H/T Yisrael Medad.
After New York Times‘ Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren incorrectly reported that building in E-1 would make a “contiguous” Palestinian state impossible, the Times issued this lengthy correction to her article this past Sunday:
An article on Dec. 2 about Israel’s decision to move forward with planning and zoning for settlements in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1 described imprecisely the effect of such development on access to the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and on the West Bank. Development of E1 would limit access to Ramallah and Bethlehem, leaving narrow corridors far from the Old City and downtown Jerusalem; it would not completely cut off those cities from Jerusalem. It would also create a large block of Israeli settlements in the center of the West Bank; it would not divide the West Bank in two. And because of an editing error, the article referred incompletely to the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. Critics see E1 as a threat to the meaningful contiguity of such a state because it would leave some Palestinian areas connected by roads with few exits or by circuitous routes; the proposed development would not technically make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. [Emphasis added].
Following the correction, former Bush adviser and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Elliot Abrams accused Rudoren of being completely bias when it comes to Israel, saying there was no other explanation for her failure to know or consult a map:
Here’s my theory: that just about everyone she knows –all her friends– believe these things, indeed know that they are true. Settlements are bad, the right-wing Israeli government is bad, new construction makes peace impossible and cuts the West Bank in half and destroys contiguity and means a Palestinian state is impossible. They just know it, it’s obvious, so why would you have to refer to a map, or talk to people who would tell you it’s all wrong? This was precisely what was feared when Ms. Rudoren was named the Times’s bureau chief: that she would move solely in a certain political and social milieu, the rough Israeli equivalent of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This embarrassing episode–one story, many errors and corrections–may lead her to be more careful. One has to hope so, and to hope that both she and her editors reflect again on the thinking and the pattern of associations that lead a correspondent to misunderstand the issues so badly.
Yesterday, Politico posted part of an e-mail sent by Rudoren defending herself. She argued that she is not bias (of course) and blamed “imprecise language” on the pressures of making a deadline late at night. But that was not all. She went further, arguing that in essence she was and is correct about E-1 cutting Judea and Samaria in two, saying that’s “precisely why this area was chosen at this time” by the Israeli government. While as a writer and an attorney I can sympathize with the burdens of watching every single word while adhering to multiple deadlines for various pieces of work, her non-apology apology gives her bias away.
For years, Israel’s “friendly” critics have argued that Israel could establish a Palestinian state through various technical agreements and security arrangements, such as using bypass roads, which would theoretically enable Israelis to travel safely through certain areas of Judea and Samaria without worrying about road attacks. Even after the correction, Roduren assumes that such an arrangement would be impossible and goes even further by acting as if the territory in between Ma’aleh Adumim and the Dead Sea which would connect the top and bottom portions of Judea and Samaria does not exist.
My hope as a Jew and an Israeli citizen is that the government did choose to build in E-1 both to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state as well as to send a message that one could not be created about our consent. As I have written elsewhere, the timing indicates that this may be the case. But it could also be about other things: building in an area which all Israeli governments have viewed as being part of Israel in any future agreement with the Palestinians; sending a message to the Palestinians and/or the international community that Israel will take unilateral action in response to action taken by the Palestinians to change the status of the territory without Israel’s agreement (violating the Oslo Accords), or just building in a controversial area at what was thought to be strategically opportune time.
But Roduren, in a news report for the world’s leading publication, made an assumption about allegedly nefarious Israeli goals. And there is a difference between reporting what critics say and reporting facts – such as that a “contiguous” Palestinian state would be impossible with Jews living on the hill known as E-1, as she did. In order to be fair and present readers with all the facts, news articles should not cite the sources and not present them as undisputed facts.
In fact, when an issue is so bound up in controversy – that was what makes building on some empty hill in the middle east newsworthy to people around the world – reporters should not only cite the Arab critics, but also an advocate for Israel who explains why E-1 would not make a “contiguous” Palestinian state impossible or, even better, defending Israel’s right to do so regardless of its effect on the prospect of “contiguous” Palestinian statehood or the establishment of a Palestinian state at all.
The fact that even after the revisions, the article still only cites anti-settlement sources, is evidence of Abrams’ theory, that everyone Ruderon speaks to pretty much thinks the same thing.
In any case, here’s the excerpt of the e-mail that Politico published:
It’s not correct that most of the people I associate with have a left wing perspective, or any particular perspective. In fact I have been widely praised for speaking to a broad variety of people for my stories.
The essence of what our E1 story said was correct: that building there is seen by palestinians, peace advocates and diplomats worldwide as the death knell of the two state solution, because it prevents meaningful contiguity in the West Bank and easy access to the heart of East Jerusalem. (The Israelis also understand this; it’s precisely why this area was chosen at this time.)
On deadline, late at night and at the end of a very long couple of weeks, I used imprecise language and, yes, did not study the map carefully enough. I deeply regret that, but it does not betray any agenda or anything about who I know or consult in my reporting. [Emphasis added].
About the Author: Daniel Tauber is the Executive Director of Likud Anglos, and a former Opinions Editor at JewishPress.com. Daniel is also an attorney admitted to practice law in Israel and New York and received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. You can follow him on facebook and twitter.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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