Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Showing off Israel

RE:  Michael Totten, "Israel is not going anywhere."

My late colleague Gideon Doron once told me the following story: Doron was, c. 1996, briefly head of the policy planning staff of Israel's Foreign Ministry, under David Levy. He invited his counterpart in the Palestinian Authority to spend a day together so he could show how Israelis live. Gideon showed the Palestinian official his beautiful house in Omer, shopping malls, beaches, cafes, etc. Gideon concluded by telling the fellow, "and you could have all this, if you wanted, by concentrating on building for yourselves instead of trying to destroy us." The Palestinian official, according to Gideon, was convinced; he want back to Ramallah and started preaching to his colleagues.
A few days later Gideon called the Palestinian official and asked when he was going to reciprocate by inviting him to Ramallah. The PA guy said: you brainwashed me, and I repeated your line to my colleagues, and they told me that if I didn't shut up, or if I continued to meet with you, I would be fired.
Gideon from this point could not get any PA officials to take his phone calls, so after seven weeks he had no choice but to resign from the Foreign Ministry.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Go ahead and send your kid to the Ivy League

Comments on William Deresiewicz, "Don't send your kid to the Ivy League."

Count me as "not persuaded." After a research appointment at Princeton in 02-03, I taught at Yale in 2003-4, during the Deresiewicz years, and my youngest sister Beth is Yale '07.

1. My sister and her friends went to grad school in science or tech jobs, not Wall Street.

2. Plenty of my students were fascinated by electoral politics, and one of them was even the campaign manager for a (longshot) New Haven mayoral candidate.

3. Two of my wife's nephews, the sons of a very successful physician, went to Ohio State to study engineering. They certainly could have gone to fancier schools.

At Princeton the engineering students were third-rate compared to the engineering students at major public engineering schools, because the curriculum is exactly the same across schools and the public schools are cheaper (and many of the public schools offer much better networking opportunities for engineers than Princeton).

4. A good liberal, Deresiewicz refuses to recognizes that elite higher education has become more caste-based because it has successfully sorted out a cognitive elite, and intelligence is inherited to the same degree as height.

5 .What is true is that the competition to get in is so stiff that it leaves high school kids no slack for self-exploration, which means that the "winners" don't really know what they want from life. Perhaps they are more vulnerable to the temptations of Wall Street than they were in my time (I am Harvard '89) for this reason.

6. I am a big believer in noblesse oblige. So as a former "entitled little shit" I have no problem bringing up my children and educating my students to be aware of their status (or station) and its duties.

7. It is true that because liberal religion died and was replaced by the religion of liberalism, because most elite colleges have internationalized and so have lost their patriotism, and because today's elite high school students are busy cramming their resumes to grow up even a little, American elite schools aren't as successful at instilling the service ethic as they once were. There are things they can do to mitigate this, and they are doing some of them (e.g. ROTC is back in administration favor at Harvard).