Friday, February 12, 2016

AJC Names Robert Silverman as US Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations

Robert Silverman has been named U.S. Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations by the AJC, a new position for the global advocacy group. A February 10 statement from the AJC stated:

“Bob Silverman has a unique background to help lead AJC in this transformational, essential endeavor,” said AJC Chief Executive Officer David Harris. “He has the professional experience and wisdom, and, importantly, shares the AJC commitment to turn the vision of engagement with Muslims across the United States into a fruitful reality.” 
Silverman will join AJC’s Department of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, led by Rabbi Noam Marans. 
“I am delighted to come to AJC, the global pioneer in interreligious and intergroup relations,” said Silverman. “Positive, smart engagement with Muslims is imperative for the Jewish community, indeed for the vibrant, pluralistic democracy that is the United States.” 
Silverman comes to AJC after a distinguished career spanning more than a quarter of a century at the U.S. Department of State. A Senior Foreign Service Officer, Silverman is concluding his tenure as Director of Regional and Multilateral Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. 
Fluent in Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish, Silverman served, among other posts, as political counselor in Tel Aviv, economic counselor in Riyadh and Baku, deputy economic counselor in Ankara, political officer in Cairo and Jerusalem, as well as Provincial Reconstruction Team leader in Tikrit, Iraq. In Washington, he has served as Director of the Iraq Reconstruction and Economic Affairs Office, and Kuwait desk officer. 
“I look forward to building upon AJC’s significant achievements in Muslim-Jewish relations, with the hope of greatly expanding our reach and impact,” said Silverman.

Monday, February 8, 2016

'80's McGrath and Brody Keep Things Hopping at The New Yorker

Doug McGrath and Richard Brody contributed hot-topic essays over the past month at The New Yorker (edited by David Remnick '81, keeping the Tiger spirit alive there).

McGrath got the party started in the January 18 issue with a piece titled "We Have a Serious Problem," in the Shouts & Murmurs section. McGrath provides a fanciful diary of key dates in imagined discussions between Donald Trump and a key aide in his presidential bid. One except:

JANUARY 12, 2016: Trump slumped in his chair. He’d been holding the last slice of an extra-large everything pizza for an unheard-of five whole minutes without eating it. Jeff’s applications to work for calmer, nicer men—Rahm Emanuel, Robert Durst, the new social-media guy at ISIS—had so far not come through. He hardly slept anymore, and even though he was only thirty, his hands shook as if he’d just survived a plane crash.

 In the February 3 issue, Brody gives a highly positive review to "Hail, Caesar!" the new comedy by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen '79. Brody found a lot to like in the film, noting:

“Hail, Caesar!” is a comedy, and a scintillating, uproarious one, filled with fast and light touches of exquisite incongruity in scenes that have the expansiveness of relaxed precision, performed and timed with the spontaneous authority of jazz. Hollywood has been ripe for lampooning from the start, but, for all the movie’s incisive humor, the Coens don’t so much mock the movie colony as look on with an unusually benign astonishment at the contrast—only superficially a contradiction—between the absurd wonders of the movies that were made at the time and the even more absurd stories of their making. 
Brody's other articles so far this year looked at the 2016 Oscar nominations and the Star Wars saga.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Danny Quah Keeps an Eye on the Global Economy

From his perch as Professor of Economics and International Development and Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre at the London School of Economics, Danny Quah closely observes global economic trends and comments on them at his blog,, and for leading business publications. 

His latest think piece reprinted at the Fair Observer website has the provocative title, "China's Economy is Not Collapsing." Quah works his way through the statistics, assumptions and politics of China, in a way that's difficult to summarize here and should be read as a whole. His conclusion is:

Indeed, recent events in China’s economic trajectory have set off alarm bells for many observers. But these same incidents, set against a slightly more textured background, are actually nuanced in their implications.

China is not imminently in meltdown.

None of this is to say China’s economy will continue growing at double-digit rates forever. Nor does it argue that China’s policymakers have consistently done the right things. But neither are those policymakers obviously guilty of incompetence or excessive interventionism.
Steep challenges lie ahead. China’s pile of debt is a tricky mix of privatized, local governmental and national obligations, and there remains considerable uncertainty how this debt hangover will work out. China’s industrial restructuring, its anti-corruption campaign, its transition past the Lewis Turning Point and out of the middle-income trap, and its environmental and demographic challenges all remain daunting. These challenges are substantive and long-term, and China’s policymakers will have to deal with them in a properly measured and considered way.
But China’s exchange rate and stock market gyrations? They have likely already attracted far too much attention relative to substance.

'80 Members Take Part in PAW's "Lives Lived and Lost" Issue

The February 3 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly features members of the Class of 1980 throughout, especially in its cover theme on "Lives Lived and Lost: 2015."

The section opens with a two-page photograph of Nancy Sullivan, an anthopologist who lived in Papua New Guinea for 24 years and died on July 16,  The article about her says,

She used those years to become an advocate for the country’s indigenous people and their culture as well as a beloved mother figure to more than a dozen children from the jungle.

An essay about E. Alden Dunham '53, who served at Princeton's director of admissions starting in 1962, quotes his daughter, Ellen Dunham-Jones, who recalls her father sometimes was called to Nassau Hall to explain his admissions decisions. Following Princeton, he continued to work to expand opportunities in higher education. Dunham-Jones said,

“He wanted to make sure that my siblings and I didn’t grow up as Princeton kids, with the expectation that everybody is ... well-educated and has all these opportunities,” Dunham-Jones says. “[He made sure] we had a chance to meet and learn to love people who had a lousy education and limited opportunities, but were wonderful and smart people. He always wanted us to be aware of that.” 
Marc Fisher, senior editor of the Washington Post, wrote an essay about his Post colleague Don Oberdorfer '52, describing him as "a phenomemon that today is very much in danger of fading away entirely: a journalist who was an expert in his own right." Fisher wrote,

Oberdorfer spent the bulk of his career at The Washington Post, where he covered the White House, the State Department, and foreign policy, and served as the paper’s Tokyo bureau chief. Rare is the reporter whose notebooks are worth saving, let alone becoming part of Princeton’s Mudd Manuscript Library, where 17 boxes of Oberdorfer’s notes chronicle his time as what legendaryPost editor Ben Bradlee called “a foreign-affairs expert who could and did peg even with the very best foreign-affairs experts.”
Beyond the memorials, '80 members contributed in other ways to the issue. Scott Willenbrock contributed a letter to the editor identifying people in a 1976 photo with basketball coach Pate Carril, and a short article about February 20 Alumni Day notes that Gen. Mark Milley will be receiving the Woodrow Wilson Award.