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…