Recently, the NY Times actually sent a reporter all the way to Israel to document the weirdness of Marty Peretz’s life (Martin Peretz: Not Sorry About Anything). Among other things, the profile revealed that senior editors at The New Republic, which he used to own, are mortally embarrassed by his flaming racism. At the time the story was being preapred for publication, they were seeking to oust him from any direct editorial involvement with the publication. The Calcalist story that follows reveals that this has happened, though Peretz denied in the Times that it would.
In some sense, both the Times profile and the Calcalist interview I cover below are premised on this agent-provocateur-type statement from Peretz’s now defunct blog, The Spine:
Last September, in the wake of a number of bombings, Peretz posted: “Muslim life is cheap” and “I wonder 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 Israeli online finance-economics blog, Calcalist, features a riveting (as in watching a car accident happening before your eyes) interview with ‘Marty Party’ (as the headline calls him) in which he tosses off racist bon mots like there’s no tomorrow. Here are some of the more choice ones. This is a defense of his racist comment about Muslims and the First Amendment:
I didn’t say anything I hadn’t said 100 times before. Lives of Muslims are cheaper than those of other religions. They’re much more likely to kill. What IS true is that I wrote one stupid sentence. To say that they aren’t worthy of enjoying the privileges of the First Amendment is idiotic. I simply wasn’t thinking. That’s the problem with these blogs. You write and done’t read what you’ve written and then hit “Send.”
Clearly Peretz has a finely developed sense of victimhood and no shame whatsoever. Imagine a blogger who admits he doesn’t read what he writes before he publishes it! I freely admit I make mistakes in writing this blog at times, but at least I proof what I write and edit it before hitting MY Send button.
The interviewer questions Peretz on his pro-Israel advocacy as integral to the editorial slant of TNR:
I asked him whether it was true that he refused to employ writers who criticized Israel. “Yes,” he said without hesitation. I don’t see what’s so shocking about the owner of a newspaper who hires writers who support Israel. It’s what happens at all newspapers. An editor wants people who will serve his [editorial] slant.
Actually, that’s not the position of most editors, certainly not newspaper editors.
The Calcalist interview reveals that Peretz has severed virtually all ties with TNR, which is news:
One month ago, after the storm broke out [over his comments] he decided, with the advice of his partners, to resign from an active role in the publication, close his blog, and take a long holiday in Israel.
Among Peretz’s many hates is Jerusalem:
He hates the disgusting high-rises, the Haredi problem and the “Arab problem.” On the other hand he loves Tel Aviv, which has no Arab problem, no Haredi problem and high rises that don’t disgust him.
He appears to be a fan of Bibi. In this passage, he also throws in some absolutely absurd judgments of Obama’s “bond” with Israel:
I’ve known him for 30 years. Ever since we did a trip to the Negev in the 70s we’ve kept in touch. He’s a smart man who likes to talk. He faces a situation that isn’t easy. Obama is the first president since Eisenhower who has no emotional bond to Israel.
While he may like Bibi, he loves Barak and doesn’t understand the loathing many Israelis feel for the man. The fact that Peretz compares him favorably to Larry Summers, another controversial and loathed individual, is telling:
It’s simply disgusting. You can’t say anything good about him at dinner [with friends] and leave in peace, he says with a smile. He’s [Barak] one little smart guy. Like Larry Summers, there are few in politics who can think as quickly. In the U.S. Army they love him. But you [Israelis] hate him. He has personality problems, sure. Nobody’s perfect.
Peretz compares Ehud Olmert, past mayor of Jerusalem, favorably to Teddy Kollek, because the latter:
…Liked to be seen drinking coffee with Arabs while garbage was strewn in the streets.
Because Kollek raised substantial sums from rich Jews, this becomes a flaw for Peretz, who calls him an “ass-licker.”
The worst thing about Shimon Peres is that he:
Sells people this idea of the “new Middle East.” What a fraud. He lets fly with all these statements and all this bullshit in spite of the fact that he, and everyone, knows there will be no peace agreement anytime soon.
Nice to know that Marty detests the peace process and not only doesn’t want it to work, doesn’t believe it will.
On Obama’s “pro-Muslim” agenda:
I made a big mistake when I believed him when he said he would be committed to Israel. He isn’t driven by the Jewish narrative. He’s driven by the Muslim narrative. Throughout his presidency he’s expressed support for the hijab four times. If you’re a western liberal president, at least don’t say anything.
When asked why Obama supported the Egyptian Revolution, Peretz revealed his support for the recently overturned Egyptian Pharaoh, Hosni Mubarak. Peretz also underscores his absurd ignorance of contemporary Iranian politics:
Because it’s based on Islamist principles. Look at the Iranian [Green] Revolution which he refused to support [!] despite the fact that the Iranian regime hates the U.S. But the Cairo Revolution he supported despite the fact that Mubarak demonstrated loyalty to the U.S. The reason is simple: in Iran the revolution was secular and sought to erase Islamist influence [!]. In Egypt, on the contrary, the Muslim Brotherhood is taking an active role and when Mubarak leaves, they can take over the government.
When you read nonsense like this you wonder how this guy managed to have the ear of an audience for as long as he did. How did he have the respect of anyone who was serious? It’s fine to be a provocateur, but at least make a minimal effort to know something about your subject before you make an utter fool of yourself.
Thanks to Ofer Neiman for pointing me to the Calcalist story.