Randy's Corner Deli Library

29 October 2009

China's Boom: The Dark Side in Photos

Orville Schell

A family of five children who emigrated to Inner Mongolia from the nearby Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to find work in the Heilonggui Industrial District, April 10, 2005. The oldest child is nine years old; the youngest is less than two. Photographs by Lu Guang (courtesy of Contact Press Images).

I have seen some woeful scenes of industrial apocalypse and pollution in my travels throughout China, but there are very few images that remain vividly in my mind. This is why the photographs of Lu Guang are so important. A fearless documentary photographer who lives in China’s southern province of Zhejiang and runs a photo studio and lab that funds his myriad trips around China, Lu photographs the dark consequences of China’s booming but environmentally destructive economic development in ways that stay with you.

Torah on 1 Foot : Parshat Lech Lecha

Torah on 1 Foot
Parshat Lech Lecha

God: If you go, I'll make you a great nation. Deal?

Abraham: Deal

Circumcisions on the house.


The Goldstone Factor

Point Of View
The Goldstone Factor \ Yossi Klein Halevi August 13, 2009
Yossi Klein Halevi, Senior Fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies, explains how the Goldstone report may change the scale of the next Middle East War. Read also in Point of View on The Demons of Normalization by Uriya Shavit and When Everything is a Crime by Yagil Henkin.

The Israeli reactions to the Goldstone report on the Gaza war of January 2009 have focused, understandably, on its outrageous omissions and distortions and one-sided judgments, as well as on the moral corruption of the report's sponsor, the UN's Human Rights Commission. But the far-reaching strategic implications of the Goldstone report require no less urgent consideration.

If a large part of the international community endorses the report's conclusions and opts to put Israel on trial – symbolically or literally – the clear message to Israel will be the rescinding of its right to self-defense against Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are embedded in civilian populations. That will require a basic rethinking of Israel's current strategic policy of containing the terrorist enclaves on its northern and southern borders.

In the decades following the Six Day War, Israeli policy, upheld by successive Labor and Likud governments, was to deny terrorists a foothold along any Israeli border. That was, in part, the rationale behind Moshe Dayan's open bridges policy between Israel and Jordan in the 1970s, as well as Ariel Sharon's West Bank settlement drive and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. When that war soured, so did the appeal of the policy that inspired it.

Israel's two unilateral withdrawals – from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 – both resulted in the creation of terror enclaves on its borders, negating long-standing strategy. The policy of prevention was replaced by a policy of containment.

That policy of containment was expressed in the 2006 operation against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and by this year's operation against Hamas in Gaza. In both those mini-wars, Israel opted not to uproot the terrorist enclaves, hoping that the partial flexing of Israeli power would deter further aggression.

The Goldstone report may well mark the end of Israel's limited wars against terrorist groups. Israel cannot afford to continue to be drawn into mini-wars against terrorists hiding behind their own civilians to attack Israeli civilians, given that each such conflict inexorably draws the Jewish state one step closer toward pariah status. Limited victories on the battlefield are being turned into major defeats in the arena of world opinion.

That untenable situation may well leave Israel no choice but to return to the post-1967 policy of preventing altogether the presence of terror enclaves on its borders. Better, Israelis will argue, to deal decisively with the terror threat and brace for temporary international outrage than subject our legitimacy to constant attrition, even as the terrorist threat remains intact.

Israelis will be keenly watching the pace of Qassam rocket fire from Gaza for signs of an emboldened Hamas. If attacks do intensify – as they have in recent days – and the quiet achieved by the Gaza offensive is forfeited, the Israeli public will blame the Goldstone report. And Israelis' operative conclusions will likely lead to a less restrained response next time – the oppposite result Judge Richard Goldstone sought to achieve in his attempt to deny Israel the right to self-defense.

Which Way for Hamas?

Volume 56, Number 17 · November 5, 2009

By Nicolas Pelham, Max Rodenbeck

Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement
by Zaki Chehab

Nation Books, 250 pp., $15.95 (paper)

Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence
by Jeroen Gunning

Columbia University Press, 310 pp., $34.50

Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas
by Paul McGeough

New Press, 477 pp., $26.95


Amid the wreckage of Gaza, Hamas's officials struggle to sound upbeat. The burly interior minister, Fathi Hamad, whose predecessor was killed by an Israeli bomb, defiantly shuns security precautions at his makeshift office in Gaza City's main police station. "Claims that we are trying to establish an Islamic state are false," says the minister, who says his preference would be pursuing a degree in media studies. "Hamas is not the Taliban. It is not al-Qaeda. It is an enlightened, moderate Islamic movement."

Such talk is not the only effort to return to normality. Parasols and beach cabins sprouted this summer along Gaza's twenty-eight miles of sandy shore, the crowded strip's principal public park. Two buildings of the Islamic University, Hamas's most prominent educational institution, had been bombed but the university put on a graduation ceremony with festive lights, a cascade of multicolored balloons, and heart-shaped posters wishing future success to its students, most of whom happen to be women and some of whom flashed jeans and high heels beneath their black gowns. In a theater next to the Palestinian parliament, also shattered by bombs, actresses danced and writhed in the government-sponsored premiere of Gaza's Girls and the Patience of Job.

Such events reflect one side of the ongoing conflict inside Hamas between the pragmatists who put Gazans' needs first, and have sought to lighten their lives after years of punishing blockade and intermittent war, and the ideologues who give priority to "the rule of the sharia of God on earth." Advocates of the latter have tried to apply Islamic law in full, appealing to the Gaza-based and Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to replace the British Mandate–era penal code with a sharia law that provides execution for apostasy, stoning and lashing for adultery, and the payment of blood money counted in camels. So far, the pragmatists have largely frustrated their efforts. "You can't Islamize the law when the political system is not fully Islamic," says the PLC's general director, Nafiz al-Madhoun, who completed a doctorate in law at the University of Minnesota, and once lectured there. "You need to have an Islamic government, judiciary, and political system. And we don't."

In response, the ideologues have resorted to other means, introducing sharia by the back door. With the help of Hamas mosques, the Religious Endowments Ministry has commissioned a morality police to "Propagate Virtue and Prevent Vice," not least by patrolling the beaches for such signs of debauchery as unveiled female bathers and shirtless men. The police have set up arbitration committees in their stations, offering detainees a fast-track resolution by fatwas, or legal opinion, which sometimes comes from the Muslim Scholars League. "The law of God or the law of a judge?" the police have asked petitioners. The Education Ministry insists it has issued no requirement that schoolgirls wear the jilbab, the shapeless body-wrap, but at the start of the school year, some principals did.

The Islamic Resistance Movement (in Arabic, Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya—hence Hamas) remains powerful, but nearly four years after winning the 2006 elections, and two years after its gunmen overpowered Palestinian Authority (PA) forces to seize control of the strip, Hamas no longer acts like an opposition suddenly thrust into power. Silent a year ago, the Ministry of National Economy now negotiates with entrepreneurs seeking licenses for their latest project. The ministry's small-business scheme offers interest-free loans for such things as a $5,000 freezer to put a butcher back in business. The Local Affairs Ministry runs a licensing office for the tunnels to Egypt that remain Gaza's lifeline; the Public Works Ministry is repaving roads with smuggled tar; the Foreign Ministry has commissioned an American journalist to train diplomats; and the Finance Ministry is collecting taxes with increased rigor. A comprehensive Web site (www.diwan.ps) gives details of government appointments and decrees, with greater transparency than the PA, Hamas's counterpart in Ramallah that once ran both parts of the Palestinians' territory, but now runs the West Bank alone, and that under an Israeli thumb.

Hamas has revamped the civil service, pruning departments that under the bloated PA had more undersecretaries than clerical secretaries. Initial protests by Fatah loyalists after Hamas's takeover in June 2007 gave Gaza's new masters an excuse to lower pay grades and shed jobs. "It was a gift from God. Most were already redundant," according to an Interior Ministry official who says he has cut his twelve-member staff (including nine directors-general) by a third. With government salaries paid promptly, most of the time, Gazans make use of strike-free municipal services, including buses and schools. Should Gaza again have a functioning railway, Hamas would run trains on time.

International attempts to isolate Hamas have also helped instead to entrench the Islamists. With all but the most basic goods banned from Gaza, smuggling has thrived through supply lines that Hamas controls. Since 2006, despite Israeli bombing and increasingly effective Egyptian policing, the number of tunnels has grown from a few score to over a thousand. "The siege has empowered those the international community wanted to disempower," a Gazan businessman observed.

Of the nearly 30,000 people the authorities say have received jobs since the party took power, some 25,000 are in the security forces. "You can dial 100 and the police come," a banker said. "Under the PA, police were afraid of thieves, now the thieves are afraid of them." Before the Hamas takeover, says another, he and his friends chose their most battered car when they went to a restaurant, for fear of car thefts. This summer, the jammed streets were full of new cars, a tacit rebuke to Israel's two-year ban on vehicle imports.

The internal calm is matched by an external reprieve. When Israel withdrew in January, leaving 1,387 Gazans dead (according to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem), thousands homeless, and factories, schools, and infrastructure smashed, Hamas hailed its survival as a great victory. But Israel imposed its own terms, forcing Hamas to quietly drop demands that Israel lift the blockade before Hamas stopped lobbing rockets at the Jewish state. While the range of Hamas's rockets has increased from fifteen to forty kilometers, bringing Tel Aviv suburbs within reach, Hamas has, since the end of the Israeli incursion, fired rockets rarely if ever, and restrained Islamist rivals, such as Islamic Jihad, from doing the same. Between March 17 and September 22 Gazans fired some eighteen short-range rockets without loss of life. Israel has responded with incursions and sometimes fatal bombings. In effect, Hamas now acts as Israel's border guard, preventing further attacks. Israel's swap of twenty female Palestinian prisoners for the first video footage of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas captured three years ago, has raised guarded hopes in Gaza of a bigger deal to come. In exchange for Shalit, according to Hamas leaders, Israel will soon release hundreds of Israel's ten thousand Palestinian prisoners and might even relax the siege.

To the south too, Hamas hints of better times ahead. Whereas in 2008 Hamas brashly punched a hole through Egypt's border defenses, unleashing an embarrassing stampede of Palestinians into Egyptian shops, Interior Minister Hamad says Hamas now "coordinates fully" with Gaza's sole Arab neighbor. Hamas even poses as a guardian of Egypt's national security, not least by killing al-Qaeda's self-proclaimed preachers and other adherents in Gaza. "Our task now is governance, to consolidate stability rather than continue resistance," says Hamad.

Yet a day after speaking these soothing words, the interior minister offered a very different political horizon. Between towering bodyguards from Hamas's armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, he delivered an apocalyptic address to a summoned assembly of clan elders. It was angels that chased Israel's army from Gaza in last winter's war, he thundered, adding with a numerological flourish that whereas Israel beat twenty-two Arab nations, Gaza's Islamic resistance had routed the enemy in just twenty-two days. The Jewish state, he concluded, would disappear in 2022.

Such reverses in rhetoric reveal a movement struggling to reconcile two competing audiences: the "international community," which calls for Hamas to be more moderate, and a core constituency that grows suspicious at any sign it might be selling out. Much as Communist regimes tacked "Democratic" to their names to disguise totalitarianism, Hamas officials use the word "resistance" to hide the waning of their armed struggle. The culture minister, when he attends theatrical productions, speaks of Resistance Culture. The minister of economy hails recent openings of cafés and restaurants as triumphs of the Resistance Economy. "As long as we don't raise our hands in surrender and continue to struggle, that's resistance," he said.

Hamas has failed to achieve the prime requisite for a more normal life: ending the siege. Gaza under Islamist rule is a cul-de-sac. Air and sea routes are blocked. Only the very sick, wounded, or well connected are allowed passage through sporadically opened land crossings to Israel and Egypt. Few now even bother to attempt the humiliating process of crossing the border, either with Israel or Egypt. "You can't board an Egypt Air plane to get home via Cairo without a fax from Egyptian intelligence," a Gazan graduate of Harvard Business School said.

While some Gazans profit from the boom in contraband, most people have seen their savings, salaries, and businesses atrophy. For all the talk about entrepreneurs, nine tenths now live below the poverty line, according to the UN, which estimates that living standards have plummeted to pre-1967 levels. In Israel per capita GDP is $27,450; in Gaza it's two or three dollars a day. Even merchant families collect UN rations.

If war and siege have not crippled Hamas, Gaza's misery appears to have prompted its greater willingness to compromise and offer its people a political future. Hamas leaders, including the more outspoken exiled leadership based in Damascus, have lately muted criticism of Fatah in the interest of intra-Palestinian reconciliation—even after Abbas's Palestinian Authority reportedly bowed to Israeli pressure and withdrew its demand for UN action against Israel following Justice Richard Goldstone's UN report into war crimes by the belligerents in Gaza's winter war. They have played down the significance of their party's fiery founding charter, which rejects any recognition of Israel, hinting that they could live with a two-state settlement. In its draft laws, Hamas defines "Palestine" not as the area including Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza but as the geographical district over which the Palestinian National Authority rules. As leaders of Fatah did a generation earlier, some members have discreetly met with Israelis at international conferences, talking peace over breakfast. In addition, within its own fiefdom Hamas's leaders have decided to suspend declaration of an Islamist state and application of sharia, and to focus on the economy instead.

Such changes in position are offensive to Hamas's hard-core followers. For what have they struggled, if not for establishing God's kingdom on earth? Rumors in Gaza reinforce the image of a leadership straying from the straight path. Businessmen working with Hamas are said to be investing tunnel profits in renovating plush hotels, prompting some to speak of an emerging Hamas oligarchy. A minister's son reportedly deals in drugs, and the son of a Qassam commander smokes water pipes. The security forces, too, seem to be following the pattern of the region's self-serving police states. Hamas used to threaten external foes and defend its own people, say Gaza's whisperers. Now it does just the reverse.

After Friday prayers on an August afternoon, Abdel Latif Moussa, a preacher in Rafah, the principal town on the Egyptian border, addressed scores of armed supporters. If Hamas did not have the guts to declare Gaza an Islamic emirate, he said, then he would do so, right here and now. Within hours of Moussa's sermon, masked fighters from Hamas's Qassam Brigades surged into the neighborhood. Among the twenty-eight killed were Moussa himself and several Qassam fighters, some felled by the first recorded instance of intra-Palestinian suicide bombing.

This was by no means Hamas's first sign of ruthlessness toward fellow Palestinians. During the first intifada against Israeli rule, which erupted soon after Hamas's official founding in 1987, its nascent armed wing targeted suspected collaborators, prostitutes, and drug dealers as often as it did Israelis. Islamists had long clashed with Fatah activists they called "traitorous" before Hamas's 2007 putsch against them, which culminated in street fighting that left more than one hundred dead. Since then the Qassam Brigades have sprayed gunfire at Fatah demonstrators and knee-capped Fatah organizers until they stopped demonstrating. They have laid siege to rebellious quarters of hostile clans and lobbed rocket-propelled grenades inside until family elders agreed to surrender.

But during August's shoot-out in Rafah, Hamas was not fighting "traitors," but rather its own brothers—people who prayed at the same mosques, studied the same texts, tapped the same financial backers, and used much the same terminology that Hamas used to overthrow Fatah. Such ultra-puritan Islamists are broadly known as Salafists, adherents of a belief system originating in Saudi Arabia that seeks to replicate fully the practices of the Prophet's companions.

Some Salafists have sought to infiltrate the ranks of Hamas, where they find fertile ground for recruits, particularly in its armed wing. Others have fused their search for purity with a jihadist challenge to the established order. Some eschew politics altogether, limiting their activities to preaching. Though dedicated to eliminating foreign influence, their teachers are among Gaza's most widely traveled, having studied in South Africa, Pakistan, Yemen, and Europe. Moussa had studied under such teachers in the Khan Yunis town, before shifting to the jihadist track.

Cracks emerged when Hamas drifted from social activism and armed struggle into politics. After Hamas decided to contest the 2006 elections, one of its preachers in Rafah left the movement with scores of followers. God's will above man's, he said, and besides Hamas had no business participating in an authority established by agreement with Israel. During the contentious interregnum of national unity government before Hamas's takeover of Gaza in June 2007, both Fatah and Hamas solicited Salafist support. Unruly clans seeking an Islamist cover to press their claims bolstered their ranks. Amid the chaos, the Salafists sought to enforce their authority by waging a nasty morality campaign against Internet cafés, hairdressers, the American school, and other such places of ill-repute.

Armed confrontation with the Salafists followed fast on the heels of Hamas's takeover. In July 2007 the Qassam Brigades laid siege to the stronghold of one jihadist group, the Army of Islam, forcing the release of the BBC's kidnapped correspondent Alan Johnston.

In the months that followed, Hamas fought to extend its control, sending the members of the Army of Islam fleeing to other towns. There they sought to rally support among discontents, challenging Hamas's legitimacy with harder-line Islamist rhetoric that accused it of selling out both on its application of sharia and its resistance against Israel. They set up new cells, variously claiming affiliation with al-Qaeda and ridding Gaza of idolatry with such acts as removing the statue of Palestine's unknown soldier from Gaza City's central square.

One of the largest factions, the jaljalat—Arabic for "the reverberations of thunder"—acquired significant support inside Hamas, and sought to target high-profile visitors to Gaza, reportedly including former President Jimmy Carter. Jund Ansar Allah, the Army of God's Companions, led by Moussa, was a relatively new addition. Its operations included a cavalry charge by white stallions intended to emulate early Muslim warriors, notwithstanding the landmines on Israel's fortified border. Qassam Brigades stormed a house in the Khan Yunis refugee camp used by the Jund in mid-July, uncovering money, weapons, and explosive belts. Soon after, a bomb blasted the wedding of a nephew of Fatah's former strongman in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, wounding sixty-one. It was after this that Qassam forces targeted Moussa's base in Rafah, the Jund's strongest redoubt with its easy access to tunnels and regional support. Salafists fleeing Rafah found refuge further north, sparking more clashes around Gaza City when Hamas sought to capture them. In two days, Hamas officials said they detained 250 Islamists.

In an attempt to deflect a Salafist backlash, Hamas officials have made a show of honoring the Jund's dead as martyrs, along with their own. They have sought to reaffirm their Islamist credentials with a morality campaign called Fadila, or Virtue, intended to tighten the Islamists' spiritual grip. The Religious Affairs ministry has hired seven hundred new employees to regulate public mores, by such actions as checking couples' marriage licenses.

A sense of unease is again enveloping Gaza. Ramadan, a time of festivity, proved desultory, and not just because of the siege. In what is Hamas's greatest security breach to date, Salafist Web sites published hit lists of Hamas members, detailing their rank in the movement, their tunnel hideouts, and mosques where they can be targeted. Jihadist spiritual mentors did not endorse calls for revenge attacks, and some instead urged unity and calm. But Gaza's streets and mosques were noticeably more subdued after the Rafah bloodshed. Hamas checkpoints—which had all but disappeared from the Gaza Strip—reappeared in the heart of Gaza City, sometimes during daylight hours. The few foreigners Israel allows to visit, who for months had experienced a brief respite, relaxing on its beaches and Web surfing in its wi-fi-equipped cafés, now tend to venture into Gaza in armored cars.

Hamas's resilience and ingenuity in the face of intense challenges are a largely untold success story. But its drive for a monopoly of power has swept aside the consensus-building that exemplified Palestinian politics and replaced it with a one-party statelet. Few believe Hamas wants elections anytime soon. Despite the lip service they pay to the electoral process, its leaders are wary of the large part of the Palestinian public that sullenly blames them for prolonging Gaza's troubles.

Without elections there is scant outlet for organized civil dissent. Opponents seeking to hold Gaza's authorities to internal account have few means but force. Hamas claims that it has crushed "the deviants," but in doing so it has deployed the same mosque-storming tactics Fatah once used against it, arousing scorn over its methods. In the absence of a more inclusive approach, Hamas's greatest achievement—the restoration of Gaza's stability—sometimes feels as bittersweet a prize to ordinary Palestinians as the "victory" it claims over the Zionist enemy.


In a sense, Hamas has become captive to its own success as it struggles now to reconcile the pressing needs of day-to-day governance with the ideology it preached in opposition, and to reconcile as well its Palestinian cause with its wider Islamic one, and its cult of guns and martyrdom with more pragmatic instincts. As several useful new books on Hamas reveal, such gnawing internal tensions are inherent in the approach that Islamists have adopted to the question of Palestine from its very origins. Seeing the "cause" in millennial terms, as part of a universal struggle, the faith-based movement has badly damaged a polity that was fragile and inchoate before the implantation of Israel, and has struggled mightily to remain unified ever since.

Although Hamas itself is not yet a quarter-century old, it is important to recall that the earliest armed resistance to Zionist colonization was not nationalist, but rather pan-Islamist in inspiration. In his gossip- and fact-packed book Inside Hamas, Zaki Chehab, a pro-Fatah Palestinian journalist, reminds us that the namesake of Hamas's Qassam Brigades was, in fact, a Syrian who was educated at Cairo's al-Azhar University. When France occupied Syria in 1920, Ezzedine Qassam briefly led an armed cell, but soon fled to the safety of British-occupied Palestine. As a mosque preacher in Haifa he witnessed the surge in Jewish immigration that followed Hitler's rise, and began a clandestine campaign to arm Muslim fighters.

Qassam himself was "martyred" by British troops in 1935, at the start of the Palestine Revolt, and then largely forgotten until his memory was revived by Hamas. The uprising he helped inspire was eventually crushed by the British, who in the process effectively decapitated the Palestinians' nascent leadership. This weakness, compounded by class tensions within Palestinian society, as well as by the marginalizing of its Druze and Christian minorities, proved fatal ten years later, when the better-led, better-equipped, and desperately determined Jewish Yishuv conquered most of historic Palestine.

The 1948 Nakba, or Calamity, left the Palestinians, still leaderless and now physically dispersed, particularly susceptible to Islamist ideas, and to the romantic notion of guerrilla action. Not only had secular Arab armies proved incapable of defending them, but the success of the Jewish state seemed to present an object lesson in the potential of religion as a political force. The displacement of thousands of Palestinian peasants to refugee camps, meanwhile, created conditions of dislocation, squalor, and unemployment similar to those that were to fan Islamist trends in urban slums across the region.

Not surprisingly, much of the future generation of Palestinian leaders, including Yasser Arafat, entered politics as members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the fiercely anti-imperialist, pan-Islamist movement founded in Egypt in 1928. Even before 1948, according to Jeroen Gunning, a British academic whose Hamas in Politics is an exemplary political primer on the Islamist party's evolution, structure, and thought, the Brotherhood was said to have thirty-eight branches in Palestine, with ten thousand members. Ironically, Arafat's founding of Fatah, the secular party that dominated Palestinian politics until the 1990s, was prompted not by a rejection of Islamist ideas but by the Brotherhood's move, under intense and frequently brutal pressure from Arab regimes, to abandon "armed struggle" in the 1950s.

A generation later, the resurgence of Islamism among Palestinians very much paralleled its rise across the wider Muslim world. A first generation of degree holders, many of them engineers and doctors, were radicalized not just by Israel's occupation and colonization of the West Bank and Gaza after the 1967 war, but also by the limited room for advancement within Palestinian society. Blaming the Arabs' cosmopolitan elite for their series of defeats, the Islamists sensed their own entitlement to power, both as more authentic representatives of the masses and as the true heirs to a tradition of resistance that they saw as being cultural as much as political.

Paul McGeough, an Australian reporter who has written a fascinating account of the rise of Khaled Meshaal, Hamas's most prominent leader today and the chief of its politburo, quotes him as scoffing at his rivals with the words, "We're the root; Fatah is a mere branch." Even at university in Kuwait in the 1970s, where his mosque-preacher father settled after fleeing his West Bank village in 1967, Meshaal refused to join the existing, Fatah-dominated Palestinian students' union, but insisted on creating a parallel Islamic one. Under his guidance Hamas later refused to join the PLO, the umbrella grouping of Palestinian parties. Hamas also refused to coordinate with others during the 1987–1992 intifada, and refused to participate in national elections before 2005. To the frustration of others it saw itself alone as the Palestinians' rightful leader.

When the Palestinian mainstream moved, during the 1980s, toward compromise with Israel, Islamist factions shifted into outright opposition. While the Muslim Brotherhood had retained a network inside Palestine, based in mosques and student clubs, Khaled Meshaal and a group of younger Islamists in the diaspora had formed a network of their own, collecting funds from Palestinian workers in the wealthy Gulf states. Their dual effort merged in the creation of Hamas. By the time Yasser Arafat signed the first peace deal with the Israeli enemy in 1993, establishing a proto-state under his rule in Gaza and the West Bank, the new party had the means and determination not merely to challenge his course, but to sabotage the entire "peace process."

Its effort, pursued mainly by means of a bloody series of bombings targeting Israeli civilians beginning in 1994, brought Hamas global notoriety but not, at first, much popularity among its own people. For most of that decade, Jeroen Gunning writes, opinion polls rarely showed the Islamists gaining more than 20 percent approval, a level that broadly reflected the performance of similar Islamist parties in other countries. Hamas's slow ascent to victory in the 2006 election came largely as a result of bungling by all of its adversaries.

Indeed, Israel's mishandling of Hamas began even before the group's creation. The Israelis turned a blind eye to recruitment by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and 1980s, largely because they saw the Islamists as a foil to nationalist groups. Belatedly alerted to the arming of Hamas cells during the first intifada, Israel increased its appeal by televising the trial of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the wheelchair-bound Gaza preacher who was Hamas's spiritual head, and then by exiling hundreds of Hamas activists to Lebanon, where they had a useful chance to make contact with fellow Islamists such as Hezbollah.

Hamas's subsequent resort to hideous "martyrdom operations," as suicide bombings were called, owed much to Hezbollah's inspiration and perhaps also to its technical expertise. Israel's response of targeted assassinations hugely bolstered Palestinian sympathy for Hamas, even as it served to radicalize its followers. As Paul McGeough's book makes abundantly clear, for instance, Khaled Meshaal, a relative hard-liner, rode to dominance within Hamas on the wave of outrage that followed Israel's botched attempt to poison him in Amman in 1997. By contrast, when in 2003 Israel succeeded in murdering Ismail Abu Shanab, a respected Gazan intellectual with an engineering degree from Colorado State University, it eliminated a Hamas official who had argued passionately against suicide bombings and in favor of a long-term truce.

Israel's dramatic acceleration of Jewish settlement in the occupied territories during the 1990s, and its systematic undermining of the Palestinian economy by means of roadblocks and closures, convinced many Palestinians that Hamas was perhaps correct in judging the peace process a sham. Even as Yasser Arafat's credit waned among his own people, both Israel and the Clinton administration pushed him to crack down on Hamas. This he did, with some brutality and considerable success, in a campaign that put hundreds of Hamas activists into Palestinian prisons. Yet rather than being rewarded for risking the anger of his own people, Arafat was simply pressured to do more, and told that he would be held to account for any atrocity carried out by Hamas.

In effect if not in intention, Israel handed the Islamists veto power over the peace process. It also so weakened Arafat that when Israel floated the possibility of an offer at Camp David in 2000, the Palestinian leader shied from pursuing it, largely because he feared he could not swing his people to support it. When, in the autumn of 2000, the second intifada broke out in the wake of this failure, Arafat felt obliged to ride the violence rather than attempt to contain it, and soon lost control of his movement as local Fatah activists strove to outdo Hamas in fury.

Arafat was hardly a mere victim. His Fatah party proved just as helpful to Hamas as their mutual enemy. Not only did his suppression of the group smack to many Palestinians of treachery but Arafat's cronies were notoriously corrupt and incompetent. Their handling of the 2006 legislative elections that swept Hamas to power, brilliantly described by Gunning, was almost farcically self-destructive. As Zaki Chehab quotes a Gazan voter telling him at the time, "We don't believe in Hamas's political views, but we want to show the Fatah leadership that we have alternatives."

Yet Hamas may also claim much credit for its success. In stark contrast to Fatah, it has acted with strategic vision, careful planning, and steely discipline. Much of its leadership has deeper local roots, and is generally of a higher caliber: in the cabinet it formed after the 2006 election, no fewer than seven of its twenty-four ministers held advanced degrees from American universities. Politicians such as Meshaal are far more charismatic on television than Arafat's hapless successor, Mahmoud Abbas.

With its clandestine structure of local cells and a dispersed leadership that operates by consensus, Hamas has proved extremely resilient to attack. Despite the bloodiness and apparent futility of its methods in combating Israel, it has shown both a high degree of managerial competence and a responsiveness to Palestinian public opinion that can be surprising for a religiously inspired organization. Yet the need to placate its ideological core, combined with Hamas's evolution of a structure that links Meshaal and his money, safely offshore, directly to Qassam commanders, so bypassing political scrutiny by their less strident colleagues, also builds in rigidity on key issues, most obviously that of peace. Sadly, Hamas's inflexibility has often proved, in the eyes of its constituents, to have been vindicated by events.

Hamas is unlikely to be budged anytime soon from its Gaza stronghold. It is playing a waiting game, hoping that other forces will blink before it does: that the international community will feel shamed into relieving the siege of Gaza, or that Egypt's hostile regime will fall, or that Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel will prove so stingy in its dealings with Mahmoud Abbas that the Fatah government on the West Bank will collapse. But in the meantime Hamas is under pressure to deliver something more than bravado to its people. Perhaps, as Gunning suggests, it will one day admit that its armed struggle against Israel (unlike against its internal rivals) has been largely symbolic, and that its declaration of a divine right to Palestine represents more of a credo than a political program. Gunning declines to judge whether, with regard to hopes for Middle Eastern peace, Hamas is what political science would term an "absolute spoiler," or only a limited one. But as he says, politics is never static, nor are political organizations.

—Gaza and Cairo, October 6, 2009

26 October 2009

The Right Thing

What's the right thing to do in life? Is it what others say it is? Or is it more flexible? I've been thinking of late that doing the right thing gives lie to the notion that life is lived in black and white. For when situations arise that you never, in a million years, thought would arise actually do, you have no earthly clue what to do except what you think is the right thing. So what is it?

It's got to be some combination of moral, ethical and practical standards. If we are without standards, what are we but animals? But who is to say what is moral, ethical and practical? We have theologians from world-renowned universities telling us that there is a God to guide us. People in Africa ask witch doctors to aid them in their quest for meaning in life. For in the end, is not doing the right thing the very thing that gives us meaning in life? However we define it?

Of this I am certain: doing the right thing isn't always easy. I suppose those who choose to follow a more rigid religious course than I do -- the truly Orthodox, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim -- it doesn't really matter -- not me-- may have a less difficult time understanding the right thing, because it's all written down for them in halacha or sharia or the Bhagavad Gita or whatever. But life is far more difficult, far more nuanced and unpredictable so that too often, life involves you in situations where written rules are signposts, not fences. Like life, the law has to maintain its standards while keeping society in order. So it thus follows, and I would guess, that doing the right thing is, in a way of looking at the universe, very close conceptually to the notion of maintaining standards of existence -- however expressed -- which, if maintained on a level high enough, will go a long way to giving a person true and lasting meaning in their life. And giving oneself -- or some other person -- the gift of meaning is always the right thing to do in any situation we might encounter.

Randy Shiner

22 October 2009

Where Deli is Community


Once upon a time, the delicatessen was the third pole of Jewish American communal life. The other two were the synagogue, where people prayed twice daily, and the bathouse, shvitz, or mikveh, where the men and women gossiped, bathed, and bonded. Considering that the synagogue was separated by sex, as, naturally, was the bathhouse, the delicatessen was the one spot where community socialized as one. It was open to everyone from the pious to the sinners, the machers and pishers, criminals and politicians.

In communities like Boston's Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods, delis like the G&G Delicatessen were de-facto community halls. It's where people went to plead to those in power, where the humble and the exalted could meet equally over a bowl of soup. The Irish had their pubs and the Italians their cafes. We had our delis.

Somewhere in the past decades of post-war evolution and assimilation, the deli lost its place as a locus of the community where it was based. First, communities moved, and quickly. Some happened because of the housing opportunities in the suburbs. Others because of white flight, and the deterioration of American inner-cities.

People went from living within shouting distance of each other ("Heloooo Mrs. Goldberg") to having miles of property separating them from their neighbors. While once dozens of small delis served neighborhoods like Brooklyn's Flatbush or Chicago's Maxwell St. Market, now one or two giant delis could cover forty square miles of suburban residents. Supermarkets edged out Jewish delis for prepared foods and lunch meats. People grew afraid because of diet trends: first fat, then cards, now salt. Sushi came and captured the mouths of young and old.

When was the last time you ate at a deli? I'm guessing it was a while ago.

Yet in smaller Jewish communities around America and the Ashkenazi Diaspora, the Jewish deli holds on to its role as an important institution. Take the case of Deli on the Go, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here's a community with less than three thousand Jewish souls, wedged between the snowy Wasatch mountains and the barren salt flats, in Mecca for Mormons. Hardly prime deli country. Yet Israel and Miriam Lefler felt it was their duty to make sure any Jew, whether a local or a tourist, has a kosher option in Utah.

So they converted the living room of their bungalow into a small restaurant kitchen. Israel (who works by day in defense technology), and Miriam will bake challahs and make soups for any party that needs it; from a kosher family skiing in Park City, to a 300 person kosher wedding in a local hotel. Because of their distance from larger Jewish communities, much of their food is trucked in frozen, but what they make is done with love.

Same goes for the Kosher Cajun NY Deli and Grocery, just outside New Orleans, LA. When Joel and Natalie Brown opened in the 1990's, they did so to provide kosher food for communities around the gulf coast, who often had to drive hours just to go grocery shopping in larger cities. Kosher Cajun mixed a grocery store with restaurant, serving classics like pastrami and cholent, along with kosher Cajun classics, like gumbo and jambalaya.

When Katrina hit, the Browns fled to Memphis. Joel returned a week later to find his store completely flooded, the rancid smell of rotting food filling the air. He could have collected an insurance check and kept the family in Memphis, but his allegiance to the community was a priority. The Browns rebuilt, and within three months Kosher Cajun was back up and running, serving everyone from locals to FEMA workers.

People ask, "What makes a deli any different from a diner or a pizza place?" The answer is community. When your son is born, will the sushi place cater the bris, or will the Jewish deli? When your grandmother dies, where will the dinners at the shiva come from? Red Lobster? A Thai place? No, it'll be deli....the one place that feeds Jews from birth till death.

13 October 2009

11 October 2009

Movie Review: "A Serious Man"

"A Serious Man" is the latest in the Coen Brothers' ouevre of twisty, quirky and all-too-real takes on life, this time evidently a somewhat autobiographical tale of Jewish life in Minneapolis, where they were raised, back to the tales of dybbuks in Poland from whence a large majority of Jews, including myself, descend. Although their previous films have featured Jewish characters (think of Walter Sobchak in "The Big Lebowski" -- "I'm shomer fucking shabbos!"), none until now have contained this much explicitly Jewish content, character and social study. They observe and remember with the skill of a surgeon's scalpel.

The film begins in Yiddish in a shtetl somewhere in Poland 100 years ago, where Velvel, on his way back from the market, supposedly encounters a famous Rebbe who was supposed to have died three years prior, succumbed -- geshtorben -- to typhus, but who, strangely, appears at Velvel's door following an invitation extended on the road back to town to enjoy some soup. Velvel's stout-legged wife is utterly nonplussed and, as if to attempt to seize control of her husband's mind whose sanity she doubts, promptly stabs the Rebbe in the chest with an ice pick to prove to Velvel that the Rebbe is, in fact, an evil dybbuk, a ghost. We are left to wonder just how dead is dead, the nature of reality and the role of God, ethics and morality - and humor - in the life and family around which the story revolves, though the humor is not always funny by itself but makes us laugh nonethless because of the very Jewish and therefore universally very human reactions against which it is all set and the remembrance most of us in the audience could relate to because of the fact that we'd lived it, at least in part.

For me, "A Serious Man" represented an attempt on the part of Ethan and Joel Coen to make sense of what doesn't make sense, and understanding that a lot of what Jefferson Airplane sang about (and which was prominently featured in the film, along with Jimi Hendrix) was and is the absolute truth:

When the truth is found to be lies
and all the joy within you dies
don't you want somebody to love
don't you need somebody to love
wouldn't you love somebody to love
you better find somebody to love

When the garden flowers baby are dead yes
and your mind [, your mind] is [so] full of BREAD
don't you want somebody to love
don't you need somebody to love
wouldn't you love somebody to love
you better find somebody to love

your eyes, I say your eyes may look like his [yeah]
but in your head baby I'm afraid you don't know where it is
don't you want somebody to love
don't you need somebody to love
wouldn't you love somebody to love
you better find somebody to love

tears are running [ahhh, they're all] running down your breast
and your friends baby they treat you like a guest.
don't you want somebody to love
don't you need somebody to love
wouldn't you love somebody to love
you better find somebody to love

Nobody, not even the great Minneapolis Rebbe who is seemingly too busy thinking to help Gopnik out of a continual stream of tsuris, or troubles, that plague him in his serious life, has a replacement for what really counts despite the all-too-human effort to exert control over the uncontrollable that is the life portrayed here in all its flawed humanity. To attempt to be "A Serious Man", as so many of the characters are in this movie (and we) attempt to be, turns into a joke that everybody, Jew and non-Jew alike, can understand and relate to: a joke that is equally upon us all, even on those whose business it ostensibly is -- physics professors and Rabbis included -- to try to explain the inexplicable, the incomprehensible and the neuroses that seem especially to plague Jews in particular, for a human savior like Jesus in whom Christians believe, does not exist, leaving redemption up to we small and inconsequential humans, attempting to just make it through the ridiculousness and randomness of life, the key to which we Jews turn to "Hashem" (God) and upon whom scorn and praise are heaped with equal vigor as it has been since the days of Moses.

I remember in my lifetime the smell of brisket, tension, sweat and fear coming out of lime green and bilious yellow kitchens presented in a loving homage to a time in Jewish-American history 40 years ago when the internet did not exist and the human condition, and that of Jews in America in particular, was not so sure-footed as it is now, at least superficially. It was a time when we Jews were still struggling to find a place in America. The struggle was obvious then but extant just the same even now.

The casting for this film was absolutely masterful; the Coens found faces that any of us with a glint of memory from the 60s and 70s will remember with a combination of awe and reverence, for those were the people who were still new to America or one generation removed from the old country and from whom my generation learned its Jewishness, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. Scenes inside the Hebrew school classroom were utterly masterful; I couldn't help but think of the stale air, linoleum floors and ghosts of the Holocaust that enveloped me as I tried to learn Hebrew from Hebrew teachers, some of whom were early immigrants from Israel and others old men whose breath was as smelly as my ability to learn that ancient language and with which I still to this day struggle, in part, no doubt, because of the utter lack of seriousness I took it all and the amount of time that I spent ditching Hebrew school to go to Mort's deli to eat kosher pickles and salami sticks, wastrel that I was and, I suppose, still am. I'll admit to being afraid of more mind-bending chemical agents, however, which evidently the Coens were not, to their eternal credit and our benefit. They couldn't have found better lines in faces which to spoke in large measure far louder and more earnestly than the lines uttered from the screenplay. This was a film in which some characters whose mere presence spoke volumes of history without uttering a syllable, especially the lineup of rabbinic and university secretaries who operated with the seriousness, function and aura of arrogant self-importance that one might expect of Cardinals in the Vatican, protecting the Pope from all earthly troubles.

"A Serious Man" gives us pause to reflect on the possibility that the joke is on us, that dybbuks -- even good ones -- still really exist, and that life is too short and mainly unpredictable to get too serious over, even for we serious men, solvers of the mysteries and problems of the universe, such serious men, men without a clue, as are we all. Hashem, whither thou art? Oh, never mind. We'll get by. We always do. Are You listening? This is the ultimate question to which we will never really know the answer, no matter how strong the belief, no matter how serious we take the mission of life.

Randy Shiner

06 October 2009

A Gift for Anti-Semites Everywhere Thanks to JTA

If this same article were posted on a Neo-Nazi website, we would be shrying like banshees from the depths of hell about how anti-Jewish and horrible this list is. This just goes to prove the point of the anti-Semites, at least in a small way: we are too damned concerned with money, or so the JTA and the Fundermentalist think. That there is some fluff at the beginning about how these people gave their money away, that is their business and no-one else’s. We Jews are good at getting pissed off at others, but when it turns out that we are pissing on ourselves, we just think it’s raining. For shame on the JTA for allowing this trash into a respectable outlet for Jewish news. This is just bad.

Randy Shiner

At least 139 of the Forbes 400 are Jewish

I've spent the past couple of days buried in Google, going through Forbes' recently released list of the country's 400 richest citizens and trying to figure out who is Jewish.

This list is by no means an exact science. But those who we considered Jewish were those who were of Jewish descent or those who openly identified as Jews either personally or in thier giving. There are a number of folks on this list below that we were unsure about, and they are denoted with asterisks.

Some quick stats: We are reasonably certain that 139 of the richest 400 Americans are Jewish, including 20 of the richest 50. Those top 20 control some $211.8 billion in personal wealth.

Those of particular interest: Sheldon Adelson continued his drop on this list. After being ranked the third wealthiest American in 2007, and publicly stating that he wanted to overtake Warren Buffet, who was then rnaked second on the Forbes 400, Adelson watched his personal wealth drop by $13 billion in 2007, then another $4 billion for this ranking.

The Google guys, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both moved up a couple of slots on the Forbes list, from 13 and 14 respectively to a tie for 11 this year. But both saw their wealth drop a bit. Brin was worth $15.9 billion last year and is now worth $15.3. Page droppd from $15.8 billion to $15.3. The richest American Jew, Larry Ellison, saw his wealth and his spot on this liest stay level, while our second wealthiest member, Michael Bloomberg, managed to lose $2.5 billion but maintian his spot at number 8 on this list.

According to Forbes, some of the names that the Jewish philanthropy world knows best had rough years.

Lynn Schusterman's Samson Resources lost $1 billion over the past year, according to Forbes, but Schusterman is still worth $1.5 billion and 236 on the Forbes list.

Edgar Bronfman is ranked 123 on the Forbes list with assets of $2.5 billion, while his brother, Charles Bronfman is not on the list. Last year, the 400th ranked American had $1.3 billion in assets. This year the lowest ranked on the list has $960 million.

Here is the list of Jewish entries that I culled from the Forbes list. The lists includes where they rank on the Jewish list, followed by their rank on the general Forbes list, their net wealth in millions of dollars, followed by their age, location and the source of their wealth. This is just the Forbes list with the rest of the names deleated. (Click here for Forbes complete list, which includes short bios. If you see anyone who we missed, please let us know, and if you see anyone on here eroneously, again, please let us know.)

Over the coming months, we'll be taking a deeper look at how each of these people give their money away.

Here's the list:

  1. 3 Lawrence Ellison 27,000 65 Redwood City Oracle
  2. 8 Michael Bloomberg 17,500 67 New York Bloomberg
  3. 11 Sergey Brin 15,300 36 Palo Alto Google
  4. 11 Larry Page 15,300 36 San Francisco Google
  5. 13 Michael Dell 14,500 44 Austin Dell
  6. 14 Steven Ballmer 13,300 53 Seattle Microsoft
  7. 15 George Soros 13,000 79 Westchester hedge funds
  8. 16 Donald Bren 12,000 77 Newport Beach real estate – father is jewish
  9. 22 Carl Icahn 10,500 73 New York leveraged buyouts
  10. 23 Ronald Perelman 10,000 66 New York leveraged buyouts
  11. 24 George B. Kaiser 9,500 67 Tulsa oil & gas, banking
  12. 26 Sheldon Adelson 9,000 76 Las Vegas casinos, hotels
  13. 29 James Simons 8,500 71 East Setauket hedge funds
  14. 36 Steven Cohen 6,400 53 Greenwich hedge funds
  15. 42 Eli Broad 5,400 76 Los Angeles investments
  16. 44 Len Blavatnik 5,000 52 London Access Industries
  17. 44 David Geffen 5,000 66 Malibu movies, music
  18. 44 Ira Rennert 5,000 75 New York investments
  19. 49 Charles Ergen 4,900 56 Denver EchoStar **
  20. 50 Stephen Schwarzman 4,700 62 New York investments
  21. 52 Samuel I. (Si) Newhouse Jr. 4,500 81 New York publishing
  22. 56 Micky Arison 4,300 60 Bal Harbour Carnival Cruises
  23. 61 Ralph Lauren 4,200 70 New York fashion
  24. 65 Lester Crown & family 4,000 84 Wilmette investments
  25. 65 Richard LeFrak & family 4,000 64 New York real estate
  26. 65 Donald Newhouse 4,000 79 Somerset County publishing
  27. 65 Daniel Ziff 4,000 37 New York inheritance, hedge funds
  28. 65 Dirk Ziff 4,000 45 New York inheritance, hedge funds
  29. 65 Robert Ziff 4,000 43 New York inheritance, hedge funds
  30. 77 Henry Kravis 3,800 65 New York leveraged buyouts
  31. 77 Paul Milstein & family 3,800 87 New York Emigrant, real estate
  32. 77 Samuel Zell 3,800 68 Chicago real estate, private equity
  33. 84 Leonard N. Stern 3,600 71 New York real estate
  34. 85 Stanley Druckenmiller 3,500 56 Pittsburgh hedge funds
  35. 85 Bruce Kovner 3,500 64 New York hedge funds
  36. 85 George Roberts 3,500 66 San Francisco leveraged buyouts
  37. 97 Riley P. Bechtel 3,000 57 San Francisco engineering, construction**
  38. 97 Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. 3,000 84 San Francisco engineering, construction**
  39. 97 Leonard Lauder 3,000 76 New York Estee Lauder
  40. 97 Theodore Lerner 3,000 84 Washington real estate
  41. 97 Steven Spielberg 3,000 62 Pacific Palisades movies
  42. 97 Warren Stephens 3,000 52 Little Rock Stephens Inc. **
  43. 97 David Tepper 3,000 52 Milburn hedge funds
  44. 110 Stephen Ross 2,900 69 New York real estate
  45. 113 Daniel Och 2,800 48 New York hedge funds
  46. 113 Haim Saban 2,800 65 Beverly Hills television
  47. 118 Joan Tisch 2,600 83 New York Loews
  48. 123 Edgar M. Bronfman 2,500 80 New York liquor
  49. 123 Ronald Lauder 2,500 65 New York Estee Lauder
  50. 123 Mitchell Rales 2,500 53 Washington Danaher Corp **
  51. 123 Steven Rales 2,500 58 Washington Danaher Corp **
  52. 123 David Rubenstein 2,500 60 Bethesda leveraged buyouts
  53. 139 Mark Cuban 2,400 51 Dallas Broadcast.com
  54. 139 Malcolm Glazer & family 2,400 81 Palm Beach sports teams, real estate
  55. 141 Steve Wynn 2,300 67 Las Vegas casinos, hotels **
  56. 147 Tom Gores 2,200 45 Beverly Hills leveraged buyouts
  57. 147 Bruce Wasserstein 2,200 61 New York Wasserstein Perella, Lazard
  58. 158 Nicolas Berggruen 2,000 48 New York Investments
  59. 158 Leon Black 2,000 58 New York leveraged buyouts
  60. 158 William Gross 2,000 65 Laguna Beach bonds **
  61. 158 Michael Milken 2,000 63 Los Angeles investments
  62. 158 Sumner Redstone 2,000 86 Beverly Hills Viacom
  63. 158 Leslie Wexner 2,000 72 New Albany Limited Brands
  64. 158 Mark Zuckerberg 2,000 25 Palo Alto Facebook
  65. 183 Stewart Rahr 1,950 63 New York Kinray
  66. 193 Alan Casden 1,850 63 Beverly Hills real estate
  67. 196 Thomas Pritzker 1,800 59 Chicago hotels, investments
  68. 196 Jerry Speyer 1,800 69 New York real estate
  69. 204 Israel Englander 1,700 61 New York hedge funds
  70. 204 Penny Pritzker 1,700 50 Chicago hotels, investments
  71. 204 Sheldon Solow 1,700 81 New York real estate
  72. 212 Robert Friedland 1,650 59 Singapore mining
  73. 212 Henry Samueli 1,650 55 Newport Beach Broadcom
  74. 220 Thomas Friedkin 1,600 74 Houston Gulf States Toyota
  75. 220 Alec Gores 1,600 56 Beverly Hills leveraged buyouts
  76. 220 Irwin Jacobs 1,600 76 La Jolla Qualcomm
  77. 220 Anthony Pritzker 1,600 48 Los Angeles hotels, investments
  78. 220 Jay Robert Pritzker 1,600 44 Evanston hotels, investments
  79. 230 John Morgridge 1,550 76 Portola Valley Cisco ** (NETA with Jewish Agency)
  80. 230 Isaac Perlmutter 1,550 67 Palm Beach Marvel
  81. 230 Wilma Tisch 1,550 82 New York Loews
  82. 236 Neil Bluhm 1,500 71 Chicago real estate
  83. 236 Robert Kraft 1,500 68 Brookline New England Patriots
  84. 236 Stephen Mandel 1,500 53 Greenwich hedge funds
  85. 236 Daniel Pritzker 1,500 50 Marin County hotels, investments
  86. 236 James Pritzker 1,500 58 Chicago hotels, investments
  87. 236 Jean (Gigi) Pritzker 1,500 47 Chicago hotels, investments
  88. 236 John Pritzker 1,500 56 San Francisco hotels, investments
  89. 236 Karen Pritzker 1,500 51 New Haven hotels, investments
  90. 236 Linda Pritzker 1,500 55 St. Ignatius hotels, investments
  91. 236 Marc Rich 1,500 74 Meggen commodities
  92. 236 Lynn Schusterman 1,500 70 Tulsa oil & gas, investments
  93. 236 John Sperling 1,500 88 Phoenix Apollo Group
  94. 236 Mortimer Zuckerman 1,500 72 New York real estate, media
  95. 272 George Lindemann & family 1,450 73 Palm Beach investments
  96. 272 Bernard Marcus 1,450 80 Atlanta Home Depot
  97. 277 S. Daniel Abraham 1,400 85 Palm Beach Slim-Fast
  98. 277 John Arrillaga 1,400 72 Palo Alto real estate
  99. 277 Alfred Mann 1,400 83 Los Angeles medical devices
  100. 277 Michael Moritz 1,400 55 Mountain View venture capital
  101. 277 Michael Price 1,400 57 Far Hills investments
  102. 277 Tamir Sapir 1,400 62 New York real estate
  103. 277 Alfred Taubman 1,400 85 Bloomfield Hills real estate
  104. 289 Ken Fisher 1,350 58 Woodside Money management **
  105. 289 David Gottesman 1,350 83 Rye investments
  106. 289 Marc Lasry 1,350 49 New York hedge funds (92nd Street Y)
  107. 296 Edmund Ansin 1,300 73 Miami Sunbeam Broadcasting
  108. 296 Ron Baron 1,300 66 New York money management
  109. 296 Leon Charney 1,300 68 New York Real estate
  110. 296 Glenn Dubin 1,300 52 New York hedge funds
  111. 296 Donald Fisher 1,300 81 San Francisco Gap
  112. 296 Doris Fisher 1,300 78 San Francisco Gap
  113. 296 Jeremy Jacobs Sr. 1,300 69 East Aurora sports concessions
  114. 296 Gary Michelson 1,300 60 Los Angeles medical patents
  115. 317 Arthur Blank 1,250 67 Atlanta Home Depot
  116. 317 Jeffrey Greene 1,250 54 Miami Beach real estate, investments
  117. 317 Thomas H. Lee 1,250 65 New York leveraged buyouts
  118. 317 Herbert Simon 1,250 74 Indianapolis real estate
  119. 317 Peter Sperling 1,250 49 Phoenix Apollo Group
  120. 326 John E. Abele 1,200 72 Shelburne healthcare **
  121. 326 Norman Braman 1,200 77 Miami art, car dealerships
  122. 326 John Fisher 1,200 48 San Francisco Gap
  123. 326 Nicholas Pritzker 1,200 65 Chicago hotels, investments
  124. 326 Alexander Rovt 1,200 57 Brooklyn fertilizer
  125. 326 Margaret Whitman 1,200 53 Atherton Ebay
  126. 341 Leon Cooperman 1,150 66 Short Hills hedge funds
  127. 341 Barry Diller 1,150 67 New York IAC/InterActiveCorp
  128. 341 Joseph Mansueto 1,150 53 Chicago Morningstar **
  129. 347 Marc Benioff 1,100 45 San Francisco Salesforce.com
  130. 347 A. James Clark 1,100 81 Easton Construction **
  131. 347 Robert Fisher 1,100 56 San Francisco Gap
  132. 347 Alan Gerry 1,100 80 Liberty cable television**
  133. 347 James Irsay 1,100 50 Carmel Indianapolis Colts (Father, Bob was Jewish)
  134. 347 Michael Krasny 1,100 56 Highland Park CDW Corp 3
  135. 347 Daniel Snyder 1,100 44 Potomac Washington Redskins
  136. 347 Henry Swieca 1,100 52 New York hedge funds
  137. 366 Peter Lewis 1,050 75 Coconut Grove Progressive Corp
  138. 366 Nelson Peltz 1,050 67 Bedford Investments
  139. 371 William Fisher 1,000 52 San Francisco Gap
  140. 371 Pincus Green 1,000 74 Jerusalem commodities
  141. 371 Jeffry Picower 1,000 67 Palm Beach investments
  142. 371 Steven Schonfeld 1,000 50 Westbury Proprietary Trading
  143. 371 Walter Shorenstein & family 1,000 94 San Francisco real estate
  144. 371 Evgeny (Eugene) Shvidler 1,000 45 London Millhouse LLC
  145. 371 Charles Zegar 1,000 61 New York Bloomberg LP
  146. 394 Jeffrey Lurie 980 58 Haverford Philadelphia Eagles
  147. 396 Nancy Lerner 960 49 Cleveland inheritance
  148. 396 Norma Lerner 960 73 Cleveland inheritance
  149. 396 Randolph Lerner 960 47 Cleveland inheritance

Thanks to Gil Shefler for helping with the research.