Ex-TNR Editor Blasts Magazine for Anti-Israel Writer

Martin Peretz
Martin Peretz

Martin Peretz, the long-time editor-in-chief of the New Republic until 2010 and owner until 2012, slammed the magazine on Sunday for publishing an excerpt of an anti-Israel book written by senior editor John Judis.

TNR was known for its liberal, pro-Israel editorial line under Peretz’s 35-year stewardship. However, it has moved away from this position under its new owner and editor, Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommate Chris Hughes.

The magazine recently published a chapter of Judis’s new book, "Genesis: Truman, American Jews and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict," which reportedly questions the legitimacy of Israel’s founding and attributes American support for the Jewish state to pressure from the Israel lobby.

"The editors of [The New Republic] during my 35-year tenure as owner—from Michael Kinsley to Frank Foer—were very comfortable with its support for the Jewish state," wrote Peretz in a letter to the New York Times. "Yet Mr. Foer not only published a chapter of Mr. Judis’s book, but also allowed Mr. Judis to respond to critical reviews from other publications, which has never been a practice at the magazine, until last week."

"The American people’s support for the Jewish state has never been stronger. For Israel’s enemies, and in Mr. Judis’s book … this can only be explained as a subterfuge, a big lobby’s lie," Peretz added.

Peretz also questioned why TNR was not "permitted to consistently make the case that the notion of Israeli statehood needs to be supported, especially in view of the current violence among Israel’s neighbors?"

This is not the first time Peretz has criticized the new direction of TNR.

Last February, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the long-time liberal magazine had become "partisan" under Hughes, and said he didn’t "recognize the magazine that I sold in 2012."

Leon Wieseltier, TNR’s long-time literary editor, has also criticized Judis’s book, calling it "shallow, derivative, tendentious, imprecise, and sometimes risibly inaccurate" and also "insulting" in an email to historian Ron Radosh, which was published last month by the Washington Free Beacon.

"Judis’ understanding of Jewish history, and of the history and nature of Zionism, is shallow, derivative, tendentious, imprecise, and sometimes risibly inaccurate—he is a tourist in this subject," wrote Wieseltier. "Like most tourists, he sees what he came to see."