Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Foreign policy hands recall when Benny Gantz worked in Washington | 2020 comes to SXSW | Israeli Mellanox sells for $6.8B

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PROFILE — Calm and Collected: Washington insiders reflect on Benny Gantz’s tenure in D.C. — by JI‘s Laura Kelly and Jacob Kornbluh: Before Benny Gantz entered the tumultuous waters of Israeli politics, he arrived in Washington D.C., to serve as Israel’s military attache from 2007 to 2009, years bookended by two defining military operations and an increase in U.S. financial support for Israel. We spoke with DC officials who worked with Gantz during his time in Washington.

“He’s a good guy in a sense that he makes everybody around him feel good,” Dan Arbell, former deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., told Jewish Insider. “He is very pleasant in his demeanor and very easy going. If necessary, he can bang on a table and call somebody to order.”

Most who’ve worked Gantz respect him for his ability to disagree. “I have seen him angry, but I have never seen him sacrifice good decision making for frustration or anger,” said Mary Beth Long, former assistant secretary of Defense during the Bush and Obama administrations. Long still holds a close, personal friendship with Gantz, notwithstanding differences of opinion they had when they were official counterparts. In one instance, Long recounts how she withheld funding for the Iron Dome Missile Defense system because she didn’t believe it was yet out of its research and development phase. “There were a lot of very, very unhappy Israelis and Americans who thought I was making a bad decision and through all of that, this is where Benny is really different in my sense,” she said. “He’s able to separate out disappointments and not sacrifice and use emotion to blow up the relationship or to impact other aspects of the relationship, which is a little bit rare.”

“First of all he’s a tough soldier, and he’s got a brilliant military mind, but he also has a heart,” said Lt.-Gen. (R) H. Steven Blum, Chief of the National Guard Bureau between 2003-2008, and who worked with Gantz when he was in a number of different official positions, including as military attache. Blum recalled how, in a visit to the Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip, he was struck by the emotion he saw from Gantz when talking with families living under rocket fire. “The man really has empathy and an understanding of the importance of the IDF for the survival and future of Israel.”

Dov Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense during the Bush administration, told Jewish Insider that Gantz comes across as “a very balanced guy. I don’t get the sense that he’s an ideologue at all.” The general brings pragmatism to his leadership style, Mr. Zakheim said, “as opposed to stirring up emotions in Israel which Netanyahu would do, especially about Iran.” This might help him “steer Israel through some very difficult times,” dealing with the existential threats of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinians, thinks Zakheim. “He’s a practical guy. I’ve watched him in Washington and I’ve watched him in Israel. And frankly, I think that the reason he’s doing as well as he’s doing, again, is because the Israeli public looks at him that way.”

When Gantz was Chief of General Staff of the IDF, Martin Indyk says he met with him “a couple of times.” Indyk told JI in an email that he found Gantz “to be [a] highly intelligent, strategic thinker, and a moderate person with great integrity and good judgment.” 

Colin Kahl, who was national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and who worked with Gantz during his time in Washington, also offered a positive reflection of his time spent with three-star general-turned-politician. “I worked with Gantz closely when he was the military attaché in DC,” Mr. Kahl wrote in an email to JI. “He always struck me as a man of great integrity and he was very committed to the US-Israel relationship.” Read the comments in full here [JewishInsider]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu-Trump Partnership Is Stronger Than Ever — by David Halbfinger: 
“In both personality and policy, the two actually have so little in common… Mr. Netanyahu is a voracious reader and student of history; Mr. Trump is neither. Mr. Netanyahu, even his critics say, has been a savvy statesman, forging ties with once-hostile nations; Mr. Trump’s iconoclastic, domineering foreign policy has by contrast alienated longstanding American allies around the globe. Yet much as Muddy Waters anticipated Mick Jagger, Mr. Netanyahu was thrilling Israeli audiences with a visceral blend of populism, ethnic resentments and media-bashing fully 20 years before Mr. Trump first took that brand of politics to the big time.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — The Beautiful People vs Bibi — by Neri Zilber: 
Reality TV host and model Rotem Sela made headlines yesterday after taking to Instagram to slam Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud) for her remarks during an interview on Channel 12 where she repeatedly raised the “threat” of Arab parties taking part in the next government with Blue and White. “What is the problem with the Arabs??? Dear God, there are also Arab citizens in this country. When the hell will someone in this government convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people were created equal,” Sela wrote. That may have been the end of the story but for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Sela via his own Instagram account. “Dear Rotem, an important correction: Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the nation-state law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and not anyone else,” Netanyahu wrote.” 

Hollywood star (and Wonder Woman) Gal Gadot and model Shlomit Malka both came out in support of Sela. The Anti-Defamation League took note of the flap and issued a statement calling the anti-Arab rhetoric emanating from the government “deeply troubling.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]

Rivlin: campaign rhetoric regarding Israeli Arabs ‘completely unacceptable — by Herb Keinon: “President Reuven Rivlin used a forum marking the 40th anniversary of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty on Monday to slam what he said was a ‘completely unacceptable conversation regarding Israeli Arab citizens’ taking place during the ‘dizzying’ election campaign.” [JPost]

HEARD AT SXSW — At South by Southwest, presidential hopefuls woo hipsters and techies — by Matt Viser: “The 2020 circus had arrived at the hipster-techie festival that is South by Southwest… For the first time in this presidential campaign, most of the Democratic candidates were gathered in the same place. Over barbecue, craft beer and tacos, they took turns selling their vision for the party, and the United States. Over the course of the weekend, many sat for an hour-long interview.” 

“Howard Schultz used a question about whether he supports abortion rights to say that he does, before turning, unprompted, to religion. ‘The country is ready for a Jewish president. I’m not running as someone who is Jewish, I’m running as an American who happens to be Jewish.'” [WashPost]

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) declined to condemn her House colleague Ilhan Omar 
(D-MN) during a CNN town hall with Dana Bash, after the issue was raised by Beth Gendler, Executive Director of the National Council of Jewish Women in Minnesota:”There are people who have expressed their offense at these statements. I think that what Congresswoman Omar was trying to get at was a deeper issue related to our foreign policy, and I think there’s an important discussion that we have to be able to have openly, even though we may end up disagreeing at the end of it, but we’ve got to be able to have that openness to have the conversation.” 

Bash: But you’re not willing to go as far as saying it’s antisemitic?  

Gabbard: 
“What I’m saying is, is what she was trying to bring up was something that was a deeper issue. And I don’t believe that her intent was to cause any offense to anyone.” [Video]

In an interview with Kara Swisher, Sen. Amy Klobuchar 
(D-MN) said “she disagreed with Representative Ilhan Omar’s recent comments about American politicians’ support for Israel, ‘because I believe you can be true to your country and advocate for another country, whether it is Israel or Canada or Ethiopia’ — but condemned Mr. Trump for emboldening intolerance, including anti-Semitism, and noted Ms. Omar’s own background as a refugee.”[NYTimesVideo]

2020 WATCH — Back in New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) hopesfor a reprise of 2016… Senate Democrats say they’re increasingly open to getting behind Sanders if he appears the strongest candidate a year from now… Alex Soros met with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Friday… Beto O’Rourke’s campaign comes to life in a darkened theater, for better and worse… NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he will make a 2020 decision ‘sooner than later’ during SC visit… De Blasio got snarky about Mike Bloomberg’s decision not to run in 2020… President Trump will kick off a heavy rotation of campaign rallies in battleground states in the coming weeks… 

UPDATE — Following our lead on Friday about the NYTimes article on AIPAC, the JTA’s Ron Kampeas discovered the main ‘activist’ quoted in the story is not associated with AIPAC: “The ‘AIPAC activist’ quoted, Stephen Fiske of Florida, confirmed to me that he has not been associated with the pro-Israel lobbying group for several years… The error is emblematic of the misconceptions that first helped spur the controversy leading up to Ocasio-Cortez’s fundraising pitch… Fiske’s role as the chairman of a pro-Israel political action committee — unaffiliated with AIPAC, which is not a PAC — was the centerpiece of The Times article and seemed to confirm what AIPAC’s critics, including Omar, refer to as its hardball tactics.” [JTA

INBOX — AIPAC emailed activists over the weekend: “It has been a trying few weeks for the pro-Israel community. We’ve been angered and disgusted by claims of dual loyalty and other anti-Semitic statements. But together we are standing tall. We will not be deterred.” 

MAR-A-LAGO SCENE — In a speech to RNC donors at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night, President Trump “raised some eyebrows” by suggesting that the Democrats “hate Jewish people” — Jonathan Swan reports:”Referring to the recent anti-semitism controversies with Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, Trump told the donors: ‘The Democrats hate Jewish people.’ Trump said he didn’t understand how any Jew could vote for a Democrat these days. Trump talked about how much he’d done for Israel… Trump said if he could run to be prime minister of Israel, he’d be at 98% in the polls.” [Axios]

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) fired back at Trump on Friday for calling the Democratic Party an ‘anti-Israel, anti-Jewish party.’ “For the president, who when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville in front of a synagogue and said ‘burn it down’ and he said ‘both sides’ are to blame, this is a new divisive low,” Schumer wrote in a Facebook post. “His comments show the president is only interested in playing the politics of division and not in fighting anti-Semitism. Mr. President, you have redefined chutzpah.”

Trump’s Claim That Democrats Are an ‘Anti-Jewish Party’ Is Absurd — by Ed Kilgore: “There are 27 Jews currently serving in the U.S. House. Twenty-five of them are Democrats; 2 are Republicans. There are nine Jews in the U.S. Senate. All of them are Democrats.” [NYMagWashPost]

HEARD ON CABLE — Rep. Liz Cheney blasts House Democrats for ‘enabling’ anti-Semitic comments: 
“‘It is absolutely shameful that Nancy Pelosi and Leader Hoyer and the Democratic leaders will not put [Ilhan Omar’s] name in a resolution on the floor and condemn her remarks and remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,’ Rep. Cheney (R-WY) said. ‘Those people who won’t condemn it are enabling it.'” [NBCNewsVideo]

David Frum on CBS’s Face the Nation: “One of the questions that is going to face progressive Democrats is, who here wants to be inside the building making the decisions, and who wants to be outside the building carrying the placards? … I think you can see from the extraordinarily careful and targeted and self-effacing questioning that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did in Cohen hearings versus the unbelievably, undisciplined repeated provocative remarks of Ilhan Omar and the rather sad defenses of her by Democratic leadership ― ‘You have to understand she doesn’t quite know what words mean’. If you don’t know what words mean, Congress may be the wrong line of work for you.”[Video]

TALK OF THE TOWN — In Minnesota, Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments cause pain and confusion — by Elise Viebeck: “Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said he recently told Omar why many Jews are offended when they are accused of dual loyalty, showing her a picture of a cousin who was killed in action during World War II. About a week later, on Feb. 27, Omar told an audience at a town hall event in Washington, D.C., that accusations of anti-Semitism were meant to silence her criticism of Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. ‘It appalled me,’ Hunegs said. ‘It appalled me because we had had at least a one-way discussion in her presence with the picture of my cousin. You have to ask: Did she understand?'”

“Omar and her staff have sat down with multiple Jewish groups and leaders in recent weeks. But that has not quieted concerns among some critics. ‘Her words and her communications are anti-Semitic,’ said Minnesota state Sen. Ron Latz, a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party… Omar declined multiple interview requests from The Post, and her office declined to answer wide-ranging written questions about her views on Israel and the criticism she has received. Senior aide Jeremy Slevin promised that a forthcoming op-ed piece in an unspecified publication would more fully explain Omar’s views.”[WashPost]

— Latz on NPR’s Weekend Edition: 
“Unfortunately, [Omar] keeps repeating the mistakes. So I’m troubled by what appears to be a pattern reflecting an attitude at least toward Israel, if not toward Jews, and doing so in a way that inflames religious conflict rather than promotes conversation… I tried to have a conversation by reaching out to her. Other members of the Jewish community have done the same… But I’m troubled enough about the pattern that she is displaying that I’ve got a difficult time saying that I’m an ally of hers at this point.” [NPR]

The Ilhan Omar Controversy Is a Turning Point for the Jewish Left — by Sofie Werthan: “Jewish American leftists have emerged as a key source of support for Omar, writing a flurry of op-eds, petitions, and social media posts with the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan… This source of full-throated support of the congresswoman has the potential to shift the national conversation over anti-Semitism and how it operates.” [Slate]

Omar and the Conspiracy Democrats — by Elliot Kaufman: 
“These are all tactics of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party: First, accuse critics of muzzling anti-Israel speech; then, complain about “disproportionate” attention to anti-Semitism; next, change the subject to bigotry from the right; finally, if forced to condemn anti-Semitism, dilute it with a kitchen-sink list of other prejudices.”[WSJ]

Why was Rashida Tlaib following an anti-Semitic Instagram account? — by Dominic Green: 
“The account, ‘Free.Palestine.1948’, belongs to a British Muslim who is an accomplished promoter of extremism. Photos of Benjamin Netanyahu with Adolf Hitler are juxtaposed, and a rat superimposed on the Israeli flag… ‘Free.Palestine.1948’ doesn’t follow Rashida Tlaib, but Rashida Tlaib’s account follows him — or used to follow him. On Friday, Ashley Rae Goldenberg of the Capital Research Center, an ‘investigative think-tank’ in Washington, D.C., publicized Tlaib’s official page on Twitter. On Saturday, the number of accounts that Tlaib follows declined from 1,075 to 1,074, as she unfollowed ‘Free.Palestine.1948.'” [Spectator]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr at the American Zionist Movement conference at Park East Synagogue in NYC:”Not only do I get what antisemitism is, but I also want to talk about my boss. The President of the U.S. is absolutely ferocious in his determination to fight for the Jewish people. He is unequivocal, he is unvarnished… Secretary [Mike] Pompeo, my boss, adores the Jewish people. He has devoted himself to protecting the state of Israel and fighting antisemitism everywhere in the world.” 

SPOTTED: Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Richard Heideman, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Herbert Block, Cheryl Fishbein, Alicia Post, Mark Levine, Julius Berman, Jason Koppel, Pinny Ringel, Ezra Friedlander, Elie Abadie, Mindy Stein, Jan Gurevich, and Eve Stieglitz.

JERUSALEM SCENE — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on a tour of a Hamas terror tunnel on the Gaza border during a visit to Israel on Sunday. “The tunnels have been used by groups like Hamas to smuggle weapons and terrorize Israeli citizens,” Graham wrote on Twitter. [Pic]

Graham met with Netanyahu for breakfast at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem this morning. [PicThe two then took a helicopter ride over the Golan Heights in an effort by Israel to lobby Congress and the administration for U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.  

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — White House working to reassure Evangelicals on Middle East peace plan — by Barak Ravid: “On Thursday a group of Evangelical leaders arrived at the White House for a briefing with Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt… Joel Rosenberg, an author who heads an evangelical foundation and has attended the meetings… [said] he told the other Evangelical leaders in the meetings that Palestinian President Abbas is never going to make a deal, so there is no need to be too worried that Jerusalem is going to be sacrificed. Rosenberg said he stressed to the other Evangelical leaders… ‘If the Saudis, the Egyptian and others can say that this plan is credible it will open the door for, after the Palestinians say no, to talk about how to move forward with Israel.'” [Axios]

Trump’s Mideast envoy meets UN council: 
“Jason Greenblatt met with the UN Security Council on Friday but gave no details of a much-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, diplomats said… The council also discussed, at the request of Kuwait and Indonesia, Israel’s decision to withhold tax transfers from the Palestinian Authority over its payments to prisoners jailed for attacks on Israelis… Diplomats said the United States was a lone voice in defense of Israel at the closed-door council meeting.” [France24]

New Palestinian PM Sworn In As Austerity Announced ― by Neri Zilber: 
The Palestinian Authority announced the swearing in of Mohammed Shtayyeh as prime minister yesterday. An economist by training, Shtayyeh is a Fatah Central Committee member and former peace negotiator known to be close to President Mahmoud Abbas. The Fatah party had grown disenchanted with previous PM Rami Hamdallah, clamoring for one of its own to assume the post. Shtayyeh’s first order of business will be to navigate the announced austerity measures stemming from the PA’s recent refusal to accept all tax transfers from Israel (approximately $200 million a month). [KafeKnesset]

** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Nvidia to buy Israel’s Mellanox for $6.8 billion in data center push [Reuters• Bank Hapoalim Kicks Off Israel’s Biggest IPO in Nine Years [Bloomberg• Bill Gross: ‘We were looking for every penny we could get’ [FinancialTimes• Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Unveil New Quibi Content, including a new show from Scooter Braun [DeadlineHollywoodReporter] • Jeff Zucker Says Trump Attempted To Block AT&T Merger, Continues To Call Out ‘State-Run’ Fox News [Deadline• Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Returns Money to Saudi Arabia, Protesting Khashoggi Murder [NYTimes] 

LONG READ — Meet the Group Trying to Change Evangelical Minds About Israel — by Adam Wren: “Todd Deatherage and a team of seven people have led more than 1,500 influential American leaders, millennial evangelicals and megachurch attendees on tours of both sides of the Green Line about six times a year since 2009… The tour groups meet with people around sites on both sides of the conflict, including Jews, Christians, Muslims, settlers, refugees, security experts, business leaders and activists… Telos officials have met with mid-level staffers in Trump’s State Department, and progressive evangelical policy officials such at Matt Duss, Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy adviser, when he was at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. The group made inroads in through the Office of Public Liaison in the Obama administration… Telos receives some of its funding from the George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations.” [PoliticoMag]

Singing in Jerusalem, and harmonizing in Washington — by Peggy Cidor: 
“At AIPAC’s next conference, scheduled to begin Sunday, March 24 in Washington, DC, there will be… a refreshing sound from the courtyards of Jerusalem. ‘Koolulam’ — a social-musical initiative aimed at strengthening the fabric of society, according to its organizers — will broadcast its most recent impromptu concert from Jerusalem in the hope the AIPAC delegates will similarly harmonize together… On Friday at the Tower of David Museum, some 1,000 Israelis and tourists joined with the three conductors to produce the song ‘I’ll be there — Reach out medley and Blue voice.’ Friday’s performance, professionally video-taped, will be repeated in Washington in the hope that the AIPAC delegates will gain a broader appreciation of life in Israel beyond the news headlines.” [JPost]

REPORT — Read Israeli spy firm Black Cube’s secret pitch to clients — by Max de Haldevang: 
“In a pitch email, advisory board member Kirill Parinov says the company uses ‘proven ‘battle hard’ methods’ and ‘utilizes’ its board, which, he notes, has included former Mossad spy chief Efraim Halevy as a member and his late Mossad predecessor Meir Dagan as president. The only two news stories cited in a three-page attachment to the email are from 2013 and 2015—before Black Cube was implicated in a spate of controversial dealings.” [Quartz]

Idolatry at the Western Wall — by Bari Weiss: 
“It is a strange experience to have another person spit on you. To have an ultra-Orthodox teenager look you dead in the eye and mutter ‘shiksa’ or ‘kalba’ — the Hebrew word for bitch — and then decide you deserve a little something more than a slur because he knows you are a liberal Jew. That this happened several times here Friday morning, on International Women’s Day at the Western Wall, tells you a lot about the state of religious liberty in a country that prides itself on being the Middle East’s only free nation.” [NYTimes]

EUROVISION 2019 — Israel Releases Official Eurovision Song Nominee, KobiMarimi’s ‘Home’ — by Aya Chajut and Itay Stern: 
“Israel released Sunday Kobi Marimi’s ‘Home,’ the song that will represent it in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Tel Aviv in May… The song was written and composed by Ohad Shargai and Inbar Weitzman, both previous contenders on Israeli reality shows.” [Haaretz

ACROSS THE POND — Andrew Murray: Hitler ‘is the most-hated because he killed whites’ — by Dominic Kennedy: “Hitler is only seen as the worst figure in history because he killed white people, according to Andrew Murray, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most senior aides. The remarks — made in The Imperial Controversy: Challenging the Empire Apologists, a 2009 book he wrote with the help of Seumas Milne, Mr. Corbyn’s communications director — risk adding to the row about antisemitism… Mr. Murray’s lawyer said that his client had, since the 1970s, opposed antisemitism alongside Jewish communists and Jewish socialists.” [TheTimes]

Brooklyn wants to give ‘Notorious RBG’ a city building for her 86th birthday — by Thomas Tracy: 
“Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will be marking Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 86th birthday on March 15 with a massive party as part of a push to have the Brooklyn municipal building named in her honor. ‘This is definitely a 50 Cent ‘It’s your birthday’ moment,’ Adams said. ‘(Ginsburg) has reached an iconic status equivalent to Serena Williams and Beyoncé’s fame.'” [NYDailyNews]

CAMPUS BEAT — Columbia College Student Council votes down BDS referendum by secret ballot following 4 hours of tense debate — by Emma Buzbee: 
“Following a four-hour meeting that attracted over 150 spectators, saw two student representatives threaten to quit the council, and drew tears from attendees, the Columbia College Student Council shot down a referendum to gauge student support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement via an anonymous vote Sunday night… Sunday’s vote — which council members elected to hold anonymously — failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to pass the referendum, with 20 council members against, 17 in support, and one abstention from CCSC President Jordan Singer, CC ’19.” [ColumbiaSpectator]

DESSERT — First kosher restaurant set to open in Azerbaijan: “Azerbaijan will soon be home to its first-ever kosher-certified restaurant. The meat restaurant, named ‘7/40,’ will open in May… The restaurant is located in the Nasimi district of Baku, which used to be the city’s Jewish neighborhood. It is located around the corner from Segal’s Chabad synagogue and 500 yards away from the Georgian synagogue.” [JTA]

REMEMBERING — Sidney Sheinberg, a Force Behind Universal and Spielberg, Is Dead at 84 —by Brooks Barnes: 
“Sidney Sheinberg, an irascible Universal Studios executive who discovered and nurtured Steven Spielberg, putting ‘Jaws’ into production and helping to turn Hollywood into a blockbuster-focused business, died on Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif… Under Mr. Sheinberg’s watch, Universal released two more hits from Mr. Spielberg, ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ (1982) and ‘Jurassic Park’ (1993). It was Mr. Sheinberg who handed Mr. Spielberg Thomas Keneally’s novel ‘Schindler’s List,’ which the director turned into his masterpiece of the same title… ‘My heart is broken,’ Mr. Spielberg said in a statement on Friday. ‘For now, let me just say that Sid had a big personality and a tender heart. He was the tallest, most stand-up guy I ever knew.'” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Professor emeritus at Princeton University whose research focused upon the Cairo Geniza and Jewish life in Muslim countries, Mark R. Cohen turns 76… Hermine Warren turns 74… Office administrator at Creative Wealth Management in Islandia, NY, Glenda Kresh turns 67… Culinary writer, television host and novelist. Steven Raichlen turns 66… Composer and conductor specializing in movie scores, since 1984 he has composed the music for nearly 100 feature films, David Louis Newmanturns 65… College physician at the Student Health Center of Stony Brook University, internal medicine specialist, Richard E. Tuckman, MD turns 54… Singer-songwriter who has also worked in film, television, voice-over work and children’s recordings, also promotes an eponymous line of eyeglasses, Lisa Loeb turns 51… Israeli singer-songwriter and pianist who has twice been recognized as Israel’s Singer of the Year, Keren Peles turns 40…

VP for investor relations and communications at Ridgewood Energy, an energy-focused private equity firm, Samuel J. Lissner turns 33… Graduate of Yale Law School, she clerked for Judge Cabranes on the 2nd Circuit and is the co-founder of Headliner Labs, a tech platform in conversational marketing, Dana Stern Gibber... Freelance screenwriter and production manager, Lev Beltserturns 29… Director of the Israel office at Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, Richard Pater… President of JCS International, a global media company, she is a graduate of Harvard Business School, Michal Grayevsky… Graduate of NYU (B.A., cum laude), University of Illinois (M.S. in journalism) and University of North Carolina (Ph.D.), Sharon Polansky… Chief research officer at Survey Monkey, Jon Cohen (h/t Playbook)…