I realize that this is my third blog in barely more than a month about Ron Radosh. Yet it can not pass without comment that he has seen fit to publish a 5,000 word essay that begins right off the bat with the first of countless whoppers:
Martin Peretz has been a pillar of responsible liberalism since buying The New Republic magazine in 1974.
The occasion is a barely longer profile piece in New York magazine about the man who, along with Norman Podhoretz, can be said to have unleashed the greatest wave of anti-Semitism since Hitler. It turns out that in contrast to the clannish Kristols and Podhoretzes, Marty Peretz has an absolute shambles of a private life, and now for all practical purposes he’s lost The New Republic as well.
A gentile friend and mentor has often insisted to me that for even many more and prominent neocons than I’ve been prepared to accept, they realize the world-historic magnitude of what they’ve done and are traumatized by the realization. To its everlasting credit, the New York article captures the wrenching human tragedy of Marty Peretz in terms that even so committed an adversary as myself can’t help but be moved. Like John Profumo, the Conservative MP toppled by scandal in the 60s who redeemed himself by spending the rest of his life serving the homeless, Peretz is now living part-time in Tel Aviv and teaching English to immigrant teenagers. He has even been known to appear at protests on behalf of Palestinians facing eviction in East Jerusalem.
For Ron Radosh to therefore write a very long and spirited defense of the man’s public career is a new low for what there can no longer be any doubt whatsoever is the saddest case in the entire history of American public intellectuals. Being somehow of the impression that in 1984 Henry Wallace was in contention for the Presidency, Radosh sings the praises of TNR thus:
For many years, especially in the 80’s, the magazine functioned as the more realistic and hard-edged liberal alternative to the stale liberalism of the wartime Popular Front, and later, the new anti-anti-Communism of the bulk of the liberal movement during the Vietnam War and after. In the conflict at home over Reagan policy in Central America, Peretz editorially supported the Nicaraguan contras, a group for whom most liberals had nothing but hate and disdain. He did this against the wishes of his own chosen editors, who openly published a letter opposed to the magazine’s editorial policy.
He then follows this up by repeating his bizarre remonstrations for TNR to finally leave the Progressive legacy behind and embrace national greatness conservatism as called for in what has to be the weirdest essay yet by Walter Russell Mead. But then Radosh, who never wrote a word about Israel until just three years ago, and whom it would stun me to know has ever belonged to a synagogue, mounts the tired old horse convinced it can win him the Kentucky Derby:
Most important of all, TNR was the strongest media voice in the nation that stood foursquare in defense of Israel. And all of this was due to the influence and guidance of Marty Peretz, who always understood – and does so especially at present – that the strength of Israel was paramount to the ability of the West to defeat our latest enemy, the forces of radical Islam. Peretz realizes that Israel’s fight is not that nation’s alone; rather, it is the fight of the Western powers as a whole.
And it is this stance, we must understand, that has led to Peretz having so many enemies. His willingness to stand up and buck official liberalism in its hostility to Israel and the view of most realists and liberals that peace does not exist in the Middle East because of Israel’s so-called self-defeating policies, has meant that those who believe in this fairy tale have total hatred for Peretz, and instead of wishing him well in his endeavors, are out to destroy him.
Radosh goes on to praise Peretz for being “far ahead of himself seeing in its earliest gestations” the turn of the left against Israel. It so happens that I remain mystified, perhaps being too provincially attached to the history of the last decade, about how the disillusionment of just a few new leftists, and later the very limited impact of the Jesse Jackson campaign on American Middle East politics, led to such hysteria as to be in large measure responsible for birthing neoconservatism itself.
I can only conclude that Zionism has always suffered from political hypochondria – that is, a complete inability to be mature and sober in assessing its challenges. Thus what Israel suffers today is but self-fulfilling prophecy. We can see this phenomenon in its protean form in the complete and untrammeled hysteria with which Israelis have greeted only the most modest success of the campaign for boycott and divestment from Israel.
The essay then proceeds into hysterical ad hominem:
And then there is the despicable hater of anything that is pro-Israel, Philip Weiss, a man who writes for the Buchananite paleoconservative hate magazine The American Conservative, as well as the leftist Nation – the two partner journals that blend together in defense of isolationism. In his own blog, Weiss writes that Peretz is “a racist crank…who has been ‘stripped of his magazine’ and is reduced to telling Holocaust stories in sybaritic Tel Aviv.” If Peretz even knows who Weiss is, I’m sure he is delighted to have him as an enemy, as any sane person would. Weiss adds that Peretz “has no idea how offensive his racial statements were. I guess he has been flattered by admirers/petitioners at Harvard and the Yivo Institute and the New Republic for so long that no one dared to give Marty the news.”
Weiss obviously has no idea that few take his writing seriously, and that many find his writings more than offensive. As for his belief that Peretz’s dismissal is “a new moment in the life of the Israel lobby,” that statement is so bizarre one must pause to even know what he is talking about. Then he praises both Tom Friedman and David Remnick for turning against Israel. I wonder if these two, critical of Israel as they might be, really welcome an endorsement by Philip Weiss?
As my long-time readers will know, I’ve contributed a great deal to Phil’s blog in the past. Phil definitely has a super-emotional style that has alienated me at times, though we remain friends. Yet one can not help but notice a certain amount of projection by this feature blogger at Pajamas Media, who I’ve only started reading regularly to replace the Commentary blog for my daily dose of right wing batshit, in large measure just because his own hobby-horses happen to also be peculiar interests of mine.
What makes Ron Radosh so tragically farcical and farcically tragic is that when even National Review won’t call TNR liberal anymore, when even Marty Peretz has decided the time has come to attempt to redeem himself, Ron Radosh is hysterically running in circles trying to keep propped up a paradigm to which he was very much a late comer.
His adoption of a suicide-of-the-west narrative of devotion to Israel may as much as anything be a projection of redeeming his parents world-apocalyptic view of the similarly besieged backwater of 1930s Spain. For all his hysterical denunciation of the “red-brown alliance” behind TAC, there is probably no historical analogy that quite fits him like the Nazi officers who were fortunate enough to end up on the right side of the iron curtain and thus prove their worth to the Stasi. But the most revealingly dark passage of the whole essay has to be this:
So far only David Horowitz, who undoubtedly disagrees with much of what Peretz holds dear, has defended him.