But Tablet did respond to the uproar. First, on July 18, daily blog editor Adam Chandler posted: “I see how she arrives at what she does, though I strongly disagree with what she concludes,” Chandler wrote. “More importantly, though, I don’t deny her the right to go there. It takes a lot to do that.” Later that same day, Newhouse wrote her note to readers, noting that “it was never anyone’s intention” to hurt readers with a piece some saw as a “blanket condemnation of all Holocaust survivors For this,” she wrote, “we are deeply sorry.”
The questions now becomes: Is Tablet’s response enough? Podhoretz (who declined to comment) and Goldberg (who couldn’t be reached for comment before deadline) don’t seem to think so.
Others argue in defense of the publication. Mark Oppenheimer, who writes the “Beliefs” column for The New York Times and has freelanced for Tablet, saw the piece as an exploration of Breslaw’s relationship with her family rather than a statement about all Holocaust survivors.
“This is so clearly not a case of someone who has written an anti-Semitic piece that the whole thing is fairly troubling,” he said. As for the broader implications for Tablet, Oppenheimer asked, “Ultimately all of these magazines need greater readerships, not smaller ones. It just strikes me as really irresponsible to try to tar either this writer or a magazine with these horrible terms.”
Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, used stronger terms: “The first paragraph of the piece was one of the most sickening things I’ve read in many years,” he told CJR. But Wieseltier saw the decision to run the piece as a “stupid mistake” for which Tablet has sufficiently apologized. (Wieseltier and Oppenheimer are credited as “contributing editors” on Tablet’s masthead).
Landowne, the publishing executive, agreed, saying “the punishment didn’t fit the crime Some of the hysterical language that was used was totally uncalled for and unfair.”
I do think Tablet has enough “credit in the bank,” as Wieseltier put it, that its readers should give it another chance. It’s not like Tablet has a pattern of publishing anti-Holocaust victim pieces, even if Breslaw might. I think we can assume that Tablet will be more careful in vetting its contributors and how they approach controversial issues in the future.
Breslaw also has many lessons to learn from this. One is not to draw conclusions about an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. John Podhoretz and Jeffrey Goldberg would do well to learn this too.