I have never been one to jump to the defense of the New York Times, but the backlash against new Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren is deeply troubling (please read http://mondoweiss.net/2012/02/new-nyt-bureau-chief-jodi-rudoren-faces-outcry-from-israel-advocates-over-twitter-messages.html). Disclaimer #1 - I am currently "boycotting" reading the Times as a result of a completely different issue. Disclaimer #2 - I have never heard of Jodi Rudoren before reading this article today, and am completely unfamiliar with her work. Disclaimer #3 - My knowledge of 3000 years of history in the Middle East is insufficient for me, in good conscience, to "take sides" - I don't have a dog in this hunt.
Having established that, I do know a thing or two about world history in general (not to mention conflict resolution). I know that there is a middle ground somewhere between Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush. I know that Nixon and Kissinger may have taken a hard-line stance against the Soviets and Chinese in public, yet always worked back-channel communications as well. I know that conflicts are not fully resolved unless both parties feel they have "won" something. (NOTE: I am making an assumption that parties actually want to resolve their differences) Based on that, does it not make sense to have discussion with all parties to a conflict? "Having a discussion" does not equal capitulation. Does Rick Santorum really believe his saber-rattling will resolve any differences with Iran? Peace is not forced, it is forged.
Kudos to Ms. Rudoren for, at the very least, keeping an open mind (um, she IS a journalist, yes?). I would think it would be her first order of business to have discussions with all points of view; if she finds that one party to the conversation is not acting in good faith, she may change her approach accordingly at that point. For now, she should be allowed to do her job and form her own opinions, rather than having them dictated to her by those with their own axes to grind. Suppression of open discourse...I seem to remember that happening somewhere in the 1930's....
Special thanks to Zaid Jilani of United Republic for posting this article on Twitter and giving it more public attention.