NYT Jerusalem bureau chief announces departure

In Facebook post, Jodi Rudoren hails ‘thrilling and daunting next step,’ thanks friends she made in the region

New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren announced Thursday she would be leaving her high-profile and high-pressure post after four years of covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from up close.

Rudoren, who took over the post from Ethan Bronner in 2012, wrote on Facebook she would be going back to New York to become the deputy on the newspaper’s international desk.

No replacement has yet been named, though reports have pointed to White House correspondent Peter Baker being given the nod to fill the post.

Rudoren, like other New York Times bureau chiefs before her, has faced nearly constant pressure from pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists, many of whom have closely monitored her every word both in print and in public life, as a representative of what many consider the English-language newspaper of record.

Rudoren indicated the move had come earlier than expected, calling the new role a “thrilling and daunting next step.”

“On this Thanksgiving – or, as it is known here, Thursday – I am so grateful for the incredible, generous, insightful and intrepid Palestinians and Israelis who enabled me to do this most demanding work, and experience this most complicated place,” Rudoren wrote. “You have taught me endlessly, you have supported me thoroughly, you have challenged my brain, you have filled my heart.”

New York Times International Editor Joe Kahn tweeted earlier Thursday that he was looking forward to Rudoren’s return to New York.

As with The New York Times in general, Rudoren has faced some criticism from pro-Israel activists for her coverage of the region. Pro-Israel media watchdog CAMERA includes dozens of entries on Rudoren’s alleged anti-Israel bias on its website.

For her part, Rudoren has denied such allegations, calling the critics “a very active and very noisy group of advocates who has decided that tearing apart coverage of the conflict is a good tool of advocacy.”

“We write a lot about this place and we often find that the advocates who are trying to use our coverage to bolster their argument just look at whatever it is they already thought was our bias. They don’t look at our coverage in totality,” said Rudoren at a Bar-Ilan University conference last year on international media coverage of the previous summer’s Gaza war.

New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jody Rudoren. (Photo by: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times, Courtesy of: Jody Rudoren)
New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren. (Photo by: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times, Courtesy of: Jody Rudoren)

Last week, unnamed sources reported that Baker was the leading candidate for replacing Rudoren upon her departure. Baker is married to Susan Glasser, the editor of Politico.

Glasser did not confirm that she would follow Baker to Jerusalem, but Politico sent out an employee memo saying “if they do decide to go abroad, Susan has very graciously given us assurances that she is ready to remain Editor of our Rosslyn [Virginia] newsroom through the [presidential] election” in November 2016.

Rudoren’s Facebook post Thursday thanked the friends, contacts and critics she has made during her four-year position in Jerusalem: “Journalists who guided me, sources who shared with me, friends who embraced me — even advocates who attacked me: you have helped me grow and see and question, and question. Exactly why we came here, exactly why I’ve been doing this journalism thing all these years.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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