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Marty Peretz (and The New Republic) vs. Starving Children | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

Marty Peretz (and The New Republic) vs. Starving Children

Wrapup: My new "Think Again" column is here. It's called "That Doggone Librul Media, Caught Again... "Also, I did a Daily Beast post this morning trying (hoping) to explainthe strategy behind Obama's apparently unwavering commitment tobipartisanship. I'm OK with it, as long as I'm right. I clicked on this headline just for fun: "Peretz: Put Oxfam On My Shit List."

Here is the story:

Help the Palestinians: Boycott Israel
August 17, 2009

There's been an Arab boycott of Israel for more than sixty years. And, as you can tell, it has been very effective.

"Progressive" academics, especially in Great Britain and Canada, have also launched boycotts of Israeli scholars, universities and other scholarly institutions. Of course, these campaigns at ostracism have been an utter flop.

Now Oxfam has put Kristin Davis--she of Sex and the City--on its shit list because she did some beauty advertisements for Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics product company that manufactures some of its products in the West Bank. And what does being on the antihunger organization's shit list mean? She can no longer be one of its roving emissaries. Well, if Oxfam has banished Davis' goodwill, it also has banished mine. This campaign against Davis began with Code Pink, a female nut case organization centered in southern California-- Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica--plus San Francisco and New York. Marines are war criminals, Afghanistan is no women's cause, Gaza ... well, you fill in the dots. I have a friend (former friend, actually) who supports Code Pink financially. I won't say anything more.

But the Arab boycott of Israel is a universal boycott. It extends to tennis players, soccer teams and swimmers. Sometimes it doesn't. The Arab world is really out of this world. See this to learn just how out of this world.

Upon reading it, I thought to myself, I know the person--TNR owner andeditor-in-chief is, to put it mildly, delusional, but if hisaccusations against Oxfam turned out to be true, he would have a(disturbing) point, however badly stated. He provided no link, so Idid, literally, ten seconds of research--a Google news search--to learnthat no, it's not true here

A slander against a human rights organization appearsin Rupert Murdoch's New York Post and thirty seconds later it isreprinted, unchecked and unsourced in TNR. Now it will live forever inthe minds of Jews and others foolish enough to trust these sources aswell. Oxfam's funding will suffer in direct proportion to itscredibility. And fewer starving children will be fed thanks to themagazine's lax editorial standards and the unchecked, out-of-controlhatred spewed by the man who, using his wife's inherited fortune, hasmanaged to control it for the past three decades. I sure hope everyoneinvolved is proud of themselves.

I did not see the post up on the blog anymore this morning when Ichecked. I can't say for sure if it's gone, but if so, it joins thisclassic, saved for posterity by the estimable Matt Duss.

Here's Marty:

Regarding the Pain of Others I actually believe that Arabs are feigning outrage when they protest what they call American (or Israeli) "atrocities." They are not shocked at all by what in truth must seem to them not atrocious at all. It is routine in their cultures. That comparison shouldn't comfort us as Americans. We have higher standards of civilization than they do. But the mutilation of bodies and beheadings of people picked up at random in Iraq does not scandalize the people of Iraq unless victims are believers in their own sect or members of their own clan. And the truth is that we are less and less shocked by the mass death- happenings in the world of Islam. Yes, that's the bitter truth. Frankly, even I--cynic that I am--was shocked in the beginning by the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq. But I am no longer surprised. And neither are you.

Alter-reviews: A few words on a couple of books.

If you're in the market for mommy chick lit, read my friend Deb Kogan'sbook that I recommend here.

My friend Patti Cohen was not so crazy about my friend Fred Kaplan'sbook here.

I actually read this book, pretty much in one sitting, and enjoyed itmore than Patti did. I thought it overall, a really good book. It was alittle odd that I thought this because, I had what I thought was acontract to write the same book two years ago and it did not happen. Fred's book is superior to the one I could have written because hisknowledge of jazz--which is crucial here, is so much deeper, and he alsodoes a much better job on the bomb and the microchip than I could have.And I suspect he's a better art critic too. But Patti identified thebook's weakness which is that Fred takes his gimmick too seriously. 1959was a good year which is why it interested me, but it didn't "changeeverything" by a long shot. I had what I think was a stronger thesisthan that, which was that as the fifties ended, America was mostly onthe right, reformist track and when we turned to attempted revolution inthe sixties things fell apart. It would have been an anti-sixties,anti-revolution and a pro-reformist book. (The only exception I make isfor the music, which did pretty well for most, but not all of thedecade...) Anyway, if you ignore the conceit, you can learn a lot andhave a lot of fun with Fred's book.

Sal on the new Joe Henry record:

There is an obvious resemblance, in both songwriting and attack, to TomWaits on Joe Henry's new and wonderful release Blood From Stars. Notthe later, megaphone-kitchen sink-carnival barker-Broderick Crawford TomWaits, but the pre-Rain Dogs-piano based-down on his luck, romantic TomWaits. And dare I say it, there is a mood to Blood From Stars that isnot unlike Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely. As the Blood FromStars unfolds, you can't help but think of a guy, kicking a can, jacketover his shoulder, and stopping for a smoke under a streetlight.

Henry has made a respectable name for himself over the last few yearswith production work on such great records as the Bettye Lavettecomeback, the Allen Toussaint/Elvis Costello collaboration, the mostrecent Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and the brilliant Toussaint release "TheBright Mississippi." But Joe Henry's songwriting skill seems to still besomething recognized only by the cognescenti. Blood From Stars playslike an anthology of Henry's moods, from the peaceful instrumentalopening of "Light No Lamp When The Sun Goes Down," to the dramatic chaosof "Stars," the most powerful tune on the record. It is a gorgeousrecord, with Marc Ribot's signature guitar sound, jarring you out of thereverie long enough to remind you that Henry still has the blues.

www.burnwoodtonite.blogspot.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sal-nunziato

The mail:

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

So now it is looking like if healthcare reform passes, it will bewithout the public option. And we are seeing the Obama administrationtrying to put a happy spin on this, that the public option was reallynot the most important aspect.

My question is why do they feel the need to do this? Take the optionout if it is really the only way something passes, but why not sayyou are disappointed there will be no public option; say we willcontinue to explore ways to improve health care; we compromised to get something done because something is better than nothing, but this bill does not go far enough. Just tell the truth. You fought the fight, and unlike Republicans who have shown they want all or nothing on everything, the Obama administration can show they are willing to compromise to do something to help the average American citizen.

By putting the happy spin on this, it now makes this the Obama plan,warts and all. This isn't what Obama campaigned on, this isn't whathe wanted. He wanted more. Say so.

Name: John Barker
Hometown: Des Moines, IA

This has been argued to death already but I'd like to make a point about it that no one seems to want to discuss. Yes, the Secret Service knew who and where he was. Yes, he was on private property with a permit to carry. Yes, it's highly unlikely that an assassin would make himself so obvious.

That's because the point was not assassination, it was intimidation. This man, the raging Limbaughs and Becks, the screaming protesters at town hall meetings are meant to give the rest of us, the majority, a warning. The country will be run the way they want it to be run or there will be hell to pay. Crossing the man with the gun and the sign alluding to the blood of patriots and tyrants and there will be consequences.

This is not how a civilized society is to be run. This is not America. My America will not be taken over by bullies. I will stand up to them, I will not back down in the face of their abuse. If they wish to misuse the authority of Jefferson to claim legitimacy for threats of violence then for my authority I shall use Edmund Burke. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"

Name: Greg Hilliard
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Doc & Charles

That New Hampshire guy was originally from Arizona, a sign of thingsto come if you saw our rallies in Phoenix on Monday. A dozen patriots.

Name: Steve Thorne
Hometown: Somewhere in California

It would seem that town hall meetings regarding health care reform need to be simultaneously translated into German so those comingdirectly from beer halls can better understand the proceedings. Packin' heat! Now *that's* how to start a trend!

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