Feel the power
By Joseph Aaron
Jewish World Review
Oct. 10, 2007
I just can’t help it.
This kind of thing gives me a big thrill. And a big chill.
It’s not that often that you find the entire state of Jewish life today encapsulated in one place. So when you do, it’s worth taking note of and learning from.
The place of which I speak is the October issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Vanity Fair is one of the most fascinating magazines around, one that every issue features an amazingly eclectic collection of articles, from the very serious to the completely frivolous.
Indeed, while the October issue features such stories as “How $9 billion in cash vanished in Iraq;” “Inside Bush’s bunker;” “How the Media Gored Al Gore in 2000;” and more, the cover features Nicole Kidman wearing a sailor cap and opening her shirt to reveal her nautical necklace and her brassiere.
Vanity Fair is nothing if not on the cutting edge of where society is and is going. Vanity Fair is definitely not a Jewish publication.
And yet, in this one issue, it tells us more about the Jewish world as it is today than any lecture or book or class out there.
It does that in two ways.
The first is its annual list of what it calls The New Establishment, the 100 most powerful, most influential people in American society.
What is absolutely amazing, stunning about the list is how many Jews there are on it. Jews make up about 2.5 percent of the U.S. population so there should be two or three Jews on the list.
Guess again, bubeleh.
The list of the Vanity Fair 100 includes, get ready, 51, yes 51 Jews.
I say 51 because that’s how many I’m sure are Jewish. There may be others on the list who are Jewish but who I don’t know are Jewish and whose names are not obviously Jewish.
But let’s say I got them all. That means that more than half the names on the list of the 100 people who are the most vital to this society are Jewish. And this is a list that includes Apple’s Steve Jobs and Oprah and Bill Clinton and Warren Buffett, to name a few of the few non-Jews on the list.
That is absolutely nothing short of astounding.
Talk about us being accepted into this society, talk about us having power in this society, talk about anti-Semitism being a thing of the past, talk about Jews no longer needing to be afraid to be visible and influential.
And it doesn’t stop there.
The magazine also has a separate list of what it calls The Next Establishment, younger people it believes destined to make the big list some year soon.
Of the 26 names on that list, 15 are Jews. That I’m sure of. 15 of 26. More than half.
And it doesn’t stop there.
The magazine also has a separate list of what it calls The Pit-Stop Club, those who have made The New Establishment list in the past but who didn’t make it this year but are fairly certain to make a comeback in a future year.
Of the nine names on this list, eight are Jews. Eight out of nine. Don Imus is the only non-Jew on the list.
I mean, it’s just unbelievable.
This is a big country with lots and lots of very talented, highly educated, tremendously motivated people. And no one has its finger on the pulse of the people who make this country what it is more than Vanity Fair.
And when it came time to pick the 100 who most move and shake things in America, more than half-more than half-are Jews. And on the list of those who will one day be on that list, more than half-more than half-are Jews. Not to mention that almost 100 percent of those who were on the list and are poised to make a comeback are Jews.
Tells you so much about the place of Jews in this country, about the amazing people Jews are.
That’s something we should never take for granted, something we should always be blown away by, feel very, very good about.
Instead, however, the Jewish world is so much about kvetching and worrying.
When will we learn to fight fights that matter. When will we learn not everything needs to be made a big deal of. Not everything we don’t like is a threat, indeed some of the things we don’t like only become a nuisance because we make a big deal out of it.
We are powerful, very powerful. We play a major, pivotal role in the life of this country. And yet we are always acting like scared little mice on the verge of annihilation.
And if you think how we are doesn’t have consequences, please look at something else in this Vanity Fair issue, something that also tells us much about Jewish life today.
There is an article in the magazine called “Talk of the Town.” It tells the story of the intense rivalry between two of the most powerful men on Wall Street, Henry Kravis and Stephen Schwarzman.
Both, as you may have guessed, are Jews. Both are at the very top of the private equity world, which is where the financial action is these days. Both control tens of billions of dollars worth of assets.
The first thing that struck me about the story is what jerks both are, each trying to top the other, destroy the other, outdo the other. Not to mention the abominable way that each treats their employees. Each acts in ways that are not very much in keeping with the teachings and values of Judaism.
That’s sad, but that’s not what got to me. What got to me is how much these two do, how much these two give, to all kinds of good causes-libraries and museums and hospitals and universities and on and on, all mentioned by name in the article. You read and see how much energy each puts into his charitable work, how much money each donates to charitable causes. Doing so, it is very clear, for the social status and clout it brings.
What is also clear is that it seems neither is involved in or gives to Jewish causes, at least not in any significant way.
That too tells you a lot about Jewish life today.
For they are not alone. The fact is that, as survey after survey has shown, most very wealthy Jews in this country do not give to Jewish causes. Certainly not the tens of million dollars they so eagerly give to a university or a museum.
The question is why they feel so little allegiance to their own community, their own people, why they so much look elsewhere to devote their resources and their energies.
I think it’s because we have made Judaism such an unpleasant place.
Judaism has so many powerful people among us, as the Vanity Fair 100 list shows. We are such a part of this society, have such impact on this society and yet we’re always unhappy, always feel victimized, always kvetch about this and that. It’s always another Holocaust around the corner, there’s always the next Hitler on the scene, Israel is always embattled, we’re always worried, always scared, always sure the end is near.
Well, who the hell wants to join that little party?
Because we so squander all the good that has come our way, too many of us are simply opting to go their own way, to be part of things that don’t involve guilt and neuroticism.
More than half those on the Vanity Fair 100 are Jews. And yet we don’t feel powerful, indeed, the very fact of the list makes us even more nervous than we were before. Instead of being pleased and taking pride, we fret that it’s not so good to be so visible, bad that the gentiles see how much influence we have. And so we take even an occasion for joys and make it one for oys.
Is it any wonder then that if we always make out that Jewish life, despite all evidence to the contrary, is a scary and dreary place, that those who have made it, want nothing to do with it?
Jewish power dominates at ‘Vanity Fair’
Oct 11, 2007
…It’s a list, in other words, that would have made earlier generations of Jews jump out of their skins, calling attention, as it does, to their disproportionate influence in finance and the media…
Just nine of those included are women, and only two - TV host Oprah Winfrey and rapper Jay-Z - are of African ancestry…
On a related note…
Jewish Groups Secure Major Funding From Department of Homeland Security
Jewish institutions will receive the majority of U.S. federal funds designated this year to help secure non-profit organizations.
Of the 308 grants awarded through the Urban Areas Security Initiative Non-Profit Security Grant Program, 251 are being allocated to Jewish groups, totaling $19.6 million…
Bulk of US anti-terror grants go to Jewish organizations
Jewish Membership in Congress at All-Time High
January 12, 2007
While Democrats celebrated the election of the House’s first female speaker, another milestone passed more quietly: The 110th Congress includes more Jewish lawmakers than any other in history, and all but four are Democrats.
About 2 percent of Americans identify themselves as Jewish. But in Congress, the proportion of Jewish members is now four times that…
First thought on most Jewish Congress ever: Wow. Second thought: Oy
First thought: Wow, so many Jews in Congress. A record number: 43. That’s huge. No wonder people are so excited about it.
Second thought: Isn’t it too much? Just 2 percent of the population and 13 senators out of 100? Two percent of the population and 30 congressmen?
Jewish groups are expecting action with Democrats controlling Congress
With Democrats in charge of the new U.S. Congress convening this week, it’s a time of well-wishing, wish lists and wishes come true for an array of national Jewish groups…
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee also plans to emphasize the Iranian threat at its traditional round of Capitol Hill briefings for lawmakers and their staffs, said Jennifer Cannata, an AIPAC spokeswoman.
“Iran is on the top of the legislative agenda,” she said.
(In case it was actually a mystery to anyone why the Dems have done nothing with regard to Iraq and are now openly backing possible military action against Iran)
Pro-‘surge’ group is almost all Jewish
Four of five members of the board of a campaign promoting President Bush’s policies in the Iraq war are Republican Jews…
And BIG SURPRISE…
Orthodox Jew Michael Mukasey tapped to replace AG Gonzales
Playing both sides – and why anti-war, Ron Paul’s support is consistently marginalized and censored in the press…
GOP candidates set to make pitches to Bush’s Jewish loyalists
The Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday is hosting a forum in Washington for presidential hopefuls. Six of the party’s nine candidates were invited, and five will attend: former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, and current U.S. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Sam Brownback of Kansas…
Not invited were long-shots U.S. Reps. Duncan Hunter of California, Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Ron Paul of Texas. Paul was rejected because of his consistent voting record against U.S. assistance to Israel and his criticism of the pro-Israel lobby.
And lastly, flashback to 1991 and Bush #1…
Jewish Lobbyists Quietly Backed Resolution Allowing Bush to Commit U.S. Troops to Combat
WALL STREET JOURNAL
January 28, 1991
Leaders of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee now acknowledge it worked in tandem with the Bush administration to win passage of a resolution authorizing the president to commit U.S. troops to combat. The behind-the-scenes campaign avoided AIPAC’s customary high profile in the Capitol and relied instead on activists-calling sometimes from Israel itself-to contact lawmakers and build on public endorsements by major Jewish organizations…
One Democrat who voted for the resolution is Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who received $155,590 from pro-Israel PACs when he was running for the Senate in 1986. Mr. Reid and other Democrats who voted for the resolution say their votes had nothing to do with the assistance they have received from pro-Israel groups…
AIPAC took pains to disguise its role, and there was quiet relief that the vote showed no solid Jewish bloc in favor of a war so relevant to Israel. “It isn’t such a bad idea that we were split,” says one Jewish lawmaker.
“What rights have Americans that Jews in America do not possess? Against whom are the Jews organized and against what? What basis is there for the cry of “persecution”? None whatever, except the Jews’ own consciousness that the course they are pursuing is due for a check.”