Another Rudoren Misfire

NYT Jerusalem Bureau Chief Falsely Calls AIPAC an entity of Israel

March 9, 2012

Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief who caused a stir in the pro-Israel community when she cozied up to extremist critics of Israel on Twitter and would not say whether she considers herself a Zionist, incorrectly wrote that the nation’s largest pro-Israel lobby works directly for the Jewish state.

In a report on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual lobbying day—in which thousands of pro-Israel delegates flood Capitol Hill to lobby in support of the Jewish state—Rudoren mistakenly stated that AIPAC is an Israeli entity, according to a correction issued by the newspaper.

"Because of an editing error, an article on Wednesday about a large lobbying effort on Capitol Hill Tuesday by delegates to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee referred incorrectly to the organization, known as Aipac," reads the Times correction, which is currently appended to the bottom Rudoren’s article. "It is a pro-Israel lobbying group that works in the United States to advance Israel’s interests. It does not work directly for the state of Israel or its government."

Even the correction misleads the reader, however.

AIPAC is an American lobbying organization and has a structure similar to other large D.C.-based lobbying groups. Critics of AIPAC—and what they call its nefarious foreign policy objectives—routinely demand that the organization register as a foreign lobby because, as they see it, AIPAC is loyal only to Israel.

AIPAC is in no way affiliated with the state of Israel. It is a bi-partisan organization that seeks to bolster the U.S.-Israel relationship in Congress and across America.

"This outrageous ‘correction’ is either a product of fundamental ignorance or purposeful and malicious editorializing," said Josh Block, who served as AIPAC’s spokesperson for nearly a decade. "We will see if the editors at the NYT have the journalistic integrity and confidence to correct a correction that is not only factually wrong, but a truly insulting and more subtle way of saying something quite pernicious."

The story still refers to AIPAC as "an Israel lobbying group."

"Israel lobby" is the term employed by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in their 2007 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. In it, the authors make the case that Israel controls U.S. foreign policy through intimidation and other sinister means.

"The reason why AIPAC and the U.S.-Israel relationship has such strong support on Capitol Hill is because it’s in America’s interest to have a strong state of Israel in the Middle East," said a senior Hill staffer who works for a pro-Israel member of Congress. "Israel does have representation on the Hill, but through the Israeli embassy. AIPAC very clearly advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship not just because it’s in Israel’s interest, but more importantly because it’s in the interest of the United States."