The day before yesterday I had a post on Roger Cohen’s inane column in the NYT, that lauded Nicolas Sarkozy and predicted he would win the upcoming presidential election (this on the same day as Le Monde’s headline story on the defeatist climate in Sarkozy’s camp and which was echoed in a report on the France 2 evening news). Other cognoscenti of French politics, e.g. Art Goldhammer, shared my view of Cohen’s absurd column. Now there’s a piece that makes Cohen’s look brilliant by comparison. L’auteur du crime: Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic. The subject: the DSK affair. I will admit that I am not a fan of Mr. Peretz and normally avoid his writings like the plague. I am an anti-fan of his and have been so for three decades—and I have a lot of company on this (e.g. see here)—, ever since his cheerleading of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon led me not to renew my subscription to TNR for ten years. Even when I started up the sub again I tried my best to avoid Peretz (not always easy) and his manic obsession with Israel, which borders on pathology. I am quite sure that Peretz has never written an article or anything that did not have as its focus Israel or something related to his ethno-confessional group. For someone who has shown little sympathy for the identity politics of others, e.g. Afro-Americans, he is certainly preoccupied with his own identity. Then there was Peretz’s polluting the pages of TNR—a once venerable voice of American liberalism—with certain odious right-wing journalists he hired over the years (e.g. Fred Barnes, Michael Kelly) but I won’t get into that.
In any case, Peretz’s commentary on the DSK affair—a has-been subject by now—, entitled “Edward J. Epstein Makes History…Again,” was quite simply the most breathtakingly idiotic piece of bullcrap that I have read in weeks. It left me agape. I’m used to eye-rolling nonsense from MP but this was on another level altogether and from the get go. Voilà the opening phrase
I was reminded of this devastating analysis of the sloppy case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn when I read that his wife, Anne Sinclair, is taking over the French version of The Huffington Post.
The “devastating analysis” MP is referring to is Edward J. Epstein’s widely read investigative report on the DSK affair in The New York Review of Books. This is now my 44th post on the DSK affair but I didn’t have one on Epstein’s report—though maybe should have—, which I thought was an irresponsible piece of pseudo-investigative journalism that the NYRB should have never published. And the whole thing was quickly revealed to be bulldust, as almost every mystery or question mark put forth by Epstein has been answered or put to rest. And Epstein’s conspiracy insinuating—hinting at a possible UMP/Sarkozy plot—was laughably preposterous. For Martin Peretz to call EJE’s report “devastating” in late January 2012 shows him to be not only behind the curve but also completely à côté de la plaque.
Continuing on Anne Sinclair, MP informs the reader that
Sinclair is now being dissed by her colleagues at Le Monde for sticking by and up for her husband in New York’s great spring celebrity scandal after he was charged with raping a maid at an overrated Manhattan hotel.
MP is referring here to a quote from an editor at Le Monde—a partner of the French HuffPo—in an item he linked to, who simply observed that “When [Sinclair] publicly compared the DSK affair to the Dreyfus affair, she lost her objectivity.” This is “dissing”? It’s one thing to stand by one’s man but to compare his legal problems in a sordid sexual affair to those of Captain Dreyfus and the French army? I think it was Mme Sinclair who was doing the dissing here, not only to Dreyfus’ memory but to the French Republic.
MP does let us know that
The truth is, however, that at the beginning I tended to believe the accusations, having heard from friends in Paris that Strauss-Kahn had the reputation of being a lecher. One lady-friend actually told me that he had followed her out of Yom Kippur services a few years back at the grand synagogue—the Rothschild synagogue!—on the rue des Victoires.
I am quite sure of the veracity of MP’s lady-friend’s story. Everyone has similar DSK stories second and third hand. And first. E.g. a lady-friend of mine has told me of the time DSK came on to her and in an unsubtle way, and in front of a few hundred people plus her husband to boot (not at a synagogue but the Institut du Monde Arabe…). But then MP continues with this
the D.A.’s tactics gnawed at me. And, then, Bernard Henri-Levy defended the accused, and Levy has a lot of ethical credit with me.
Oh please, spare me. My views on BHL are sufficiently well known (e.g. here, here, and here) that I do not need to state them here. Two things, though. 1. Anyone who gives ethical credit to BHL cannot have such credit with me (see the links to my posts) and 2. Such ethical credit can certainly not be accorded to BHL in view of his défense à outrance of DSK after his arrest, which was so uncompromising and arrogant in tone—even as the accounts of DSK’s satyriasis were being detailed in the public square—that BHL’s American publisher had to tell him—and I have this on good authority—that he risked losing all credit in the US as a consequence and should therefore STFU (and which BHL dutifully did).
MP gets in a few digs at D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. and then offers this
Who really knows? Dominique and Anne are on the left, and he was just about slated to be the Socialist candidate against Sarkozy’s re-election bid. Still, the left had nothing but venom for S-K.
“S-K”? Excuse me, Mr. Peretz, but Mr. Strauss-Kahn is universally known as DSK. Absolutely everyone outside France knows this by now. So where does this S-K come from? Vous êtes vraiment à côté de la plaque. But also, what is this about the left and venom, particularly as DSK was/is himself a man of the left (albeit close to the center)? And as the Socialist party—the dominant party of the French left—was getting ready to crown DSK as its candidate until the fateful encounter with Nafissatou Diallo? If one has in mind the hard and extreme left—PG, PCF, NPA et al—and intellos on that end of the spectrum, then one needs to be clear about this. But who cares about those people anyway?
Following from this MP gives the clincher. The money quote, which the whole piece has been building up to
I have my own suspicions about the sources of this hatred. OK, laugh at me: but it is because he and his wife are passionate Zionists, public Zionists, a sin among the progressives of Paris.
There you have it. DSK—who was the most popular political personality in France until last May 15th and the left’s champion to beat Sarkozy—was in fact hated—who knew?—and because he was…a Zionist. Honestly, this one takes the cake. The only thing one can say here is that MP made this up. He invented it in his turbulent head. He read this nowhere and it is not possible that he heard it from any person knowledgeable about French politics or society. Not even BHL would have told him such an inept connerie. MP has not a shred of evidence to back up his assertion. None whatever. He could not credibly defend this if his life depended on it. In point of fact, DSK and his wife, whose Jewishness has hardly been a secret, never spoke publicly about Zionism and such was not the subject of articles or reports in the mainstream media. DSK did express his warm sentiments toward Israel in a Jewish magazine back in 1991 but outside the Jewish community his words here were known only to those who consulted or stumbled across Arab-oriented or anti-Semitic web sites in the obscure precincts of the Internet. DSK and Mme Sinclair’s Jewishness and putative Zionism were a political non-issue, including “among the progressives of Paris,” whoever they may be. À propos, it would be helpful if MP named a few of these “progressives.” In fact, I defy him to do so. Just three names, please, of known “progressives”—a term that is not commonly used in the French political lexicon, BTW—who had it out for DSK on account of his “Zionism.” It is true that DSK did have detractors on the hard left—e.g. Jean-Luc Mélenchon was particularly outspoken—but it was because he was a libéral in their eyes—a neoliberal—and whose big sin was heading the IMF (and despite the fact that under DSK’s stewardship the IMF shifted away from its neoliberal Washington Consensus orientation). In the eyes of the gauche de la gauche, DSK was insufficiently gauche. They talked about him the way US lefties whine on about Obama. It’s politics, Mr. Peretz. It is not about Jews. Really, not everyone who is disliked and so happens to be Jewish is disliked because he or she is a Jew.
MP further drives the nail into his coffin with this
Anyway, it isn’t as if the French political class is pure. Sarkozy, for example. Or Mitterand [sic], for that matter.
What on earth is this supposed to mean?! Pure about what? Affairs with women not their wives? On this, Sarko is a well-known hound dog and Mitterrand was a grand séducteur. So what? Neither is or was known to serially hit on women who did not wish to be hit upon, to be a regular patron at clubs échangistes, or to frequently receive sexual services in return for monetary remuneration (and on the eve of a presidential campaign no less). Or is it something about Jews? Here, Sarkozy is considered by many French Jews—who viscerally like him—to almost be France’s first Jewish president (in the same way as Bill Clinton was seen by his many black American fans as having been America’s first black president). As for Mitterrand, he was a longtime friend of the Jewish community and Israel (and despite the zones d’ombre in his past and some sulfurous friendships). And BTW, Mitterrand is spelled with two Rs (not one).
MP, after reiterating his admiration of E.J. Epstein’s discredited report, concludes with this
Also try mentioning Edward Jay Epstein’s proven thesis, James Jesus Angleton: Was He Right?, available at Amazon and on Kindle, at a dinner party. The guests will think you a nut case.
Mr. Peretz: the nut case c’est vous.