‘TNR’ will stop publishing Peretz’s blog ‘The Spine’ (the lobby is melting down)

Israel/Palestine
on 28 Comments

Everyone is talking about Benjamin Wallace-Wells’s profile of Marty Peretz in New York Magazine, and well they should, it’s an excellent piece, very sad. Peretz comes off as a racist crank who has been “stripped of his magazine” and is reduced to telling Holocaust stories in sybaritic Tel Aviv. Most poignantly, he has no idea how offensive his racial statements were. I guess he has been flattered by admirers/petitioners at Harvard and the Yivo Institute and the New Republic for so long that no one dared to give Marty the news. Peretz trashes diversity and takes a savage cut at the eminent writer John Judis, saying he “knows zero” about Israel (but ignorance can trump knowledge, if the values are superior). The piece does notably sidestep certain areas in Peretz’s life, including his lack of academic production, which Eric Alterman has written about.

And guess what, Peretz’s popular blog, the Spine, will be discontinued:


Over this past year, Peretz’s distance from the magazine has been extreme. Even to many within The New Republic, where he has been known mostly as a bullying voice on the phone, Peretz has come to be seen increasingly through the lens of The Spine. “When Marty’s name came up at TNR, it was more often than not in a mocking context,” says one former staffer. “People made fun of his blog items for being bigoted and for being incoherent.” After the controversy over his September blog post, some on the staff started pushing for Peretz to give it up.

…A few weeks ago, Peretz agreed to give up his title as editor-in-chief of The New Republic. He will hold the title of editor emeritus and will continue to write for the magazine occasionally, but The Spine will be discontinued. He finds this abdication a relief. “I am,” he says, “exhausted.”

I’d like to know the whole story. His blog items are often the most popular items on the New Republic site. Who killed Peretz’s column, and why, because of racism? When will this happen? And what role did money play in the decision? Who is paying for the magazine now, etc…

The piece also crystallizes a new moment in the life of the Israel lobby. Like Kim Philby, Peretz has flown to Israel (temporarily, I’m sure; I mistakenly said yesterday the he was moving there). But others are stepping down willingly from the turrets. Another powerful Jewish editor, who said Walt and Mearsheimer were fabulists for thinking the I/P conflict was hurting America, David Remnick pronounces himself sick of the occupation and the Jewish community’s passivity. Tom Friedman is also said to be incensed; an Israeli mag says he was one of several Timespeople who “ambushed” an Israeli official at the Times offices and blamed Israel for the breakdown in the talks. 

The arrow is pointing only one way right now. Obama’s failure, Netanyahu’s intransigence, Israel’s growing racism– they have all forced many pro-Israel American Jews to remind Israel of their primary American allegiance and say, Enough already. I wonder if these people’s kids have gotten to them. It is only a matter of time before they start talking about democratic values in the Middle East…

28 Responses

  1. Donald
    December 28, 2010, 3:51 pm

    “It is only a matter of time before these people start talking about democratic values in the Middle East…”

    Why would you think that? Friedman has been very critical of Israel before–notably in 1982–but only when their behavior is so flagrantly arrogant not even he feels comfortable defending them. He had no problems with the Gaza slaughter two years ago. All he needs is an Israeli government that is willing to play the game a little less arrogantly and he’ll be back in the fold.

    “American Jews to remind Israel of their primary American allegiance”

    There’s never been any doubt about that with Friedman–he obviously identifies with, roughly speaking, the Clinton portion of the Democratic party. He’s one of those who crudely rejoices in American power–he gets angry at Israel precisely because they make America look weak. I don’t find this particularly admirable myself.

    • Donald
      December 28, 2010, 4:13 pm

      To clarify a bit, because I don’t think my previous post was terribly clear–from what I observe, Friedman gets angry at Israel mainly when they make America look bad. Originally I think there was also a bit of humanitarianism in his makeup–he seems to have been offended by Israel’s brutality in the 1982 Lebanon War, but 20 years later I don’t see much trace of that. Neither the 2006 nor the 2009 wars seemed to bother him that much. But Obama is being made to look ridiculous by Netanyahu, and because Friedman identifies so strongly with the American ruling class, that offends the hell out of him.

  2. Citizen
    December 28, 2010, 4:20 pm

    “The Arrow is pointing only one way right now. Obama’s failure, Netanyahu’s intransigence, Israel’s growing racism– they have all forced many pro-Israel American Jews to remind Israel of their primary American allegiance and say, Enough already. I wonder if these people’s kids have gotten to them. It is only a matter of time before these people start talking about democratic values in the Middle East…”

    Yes the Arrow is pointing there. And with our economy the way it is, with no signs of significant change unless it’s for the worse, many Americans without jobs or hope of them may soon be ready to combine thirst for
    some help at home with a natural American sense of justice, ready to be unleashed if the simple facts of the I-P situation were given them–along with just how much that costs them. I said this about that Arrow earlier today, but I think it fits here too:
    Perhaps the Peretz model explains Obama’s conduct. Looking back, clearly Peretz was given enough rope to hang himself. Yet nothing suggests the rope was intentionally handed out to Peretz for that purpose.
    The conclusion seems much more warranted that long and strong support for Peretz by the PTB considered him a net plus by far as to both his and their chief concern: Israel First. It wasn’t the PTB who finally forced out the Peretz account by yelling out in the temple he was a bigot. And now this has happened to Netanahu on his visit here. Essentially Peretz, bewildered, called those rude protesters Washington DC dandruff. I’m sure Obama is being told now by his handlers that it’s merely dandruff, nothing to worry about, those rudely shouting out he should honor his own Cairo Speech in the best interests of his own country, and incidentally, in the interests of the whole world–including Israel. Peretz and his supporters never knew when the clock ran out, and either will Obama and his key consultants. Same as to Palin, a presidential contender, a charming huge Republican influence at the very least in the next fround for Commander-In-Chief–and her handlers, who have the same script when it comes to Israel First. Obama ignored Cast Lead, then, the Gaza boat murders. Clearly he was thinking of his political career, same as Palin. But he knows better. Like Peretz, Obama is conventionally politically astute; he just doesn’t grasp the writing on the wall beyond his teleprompter. Once average Americans finally grasp that Israel is not foreign policy but domestic policy–with the highest foreign policy impact imaginable, and that, as the 9/11 Commission summarized, all foreign policy evokes blowback, Obama will be left mumbling feeble scapegoats, still blaming “dandruff” for the loss of his hair.

  3. annie
    December 28, 2010, 5:00 pm

    from the israeli mag link..

    The Israeli had no idea he was being invited for what he described as a lynch.

    As the meeting started, the Times editors – most of them Jews, and one of them a former Israeli – began to attack the Israeli diplomat, and refused to give him even a moment to respond.

    They blamed Israel for everything, the diplomat told Israel Today.

    The Times editors insisted the breakdown of the peace process was Israel’s fault, that the lack of peace was Israel’s fault, and were adamant that Israel had given nothing to the Palestinians. They accused Israel of being an extremist and racist state, and blasted the diplomat for Israel’s “ill-treatment” of President Barack Obama.

    In short, the Times staff informed the Israeli in no uncertain terms that they were sick of his country.

    i’m certainly looking forward to the nyt reporting all this!!! but i won’t hold my breath.

    • Donald
      December 28, 2010, 9:06 pm

      I just read the Israeli magazine article. It starts out with this–

      “The New York Times, flagship of the liberal American media, has never been a friend of the Jewish state. But the newspaper’s aversion to Israel turned to open hostility this month when its top editors ambushed and tore into an unsuspecting senior official from the Israeli Consulate in New York City.
      The Israeli official was invited by the Times editors, among them rabid columnist Thomas Friedman, to meet with them at their office. ”

      So from this perspective the NYT has an aversion to Israel and Thomas Friedman is a “rabid” critic. I think that with that in mind, the claim that the NYT editors “ambushed and tore into” an unsuspecting senior Israeli official should be taken with a grain of salt. They probably asked some tough questions, but anyone outside the settler cult would do that much. I think what this article shows is that some Israelis are so delusional they can’t tell the difference between Thomas Friedman and someone who really is rabidly anti-Israel. Richard Witty shows more sense than this. This article says less about the NYT and a lot more about the delusional thinking of the person who wrote the article. If he’s expressing a common Israeli viewpoint, the country has gone insane.

      • Shingo
        December 28, 2010, 9:51 pm

        If he’s expressing a common Israeli viewpoint, the country has gone insane.

        It’s mind boggling isn’t it Donald? That these people are so extreme as to regard the NYT as an enemy of the Jewish State?

        If indeed this is a mainstream view in Israel, then we’re talking delusion of the scale of North Korean hard liners.

      • Potsherd2
        December 28, 2010, 10:18 pm

        Read the talkback sections of the online Israeli press. Insane and rabid.

      • Donald
        December 28, 2010, 11:13 pm

        I’d be curious to know how widespread these views are. I mean in terms of polls. How many Israelis, presented with a representative sample of Tom Friedman columns or with the NYT, would think he is anti-Israel or that the NYT has an aversion to Israel? Actually, I’ve seen a little of that in the US from the more rabidly pro-Israel folks, now that I think about it.

  4. Jeff Klein
    December 28, 2010, 5:21 pm

    Apropos, I noticed a new and more accurate characterization of the settlements in Bronner’s last article:

    “The international community considers all settlement building in the lands won by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, including East Jerusalem, to be illegitimate and illegal. Israel annexed East Jerusalem and does not consider building there to be an act of settlement. It argues that the West Bank is disputed, not occupied, and that building housing there for Israelis violates no international law.”
    link to nytimes.com

    • Philip Weiss
      December 28, 2010, 5:34 pm

      thanks jeff. i saw that too, i think that someone’s got a paragraph taped to their computer, and a good thing too

    • Les
      December 28, 2010, 5:52 pm

      The first sentence is so out of character for Bronner, I wonder if it was inserted by someone else.

    • Potsherd2
      December 28, 2010, 5:54 pm

      The lands were not “won” by Israel in 1967. They were conquered. “Won” implies ownership. UNSC Resolution 242 refers explicitly to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.”

    • aparisian
      December 29, 2010, 9:09 am

      Anyone noticed this positive development? Goldberg is waking up!!

      link to theatlantic.com

      • Tuyzentfloot
        December 29, 2010, 9:22 am

        And it’s a definite possibility that one day Israel will be so fed up with its arabs that it will start discriminating against them. And some may even become racist – one day in the far future. Perfectly understandable of course, but still, regrettable.

      • aparisian
        December 29, 2010, 10:44 am

        @Tuyzentfloot
        Israel will be so fed up with its arabsfar future
        I beg your pardon sir? Israel is already a segregationist state at all level. The racist laws are already there, from the right to return to the rabbis who call Jews not to rent to Arabs! Did you read Haaretz yesterday about the Rabbis women calling Jewish women to stay pure of Arab men! Read Phils post here.

      • Chaos4700
        December 29, 2010, 10:57 am

        Tuyzenfloot was being facetious and sarcastic, I think. Doesn’t translate easily, unfortunately. ;)

      • annie
        December 29, 2010, 11:12 am

        thanks, i think you are right.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        December 29, 2010, 11:32 am

        I magnified what Goldberg was doing. He’s noncommitted in his claims. I’ll add two hypothesises
        – he does want to point out that there is a tiny problem over there, nothing that can’t be fixed but a moral person should be aware of it
        – he’s reacting to american Jews, not to Israel. He noticed that there’s a lot of talk about the problems in Israel and if he wants to be an opinion leader he has to walk in front. Then it’s about control.

      • annie
        December 29, 2010, 10:35 am

        yes it does sound like goldberg is waking up. but i question his ‘one day soon’ narrative.

        the absence of Palestinian statehood means that Israel will one day soon confront this crucial question concerning its democratic nature: Will it grant West Bank Arabs the right to vote, or will it deny them the vote? If it grants them the vote, this will be the end of Israel as a Jewish state; if it denies them the vote in perpetuity, it will cease to be a democratic state.

        i’m wondering how long this ‘one day soon’ period is supposed to last for him? israel’s rule over 2 people’s w/2 separate set of laws makes for an apartheid government, already. it denies 1/2 the people it rules over the vote, already.

      • aparisian
        December 29, 2010, 10:49 am

        Yes annie me too i question his ‘one day soon’ narrative but WOW at least he recognise that the future of Israel is so dark. he is just unable to admit it that the problem is Zionism.

        Andrew Sullivan, posted back saying “Dwindling Democracy”
        link to andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com

        He points out how the conservative American Jewish intellectuals are in deep uncertainness about the future of Zionism.
        They started to question the realities created by Israel on the ground. I really think there is a timid positive development there!

      • annie
        December 29, 2010, 10:56 am

        yes i completely agree aparisan, it’s a big development and reflects a shift in the community..

      • Potsherd2
        December 29, 2010, 11:52 am

        Sullivan points out what many Israelis are saying: the next Israeli PM may quite likely be Avigdor Lieberman. And this leads to the question: will American Jews support an Israel led by an openly avowed racist? Will the US Congress continue to support an openly racist Israel?

      • Shingo
        December 29, 2010, 11:01 pm

        Of course they will PH.

        It’s all a natter of degrees. People were asking if the base and Congess  would support Bibbi with Lieberman as his FM. They did.

        They’ve now become anesthetized to  Lieberman’s bile and will support him.

  5. Oscar
    December 28, 2010, 5:41 pm

    Did you see this at NY Mag?

    This piece at least humanized Marty a bit, although it’s clear he’s fossilized into a hard-core bigot. I would fully expect David Horowitz to defend Marty, if it’s the same Horowitz who’s responsible for creating the “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW) on campuses around the U.S. and in Israel.” link to bit.ly

    Marty need not worry that his diminished role at TNR means his groundbreaking, Israel-comes-before-America, Muslim-hating persona won’t live on. In his wake, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, David Horowitz, Martin “Superfluous Young Men” Kramer (link to bit.ly), the filmmakers of the racist DVD “Obsession” and the entire Aubrey Chernick funded network will work tirelessly 24/7 to teach ill-informed Americans in the fly-over states how to hate Muslims. link to maxblumenthal.com

    Back to Marty. His Achilles heel was Google. The articulate-yet-hateful twists of phrase studding his blog “The Spine” are all fully searchable in the age of the internet. When you advocate full-throated to suspend the Constitutional right of free speech for certain Americans based solely on their race (read: Muslims), well, that makes you a bigot. When you’re unwilling to spin or apologize for spewage such as “Muslim life is cheap,” well, ask Helen Thomas about the consequences for such casual, sweeping generalizations.

    Okay, a show of hands — how many of you have heard that Marty is “brilliant”? The mainstream press also says Larry Summers (who wrecked our economy) is “brilliant” and Richard Holbrooke (who wrecked our foreign policy) was “brilliant.” The problem is that when the media pre-packages you as “brilliant,” the expectations are quite high. Then when you say and do stupid things that someone with a double-digit IQ has the sense to not say and do — well, next thing you know, Harvard students are going to protest your appearance and call it “a party for Marty.” link to bit.ly

    That’s the interesting thing about “free speech.” It often comes at a cost.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    December 28, 2010, 10:43 pm

    RE: “Peretz’s popular blog, the Spine, will be discontinued…” – Weiss
    MY SNARK: A man dressed as a court jester, walking on a country path and obviously drunk, shouts “The Spine is dead, The Spine is dead!” (My apologies to Bernardo Bertolucci.)
    Novecento Atto II – La Liberazione (VIDEO, 03:39) – link to youtube.com
    P.S. I couldn’t find a clip with English subtitles, but I recall that at one point the young woman atop the hay says she can see the Allied forces off in the distance coming to liberate them. The elderly woman then says (as I remember the subtitle), “Blessed are the young, for they see what is not there.” I might also explain that the Peretz-like* man (with a gun) being chased by the “peasants” (with pitchforks) is a particularly obnoxious member of the Mussolini regime.
    *My apologies to Donald Sutherland, who plays Atilla (the fascist being chased)!

    • DICKERSON3870
      December 29, 2010, 12:02 am

      RE: “My apologies to Bernardo Bertolucci.” – me, above
      ADDITIONALLY: And Giuseppe Verdi, of course.
      RE: “Even to many within The New Republic, where he has been known mostly as a bullying voice on the phone…” – Wallace-Wells
      Novecento – L’adesione al Fascismo (VIDEO, 05:29) – link to youtube.com
      P.S. In this clip, a (different) Peretz-like* man is wearing a fur coat and collecting money for the fascists. Note the much younger Atilla (Sutherland).

  7. DICKERSON3870
    December 29, 2010, 3:24 am

    RE: “I’d like to know the whole story. His blog items are often the most popular items on the New Republic site. Who killed Peretz’s column, and why…” – Weiss
    FROM WIKIPEDIA:

    The New Republic (TNR) is an American magazine of politics and the arts….
    …Until February 2007, The New Republic was owned by Martin Peretz, New York financiers Roger Hertog and Michael Steinhardt, and Canadian media conglomerate Canwest.[11]
    In late February 2007, Peretz sold his share of the magazine to CanWest, which announced that a subsidiary, CanWest Media Works International, had acquired a full interest in the publication. Peretz retained his position as editor-in-chief.[12]
    In March 2009, Peretz and a group of investors led by former Lazard executive Laurence Grafstein bought the magazine back from CanWest, which was tetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Frank Foer continued as editor—the person responsible for the day-to-day management of the magazine—and Peretz remained editor-in-chief.[13]
    2009 sale
    In March 2009, The New Republic was sold by Canwest to a group headed by former Lazard executive Laurence Grafstein. Peretz is one of the group’s investors. The sale was part of an effort by Canwest to pay down its debts.[16]
    In 2009, Michael Alter was part of an investment team that bought The New Republic.[17][18]

    Year ~~~~ Avg Paid Circ
    2000[19] ~ 101,651
    2009[26] ~ 53,485

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    FROM WIKIPEDIA:

    Michael Alter is an American businessman who is the president of his own company, the Alter Group, which is as of 2005, one of the nation’s ten largest commercial real estate developers.[1]…
    …Alter is also founder and president of City Year Chicago, which is best known for its signature program, The City Year Youth Service Corps. The goal in the program is to bring together approximately 1,000 people ranging in age from 17-24 from diverse backgrounds and put them through a full-time commitment of a year of community service, leadership development, and civic engagement where they mentor children. During City Year’s existence, more than 1 million hours of service in local communities has been logged.[2]
    Alter has a bachelor of arts degree in government from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Chicago. He and his wife Ellen are parents of three children. They live in Winnetka, IL….

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

Leave a Reply