Turmoil at NY Times as Israel Bureau Chief's Son Enlists in IDF

Public Editor Hoyt says Bronner should be reassigned, while Executive Editor Keller sees no conflict of interest.

Several New York Times editors have engaged in a battle of opinions of late, after Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner's son announced that he had recently joined the Israel Defense Forces.

In the latest of a slate of commentary over the situation, The Times' Public Editor Clark Hoyt said he thought Bronner should be reassigned for the duration of his son's army service.

The situation was brought to light last month by the pro-Palestinian website Electronic Intifada, which covers the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The website wrote queries addressed to both Bronner and Hoyt asking for clarification on the situation as well as requested the opinions of the writer and editor as to whether the situation constituted a conflict of interests.

Bronner, who is Jewish, is widely regarded as a respected journalist. He has served as the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the past two years.

Bronner alerted his editors at The Times after his son joined the army in late December for roughly a year and half of service before plans to return to the U.S. for college.

"I wish to be judged by my work, not by my biography," Bronner said. "Either you are the kind of person whose intellectual independence and journalistic integrity can be trusted to do the work we do at The Times, or you are not."

Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times responded to a hypothetical situation where Bronner's son was to be a foot soldier during a war by saying: "I don't think I'd have any problem with Ethan covering the conflict." He reiterated his confidence in Bronner's reporting abilities: "We have the utmost confidence that his work will continue to meet the highest standards."

Hoyt took a different view in his column published on Saturday. While he wrote about his "enormous respect" for Bronner and his work, Hoyt said, "I would find a plum assignment for him somewhere else, at least for the duration of his son's service in the IDF."