[In the last 24 hours, Jerome Slater has published two posts (1, 2) dealing with The New York Times’ coverage of the Pope’s trip by Jodi Rudoren, Jim Yardley and Isabel Kershner. He gave us permission to publish them; we have combined them. –Ed.]
Two years ago I published in this blog an exchange of correspondence I had with Jodi Rudoren, as she was about to become the chief NY Times correspondent in Israel.
I’ve just sent another email to Rudoren, concerning her lead story in today’s NY Times. If she responds, I’ll provide an update. Here’s what I wrote to her:
You may or may not remember that when you began your Israeli stint at the Times we exchanged several emails, which (with your permission) I published on my blog. Based on those emails I thought there was some reason to hope that the Times would finally face the unmistakable facts and stop obscuring or bowdlerizing the truth about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
To some extent, this has happened–though not nearly sufficiently. You have certainly been an improvement over your egregious predecessor, Ethan Bronner. But that is small praise. As many others have noted, many of your stories have been misleading in one way or another, or attempt to strike a “balance”–“Israelis say this, Palestinians say that”–thereby concealing or obscuring objective truths.
I write now to point out a particular offender: your description today of Shimon Peres as “an outspoken advocate of peace.” True, Peres has made a career out of appearing before unknowing and usually rapturous audiences and lugubriously intoning about his search for peace, but his actual behavior–that is, when he has had real power to do the right thing–is quite the contrary.
As you may know, Yitzhak Rabin detested Peres for his utter hypocrisy. Many years ago when Rabin was thought to be the hawk and Peres the dove, Rabin’s view was discounted–but of course he was absolutely correct. Peres’ true role is just what Hanan Ashrawi says, “to give a clean bill of health for public relations.”
True, you did quote her—but since you’ve just written, in your own voice and as if it was an uncontestable fact, that Peres is an “outspoken advocate for peace,” what she says will surely be discounted by most readers. After all, what would you expect a mere Palestinian to say?
What you wrote is either knowingly false or deeply ignorant. I don’t know which is worse, but in either case the NY Times continues to betray its obligation to first ascertain and then write the truth about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rudoren sent me an email, in response to my yesterday’s email to her:
“There is no doubt that in recent years Peres has been an outspoken advocate for peace. It has, however, been quite a long time since he was in a position to do anything about it — as I wrote.”
“How sad. You seem utterly unaware that when he WAS in a position to do anything about it–not once, but many times–he repeatedly sabotaged genuine opportunities for peace.
Does not your position morally require you to first understand and then reveal the historical realities? Judging from your response, you don’t even pass the first test.”
She responded this morning:
“I am aware of the history. Also convinced this conversation not constructive, so not going to continue it.”
Given the nature of my attack, I suppose I can scarcely blame her. On the other hand, I am so thoroughly sick of the NY Times’ unending, uncomprehending, and unconscionable dishonesty on this issue, and its characteristic failure to ever address serious criticism, I can’t blame myself either.