The ink has barely dried on the New York Times announcement that Jodi Rudoren will replace Ethan Bronner as Jerusalem bureau chief, and the move is already generating controversy. As Jonathan wrote yesterday, Bronner was attacked by Israel-bashers for having a son who formerly served in the Israel Defense Forces. And now Rudoren is apparently reaching out to these same anti-Israel activists, the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports:
Already, Rudoren is beaming out cutesy missives to prominent, self-described anti-Zionist players such as Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a website that contains a treasure trove of writings highly antagonistic toward the Jewish state.
Early yesterday afternoon, Rudoren Tweeted a friendly dispatch to Abunimah, who has referred to Zionism as “one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today.” …
“Hey there. Would love to chat sometime. About things other than the house. My friend Kareem Fahim says good things,” Rudoren responded, referencing her Times colleague who covers Syria.
Electronic Intifada’s toxic anti-Israel rhetoric goes so far beyond mere political criticism, publishing articles that equate Israel to Nazi Germany and calling Zionism a form of anti-Semitism. It’s hard to imagine what “good things” the incoming New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief could have heard about EI, or why she would “love to chat sometime” with the site’s founder.
Rudoren’s exchanges with Abunimah, and with the vehemently anti-Israel Mondoweiss blog, have already raised concerns within the pro-Israel community:
“Obviously a New York Times reporter is expected to talk to everyone in the context of reporting a story, perhaps even terrorists at times. But it’s concerning to see the tone of these exchanges,” said Josh Block, a Middle East analyst and former top official at a pro-Israel group. “These are not people you engage like this, especially your first day as Jerusalem bureau chief for the paper of record. You really don’t even want to be seen in public with them—it’s just a mistake.”
Was the friendly outreach to Israel-bashers an honest mistake? Or a sign of where the New York Times wants to take its Israel coverage? The reporting at the Times has never been particularly favorable toward Israel, and the comments from the new Jerusalem chief indicate that it could get much worse before it gets better.