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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Million Dollar Bat Mitzvah Fallout

The Jewish Week has a new story up that puts an interesting twist on the $10 million bat mitzvah I posted about here. Apparently, this story has gone from being good gossip fodder to being a topic for the Army Times.
The party was thrown by defense industry tycoon David Brooks of Old Westbury, chairman of DHB Industries whose subsidiary, Point Blank Body Armor, manufactures body armor vests for the military.

In its current issue, the Army Times pointed out that just six weeks before Brooks threw the mid-Manhattan bash for his daughter Elizabeth, the Army and the Marine Corps recalled 18,000 of the vests because some “had failed ballistics tests.”
This news has caused a bit of an uproar in the Army community. People seem to feel that had Brooks put a little extra money towards the testing of the vests and a little less toward the bat mitzvah, the vests wouldn't have been recalled.
That has prompted Iraq war veteran Paul Rieckhoff, who founded the first Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans organization, Operation Truth, to suggest that if Brooks had taken “a portion of the $10 million and put it into better testing, maybe 18,000 vests wouldn’t have proven defective. … If his 13-year-old daughter had to wear one of those vests in a war zone, he probably would have ensured that a greater degree of testing went on.”
Even Army chaplains have weighed in on the matter.
Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, a senior Jewish Army chaplain, said he was “outraged” after reading the story in the Army Times.

“I received some calls from non-Jewish military officers asking my reaction [to the story], and I told them I was frankly disgusted as a rabbi,” he said. “Even a million- or a half-million-dollar party is way over the line. What kind of values are we teaching our children?”
Not sure why an Army chaplain's opinion on bat mitzvah spending is relevant to the story, but a disgusted quote always adds to the mix, I guess.

For Brooks's part, he defends the record of the the vests he has supplied to the army, and denies spending as much on the bat mitzvah as was claimed in news reports.
Brooks’ office referred media calls to his spokesman, Bruce Rubin, who said in an e-mail that the $10 million figure for the cost of the party is “very greatly exaggerated.” But he declined to provide the actual figure.

Rubin said also that “none of the hundreds of thousands” of body armor vests made by Brooks’ firm have “failed in the field — an extraordinary achievement.” He noted that the military has said that “no soldiers were ever at risk,” and that all testing of the vests were under the close supervision of the U.S. government.
If that is the case, I don't see how Brooks's spending on the bat mitzvah has any bearing whatsoever on the recall of the vests. The extravagance may have been vulgar, and it may have set an obnoxious example for the tweens who attended the soiree, but does anyone really think for a second that a penny of the $10 million was ever earmarked for testing of the equipment?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How's this for a bat mitzvah theme? Rent out the armed forces for the day and stage a little mini war-games for the delight of all the guests and family?

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The relevance of extravagence for the bas mitzvah is not direct to the lack of quality control on the vests, however the priorities seem clear. Rabbi Goldstein is a Chabad rabbi who has been in the Army Reserves for decades- I have seen serveral pictures of him in the field wearing fatigues- and as such I think his comment is quite apt.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Datingmaster, Jerusalem said...

it really makes you think
tell when will all you guys make aliya? There is a lot of antisemitism and jealousy of Jews over there

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as opposed to Israel where Jews are not hated by anyone?

9:18 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

DM, Jerusalem: I don't think thats the best way to encourage aliya.

I have to wear a bullet proof vest from time to time over here due to being surrounded by people who hate us.

Why not chose the "Israel has better Felafel" for starters?


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