Marty Peretz’s Cowardice

Daniel Luban, March 07, 2010

In a typical rant, The New Republic editor/publisher Marty Peretz prefaced a rambling declaration of victory in Iraq with these charming words:

There were moments – long moments – during the Iraq war when I had my doubts. Even deep doubts. Frankly, I couldn’t quite imagine any venture requiring trust with Arabs turning out especially well. This is, you will say, my prejudice. But some prejudices are built on real facts, and history generally proves me right. Go ahead, prove me wrong.

Peretz is quoted by Glenn Greenwald, who says most of what needs to be said about Peretz’s latest display of bigotry. I’m sure we can expect a 4000-word J’accuse from Leon Wieseltier condemning his boss’s racism any day now.

In any case, if one views Peretz’s post now, one finds that the offending sentence has been changed, without any indication that it used to read differently:

There were moments – long moments – during the Iraq war when I had my doubts. Even deep doubts. Frankly, I couldn’t quite imagine any venture like this in the Arab world turning out especially well. This is, you will say, my prejudice. But some prejudices are built on real facts, and history generally proves me right. Go ahead, prove me wrong.

The fact that Peretz changed the post (however nasty his revised formulation remains) looks like a tacit admission that he knows he crossed the line. In that case, however, it seems that he should provide an explanation (not to say an apology). Does he believe that Arabs are in fact congenitally shifty and untrustworthy? Does he concede that his slur against Arabs was unacceptable? To simply change his post covertly in the hopes that no one will notice is surely the most cowardly way to deal with the issue.

I realize that it is unwise to waste much time on Peretz. He is an embarrassment, as even his own staffers generally recognize, and the only reason that TNR is forced to publish his rantings is that he owns the magazine. Still, if Peretz wants to be taken seriously in public debate it seems reasonable to demand that he conform to some minimal standards of honesty, decency, and responsibility.


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17 Responses to “Marty Peretz’s Cowardice”

  1. Ah, a text like shifting sands. A Fowler or a Derrida might notice it length, and the stretch between them is immense.

  2. TNR sucks.

  3. RE: "This is, you will say, my prejudice. But some prejudices are built on real facts…"
    MY COMMENT: Marty "Macho Man" Peretz strikes again!

    "…Every man ought to be a macho macho man,
    To live a life of freedom, machos make a stand,
    Have their own life style and ideals,
    Possess the strength and confidence, life's a steal,
    You can best believe that he's a macho man
    He's a special person in anybody's land.

    Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
    Macho, macho man (macho man)
    I've got to be, a macho man
    Macho, macho man
    I've got to be a macho! (dig the hair on my chest) … – Village People

  4. Zionists don't believe in "minimal standards of honesty, decency, and responsibility." The end justifies the means to them.

  5. Daniel:

    His name is Martin Peretz, not "Marty." Why are you using his affectionate nickname?

  6. Mr. Peretz admits his prejudice, “Frankly, I couldn’t quite imagine any venture requiring trust with Arabs turning out especially well”. What strikes me as ironic is that little does Mr. Peretz (or other Israel oriented Jews) realize that their non-Arabic neighbors like Iran and Turkey, view Israeli Jews as being quite similiar in character and demeanor with their Arab cousins. It came as a complete surprise to me that both Turks and Iranians held disparaging views on Arabs, and even more so to see that Israelis were put in the same bag. The only proof that i can offer is my own personal experience, but I believe it to be valid.

  7. OK, but let's not "pretty it up"–what he said was racist. Period. "Bigotry" just doesn't give it justice. And BTW, read through any of the Jewish neocon literature and you'll find a deep hatred of Arabs and Muslims. It's called racism in most civilized nations. Their push for wars in the Middle East is based at least as much on their racism as on their aggressive imperialism. Go further and read some of the Israeli government officials' public statements, and you see a kind of racism that makes the US in the 1950s look positively tolerant. Why do they get to scream "anti-semitism," but no one shouts back, "racist!"?

  8. Well the Arabs trusted the British and sided with them and fought with them against the Turks ,and we all can see how that trust turned out .

  9. Donna,
    Yes, in a World that needs to evolve past racism, selfishness, militarism , and religiously based hatred of the Other, Israel is a totally unnecessary step backwards into the primitive muck. Let Israel become a blending of the enlightened parts of Arab and Jewish culture, and it could be a forward step.

  10. Let's shove my offense remark down the ole' memory hole. Nobody will notice. Uh, hey, Marty when you post on the internet it stays there forever to be found and reposted another day. Revising your remarks in the hope that nobody will notice your revision only invites further criticism and even accusation of cowardice.

  11. Dear old Marty obviously knows nothing of the history of the middle east. It's a long squalid tale of imperial deceit and brutality. I certainly hope that brave Arab peoples will one day manage to rid themselves of imperial repression and coercion. As the US toys with complete and irreparable insolvency, that outcome seems more and more likely. Could it be that the Neocons are Al Queda operatives?

  12. Dear old Marty obviously knows nothing of the history of the middle east. It's a long squalid tale of imperial deceit and brutality. I certainly hope that brave Arab peoples will one day manage to rid themselves of imperial repression and coercion. As the US toys with complete and irreparable insolvency, that outcome seems more and more likely. Could it be that the Neocons are Al Queda operatives?

  13. ". Revising your remarks in the hope that nobody will notice your revision only invites further criticism and even accusations of cowardice."

    antiwar.com recently retrospectively rephrased an open letter signed "Papa" to a young man considering joining the military advising that he would "have no choice but to obey" [ memory ] orders from a superiror officer to destroy buildings containing women and children.

    Some challenges in the comments. Puff, it was gone.antiwar.com acknowledged edits , but didn't report specifics. Anybody got the link?

    This was a revealing edit . It should have been disclosed and discussed.

  14. Remember that scumbag who walked into an Sbarro's restaurant in Jerusalem almost a decade ago, killed 15 people, and wounded many more? One of the dead was a 4-year old Israeli boy whose photo was printed in the papers. Damn near broke my heart.

    What the people at TNR and like-minded need to be a little more honest about is that the Palestinians, Lebanese, Iranians, etc., do not value their own lives any less. Israelis are correct to point out that their neighbors have been on the whole remarkably intolerant and even hateful towards them. But I am long sickened by the ethnocentric demand that we in America esteem every single Jewish Israeli life to be of infinite value while disregarding any number of Arab or Iranian lives. How any thinking person could fail to see that such an attitude is both morally reprehensible and counterproductive in practical terms is beyond me.

  15. Roughly half of all Israelis have Middle Eastern Origins — the Mizrachim. The greater part of these have Judeo-arabic backgrounds. In the '80s, the largest immigrant group in Israel were the Moroccans. (Maybe Russians now; I don't know.)

  16. So Marty Peretz is a racist. Duh – it is not like this is anything that we did not know before. Let us move on having recognized the obvious – Zionism and the neocon movement are racist to the core !

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