Cory Booker rejects Farrakhan, aide tells JI | Experts weigh in on ‘Peace to Prosperity’ | Meet the first female Orthodox safari ranger
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
EXCLUSIVE — Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) “unequivocally rejects and condemns Farrakhan’s hateful view,” an aide to Booker tells Jewish Insider, following criticism for an exchange on the campaign trail surrounding his seeming willingness to meet with Louis Farrakhan, the notorious antisemitic leader of Nation of Islam.
“Are you familiar with Minister Farrakhan?” Booker, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was asked during a town hall meeting in Columbia, South Carolina on Saturday. “I am,” Booker responded. The audience member asked also whether Booker would “be willing” to meet with Farrakhan.
“I don’t feel like I need to do that,” Booker responded, explaining that he had heard plenty of Farrakhan’s speeches in the past. “But I’m not one of these people that says I wouldn’t sit down with anybody to hear what they have to say.”
An aide to Booker tells JI, “Cory unequivocally rejects and condemns Farrakhan’s hateful views.” The aide countered that “the Trump campaign has been pushing around a disingenuous attack on Cory and I’d encourage anyone to watch the full video. Cory was asked a question in a forum about whether he’d meet with Farrakhan — not about his hateful views — and answered the question directly, literally saying ‘I don’t feel the need’ to meet with him.”
Despite headlines like “Booker says won’t stop meeting with Louis Farrakhan,” the New Jersey senator has never met with Farrakhan, and “had no plans to,” a Booker aide informs JI. [JewishInsider]
DRIVING THE CONVO — On Saturday, the White House released the economic portion of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan ahead of the “economic” workshop in Bahrain this week. “With the potential to facilitate more than $50 billion in new investment over ten years, Peace to Prosperity represents the most ambitious and comprehensive international effort for the Palestinian people to date,” the introduction reads.
In an interview with Reuters Television, Jared Kushner said, “There’ll be praise from some places, there’ll be criticism from some places, hopefully it will be constructive.” Kushner also acknowledged that the administration is fully aware that “you can’t push the economic plan forward without resolving the political issues as well.” But he insisted, “Our thought was that it was better to put the economic plan first. It’s less controversial. Let’s let people study it, give feedback. Let’s try to finalize if we can all agree on what that could look like in the event of a peace agreement.”
Kushner labeled the plan the ‘Opportunity of the Century’ for the Palestinians.
The White House Mideast peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, wrote on Twitter, “This innovative economic approach coupled with a political agreement (if achievable), can transform the region.”
HOW IT PLAYED — Investment conference is latest example of Trump administration’s struggle to advance Mideast peace plan [WashPost] • A Trump Middle East peace plan initiative minus Israelis and Palestinians[LATimes] • The billion-dollar question in Trump’s peace plan: How does the administration think it will get the money? [Haaretz] • Inside Jared Kushner’s unravelling Israeli-Palestinian peace plan [Telegraph]
The New York Times’ Mark Landler tweeted: “Jared Kushner just unveiled the economic part of his Middle East peace plan. Surprise: it reads like a real estate marketing prospectus.”
REACTION — Mideast experts reacted to the release of Kushner’s plan. The following are highlights of their comments. Read in full here[JewishInsider]
Ambassador Dennis Ross, a former State Department Middle East advisor: “There is not a lot that is surprising in the economic plan… The question is how does one implement them. It is as if the plan is about laying out a vision and showing how good life could be if the political problems were resolved. That is true, but it is not likely to make the political problems disappear.”
Ambassador Dan Shapiro: “There are plenty of good ideas in the economic plan… None of them are new. They have been proposed in previous economic plans. But there are two big problems. First, the U.S. had aid programs to support all these goals, but the Trump Administration canceled them… Second, you can’t get others to invest in this effort without knowing the political backdrop.”
Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller: “If only I had a nickel for every well-intentioned Middle East Marshall Plan that crossed my desk. They all had one thing in common: Failure.”
Jon Lerner, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, writes: “Trump’s Middle East plan is a refreshing change: While critics cling to constructs that have proven unimplementable, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and the Trump team are doggedly moving forward with bold, fresh, and innovative ideas for how to solve one of the world’s most difficult conflicts.” [CNN]
Lerner also criticized Aaron David Miller for “grossly mischaracteriz[ing] the administration’s goals. Not once, but three times, he claims the administration’s policies are aimed at pleasing domestic political constituencies and he mentions ‘wealthy Jewish donors.’ This is a more polished, but no less wrong, version of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s infamous anti-Semitic trope that support for Israel is ‘all about the Benjamins.'”
Reached for comment, Miller tells JI, “The 20-plus years I worked on the Arab-Israeli negotiations, my colleagues and I — many of whom were Jews — received a tsunami of criticism from Arabs, Muslims, Israelis, Evangelicals and American Jews railing against our work — usually cast in the worst kind of personal invective. But the worst criticism of all came from Jews accusing us of being self-haters or antisemites. I find it dismaying in the extreme that this charge is still very much alive and well, and that anyone would accuse me of validating someone else’s hateful antisemitic language which I’ve roundly condemned. I would respectfully advise my critics — as I’ve advised myself — to count to 50, maybe 100 before saying or tweeting something mean-spirited, offensive, and absolutely inaccurate.”
Dr. Einat Wilf emails JI: “The most important element of the White House economy peace plan could be if, through its emphasis on economic cooperation, it forwards the process of normalization between Israel and the Arab world, thereby slowly eroding Arab support for the Palestinian position of ‘No Israel as a sovereign state of the Jewish people’ and ‘Palestine from the River to the Sea.’”
CFR’s Martin Indyk: “It’s a beautiful fantasy. None of the conditions necessary to achieve Kushner’s vision currently exists and nowhere in the plan is there any indication of how the impediments would be removed… The perfect symbol of Palestinian reality is the beautiful girls in school uniforms that grace the last page of Kushner’s plan. They are wearing the striped uniforms of the UNWRA schools now suffering from the cut-off of all U.S. funding by Jared Kushner.”
IPF’s David Halperin tells JI: “For an Administration that has gone out of its way to denigrate efforts made by its predecessors and pledged to take a new approach, this effort comes across as unoriginal, uninspiring, and even detached from reality.”
ZOA’s Mort Klein: “The Arab-Islamic war against Israel was never based on economics, therefore it cannot be resolved by economics.”
Professor Eugene Kontorovich writes… “Take the Palestinians’ ‘No’ for an Answer: The Palestinian Authority cannot be forced to accept a peaceful settlement, and Israel doesn’t wish to return to its pre-Oslo control over the Palestinian population. But rejectionism, culminating this week in Bahrain, must have consequences… The Palestinians’ no-show in Bahrain should end their ability to hold development and growth hostage.” [WSJ]
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — While on a tour in the Jordan Valley withNational Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment on the release of the economic portion of the peace plan. But he told reporters, “In general, I would say that we’ll hear the American proposition, hear it fairly and with openness. I cannot understand how the Palestinians, before they even heard the plan, rejected it outright. That’s not the way to proceed.”
Dr. Dore Gold, former Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “What is striking about the White House economic plan is the understanding it contains about how regional solutions may prove pivotal for changing many long standing challenges for the Palestinians and not just the Arab states… There is one prerequisite for all this to advance that those attending the Bahrain meeting need to internalize: the military defeat of Hamas and pro-Iranian terror groups who do not want to allow such solutions to advance.” [JewishInsider]
VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a briefing with the foreign press, “We will not accept America to be the sole peaceful mediator for the Middle East cause… We don’t trust the Americans alone… We will not be slaves or servants to Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt or David Friedman. They are the ones making the judgment, and we will not accept this or let them say whatever they want.”
PLO official Hanan Ashrawi told Reuters, “If they really care about the Palestinian economy they should start by lifting the siege of Gaza, stopping Israel stealing our money and our resources and our land and opening up our territorial waters, our air space and our borders so we can freely export and import.”
“This is a nice snow job,” Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American businessman in the West Bank, told Bloomberg. “Go home,” he advised Kushner, “You’re wasting time and taxpayers’ dollars trying to whitewash 52 years of military occupation.”
On Sunday, the Arab League reaffirmed a pledge to pay $100 million a month to the Palestinian Authority.
Khaled Elgindy, a nonresident fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, emails JI: “First off, we need to be clear about what it is and isn’t. The Kushner document is not a plan. At best it’s a wish list of all the economic projects that have been or could be proposed in a world where there is no Israeli occupation/siege and where there is unlimited funding. It’s a fantasy that is completely divorced from reality. Nor is it about peace. It has nothing to do with ending [the] Israeli occupation.”
BAHRAIN SUMMIT — The White House announced on Saturday that the delegation to the “economic workshop” in Bahrain this week will be led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and including Kushner, Greenblatt, chief economic adviser Kevin Hassett, Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, Avi Berkowitz, Brent J. McIntosh, Geoffrey Okamoto, Monica Crowley, John Rader, Jennifer Nordquist and Thomas Storch.
On Saturday, Jordan said it will send its deputy finance minister to attend the conference.
On Sunday, thousands protested in Rabat, Morocco against “Arab traitor regimes” for planning to attend the conference. Others shouted “Death to Israel!” and “Death to the United States!,” with some burning an Israeli flag.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview with Al Jazeera, “[The Bahrain workshop] is an attempt to jumpstart the Palestinian economy. That’s the purpose and that’s the focus… There will be a significant showing from the Palestinian business community, and we will work with them as best we can… I don’t know that the Palestinian Authority is the last word on how to create a better life for the Palestinians. The Palestinians themselves should have a say in that.”
DRIVING THE DAY — The Trump administration is set to impose new economic sanctions on Iran in response to recent provocations by the regime in the region. According to a New York Times report, “American intelligence and military officers are working on additional clandestine plans to counter Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, pushed by the White House to develop new options that could help deter Tehran without escalating tensions into a full-out conventional war.”
This morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the city of Jeddah to discuss Iran. Pompeo will then head to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The UN Security Council will meet today behind closed-doors for a briefing by the U.S. on the situation with Iran.
In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on Sunday, President Trump maintained that he’s not rushing to war with Iran and is even willing to engage in talks with Tehran with no preconditions. “I’m not looking for war, and if there is, it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before. But I’m not looking to do that,” Trump said. “But you can’t have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk? Good… No preconditions… Otherwise you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come.”
The president also stated that the U.S. is “going to protect Israel” and Saudi Arabia and strike Iran if they pursue a nuclear bomb.
Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union: “I thought that the president’s decision to refrain from a military strike when he learned it could cost 150 Iranian lives, I hope that sends a message to the Iranian people that while we stand firmly against the Ayatollah, we have the highest hopes for the Iranian people. But it’s time for Iran to recognize that the United States of America will never allow them to obtain a nuclear weapon. That would be a threat to our country, a threat to our cherished ally, Israel, and a threat to the world.
PALACE INTRIGUE — On Iran, Tucker Carlson vs. John Bolton — by Graeme Wood: “On Friday night, after an extraordinary week of brinkmanship in the Persian Gulf, [Tucker] Carlson delivered a seven-minute philippic against John Bolton… Bolton is the most bellicose in the West Wing of the White House… Trump says he called off a military strike with an hour to go — reportedly on the private advice of Carlson. On his show, Carlson described Bolton as ‘a bureaucratic tapeworm. Try as you might, you can’t expel him.’”[TheAtlantic]
SCENE IN JERUSALEM — National Security Advisor John Bolton met on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. In a joint press conference, Netanyahu said that he “was pleased to hear President Trump make clear yesterday that pressure will continue, and that pressure will increase.” [Pic; Video]
— “Mr. Trump’s move has played poorly in the Israeli media, where some analysts said it could embolden Iran because Tehran now knows that it can hit U.S. interests in the region without a military response. ‘The dilemma is whether if you are not reacting, you are encouraging them to take more aggressive action,’ said Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence.” [WSJ]
Bolton insisted that a military strike against Iran is still on the table. “The president said he just stopped the strike from going forward at this time,” Bolton said. “Neither Iran nor any other hostile actors should mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness. No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East.”
CFR’s Ray Takeyh writes… “The Real Reason Iran Has Been Provoking Trump: Having studied the Iranian regime for decades, I believe the purpose of all this… is not to start a war with America. More likely, it’s to enter talks with Washington claiming to be the empowered party that has withstood America’s strategy of maximum pressure. Before negotiating with the United States, Iran needs a narrative of success. And the events of the past few days… have finally provided Tehran with a justification to enter talks with, in Iran’s telling, a chastened Washington.” [Politico]
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice writes: “How Trump Can Avoid War With Iran: Since, for whatever reason, Mr. Trump chose not to strike Iran, he could parlay that relative restraint into a diplomatic opening. The Iranians now claim they refrained from downing a manned aircraft with 35 United States service members aboard and hit the drone instead. Both sides have contributed to this crisis, but now say they chose to step back from escalation. True or not, this presents an opportunity to defuse the situation.” [NYTimes]
FDD’s Mark Dubowitz and Saeed Ghasseminejad write… “Hit Ayatollah Khamenei in His Pocketbook: Companies owned or controlled by the state, including the Khamenei conglomerate and foundations, were the biggest beneficiaries of the nuclear accord… The Trump administration can use the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016 to isolate the Khamenei business empire, freeze its assets, and penalize international companies that enrich the Iranian regime.” [WSJ]
Mike Doran writes… “What Iran Is Really Up To: From Khamenei’s perspective, the beauty of this form of brinksmanship is that it increases the pressure on the international system, and therefore on Trump, in a real but subtle way that, unlike the downing of a drone, does not give Washington a justification to attack… The goal of the pressure campaign is to raise fears without crossing red lines, like attacks on American soldiers, that could destroy the political support Iran receives from the coalition of open minds.” [MosaicMagazine]
LEAKED DOCS — An exclusive report in Axios late Sunday revealed a leak of hundreds of vetting documents used by the Trump administration during its transition period. The documents reveal deep reservations about many candidates who were ultimately hired, including Rex Tillerson, Mick Mulvaney, Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn. Of Cohn, the document said, “He Would Sometimes Hike Up One Leg And Plant His Foot On A Trader’s Desk, His Thigh Close To The Employee’s Face, And Ask How Markets Were Doing.”
The leak also included a vetting document for Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent and brother of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In a section titled “general controversy,” the document about Emanuel noted that he fired Mel Gibson as a client after the actor went on a drunken, antisemitic rant, and urged Hollywood to shun him. According to Axios, “nobody we spoke to, including senior members of the transition, could remember what job Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel was vetted for.”
TOP TALKER — Edward Mosberg, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor from New Jersey, invited Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to tour Auschwitz following her controversial remarks about concentration camps. From the Depths, a group focused on preserving the memory of the Holocaust, posted the open invitation on Friday. “It should be a requirement of all United States Congressmen to visit Auschwitz,” added Mosberg, honorary president of the group.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) wrote on Twitter: “AOC, I went to Auschwitz & Birkenau with Eddie [Mosberg] & Jonny Daniels with [From] the Depths. I went with a deep understanding of the Shoah and had a profound personal experience. Please accept their offer.”
Ocasio-Cortez replied: “The last time you went on this trip it was reported that you also met w/ fringe Austrian neo-Nazi groups to talk shop. So I’m going to have to decline your invite. But thank you for revealing to all how transparently the far-right manipulates these moments for political gain.”
She added: “Mr. King, the Republican Party literally stripped you of your Congressional committee assignments because you were too racist even for them. My Jewish constituents have made clear to me that they proudly stand w/ caged children who are starved, denied sleep & sanitation.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) defended her Democratic colleague’s use of the term concentration camps. “There are camps and people are being concentrated,” Omar said on Capitol Hill on Friday. “This is very simple. I don’t even know why this is a controversial thing for her to say. We have to really truthfully speak about what’s taking place.”
Peter Beinart writes… “AOC’s Generation Doesn’t Presume America’s Innocence: For the first time in decades, the left is mounting a serious challenge to American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism does not merely connote cultural and political uniqueness. It connotes moral superiority… Ocasio-Cortez’s comment about concentration camps is only the latest example of this broad challenge to American exceptionalism. She didn’t claim that Trump’s detention centers are the equivalent of Auschwitz. But she denied that America is a separate moral category, so inherently different from the world’s worst regimes that it requires a separate language.” [TheAtlantic]
ON THE HILL – Rep. Dean Phillips: AOC’s concentration camp comments a ‘mistake’ — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) said border detention facilities for migrants and asylum seekers illegally crossing the border are “not” concentration camps, in an interview with Jewish Insider on Friday.
The Minnesota congressman is Jewish and said that his great-grandparents fled pogroms and antisemitism in eastern Europe. Earlier this month, Phillips traveled to McAllen, Texas with Republican colleagues to see the border camps and their conditions.[JewishInsider]
New documents revisit questions about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s marriage history — by J. Patrick Coolican and Stephen Montemayor: “New investigative documents released by a state agency have given fresh life to lingering questions about the marital history of Rep. Ilhan Omar and whether she once married a man — possibly her own brother — to skirt immigration laws. Omar has denied the allegations in the past, dismissing them as ‘baseless rumors’ first raised in an online Somali politics forum… during her 2016 campaign for the Minnesota House. But she said little then or since about Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, the former husband who swept into her life in 2009 before a 2011 separation.” [StarTribune]
2020 BRIEFS — Democrats’ grand plan to contain Iran? Just beat Trump… Bernie Sanders: On Iran, Trump is like somebody who sets a fire and wants credit for putting it out… Beto O’Rourke beefed up his policy staff ahead of the debate… South Carolina voters stand by Joe Biden after comments about segregationist senators.
At a town hall, Pete Buttigieg confronts tensions around South Bend shooting… ‘I don’t really know her’: Why Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign is stuck at 0.3%… Former congressman Joe Sestak launched his 2020 presidential campaign on Sunday.
Biden, Harris and Buttigieg rack up big money support as 2020 Democrats battle for donors — by Brian Schwartz: “While they haven’t decided on a favorite, many financiers have put their resources behind former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Marc Lasry, a New York-based hedge fund manager and co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, hosted a fundraiser for Harris on Tuesday… Even though Lasry said he had contributed to multiple candidates, he indicated to be all in on helping Harris win the fundraising game and possibly the nomination. ‘Right now, I think she’s probably the best candidate. So, I like her… I think ultimately, at the end of the day, she should be the nominee,’ he told CNBC.” [CNBC]
Mega-donors contribute more than $500K in last days of Queens DA primary race — by David Brand: “Most of the late four and five-figure campaign contributions have gone to Melinda Katz… Developer Stephen Ross and jewelry designer Kara Ross gave Katz a combined $15,000… Developer Gary Barnett; Bloomberg LP President Daniel Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor… each gave Katz $10,000… [George] Soros’ son gave [Gregory] Lasak $5,000… Developer Allen Fertik supplied $10,000 to the WFP.” [QueensEagle; NYTimes]
ROAD TO THE KNESSET ― On Monday, Kachol Lavan leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid denied reports that Likud and Kachol Lavan were engaged in talks to repeal the September 17 Knesset election and create a national unity government headed by Netanyahu. According to the reports, the parties were examining the possibility of voiding the bill to disband the 21st Knesset with the approval of 80 MKs.
** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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:Saudi Arabia opens its doors to Israeli Arabs [Globes] • Roman Abramovich’s Evraz looking at British Steel arm[FinancialTimes] • Jeff Klein’s new 23-room boutique hotel in Los Angeles is uniquely charming [DailyBeast] • Super-Pharm, Coca-Cola Israel buy a stake in online supermarket Quik [Calcalist] • New York landlords in a financial bind from new rent law [WSJ]
SPOTLIGHT — Shaquille O’Neal has never had a cup of coffee — and it caused one of his biggest business mistakes — by Jade Scipioni: “‘My biggest mistake was not investing in Starbucks,’ [NBA hall-of-famer Shaquille] O’Neal tells CNBC Make It. ‘I had the opportunity before Magic Johnson but I told Howard Schultz that black people don’t drink coffee because I never seen anyone in my family drink coffee,’ he says.” [CNBC]
Dan Gilbert discharged from hospital, moves to rehab — by Kirk Pinho: “Dan Gilbert has been released from the hospital nearly a month after suffering a stroke, Quicken Loans Inc. confirmed Thursday… The 57-year-old billionaire founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures LLC was taken to the hospital by a family friend on May 26 after falling ill earlier in the day, and he suffered a stroke there.” [CrainsDetroit]
POSTCARD FROM ASPEN — Following day 1 of the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival, The Atlantic hosted its annual event, The Atlantic After Hours, at the Limelight Hotel.
James Fallows on Noam Chomsky: “I now revere Noam Chomsky for his views on sports talk radio. Noam Chomsky always listens to sports talk radio when he’s driving around. What he’s learned from that is that people might sound stupid when you ask them about national politics but they sound really smart when you ask them about sports.”
Fallows had rare praise for President Trump: “The decision not to strike Iran was a godsend at the last minute, forgetting for a moment everything that fomented the situation. That could have been worse.” [Pic]
PROFILE — How Do You Keep Shabbat if You’re Running After Elephants? — by Judy Maltz: “Growing up, [Ilana Stein] and her family frequently visited Kruger National Park — one of Africa’s largest game reserves and about a four-hour drive away from their home — where her love for animals and nature was kindled. ‘I decided quite early on that I wanted to become a game ranger when I grew up,’ she relays over dinner in a kosher restaurant (she’s opting for the vegetarian menu, obviously). ‘But I was also religious, so I didn’t how I could do it. I mean, how do you keep Shabbat if you’re running after elephants? And if you’re supposed to be guiding a group from Thursday through Sunday, you can’t exactly tell them on Friday afternoon, ‘Hey guys, I’m taking off. Cheers!’”
“It took quite a few years until she was able to figure out how to make it happen… The first job setting her on her path was with a South African company that used Webcams to show animals in their natural environment. Soon afterward, Stein connected with a male friend, also Orthodox, with a similar passion and dream. Together, in 2001, they founded a company that offered kosher safaris around Africa — geared toward clients with the same special requirements on the road as theirs. ‘We had groups from the United States, England and Israel, and a big draw was our ‘Shabbat in the bush’ package,’ she says.” [Haaretz]
Conservative Iconoclast Reihan Salam Takes the Helm — by Daniel Akst: “[Salam] is a 39-year-old Muslim whose parents emigrated from Bangladesh. He shaves his head and lives in the progressive enclave of Park Slope in Brooklyn. And he is, to the surprise of those expecting a more conventional choice, the new president of the Manhattan Institute, the influential conservative think tank whose ambitions long ago spilled beyond the confines of New York City… In a sense, Mr. Salam grew up in his think tank’s New York. He was raised in Brooklyn’s Borough Park, a neighborhood long home to many Orthodox Jews, and he remembers his parents sometimes working two jobs each, even as they studied—his father for the CPA exam and his mother for a master’s degree that helped her to become a renal dietitian.” [WSJ]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Was the Director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum Really Pro-BDS? — by Candida Moss and Liane Feldman: “Peter Schäfer, the director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum, resigned last Friday, a year before he was due to retire, forced out after the backlash over a tweet from the museum’s official account that linked to a pro-Israel-boycott story… There is a genuine sense of outrage on the part of scholars of Judaic studies (both Jewish and not) that Schäfer has been unfairly accused. In part the events of the past few weeks are the result of disagreements that have built up over the past few years about how the museum is run… The tweet that has become the focus of attention linked to a letter signed by Jews who were both anti-BDS and pro-BDS. ‘This is not a debate about BDS,’ said [Annette Yoshiko] Reed, ‘as much as the use of discomfort surrounding BDS among some Jews to try to paint their critics as anti-Israel.'” [DailyBeast]
Sentencing looms in Charlottesville attack; man seeks mercy — by Alan Suderman: “The avowed white supremacist who plowed his car into counterdemonstrators opposing a white nationalist rally in Virginia two years ago, killing one person and injuring dozens, has asked a judge for mercy and a sentence shorter than life in prison. Lawyers for James Alex Fields Jr., 22, said in a sentencing memo submitted in court documents Friday that the defendant should not spend his entire life in prison because of his age, a traumatic childhood and a history of mental illness… He was raised by a paraplegic single mother and suffered “trauma” by growing up knowing that his Jewish grandfather had murdered his grandmother before committing suicide, his lawyers said.” [AP]
CULTURE — The Jewish Prenuptial Gets an Artsy Update — by Hilary Sheinbaum: “Given specific requests and intricate details, often they simultaneously function as décor. [Alexis] Knapp says her Jewish friends showcase their gold, sparkly, shiny and ornate ketubot in custom frames. ‘I’ve seen it in their living rooms, or in entryways, sitting areas,’ she said. Given a choice, Ms. Knapp says she would have commissioned a piece with a ‘more organic feeling,’ perhaps on linen paper or leather. ‘It’s something like a wedding ring that is with you forever and ever and ever — it’s a covenant and something symbolic of that day,’ said Ms. Knapp.” [NYTimes]
MAZEL TOV, AGAIN — Karlie Kloss Celebrates Marriage to Joshua Kushner with Party in Wyoming 8 Months After Wedding — by Karen Mizoguchi: “Eight months after tying the knot, the model, 26, and her husband, whom she wed in October 2018 [at a small, Jewish ceremony] in upstate New York, had a party in Wyoming as seen in photos shared on Instagram Sunday… (Prior to getting engaged, a source previously told People that Kloss converted to Judaism in early June.).” [People]
REMEMBERING — Elliot Roberts, Neil Young’s Longtime Manager, Dies at 76 — by Chris Morris and Chris Willman: “Elliot Roberts, who worked as Neil Young’s manager since 1967 in what may be the longest-lasting manager/client relationship in rock ‘n’ roll, died Friday morning at the age of 76… He was a close associate of David Geffen, whom he met when he was working in the mail room at the William Morris Agency and Geffen was an agent there. The pair formed the Geffen-Roberts Company and Roberts took on the young Joni Mitchell as his first client… Born Elliot Rabinowitz in the Bronx borough of New York City on Feb. 22, 1943, he was a two-time college dropout who harbored ambitions as an actor, but moved laterally into band management in the mid-‘60s; his tenure steering a group called Robert’s Rules of Order may have led to his name change, which became legal in 1967.” [Variety]
BIRTHDAYS: Former chief rabbi of Denmark (1969-1996), Rabbi Bent Melchior turns 90… South African businessman and philanthropist, now living in London, Sir Donald Gordon turns 89… Member of Congress (D-NJ-8) from 1993-1995, prominent civil litigator, real estate fund executive and member of multiple non-profit boards, Herb Klein turns 89… Ruth Weinstein turns 80… Activist investor, he is a co-founder of Trian Fund Management, an alternative investment management fund, Nelson Peltzturns 77… Professor emeritus in the College of Business at San Francisco State University, Sam Gill turns 77… Former Chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company, Seymour “Sy” Sternberg turns 76… Professor of Jewish philosophy at American Jewish University and founding dean of its rabbinical program, Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff turns 76… Founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Rabbi Avraham Haim Yosef (Avi) Weiss turns 75…
Former Secretary of Labor (1993-97), author and professor at UC Berkeley, Robert Reich turns 73… Member of Knesset from the Likud (2009-2016) and again starting in 2019 as a senior member of Israel’s Blue and White party, he is a former Chief of Staff of the IDF and then Defense Minister, Lt. General Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon turns 69… Member of the Canadian House of Commons from Hamilton, Ontario since 2006, he is a former CEO of Promise Keepers Canada, David Sweet turns 62… President and CEO of public relations firm Steinreich Communications, Stanley Steinreich turns 59… Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College, a co-educational Jewish day school with over 1,500 students from K to 12, located in Melbourne, Australia, Rabbi James Kennard turns 55… The first on-air talent of the NFL Network when it debuted in 2003, he has become the face of the network ever since, Rich Eisen turns 50…
Israeli businesswoman and owner of the soccer team, Hapoel Beer Sheva, her brother-in-law was the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, Alona Barkat turns 50… Author and columnist, Shulem Deen turns 45… Singer and songwriter Ariel Pink, born Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, turns 41… Editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti turns 38… VP of Houston-based RIDA Development, a multi-national real estate development company started by his Holocaust-survivor grandfather, David Mitzner, Steven C. Mitzner turns 33… A 2015 contestant on Jeopardy! who earned $413,612 by winning 13 consecutive episodes, he is a son of USDC Judge Amy Berman Jackson, Matthew Barnett “Matt” Jackson turns 27… Moshe Gruberturns 25… Lois Charles…