Thumbs Up to James Bennet

THUMBS UP to James Bennet, Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, for his generally impartial, balanced coverage of the region. For example, in his Nov. 18 article entitled “On Hebron Ambush Site, A New Settlement Rises,” Bennet reported on the aftermath of the killing in Hebron of 12 Israelis. His comprehensive article covered the steps that Israeli settlers were taking to claim “a bulldozed Palestinian orchard” near the site where the ambush occurred. He also reported on the attitudes of Israelis from the West Bank and their religious attachments to Hebron, the views of local Palestinians, and the city’s bloody history dating back to the 1920s.

The article is a balanced piece, interweaving the nitty-gritty of present day events with historical context and presenting conflicting political and religious views.

Strikingly, Bennet also received kudos from pro-Palestinian media critics Nigel Parry and Ali Abunimah, who praised him for his cautious reporting Nov. 16 of the ambush itself.

Praise for Bennet from such differing perspectives echoes the work of the legendary journalist Edward K. Murrow, who once said: “I have reason to know, as do many of you, that when the evidence on a controversial subject is fairly and calmly presented, the public recognizes it for what it is–an effort to illuminate rather than to agitate.

 “Several years ago, when we undertook to do a program on Egypt and Israel, well-meaning, experienced and intelligent friends shook their heads and said, ‘This you cannot do–you will be handed your head. It is an emotion-packed controversy, and there is no room to reason in it.’ We did the program. Zionists, anti-Zionists, the friends of the Middle East, Egyptian and Israeli officials said, with a faint note of surprise, ‘It was a fair account. The information was there. We have no complaints.'”

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