The Brookings Institution in Washington announced Wednesday night that Leon Wieseltier, the think tank’s senior fellow in culture and policy since 2015, is no longer employed there. Earlier this week the influential Jewish scholar and magazine editor was dismissed from his latest venture following revelations of sexual harassment during his long tenure at the New Republic.
“For my offenses against some of my colleagues in the past I offer a shaken apology and ask for their forgiveness,” Wieseltier said in a statement first reported Tuesday by Politico. “The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them that I will not waste this reckoning.”
The first issue of Idea, the magazine he was to launch at the end of this month, was near completion, but its backer, Laurene Powell Jobs, decided to shelve the issue after the revelations and suspend publication. Jobs is the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.
“I am profoundly sorry to my extraordinary collaborators at the journal we began together that the misdeeds of my past have made it impossible to go forward,” he said. “My gratitude to them is boundless.”
Anonymous tales of Wieseltier’s alleged harassment were circulating among female journalists who have been compiling information about harassers in the profession since the explosion of such stories earlier this month, following the revelations of decades of alleged sexual assault by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
According to The New York Times, several women described unwanted kisses from Wieseltier and sexualized comments about their clothing, among other offenses.
Wieseltier, a member of the editorial board of the Jewish Review of Books and recognized as a leading public intellectual, is a regular on the Jewish lecture circuit, speaking about Israel and Jewish belief systems. Among his many awards, he received the Dan David Prize from Tel Aviv University in 2013, was honored that same year as a thought leader by The Jewish Week, and won the Jewish Book Council Award for nonfiction for “Kaddish,” a study and memoir about the Jewish memorial prayer, in 1998.