Commentary Magazine


Topic: Martin Peretz

Sic Transit New Republic?

The news that The New Republic has been sold to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has prompted some worries that the venerable publication may be heading in a new direction. While TNR remained steadfastly liberal in its view of most domestic issues during the past decades, it has also been a resolute defender of Israel and generally a strong proponent of sensible views on foreign policy. The fact that Hughes, who will assume the title of editor-in-chief, was an organizer of the 2008 Obama campaign leaves us wondering whether it will remain so in the future.

But no matter what happens next, it is worthwhile taking a moment to honor all that the magazine achieved under longtime editor-in-chief and publisher Martin Peretz. The distinguished historian Ron Radosh, himself a frequent contributor to both COMMENTARY and TNR, writes about this at PJMedia in an article in which the author echoes our fears while also celebrating the great journalism and the important careers that were fostered under Peretz.

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The news that The New Republic has been sold to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has prompted some worries that the venerable publication may be heading in a new direction. While TNR remained steadfastly liberal in its view of most domestic issues during the past decades, it has also been a resolute defender of Israel and generally a strong proponent of sensible views on foreign policy. The fact that Hughes, who will assume the title of editor-in-chief, was an organizer of the 2008 Obama campaign leaves us wondering whether it will remain so in the future.

But no matter what happens next, it is worthwhile taking a moment to honor all that the magazine achieved under longtime editor-in-chief and publisher Martin Peretz. The distinguished historian Ron Radosh, himself a frequent contributor to both COMMENTARY and TNR, writes about this at PJMedia in an article in which the author echoes our fears while also celebrating the great journalism and the important careers that were fostered under Peretz.

Radosh rightly points out that TNR had a unique niche in the publishing world and it would be a shame if Hughes pushed it further to the left:

I am not optimistic about the fate of the new TNR. The last thing we need is a magazine slightly — very slightly — to the right of The Nation. Nor do we need another New Yorker, in which Hendrik Hertzberg’s predictable left-liberal views dominate the political commentary — and, yes, he too came from TNR as an old editor — and where its editor-in-chief David Remnick stands by the likes of Seymour Hersh as a major investigative reporter, despite the devastating expose of him in the new COMMENTARY  by a former TNR editor, James Kirchick. …

So, this is a swan song and sad goodbye to the old TNR. I wish the magazine well, and perhaps I will turn out to be very wrong. But as a natural pessimist, and for good reason, I only expect the worst.

We share Radosh’s sentiments. Let us hope TNR thrives under its new management while remaining a strong voice in support of Israel and the West.

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Mearsheimer Makes a List

John Mearsheimer gave a speech at the Palestine Center in Washington yesterday and called Israel an apartheid state that has practiced ethnic cleansing and will likely practice it in the future. For Mearsheimer, this is standard practice. But he added a new twist: he separated American Jews into three categories: “Righteous Jews,” “New Afrikaners,” and a middle group of Jews who aren’t quite sure whether they’re righteous or ethnic cleansers. These are Mearsheimer’s Righteous Jews:

To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category. The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame, just to name a few. I would also include many of the individuals associated with J Street and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as distinguished international figures such as Judge Richard Goldstone. Furthermore, I would apply the label to the many American Jews who work for different human rights organizations, such as Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.

And then there are America’s Afrikaner Jews, who are not just apologists for apartheid and ethnic cleansing, but are actually a fifth column. Note that he goes beyond the normal “dual loyalty” trope and says that these American Jews are “blindly loyal” only to Israel:

These are individuals who will back Israel no matter what it does, because they have blind loyalty to the Jewish state. … I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners. That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones. I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic. It would be easy to add more names to this list.

I believe Mearsheimer left out a category: “Anti-Semites and Jew-Baiters.” I will leave it to you who to add to that list.

UPDATE: David Bernstein adds his thoughts over at Volokh.

John Mearsheimer gave a speech at the Palestine Center in Washington yesterday and called Israel an apartheid state that has practiced ethnic cleansing and will likely practice it in the future. For Mearsheimer, this is standard practice. But he added a new twist: he separated American Jews into three categories: “Righteous Jews,” “New Afrikaners,” and a middle group of Jews who aren’t quite sure whether they’re righteous or ethnic cleansers. These are Mearsheimer’s Righteous Jews:

To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category. The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame, just to name a few. I would also include many of the individuals associated with J Street and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as distinguished international figures such as Judge Richard Goldstone. Furthermore, I would apply the label to the many American Jews who work for different human rights organizations, such as Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.

And then there are America’s Afrikaner Jews, who are not just apologists for apartheid and ethnic cleansing, but are actually a fifth column. Note that he goes beyond the normal “dual loyalty” trope and says that these American Jews are “blindly loyal” only to Israel:

These are individuals who will back Israel no matter what it does, because they have blind loyalty to the Jewish state. … I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners. That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones. I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic. It would be easy to add more names to this list.

I believe Mearsheimer left out a category: “Anti-Semites and Jew-Baiters.” I will leave it to you who to add to that list.

UPDATE: David Bernstein adds his thoughts over at Volokh.

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Roger Cohen: Recidivist Appeaser of Iran

Last August, Martin Peretz wondered in his New Republic blog whether even the New York Times would let their columnist Roger Cohen continue to write about Iran. That’s because Cohen had earned a special place in the history of journalistic malpractice earlier in 2009 through a series of columns that sought to falsely portray the oppressed remnant of a once great Iranian Jewish community as living in freedom under the beneficent rule of the ayatollahs.

Peretz’s curious faith in the judgment of the editors at the Times was misplaced. Cohen continues to rattle away about Iran from his perch as an online columnist at the newspaper, providing readers with ever more convoluted rationalizations for the same policy he advocated last year: an American “engagement” that would eschew both the threat of force as well as any sanctions as means for attempting to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The events of the past year have rendered this stance even more ludicrous than it was in February and March of 2009, as the rosy picture of the country that Cohen painted in his original columns was undermined by both the regime’s violent repression of internal dissent and the utter failure of the Obama administration’s attempts to engage Iran. Nowadays, even Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have come to the conclusion that they must pursue a serious sanctions regime to avoid being faced with the opprobrium that will be theirs if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is able to announce the development of a nuclear weapon on their watch.

But Cohen is having none of that and, instead, insists that even though the Iranian government is nasty, it must still not be threatened or even pressured. He begins his argument today with a blatant falsehood by claiming “Obama’s outreach has achieved this: the unsettling of Iran’s revolutionary power structure. That alone was worth the gambit.” But even the administration seems to understand that this piece of obsequious flattery isn’t true. A series of unmet deadlines set by Washington for Iran to come to its senses have only emboldened the Islamist government there to dig in its heels: they are now convinced that Obama is a weak leader who can be toyed with and then ignored in the same manner they have treated European efforts to resolve the nuclear question. Indeed, Obama’s refusal to speak up in a timely and forceful manner against the stolen presidential election that sent thousands of Iranians into the streets, only to be shot down, raped, and imprisoned, has contributed to a situation where it appears that the Iranian dissidents, whose sufferings Cohen attempted to cover last summer, are no longer able to mount effective demonstrations, let alone topple their oppressors.

Cohen’s response to this debacle is to prescribe more of the same, something he acknowledges that Obama’s foreign-policy team—which rightly sees itself as having been badly embarrassed by Iran’s lies and deceptions—is unwilling to do. Cohen’s fear is that having been mugged by the reality of the regime, whose depredations he once rationalized, Obama will now realize that the threat from a nuclear Iran is a factor that could ultimately destroy his presidency. In today’s lengthy diatribe, the Times columnist assembles all the same misleading arguments that Iran’s other shills have been hawking recently. He argues against isolation and sanctions against Iran, and views the threat of Western force to spike Ahmadinejad’s bomb as a greater evil than putting nuclear weapons in the hands of a Holocaust denier and terrorist funder who wants to destroy the State of Israel. His advice is to continue the sweet talk that Obama tried on Tehran last year and hope that eventually Iranian dissidents will somehow succeed, despite vigorous repression and without foreign help. He ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad and Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would be strengthened immeasurably by a Western decision to let them go nuclear.

As has Cohen himself, whose credibility as a journalist was forfeited when he choose to fall in love with the romance of Persian culture, engagement of Iran has been comprehensively discredited over the last year. Let’s hope the Obama administration ignores Cohen and the rest of the chorus of apologists and appeasers doing Tehran’s bidding and chooses instead to finally start treating the threat from Iran seriously.

Last August, Martin Peretz wondered in his New Republic blog whether even the New York Times would let their columnist Roger Cohen continue to write about Iran. That’s because Cohen had earned a special place in the history of journalistic malpractice earlier in 2009 through a series of columns that sought to falsely portray the oppressed remnant of a once great Iranian Jewish community as living in freedom under the beneficent rule of the ayatollahs.

Peretz’s curious faith in the judgment of the editors at the Times was misplaced. Cohen continues to rattle away about Iran from his perch as an online columnist at the newspaper, providing readers with ever more convoluted rationalizations for the same policy he advocated last year: an American “engagement” that would eschew both the threat of force as well as any sanctions as means for attempting to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The events of the past year have rendered this stance even more ludicrous than it was in February and March of 2009, as the rosy picture of the country that Cohen painted in his original columns was undermined by both the regime’s violent repression of internal dissent and the utter failure of the Obama administration’s attempts to engage Iran. Nowadays, even Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have come to the conclusion that they must pursue a serious sanctions regime to avoid being faced with the opprobrium that will be theirs if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is able to announce the development of a nuclear weapon on their watch.

But Cohen is having none of that and, instead, insists that even though the Iranian government is nasty, it must still not be threatened or even pressured. He begins his argument today with a blatant falsehood by claiming “Obama’s outreach has achieved this: the unsettling of Iran’s revolutionary power structure. That alone was worth the gambit.” But even the administration seems to understand that this piece of obsequious flattery isn’t true. A series of unmet deadlines set by Washington for Iran to come to its senses have only emboldened the Islamist government there to dig in its heels: they are now convinced that Obama is a weak leader who can be toyed with and then ignored in the same manner they have treated European efforts to resolve the nuclear question. Indeed, Obama’s refusal to speak up in a timely and forceful manner against the stolen presidential election that sent thousands of Iranians into the streets, only to be shot down, raped, and imprisoned, has contributed to a situation where it appears that the Iranian dissidents, whose sufferings Cohen attempted to cover last summer, are no longer able to mount effective demonstrations, let alone topple their oppressors.

Cohen’s response to this debacle is to prescribe more of the same, something he acknowledges that Obama’s foreign-policy team—which rightly sees itself as having been badly embarrassed by Iran’s lies and deceptions—is unwilling to do. Cohen’s fear is that having been mugged by the reality of the regime, whose depredations he once rationalized, Obama will now realize that the threat from a nuclear Iran is a factor that could ultimately destroy his presidency. In today’s lengthy diatribe, the Times columnist assembles all the same misleading arguments that Iran’s other shills have been hawking recently. He argues against isolation and sanctions against Iran, and views the threat of Western force to spike Ahmadinejad’s bomb as a greater evil than putting nuclear weapons in the hands of a Holocaust denier and terrorist funder who wants to destroy the State of Israel. His advice is to continue the sweet talk that Obama tried on Tehran last year and hope that eventually Iranian dissidents will somehow succeed, despite vigorous repression and without foreign help. He ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad and Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would be strengthened immeasurably by a Western decision to let them go nuclear.

As has Cohen himself, whose credibility as a journalist was forfeited when he choose to fall in love with the romance of Persian culture, engagement of Iran has been comprehensively discredited over the last year. Let’s hope the Obama administration ignores Cohen and the rest of the chorus of apologists and appeasers doing Tehran’s bidding and chooses instead to finally start treating the threat from Iran seriously.

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More on Malley

In the ongoing debate regarding Barack Obama’s stance on Israel, Obama foreign policy adviser Robert Malley has emerged as a divisive figure.

Malley’s supporters and critics agree that he embraces a pro-Palestinian narrative in his approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As President Bill Clinton’s special adviser on Arab-Israeli affairs from 1998-2001, Malley was the only American official to blame the United States and Israel—rather than Yasser Arafat—for the failure to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace at Camp David in 2000. Since leaving government, Malley has further developed his pro-Palestinian credentials: he has gushed over Arafat; partnered with Arafat adviser Hussein Agha in promoting his revisionist account of Camp David; and blamed the Bush administration overwhelmingly for continued Israeli-Palestinian strife.

Given Malley’s unabashed bias, supporters of Israel have questioned his true motives, with Martin Peretz’s determination that Malley is a “rabid hater of Israel” representative of the debate’s deteriorating tenor. Last week, Malley’s fellow peace processors shot back, calling the attacks “an effort to undermine the credibility of a talented public servant who has worked tirelessly over the years to promote Arab-Israeli peace and US national interests.” Malley’s former colleagues further wrote that he neither harbors an anti-Israel agenda nor has sought to undermine Israeli security.

Yet the very question of whether or not Malley is a “anti-Israel” is a red herring. Rather than psychoanalyzing Malley to uncover his true motivations, we should assess Malley’s policy prescriptions as to whether they have advanced Israeli-Palestinian peace—the cause for which Malley was employed. It is within this framework that Malley’s insufficiency as a presidential foreign policy adviser is most profoundly exposed.

Consider, for example, Malley’s address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in September 2005. While debating U.S. policy towards Islamist parties, Malley argued that the U.S. should allow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to permit Hamas’ participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Malley said:

[Abbas] thinks that it’s the only way that he can restore political stability; that he can regenerate his own political party; and that he can sustain the ceasefire. . . . We should not be second-guessing that assessment.

Of course, Malley’s policy of not “second-guessing” Abbas on Hamas was an unambiguous disaster, with Hamas’ subsequent election dashing all hopes that the post-Arafat era could yield peaceful compromise.

Or, consider Malley’s analysis of last February’s Mecca Agreement, which heralded a four-month period of Hamas-Fatah “national unity” governance. In a May article, Malley welcomed the agreement as a “first step” towards clarifying Palestinian politics, and assessed that “an immediate wholesale breakdown of relations between the two groups” was unlikely. Of course, such a breakdown occurred barely a month after Malley’s piece went to print, with Hamas violently seizing Gaza.

The gist of it is that Malley has a clear record of advocating policies in the Palestinian sphere that undermine U.S. interests almost instantaneously. Indeed, it hardly matters whether Malley is motivated by anti-Israel bias. After all, we have far more damning reasons to doubt his calls for engaging Iran and Syria: namely, that his analytical framework is consistently proven wrong.

In the ongoing debate regarding Barack Obama’s stance on Israel, Obama foreign policy adviser Robert Malley has emerged as a divisive figure.

Malley’s supporters and critics agree that he embraces a pro-Palestinian narrative in his approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As President Bill Clinton’s special adviser on Arab-Israeli affairs from 1998-2001, Malley was the only American official to blame the United States and Israel—rather than Yasser Arafat—for the failure to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace at Camp David in 2000. Since leaving government, Malley has further developed his pro-Palestinian credentials: he has gushed over Arafat; partnered with Arafat adviser Hussein Agha in promoting his revisionist account of Camp David; and blamed the Bush administration overwhelmingly for continued Israeli-Palestinian strife.

Given Malley’s unabashed bias, supporters of Israel have questioned his true motives, with Martin Peretz’s determination that Malley is a “rabid hater of Israel” representative of the debate’s deteriorating tenor. Last week, Malley’s fellow peace processors shot back, calling the attacks “an effort to undermine the credibility of a talented public servant who has worked tirelessly over the years to promote Arab-Israeli peace and US national interests.” Malley’s former colleagues further wrote that he neither harbors an anti-Israel agenda nor has sought to undermine Israeli security.

Yet the very question of whether or not Malley is a “anti-Israel” is a red herring. Rather than psychoanalyzing Malley to uncover his true motivations, we should assess Malley’s policy prescriptions as to whether they have advanced Israeli-Palestinian peace—the cause for which Malley was employed. It is within this framework that Malley’s insufficiency as a presidential foreign policy adviser is most profoundly exposed.

Consider, for example, Malley’s address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in September 2005. While debating U.S. policy towards Islamist parties, Malley argued that the U.S. should allow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to permit Hamas’ participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Malley said:

[Abbas] thinks that it’s the only way that he can restore political stability; that he can regenerate his own political party; and that he can sustain the ceasefire. . . . We should not be second-guessing that assessment.

Of course, Malley’s policy of not “second-guessing” Abbas on Hamas was an unambiguous disaster, with Hamas’ subsequent election dashing all hopes that the post-Arafat era could yield peaceful compromise.

Or, consider Malley’s analysis of last February’s Mecca Agreement, which heralded a four-month period of Hamas-Fatah “national unity” governance. In a May article, Malley welcomed the agreement as a “first step” towards clarifying Palestinian politics, and assessed that “an immediate wholesale breakdown of relations between the two groups” was unlikely. Of course, such a breakdown occurred barely a month after Malley’s piece went to print, with Hamas violently seizing Gaza.

The gist of it is that Malley has a clear record of advocating policies in the Palestinian sphere that undermine U.S. interests almost instantaneously. Indeed, it hardly matters whether Malley is motivated by anti-Israel bias. After all, we have far more damning reasons to doubt his calls for engaging Iran and Syria: namely, that his analytical framework is consistently proven wrong.

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The Jewish Bradley Effect

Embarassed by its confident predictions of an Obama victory, the mainstream media these past few days has resurrected the supposed “Bradley Effect” as an explanation for why Barack Obama lost last night in New Hampshire. This political phenomenon is named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the 1982 California gubernatorial election despite a healthy lead (ranging from 9 to 22 percent in various polls) over his opponent. Some pundits have even argued that white voters told pollsters they were intent on supporting the black candidate but that deep-seated racism got the best of them upon pulling back the curtain.

A friend of mine has long been telling me that a similar sort of phenomenon occurs with Jewish voters. Being a Democrat is almost instinctive for American Jews; being a GOP supporter is akin to eating pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise. As Martin Peretz wrote in 2004, signaling his distaste for John Kerry:

Like many American Jews, I was brought up to believe that if I pulled the Republican lever on the election machine my right hand would wither and, as the Psalmist says, my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth.

Yet since 9/11, I’m convinced that a far larger proportion of Jews than the reported 25 percent voted Republican in 2004. These Jews–perfectly happy calling themselves Bill Clinton Democrats but more hawkish than a party now headed by Nancy Pelosi–don’t want to admit to anyone that they supported a Republican because everyone in their social circle would call them meshugeh. I imagine this is a topic about which John Podhoretz probably has something to say.

Embarassed by its confident predictions of an Obama victory, the mainstream media these past few days has resurrected the supposed “Bradley Effect” as an explanation for why Barack Obama lost last night in New Hampshire. This political phenomenon is named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the 1982 California gubernatorial election despite a healthy lead (ranging from 9 to 22 percent in various polls) over his opponent. Some pundits have even argued that white voters told pollsters they were intent on supporting the black candidate but that deep-seated racism got the best of them upon pulling back the curtain.

A friend of mine has long been telling me that a similar sort of phenomenon occurs with Jewish voters. Being a Democrat is almost instinctive for American Jews; being a GOP supporter is akin to eating pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise. As Martin Peretz wrote in 2004, signaling his distaste for John Kerry:

Like many American Jews, I was brought up to believe that if I pulled the Republican lever on the election machine my right hand would wither and, as the Psalmist says, my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth.

Yet since 9/11, I’m convinced that a far larger proportion of Jews than the reported 25 percent voted Republican in 2004. These Jews–perfectly happy calling themselves Bill Clinton Democrats but more hawkish than a party now headed by Nancy Pelosi–don’t want to admit to anyone that they supported a Republican because everyone in their social circle would call them meshugeh. I imagine this is a topic about which John Podhoretz probably has something to say.

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Light, Truth, and the New Republic

At the beginning of my sophomore year in college, I decided that a part-time student job at Yale University Press would be a good line-item on my resume. At the interview, the editor, in a proud voice, told me that the “Yale Press is the second-largest university press, after Oxford. But Oxford’s not really a university press, of course.” This assertion—with its implied disdain for the black-fingernailed tradesmen at Oxford University Press—stuck, to the point that it’s been part of my table talk for eight years.

Now, it’s true that in November of 2005, a small crack appeared in the wall of separation: Yale launched a new imprint with the New Republic. But the books slated to be published were serious works of free inquiry: TNR‘s EIC Martin Peretz on Zionism, foreign policy expert Joshua Kurlantzick on China, historian Michael Makovsky on Churchill. Books, in other words, meeting Yale’s high standards. But no more. In today’s mail came Election 2008: A Voter’s Guide, by Franklin Foer and the editors of the New Republic. No! Is it possible? Is a “university press”—my university press, not those trade traitors at Oxford!—publishing a collection of magazine articles? A volume of unremarkable, tawdry candidate profiles, complete with illustrations and essays on Newt Gingrich and Chuck Hagel, neither of whom is running for president, and Sam Brownback, who is no longer doing so? And publishing it as a “Voter’s Guide,” no less?

I imagine Election 2008 is intended to be a “special gift” included with subscriptions to the New Republic. Is this what Yale University wants as its copyrighted intellectual property? The book is a compendium of the New Republic’s usual doses of too-clever-by-half partisan shtick. With the publication of a gift-offer book, Yale University Press has abandoned the proud claims made by the editor. And Yale has tarnished itself as a school: can you imagine the hysterical outcry that would result if a collection of articles from, say, the National Review, was published under its auspices?

At the beginning of my sophomore year in college, I decided that a part-time student job at Yale University Press would be a good line-item on my resume. At the interview, the editor, in a proud voice, told me that the “Yale Press is the second-largest university press, after Oxford. But Oxford’s not really a university press, of course.” This assertion—with its implied disdain for the black-fingernailed tradesmen at Oxford University Press—stuck, to the point that it’s been part of my table talk for eight years.

Now, it’s true that in November of 2005, a small crack appeared in the wall of separation: Yale launched a new imprint with the New Republic. But the books slated to be published were serious works of free inquiry: TNR‘s EIC Martin Peretz on Zionism, foreign policy expert Joshua Kurlantzick on China, historian Michael Makovsky on Churchill. Books, in other words, meeting Yale’s high standards. But no more. In today’s mail came Election 2008: A Voter’s Guide, by Franklin Foer and the editors of the New Republic. No! Is it possible? Is a “university press”—my university press, not those trade traitors at Oxford!—publishing a collection of magazine articles? A volume of unremarkable, tawdry candidate profiles, complete with illustrations and essays on Newt Gingrich and Chuck Hagel, neither of whom is running for president, and Sam Brownback, who is no longer doing so? And publishing it as a “Voter’s Guide,” no less?

I imagine Election 2008 is intended to be a “special gift” included with subscriptions to the New Republic. Is this what Yale University wants as its copyrighted intellectual property? The book is a compendium of the New Republic’s usual doses of too-clever-by-half partisan shtick. With the publication of a gift-offer book, Yale University Press has abandoned the proud claims made by the editor. And Yale has tarnished itself as a school: can you imagine the hysterical outcry that would result if a collection of articles from, say, the National Review, was published under its auspices?

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Weekend Reading

“The news from Israel is of headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty.” These words—written by Milton Himmelfarb in COMMENTARY just months after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War—have proved to be of timeless relevance. And never more relevant than today, on the fortieth anniversary of that war, when numerous observers have concluded that Israel’s smashing victory in that hair’s-breadth conflict led to nothing but decades of even worse “headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty.”

But Himmefarb himself did not stop there. “The news from Israel is of headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty,” he wrote, and then continued: “We have almost forgotten the joy of unbelievable victory.”

COMMENTARY devoted most of its August 1967 issue to the war. In his “Letter from the Sinai Front,” Amos Elon narrated the Israeli experience from the closest of perspectives. Widening the lens to the utmost, Theodore Draper explored the “peculiar combination of internal and external forces” in world politics that led to the war, while Walter Laqueur examined Israel’s radically changed place among the nations in its aftermath. As for the war’s impact on American Jews, Arthur Hertzberg argued that it had caused an “abrupt, radical, and possibly permanent change.”

And speaking of timelessly relevant words: only months later, Martin Peretz would be writing in COMMENTARY about the momentous turn of the American Left against the Jewish state. Thirty years later, on the occasion of a half-century of Jewish sovereignty, the great British historian Paul Johnson confidently predicted that Israel itself, the “product of more than 4,000 years of Jewish history,” fully deserved to be known forever, and to be celebrated forever, as a “Miracle.”

In that Johnsonian spirit, we offer all of these articles for your weekend’s reading.

“The news from Israel is of headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty.” These words—written by Milton Himmelfarb in COMMENTARY just months after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War—have proved to be of timeless relevance. And never more relevant than today, on the fortieth anniversary of that war, when numerous observers have concluded that Israel’s smashing victory in that hair’s-breadth conflict led to nothing but decades of even worse “headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty.”

But Himmefarb himself did not stop there. “The news from Israel is of headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty,” he wrote, and then continued: “We have almost forgotten the joy of unbelievable victory.”

COMMENTARY devoted most of its August 1967 issue to the war. In his “Letter from the Sinai Front,” Amos Elon narrated the Israeli experience from the closest of perspectives. Widening the lens to the utmost, Theodore Draper explored the “peculiar combination of internal and external forces” in world politics that led to the war, while Walter Laqueur examined Israel’s radically changed place among the nations in its aftermath. As for the war’s impact on American Jews, Arthur Hertzberg argued that it had caused an “abrupt, radical, and possibly permanent change.”

And speaking of timelessly relevant words: only months later, Martin Peretz would be writing in COMMENTARY about the momentous turn of the American Left against the Jewish state. Thirty years later, on the occasion of a half-century of Jewish sovereignty, the great British historian Paul Johnson confidently predicted that Israel itself, the “product of more than 4,000 years of Jewish history,” fully deserved to be known forever, and to be celebrated forever, as a “Miracle.”

In that Johnsonian spirit, we offer all of these articles for your weekend’s reading.

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Hillary’s Critics

Someone had to do it—and we can all thank David Geffen for being the first. The Hollywood mogul, formerly a major Clinton donor, expounded at length to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd about his support for Barack Obama. Here’s Geffen on the Clintons: “Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease it’s troubling.” And on Hillary’s chances: “I don’t think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is—and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?—can bring the country together.”

Hillary’s reaction to Geffen’s words opened the floodgates. By the weekend, a host of critics on the Left had moved into place. (As Daniel Casse noted yesterday, the Democrats have an institutional tendency to pile on early front-runners.)

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Someone had to do it—and we can all thank David Geffen for being the first. The Hollywood mogul, formerly a major Clinton donor, expounded at length to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd about his support for Barack Obama. Here’s Geffen on the Clintons: “Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease it’s troubling.” And on Hillary’s chances: “I don’t think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is—and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?—can bring the country together.”

Hillary’s reaction to Geffen’s words opened the floodgates. By the weekend, a host of critics on the Left had moved into place. (As Daniel Casse noted yesterday, the Democrats have an institutional tendency to pile on early front-runners.)


The always sharp, center-Left Slate blogger Mickey Kaus points out that Hillary’s response—”this is the politics of personal destruction”—just confirms her critics’ fear that she is a dictator-in-waiting. “Does Hillary realize that this taboo-enforcing strategy plays into the worst aspect of her public image—the dogmatic PC enforcer?” He continues: “Note to Hillary: your husband cheated on you and was fined $90,000 for lying to a federal judge about it. Everyone thinks he’s still cheating. . . . That isn’t ‘the politics of personal destruction.’ It’s due diligence.”

Washington Post writer Anne Kornblut makes the interesting argument that “Last week’s Hillary response was an effort to establish silence about her husband’s impeachment.” Kornblut then quotes a Democratic operative who asks why having the opposition mention Bill’s foibles should be out of bounds, given that Hillary is happy to use him to enhance her support. Why indeed?

New Republic editor Martin Peretz claims to be closer to Geffen than to either Clinton, having experienced “Clinton fatigue” early. Peretz, who is sensitive to class issues, reminds us to follow the money. The Clintons, he notes, have only very rich friends—perhaps because of the high cost of such friendship in campaign donations and contributions to legal defense funds.

But the unkindest cut comes from New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. Calling the Clintons “the Connivers,” he details his disgust at Hillary for her willingness to do whatever ruthless thing it takes to tarnish Obama. “There would be no Obama phenomenon if an awful lot of people weren’t fed up with just the sort of mean-spirited, take-no-prisoners politics that the Clintons . . . represent.” Hillary, he claims, is “chasing yesterday’s dawn.” Herbert’s column is almost as tedious as his usual fare, but his vehement dislike of Clinton may count as actual news.

Read Less

Weekend Reading

The recent dust-up between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has reminded some observers of what Clinton-style politics can look like in action. If, as former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Sherman once observed, the past is the best prophet of the future, it’s distinctly probable that American political discourse will remain quite lively for some time now, and possibly even after George W. Bush’s second term ends. For your weekend reading, contentions would like to offer a selection of incisive articles from COMMENTARY taking a hard look at the Clinton administration and the years of ease at home and swiftly growing unease abroad over which Bill Clinton presided. Enjoy.

Bush, Clinton, and the Jews—A Debate
Daniel Pipes & Martin Peretz, October 1992

Lament of a Clinton Supporter
Joshua Muravchik, August 1993

Clintonism Abroad
Joshua Muravchik, February 1995

A Party of One: Clinton and the Democrats
Daniel Casse, July 1996

What Saddam Hussein Learned from Bill Clinton
Harvey Sicherman, December 1996

Clinton, the Country, and the Culture
January 1999

The recent dust-up between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has reminded some observers of what Clinton-style politics can look like in action. If, as former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Sherman once observed, the past is the best prophet of the future, it’s distinctly probable that American political discourse will remain quite lively for some time now, and possibly even after George W. Bush’s second term ends. For your weekend reading, contentions would like to offer a selection of incisive articles from COMMENTARY taking a hard look at the Clinton administration and the years of ease at home and swiftly growing unease abroad over which Bill Clinton presided. Enjoy.

Bush, Clinton, and the Jews—A Debate
Daniel Pipes & Martin Peretz, October 1992

Lament of a Clinton Supporter
Joshua Muravchik, August 1993

Clintonism Abroad
Joshua Muravchik, February 1995

A Party of One: Clinton and the Democrats
Daniel Casse, July 1996

What Saddam Hussein Learned from Bill Clinton
Harvey Sicherman, December 1996

Clinton, the Country, and the Culture
January 1999

Read Less




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