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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"'I’m really not a radical.' It is late April, a month after his new book about American Jews, Israel, and their tangled, often tortured relationship has hit the shelves, and Peter Beinart is on the defensive. He’s sitting in his office at the City University of New York. Although he’s now worked at CUNY for two years, the small, windowless cube—more befitting a research assistant than a tenured journalism and political-science professor—is filled with unpacked cardboard boxes and little else. But more square footage, or a view, or some family photographs would do little to lift the sense of siege that pervades the room. 'I’m trying to live as a critic of Israel’s policies, from a moral perspective, inside the Jewish community,' Beinart says, 'and inside the fairly mainstream Jewish community, which is where I feel most at home.' ...From the moment it was published, The Crisis of Zionism has dominated the American Jewish political discourse. The book argues that Israeli policies—chief among them the occupation of Palestinian lands—threaten the democratic character of Israel and the Zionist project in general, and that it’s the responsibility of American Jews to help change those policies. Marc Tracy, who edits the Scroll, the blog of the Jewish online magazine Tablet, says, “There was definitely a period where the Scroll might as well have been renamed ‘the Peter Beinart Blog.’ Everything was about him.' Politically conservative Jews attacked the book—not unpredictably. “Why does [Beinart] hate Israel so?' Daniel Gordis asked in his review for the Jerusalem Post, before answering: “Beinart’s problem isn’t really with Israel. It’s with Judaism.' The Wall Street Journal’s Bret ­Stephens, writing for Tablet, branded The Crisis of Zionism “an act of moral solipsism.” But withering reviews have come from Beinart’s ideological allies on the Jewish center-left as well. Writing in The New York Times Book ­Review, Jonathan Rosen—a mild-mannered Jewish public intellectual whose most recent book was a meditation on bird-­watching—savaged Beinart for his 'Manichaean simplicities' and for 'employ[ing] several formulations ­favored by anti-­Semites.' Tablet editor ­Alana Newhouse panned the book in the Washington Post for introducing “its own repressive litmus test, this one to determine who can be ­considered both a liberal American and a Zionist.' Sitting in his office, Beinart tries to be philosophical." (NYMag)

"Vince Lombardi, the man who taught Cheeseheads to think with clarity about the severe consequences of victory and defeat, once offered this gem about life: 'Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.' Scott Walker last night showed Wisconsin and the country a bunch of pretty good losers in his recall election triumph. In the spirit of tell-it-like-it-is St. Vince, POLITICO offers up a guide to the top five: Democrats, President Barack Obama, public unions, conservative critics and money monks. Here’s why: 'If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?' Well, politics is all about keeping score — and Democrats suffered a good old-fashioned beatdown. They invested seven months of effort, tens of millions of dollars, exhausted volunteers to collect nearly 1 million signatures. Then, they litigated an extremely divisive primary and spent millions more — all to get back to exactly where they were when they started: with Walker on top." (Politico)


"Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are showcasing their foreign-policy credentials at a critical juncture in Mitt Romney’s search for a running mate. The two lawmakers used the Memorial Day recess to take high-profile trips abroad in what is seen as an effort to tout their knowledge on foreign-policy issues, an area that is not Romney’s forte. Romney has primarily focused on President Obama’s handling of the ailing economy, but Republican officials say international policy matters will become more important as the campaign grinds on, especially with Syria, Egypt and Yemen attracting more U.S. news coverage in recent weeks. Rubio and Portman have both denied they are auditioning for vice president, claiming the international jaunts are related to their work in Congress. Rubio is a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees, while Portman sits on the Armed Services and Homeland Security panels. Still, the timing of the trips has been noticed widely, partially because the senators have publicly highlighted them.  Portman’s staff on Monday posted pictures of their boss’s recent trip to Israel, Jordan and Afghanistan on Flickr, a photo-sharing website. The snapshots showed the senator shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak." (TheHill)

"I was down at MoMA where the Gordon Parks Foundation was hosting the Gordon Parks Centennial Gala, 'Gordon Parks One Hundred Years.' I met Gordon Parks in the late 90s when Gloria Vanderbilt invited me to a dinner they were giving for him at ... I think ... MoMA. I know I wrote about it afterwards because I was starry-eyed. Parks and Vanderbilt were two very glamorous people in terms of public image and they had stature in presence too. But they were just powerful (but real) individuals. Much is made of Parks’ photographs, and deservedly. But New York is a place where the Ego Has Landed and remained intact. Fame and celebrity that graces (wrong word, right idea) the talent the city attracts often takes a piece of the heart and the humanity in exchange. Not true with Mr. Parks. He was his work. Vanderbilt is like that too. She and Parks were close friends ... The Gordon Parks Foundation was founded by Gordon Parks and Philip Kunhardt Jr. Its Executive Director is Peter Kunhardt Jr. They honored three people whose work 'has changed the landscape of film, photography and music. Each has excelled in a field Gordon cared deeply about; each shares his commitment to making the world a better place.' They were: Richard Plepler, co-President of HBO, Annie Leibovitz, the photographer, and Alicia Keys. We were entertained by dancers – Rosie’s Theater Kids, a singer – Nia Drummond, a 17-year-old senior at Brooklyn High School of the Arts who has been a awarded a Centennial Scholarship by the Foundation, and Grammy Award winner Professor Irvin Mayfield performed on the trumpet. Anderson Cooper was emcee. Karl Lagerfeld came from Paris. Anna Wintour came from Vogue. Music Mogul Clive Davis accepted the Award for Alicia Keys (who recorded a video acceptance). Hugh Hildesley came from Sotheby’s and and effortless conducted, in his basso profundo voice — preceded by a long, loud shhhhh — conducted an auction and raised thousands for the cause." (NYSocialDiary)



"In Top of the Standard fashion, last night's official Swarovski-sponsored CFDA Fashion Awards after-party took some time to get rolling. 'It's always slow at first,' Brad Goreski said sometime after midnight. "Everyone is being so well behaved, but just wait, it's getting started.' If there was any fear that the evening's main event might've worn people out, it was allayed when the big winners Joseph Altuzarra, Billy Reid, and Phillip Lim started pouring in, alongside the likes of Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, and Olivier Theyskens ... On that note, Goreski reported, 'I just want to say that Alex Wang and Erin Wasson are dirty dancing over there in the corner right now.'" (Style)

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