During a June 23 panel discussion at the Washington, D.C.-based Palestine Center, former New York Times reporter Taghreed El-Khodary said that she had to quit being a correspondent in the Gaza Strip after it was confirmed that Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner’s son joined the Israeli Defense Forces.
In response to a question about Bronner from Jared Malsin of the Palestine Note, El-Khodary said she had to leave the Times because she feared losing her sources and her life after the revelation about Bronner’s son. She said:
I have succeeded to be considered a very critical journalist on the ground, and I don’t want to lose that. If Ethan’s son joined the Israeli army, OK it’s his issue. If The New York Times decided to keep him there, ok, they took a decision. But I took a decision too. I mean, you’re not going to report this. It’s fine, but it’s not a new story, it’s old now. And I decided, because I don’t want to lose my sources, and I don’t want to lose my life, and I don’t want him to lose his life, so it’s as simple as that. So, I came out with that decision because it’s important to keep my sources. It’s a challenge, and I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want to be tainted like ‘the one who writes for someone that has a son in the army’ – I don’t want, I don’t need that. Already there are many challenges around you and you don’t want to add another one. It’s not worth it.
El-Khodary talked about the difficulties of being a reporter in Gaza, saying that being a Palestinian journalist, even if you work for Reuters or AP [Associated Press] or The New York Times, Israel will never give you access to the West Bank or to Israel.”
She also said that when it came to reporting on Gaza for the Times, you need the Israeli narrative in the story.”
If I want to talk about how I covered the war, I really sent what was happening in Gaza and it was really taken by The New York Times, and it’s there. The issue is even if you write a feature, if you write anything; you need the Israeli narrative in the story. You need to balance and that’s why you need the space. That’s the story here. You have to be politically correct. You have to have the Israeli narrative even if you are working in a feature. So that’s how it goes and I think you need to understand also how the Israelis are looking at things. What’s disturbing here, is watching your TV. I cannot watch CNN domestic. They treat me like a stupid person, like a stupid audience. I really stopped watching it because it’s so different from the CNN International. I’m here and I’m really not watching your FOX [News] or your CNN. It’s scary. So, thanks to God [that] we have [the] Internet.