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Jodi Rudoren and Abe Foxman mull over ‘the Arabs’ owning New York hotel

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Let me offer a ridiculous fantasy.  The NY Times hires an Arab-American as its Jerusalem Bureau Chief.  The reporter’s spouse produces and publicly posts a video in which the reporter is seen having a personal, non-professional meal with a high official of a prominent Arab-American organization, an individual who has repeatedly expressed strong pro-Palestinian, even pro-Hamas, opinions.  The reporter introduces the spouse to the official in a very familiar manner (“You remember so-and-so”) and the two exchange a warm handshake.  In the course of the conversation, the spouse says that his parents used to visit the old Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in the 1950’s, and the Arab-American official adds, apropos of nothing, “That’s before the Jews took it over,” referring to the purchase of the hotel by Jewish businessman Sheldon Adelson decades later.  Rather than take offense at the remark, the Arab-American reporter joins in its spirit, saying, “And the Jews still own the place.”

This scenario is absurd only because of the ethnic identities involved.  In fact, it happened in real life with those identities reversed.  Gary Rudoren, the husband of NY Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren, created a video to honor his parents’ 60th anniversary and posted it on youtube.  Gary is in high spirits as he takes his parents on a virtual tour of his and Jodi’s daily life in Jerusalem.  At about 14:25, the scene shifts to a luxury hotel, where Gary enters a suite to find his wife chatting amiably with Abraham Foxman, Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League, a perch from which he has been enthusiastically defending and promoting all things Israeli, including of course its military aggression, for decades.  Jodi politely performs the unnecessary introduction – “You remember Abe” – and Gary warmly shakes Foxman’s hand.  When Gary tells Foxman the purpose of the video, he sends a congratulatory message to the elder Rudermans.

Jodi Rudoren’s cozy familiarity with Foxman may raise eyebrows, especially since it is not well known, but reporters surely have personal relationships with opinionated newsmakers and theoretically at least are supposed to rise above such friendships in their professional capacity.  But the real shocker comes when Gary tells Foxman that his parents were married at the Essex House hotel in New York City, and Foxman responds, “Before the Arabs took it over.”  The Arabs?  The hotel was purchased in 2006 by the Dubai Investment Group, which sold it (at a considerable loss) in 2012 to Strategic Hotels & Resorts.  Was the hotel owned during those six years by “the Arabs”?  For someone who has spent decades in the public eye as a supposed anti-discrimination crusader, this is an unexpectedly clumsy gaffe. Merely the fact that Foxman saw fit to comment that the Ruderman’s 1954 wedding was “before the Arabs took it over,” an event that occurred 52 years later (!), underscores the unease Foxman feels about “Arab” influence in the U.S.

It would have been embarrassing as well had Jodi Rudoren remained silent rather than point out to her good friend that one should not indulge in such ethnic generalizations, whether intended as disparaging or not (and this surely had more than a whiff of discontent over the influence of “the Arabs” in Western society).  But Rudoren did not gently chide Foxman nor even remain silent; she actually joined in the same kind of soft bigotry, asking:  “The Arabs have it now?”  Foxman, apparently up to date on “Arab” holdings in the U.S., knew off the top of his head that “Dubai” had bought the property, and renamed it “Jumeirah Essex House” (Foxman’s version, pronounced “Jumeriah,” was close) before selling it.

Max Blumenthal has an article on Electronic Intifada that offers a lengthy, sometimes amusing, analysis of the hour-long Rudoren video.  He also discusses the fascinating banter between the Rudorens and Foxman about the old days when anti-Semitism was truly a big problem, implying that the situation is much better now.  Contrast this with Foxman’s public alarm about the present world-wide scourge of bigotry against Jews, coupled with an urgent appeal for donations to the ADL to fight the good fight.

This casual exchange about “the Arabs” that none of the participants deemed unusual offers a revealing window into the world view of the Times’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief.  Rudoren is clearly immersed in a clannish us (Jews) v. them (Arabs) mindset that colors her reporting.  It explains why she finds Israeli Jews to be more traumatized by their sacrifices than Palestinians who have a “ho-hum attitude” (her words!) toward their far greater losses.  It explains why Rudoren routinely cites the polling of Israeli Jews only without discussing the preferences of the 20 – 25% of the citizenry that is not Jewish, and why she does the same in an article about Israeli reactions to the death of Ariel Sharon.  It explains why she did puff pieces on settler leader Dani Dayan and young Jews who immigrate to Israel to join the IDF.

More generally, this brief but rather shocking exchange about “the Arabs” owning the Essex House reveals why the Times coverage in general is so much more attuned to Israeli Jewish sensibilities than Palestinian ones (see Patrick Connors’s excellent analysis on Mondoweiss from a few days ago.) Why does this always seem to be the same controversy at the Times? The previous Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Ethan Bronner, had a son in the IDF. Isabel Kershner, who has been reporting for the Times from Jerusalem since 2007, is married to Hirsh Goodman, a prominent somewhat liberal but thoroughly Zionist writer.  Why do we always have to trust that Times reporters who are not only Jewish but have very close, sometimes familial, pro-Israel connections, will be able to put aside such connections when reporting?  It simply is inconceivable that an Arab-American journalist with a close relative or friend who was an outspoken pro-Palestinian activist would ever be offered the post of Jerusalem Bureau Chief.

To return to my hypothetical, would an Arab-American reporter keep an assignment on the Israel/Palestine beat after a video surfaced in which he/she gratuitously referred to a hotel as being owned by “the Jews”?  Yet this apparently does not even have the potential to be a speed bump on Jodi Rudoren’s career path.

David Samel

David Samel is an attorney in New York City.

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27 Responses

  1. Brown-Eyed Girl on August 7, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Are you forgetting that a situation similar to happened several years ago to the late Helen Thomas, when a rabbi had a “gotcha” moment with her and filmed her saying that Jews should “Get the hell out of Palestine.” Well her remarks we completely taken out of context, as she was speaking about Jewish colonization of Palestine and the forceable displacement of Palestinians. She was immediately fired, her Lebanese heritage was constantly mentioned as a reason for her ‘antisemitism’ and her inability to report objectively or give reasoned commentary on the Middle East and American policy there. After this incident, the mainstream media spoke openly about how her Arab heritage unfairly affected her ability to be pro-American enough and media commentators dismissed her past tough and persistent questioning of Bush Jr about lying to get us into Iraq. Remember she was the only person in the press corps who dared to ask, “Why do they hate us.” In the last year of her life she was not allowed a table at a White House Press Corps dinner, many, if not most of her former colleges in the media –including the women, who she blazed a trail for, abandoned her.

    I doubt any of that will happen to Jodi.

  2. American on August 7, 2014, 1:28 pm

    Surprising that they are racist? Not at all, they were raised on it…its zio baby formular.

  3. Bandolero on August 7, 2014, 1:31 pm

    David, thank you very much for this backgrounder article. It says a lot about what’s wrong with the NYT and ADL and it speaks for itself.

    Just before this I read here:

    ‘NYT’ is furiously rewriting history of Gaza conflict

    The only thing I really don’t understand is why the NYT is somehow deemed a good-reputed paper? When I think of NYT the first thing I always have in my mind is Judy Miller.Normally that story should have been the end of the NYT, but somehow the NYT still exists and is still regarded as a good-reputed paper.

    • just on August 7, 2014, 2:03 pm

      Precisely correct, Bandolero!

    • Mooser on August 7, 2014, 3:31 pm

      “Normally that story should have been the end of the NYT, but somehow the NYT still exists and is still regarded as a good-reputed paper.”

      Well, I read in the New York Times that it is a very good paper, very reliable, and objective. Says so all the time.

  4. on August 7, 2014, 1:43 pm

    Wow. Foxman and Ms. Rudoren are some real old school racists.

    • Mooser on August 7, 2014, 3:32 pm

      They will never forget those six years. Six years can be a lifetime when an existential threat takes over your favorite hotel!

      • Sibiriak on August 7, 2014, 9:54 pm


        They will never forget those six years. Six years can be a lifetime when an existential threat takes over your favorite hotel!

        I detect in your remarks a troubling indifference to Jewish post traumatic dynamics.

      • Mooser on August 8, 2014, 1:40 pm

        “I detect in your remarks a troubling indifference to Jewish post traumatic dynamics.”

        I do not have a “troubling indifference to Jewish post traumatic dynamics” thank you.

      • Keith on August 8, 2014, 5:54 pm

        MOOSER- “I do not have a “troubling indifference to Jewish post traumatic dynamics” thank you.”

        Unless I am mistaken, you have misconstrued Sibiriak’s attempt at humor.

      • Mooser on August 8, 2014, 8:58 pm

        “Unless I am mistaken, you have misconstrued Sibiriak’s attempt at humor.”

        Did I? I’m sorry. It must have been my Jewish post traumatic dynamics got in the way. Yup, now I think about, that’s exactly what happened. That’s what I get for fooling around with ’em. I should’a known better. My own fault, nobody else’s

  5. joer on August 7, 2014, 2:02 pm

    Here’s another video from someone who hasn’t realized the world has changed and you shouldn’t even be thinking some things, much less saying them on video. Joan Rivers latest analysis of the Gaza assult:

    When this first came out, at first on Twitter when I did a search for Joan Rivers, most of the tweets were about her jewelry franchise and some one liners, with a few comments about her latest outburst. Just a half hour later, all the tweets about her are calling her all kinds of bad things.

    • Kay24 on August 7, 2014, 3:43 pm

      The old has been comedian. You’ve got to wonder which face she has on. She has so much of work done, it makes the Sistine Chapel look modern. Sorry for that meow moment. Heh.

      She is one of the most racist zio I have ever seen. I knew she hated all things Muslim when I heard her years ago, insult they way the prayed. Most probably she is getting senile and fading into nothingness. However, she has shown how ignorant she is about facts, and is blindly devoted to the mothership, that is responsible for the deaths and injuries of thousands of civilians. Imagine dear Joan shrieking like a vampire had these been Jewish civilians.

  6. DaveS on August 7, 2014, 3:52 pm

    I should have added two things. First, neither Jodi nor Gary Rudoren foresaw any embarrassment over publishing this encounter in the video? They easily could have omitted it. Surprising that they were so clueless.

    Second, in my hypothetical, who would have been leading the charge to fire the Arab-American reporter who casually referred to “the Jews” owning something? Abe Foxman, of course. Here’s Foxman claiming Pat Buchanan is “a racist and an anti-Semite” because he “bemoans the destruction of white Christian America.”

    One more thing. Don’t miss 8:30 or so, where we meet the only “Arabs” in the Rudorens’ daily life. They are “very nice Arab guys who do a good job with the cleaning” (laundry). Ugh!

    Also, thanks to Adam, who caught that Gary’s parents are named Ruderman; Rudoren is an amalgam of his and Jodi’s (Wilgoren) last names before marriage

    • adele on August 7, 2014, 4:40 pm

      They are “very nice Arab guys who do a good job with the cleaning” (laundry).

      The fact that they made this video publicly available really says something about their lack of self-awareness. They think they are being cute and folksy. It is positively revolting. I would hate to imagine what would happen if those “Arab guys” mess up the laundry order.

      PS: kind of says it all, no? —-> RuderMan

    • marc b. on August 7, 2014, 5:15 pm

      They are “very nice Arab guys who do a good job with the cleaning” (laundry). Ugh!

      funny/sad stuff. that’s my thought too though, every time someone argues that the Zionists’ plan is to make Israel Muslim-free: but who’d clean the toilets? maybe the rudorens.

    • tokyobk on August 7, 2014, 5:45 pm

      I think they intended the video to be private but it leaked through their Facebook. But, yeah, this video in weird ways gives of an apartheid stink as much even as a video of a little boy ordering an old woman off the sidewalk. And some notes of ugly American abroad wafting around as well.

      • Mooser on August 7, 2014, 6:21 pm

        “I think they intended the video to be private…”

        So they posted it on You-Tube? Now, that’s good old-fashioned discretion.

  7. Nevada Ned on August 7, 2014, 3:53 pm

    Mondoweiss has the NYT nailed!

    In contrast, the Los Angeles Times performs much better. Occasionally they run opinion pieces by critics of Israel or by Palestinian supporters. LAT is head and shoulders above the NYT.

  8. Kay24 on August 7, 2014, 3:58 pm

    S.C. Cupp latest zionist recruit? She is trying hard on CNN to pretend she is an expert in this conflict….mention Hamas wants to annihilate Jews, but no reference to Jewish Knesset leaders like Moshe Feiglin calling for Israel to bomb populated areas in Gaza, and wanting the Palestinians in concentration camps…hmmm. Dumb. To think CNN pays her for this. To those minions who want to kiss up to Israel’s large behind, so that they can get lucrative jobs in the media – there is no limit to how far they will go to win the approval of their zionist bosses.

  9. PeaceThroughJustice on August 7, 2014, 5:01 pm

    Amazing how fast the conversation always turns to “antisemitism”. Like catnip to a cat.

    PS here’s the story about that dental school episode–

  10. eGuard on August 7, 2014, 5:29 pm

    David Samel: [suppose] The NY Times hires an Arab-American as its Jerusalem Bureau Chief …. But wait wait. The story can do without the Arab-American. Why not check the situation by your paraphrase: ““That’s before the Jews took it over”” – full stop.

    Really, it does not need your Arab to make the point. David Samel, please check your mental references.

  11. bilal a on August 7, 2014, 8:02 pm

    Yes , she is a racist and tribalist, but according to Eliot Abrams this is part and parcel of her ‘milieu’, liberal and urbane New Yawk:

    “”This was precisely what was feared when Ms. Rudoren was named the Times’s bureau chief: that she would move solely in a certain political and social milieu, the rough Israeli equivalent of the Upper West Side of Manhattan,”

  12. scott9854958 on August 7, 2014, 10:28 pm

    This is a great piece. Says it all about the Times, a paper I gave up on long ago, except as an occasional amusement, like for instance during those odd moments when it runs something mildly critical of the IDF and the Ziocrazies go nuts. As for Foxman, I pray for the day when someone he libels sues him out of existence.

  13. Nevada Ned on August 7, 2014, 11:56 pm

    Another NYTimes reporter, another conflict of interest.

    A while ago, the NYT reporter from I/P was Joel Greenberg, who managed to be an (allegedly) objective reporter, not partisan to either side, while serving in the Israeli military (!!)

    There’s more to the story than this. Before Greenberg served in the IDF, he previously had refused to serve, and went to jail for draft resistance.

    In an earlier article on MW, Idrees Ahmad remarks that Greenberg was the first NYT reporter to incorporate the findings of human rights organizations (Amnesty, B’Tselem, HRW) into the NYT reports. Previous NYT reporting had consistently ignored the human rights organizations. This human rights heresy may have been a factor, says Idrees Ahmad, in the abrupt departure of Greenberg for the Chicago Tribune.

  14. bilal a on August 8, 2014, 12:08 am

    the Palestine resistance includes an army of rabbis

  15. G. Seauton on August 9, 2014, 12:57 am

    Max Blumenthal (in the article linked above) notes the book Jodi Rudoren holds up in her office:

    Appearing at her desk, Jodi Rudoren promises to send a book she had just reviewed to her parents-in-law: Like Dreamers, a reverential history of the Israeli troops who conquered and occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, by the right-wing Israeli-American writer Yossi Klein Halevi.

    There isn’t a huge abundance of books in evidence anywhere in this video, either in Jodi’s office or in the Rudorens’ home — a bit surprising for a New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief — but one book that is visible in the shot of the bookshelf in her office is The High Cost of Peace by Yossef Bodansky.

    Here, from Amazon, is an excerpt of the Publishers Weekly review:

    The author of an early book on Osama bin Laden and director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism, Bodansky turns his attention to the Middle East, painting a nightmarish picture of a region that has been teetering on the brink of war for several years. The United States, which he says “seduced” Israel into the Oslo peace process, is partially to blame, as are Israeli politicians, who until recently have ignored intelligence reports of the Arab world’s complicity in terrorism and military buildup. He details his evidence for Yasser Arafat’s involvement in terrorism which, he says, has been calculated to draw Israel into an on-again, off-again war that it cannot win. Arafat’s goal, he believes, is to destroy Israel in a phased plan. Arab and Muslim nations from “rogue” states like Iraq and Iran to more moderate ones like Egypt have been engaged in the plan as well, but fear of an Israeli military response, among other factors, has prevented all-out war. Many will find it hard to believe that American and Israeli governments are as na‹ve as Bodansky claims about the level of unity in the Arab and Muslim world which he paints as very high. And while Bodansky marshals a prodigious amount of detail to support his case such as specific calls from Arafat for terrorist acts his language betrays a point of view some will find problematic, as when he says that Anwar Sadat “manipulated” the U.S. “into getting him the Sinai interim agreements with Israel.” A book that might serve as a clarion call is less convincing than it could be.

    And here, from the same web page, are reviews from various other publications:

    Praise for Yossef Bodansky and The High Cost of Peace:
    “Read Bodansky and one can begin to appreciate what President Bush really meant when he said, ‘This will be a monumental struggle between good and evil.'” — Indianapolis Star
    “I always suspected that Arafat was a terrorist and a corrupt leader. Now, Bodansky’s exhaustive and damning investigation proves just that beyond a shadow of doubt. The High Cost of Peace should be required reading in the White House and Congress.” — Congressman Eric Cantor, chairman, Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare
    “To truly comprehend why peace in the Middle East—an end coveted for so long by so many—is becoming more and more illusive [sic], you must read Yossef Bodansky’s excellent book. An engrossing account of Israel’s quest for security and peace, as well as the United States’ struggle to secure its vital interests in a turbulent region, The High Cost of Peace provides an adamantly hopeful prognosis against dire and tragic odds. I strongly recommend it.” — Brigadier General (Reserve) Yigal Pressler, deputy adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel
    “Bodansky has written the story that the evening news has ignored. While they’ve been busy blaming Israel and the United States for the violence and terrorism in the Middle East, he’s been busy unearthing and documenting the intricacies of Middle Eastern terrorism.” — Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley

    This book was published in 2002, only a few months before the Iraq war, and it has a place of prominence on Rudoren’s NYT office bookshelf.

    These books indicate Rudoren’s intellectual influences? The title The High Cost of Peace — and the book’s thesis — are now especially ironic, after this latest assault on Gaza.

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