(March 28, 2018 / Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.) For roughly three decades, The New Republic was America’s most influential magazine, owing much of its success to the talents of its editor and publisher, Martin Peretz.
A gifted writer himself, Peretz, 79, also demonstrated a special ability to find and develop other brilliant minds.
Among the many celebrated and influential authors to emerge at the magazine were Charles Krauthammer, Mickey Kaus, Hendrik Hertzberg, Fred Barnes, Michael Kelly, Michael Kinsley, Andrew Sullivan and Michael Walzer. These writers are notable for their intellect, fine journalism and lack of ideological conformity.
A descendant of the famous Yiddish author I. L. Peretz, “Marty” Peretz has family ties to a remarkable number of exceptional figures. His mother-in-law was Eve Curie, daughter of the Nobel laureates, and his son Jesse is a respected and successful Hollywood film director.
Another consistent pattern in his life has been his strong support for Israel. As early as 1967, Peretz was appearing in Ramparts magazine, defending Israel from claims that it was a “colonialist” power.
Graduating from the Bronx High School of Science at age 15, Peretz attended Brandeis University and then Harvard, where he became a faculty member in its new social-studies program. Harvard was also where he met his former wife, Anne Farnsworth Labouisse. It was with her support in March 1974 that Peretz gained a controlling stake in The New Republic, becoming its guiding figure for most of the next 40 years.
Cover to cover, readers could find cultivated arts criticism and wide-range reporting. This was always joined with staunch defenses of Israel when other intellectuals were silent. Peretz offered an informed critique of the part of the intelligentsia that was naive, willfully ignorant or simply infatuated with the violent undercurrents in Palestinian nationalism and radical Islam. Under Peretz’s leadership, supporters of Israel on the democratic or liberal side of the electoral spectrum could find friendly support and an intellectual home within its pages.
The New Republic boldly reported the truth about Israel’s 1982 Lebanon War, helped expose the connection between renewed anti-Semitism in Europe and anti-Israel bias, led the campaign against the Goldstone report and repeatedly pointed out the dangers of a nuclear Iran. This is just a small part of an extraordinary legacy of an extraordinarily gifted writer and editor who was a great champion of Israel when and where it was needed most.