Daily Kickoff: Global Anti-Semitism; Israel bars Russian Ship from Haifa Port; Rand Paul’s Jewish Outreach
2016 Watch: Republican Jews warming up to Rand Paul: Kentucky senator and likely candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Rand Paul, is stepping up his Jewish outreach. In recent weeks, Paul chatted with rabbis on a conference call and proposed legislation to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority unless it recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, writes Ron Kampeas. Fred Zeidman, a leading fundraiser for GOP presidential campaigns, said that Paul’s new stature is one reason he deserves a more considered assessment from Republican Jews. “He is a force to be reckoned with in a presidential race, which I think he is seriously considering,” said Zeidman, a former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum who met recently in Houston with Paul.
–Whatever differences he may have with pro-Israel activists, Paul has made a sustained effort to build bridges to the Jewish community, enlisting the services of several Jewish intermediaries and finding common ground where he can. Richard Roberts, a pharmaceuticals executive and GOP donor, helped pay for Paul and a group of Christian Zionists to tour Israel in January 2013. That summer, Roberts hosted Paul for a luncheon at his home in the Orthodox stronghold of Lakewood, N.J., and led the senator on a tour of the town’s Beth Medrash Govoha, one of the world’s largest yeshivas. Roberts has called Paul a “man of integrity and authenticity.” [JTA]
Forward: “How Martin Indyk Went From AIPAC Man To Blaming Israel for Talks Failure”:“Entering the downtown Washington ballroom that hosted Israel’s Independence Day celebration on May 12, U.S. special envoy Martin Indyk seemed at home, trading handshakes and smiles with Israeli officials just like every year. But Israeli Intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz, one of Netanyahu’s government hawks, had a pointed message during his small talk with the American that night. “I told him,” Steinitz recounted, “that he needs to make clear Israel is not at fault for the collapse of the peace talks.”
–There was a reason Steinitz pressed Indyk on this point. In a rare public speech just four days earlier, Indyk singled out Israel’s settlement activity in the occupied West Bank as the key reason for the failure of the U.S. peace effort. The speech followed hard on the heels of a much-noticed article in Yediot Ahranot, one of Israel’s major daily newspapers, in which an unnamed U.S. official widely believed to be Indyk made essentially the same point. Yet from the American point of view, Indyk could hardly be seen as anti-Israel. In fact, his involvement in Washington with Israel-related issues began with the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. From there, it went through various permutations during long years of work in this area — from think tank scholar to presidential advisor, to two stints as U.S. ambassador to Israel and, finally, America’s chief peace mediator.” [Forward]
Happening today: John Baird, Foreign Minister of Canada; Hillary Rodham Clinton to address the AJC global forum closing plenary at 10:15 am…. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (SEAS) Ira Forman will travel to Kyiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Istanbul, Ankara, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv from May 14-28, 2014.
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Top Talker: Poll Says Anti-Semitism Is Global Matter: 26 percent of people worldwide are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes and only 54% have heard of the Holocaust, a first-ever worldwide survey of anti-Semitic attitudes by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found. The most widely accepted anti-Semitic stereotype worldwide is: “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the countries they live in.” Overall, 41 percent of those surveyed believe this statement to be “probably true.”. [ADL] — Is China Anti-Semitic? One Jew’s Reflections [WSJ] ; Are South Koreans Really Negative About Jews? [WSJ]
Competing views on J Street: Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street, OpEd – “Setting the record straight” [ToI] — Farley Weiss OpEd: “Drawing the line on J Street” [JPost] — Josh Nathan-Kazis: Jewish Fraternity With Right Wing Ties Helped Block J Street Bid” [Forward] — Jacob Kamaras: “Why AEPi is in the Conference of Presidents” [JNS] — Rachel Lerner OpEd: “The Israel conversation we should be having” [JTA]
Fearing U.S. Backlash, Israel Bars Russian Missle Ship From Haifa Port – by Barak Ravid:“Israel denied a request by Moscow to let a Russian missile boat anchor at Haifa a month ago, making the decision against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine, said a senior official in Jerusalem involved in the matter. Israeli officials were worried that allowing a Russian naval vessel to visit Haifa would worsen tensions with the United States. There were also concerns about possible espionage. The official said Israel did not wish to further anger the U.S. administration, which has been unhappy with Jerusalem’s position regarding the Ukrainian crisis. The Americans were surprised and disappointed when Israel did not support the American proposal that the UN General Assembly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory.” [Haaretz]
In Israel, NYC police commissioner Bratton defends recruiting Muslim informants: The New York Police Department has no intention of scrapping a controversial policy of trying to recruit Muslim arrestees and arrestees from Muslim countries as informants, NYPD Commissioner William Brattontold the Jerusalem Post during a visit to Israel. “Not at all, this is an essential element of policing. I created this policy back in 1994, in New York City last time I was commissioner where very person arrested was interviewed by detectives about not necessarily the crime they committed but do they have information about other crimes and is there an ability to develop these people into confidential informants,” Bratton said. [Capital]
School board apologizes for ‘horribly inappropriate’ Holocaust assignment: “At an emergency school board meeting Wednesday night, Rialto School District officials apologized for an eighth-grade critical-thinking writing assignment that asked students to consider whether the Holocaust was created for political gain or didn’t happen at all. The assignment, developed by a group of teachers and the district’s educational services division, prompted widespread outcry and criticism from such groups as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which called it “grotesque.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, told the board that instructors be reeducated about the Holocaust and that mandatory annual visits be made to the museum, and offered to work with the district to develop detailed learning plans. “There is something broken that’s got to be fixed,” he said.” [LA Times]
— 2017: NYC mayor Bill de Blasio may get a Jewish challenger in 2017: Charter school mavenEva Moskowitz is considering of running for mayor in 2017, “I might run for mayor some day,” she said on the John Gambling radio show. “But right now, I’m very, very focused on educating the 10,000 kids that will be with us in 95 business days.” “I thought I was leaving elected office and politics in order to focus on schooling, but as you know schooling turns out to be frankly even more political than politics,” she said. “I may [run for office]. I believe public service is incredibly important. But I also love the kids.” [Daily News] — Audio of radio interview [John Gambling] — Only 7 percent of voters would consider voting for her if she ran against Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to a poll to be issued later this week by City & State Reports. [City & State NY]
The Coming Thing: Haredi Startups – “Entrepreneur Yitzik Crombie, founder of the Haredi Hi-Tech Forum, said on Tuesday at the organization’s second annual conference in the capital that start-ups initiated by men and women from the community would be the coming wave in Israel’s ongoing development as a leader in technology-based innovation. Some 40 start-ups and groups applied to take part, out of which nine were selected by the forum to participate in the course, which included training on business development, raising capital and marketing. The conference on Tuesday, held at the JVP Media Quarter in Jerusalem and staged in cooperation with the JVP venture capital firm, brought senior politicians to the event to discuss haredi integration into the workforce as well as the general political scene as it relates to the haredi sector.” [JPost]
Boston Business: Mass. tech firms are well represented in upcoming trade mission to Israel: “Gov. Deval Patrick announced today that he will lead a coalition of Massachusetts government and industry leaders on an innovation mission to Israel and the United Arab Emirates. And the list of those attending reads like a who’s who of the Bay State tech world. The trip will run May 27 from June 4, and will make stops in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel, and in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, where Patrick and members of the delegation are scheduled to visit companies and business organizations in the innovation economy sectors.” [Business Journal]
“Homeland” co-creator wants Israel to be prime spot for U.S. TV Shows: “The Israeli co-creator of hit spy thriller television series “Homeland” believes his native country should become a prime location for U.S. television shows about the Middle East and is working hard to make this happen. Writer-director Gideon Raff is at the helm of Fox drama “Tyrant” and NBCUniversal archeological mystery “The Dig”, two U.S. productions under way simultaneously in Israel – a first for the country’s small but active entertainment industry. “To concoct the Middle East in Los Angeles you have to spend a lot of money. You need to get the cars, the attire and the faces right,” Raff said in an interview at his Tel Aviv office, its walls festooned with actors’ headshots and storyboards.
–“The Middle East is not just a desert, and Americans are increasingly sophisticated and expect a show set outside the United States to have been shot outside of the United States.” He gave, as an example, the experience of filming in Jaffa, an Arab district of Tel Aviv, where “the moment you set up, everything you get on camera is worth millions of dollars.” Raff said Israel, as a Middle East location, faced brisk competition from Jordan and Morocco, where filming can be cheaper. Israel does not offer significant tax breaks to foreign productions and its television crews charge close to U.S. rates. But the 42-year-old Raff, who has a second home in California, said his American colleagues were drawn by the after-hours attractions of liberal Tel Aviv and “freewheeling Israeli creativity, which helps a lot in getting the job done.” [Reuters]
That’s all folks, have a great Wednesday!
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