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‘NY Times’ has double standard for Arab and Jewish reporters

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Last night at Columbia University there was quite a conversation about identity politics and journalism led by two former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chiefs. It was fascinating because their interrogation of identity only went one way: about Arab identity and how that affects an Arab’s journalism– specifically, Diaa Hadid, the new West Bank correspondent for the Times.

The fact that both former Times bureau chiefs, now powerful editors, are Jewish with Zionist backgrounds and work/ed for a Jewish-owned newspaper that has often made it a point to support Israel — that wasn’t up for discussion. In fact, when the moderator asked the two editors if they are Zionists, they scrambled wildly to avoid the question.

The two speakers were Jodi Rudoren, a deputy international editor at the Times and former Jerusalem bureau chief, and Ethan Bronner, a Bloomberg editor who is also a former Times Jerusalem bureau chief. The subject was “Covering Jerusalem,” and the venue was the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia.

Rudoren spoke at length about Times correspondent Diaa Hadid’s Arab-ness — when she was questioned twice about her. Hadid was hired as the Times‘s Ramallah correspondent last year. She is an Australian of Lebanese and Egyptian ancestry. Rudoren said that Hadid is stopped for hours at Israeli checkpoints and harassed because she is Arab:

One thing Diaa does face that really we don’t and that has partly to do with her living in Ramallah and I’m sorry to say is partly to do with her parentage is that she has a lot of hassles at checkpoints that we have not dealt with because she goes to a lot of smaller, lower profile checkpoints that foreign journalists don’t generally do. Again, she’s traveling more within the West Bank, as opposed to in and out of . . . Jerusalem. So she has had numerous times of being delayed for hours and sometimes in her view harassed, and she has [unintelligible] complaint about it.

Rudoren said Hadid’s Israeli Government Press Office card and her association with the New York Times don’t cut any ice at these checkpoints because “they’re not on the radar.”

I wonder why the Times doesn’t write about this racial profiling and harassment. If Rudoren is so “sorry” this is the case, then why doesn’t the Times expose it?

A questioner asked Rudoren why Hadid was allowed to work for the New York Times when she had contributed pieces to the Electronic Intifada. Rudoren answered at length:

Diaa didn’t work for the Electronic Intifada, she did have a couple of pieces published there.  She did however work for a Palestinian activist organization, which I would say is — well I won’t go into it. [laughter]

(Hadid apparently worked after college for Ittijah, an organization in Haifa that coordinates NGOs that oppose discrimination against Palestinians by Israel.)

But anyway, that was a job that she kind of took straight out of college in her early 20s. She went to work for a Palestinian cause as an activist. And during that time she had some pieces published on the Electronic Intifada. And then she left those jobs and went to work for the Associated Press. She worked in Jerusalem for a number of years and then in Beirut for a number of years. And I think by the time we hired her had worked for the AP for a total of seven years as compared to something like two years. I don’t know how long actually she worked for the Palestinian organization, but it was not very long.

So we were quite rigorous in questioning. It was quite unusual for us to hire somebody who had been an activist on one side of the conflict. And what she said was that while working as an activist, she grew frustrated telling only one side of the story. And she decided that she wanted to become a journalist because she had a yearning to tell the multi-dimensional facets of this story and other stories.

And given that she was about 22 or 23 when she worked for those places . . . we decided that that explanation fit kind of a lot with how we think about journalism. And the years when she worked for the AP where we could read her stories and her coverage and speak with people that she worked with, and on balance we thought this was a good person to hire.

Hiring a fluent and native Arab speaker to live in Ramallah and cover Palestinians is not as — who has never worked as an advocate or written advocacy journalism is not as easy as you might think. And we felt like, it did take us a long time to hire Diaa, and we went through a lot of discussions on this very issue and we decided it was worth it.

Well, some folks are transparent and some aren’t. Jewishness was never an issue in the entire conversation. It only came up when Bronner mentioned that Times correspondent Isabel Kershner is Jewish.

The fact that Bronner’s son, and Kershner’s and David Brooks’s too, served in the Israeli army while they worked for the Times — gosh, how rigorous was their questioning by the editors? Again, the matter wasn’t addressed.

Moderator Jordan Hirsch did ask the two editors if they would describe themselves as Zionists, and they fell over one another disagreeing about the definition of Zionism.

Bronner: I wouldn’t describe myself that way.

Rudoren: I wouldn’t either, but it’s not because I’m not a Zionist. I wouldn’t participate in that label. I said early on that the only ist I am is a journalist.

Bronner: On the Zionist question, I certainly accept the existence of the Jewish state in what was Palestine, so in that sense — but it’s like saying, ‘Do you consider yourself a capitalist?’ You know, I participate in the system, but it’s not how I define myself.

Rudoren: But also there’s a bigger problem. What’s a Zionist? You can’t say — I feel that people are pretty clear on what a journalist is. But the definition that you just laid out of the Jewish state being — is absolutely not an accepted term of what being a Zionist is —

Hirsch also asked, In 50 years will Israel exist?

Bronner: Yes.

Rudoren: Depends.

Rudoren later corrected that horrifying statement to say that she was actually more comfortable on the “Depends” answer on a 100-year basis.

This disingenuous conversation is why I assert Rudoren is a Zionist (who wrote chiefly about the Israeli Jewish experience as a reporter over there, who first went out to Israel with United Synagogue Youth as a teen and who seems to only talk to Jewish groups, from Hadassah to the American Jewish Committee to the JCC), she just doesn’t want to talk about it. According to her ist evasion, she also wouldn’t say she’s a feminist — but she and her husband invented a new last name when they got married because she was opposed to the “patriarchy,” saying, “I didn’t want my family founded on that principle.”

So the real standard here is, I have opinions but you can’t know about them. On the other hand, our Arab reporter is going to get the third degree, and I’ll tell you all about that.

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29 Responses

  1. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    April 12, 2016, 3:55 pm

    Isabel Kirchner is Jewish but that isn’t even her biggest conflict of interest. Kirchner is married to Hirsh Goodman, Israeli propagandist and founding editor of The Jerusalem Report. Kirchner also worked for the hawkish Jerusalem Report.

  2. Dan From Away
    Dan From Away
    April 12, 2016, 4:07 pm

    Rudoren: “I wouldn’t either, but it’s not because I’m not a Zionist. I wouldn’t participate in that label.”

    Hmmm…can secular civilians who are labeled, unjustly, antisemites because of their support of BDS or SJP or IAW now decree that “they won’t participate in that label”?

    We should ask this question: Are you a Zionist?, over and over again. We should ask it of all the presidential candidates, journalists, Congresscritters, university presidents and the entire galaxy of plutocrats who privilege Zionism but who never overtly “participate in that label”.

    I’ve asked this before here and I ask it again: What is our functional definition of Zionsm/anti-Zionism/antisemitism?

    Without this action we are all being disingenuous. I will not participate in that label.

    See posters on the subject of Zionism here:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/zionism-equals-racism

    and here:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/anti-zionist

    • Michael Rabb
      Michael Rabb
      April 13, 2016, 12:16 pm

      A “zionist” is anyone who supports the existence/survival of the Jewish state of Israel. Acccording to Pew Opinion Research most most American Jews are zionist — most Jews feel some attachment to Israel , and that attachment has become a central part of Jewish identity: a source of pride and sometimes anguish; a cultural, religious, familial and spiritual bond; a sense of a shared fate, and, in some cases, the only way they feel Jewish.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 13, 2016, 2:47 pm

        “A “zionist” is…/… the only way they feel Jewish.”

        That’s really too bad. I’d hate to have to try and explain how my religion merited my a material and political reward in this world taken from others.
        And I sure wouldn’t like what other people would say about it when they grew to understand that. They may find it just a tad self-serving.

  3. Talkback
    Talkback
    April 12, 2016, 4:10 pm

    “… Rudoren is a Zionist …”

    Who would have thought.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    April 12, 2016, 4:22 pm

    Who do they think they are fooling, besides anybody who thinks the NYT is objective about Israel/Palestine? How’s the subscriber list for the Old Gray Lady doing these days? Anybody know?

    • Michael Rabb
      Michael Rabb
      April 13, 2016, 12:22 pm

      who do they think they’re fooling ? [laughter] probably not many at Columbia’s School for Jewish Studies ? Jews are open and proud of being “Zionist” — see Eisner’s article in the Forward last week: “the line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is becoming ever thinner and more porous, and it may disappear altogether …” it’s true and the reason is not because of some bigoted prejudice against Jews. It’s because Judaism and Zionism have become more and more congruent and integrated. Most American Jews feel some attachment to Israel , and that attachment has become a central part of Jewish identity: a source of pride and sometimes anguish; a cultural, religious, familial and spiritual bond; a sense of a shared fate, and, in some cases, the only way they feel Jewish. So to complain about the crimes of the Zionist project of Israel is taken as an assault on Judaism and Jews generally.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 13, 2016, 2:51 pm

        “Most American Jews feel some attachment to Israel , and that attachment has become a central part of Jewish identity”

        And this, of course, exempts us from all Federal Law concerning the support of illegal activities in other countries? Not to mention any other obligation as an American Citizen?
        Wait, I know what it is! We must have passed that “religious test” the Constitution talks about. With flying colors!

        “a sense of a shared fate”

        I’m with you on that “Rabb”. If the illegal settlers end up coming back to the States (and what’s to stop them?) there will be hell to pay.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        April 13, 2016, 5:19 pm

        Do you consider that non-Jewish Zionists are being drawn into Judaism, the other side of the integrated whole?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 13, 2016, 5:41 pm

        “Do you consider that non-Jewish Zionists are being drawn into Judaism”

        Well, it’s quite possible that a “non Jewish Zionist” may see certain advantages in coverting to Judaism. Especially if they live in “Israel”, or see their Zionist activities as a springboard to a career or employment.

  5. Mooser
    Mooser
    April 12, 2016, 5:13 pm

    Do employees of the Times often get together like this to put the shiv in another Times employee?

  6. John O
    John O
    April 12, 2016, 6:17 pm

    “So she has had numerous times of being delayed for hours and sometimes in her view harassed…”

    In her view?????

  7. hophmi
    hophmi
    April 12, 2016, 6:58 pm

    Your analogy just doesn’t hold. No one mentioned Hadid’s religion. They mentioned her previous career as an advocacy journalist. You compare that to questioning the bias of people like Rudoren and Bronner, complete with your false perceptions about Rudoren speaking only to American Jewish advocacy groups, based solely on their religion. The former is completely warranted. The latter is cheap bigotry.

    • James North
      James North
      April 12, 2016, 8:18 pm

      You don’t think that someone like Bronner who has a son serving in the Israeli army has a bias when covering Israel/Palestine?

      • Donald
        Donald
        April 13, 2016, 8:40 am

        Well, you know , that’s different. Being part of an organization that shoots Palestinian civilians doesn’t raise the sort of red flag that working for their rights does. Not at the NYT or in hophmi’s mind anyway.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        April 13, 2016, 11:04 am

        Certainly not as much as an American reporter covering the US Army would have or as much as a reporter who has actually written for advocacy websites would have. Bronner wrote plenty of stories that were critical of Israel during his tenure as Jerusalem bureau chief, and so did Rudoren. Look, be honest. If the Jerusalem Bureau Chief is Jewish, you’re going to find some way to suggest they’re biased because they’re Jewish. Bronner has a son in the Army. Rudoren didn’t, so you complained that she went on USY trips as a child (even though the ranks of JVP include a number of people who grew up similarly). I can’t remember; did you ever suggest that Anthony Shahid’s Arab background made him a biased report in Syria, Libya, and Iraq? Have you done a comparative analysis of Bronner’s and Rudoren’s work with reporters for other major newspapers who don’t have children in the IDF? That’s what’s required to make this inflammatory, ethnocentric claim of yours.

      • Michael Rabb
        Michael Rabb
        April 13, 2016, 12:31 pm

        hophmi for comparative analysis of Rudoren and Bronner’s work check out Times Warp: https://timeswarp.org . inflamatory ? you bet.

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer
      April 12, 2016, 9:31 pm

      @hophmi

      Just a few short hours ago, Judaism was a nation culture and religion. Now it’s just a religionagain.

      Slimy zionist tactic #4

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 12, 2016, 9:51 pm

        || oldgeezer: @hophmi

        Just a few short hours ago, Judaism was a nation culture and religion. Now it’s just a religionagain.

        Slimy zionist tactic #4 ||

        Yeah, I noticed that, too:

        hophmi: … Judaism is a civilization that encompasses a nation, a culture, and a religion.

        He has this Zio-supremacist habit of:
        – promoting Jewish as a diverse set of things (tribe, culture, religion, ethnicity, people, nation and civilization); but
        – defending Jewish by reducing it to just a religion.

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer
        April 12, 2016, 10:17 pm

        @eljay

        I guess they do what they have to do since neither facts nor morality are on their side. Heck they’ll slaughter women and children to steal what they covet so what’s a few lies and dishonesty.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 12, 2016, 10:08 pm

      ” No one mentioned Hadid’s religion.”

      Rudoren:

      “Diaa does face that really we don’t and that has partly to do with her living in Ramallah and I’m sorry to say is partly to do with her parentage is that she has a lot of hassles at checkpoints.”

      “Partly to do with her parentage”. And does Rudoren really want to talk about where Times correspondents live?

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        April 13, 2016, 2:04 am

        “…where they live.”

        An excellent piece by Phil:

        Ghada Karmi visits the ‘New York Times’ reporter in her former house in Jerusalem – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/12/reporter-former-jerusalem/#sthash.RG5YUnHS.dpuf

        The Times owns an apartment in the Qatamon section of West Jerusalem that has become a symbol of the newspaper’s insensitivity to the Palestinian side of the story, because the house was formerly owned by a Palestinian family that was forced to leave in 1948 and never allowed to return. And never compensated for its stolen property either.

        Thanks mooser.

  8. chris o
    chris o
    April 12, 2016, 11:30 pm

    You certainly have a legitimate point. But on the other hand, Rudoren is defending Hadid and speaking highly of her. It was as if the complaint was that Hadid was a pro-Palestinian activist and so Rudoren was speaking to that allegation and basically saying, “No, she’s a good reporter and we were right to hire her.” So while the glaring issue of the bias of those on stage may have been ignored, her defense of Hadid seemed good and proper. I learned a thing or two.

  9. ritzl
    ritzl
    April 13, 2016, 2:34 am

    [Rudoren] “…And what she said was that while working as an activist, she grew frustrated telling only one side of the story. And she decided that she wanted to become a journalist because she had a yearning to tell the multi-dimensional facets of this story and other stories.” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/rudoren-opines-on-arab-reporters-politics-but-ducks-the-zionism-question/#comment-834611

    Gawd. By Rudoren standards the NYT is an activist organization and Rudoren herself is not a journalist.

  10. Kay24
    Kay24
    April 13, 2016, 6:39 am

    Those despicable land thieves seems to be continuing their filthy habits. I bet NYT will not be covering these crimes.

    Watchdog: Israeli approval for squatter units more than doubles in 2016

    http://www.juancole.com/2016/04/watchdog-israeli-approval-for-settler-units-more-than-doubles-in-2016.html

  11. just
    just
    April 13, 2016, 7:27 am

    The NYT is only imitating the real Israel. See this from Amira Hass:

    “How and Why Radical Right-winger Bentzi Gopstein Was Acquitted

    The judge’s faith in Gopstein is interwoven in a process of acceptance, separation and differentiation.

    Judge Dov Pollock believes in Bentzi Gopstein’s honesty. This faith forms the basis of his decision to acquit the chairman of Lehava (an NGO seeking to prevent assimilation in the Holy Land) of the charge of attacking two left-wing activists, Daniel Dokorovich and Ezra Nawi.

    “I accept the claim,” Pollock wrote in his decision, “that the defendant subjectively felt a clear danger to himself and to neighborhood residents who stood next to him when Ezra, Daniel and their colleagues decided to climb the gate and enter this way, arousing suspicion about their intentions. … The defendant made an honest mistake regarding the goal of their entry into the settlement … for the sake of preventing a supposed danger … presented by their entry. Thus, there is both a foundation for palpable danger and a foundation for the defendant’s subjective sense of urgency.”

    No one denies Gopstein’s attack. It was filmed and took place right under the nose of Judea and Samaria District police in Kiryat Arba. It happened on August 2, 2008. Two years passed until the Judea and Samaria District prosecution unit filed an indictment, and even that was only after those attacked kept “nudging.” The trial dragged on and on, and on Sunday the acquittal came down.

    The indictment is flawed by omissions, errors and deletions. This is further evidence that prosecution unit did not really try. … let’s summarize the events: Another activist from Ta’ayush, a Jewish-Arab anti-occupation group, was arrested that morning at a protest over the blockage of a trail connecting two small villages. That has been the army’s solution for years. The settlers harass Palestinian passersby, the path is blocked to the Palestinians. Nawi went to pick up the detainee who was released from the Judea and Samaria police station in Kiryat Arba. Nawi asked Dr. Dokorovich to accompany him and examine some Palestinian children. There were two more activists with them.

    The small Givat Ha’avot settlement, where Gopstein lives, is adjacent to the police station. The activists entered the settlement by car via the main gate because that is the way to the police station. They noticed a large group of settler children throwing rocks at the Ja’abri family home right nearby. Despite the proximity to the police station and the presence of adults and soldiers, no one made the children stop. The Ta’ayush activists, true heroes, rushed to climb the gate separating Givat Avot and the Ja’abris’ land to stand with the family under attack. Their presence and involvement required the soldiers to disperse the settlers throwing stones.

    The activists then saw that a group of Israelis, apparently settlers, were walking suspiciously around their car. Afterward they would discover that the tires had been punctured and Dokorovich’s medical bag lifted. They sought to climb the locked gate and get back to their car on the other side. That’s where Gopstein attacked … . The police arrested … the activists.

    This factual foundation, which the activists testified to in court, apparently seemed irrelevant to the honorable judge. Relevant was the emotional foundation of the attacker – who, in response to the police’s recommendation a year ago to try him for racist incitement, described the essence of his work as follows: “I represent the Torah of Israel, which taught us the importance of differentiation between Israel and the gentile peoples.”

    The judge’s faith in Gopstein is interwoven in a process of acceptance, separation and differentiation. He separates the defendant standing in front of him from the very well-known media personality. There will be those who call this objectivity, or professionalism. He accepts the emotional basis on which Gopstein makes his declaration, and which allows him to present a picture of reality in which he is the potential victim of an attack by Arabs and anarchists. At the same time, the judge ignores the fabric of objective facts that brought the true victims of the attack to Hebron and the settlement. In accepting Gopstein’s claims, the judge makes a differentiation. Between the attacker and the attacked. Between the settler and the one suspected of anarchism, leftism or Arabism. Between Israel and the gentile peoples.”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.714130?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

  12. ymedad
    ymedad
    April 13, 2016, 8:31 am

    I don’t understand you referring to a “double standard”.

    Do you mean that it is okay for Ms. Hadid to be a “Palestinian activist” but a Jewish reporter can’t be a “Zionist”?

  13. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    April 13, 2016, 9:08 am

    Things are going downhill rapidly in the Jewish State in the Levant. JSILis such as Gobstein ie overt rabid racists are becoming the norm as opposed to the exception – JSILis it is true through the very nature of the creation and expansion of JSIL were always racist but in a more lovable please continue to feel sorry for us post Holocaust fashion. Now it is overt in your face two fingers up to the rest of the world racism nurtured and fostered by the Yahoo and Co and increasingly warping and corrupting the once ? independent judiciary.

    What we in the civilised west must never lose sight of is the fact that these unhinged JSILi freaks in the Middle East have nuclear weapons and in the very near future their fingers may be hovering over the release buttons.

    Forget Iran,forget the mad mullahs – reflect instead on the JSIL and the mad rabbis.

  14. Boo
    Boo
    April 13, 2016, 1:09 pm

    So in a nutshell, Rudoren’s justifying Hadid’s hire 1) because her Palestinian advocacy work was really just a youthful indiscretion, and 2) because in the interim she’s been sufficiently sanitized and de-loused.

    Cute!

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