Philip Weiss is an investigative journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and Harper's. A controversial 2008 article, "The Affairs of Men," published in New York magazine, sought to explain why so many men pursue sexual variety. Weiss also writes the Anti-Zionism blog, Mondoweiss. He is the author of American Taboo: A Murder In The Peace Corps, and he's working on a novel.
Question: Who inspires your thinking?
Philip Weiss: I think Steve Walt’s a great man. I think that he’s a very brave person and he’s paid a big price for sticking his neck out and he is-- What interests me about Steve Walt is that here is a guy who is exactly my age who is far more successful than I am in conventional-- He’s-- He was a former dean at Harvard and he has- and he lives in Brookline and he operates as I do in a very Jewish world and is very comfortable in that Jewish world, and here he has taken on the sort of- this principal institution of Jewish life, which is the Israel lobby. He’s taken it on directly and has I’m sure suffered a lot in his world for having done so. So I admire that. I’m a little bit of an intellectual radical at times myself. I don’t think he is by temperament. His coauthor, John Mearsheimer, I believe is an intellectual radical but I sort of admire Walt for being- for sticking by his guns and—I think that-- I’m a Jew and so I have- and I’m on the left and I’ve always had a certain-- I never really studied this question. I avoided the question because I just knew I would be on the Palestinian side and that there is just no- I’d be swimming upstream in my social circles, and then after 9/11 I had no choice I felt but to start looking at this stuff. And so I think that I have always looked to other Jews as models of how to talk about these things, and of course Noam Chomsky on the left is just a great man. He’s just a heroic figure and he has- he’s just a genius in his field and he’s now just been- he’s a world figure. It’s just amazing. This guy has educated the world and I- and he’s helped- he’s given a lot of younger Jews like myself permission to look at this issue in new ways and he’s never emotional. He doesn’t get angry. He’s a very logical, cerebral person. It’s just a great thing to have around so—