Ali Abunimah reflects on the controversy surrounding Ethan Bronner, the New York Times‘ Jerusalem bureau chief whose son recently enrolled in the Israeli army:
While Jews/Americans may report on Palestinians, the converse is not true. Why is this? It must be — I assume — because there is an inherent, perhaps unacknowledged assumption that an Arab/Palestinian is or will be automatically biased against Israelis/Jews. Whereas, we are supposed to accept that in no case is a Jewish reporter who identifies with Israel biased even when his son has joined an occupation army that is raiding Palestinian refugee camps and communities dozens of times per week. Seriously?
To what can we attribute this double-standard? I am afraid it smacks of racism.
I also have a long memory — Back in 1995, NPR fired Maureen Meehan because it was claimed she had not adequately disclosed that her husband had worked as an adviser to the Palestinian Authority. Of course we did not have blogs in those days, but I still do not remember an outpouring in her defense from the mainstream media. Hmmm. I wonder why?
Alison Weir has this suggestion:
New York Times Editor Bill Keller, in defending his decision to retain Bronner as their bureau chief despite Bronner’s conflict of interest and profoundly flawed track record, writes that he feels Bronner’s intimate family ties with Israel “supply a measure of sophistication about Israel and its adversaries.”
If the Times actually does want full, unbiased reporting on this region (there is little to indicate this, but let’s imagine it is so), it is essential that the Times also have bureaus in the Palestinian Territories; ideally, one in the West Bank and one in Gaza, headed by people with equal “sophistication” about Palestine and its adversaries.
Fortunately for the Times, a journalist with an excellent track record for journalism in the area and, no doubt, considerable “sophistication,” is now available. Jared Malsin, a Jewish-American 2007 Yale graduate, was until recently the chief English editor at Ma’an News, the largest independent news organization in the West Bank and an excellent source of news.