Marty Peretz

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Marty Peretz
Born Martin H. Peretz
(1938-12-06) December 6, 1938 (age 76)
New York City
Alma mater Brandeis University (BA)
Harvard University (MA, PhD)
Occupation Journalist, publisher
Known for The New Republic
Religion Jewish
Spouse(s) Anne Devereux (Labouisse) Farnsworth Peretz (1967–2009)
Children Evgenia Peretz
Jesse Peretz

Martin H. "Marty" Peretz (/pəˈrɛts/; born December 6, 1938) is an American publisher. Formerly an assistant professor at Harvard University, he purchased The New Republic in 1974 and took editorial control soon afterwards.[1] Peretz is known for his strong support of Israel and support for the US Invasion of Iraq in 2003. He retained majority ownership until 2002, when he sold a two-thirds stake in the magazine to two financiers.[1] Peretz sold the remainder of his ownership rights in 2007 to CanWest Global Communications, though he retained his position as editor-in-chief.[2] In March 2009, Peretz repurchased the magazine with a group of investors led by ex-Lazard executive Laurence Grafstein.[3] In late-2010, Peretz gave up his title of editor-in-chief at The New Republic, becoming instead editor emeritus, and also terminated his blog The Spine.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Peretz grew up in New York City. Both of his parents were Zionists but not religious Jews.[4] He is a descendant of the Yiddish writer I. L. Peretz.

Peretz graduated from the Bronx High School of Science at age 15.[4] He received his B.A. degree from Brandeis University in 1959, and M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in Government,[5] then going on to lecture in social studies.

Personal life[edit]

Peretz was married briefly in his twenties.[4] From 1967 to 2009,[4] he was married to Anne Devereux (Labouisse) Farnsworth Peretz, daughter of Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr. and an heir to the Singer Sewing Machine Company fortune.[4] Anne had helped him buy The New Republic in 1974.[6] The couple divorced in 2009, his wife citing infidelity and bad temper as problems in the marriage.[7]

Peretz is the father of director Jesse Peretz and writer Evgenia Peretz.[4] Peretz is a long-time friend and supporter of former US Vice President Al Gore.

Honors and awards[edit]

He has seven honorary doctorates: "the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Bard College (1982), Coe College (1983), Long Island University (1988), Brandeis University (1989), Hebrew College (1990), Chicago Theological Seminary (1994), and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1987)."[8] In 1982, he received the Jerusalem Medal.

In 1993, Harvard inaugurated the Martin Peretz Chair in Yiddish Literature in his honor.[9] The Chair is held by Ruth Wisse.[10]

Peretz is a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Board of Advisors.[11]

Editorial stance[edit]

Under the leadership of Peretz, The New Republic generally maintained liberal and neoliberal positions on economic and social issues, and assumed correspondingly pro-Israel stances in foreign affairs. Peretz has said "Support for Israel is deep down, an expression of America's best view of itself."[12] Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein have stated that Peretz said "I am in love with the state of Israel."[13] In a December 27, 2012 article, "Martin Peretz: An Appreciation," Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick praised Peretz for his unshakable loyalty to Israel: "As a man of the Left, he has fought the fight for Israel and Jewish rights, increasingly alone for nearly fifty years, and has done so despite what must have been enormous personal costs as his comrades all jumped ship, and in many cases, joined the cause of Israel's enemies."

Media critic Eric Alterman wrote in the American Prospect regarding Peretz's tenure as editor of the New Republic: "[D]uring his reign, Peretz has also done lasting damage to the cause of American liberalism. By turning TNR into a kind of ideological police dog, Peretz enjoyed... [playing] a key role in defining the borders of "responsible" liberal discourse, thereby tarring anyone who disagreed as irresponsible or untrustworthy. But he did so on the basis of a politics simultaneously so narrow and idiosyncratic — in thrall almost entirely to an Israel-centric neoconservatism."[14]

Peretz has used the editorial page of the The New Republic to attack people whom he perceives as enemies of Israel[15][16]—"sometimes we attack people unfairly" according to his close friend and TNR literary editor Leon Wieseltier.[16] For example, Peretz attacked I. F. Stone after the journalist signed a public appeal for water and medical supplies for siege victims trapped in West Beirut during the 1982 Israeli Siege of Beirut: Peretz editorialized, "So this is what I. F. Stone has come to, asking his admirers to put up money so that the PLO can continue to fight."[16] In an editorial titled "Blacklisted", Peretz claimed during the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 that he was "the only writer on the Middle East not invited by PBS or NPR to speak about the Gulf."[16][17]

Peretz does not support Israeli settlements in the West Bank, describing the settlers as "self-righteous and often brutal."[18]

Peretz has long supported Democrats over Republicans, including being a major behind-the-scenes benefactor of Eugene McCarthy's primary presidential bid in 1968. He supported Senator Barack Obama in both his Democratic primary race and in the 2008 general election.[19] Recently, Peretz has expressed disappointment with Obama, telling The New York Times Magazine: “I’m not sure I feel betrayed, but it’s close... our first African-American president has done less to fight AIDS in Africa than George Bush, he’s done nothing on human rights.”[20]

A supporter of Israel, Peretz was a key editorial voice—despite at the time he had decreasing influence in Washington politics and editorial circles—in opposing the appointment of Charles W. Freeman, Jr. as chief of the National Intelligence Council, Peretz wrote:

But Freeman's real offense (and the president's if he were to appoint him) is that he has questioned the loyalty and patriotism of not only Zionists and other friends of Israel, the great swath of American Jews and their Christian countrymen, who believed that the protection of Zion is at the core of our religious and secular history.[21]

On November 8, 2010, Peretz indicated that he would prefer the Democratic Party nominate someone other than Obama for President in 2012:

Press people are speculating that maybe Barack Obama will be a one-term president. Yet wouldn't it be better that, rather than have a Republican candidate trounce him in the general elections, a Democrat try to unseat him in the party primaries and at the convention. Surely, there are many sensible Democrats who realize that the "yes, we can" dream is, in fact, Obama's own hallucination.[22]

Peretz has described Obama's foreign policy as "a folly and a fraud" and the principles of it as "at best, stupid and, at worst, treacherous."[23]

Accusations of bigotry[edit]

Over the course of his career, Peretz has drawn criticism from some fellow commentators, particularly Jack Shafer of Slate and Eric Alterman of The Nation for making comments they considered bigoted, particularly towards Arabs and Muslims.[14][15][24] He has written (among other things) that "'Arab society' is 'hidebound and backward' [and] [t]hat the Druze are 'congenitally untrustworthy'"[8]

On September 4, 2010, Peretz drew media attention and controversy when he posted an editorial which concluded:

But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.[25]

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof denounced Peretz's comments, asking: "Is it possible to imagine the same kind of casual slur tossed off about blacks or Jews?"[26]

Peretz issued an apology on September 13. Regarding his statement about Muslims and the First Amendment, Peretz said: "I wrote that, but I do not believe that. I do not think that any group or class of persons in the United States should be denied the protections of the First Amendment, not now, not ever."[27] Peretz also said that his comment that "Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims" was "a statement of fact, not of value" and pointed out that Kristof himself agreed that Muslims have not adequately condemned violence perpetrated by Muslims on fellow Muslims.[27]

Kristof responded by criticizing Peretz for falsely claiming that Kristof agreed with him, and also for continuing to generalize that all Muslims had the attitude of Muslim terrorists toward human life:[28]

Making generalizations about racial, ethnic or religious groups is a dangerous game. Many Muslims see Americans dropping bombs in Iraq or Afghanistan and think that Christians don’t value human life. Arabs see Israelis invading Gaza and insist that Jews don’t value human life. Islam is no more monolithic than Christianity or Judaism, and these kinds of sweeping generalizations have historically led to dehumanizing other groups in ways that lead to discrimination and violence. They’re invidious and dangerous whether it’s we or Afghans who fall for them.[28]

On September 17, 2010, Peretz issued another apology:

… [I]n this past year I have publicly committed the sin of wild and wounding language, especially hurtful to our Muslim brothers and sisters. I do not console myself that many other Americans at this moment are committing the same transgressions, against others. I allowed emotion to run way ahead of reason, and feelings to trample arguments. For this I am sorry.[29]

On September 20, 2010, five major Harvard student organizations, citing Peretz's long "history of making terribly racist statements" urged Harvard not to go ahead with honors planned for Peretz. The organizations—the Harvard Islamic Society, Latinas Unidas, and the Harvard Black Students Association—asserted that Peretz over the course of more than a decade had not only made racist comments against Muslims, but also regarding African Americans and Mexicans.[30]

Also following the controversy, Harvard University canceled Peretz's scheduled September 25 speech on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Harvard's Social Studies Department where Peretz once taught.[31]

The Atlantic's James Fallows summarized Peretz's reputation, concluding that if his legacy were settled that day, despite being "beloved by many students and respected by some magazine colleagues", in his 70s he would be considered a bigot. Fallows also wrote: "Martin Peretz has been undeniably shamed. And lastingly shamed."[32][33]

Marc Tracy wrote in the Jewish magazine The Tablet: "[I]f you will—this is not the first time he has written something racist, and it isn’t the fifteenth time, either... But the tonnage of these quotations and the consistency of their content demonstrate that Peretz’s insensitivity and bigotry toward Muslims and Arabs (er, and black people) yank him out of the realm of people you should be reading on the subject."[34]

Jefferson Morley, a Peretz friend, who worked at The New Republic from 1983 to 1987, told Jack Shafer of Slate, "I could never reconcile this intellectual strength with his racism and unpleasant attempts to play the bully."[24]

Stephen Glass controversy[edit]

During Peretz's tenure as editor of the New Republic, the magazine faced one of journalism's most notorious fabrication scandals. One of the magazine's writers, Stephen Glass, was found to have fabricated portions or all of 27 of 41 stories he wrote for the magazine. Stories were found to have included some accurate reporting interwoven with fabricated quotations, scenes, and incidents. In some instances, stories were made up in their entirety.[35]

The Glass fabrications were "the greatest scandal in the magazine’s history and marked a decade of waning influence and mounting financial losses," the New York Times would later report.[20] Explaining why it took so long to catch Glass' fraud, Peretz blamed two of his editors, Michael Kelly and Charles Lane, for not catching the fraud earlier. Lane, Peretz claimed, ignored obvious warning signs of the fabrication, and then attempted to unfairly lay the blame to his predecessor, Kelly. Peretz claimed that Lane's alleged inaction "sullied the good name of the New Republic. Peretz subsequently fired Lane."[35] According to an account in the American Prospect, "Lane got the news [of his firing] from a Washington Post reporter who called to inquire about his future plans."[14]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1993 novel Blue Hearts which was set in Washington D.C., PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer included Peretz as the roman à clef character "Jonathan Perry."[24]

Peretz is portrayed in Stephen Glass's 2003 novel The Fabulist[24] and by Ted Kotcheff in the 2003 film Shattered Glass based on the Stephen Glass controversy.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, David D. (28 January 2002). "New Republic's Longtime Owner Sells Control to 2 Big Financiers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  2. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (28 February 2007). "New Republic’s Editor in Chief Sells His Share of the Magazine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  3. ^ Calderone, Michael (9 March 2009). "Peretz, investors buying back TNR". Politico. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Wallace-Wells, Benjamin (December 26, 2010). "Peretz in Exile". New York. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  5. ^ Peretz, Martin (27 January 2010). "Erich Segal Z"L: My friend, the polymath who wrote Love Story". The New Republic. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  6. ^ Turque, Bill (2000). Inventing Al Gore: A Biography. Houghton Mifflin. p. 51. ISBN 0-618-13160-4. Marty Peretz bought the magazine in 1974 from Gilbert Harrison with $380,000 garnered from the wealth of his wife, Anne Labouisse Farnsworth, heir to one of the great fortunes created by the Singer Sewing Machine company. 
  7. ^ Rodrick, Stephen (2011-01-24). "Martin Peretz Is Not Sorry. About Anything". The New York Times. Peretz has lived alone for five years. His wife cited his infidelities and explosive temper as problems in the marriage, but Peretz preempted any discussion of his romantic world, declaring, 'My sexual life is too complicated for one word, and not complicated enough for 15.' Still, he wears his wedding ring, and Anne’s own paintings share space with Degas’s on his walls. 
  8. ^ a b Pareene, Alex (2010-11-26) War Room's Hack Thirty - No. 5: Marty Peretz, Salon.com
  9. ^ "Yiddish Language and Literature". Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  10. ^ "Ruth Wisse Faculty Page". Harvard University. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  11. ^ "About the Institute: Board of Advisors". Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  12. ^ Reprint of Martin Peretz, "Surveying the Israel Lobby: Oil and Vinegar," The New Republic Online, 30 March 2006
  13. ^ Cockburn, Alexander; Silverstein, Ken (1996). Washington Babylon. Verso. 
  14. ^ a b c Alterman, Eric (2007-06-18). "My Marty Peretz Problem -- And Ours". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  15. ^ a b Shafer, Jack (1991-04-12). "The Perfervid Peretz". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  16. ^ a b c d Alterman, Eric (1999). Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. p. 198. ISBN 0-8014-8639-4. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  17. ^ Peretz, Martin (1991-04-15). "Blacklisted". The New Republic. p. 42. 
  18. ^ Peretz, Marty (27 September 2010). "The Moratorium Has Ended, But Will The Peace Process With It?". The Spine. The New Republic. 
  19. ^ Lake, Eli (21 February 2008). "Obama's Brain Trust Taking Shape". New York Sun. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Rodrick, Stephen (24 January 2010). "Martin Peretz Is Not Sorry. About Anything.". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  21. ^ Peretz, Marty (25 February 2009). "Chas Freeman Is Bigoted And Out Of Touch". The Spine. The New Republic. 
  22. ^ Peretz, Marty (8 November 2010). "Was the Gargantuan Loss of Democratic House Seats a Massacre or Just a Disaster?". The Spine. The New Republic. 
  23. ^ Peretz, Marty (30 November 2010). "Obama's Foreign Policy is a Folly and a Fraud". The Spine. The New Republic. 
  24. ^ a b c d Shafer, Jack (2010-09-14). "In Praise of Marty Peretz". Slate. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  25. ^ Peretz, Martin (2010-09-04). "The New York Times Laments "A Sadly Wary Misunderstanding of Muslim-Americans." But Really Is It "Sadly Wary" Or A "Misunderstanding" At All?". The Spine (The New Republic). Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  26. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (11 September 2010). "Is This America?". The New York Times. 
  27. ^ a b Peretz, Martin (2010-09-13). "An Apology". The Spine (The New Republic). Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  28. ^ a b Kristof, Nicholas (2010-09-13). "A Martin Peretz Apology". On the Ground (The New York Times). Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  29. ^ Peretz, Martin (17 September 2010). "Atonement". The New Republic. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  30. ^ Jeffries, Julia R; Kumar, Gautam S. (20 September 2010). "Student Letter Criticizes Marty Peretz". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  31. ^ "Peretz dropped as Harvard event speaker". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  32. ^ Fallows, James (2010-09-25). "Peretz and the Power of Shaming". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  33. ^ Fallows, James (12 September 2010). "A Harsh Thing I Should Have Said (Martin Peretz Dept) Updated". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2011-07-29. 
  34. ^ Tracy, Marc (21 September 2010). "Harvard Cancels Peretz Speech". Tablet. 
  35. ^ a b Last, Jonathan V. (30 October 2003). "Stopping Stephen Glass". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 

External links[edit]