Benjamin Joffe-Walt, is a former journalist, now a technology executive currently serving as the chief of staff of Change.org, the world’s largest petition platform.
Joffe-Walt is originally from Philadelphia, where his father was a rabbi. He was appointed as The Guardian 's Shanghai correspondent in September 2005, at the age of 25. His main experience as a journalist had been gained in six months working for a South African newspaper, This Day, until it ceased publication in November 2004, and an overlapping period as a freelance correspondent for British newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph; for the latter he filed stories from all over Africa, including Darfur, for which he won several awards: young journalist of the year from the Foreign Press Association in London and the CNN African print journalist of the year award.
Recalled from China
Benjamin Joffe-Walt's mistakes as a Guardian reporter in China had necessitated a retraction by the newspaper in October 2005. In the wake of Joffe-Walt's traumatic experiences in China, his psychotherapist stated: "Joffe-Walt had lost touch with reality".
Reporting on British Academic Boycott of Israel
In May 2006, Joffe-Walt started reporting on a renewed effort by British academics to obtain a consensus for an academic boycott of Israel due to its treatment of the Palestinian population. What is curious about his first article is that the only people he interviewed were hostile to the academic boycott, i.e., Ronnie Fraser (director, Academic Friends of Israel), Emanuele Ottolenghi (Oxford academic, anti-boycott activist), Zvi Heifetz (Israeli ambassador) . His coverage doesn't explain the position of the academic activists calling for a boycott, and if anything denigrates them.
On 27 May 2006, Joffe-Walt wrote a follow up article on the boycott with a similar bias. The title of the article: "Thousands of academics oppose boycott of Israel" gives the impression that many British academics oppose the boycott. However, the thousands Joffe-Walt refers to are the signatories of a petition list drawn up by a dubious organization which counts Daniel Pipes among its founders. The petition list has no relevance on a democratic debate and decision taken by British academics. As such, the title is deceptive misrepresents the academic boycott proposal put in front of the NATFHE members. Furthermore, the academic boycott proposal is described as a "row", but this has yet to be debated and voted upon. So, it can be hardly be construed to be a "row".
Human shield -- of sorts
In February 2003, Joffe-Walt traveled to Iraq as a "human shield", but shortly thereafter returned to the US because it was "too stressful".
Articles and other resources
Articles by Joffe-Walt
- ^Benjamin Joffe-Walt, New call by lecturers for Israeli academic boycott, The Guardian, 12 May 2006.
- ^Benjamin Joffe-Walt and Matthew Taylor, Thousands of academics oppose boycott of Israel, The Guardian, 27 May 2006.