Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times is coming home. Two days ago, Joe Kahn, the international editor of the Times, tweeted:
— Joe Kahn (@nycscribe) November 25, 2015
Jodi Rudoren wrote this generous statement yesterday on Facebook that begins by saying she’s leaving right on schedule….
I knew this would be my last Thanksgiving in Jerusalem, but I had not expected to be cooking amid packing up and saying goodbyes. The Rudorens depart Jan. 1 for New York. I will be deputy on The Times’ international desk, a thrilling and daunting next step as we continue to expand our global audience and transform our report in the digital age.
On this Thanksgiving — or, as it is known here, Thursday — I am so grateful for the incredible, generous, insightful and intrepid Palestinians and Israelis who enabled me to do this most demanding work, and experience this most complicated place. You have taught me endlessly, you have supported me thoroughly, you have challenged my brain, you have filled my heart. Journalists who guided me, sources who shared with me, friends who embraced me — even advocates who attacked me: you have helped me grow and see and question, and question. Exactly why we came here, exactly why I’ve been doing this journalism thing all these years.
So, thank you. And as my feed broadens its lens beyond this backyard, I hope you’ll keep following, commenting, reading the report and pushing me to do and be my best. Todah and Shukran!
And so the revolving door turns in the edifice of official journalism. I wonder if she isn’t glad to be getting out. This is the highest pressure reporting job in the print media, it can’t be much fun. The pressure from the Israel lobby is much greater than the pressure from the equal-rights-grass-roots. Look at the retweets on Kahn’s announcement, it’s all from Israel supporters bashing Rudoren.
When I met Rudoren in 2012, I told her that imho her job was to communicate to the elites and the influence leaders back home that the two state solution was dead, or all but dead; there’s no way that we are going to see a viable Palestinian state whose capital is East Jerusalem. She did not take up that responsibility; one cannot be ahead of the Washington Narrative here; and so the challenge remains for her dashing successor. Two weeks ago there was the unconfirmed report that New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker will be replacing Rudoren as Jerusalem bureau chief.
We were initially sanguine about Rudoren. My hangover lasted for years. I started saying that Rudoren was culturally bound: from the Jewish community, for the Jewish community. Next Monday night she’s speaking at the JCC in Manhattan; sold out, but on livestream. She’s spoken to an American Jewish Committee group and to the National Council for Jewish Women, who were having a “celebrate” Israel event. I can’t remember any speeches she’s given to Palestinian groups, or church groups either, let alone at anti-Zionist gatherings.
I think some of this is structural; it’s the Upper West Side, Jake. The Times is under institutional pressure from the pro-Israel NY establishment. As former Timesman Neil Lewis wrote at CJR: “It is no exaggeration to say that for a century [the NYT] has served, in effect, as the hometown paper of American Jewry.” Rudoren’s predecessor Ethan Bronner after the usual protestations about objectivity has worked as a flack for the Israeli army, not long after his son served in that organization.