Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: 'Ace' Greenberg's
Jewish Geography via Mondoweiss by Philip Weiss on 10/24/08

Yesterday I saw Alan "Ace" Greenberg, the trader who built Bear
Stearns, on Charlie Rose. Greenberg is 81 and a tough guy, he has the
square head and unblinking eyes of a warrior in a Kurosawa movie. (And
of course he's utterly poleaxed by the meltdown of the financial
system, the end of the investment bank as a creative institution)...

Greenberg is interesting to me because his son was at the exclusive
Dalton School on the Upper East Side of New York many years ago when
Ace met his son's charismatic physics teacher, Jeffrey Epstein, and
after hearing one of Epstein's breathless riffs on the music of the
mathematical spheres told Epstein his future was on Wall Street.
Epstein became a legendary figure in the gilded age of the last 15
years. With his throaty Brooklyn accent, blue eyes, bow-shaped lips and
dungarees, he cultivated geniuses and society figures alike. He was
soon flying everywhere on Leslie Wexner's airplane (the guy who owns
the Limited in Ohio) and going to fancy screenings with the publicist
Peggy Siegal. He owned the largest private home in New York, with
white-gloved servants at his elbows, and had offices in the old
Helmsley Palace. I believe he once got Stephen Hawking into some sort
of bathysphere for kicks. Michael Wolff, one of the journalists Epstein
cultivated, remembers visiting his office and being struck that he was
a throwback to the man of leisure of the last century. Naturally Wolff
wondered how much of Epstein's achievement was social; who was doing
the hard work of buying Merck on the uptick? Epstein opened a door on a
floor of traders--basically a bunch of guys wearing yarmulkes and
screaming into telephones. Epstein had a close relationship to Israel.
He funded Israeli science. He brought a lot of Israeli talent here.

I met Epstein last year because of the sex case that brought him down
in Palm Beach, FL. We met at the offices of a fellow Brooklynite, the
brilliant and oddly-humble publicist Howard Rubenstein. At the time,
Alan Dershowitz was one of Epstein's lawyers, and there was even talk
among Epstein's friends that antisemitism had played a part in the
prosecution. (I wrote the story up here.)

I bring all this up because I think it suggests something of the social
functioning of the new Jewish portion of the Establishment. Ace
Greenberg said on Charlie Rose that he always gave half his
(considerable) charitable giving to Jewish causes, including the United
Jewish Appeal (which gives a ton to Israel). His protege Epstein was a
big Israel giver, probably still is. Epstein's lawyer, Dershowitz, is
the leading advocate for Israel in the U.S. Epstein's p.r. guy is a
major supporter of Israel; indeed, I admire Rubenstein and his
impressive family partly because I'm halfway related to him thru a
close personal connection that involves Israel. Leslie Wexner,
Epstein's friend and client, is also a huge backer of Israel.

What I'm trying to get at here is that all these impressive and
formidable people are just people with social connections like any
other group, like the WASP world I have learned about thru marriage.
And that Jewish cohesion and esprit de corps includes the love of
Israel. If you look at the New Jewish Establishment (a readymade
formulation for that part of the establishment that's Jewish), you'll
find this social cohesion and love of Israel all over it. Real-estate
magnate Charles Kushner was a big donor to Jim McGreevey, the former
governor of New Jersey. McGreevey was brought down by a sex scandal
involving Golan Cipel, an aide from Israel who'd served the Israeli
government. Kushner's son Jared, a big supporter of Israel, was friends
of Dershowitz's at Harvard, and bought the New York Observer, and
didn't want to pay for this blog at the Observer, which is why I'm out
on my own. I had my job at the Observer because of my lifelong
friendship with Peter Kaplan, who is also a supporter of Israel. The
publisher at the Observer was Brian Kempner, who once worked for AIPAC.
It's not hard to go from that group to Eliot Spitzer's friends, some of
whom I also know, or to Mort Zuckerman, or to Marty Peretz, or Robert
Kraft, the Patriots owner and benefactor of Columbia University. For
instance, Peter Kaplan and my wife were friends of Eric Breindel's, the
late neocon and son of Holocaust survivors who raged about Islamic
jihad at the New York Post. Breindel was a Peretz protege. I bet I'm a
couple steps removed from the three Jewish guys who run the Tampa Bay
Rays, and I bet there's some Israel there, too.

When I was a kid, this kind of social mapping among Jews was
called "Jewish geography." I guess I'm just trying to channel my latest
muse, Doris Lessing, and offer a non-conspiratorial social portrait of
a group, a class, that now has a great deal of power and that genuinely
sincerely cares about Israel. Ace Greenberg would have been in his 30s
when the '73 war happened, Jeffrey Epstein in his teens. Marty Peretz
turned against the New Left around the time of the '73 war. Eric
Breindel soon became a Likudnik. That's the amber that this wealthy,
powerful generation is stuck in, the heroic existential '73 war. It's
all of a piece. And to really understand where we are in the Middle
East right now, you have to understand that social world.

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