israel’s establishment in 1948. That Friday, the metal gates of the complex where the boys were banging had to be shuttered against stones thrown from the street, likely an objection to the fraternization with Israelis that many Palestinians denounce as dangerous ‘normalization.’

There is no further explanation of what “normalization” means and why some Palestinians reject the kind of cooperative projects in which Broza is engaged. Nor is there any indication of the immediate causes of the outrage of the residents.  Our own Annie Robbins reported, just days ago, about the Israeli authorities shutting off the water supply and the many house demolition orders that threaten residents of the camp.  Yet the average reader of Rudoren’s column is led to conclude that the stone-throwing Palestinian youths are being unreasonable by inexplicably rejecting a hand of cooperation and friendship.

The truth is much more complicated, as the Times is wont to ignore.

The idea that normalization, or the existence of joint Israeli/Palestinian projects and activist groups, is opposed to Palestinian interests gained credibility in the occupied territories after the failed Oslo talks led to the almost total collapse of the so-called Israeli left.  The Jewish Israeli left fell in step with the false mainstream belief that at the Camp David Summit Ehud Barak made a generous offer that Yasser Arafat wrongly refused, preferring to incite a violent Intifada instead.

Cooperative intercommunal projects like the one in which Broza is engaged, were once very popular among liberal Israelis, but after the failed Camp David Summit and the outbreak of the al Aqsa Intifada, almost all Israelis withdrew from their joint activities with the Palestinians.  The Palestinians felt abandoned and betrayed by their Israeli colleagues, and this led to a deepening distrust and the very prevalent belief that the Israeli peace and coexistence advocates could not be counted on in the long term.

In addition, Palestinians correctly reason that normalization projects are used as exaggerated evidence of the prevalence of enlightened Israelis and as a false indication that there is progress being made toward peace and reconciliation.

It is doubtful that the youths in Rudoren’s article who protested against Broza’s presence in East Jerusalem knew that the singer would  shortly be entertaining the powerful American pro- Israel lobby.  Sadly, it is the often valid widely-held Palestinian opinion that, in the end, even Israelis who profess solidarity will betray them.  That is the source of the anger that led to stones being hurled at Broza’s studio.

Even with her many shortcomings, Jodi Rudoren is a more fair-minded reporter than her predecessor Ethan Bronner, although this is faint praise.  Bronner set the bar for fair reporting so low, not even a limbo champion could live down to his standard.  Rudoren has occasionally pushed the boundaries of  the Times Jerusalem coverage and shown real courage.  I respect her for that.   But the Broza piece is far from being an example of Rudoren’s best journalism.

Editor’s note: The original version of this piece stated that Rudoren had not responded to questions sent by email and twitter. Rudoren said in a note to the editor she did not receive those messages.  

Ira Glunts
About Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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16 Responses

  1. Eva Smagacz
    Eva Smagacz
    March 10, 2014, 9:59 am

    A background on Shufat Refugee Camp:

    http://972mag.com/jerusalems-refugee-camp-abandoned-by-the-state/66201/

    Shuafat is the only refugee camp within Jerusalem’s municipal territory. Thus, those who live there are Israeli residents who carry blue Israeli IDs and have freedom of movement and occupation within Jerusalem and Israel. At the same time, the Israeli government has erected a giant cement wall that completely encircles the camp, turning it into a secluded island. Furthermore, the government has closed all the access roads that lead in and out of the camp and erected a checkpoint at the main entrance, forcing every resident to pass through it while entering or exiting.

    http://www.wrmea.org/wrmea-archives/361-washington-report-archives-2006-2010/november-2010/10165-east-jerusalems-shufat-refugee-camp-qfor-all-practical-purposes-ramallahq-.html

    While, on the one hand, Shu’fat camp is being excluded and cut off from the city, Israeli authorities remain keen to flex their muscles in demonstrations of authority. One such example was a large-scale raid in February that went on for days, carried out by hundreds of police officers, border forces and municipal officials. Over the course of the operation, dozens of Palestinians (as many as 90, according to UNRWA) were detained, on charges including non-payment of taxes and stone-throwing. Local estimates were that of all those picked up during the first evening, all but one was under 18 years old. Salim Anati described how a cousin was in a shop buying chicken when soldiers came by, saw him, and took him. “For two days, the family didn’t know his whereabouts,” Salim said. “Then he was accused of throwing stones, and his family had to pay NIS 3,000 for his release.” For Salim, the raid was all about “wanting to show that they are the main power and can do what they want.”

  2. hophmi
    hophmi
    March 10, 2014, 10:21 am

    “This is an audience containing members who booed President Obama and walked out on John Kerry. ”

    So clearly, if a few people in a crowd of 14,000 booed President Obama, the entire group of 14,000 must be zealots. Care to apply that reasoning to your own movement? Clearly, if a few people at a BDS event boo at the mention of Jews, BDS must be antisemitic. If a few people (and it’s more than a few) boo at the mention of President Obama, BDS must be an anti-American movement.

    ” If the Israeli singer had started talking about real peace, he would have very likely faced a lynch mob and not a group of eager open-minded thoughtful listeners. ”

    Oh please. You clearly have no clue. It’s a very diverse group of people, including peaceniks. Nobody is lynched for calling for peace between Palestinians and Israelis, like people are lynched here for calling for two states.

    “The truth is much more complicated”

    LOL, irony alert.

    • James North
      James North
      March 10, 2014, 11:42 am

      hophmi: This looks like a threadjacking effort to me. Why don’t you try and respond to the substance of Ira Glunts’s excellent post, which is that Rudoren’s article was completely misleading?

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        March 10, 2014, 12:30 pm

        I am responding to it. It’s nonsense. It is based, first of all, on the completely false assumption that everyone who goes to the AIPAC conference is a right-wing fanatic. That’s nonsense.

        Some of us still believe that being a peace activist involves actually making your case, rather than talking amongst yourselves. Broza obviously understands that part of peacemaking is convincing those who care about Israel that things need to change. That’s much harder than the Ira Glunts approach of writing screeds for far-left blogs where he’s sure to find support amongst fellow travellers.

        And of course, the notion that Broza performed at AIPAC out of “tribal loyalty” and that Rudoren wrote about him for the same resaon, is a smear. It’s also a stupid one. Plenty of non-Jews attend the AIPAC conference. Broza plays many different audiences, Jews and non-Jews.

        Similarly ridiculous is the idea that anyone who works in the territories must obey any rules the BDS movement sets down for them, and it’s highly patronizing to assert that the Palestinians Broza works with would feel differently about him if they knew he also did outreach to American Jews who are pro-Israel; a large number of Palestinians still believe in dialogue with Israelis, even if comfortable leftist Westerners like Ira Glunts do not.

      • James North
        James North
        March 10, 2014, 3:06 pm

        hophmi: You are still being evasive. How could Rudoren leave out the fact that the singer she lovingly profiled on Saturday had appeared just 5 days earlier in Washington, D.C., at a partisan conference with 14,000 people? Do you honestly believe it was just an accident?

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        March 10, 2014, 3:14 pm

        “How could Rudoren leave out the fact that the singer she lovingly profiled on Saturday had appeared just 5 days earlier in Washington, D.C., at a partisan conference with 14,000 people? Do you honestly believe it was just an accident?”

        How many reasons would you like?

        1. Rudoren is the Jerusalem correspondent, not the Washington correspondent. She does not cover the AIPAC conference.

        2. The focus of the article is Broza’s work in Shuafat and in how Israelis perceive that work, not AIPAC or Broza’s performances in the United States. She didn’t mention that he performs all the time at the City Winery in Soho either. Or any of his other American performances.

        3. Rudoren may well have written the feature before Broza performed at AIPAC.

        4. It’s a profile of Broza, not an op-ed about where Broza should and should not perform.

        Why don’t you bother her on facebook or twitter and ask? You may not get an answer, which I’m sure you’ll attribute to her “tribal loyalty” as a way of avoiding any possible rational reason.

        When you nitpick like this, you will always find something to complain about.

    • LeaNder
      LeaNder
      March 10, 2014, 1:09 pm

      The Palestinians felt abandoned and betrayed by their Israeli colleagues, and this led to a deepening distrust and the very prevalent belief that the Israeli peace and coexistence advocates could not be counted on in the long term.

      Fact is that Zionism did not only systematically suppress Palestinians, but it also created an artificial Palestinian diaspora, and both may
      have have responded very, very differently to these conciliatory/cooperation stories that we were all fed over the years, while settlements were built. I do feel guilty in this context. Cannot even completely understand, why my curiosity in their families fate was almost non-existent, even if they actually gave me a chance. Occasionally there were stories too about to what extend the settlers where threated by the wildly angry Arabs around them, and what security they needed to protect themselves from them. I don’t recall in any of these earlier reports were clearly grounded. Only minor changes in this general pattern. But I don’t watch much TV anymore. One of your problems may well be, hopmi, that you maybe could silence Palestinans via military rule, but how will you silence the Palestinan diaspora?

      To pick up on of a recent theme by Shmuel obliquely, probably one of the best PR ideas of early Israel was the Orientalist creation of the “Arab Village”. There is no way out of that larger context for Rudoren, or any other journalist for that matter, if she ventures out into the WB, no matter how seriously intentioned her reporting, she will enforce that solidly grounded theme intended for Western consumption. She would need to go much further then she will be ever allowed to to overcome that burden.

      Concerning David Broza reminds me of two of the main art critics around the time Israel was founded, not my favorite wrote: art is connected with an umbilical cord to the elites.

      Sorry, I cannot read Hilton Kramer anymore, but does he tell us that Greenberg, the relapsed Trotzkist informed on fellow writers in the Partisan Review during the Cold War hunt, I doubt. Umbilical cords. Always looking for where your bread is buttered, always. The rest is simple: Life is not fair.

    • Ecru
      Ecru
      March 10, 2014, 3:44 pm

      @ Hoppy

      Still waiting for your defence of that European libel you’ve been spreading based on a survey of perceptions of anti-semitism btw.

      But to the matter at hand….

      So clearly, if a few people in a crowd of 14,000 booed President Obama, the entire group of 14,000 must be zealots.

      You really aren’t too good at reading are you. You even quoted the text yourself but still missed the important word.

      “This is an audience containing members who booed President Obama and walked out on John Kerry. ”

      Containing. Not everyone was accused Hoppy just a selection. A selection of a crowd that supports an organisation that’s been campaigning for a war with Iran, carte blanche for Israel no matter what it does and a “peace” that equals the complete and utter subjugation not only of the Palestinians to Israeli domination but also American voters.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        March 11, 2014, 11:05 am

        “Still waiting for your defence of that European libel you’ve been spreading based on a survey of perceptions of anti-semitism btw.”

        Still waiting for you to acknowledge the rise in antisemitic incidents over the past decade.

        “This is an audience containing members who booed President Obama and walked out on John Kerry. ”

        And waiting for you to acknowledge that the implication is that because a few of them booed, the whole crowd must be nuts. That was the implication of the passage. That’s Glunts’ argument. Broza shouldn’t perform for this group, because a few of them booed Obama.

      • Ecru
        Ecru
        March 12, 2014, 4:48 pm

        @ Hoppy

        Still waiting for you to acknowledge the rise in antisemitic incidents over the past decade.

        I wasn’t aware Hoppy that you’ve posted any evidence that supports that assertion. What you have repeatedly posted is rubbish about a European internet survey on perceptions of antisemitism in Europe. The fact that you have time and again dishonestly (and knowingly – because it’s been pointed out to you multiple times) attempted to categorise the surveys results as representative of actual antisemitism in Europe doesn’t make your prejudicial claims true.

        As for AIPAC being made up of nutters I disagree with your interpretation of the passage but I actually do agree that they are completely doo-lally. Constantly campaigning for war (Iran being flavour of the moment), constantly campaigning to support almost every crime against humanity ever condemned by civilised people (as long as it’s not against Jews) and constantly campaigning to corrupt the political machinery of the state in which most of them actually live – all to benefit a state that they do not live in. Screws loose doesn’t begin to cover it.

        Now are you ever going to admit you LIED about that survey Hoppy or are you just going to keep making wild anti-gentile statements?

    • Sumud
      Sumud
      March 11, 2014, 7:29 am

      Clearly, if a few people at a BDS event boo at the mention of Jews, BDS must be antisemitic.

      I’ve never heard any ‘jew boo-ing’ at BDS or any other Palestine solidarity events, and I’ll bet you haven’t either.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        March 11, 2014, 11:08 am

        “I’ve never heard any ‘jew boo-ing’ at BDS or any other Palestine solidarity events, and I’ll bet you haven’t either.”

        I heard people cheer (more than a few) when Lenni Brenner said that the Jewish population of the United States was declining at a book launch for Alex Cockburn’s The Politics of Antisemitism. It’s a fair assumption that these people were part of the BDS crowd.

        And of course, the perusal of the comments section here suggests lots of anti-Jewish sentiment in the BDS movement.

      • Sumud
        Sumud
        March 11, 2014, 11:38 pm

        I heard people cheer (more than a few) when Lenni Brenner said that the Jewish population of the United States was declining at a book launch for Alex Cockburn’s The Politics of Antisemitism

        Sound unlikely but if you say so.

        As I said: no “jew boo-ing” at BDS or other Palestine solidarity events.

        And of course, the perusal of the comments section here suggests lots of anti-Jewish sentiment in the BDS movement.

        OK, if there’s “lots” how about giving some examples, say 5 quotes of comments from the last month?

      • Ecru
        Ecru
        March 12, 2014, 5:01 pm

        @ Hoppy

        Hold on a second. Above you’re complaining that this piece implies AIPAC are loons because it points out that some most clearly are and here you are impugning BDS because some supporters are possibly anti-semitic (whatever that means today – did you hear someone say they didn’t like chopped liver or something? Why the ignominy!).

        Not hiding your double standards here at all well Hoppy.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    March 10, 2014, 5:21 pm

    RE: “Playing AIPAC was a bizarre choice for a musician who is presented in the New York Times as part of the vanguard for reconciliation efforts in Jerusalem. However, this anomaly may not be perceived as such by Broza nor Rudoren, who both appear to possess a well-developed tribal loyalty that would prohibit any strong aversion to a powerful Zionist organization such as AIPAC.” ~ Ira Gluntz

    MY COMMENT: As far as I can tell, B.Z. Goldberg [Promises (2001)] does not appear to share any such “well-developed tribal loyalty”.

    AN EXCELLENT FILM: Promises, 2001, NR, 106 minutes
    Netflix: This powerful, unprecedented documentary offers a compelling, refreshing and humorous vision of the Middle East conflict through the eyes of Palestinian and Israeli children growing up in Jerusalem.
    IMDb: Several Jewish and Palestinian children are followed for three years and put in touch with each other, in this alternative look at the Jewish-Palestinian conflict. The three filmmakers followed a group of seven local children between 1995 and 1998. They all have a totally different background. These seven children tell their own story about growing up in Jerusalem. Through this portrait of their generation, we see how deep rooted and almost insoluble the problems of the Middle East have become. When the protagonists speak out in an epilogue a couple of years later, it becomes apparent that all have lost their childlike innocence.
    Director: B.Z. Goldberg, Justine Shapiro, Carlos Bolado
    Genres: Documentary, Political Documentaries, Social & Cultural Documentaries
    This movie is: Emotional
    Netflix format: DVD
    Netflix link – http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Promises/70014692
    Internet Movie Database – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0282864/
    Promises (2001) – Trailer [VIDEO, 03:16] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ryzl0CE5fc

    P.S. ALSO SEE: Promises and Betrayals – Middle East – History Channel Documentary [VIDEO, 52:48]
    This is a documentary on how British double-dealing during the First World War ignited the conflict between Arab and Jew in the Middle East.
    This is a story of intrigue among rival empires; of misguided strategies; and of how conflicting promises to Arab and Jew created a legacy of bloodshed which determined the fate of the Middle East.
    LINK – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW2sm0iR0E8

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870
      March 10, 2014, 5:46 pm

      P.P.S. MORE INFO ON: Promises & Betrayals: Britain and the Struggle for the Holy Land , History Channel Documentary (2002) [VIDEO, 52:48]
      An intriguing documentary about British double-dealing during the First World War in the Middle East, misguided strategies and how conflicting promises to both Arab and Jew created a legacy of division.
      This lucid film recounts the complicated history that led to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In the words of the former British Ambassador to Egypt, it is a story of intrigue among rival empires and of misguided strategies. It is often claimed that the crisis originated with Jewish emigration to Palestine and the foundation of the State of Israel. Yet the roots of the conflict are to be found earlier.
      In 1915, when the Allies were besieged on the Western front, the British wanted to create a second front against Germany, Italy and the Ottoman Empire. Turkish nationalism had spread to the rest of the Ottoman Empire and the British exploited this feeling. They promised Arab groups their own independent states, including Palestine. Secretly, the Allies planned to carve up the Ottoman Empire: France would get “Greater Syria;” Britain would get Iraq for its oil and ports, and Haifa, to distribute the oil; Palestine would be an international zone; Russia would get Constantinople.
      The next British government under Lloyd George believed that “worldwide Jewry” was a powerful force, and that the Jews in the new Bolshevik government could prevent the Russian army from deserting the Allied side. This mistaken strategy, along with other factors including the persuasiveness of Chaim Weitzman, led to the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which endorsed a national home for the Jews in Palestine. At the same time, the Arab leader Shariff Hussein was promised that Palestine would be part of a new Arab state. This contradiction has contributed to the ongoing struggle for control in the Holy Land.
      SOURCE – http://www.islambosna.ba/forum/english/history-channel-documentary-promises-betrayals/?wap2

      Promises & Betrayals: Britain and the Struggle for the Holy Land , History Channel Documentary (2002) [VIDEO, 52:48] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW2sm0iR0E8

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