New York Times Writer, Texas Professor, Stands by Description of ‘Government in Tel Aviv,’ Israel as ‘Burdensome Dependent’
Henry Kissinger’s “manipulations” and string-pulling helped “the government in Tel Aviv” by sending it American weapons and money, eventually turning Israel into a “burdensome dependent,” and breeding hostility to the United States, a New York Times book review contends.
It all sounds disturbingly familiar from a newspaper that as recently as April 2019 was apologizing for publishing an antisemitic cartoon. Back then, the Times was editorializing about “the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation” and insisting, “as the world once again contends with this age-old enemy, it is not enough to refrain from empowering it. It is necessary to stand in opposition.”
But in a phone conversation with The Algemeiner, the author of the New York Times book review, Professor Jeremi Suri of the University of Texas, Austin, cautioned against reading his review that way. Suri described himself as “in a sense also Jewish.” Suri said he is a grandson of a Holocaust survivor, that he was raised Jewish, and that his children are Jewish. “I support the state of Israel,” Suri said, though he said he believed some of Israel’s policies are “too militaristic and have not served the interests of the United States.”
He said his words had been carefully chosen, and that in writing the review, he hadn’t been being “flip or insulting” or “shouting epithets from the sideline.”
“These are difficult things to talk about,” said Suri, the author of a book about Kissinger, Henry Kissinger and the American Century, published in 2007.
Suri said that Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, had been recognized by the US as the Israeli capital during the period covered by the book under review, Martin Indyk’s Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy. “That’s just the diplomatic reality of that time,” he said.
“We spend too much money on the military,” Suri said, contending that the $4 billion a year in annual aid to Israel and Egypt has contributed to turning America into “a target for all of these bad actors.”
Suri said he understood the potential antisemitic usage of images of Jews as string-pulling puppeteers, noting that he objected to a recent depiction of George Soros. In Kissinger’s case, though, Suri said the language he used was accurate. “Kissinger is manipulative,” he said. “That is how he operated. It is not name calling.”
He said he thought Kissinger had been advancing his own interest, self-promoting, rather than advancing Israeli or American interests. And he said neither he nor Indyk had suggested that Kissinger had been disloyal to America.
In a May 2021 radio appearance, Suri described what he called “aggressive action on both sides, the Israeli and the Palestinian side.”
In response to a caller on that radio show who asked whether Israel is like apartheid in South Africa, Suri said in the radio appearance that Israel is different from South Africa in that Israel is “a vibrant, open, relatively free society, much freer than South Africa ever was.” But he said it was similar in that both Israel and apartheid-era South Africa featured “government policies that favor white settlers … that favoritism toward white Jewish settlers is similar to the favoritism that the South African government gave to white settlers in what had been black communities in South Africa.”
Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.