Meet Your New NYT Jerusalem Bureau Chief
Journalism’s most controversial post gets a new steward
The New York Times has announced that come April its new Jerusalem bureau chief will be Jodi Rudoren, formerly a politics reporter at the paper. (Current chief Ethan Bronner will cover national legal affairs.) This feels like the World Cup or something, one of those seminal events that occurs far less frequently than annually and that is bound to send us into a tizzy, given the Kremlinological intricacy with which the paper of record’s coverage of Israel is examined, particularly by the Jewish community.
Rudoren—who used to be Jodi Wilgoren; she and her husband, Gary Ruderman, merged their names—is now the education editor of the Times. But the experience that likely best suited her to covering a fraught story packed with true believers on both sides was her tenure in 2003 as the newspaper’s beat reporter for the Howard Dean campaign. (For example, a “Wilgoren Watch” blog appointed itself a pro-Dean ombudsman of her coverage.)
In a 2007 Q&A, Rudoren remarked, “The folks who cover the Middle East get criticism for being hopelessly pro-Israel and shamelessly co-opted by the Palestinians.” And about a decade ago, she published two articles during the Second Intifada examining how arguments over the conflict were playing out stateside: She reported (presciently) on a Hillel-sponsored conference that trained students how to defend Israel on campuses; and she covered what she saw as shifting ways in which American Jews were viewing the conflict. “Public opinion and political statements abroad isolating United States support for Israel have made many here worry whether the tight alliance between the two countries will fray,” she wrote in 2002. “Not since the wars of 1967 and 1973, perhaps not since Israel’s founding in 1948, have American Jews been this united—or this unnerved.” Citing the march on the Mall in support of Israel that drew 100,000, she added, “While some Jews fear that any criticism of Israel’s military response will be read as disloyalty, and a few report being afraid to put Israeli flag stickers on their windshields, the current crisis has inspired more of a coming out than a run for cover.”
As for Bronner, he has come under scrutiny that may be unprecedented even by the standards of a Times Jerusalem bureau chief. It was alleged that he gave favorable coverage to fellow members of his speaker’s bureau, and the revelation that his son was serving in the Israel Defense Forces prompted calls—including from the Times’ public editor—for him to be moved. It’s notable that Bronner was accused of bias from both the left and the right. Which isn’t proof that both or even either side was always wrong.
The Times announcement made repeated reference to the special nature of Rudoren’s new gig. “We’re thrilled to have her take on the unusually demanding role of Jerusalem correspondent,” it said. According to her Twitter feed, so is she: “Looking forward to my new assignment,” she said; she also reported that she planned to be there “3-4 years.” So, we’ll get to this all over again soon enough.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.