JI EXCLUSIVE ― Facebook intends to allow Holocaust denial on its platform, so long as it doesn’t advocate “violence against Jewish people in any way,” according to a letter written by Joel Kaplan, Vice President for Global Public Policy at Facebook and obtained by Jewish Insider.
“I want to underscore that Facebook rejects hate,” Kaplan writes in the letter dated April 9 and addressed to Paul Packer, Chairman of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. “We take down any content that celebrates, defends, or attempts to justify the Holocaust. The same goes for any content that mocks Holocaust victims, accuses victims of lying about the atrocities, spews hate, or advocates for violence against Jewish people in any way.”
But Kaplan makes clear that Facebook will “not remove lies or content that is inaccurate — whether it’s denying the Holocaust, the Armenian massacre, or the fact that the Syrian government has killed hundreds of thousands of its own people. This is because we do believe that people should be able to say things on Facebook that are wrong or inaccurate, even when they are offensive.”[JewishInsider]
TOP TALKER — Facebook announced on Thursday it has permanently banned several far-right and antisemitic figures and organizations, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Infowars host Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer, for being “dangerous.”
CORRECTIONS DEPT. — The Washington Post issued the following correction in its story on Facebook’s ban: “Louis Farrakhan is an extremist leader who has espoused anti-Semitic views. An earlier version of this story and headline incorrectly included him in a list of far-right leaders.”
HEARD LAST NIGHT — by JI‘s Jacob Kornbluh: White House senior advisor Jared Kushner engaged in a conversation with Rob Satloff about the much-anticipated Mideast peace plan at the Washington Institute’s 2019 Soref Symposium dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C.
In the 45-minute discussion, Kushner — tasked by President Trump to formulate the ‘ultimate deal’ — teased experts in Washington for their skepticism and blamed the Palestinian Authority for fomenting the conflict rather than solving it. [CSPAN]
HIGHLIGHTS — At the start of the 45 minutes discussion, Kushner described the peace plan as “an in-depth operational document.” He also assured the audience that the two sides and U.S. allies will be “very well consulted” before the plan will be presented, adding, “The good thing about what I do is that who I speak with, and when we speak to them — the people who need to know, know about it, but the people who don’t need to know, usually don’t know about it.”
And while remaining tight-lipped about specifics, Kushner maintained that the peace proposal will address “a lot of [the Palestinians’] political aspirations and a lot of their dignity — that is important to us.”
Kushner on the two state solution: “If you say ‘two-state’ [solution], it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians. So we said, you know, let’s just not say it.”
On annexation, Kushner said he did not discuss the issue of the Israeli government applying Israeli law over settlements in the West Bank with Netanyahu, but added, “I hope both sides will take a real look at [the plan], the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, before any unilateral steps are made.”
Kushner, asked how he defines success, tells Satloff: “Our approach has been that if we are going to fail, we don’t want to fail doing it the same way it has been done in the past.”
Satloff: You want to be original in your failure? (laughter)
Kushner: “Well, hopefully, the goal is not to fail, but I think that what we want to do is to figure out how to do this in an intuitive way… We have tried to do this in a very rational way and, hopefully, that is different.”
Satloff: Has the president read the plan?
Kushner: “The president has been involved from the very beginning… He is involved with the details. He is been pushing us, we have been reporting back to him with regularity. He’s read a lot of the parts of it. He hasn’t seen the latest draft because we have still been refining it, but the president has been very involved in creating this, in creating the strategy, and he’s a very hands-on leader. It has been a lot of fun to work with him on it because this is the one [issue] that he does care about and he would like to see it go forward with it in a good way.”
Satloff: Some time before you go public, I assume there will be some Oval Office meeting, or a Mar-a-Lago family dinner perhaps, where the president turns to you and asks, ‘Okay Jared, honestly, what’s your opinion ― this plan is going to have my name on it — is this going to be a winner? You know I like winners. I really hate losers. Which is this? We don’t have to do it. Is it worth it?’
Kushner: “When you work for a president, you try hard not to disappoint, but you can disappoint. When you work for your father-in-law, you can’t disappoint. So I think I have established a good track record now on all the different tasks he’s given me, I have come back with results and I have come back with good advice, and I do think that this is something that he will be proud of… People should root for this to succeed. I mean people should want this to succeed. I think people should want people to take these issues that maybe have held them apart for a long time and say, ‘Okay, both parties have to give a little bit, but you’ll gain a lot more than you give, and that’s how you make deals, and compromise is important, and that’s a noble thing.’ I think that the president will lay out a framework that I think is very defensible, that has a lot of new ideas in it, and is something that, I think, he will be very proud of, and, hopefully, does lead to some breakthrough.”
At the conclusion of a panel discussion with Washington Institute experts following Kushner’s remarks, Satloff said that he stands by a previous bet he had with Dennis Ross that Trump will, in the end, not take the risk of rolling out a peace plan that is doomed to failure. “I look forward to gathering about two months from now… What Jared Kushner proposed tonight was essentially the traditional Arab version of a process, which is, ‘We can work on implementation, but we know what the solution is.’ He gave the Arab version of a process with a very pro-Israel version of the content. Will that succeed? My bet is we never see it, And so let’s find out.” Watch the entire panel, moderated by Susan Glasser, analyzing Kushner’s remarks here [Video]
The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller emails us: “Stunning that without saying anything, Jared Kushner said everything. The plan is clearly an effort to fundamentally change the traditional terms of reference of the peace process — to create a new reality that moves away from a two state paradigm based on core issues toward a transactional process driven by an economic and security trade off with token nods toward the political issues now impossible to resolve.
DRIVING THE DAY — After kicking off a fresh round of sanctions on Iranian oil exports on Thursday, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are headed for a potential weeks-long showdown over the number of extra barrels the kingdom would supply to global markets to keep oil prices stable. The administration is pushing to restart production in a field shared by the Saudis and Kuwait that could unlock half a million barrels a day, but Riyadh — in need of higher oil prices to keep its state budget balanced — is lobbying within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to change the way the cartel calculates whether the market is adequately supplied to show the U.S. that no more oil is needed.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is considering a more aggressive enforcement of its economic sanctions, targeting more companies and financial institutions that do business with Iran. The sanctions under consideration by the Treasury Department include the targeting of financial networks that transfer U.S. dollars to Iranian companies as payment for petrochemical exports — the country’s second-largest source of revenue after oil, a U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal.
ON THE HILL – By JI’s Laura Kelly: Republicans launched a new effort for a House vote on anti-BDS legislation on Thursday, re-filing a discharge petition on the House companion bill to the Senate-approved S.1, Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East.
House Republicans must get at least 20 Democratic members to sign a petition to bring the bill to a vote. While the petition was originally filed last month, House Republicans re-filed on Thursday with text that more closely mirrors the Senate’s S.1, which passed with a vote of 77 to 23.
“I don’t know who that courageous Democrat is going to be and when — but hopefully we’ll get there sooner rather than later,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), told Jewish Insider, of collecting supporters.
A resolution introduced by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), putting Congress on record opposing BDS, is expected to come to the floor by the summer, Jewish Insider first reported on Wednesday. “It’s important for us to pass a resolution and do something about it,” Rep. Zeldin said, “which means if we’re going to pass the Schneider resolution, great, I’ll help, but we’re also going to need to pass S.1.”
A bipartisan resolution condemning antisemitism was introduced by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Thursday, coinciding with Yom HaShoah. The text defines antisemitism as a unique form of prejudice, including false accusations and claims of dual loyalty, using money to control politics, power and the financial system. It also highlights that the Jewish community are the targets of the majority of hate crimes, and specifically references fatal attacks on synagogues. The bill has at least 44 co-sponsors, 39 Republicans and 5 Democrats.
“In just the last few weeks, we have seen [antisemitism] manifested as hateful cartoons in major news publications, antisemitic smears in the halls of Congress, and murders at houses of worship,” Sen. Cruz said in a statement. Sen. Kaine added that the bipartisan resolution makes clear the Senate’s commitment to combating the rise in antisemitism. “The shooting last weekend at Chabad of Poway was another tragic reminder of this deep-rooted prejudice,” he stated. “We must stand together against hate in all its forms.”
The ADL announced its backing of the resolution on Thursday: “At a time when antisemitic incidents are near an all-time high, we are grateful to Senators Ted Cruz and Tim Kaine for this bipartisan call to condemn and combat antisemitism.”
Attending the annual March of the Living ceremony at the Birkenau death camp in Poland, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedmantold Times of Israel that it’s a “mistake” to rely on statistics when analyzing the recent surge in violent anti-Semitic attacks in the United States. “I doubt it,” Friedman said of the analysis of the most recent ADL statistics. “I haven’t studied it and I think it’s a mistake to get caught up in statistics when we are talking about — thank God — a series of events that are not yet becoming a daily occurrence.”
HEARD YESTERDAY — NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio addressing new hate crimes stats released by the NYPD showing a dramatic 82 percent rise in antisemitic incidents in the city: “The forces of white supremacy have been unleashed and as you know those are profoundly antisemitic forces. I think what’s happening here in this country is that a lot of folks used to be told it was unacceptable to be antisemitic, it was unacceptable to be racist, and now they’re getting more permission. And what I am seeing around the country really worries me—that these nativist forces who don’t like a whole lot of people who make up America today, including the Jewish people, are coming out of the woodwork and we’ve got to fight them back.”
ADL’s Evan Bernstein said in a statement, “The data released by NYPD today is deeply disturbing and should serve as an important reminder to all of us that we must continue to be vigilant in the face of hate.”
FOGGY BOTTOM ― The Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmed the nomination of David Schenker as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs in a 19-3 vote. The nomination will come to a floor vote in the next few weeks.
Schenker, a former Pentagon official in the George W. Bush administration and a director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was nominated by President Trump for the post on April 9, 2018. His confirmation was held upby Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) since September as leverage to get the president to turn over the legal memo that authorized U.S. airstrikes on Syria in April of 2017.
TRUMP DIPLOMACY — President Trump has invited Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for a White House meeting on May 13, Hungary’s foreign minister said on Thursday. The meeting is reportedly aimed at rolling back Chinese and Russian influence in Europe. Orban was elected for a third term last year in an election stoked by xenophobic fears of refugees and immigrants from the Middle East, as well as by using veiled antisemitic attacks on Jewish financiers and targeting George Soros.
WHITE HOUSE SCENE — Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway referred to President Trump as a “mensch par excellence” for calling him after Saturday’s shooting during a ceremony honoring the National Day of Prayer at the White House. “You were the first person who began my healing.” [CSPAN]
2020 WATCH — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) personally spearheaded a campaign strategy to take on Joe Biden… Should Biden remain atop the 2020 field, Donald Trump and his allies plan to attack the former vice president’s family… Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine emerges as a potential 2020 scandal… The decades-old feud looms over Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in 2020… The campaign of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) claimed to beshort of the donor threshold required to qualify for debates.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Builds Position in PG&E’s Debt[Bloomberg] • Kushner firm asks judge to hold Jersey City in contempt over records dispute [JerseyJournal] • Star Architect Norman Foster to Design Beny Alagem’s Beverly Hills Complex [Bloomberg] •Makeup Queen Bobbi Brown on Selling a Business, Starting Another [Businessweek]
Unraveling Mark Zuckerberg’s Secret Deal for a $59 Million Tahoe Compound — by Katherine Clarke: “A few months ago, the 34-year-old CEO of Facebook quietly closed on $59 million worth of real estate on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, a popular vacation destination for Northern Californians. And he’s looking to buy more… People familiar with his deals say Mr. Zuckerberg leans toward understated properties that don’t attract attention, looks to buy up neighboring properties to ensure control of his surroundings and likes his homes to be enclosed by foliage to block views from onlookers.” [WSJ]
TALK OF HOLLYWOOD — Hollywood writers challenge agents over their share of spoils — by Mark Vandevelde: “Last month David Simon took his agents to court after likening them to the bent public officials who he encountered as a newspaper reporter in 1990s Baltimore and later turned into the hit series. Echoing claims that prompted Robert Kennedy’s Justice Department to break up the mighty MCA entertainment empire half a century ago, he alleges that big agencies have betrayed their clients and engaged in unfair competition to profit from their talent.” [FinancialTimes]
‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Season 10 Adds Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy to Cast — by Joe Otterson and Shirley Halperin: “Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has been cast in the new season of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ The exact nature of Tweedy’s role in Season 10 of the HBO comedy is being kept under wraps. Tweedy is said to be good friends with Jeff Garlin, who stars on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ as Jeff Greene in addition to executive producing… The new season is expected to air in 2020.” [Variety]
DEEP DIVE ― How a Standoff With the U.S. Almost Blew Up Israel’s Nuclear Program — by Avner Cohen and William Burr: “Throughout the spring and summer of 1963, the leaders of the United States and Israel – President John F. Kennedy and Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol – were engaged in a high-stakes battle of wills over Israel’s nuclear program… In Israel, those in the know saw the situation as a real crisis, as a former high-level science adviser, Prof. Yuval Ne’eman, told one of us (Avner Cohen) 25 years ago. Ne’eman recalled that Eshkol, Ben-Gurion’s successor, and his associates saw Kennedy as presenting Israel with a real ultimatum. There was even one senior Israeli official, Ne’eman told me, the former Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. (res.) Dan Tolkowsky, who seriously entertained the fear that Kennedy might send U.S. airborne troops to Dimona, the home of Israel’s nuclear complex.” [Haaretz]
CAMPUS BEAT — NYU Department of Social and Cultural Analysis pledged non-cooperation with the university’s study abroad program in Israel.
From the Department’s FAQ: “Q: Why single out NYU-Tel Aviv, and not include NYU-Abu Dhabi for example? A: The Israeli state has singled itself out through its recent amendments to the Law of Entry, and through its consistent denial of access to those of Palestinian descent. While the UAE regularly restricts entry for reasons of “national security,” and while academic freedom is routinely violated at NYU-Abu Dhabi, the UAE has no publicly articulated policy that bars entry to population groups to which NYU faculty and students belong.” [NYU]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Manhattan museum unveils largest Auschwitz exhibition ever in U.S., with chilling artifacts from Jewish victims — by Trevor Boyer and Larry McShane: “A single red shoe, a tattered prayer shawl, a long-lost piece of luggage. The hundreds of items displayed Thursday at the ‘Auschwitz: Not long ago, not far away’ exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan featured an assortment of heartbreakingly mundane relics to illustrate the horrors of the Holocaust. More than 1,000 objects and photographs are included in the largest exhibition of Holocaust materials ever brought to the United States. The exhibition opens to the public May 8 in the Battery Park City museum.” [NYDailyNews]
MEDIA WATCH — Mark Halperin Enlists Pals Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski to Rehab His Career After Sexual Misconduct Scandal — by Maxwell Tani and Lloyd Grove: “Disgraced political pundit and television personality Mark Halperin has been spending the past several months on a quiet yet calculated professional rehabilitation campaign with the active help of MSNBC Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski… In recent months, Halperin has been carefully raising his public profile, resuming his social media activity after a lengthy hiatus, and launching a political blog titled ‘Mark Halperin’s Wide World of News’… According to knowledgeable sources, Halperin called the top editor at The Hill, the Washington-based political newspaper, to ask about job prospects, but was told there were no openings.” [DailyBeast]
TRANSITION — Josh Nathan Kazis, an investigative reporter at the Forward, has joined Barron’s, a weekly newspaper published by Dow Jones & Company, as a reporter.
WINE OF THE WEEK — Capçanes Peraj Ha’abib Rosé 2016 — by Yitz Applbaum: “Every year I surprise myself with the quantity of wine my friends and I drink over the eight days of Passover. This year our group of 35 travelled to Mexico and the hot weather caused us to wet our whistles frequently, usually with wine. We went through 13 cases to be precise. I think that set a record for our group at more than half a bottle per person per day. The good news is that many of the bottles were new to me, so I have a lot to review in the coming weeks.”
“The Capçanes Peraj Ha’abib Rosé 2016 was one of the wonderful surprises of Passover. The grapes used are 60% Grenache, 20% Tempranillo and 20% Merlot. This blend shows brilliantly and is very refreshing. This Rosé has distinct upfront acidity, a mid-palate of fresh strawberries and a tight finish. This wine is refreshing and invigorating. Drink this wine with cheese, asparagus and the Passover staple, Charoses.” [CellerCapcanes]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Southern California-area philanthropist, founder of the New Americans Museum in San Diego, Deborah Shainman Szekely turns 97… Physicist and Nobel laureate in 1979, professor at University of Texas at Austin, Steven Weinberg turns 86… Founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, a Florida-based timeshare firm, David A. Siegelturns 84… Pioneer in late night television advertising for his company Ronco, inventor and marketing personality, known for the phrase, “But wait, there’s more!” Ronald M. “Ron” Popei turns 84… Senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Ely Karmon, Ph.D. turns 78… Francine Holtzman turns 74… US Senator from Oregon since 1996, he previously served in the House of Representatives (1981-1996), Ron Wyden (original family name was Weidenreich) turns 70…
Partner at Jones Day (previously at Patton Boggs), he represents political parties, campaigns, candidates, governors and members of Congress on election law matters, Benjamin L. Ginsberg turns 67… Retired in 2017 as chair and CEO of Mondelez International, a multinational food and beverage company (including Oreo, Nabisco and Cadbury), Irene Rosenfeld turns 66… Real estate attorney, he is a partner in the Chicago office of DLA Piper, Mark D. Yura turns 66… EVP for program development and management at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Susan Steinmetz turns 63… EVP for corporate affairs at Booz Allen Hamilton since 2018, he was previously president of the North American division of Finsbury and a senior writer at The New York Times, Stephen Labaton turns 58…
Russian billionaire, during 2018 he sold a 49% interest in the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets in a deal that values the team at $2.3 billion, he continues to own the Barclays Center, Mikhail Prokhorov turns 54… Lobbyist since 2010, he was previously deputy COS at the RNC (2009-2010) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs in the Bush 43 administration, Scott A. Kaminsturns 44… Veteran of 13 NHL seasons, who in 2005 sat out a hockey game to observe Yom Kippur, he is now an assistant coach for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Jeff Halpern turns 43… Educated at the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco, he was a defensive lineman in the NFL from 2004 until 2011 (Chargers, Cowboys and Dolphins), Igor Olshansky turns 37… Managing director and director of executive communications of SKDKnickerbocker, graduate of CESJDS, he was previously a speechwriter for President Obama, Stephen Andrew Krupin turns 37… Benji Davis turns 32…
BIRTHWEEK: Associate for Strategic Partnerships at The Paul E. Singer Foundation, Talia Lefkowitz…
SATURDAY: Former chairman and CEO of American International Group, now chairman and CEO of the Starr Companies, Maurice Raymond “Hank” Greenberg turns 94… Former member of the New York State Assembly (1983-2010), now a senior fellow at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU, Richard L. Brodsky turns 73… Congregational rabbi (1974-1977), then executive director of the Texas A&M Hillel (1983-2013), now a consultant for the tourism industry, Peter E. Tarlow turns 73… Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution for climate change, he was previously the US Special Envoy for Climate Change in the Obama administration, Todd D. Stern turns 68… EVP and Global General Counsel of the Las Vegas Sands since 2016, he was previously Group General Counsel and Senior EVP of News Corporation (1996-2011), Lawrence “Lon” A. Jacobs turns 64…
Baltimore-born triathlete, she earned a Ph.D. in 2001 from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and is a winner of international ironman competitions, Joanna Sue Zeiger turns 49… Executive Director of Surprise Lake Camp, he was previously the Director of Youth Engagement for the Union for Reform Judaism (2012-2016), Bradley Solmsen turns 49… State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, he was the youngest member of the Florida Senate when he was elected in 2002, Dave Aronberg turns 48… President and CEO of the Riverside Park Conservancy, he is a former member of the New York City Council (2006-2017), Daniel Garodnick turns 47…
Former Secretary of State of Missouri (2013-2017), founder of “Let America Vote” dedicated to ending voter suppression, he ran for the US Senate in 2016, Jason Kander turns 38… Managing director of food programs since 2018 at NYC’s Met Council on Jewish Poverty, Jessica Chait turns 37… VP at BerlinRosen, she was a senior strategic communications adviser at the United States Agency for International Development during the Obama administration, Allison Fran Bormel turns 32… Miami Beach and South Dade Director at AIPAC, Rebecca Leibowitz Wasserstrom turns 30… Assistant to the executive producer of ABC’s General Hospital, he is a 2017 graduate of the MFA program at American University focused on film and electronic media, Steven A. Rosenberg turns 30… Director of speechwriting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she was previously at the US Department of State, Shana Mansbach turns 27… Mechal Wakslak…
SUNDAY: Conservative radio talk show host, author, commentator and language-learning enthusiast, a 2014 inductee into the National Radio Hall of Fame, Barry Farber turns 89… Journalist, columnist, author, writer of the “Letter from America” column for The International Herald Tribune, he was previously a foreign correspondent and a book critic at The New York Times, Richard Bernstein turns 75… Best-selling author of 20 novels featuring fictional Manhattan prosecutor Alexandra Cooper, written by the former head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office (1976-2002). Linda Fairstein turns 72… Retired judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (2000-2017, the last 11 years as Chief Judge), he was once president of the Jewish Community Council of Washington, Peter B. Krauser turns 72… Member of the Knesset, almost continuously since 1988, for the Haredi parties of Degel HaTorah and United Torah Judaism, Moshe Gafni turns 67…
South African-born President of American Jewish World Service, Robert Bank turns 60… Executive Director for North America of the Avi Chai Foundation since 1994, a graduate of Yeshiva College and Yale Law School, Yossi Prager turns 54… Television writer and producer, known for The Simpsons, Josh Weinstein turns 53… Owner of DC-based PR firm Rosen Communications, focused on elected officials, Fortune 500 companies and non-profits, Nicole Rosen turns 48… Television news correspondent, print journalist, stage and film actress, entrepreneur and pro-Israel activist, Lara Berman Krinsky turns 39… Former Israeli national soccer team captain, Yossi Benayoun turns 39… Principal at New Enterprise Associates and a member of the inaugural class of the Schwarzman Scholars program, Andrew Adams Schoen turns 29… Dental hygiene student at CUNY, Maxine Fuchsturns 26…