New NYT Jerusalem Chief Cozies up to Israel Bashers

February 15, 2012

Update, February 15, 9:27 a.m.: Despite the outcry over Rudoren’s schmooze session, the incoming Jerusalem bureau chief continues to publicly praise Israel’s critics. This morning, Rudoren took to Twitter to praise Peter Beinart’s forthcoming The Crisis of Zionism which she called "terrific: provocative, readable, full of reporting and reflection."

The New York Times’ newly appointed Jerusalem bureau chief played Twitter footsie on Tuesday with some of Israel’s most extreme non-terrorist critics.

Jodi Rudoren, until recently the paper’s education editor, is set to take control of the Times’ Jerusalem bureau following the exit of longtime chief Ethan Bronner.

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.

Rudoren also Tweeted yesterday with the website Mondoweiss, an online portal that is known to traffic in Israel-bashing.

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."

Abunimah initially had criticized Rudoren for moving to the Time’s Jerusalem office building, which Abunimah described as "stolen" from the Palestinians.

"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.

A few minutes later, Rudoren responded to a tweet from Mondoweiss. The message included a link to an article the website had published discussing Rudoren’s upcoming move to Israel.

"FYI," she tweeted back, "one reason ur not familiar w my name is most of my reporting career was under different byline."

Rudoren’s last name was formerly Wilgoren. After marrying husband Gary Ruderman, the couple combined their names to form "Rudoren."

Pro-Israel observers are already beginning to question Rudoren’s impartiality on issue of Israel.

"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."

Noah Pollak, executive director of the pro-Israel Emergency Committee for Israel, added that this serves as "a window into the disturbing workplace culture at the New York Times that a reporter, Kareem Fahim, would recommend a well-known bigot to help another reporter prepare for an assignment."

He added that "it's too early to draw any conclusions—maybe Rudoren has no idea who Abunimah is—but one hopes that she'll approach her new assignment with a little more rigor than what's been demonstrated today."

A call placed to the Times Tuesday evening seeking comment from Rudoren was not immediately returned.