Who Is Tony Karon?

I’m a journalist from Cape Town, South Africa, resident in New York since 1993. I’m currently a senior editor at TIME.com (although I do this site on my own time, and am personally entirely responsible for its content, which in no way reflects the views or outlook of anyone else). I’ve worked there since 1997, covering the Middle East, the “war on terror” and international issues ranging from China’s emergence to the Balkans. I also do occasional op-eds for Haaretz and other publications, as well as bits of TV and radio punditry for CNN, MSNBC, and various NPR shows. I did an ever-so-brief stint at Fox News (measured in months, I swear!) and worked at George magazine in its startup year. Having majored in economic history, I cut my analytical teeth in South Africa in the struggle years, where I worked both as an editor in the “alternative” press and as an activist of the banned ANC. And in that context, my obsession with understanding global events took root, as a means of contextualizing the choices and obstacles we faced in the struggle against apartheid.

In 1990/1, I gave up my activist career almost as soon as Nelson Mandela was released, the ANC was unbanned and the regime conceded to a transition to democracy — once we’d achieved a “normality” to politics in South Africa, and it was not a profession that interested me. (If you’d been French under occupation, you might well have joined the resistance, but that didn’t mean you’d remain active in party politics after the Nazis were gone — that was how it was for many of my generation of South African activists.) I went to work in the mainstream media at the Cape Times and the Mail&Guardian Weekly, before leaving for New York in 1993 on what I imagined would be an extended holiday. A brief research gig at Time Out opened my eyes to the possibilities of working here — as well as hooking me up to the first connections of the sort of ever-expanding networks that make life in the city possible (and if this were an Oscar thank you speech, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a huge shout-out to Gerda Marie Kenyon, wherever you are now, who gave me that Time Out gig and started the snowball rolling). What followed was a mad array of freelance gigs ranging from the sublime (television work for Britain’s Channel 4 that involved escapades such as spending three days with the rapper Notorious B.I.G.) to the ridiculous — writing the script for a Geffen Records “rockumentary” on Manowar, an upstate New York heavy metal band, really big in Spain and Greece, whose brief spell in the Guinness Book of records as the world’s loudest band underscored their image of themselves as Norse warriors and Wagner’s true inheritors.

While I relished the professional holiday from the serious themes that had preoccupied me during the 80s, and the opportunity to explore other interests and passions, I seemed to gravitate back to writing about geopolitics despite myself. The optimism surrounding the new paradigms of post-Cold War politics suddenly began to recede, and familiar patterns began to repeat themselves. Reading the New York Times on the subway en route to various day jobs, I found myself drawn back to the big themes. There were things that needed saying, and I had more to offer than commentaries on the marketing strategies of the Wu Tang Clan.

In the aftermath of 9/11, I found many friends and acquaintances asking me to share private observations about the “war on terror” and related subjects. I started mailing those out to a list of friends and colleagues, that just kept growing as they forwarded them to others. And finally, after a substantial hiatus, they’ve evolved into this web site.

123 Responses to Who Is Tony Karon?

  1. Pingback: Gaza costs Israel another friend: there aren?t many left - Political Forum

  2. Pingback: Gaza costs Israel another friend: there aren?t many left - Political Forum

  3. Pingback: Israeli Rockets and Palestinian Blogs « Publish First. Ask Later.

  4. mersin emlak says:

    I always enjoy reading this site. The guest editors are top-notch. Mark Perry is no exception. I depend on brilliant minds for insight into this heartbreaking situation. Thank you all very much. lolaone

  5. Skandal says:

    “Palestinians have walked away from talks.” Indisputable fact.

  6. CARiD says:

    This is one of the most vivid, up-to-date and honest social blogs I’ve ever met. Thanks Tony! Your view on major world events find support from me and other observers, who cares about the situation we have on the politics arena. Regards!

  7. dror says:

    Hi Tony Baloney,

    Since, obviously, no one cares what movies you like to watch I was wondering if you could just check some facts for me.

    1) You live in Brooklyn, right ?

    2) Brooklyn is 40 sq. miles with a population of 2.5 million people, right ?

    3) Brooklyn had 200 murders last year, right ?

    4) Gaza is 140 sq mi. right ? Gaza has 1.5 million people, right?

    All these stories about Gaza being “the most crowded place on earth” are lies, right?

    5) according to “the humanitarian monitor” 80 people were killed in Gaza last year (may 2010 to may 2011) , Do you agree with that ?

    In other words, even if we double Gaza’s population and citizens killed it would still be less than Brooklyn, right?

    It would be 3 million people and 160 dead versus brooklyns 2.5 million people and 200 dead.

    Do you agree with all this Tony Baloney? Or: Have I deliberately lied here the same way Karl Vick (son of ventura) deliberately lied about those 20 Palestinians killed on Sunday?

    Let me know, Tony Baloney
    show more show less

    Read more: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/06/10/couch-potato-briefing-sex-power-and-the-heroic-futility-of-war/#ixzz1P7ST9JEE

  8. Rob Sachs says:

    Hi Tony,
    I’m wondering if you might be available today to speak to Voice of Russia America about the Middle East Quartet meeting in Washington. I read your blog post at Time and thought it gave an excellent overview of where things stand in the peace process.

    Rob Sachs
    (202) 942-3305

  9. JanSuzanne says:

    Dear Mr. Karon… Please consider this question: “If the Israelis gave the Palestinians EVERYTHING would Jews be able to live in Palestine in peace?” Everything means giving all defense technology; all territories including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Settlements, the Western Wall and other religious sites; water, all the oil, gas, and other natural resources of the land; and the right of return. Those who believe that the answer is “no” will understand that this presents the most compelling reason to defend Israel’s right to be acknowledged as the “National Home of the Jewish People.”

    This is my lead paragraph to an article The AmericanThinker will be publishing Sunday, July 17 that discusses YOUR Times commentary on: Is Israel the national homeland of the Jewish People? I hope that it will interest you enough to check it out at AmericanThinker.com Respectfully yours, JanSuzanne

  10. Slick car says:

    Very interesting life you have had so far. I could only imagine what you will do next. Keep up the good work.

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  15. dave says:

    hey karon, are you a jew?

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  18. Akul Jay says:

    For your ‘Ten Grim Lessons Learned From the Iraq War’ post at Time.com, I admire you so so much. You are the top journalist in USA to me, above Tom Friedman of NYTimes.

  19. I’ve followed you on Tw for awhile. Esp liked ur ideas comparing Isr/Pal conflict & “settlement” in S. Afr — I’m reading abt S. Afr today (1991 interview w/ Gavin Evans) & lo & behold, ur name pops up. I have a question or two, if you’d be so kind as to send e-mail reply. No rush. Keep up the interesting multi-platform work!

  20. Mike Cox says:

    It’s too bad that rag mags such as Time don’t require truth in reporting. You seem to average between 1-2 dozen out&out lies or fabrications per article of yours that I’ve read.
    Why don’t you start footnoting your sources, so even a liberal can see thru your lies?.
    As they say ” You can fool all the Liberals all the time, but none of the educated any of the time”.

  21. Tony, Peace is at the end of the pen.

  22. Max Kh. says:

    Hi, I am about to write a comment on your article published on Time for a left-party journal (I can provide further details by private messaging). Would it be OK if I describe you as an Anti-Zionist Jew? The Wikipedia article on you says so, but until a few minutes ago it also said you were a “self-hating Jew”, which is obviously a slander. Thank you.

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  24. Nasserddine Jaafar says:

    as a fan of your artciles in the time magazine , i’d like to express my deepest gratitude to you and your attitudes about democracy in the Arab world , i will not make any comments about your ideas about the Arab Spring of the Arab map , since the United States seek interests better than democracy for our peoples , but i will send you a message concerning a Humanintarian crisis about me here in Morocco , of course , i am a Moroccan citizen , born in 01- 11- 1970 , and my name as Nasserddine Jaafar , the Moroccan Intelligence Service is intimidating me to cooperate with it as an agent against my will , Do you think this is a good idea to uphold democracy in Morocco ? , a failure country unable to feed its own people , starving the masses …

    Can you advise me how to resist against such pressures ? they tell me we are in need of qualified people to cooperate with us , but i don’t need that way to earn my life .

    here is my telephone number , hope to get a call from you before i can send you my documents .


    thank you very much in advance

    Yours faithfully


  25. anna trapido says:

    Hi Tony, its Anna Trapido. I am coming to NY to do something for SA Tourism between 2nd and 6th of May. I am bringing with me Xoliswa Ndoyiya who is Madiba’s chef. Any chance you can find time to meet up with us? We could have dinner? Anna

  26. SWvdMerwe says:

    Dear Tony,
    Wondered what happened to you because like the rest of them you fled South Africa when the ANC took over. Are you happy with the situation in the mother country now, when last were you there? stay in touch!

  27. belina budini says:

    Hello Mr. Karon,

    My name is Belina Budini and I am conducting a research about Time magazine and the coverage of Albania. Since you have written many articles about Albania since 1997 for Time, I am very interested in receiving your words and your perspective there at Time. Your point of view about international journalism and your own experience would be very valuable to my research. The research will be published both in albanian and english. My email address is belinabudini@hotmail.com, if you wish to give me a help.
    best regards

  28. Barbara O'Brien says:

    Please contact me back via email when you can–just have a quick question!


  29. arvay says:

    Tony — your columns, in fact all columns’ comments pages on TIME are being blocked for anyone who posts comments that object to the US -Israel relationship. I’m not talking anti-Semitic garbage — they seem to keep those up there so that people think that’s the level of anti-Israel commentary — but sober and thoughtful objections are being blocked. This is happening on CNN also. The TIME page just refuses to put up the comments blocks, CNN says all one’s comments are “under moderation.” Since TIME and CNN have this relationship going — apparently someone is making this happen in both places.
    This is is, of course, outrageous and people need to know about it.

  30. Imran Londoner says:

    By far the most fairest, unbaised articles on the crisis in Egypt i have read, Keep up the good work.

  31. “Who Is Tony Karon? | Rootless Cosmopolitan – By Tony Karon” in fact got
    me personally simply hooked with ur web page! I personallywill certainly wind up being back a
    lot more frequently. Thank you -Lincoln

  32. Dear Tony,

    I have written an article, The Cyrus Cylinder, Eleanor Roosevelt & The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://perribirney.wordpress.com/), which discusses the connection between Cyrus the Great, the American Republic, the Middle East and Human Rights. This is part of my continuing series Powerful Women Changing the World.

    This is not merely a journalistic rehash of known facts. My article carries the seed of a dynamic dialogue toward peace in the world’s most volatile region. At this time more than ever we must break the interdependent links of violence. I believe you will find it interesting.

    I would appreciate your sharing this link with your friends and colleagues.

    Thank you,

    Angelina Birney
    High Falls, NY

  33. francesco cisternino says:

    Dear Mr. Karon,

    I would like to read more about Kosovo and the Balkans. Have you ever written any books about it?
    What are your favourite books with regards to the Balkans?

    Thanks a lot!

    Francesco Cisternino, Zugdidi (Georgia)

  34. Felicitas says:

    Terrific post however I was wanting to know if you could
    write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Cheers!

    Feel free to surf to my blog post – Felicitas

  35. Dear Mr. Karon,,

    What do you think about the latest stories in Turkey? #occupygezi

    Thank you.

  36. Dave Steere says:

    Didn’t know how else to contact you so thought I would try this. Just been down to our alma mater for an unexpected class of ’78 reunion. Give us a shout, would love to catch up.


  37. Yossi Loss says:

    Dear Tony,
    You might find this web magazine interesting – Haokets – eng.haokets.org
    After ten years of publishing in Hebrew only, we launched several months ago a partial English website. Haokets is unique not only in the varied scope of issues it covers but mainly in the fact that Mizrahi (Jews with Asian and North African roots) perspectives receive center stage. These perspectives are largely unknown for English readers who are interested in Israel-Palestine.

  38. Hello,

    I read your Mandela Myths article today; an excellent and balancing view of a hero.

    The Journal of Wild Culture, http://www.wildculture.com, our online magazine out of London and Toronto, would like very much if we could reprint you article this week.

    It is an important article for many reasons; thank you so much for writing it.

    Kind regards,

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