It’s a might strange world, that’s for sure. A hat tip to Joachim Martillo for pointing me to this post from Ethan Stanislawski’s blog about Peretz. Stanislawski is the son of Columbia Jewish historian Michael Stanislawski, who once had a close relationship with Marty Peretz. What is delicious is that the younger Stanislawski chronicles the gradual alienation that developed between Peretz and his father, a good deal of which revolved around the issue of Ahmadinejad’s canceleed speech at Columbia last year and his rescheduled speech of last week.
He begins with a Peretz rant against Columbia in The Spine. To read Marty Peretz is to watch a grown man make an utter fool of himself. And Peretz does it virtually every time he opens his mouth, especially if he’s talking about Israel. Here are some of the non sequiturs, howlers, distortions, lies, myths and just plain errors which both Stanislawski and I note in his post:
Columbia is “reeling,” reads the headline in Wednesday’s New York Times. Columbia is the Sulzbergers’s university, and they had traditionally put a wordy buffer between what really happened at the institution and their paper’s readers. Of course, that’s virtually impossible to do these days.
Note the notion that the Sulzberger family has an ownership stake in Columbia, making it of course responsible for all the university’s sins in Peretz’s eyes.
…It is not the Times that has excelled in reportage on Columbia during the past few tempestuous years. It is the Sun which has taken on that burden — and, with some pleasure, I would think, since the university is a model of what the upstart daily thinks of as paradigmatic of the cowardice of liberal institutions in general. Or worse, the pusillanimity of liberal institutions when their very liberalism is being undermined from within.
This is Peretz hailing the journalistic courage of one of the scummiest neocon rags in the nation, the New York Sun. What Peretz admires is the Sun’s yellow journalistic pursuit of the Arab studies professors at Columbia; and the Sun’s obssession with, and distortion of the the anti-Semitism meme. You’ll note that Marty Peretz, proud possessor of one of the finest liberal arts educations money could buy from Harvard and later a professor at that august institution derides Columbia, and by extension all liberal arts institutions with the phrase “the cowardice of liberal institutions in general.” Methinks he bites the hand that fed him so well for so long.
Rashid Khalidi has not been heard from on the A’jad matter. He has bigger fish to fry: making sure that…the Barnard tenure aspirant, Nadia Abu El-Haj, who believes that archeology proves there were never any Hebrews in the Holy Land, also is tenured. My guess is that, this time, the gang loses.
I’ve read many distortions of Abu El-Haj’s scholarly oeuvre but I don’t think any quite match Peretz’s for sheer outrageous audacity. She doesn’t even come close to believing “there were never any Hebrews in the Holy Land.” But this is certainly characteristic of the academic character assassination launched by Campus Watch, Shulamit Reinharz, Alexander Joffe (formerly of Campus Watch and currently with the David Project), Paula Stern and others. Their motto seems to be there is no lie too great for the purpose of stopping Abu El Haj from getting tenure.
The notion that Abu El Haj is Khalidi’s academic pawn in an Arab campus power grab is noxious and insulting. Also ludicrous is the notion that Peretz predicts that Massad and Abu El Haj will not get tenure when Lee Bollinger, who he spends the entire post insulting, is the one who will make the final decision in the matter.
…It is not only Columbia that is reeling. It is Bollinger himself. The faculty see this; the students certainly see this; and the trustees who typically will give a president enough rope to hang himself see that he has. My conclusion is that Bollinger is on his way out. The mandate of heaven has deserted him. He has no authority, least of all moral authority.
Note Peretz’s prediction of Bollinger’s imminent demise. Of course, he presents no facts to support his claim. In his grandiosity, Peretz need only want the event to happen for that to make it the truth. Also, note how the Spined One alludes to Bollinger as an academic emporer (“the mandate of heaven…”), more scenery-chewing overstatement on the writer’s part.
I also have a speculation about why the earnest protestations of Jewish students and others who were pro-Israel never could touch Bollinger about their terrible experiences in classes in the Middle East: he himself is Jewish, maybe an ambivalent Jew, maybe a frightened Jew, but a Jew nonetheless.
Stanislawski points out Peretz’s gaffe in that Bollinger is NOT Jewish. Too bad Ethan had to spoil the party. Marty was having such a good time spinning his fantasy about Bollinger not being able to feel the pain of those poor pro-Israel students because he himself was allegedly Jewish.
John Coatsworth, whom Bollinger lured from Harvard…What can one say about Coatsworth without having oneself strung up as a McCarthyite? Let’s leave it at this: at least since graduate school at the University of Wisconsin he has been extremely radical.
I don’t know much about John Coatsworth’s acaemic background. He is currently the dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and issued the Ahmadinejad invitation. But to think that any dean of any major school at any major national university could achieve such a position by being “extremely radical” strains credulity. And knowing it is Peretz making such a claim automatically dismisses the charge.
Richard Bulliet is the Columbia historian who negotiated with the Iranians for their president’s visit…Bulliet was a supporter of the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Again, I don’t know much about Bulliet as a historian. But to claim he “was a supporter of the 1979 Iranian revolution” without supplying any evidence in support of the charge also strains credulity.
In the following passage Peretz gratuitously insults Michael Stanislawski, calling him Bollinger’s “court Jew,” and wonders what the Jewish historian thinks of his alleged patron, Bollinger inviting Ahmadinejad to campus:
I wondered what Stanislavski made of Bollinger’s canceling A’jad last year, giving permission for his speaking this year…There is in Jewish history the figure of the court-Jew. This Jew did financial and commercial business for the prince. Sometimes he was a medical doctor and cared for the prince and his family. He also tried to intercede for the Jews when trouble was coming their way. Sometimes he succeeded, sometimes he failed. I guess Michael failed. But Jews no longer need court-Jews, and they haven’t for at least a century. It must be sad trying to fill a function that has been obsolete for so long.
Ethan Stanislawski notes in his blog post that Peretz spells his father’s name wrong. Gee, you’d think that the least you could do for an old friend when you’re insulting him is spell his name right.
What surprises me is that Stanislawski and Peretz could ever have been friends–though I suppose that people can change radically over the course of time & someone you loved or respected when you were young can turn into something else entirely when you’re older. That’s certainly true of Peretz though I liked him neither when he was younger nor older.
What Marty Peretz doesn’t realize is that the less he says or writes the better off he is. The more drivel flows from his mouth or pen the more lies, distortions and outrageous myths flow along with them. But Marty likes the sound of his own voice too much and so makes a fool of himself serially.