Alana Newhouse, former culture editor at the Forward, has transformed the Nextbook website into an online Jewish magazine, The Tablet. The site covers culture, religion and politics and offers a wide range of intellectual and political discourse. In fact, the diversity can get a little schizophrenic at times. You’ll find Victor Navasky, Adam Lebor, David Margolick, Ellen Umansky and Robert Pinsky on the one hand. And Ruth Wisse, Jeffrey Goldberg, Leon Wieseltier and Michael Weiss on the other. I’m not quite sure how writers with such disparate views can coexist in one site. But if anyone can make it work Newhouse can. (Disclaimer: Alana commissioned the only piece I’ve ever written for the Forward.)
Weiss’ presence in particular gives me pause. When he worked as an editor at Jewcy, he offered me a place as a blogger at Jewcy before it lost its funding, then after weeks of inaction never produced a contract. Furthermore, this occured during the Gaza war and I suggested to Weiss that Jewcy’s coverage of the war slanted heavily toward a right-wing pro-Israel perspective. That was the end of my Jewcy blogging venture.
To give you a sense of Weiss’ current political proclivities, his latest piece is Purple Prose of Cairo. Unfortunately, with Weiss as politics editor, one may question whether the site will have the diversity on Jewish politics one finds in the pages of The Forward, from which Newhouse recruited many of her other editors and contributors.
Despite all these quibbles, the entry of a new Jewish face on the web is entirely welcome. There is not enough intelligent and articulate discussion of Jewish issues online and The Tablet promises to deliver such discourse at a high level.