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Marty Peretz’s message to Chris Hughes: Keep ‘The New Republic’ on Israel’s side

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Martin Peretz

Martin Peretz

Great news for all those who want to see an American debate about Zionism. Martin Peretz has jumped into the discussion over his former employee John Judis’s book on Truman and the creation of Israel, saying Judis expresses “virulent anti-Zionist opinions.”

Peretz is trying to hold the line in a letter to the New York Times. Responding to a piece on divisions over Israel inside The New Republic, which he formerly owned, Peretz appeals to American liberals, and implicitly to the magazine’s new owner, Chris Hughes, to keep supporting the Jewish state.


From the beginning The New Republic clearly labeled itself on its cover “a journal of opinion.” The editors of the publication during my 35-year tenure as owner — from Michael Kinsley to Frank Foer — were very comfortable with its support for the Jewish state. On occasion, in fact, I had to keep up with the enthusiasm of Mr. Foer’s Zionist opinions, which do not remotely jibe with John Judis’s virulent anti-Zionist opinions in his book. …

The American people’s support for the Jewish state has never been stronger. For Israel’s enemies, and in Mr. Judis’s book, “Genesis: Truman, American Jews and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict,” this can only be explained as a subterfuge, a big lobby’s lie. In fact, an ancestral homeland for the Jewish people has been sympathetically regarded, first as a possibility and later as a reality, by many generations of Americans.

Why is a liberal magazine like The New Republic not to be permitted to consistently make the case that the notion of Israeli statehood needs to be supported, especially in view of the current violence among Israel’s neighbors?

A great question. And I think the answer is that a liberal magazine cannot maintain such an orthodoxy any more and claim that it’s liberal. John Judis has busted loose. Eric Alterman sticks out like a red thumb at the Nation.

The New Republic’s divisions stand for the wider discourse. So let’s have an open conversation. Was Mike Kinsley (the most reasonable man in the universe, who tried to teach me how to think) in fact “comfortable” with the magazine’s relentless support for Israel? I have to believe it pinched now and then: supporting that “ancestral homeland” claim when meanwhile the magazine was running pieces against Christian biblical claims in US politics. And what about Andrew Sullivan? He certainly fell off the turnip truck.

And if Judis was an anti-Zionist, who else was in the closet there? I know that Judis kept his head down when Peretz was walking the halls. When Judis mentioned Zionist “dual loyalty,” Peretz kept the piece out of the New Republic archive. (When I asked Judis about it at the time, he blamed it on a computer glitch.)

So let us be thankful to Peretz for again planting the flag of Zionism inside liberal life, and daring liberals to support biblical religious claims.

PS. The Times identifies Peretz in this fashion: The writer is working on a book titled “The Book of Grudges and Other Loves: Defending Zion.” This was always Eric Alterman’s point about Peretz’s vociferations, he never wrote a book. Can’t wait for Defending Zion.

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17 Responses

  1. hophmi
    hophmi on March 10, 2014, 12:33 pm

    “Eric Alterman sticks out like a red thumb at the Nation.”

    The Nation is not a liberal magazine, and has not been for a long time. It is considerably to the left of where most American liberals are.

    • Donald
      Donald on March 10, 2014, 2:21 pm

      “It is considerably to the left of where most American liberals are.”

      How would you know that? If you mean it’s to the left of most Democratic politicians, possibly, but politicians have to appeal to at least some centrists to win elections in most places.

      • Krauss
        Krauss on March 10, 2014, 2:40 pm

        Donald, why do you even seriously engage a known troll?

        Hophmi only has one mode: denial.
        That the Nation is notoriously centrist/cautious is well-known, it’s often been taking flack for it. That’s why websites like alternet or firedoglake exist.

    • annie
      annie on March 10, 2014, 2:39 pm

      It is considerably to the left of where most American liberals are.

      only if you include “neo-liberal” in your definition of liberal, which i do not.

  2. LeaNder
    LeaNder on March 10, 2014, 1:35 pm

    Yes, that was on my mind vaguely, all of the time. Thanks for linking up to the story, Phil.

  3. Balfour
    Balfour on March 10, 2014, 2:41 pm

    Marty Peretz responds to perceived attacks upon Israel with the passion, zeal, and righteousness of a man whose God has been publically questioned- and perhaps that is Peretz’s ultimate problem.

    • Krauss
      Krauss on March 10, 2014, 3:02 pm

      No, his god has always been questioned. That isn’t the problem.

      His problem is he sold the paper by thinking that past is prologue, but now he ended up understanding that Israel’s legitimacy is inherently tied up in the American debate, this is the only place left to turn to rightousness. And he sold his only way to influence that debate.

  4. Krauss
    Krauss on March 10, 2014, 2:46 pm

    It’s a sign of the times when the racist Likudnik former editor of the TNR pleads with Chris Hughes – in public, no less – to maintain the Zionist lockdown inside the magazine. Why public? Does he want to put pressure on him? There are no Abe Rosenthal’s and Bill Safire’s to bail him out now. The neocons are discredited even within the GOP. Rich Lowrie, of the National Review, is unlikely to embrace anti-Zionism any time soon, but he is also much more tolerant of realists and even has a whiff of disdain towards the neocons.

    In short, the Zionist/Neocon axis is weaker than ever. The mainstream media, incredibly increasingly the centrist publications, are becomming very fractured on this.

    I mean, TNR, folks, TNR. This is a magazine which has run articles slamming Howard Zinn and the ASA(way back in 2003, before it was popular with the Zionists) for being “anti-American”.

    TNR is occupying a pretty strong centrist/Clintonite position among the left-liberal magazine/newspaper spectrum in America.

    It won’t be long before the entire left is divided, not just the grassroots.
    The Atlantic’s think tank hosted Max Blumenthal late last year. Now this, TNR of all places. Anti-Zionism is reaching deep within the mainstream now.

    Just wait until Kerry officially fails, which he will.

  5. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes on March 10, 2014, 3:24 pm

    This blurb on the dustjacket should increase sales: “John Judis’s virulent anti-Zionist opinions in his book.”

  6. pabelmont
    pabelmont on March 10, 2014, 3:28 pm

    Peretz is caught in a trap of his magazine’s own making. Of course, he can say TNR is a magazine of opinion, and his own opinion is that Zionism is the greatest thing since sliced bread. But if he praises/slimes/characterizes Judis with the “virulently anti-Zionist” label, he may again explain this characterization by adding, “in my opinion, and I have a right to my own opinion.”

    Which goes nowhere. If he says, “because Judis reports on Truman’s views where he might have remained silent” then he is saying that any red-blooded Zionist would hide the truth. (Well, yes, but that, too, won’t float well in public.) And if he says, “Judis misrepresented Truman’s views” then he is up against history, truth, verifiability, in short matters NOT of opinion alone (unless Truman’s).

    So what’s a poor man to do? He seems to make a whimper in favor of consistency. “TNR is a Zionist Rag. And should stay that way.” I imagine that too would not fly. Not any more. People are interested in The Lobby, even of yesteryear.

    Dear, dear.

  7. seafoid
    seafoid on March 10, 2014, 4:31 pm

    It’s hilarious really. Zionism could never countenance a republic.

  8. William Burns
    William Burns on March 10, 2014, 6:19 pm

    Marty, Marty, Marty, once you sell the magazine, you don’t own it anymore. The most hilarious part of this is that he thinks that the fact that the people whose paychecks he was signing didn’t contradict him actually means something.

  9. LanceThruster
    LanceThruster on March 10, 2014, 6:56 pm

    You want to push a particular line, Marty…? Buy some space.

  10. peterfeld
    peterfeld on March 10, 2014, 10:01 pm

    Also, was Peretz’s book title inspired by Mindy Kaling?

  11. bilal a
    bilal a on March 11, 2014, 8:45 am

    Peretz’s chief contribution was laying bare the bigotry and violent hatred that underlied New York Jewish liberalism for thrity years unspoken outside those circles,, but certainly joined in by his many co-participants and colloborators at the TNR including Sullivan, Beinart, and Kinsey. None yet have spoken vigorously of his private insanities and expletives on race and religion, but the truth is coming out slowly, and its not a pretty picture; and it is certainly demonstrable of some elemental truth that he chose his final exile and place to spend his fortune, to be in Tel Aviv with a young IDF soldier

    This is the intellectual cult leader of New York Jewish liberalism for a generation. Euripides, The Bacchae.


    “Peretz’s life has sort of fallen apart over the last year. Though he has been an avowed bigot for most of his adult life, he has only been held to account for his ethnic hostility to Arabs and Persians recently, when he wondered aloud on his New Republic blog “whether I need honor these people and pretend they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.” The “these people” were Arabs, for whom Peretz also said “life is cheap” (he later apologized for the First Amendment line). The naked racism of the sentiment caused even some of Peretz’ oldest friends to hang their heads in shame, and served as an ignominious cap to his career. He and his wife divorced in 2009 (they had been separated since 2005), and late last year he stepped down as the New Republic’s titular editor-in-chief and moved to Tel Aviv…

    as Gawker pointed out, the articles included dog-whistle hints—noting, for example, that Peretz (now 75) lives in a high-rise with a 26-year-old Israeli ex-soldier—so that insiders could read between the lines.

    • MRW
      MRW on March 11, 2014, 10:07 am

      You beat me to it, bilal a. He’s just showing off for this IDF boy toy. That he still has the juice. Can influence NYC. And he’s probably ODing on Viagra.

  12. Citizen
    Citizen on March 11, 2014, 11:10 am

    On related note: The same old Israel First types and neocons who got us into Iraq, are now pushing for war on Russia (& on Syria, Iran, too) by saying Obama is too weak in his foreign policy–time to ditch the PNAC vision: Leon Wieseltier’s Moral Posturing on Crimea Suggests He Learned Nothing From his Moral Posturing on Iraq:
    MJ Rosenberg agrees:
    Too bad on TV all we get is Krauthammer, Bolton, McCain, Kristol.

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