Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times bureau chief in Israel, has launched an unprecedented attack on pro-Israeli critics of her journalism, declaring that there “is a very active and very noisy group of advocates who has decided that tearing apart coverage of the conflict is a good tool of advocacy.”
Rudoren was speaking at a conference held at Israel’s Bar Ilan University last weekend which focused on media coverage of Operation Protective Edge, launched against the Hamas regime in Gaza by the IDF over the summer in response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israeli population centers.
Rudoren reserved special opprobrium for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA,) a media watchdog that has regularly uncovered factual errors and editorial bias in her reporting. The organization’s name is “not accurate”, she claimed, because its members are “not for accuracy in Middle East reporting, but for promoting a pro-Israel message, which is absolutely their right, just as the Institute for Middle East Understanding is not for Middle East Understanding, but for promoting the Palestinian narrative.”
Rudoren sharply criticized Jewish politics and culture magazine Tablet for running an article on August 28 by Richard Block, a leading Reform rabbi, entitled “Why I’m Unsubscribing from the New York Times.” In that piece, Rabbi Block stated that his “chronic irritation” with the newspaper “finally morphed into alienation and then to visceral disgust this summer, after Hamas renewed its terrorist assaults upon Israel and the Times launched what can only be described as a campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State.”
“There’s a kind of myopia in which each side looks at articles or TV reports and focuses on the part that they think offends their narrative or their argument. There’s clearly this scorecard that people are using,” Rudoren said.
Rudoren’s comments drew a sharp response from her fellow panelist Ben Dror Yemini, a columnist with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot. “I don’t work for, or represent, CAMERA, but I follow its work closely,” Yemini said. “Most of CAMERA’s claims against The New York Times are factual and not political. Some of CAMERA’s members are right wing. Does this mean that if a right wing person makes a claim it is less trustworthy? Perhaps not all their claims are true, but unfortunately I haven’t yet seen The Times try to disprove any of these claims. You say that they are biased, but you are biased, too.”
Echoing Rabbi Block’s criticisms, Yemini said that “the impression created by The Times is that Israel is the monster that hurts innocents.”
Rudoren’s work has courted controversy ever since she was appointed to her post in 2012. One of her first acts was to tweet Ali Abunimah, the founder of the viciously anti-Semitic website Electronic Intifada, saying she “would love a chat sometime.”
Just this week, Seth Mandel, an editor with Commentary magazine, slammed Rudoren for “making it clear she refuses to learn more, because she regards that learning process itself as a concession to her critics. Out of sheer pride, Rudoren will remain uninformed.” Mandel published a series of tweets in reaction to Rudoren’s reporting of last week’s massacre at a Jerusalem synagogue by Palestinian terrorists, asserting in one of them: “Yes Jodi. The spilling of Jewish blood in a shul by Palestinian terrorists deserves the mealy mouthed ‘on the one hand on the other’ garbage.”