Tablet, the chic new Jewish online magazine with wind-blown tresses, has attacked Trita Parsi and Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett as the "Iran lobby." Thereby revealing its neoconservative core identity. Daniel Luban skewers Tablet along with all the other hip young Jewish venues, and then blames the funders. I am entirely in Luban’s camp here; this is the damned materialism that the great I.L. Peretz of Poland warned us about when we left the ghetto for the big time in the late 1800s. These days young Jewish writers expect to make money and thus they grant the older generation an iron grip on their minds. Luban:
While [Lee] Smith’s pieces are predictable pieces of neocon agitprop, the venue in which they were published is more interesting. Tablet is one of the new breed of Jewish cultural journals and websites that have sprung up in recent years, aiming to offer what it calls “a new read on Jewish life” more in tune with the sensibilities of the younger generation. Like its peers Jewcy and Heeb, Tablet is relentlessly progressive in its sensibility and politics — at least as far as domestic politics are concerned.
But foreign policy is another matter; insofar as the magazine offers political coverage of Israel and the Middle East, it is relentlessly conventional and nearly always hawkish. (Nearly all of their foreign policy articles are written by hawks of either the liberal or neocon variety — Adam Kirsch, Seth Lipsky, and Michael Weiss, etc.) Smith’s pieces, which could have been ripped from the Weekly Standard or Commentary, are, sadly, par for the course.
I suspect a lot of this has to do with money. Several people who have personal experience with Tablet and its predecessor, Nextbook, have told me that the group’s funders are both significantly older and more right-wing than the rest of the operation — a common pattern in such organizations. Hence the tendency to delegate all discussion of Israel to the hawks, in order to keep the funders satisfied. But while this sort of compromise might be necessitated by internal politics, it has clearly had a destructive intellectual effect on the magazine’s content.