Currently, the New York Times has only one bureau to cover Israel-Palestine. This is in Israel and its chief editor, Ethan Bronner, consistently shows Israeli bias, as I've noted in a number of previous postings (even apart from the fact that his son has recently entered the Israeli military). The Times' other major correspondent, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli citizen.
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.
Apparently because of this, Malsin was recently denied re-entry by Israel, incarcerated for about a week, and deported by Israeli authorities.
I suggest that the Times now explore hiring Malsin or someone else with equivalent knowledge and skills to head up a West Bank bureau. While I realize that some in the Israeli government might attempt to prevent Malsin from assuming this post, I expect that the Times, unlike Ma'an, has the connections and the clout to overcome an Israeli attempt to censor their hirees. If Israel attempted to do this, I would hope the Times would consider it front-page news, and that the editorial page would comment on it, as well.
If Malsin has already taken a position elsewhere, I suspect that he could recommend other informed and skilled individuals for this position. I would be delighted to assist the Times in such a search and would be happy to suggest numerous people who could direct them to excellent candidates for such a position.
Others may wish to suggest this to Mr. Keller as well. After all, the Times ethics guidelines state: "In keeping with its solemn responsibilities under the First Amendment, our company strives to maintain the highest standard of journalistic ethics" and maintains, "our goal is to cover the news impartially."
How better to fulfill their solemn responsibility to report the news impartially than to have bureaus in both Israel AND in Palestine, staffed with people either with no close connections to either society, or by people with equally deep connections to both?
(Of course, Malsin, as far as I'm aware, has no familial connections to Palestinian society and much more fits into the first category; in that respect, he doesn't even come close to balancing Bronner. I am suggesting Malsin because of his track record at Ma'an; however, there are Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans who would also be excellent, perhaps even superior choices. My main point is to begin the discussion.)
In the meantime, until the Times follows its own ethics guidelines, I suggest that people who wish to be well-informed on Israel-Palestine turn to Ma'an News, the International Middle East Media Center (less well-funded than Ma'an but also an excellent source of information), and our own news blog. A valuable monthly resource is the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
As the Times rarely tells readers, Americans are major funders of Israel. We'd better know how it's using our money.
Mr Keller can be reached at
FYI: A new discussion of Bronner by Lysandra Ohrstrom at Huffington is well worth reading