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Former Bear Stearns CEO Alan ‘Ace’ Greenberg: ‘Everybody Knows I’m a Jew’

An excerpt from Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish

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In 2005, Abigail Pogrebin published Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish. The following is an excerpt from the chapter about Alan “Ace” Greenberg, the former CEO of Bear Stearns who died Monday at 86 in Manhattan.

John H. Gutfreund, the former CEO of Solomon Brothers, once described Alan (“Ace”) Greenberg, the former CEO of Bear Stearns, this way: “Ace is by the numbers, very black and white . . . He sees prices, he’s not clouded by emotionalism.”

You can say that again. My interview with him is a dramatic confirmation of that characterization. This highly respected titan of Wall Street, who made $16.2 million in 1994 and who built Bear Stearns from 1,200 employees (and $46 million in capital) into the fifth-largest investment bank— with 10,300 employees and $1.4 billion—talks in bullet points instead of paragraphs, without a wasted word or a trace of sentiment. (more…)

The Ding-Dong Derby

The Shallowest, Least Thoughtful Commentators of the Week

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(Shutterstock)

Tablet is a Jewish publication. This means that we have an obligation to cover Israel seriously and constantly. Often, most of us wish that weren’t the case; it would be nice, especially on weeks like these, to take a quick break and tune out for a bit. But we can’t, so the next best thing we can do is make sure that Israel coverage, ours and everyone else’s, meets the basic requirements of professional journalism. By this we don’t mean forging some sort of consensus: read our site, and you’ll see worldviews on both the left and the right. As long as a piece is eloquent and based on a reasonable interpretation of the facts, we’d love to publish it.

But since the recent round of fighting in Gaza began, we’re seeing more and more cases of a maddening phenomenon we’ve always noticed and always hated: the rise of the ding-dong. The ding-dong isn’t someone who is being provocative or incendiary or even overtly political; it’s a certain brand of journalist, pundit, academic, or intellectual who takes the liberty of making profoundly outrageous statements about the conflict, with no regard for reality and with no fear of consequence. This upsets us first and foremost not as Jews but as journalists: anyone covering health care, say, or immigration, or the Asian commodities market, would never have allowed themselves to opine independently of historical context, irrespective of facts, and without any attempt to learn the turf, cultivate sources, or gain concrete experience. All these things aren’t just tolerated when it comes to Israel; they’re encouraged and deeply rewarded, being regarded as marks of intelligence and keen moral values.

Enough. (more…)

Adam

An excerpt from I Thought I Meant More to You Than That, by Cynthia Orgel

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Each Friday this July, for your beach reading, Tablet is publishing a work of original fiction. The following is an excerpt from I Thought I Meant More to You Than That, by Cynthia Orgel, which was published today on Tablet.

6. Adam

Angela met Adam in December of junior year. It was at the beginning of winter break, when Claire needed to go to campus to turn in one last final paper.

“Come with me! I’m going to drive!” Claire begs Angela, who never needs prodding to hang out with close friends.

They park the car in a 15-minute parking spot, and soon after, Claire spots her friend Adam. She yells his name. He turns around. (more…)

Watch Joan Rivers’s Rant in Defense of Israel

Rips into Hamas, Selena Gomez

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Joan Rivers, I love you.

A TMZ camerman flagged down the comedian at LAX yesterday, asking her about the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Rivers exploded, delivering a short but inspired defense of the Jewish state and ranting about the American media’s skewed coverage of the conflict. As she was turning to leave, the cameraman asked her to comment on the spate of celebrities—actress, singer, and Justin Bieber paramour Selena Gomez among them—who have expressed their support for the Palestinians on social media.

“Selena Gomez,” Joan Rivers snarled. “That college grad. Let’s see if she can spell ‘Palestinian.’” Which, ladies and gentlemen, is why she’s Joan Rivers.

Watch her rant below: (more…)

A Maine Rabbi Makes Aliyah to Israel

After seven years in Portland, departing with a mix of sadness and hope

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Recently, a Christian woman in Maine told me that I am like a homing pigeon, and that even after many years away I will know how to fly back to my home in Israel.

Maybe what she said is true, but right now I feel at home in America. The United States is my place of birth and English is the only language that I speak fluently. My mother’s family moved to New York 150 years ago. I have been a rabbi for more than seven years in Portland, Maine, and I love our community. Our neighbors are kind, our home is safe, the water is pure, and the summer in Maine is beautiful. There are children flying kites in the sky nearby, and certainly no missiles outside our window. We don’t have to worry about the number of seconds we have to grab our children to run to a bomb shelter.  (more…)

Apply For a Fall Internship at Tablet

We’re hiring two paid, part-time editorial interns

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Tablet is hiring two paid, part-time fall editorial interns. If you have experience in journalism and are familiar with the landscape of American Jewish life, we’d love to hear from you. (more…)

Fierce Rioting in Jerusalem and the West Bank

Operation Protective Edge enters its 18th day

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Palestinians stand behind burning tires during clashes with Israeli security forces following traditional Friday prayers near the Old City in East Jerusalem on July 25, 2014. (Getty Images)

Thursday night saw some of the biggest rioting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in years, which observers likened to the preamble to a Third Intifada, as Operation Protective Edge entered its 18th day.

Protesting the Gaza operation, over 10,000 Palestinians converged on the Qalandiya checkpoint between East Jerusalem and Ramallah on Thursday night, where they clashed with Israel police and soldiers. During the fighting, bullets were fired at Israeli forces and rocks and molotov cocktails were thrown by the rioters. Early on in the clashes, two Palestinian rioters were shot dead by Israeli forces near Qalandiya, sparking fears that Friday could see heavy rioting in Jerusalem and beyond following afternoon prayers. (more…)

Hamas Killed 160 Palestinian Children to Build Tunnels

Militant group used child labor to construct underground network in Gaza

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An Israeli soldier is seen at the entrance of a tunnel dug by Palestinians beneath the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on October 13, 2013. ( DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)

As the death toll of Operation Protective Edge rises, the deaths of children are firmly in the spotlight—and rightly so. It pains all reasonable people to hear of children dying as the consequence of war. Hamas and its supporters display gruesome pictures of dead and wounded children in order to gain sympathy for their portrait of Israel as the villain intent on killing Palestinians. In response, Israel cites the need to stop Hamas from firing thousands of rockets at its own children, who are being forced to live in bomb shelters, as well as the need to eliminate the tunnels that Hamas dug into Israel in order to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. One tunnel opening was found underneath an Israeli kindergarten.

But who built those tunnels? The answer is Hamas, of course—using some of the same children who are now trapped under fire in Gaza. (more…)

Technology Helps U.S. Jews Track Gaza Conflict From Afar

The latest in a long tradition of creatively supporting embattled Jews abroad

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Some friends of mine recently signed up to receive an alert on their iPhones each time an air-raid siren is sounded somewhere in Israel. The phone flashes red with the name of the town targeted by Hamas rockets. These days, their phones sometimes buzz every few minutes.

One may wonder how this does any good. Americans who receive such alerts can’t do anything about them except worry—how can that help?

In fact, American Jews have a long tradition of devising creative ways to identify with the plight of their fellow Jews overseas. Not just to worry, but to recognize their pain and raise awareness, since raising awareness is the necessary first step toward taking concrete action. (more…)

What the Times Gets Wrong About Israel

Snide bias is no substitute for real reporting on complicated stories

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(Erika Cross / Shutterstock.com)

If you read the Jerusalem Post today, you would’ve learned about foreign correspondents in Gaza being harassed for accurately reporting that Hamas is using civilians as human shields. Over at the New York Times, however, the story has a different focus: it’s about reporters in Israel complaining of intimidation. The piece does not mention the significant complaints voiced by western journalists in Gaza; nor does it acknowledge that intimidation in Israel means being harangued by angry citizens—an unpleasant nuisance swiftly curbed by the police—whereas in Gaza it means being threatened by a murderous terrorist organization, or that those journalists bothered in Jerusalem are then absolutely free—as they are not across the border to the south—to complain about it as loudly as they please.

It’s easy to blame this glaring discrepancy on the reliable “the Times hates Israel trope.” But the tale that emerges from both pieces is more complicated. (more…)

In NYC, Cupcakes Sprinkled With Anti-Semitism

Food truck and Cupcake Wars finalist rails against ‘Zionist pigs’ on Twitter

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(@CupcakeCrewNYC)

New York-based food truck Cupcake Crew doesn’t appear to have sold a cupcake since 2013. But the cupcake company, which boasts of being a finalist on the Food Network reality show Cupcake Wars, is using its sizable social media presence to espouse some surprisingly unsavory opinions.

“Ironically what the Zionist pigs are doing to Palestinian Arabs today is exactly what Hitler and the Nazi’s did to them,” they tweeted yesterday, along with the controversial hashtag #FreePalestine.

Outrage ensued when Twitter users picked up on the confectionary company’s vitriolic spewings. (more…)

What David Petraeus Can Teach Us About Gaza

Applying U.S. lessons of counterinsurgency to the current crisis in Gaza

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A Palestinian youth walks on debris as he inspects damages following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, on July 24, 2014. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

Emotions are running high. As Operation Protective Edge enters its third week, Israel and Hamas’s relative moral standing has been called into question. On the one side are those who argue that Israel is morally superior for their marksmanly attempts to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas immorally places weapons stores in kindergartens and hospitals, immorally targets Israeli civilians, and use their own as human shields. Others have argued that Israel is responsible for the immoral collateral damage of more than 700 civilians, many of them children, while the Palestinians are blameless victims of colonial oppression. But what if the moral question is not the only, or even the most important, question?

Israel is surely not to blame for protecting its citizens. But here’s another, uncomfortable truth: Hamas is not entirely to blame for targeting them. (more…)

Rapfogel Sentenced to up to 10 Years in Prison

Former Met Council chief stole more than $7 million from Jewish charity

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Former Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty CEO William Rapfogel. (Michael Priest)

William Rapfogel, the disgraced former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty who stole millions from the New York-based charity through an elaborate insurance fraud scheme, was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison yesterday, the New York Times reports. Rapfogel, who led the organization for more than 20 years until getting fired in August 2013 during an investigation into financial improprieties, admitted in April to stealing more than $7 million from the charity.

Following the terms of a plea agreement he accepted in April, Mr. Rapfogel paid the remaining balance of $3 million he owed in restitution and was sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison by Justice Larry Stephen of State Supreme Court. He had faced a slightly longer sentence of four to 12 years if he could not pay the full amount.

The Met Council gets the bulk of its funding from state and city government, but also receives donations from private sources. (more…)

Aviation Ban Lifted; Egypt Foils Attack on Israel

Palestinian death count reaches 746 as IDF operation enters 17th day

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Israeli soldiers prepare their Tanks in a deployment area on July 24, 2014 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

As Operation Protective Edge entered its 17th day, a short-lived aviation ban on Israel put in place on Tuesday night by the Federal Aviation Authority was lifted on Thursday, and European providers are expected to follow suit.

With tens of thousands missing work for reserve duty and the economy taking a hit across the country, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said Thursday afternoon that he would convene the cabinet to vote on financial assistance for civilians adversely affected by the operation. The proposal would help employers and reserve soldiers compensate for their missed work days and would help local authorities construct bomb shelters and boost tourism and social services, particularly in the south. (more…)

If You Want To Find Support for Israel, Read the Newspapers—in Cairo

Arab frustration at Hamas has exposed changing attitudes toward Israel

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A newspaper stand in Cairo, Egypt. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Historically, Arab states have banded together in support of the Palestinians when fighting with Israel erupted: Any mention of Israel typically drew accusations of IDF gross misconduct and dramatic statements of solidarity with the Palestinian people. This has not been the case in the latest round of fighting. Egypt’s stance specifically has changed remarkably, combining implicit support for Israel’s military operation in Gaza with harsh criticisms of Hamas.

Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukri, went so far as to blame Hamas for Palestinian deaths: “Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians,” as reported by Egyptian state news agency MENA.

Numerous Egyptian media reports have also expressed explicit support for Israel’s actions. (more…)

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