I enjoy reading a variety of news publications. I enjoy listening to, and watching a number of news networks, and there are some that I like more than others. I have removed CNN from my list because of a number of glaring errors in their reporting about events that concern me, namely those that have to do with Israel. While I do not particularly like the BBC I do listen to its news broadcasts and from time to time I will watch their televised news. Both are brought to me courtesy of Public Radio (NPR) and Public Television (PBS). Further, I watch Al Jazeera America, One America News Network (OAN), Fox News and MSNBC.
My main sources of news from Israel are The Times of Israel, ynetnews.com (Yediot Achronot), The Jerusalem Post and Globes. I am humbled and honored that The Times of Israel publication publishes the articles I write for them (BLOGS). And so, it is with some frustration that I am still unable to come to terms with the editorial writing and news articles about Israel in the New York Times.
I have given up writing to the editor about Jodi Rudoren, the Jerusalem Bureau Chief of the NYT. I was not alone, because some weeks ago the Sunday Review section of the NYT posted an editorial about the many complaints the paper had received about her writing. The editorial stated that because some complaints stated she did not report enough about Israel’s “hard hand” with the Palestinians, and others that she reported only about that, the consensus was that she must be doing something right. My contention remains that she should be the Gaza Bureau Chief of the NYT, because she writes mostly about Gaza and its inhabitants. In the February 28 2015 edition, Ms Rudoren wrote about Nidaa Badwan, an artist from Deir El Balach in the Gaza Strip. I actually found the article interesting but, again, it had little to do with Israel, Israeli society or even any Jewish related theme. The article only reinforced my view that Ms Rudoren should write only about what goes on in the Gaza Strip, and set up offices in Gaza city.
In that same edition, Julie Hirschfeld Davis wrote about Jeremy Bird, a former President Obama campaign aide, who is working with an Israeli group, V15. The group is in opposition to Prime Minister Netanyahu, hoping to be victorious (V) in 2015 (15) to unseat the Prime Minister in the March 17 2015 election. Why, as Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Ms Rudoren could not see fit to write anything at all about the upcoming elections in Israel is a question to which I have not yet found an answer. Why the resurgent tent movement seems to be of no interest to her is also a mystery to me.
In the March 1 2015 NYT Sunday Review section there were two articles about Israel. Roger Cohen wrote an excellent article about the agony and grief of the Wultz family, whose son, Daniel Wultz was murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber in 2006. The article was interesting, extensive and as far as I could understand very fair. Further in the same section, however, another editorial by Nicholas Kristof left me frustrated because it omitted certain details.
I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Kristof. I have watched and admired his work, and read many of his editorials, again with the utmost admiration. In his article titled The Two Israels, Mr. Kristof wrote about the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and its tree planting program. Like many other Jews the world over, I have donated to the JNF to plant trees in Israel. The article described a JNF program to destroy fruit and olive trees belonging to Israeli Bedouin, and went on to quote Sheikh Sayakh al-Turi and his son, Aziz, that the JNF was out to delete Bedouin “history and plant Jewish history”. In the article’s ensuing and balanced arguments a certain fact was omitted.
For years a struggle existed in the Negev region of Israel. The struggle was between a branch of Israel’s executive and the Bedouin population who did not reside in towns and villages, but adhered to their nomadic traditions. The IDF, on land set aside for all sorts of military exercises, realized quickly that the nomadic way of life and military exercises along with live ammunition maneuvers, created a problem. The lives of those Bedouin herding sheep and goats, wandering in these open spaces with camels, cattle, donkeys and the like were in danger should they trespass into these designated military areas. Many Bedouin realized that the IDF would compensate them for losses incurred to their herds. Programs were developed to restrict these nomadic movements, and the Bedouin were encouraged to settle in villages and towns.
As Mr. Kristof pointed out, the JNF undertook to combat the poverty within some of those settlements, and having seen this poverty myself, I can certainly sympathize. On the other hand there are some very successful Bedouin towns, and many Bedouin have integrated completely into Israeli society. Many attend the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva.
My argument is simply this: a prestigious publication like the NYT, that reaches not only a large Jewish population in the US, but a well read and educated readership, should bring more of Israel and its culture, geography and social issues to its public. We know that whenever there is a conflagration there will be ample news coverage. What is missing is the day to day life of Israel, its struggles with affordable housing, ecology, education and its shrinking middle class.
I am sure that there are many people like myself, who do not rely on one source to keep current in what goes on. It is frustrating and sad that when there are so many stories to tell about Israel, a publication like the NYT will quite often leave its readership with only a part of the story, and a partial picture.