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Sundown: Israel’s Birthday

Plus, the second annual flotilla, Shas says don’t smoke, and more

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Smoking is bad for you!()

• Happy Independence Day, Israel! You are now 63. Your population has grown two percent since last year to over 7.7 million, 75 percent of whom are Jewish. [JPost]

• Organizers of this year’s Gaza flotilla say it will be twice as large as last year’s and depart in the third week of June so that it is after the Turkish elections—not that Turkey’s government is officially connected. [AP/WP]

• Normally retrograde Shas spiritual adviser Rabbi Ovadia Yosef cited doctors in encouraging his followers to quit smoking. Progress! [JPost/Vos Iz Neias?]

• Mideast expert Gilles Kepel advises President Obama to invest his “political capital” from the Bin Laden killing into resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [NYT]

•The Simon Wiesenthal Center is anti-Washington City Paper and just honored Tom Cruise. I’ll never understand Los Angeles. [JTA]

• Todd Gitlin offers an original and important perspective into the Kushner-CUNY mess: Namely, why should somebody like Jeffrey Wiesenfeld be a trustee of a major public university in the first place? [Chronicle of Higher Ed.]

Fred Karger, undoubtedly Tablet Magazine’s favorite Republican presidential candidate, has an ad that truly can only be described as trippy. But surely even conservatives dig Frisbee?

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fw says:

I am going to guess that Wiesenfeld is a trustee for the same reason most of his fellow appointees are, i.e., he has either given generously to CUNY, or he has brought some kind of influence to bear in helping the University achieve its operational goals. We don’t know, and apparently Gitlin doesn’t either, though he’s quick to condemn Wiesenfield for drawing hasty conclusions about Kushner without having thoroughly investigated the man and his work.

Gitlin concedes, contemptuously, that Wiesenfeld brings ‘money to the table’, but then faults him for lack of intelligence. Out of curiosity, how does Todd Gitlin think universities pay their bills? Wiesenfield, in his view, is evidently just another coarse arriviste who ought to fork over his money without being so presumptuous as to question his betters.

Should Wiesenfeld have had a veto on bestowing the award? No, but that just points up flaws in their vetting process. Anyway, as the Peretz case attests, this kind of brouhaha is hardly unprecedented. Nor is Gitlin’s arrogance, which is unfortunately characteristic of university faculties. By the way, wasn’t Gitlin among the chorus of voices loudly denouncing Peretz when that debacle erupted? Peretz said some ugly things about Arabs. Kushner has directed at least some of his invective at Israelis. The difference is that in the latter case that mode of speech is acceptable in reference to Israel, in Kushner and Gitlin’s circles.

The most ridiculous, and hypocritical thing in that piece, which trains its cross-hairs on those who would unfairly malign others by painting them in broad terms and tarring them with false accusations is the comparison with Dick Cheney. Is he serious? How in god’s name did Cheney come into this? Good thing Gitlin is making an abstract argument that can stand on its own without toxic buzzwords added to inflame passions, unlike that scoundrel Wiesenfeld.

Sorry, I’m just the contrarian today.

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Sundown: Israel’s Birthday

Plus, the second annual flotilla, Shas says don’t smoke, and more

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