The New Republic’s bigot in chief Marty Peretz has been on quite a tear this week. On Tuesday, Peretz wondered whether “these people” — referring to Muslim Americans — “are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.”
On the upside, at least Peretz recognizes that Muslim Americans actually exist, which is more than he’s willing to say about the Palestinians, whose existence as a people he still maintains is an historical fiction, as he wrote yesterday:
The defeat of the Arabs of Palestine and the five warrior Arab states in 1948, 1967 and 1973 made a fictional people into a political force. We do not yet know whether this political force will mature into a real people. Or nation. My bet is “no.” I believe it will be more like a mini-Pakistan.
The historical fact of the Palestinians as a distinct national group has long been established by serious scholars, but it’s still resisted by hardline Zionists like Peretz, who find the idea of Palestinians living in Palestine inconvenient to their own preferred national mythology.
But Marty Peretz being a clownish anti-Arab bigot is a dog-bites-man story. I only bring it up to demonstrate, yet again, the double standard that exists in American media in regard to Jewish versus Palestinian national claims. Reporter Helen Thomas came under a hail of (appropriate) criticism and was eventually fired because of her offensive comment that the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine.” Discussing that episode on CNN, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg suggested an equivalent claim in regard to the Palestinians:
KURTZ: You know, some critics out there say — I’m sure you’ve heard this — that this shows the U.S. press is pro-Israel and you get in trouble when you criticize Israel. And if Helen Thomas had said the opposite thing about the Palestinians, she’d still have her job.
GOLDBERG: I don’t think that last point is necessarily true. If you gave this long diatribe about the Palestinians don’t exist, which is sort of the equivalent argument, I don’t think you’re going to last that long in the mainstream press.
Now, obviously Thomas and Peretz are in different classes. Thomas earned her position through hard work. Peretz earned his through marrying into money and buying a magazine, and so can’t be fired. But his entire career as a writer has essentially been one “long diatribe about the Palestinians don’t exist,” and apart from a small handful of morally consistent writers like Matt Yglesias, Eric Alterman, and Glenn Greenwald, he’s never really been called to account for it, nor had to pay any price.
Condemning Thomas’ remarks, Goldberg wrote that they were “rooted in the same grotesque motivation” as Holocaust denial: “To deny to Jews the truth of their own history.” This is, of course, precisely what Peretz means to do to the Palestinians. I won’t hold my breath waiting for Goldberg to follow through on his own analogy and condemn Peretz’s comments, though. Like too many other liberal writers in DC, he doesn’t want to alienate a guy whose checks he hopes to continue cashing.