July 13, 2012 · 0 Comments
Above: Ben Ehrenreich (PENUSA)
By Philip Weiss:
Today the Israeli army detained Ben Ehrenreich, a reporter for the New York Times Magazine, during the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh and later released him.
Abir Kopty broke the story, though Marc Tracy at Tablet filled in important details. Accounts of Ehrenreich’s detention vary and the matter is already becoming controversial. Joseph Dana’s twitter feed during the last hour:
NYT reporter has been released from Israeli army custody near Nabi Saleh. He was detained for a period of about two hours.
I just spoke to the arrested NYT reporter– he told me that he repeatedly showed the IDF his press card. They arrested him anyway.
The arrest of a NYT reporter in Nabi Saleh is not a fluke, it is part of the IDF’s strategy to arrest any international in Nabi Saleh
The whole point of an Israeli gov’t issued press card is to prevent arrest. The army breaks this rule all the time.
Dana has been exchanging tweets with Times correspondent Jodi Rudoren. Rudoren tweeted,
He has been released, was never arrested but detained for a bit.
This is not what he told me. Soldiers clearly told him that he was under arrest.
Distinction I was making is detained by IDF in truck vs formally arrested by police which could have come next
I don’t know full story but I’m sure we’ll read it in the magazine soon.
Dana has also tweeted, smartly:
If (big if) the NYT discusses what happen to their reporter in Nabi Saleh today, they will likely say it was a misunderstanding. It was not…
Detaining journalists for doing their job is not an issue of politics. It is an issue of press freedom.
The exchange highlights the difficult position Rudoren is in as someone who works for a publication that has been incredibly pro-Israel and that is now trying to tack. I believe Rudoren and her boss Jill Abramson are actually not far from Dana’s camp but can’t show it at the risk of starting a firestorm. After all, Netanyahu refused to deal with the paper’s op-ed page not long ago; the newspaper of record can’t afford to be in that position, alienating the Israeli PM. This puts Rudoren in the role of a diplomat. Lately I saw the many tweets she did about travels in May with “Marcus” of the Israel Project, parroting hasbara. And pure cover, so that she has freedom to write about the things she cares about; because she is a pro, and cares about the opinion of Joseph Dana, Amira Hass, Abir Kopty, the journos who are leading the conversation about real conditions in the occupation. Of course the issue in the end is how much of Rudoren’s journalism must serve a diplomatic function. It doesn’t really matter what you believe, if you can’t express it.
Update: This post said originally that Rudoren had tweeted settler activist Itamar Marcus of the Israel Project. Her many tweets of Marcus’s hasbara (here landing at Ariel Sharon’s helipad) would seem rather to refer to Marcus Sheff, TIP’s Israel director. Apologies to all.
Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.