Michael Douglas poses with Michael Bloomberg after winning the $1M Genesis Prize. / Getty Images
When Michael Bloomberg was named the first recipient of the Genesis Prize last year, I wasn’t alone in wondering why a billionaire businessman and politician whose Jewishness was mostly hidden and whose ties to Israel were tenuous at best was given such an award. But considering the noble intent of the prize, the money it offered — a million dollars! — and the stellar reputations of some of the organizers, I tried really hard to understand the selection.
I ended a column in the Forward saying I’d give it another year.
Time’s up. A new winner was announced today. He makes Bloomberg looks like a combination of Golda Meir, Louis Brandeis and, hell, even Moses in his public devotion to the Jewish people.
Michael Douglas. Really?
Planning a black tie event can be time consuming. I mean, what wine does one serve with pulverized human remains?
I really feel for Mike Bloomberg and his staff. First off, it took 12 years to clean up the crime scene. And now that the space was somewhat presentable, a group of September 11 family stragglers threatened to get in the way of set up.
Fortunately for Mike’s staff, the 9/11 families backed down as victims of hideous crimes often do. They left somewhat peacefully and, once the riff-raff were no longer in sight, Mike’s event planners were able to decorate the 9/11 museum for their elaborate event.
Now make no mistake, these bigwigs are do-gooders. These selfless patrons are the reason we rabble were allowed a free pass on opening night. It is the others, the paying crowd, they got screwed. And these party animals were going to party like it is was 2000.
The only elephants in the room were the shadows of the beautiful men and women who died so Mike and his Conde Nast pals could have their gala affair. Knowing that they could be standing in the same footprint as one of the 11 murdered pregnant women did not put a damper on their festive evening.
Mayor Bloomberg, the recipient of the first Genesis Prize / Getty Images
You know that Jewish charity that gave a $1 million prize to Michael Bloomberg, who can hardly count his billions? A feature in last week’s New Yorker sheds some light on the Russian oligarchs behind the award.
For instance: In the early 2000s, BP executives thought that German Khan was carrying a gun to business meetings.
It wasn’t clear to the executives why he needed the gun. “[H]e had other people with guns,” one told Connie Bruck, as reported in this amazing New Yorker profile.
German Khan and Mikhail Fridman are partners with the subject of the profile, Leonard Blavatnik, in an investment consortium called AAR. They are also among the founders of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a huge Jewish foundation funding Jewish charities around the world. The new $1 million Genesis Prize, bewilderingly bestowed on Bloomberg in 2013, is funded by the Genesis Philanthropy Group.
Khan and Fridman aren’t actually named on Genesis’s website. The face of the operation is Stan Polovets, AAR’s CEO. But the New York Times, among other outlets, has identified them as two among the five founders of the charity.
We have some bright ideas about what he should do with all that cash.
The million bucks, chump change for the richest man in New York City, came along with the Genesis Prize, bestowed by a committee dominated by right-leaning Israeli political figures. Bloomberg said he would spend the money on an as-yet-to-be-determined cause in the Middle East.
Below, six causes that we think might pique his interest.
STOP AND FRISK, SABRA-STYLE
Bloomberg is all for New York police’s stop-and-frisk policies aimed at rooting out crime. Support the ultimate stop-and-friskers — guys who make the NYPD look like the assistant principal for community outreach at a Montessori pre-school.
After 12 years and three terms as mayor, Michael Bloomberg somehow still can’t figure out how the average New Yorker thinks.
The out-of-touch billionaire who bought a trifecta free pass to Gracie Mansion is leaving office this year. But he couldn’t resist the urge to make an idiot of himself on the way out the door.
Bloomberg blasted Bill de Blasio, the Democratic frontrunner to succeed him, for seeking to “divide” the city. That’s because de Blasio has ridden to the top of the polls with a message that government must do more for middle- and working-class New Yorkers.
It was bad enough that Bloomberg obviously has no idea how the majority of New Yorkers feel about rising rents and failing schools in the gilded city that he has molded in his patrician image.
Like Anthony Weiner in an internet chat room, Bloomberg had to go even further.
Speaking in a swan-song interview with New York magazine, Bloomberg made the outrageous and offensive claim that de Blasio was running a “racist” campaign. Mayor Mike blames de Blasio for making political ads featuring his African-American wife (who was once a lesbian) and their teenage son, Dante, whose eloquence and trademark Afro has made him the defining symbol of the campaign.
“He’s making an appeal using his family to gain support,” Bloomberg said. “I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing.”
Bloomberg went on to prevaricate that he doesn’t think de Blasio himself is “racist.”
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced she was running for mayor Sunday, making official what had been all but acknowledged for months.
In a whistle-stop tour of the city and a new campaign video, Quinn touted her middle-class roots and a campaign agenda that emphasizes housing and education.
If she wins, Quinn would be the first female and also the first gay person to occupy Gracie Mansion.
Quinn has long been considered a frontrunners in the 2013 mayoral race. Yet she faces stiff competition from a large field of Democratic and Republican rivals, many of whom have made strong plays for Jewish votes in a field without a major Jewish candidate.
As City Council speaker, Quinn has opposed a measure that would force New York businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees. Jewish groups backed the bill, including a long list of prominent New York City rabbis. Many of Quinn’s Democratic opponents support the paid sick leave measure.