Daily Kickoff

Ilhan Omar to join new Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus | How far can Amir Ohana go? | Yemenite Jewish food in Silicon Valley

April Brady/Project on Middle East Democracy

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) gives remarks during the event "Al Sisi in Washington: Egyptian President Seeks Support for Power Grab" on April 9, 2019.

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DRIVING THE DAY – The D.C. Dyke March will ban certain Jewish iconography from its march Friday in Washington, D.C. Among the targets of the ban is the rainbow flag with a large Star of David in its center, a common symbol of LGBTQ pride in the Jewish community.

Rae Gaines and Yael Horowitz, two Jews involved in organizing the March, posted an op-ed to the D.C. Dyke March website, explaining that it “dedicated time and energy to helping organize the Dyke March as specifically and explicitly Jewish Anti-Zionist Dykes. The Dyke March has been inclusive,” Gaines and Horowitz claim.

In a similar incident two years ago, organizers of the Chicago Dyke March asked three marchers of the group A Wider Bridge, waving the rainbow flag with the Magen David, to leave. 

Amanda Berman, executive director of Zioness, a progressive Zionist group, said the D.C. Dyke March is “singling out Israel and marginalizing and attacking and demonizing Israel in a way that these organizers do not demonize or single out any other country in the world.” [JewishInsider]

American flags aren’t welcome either, but a Palestinian flag would be accepted, Gaines told the Forward.

Yair Rosenberg writes… “Four Reasons the D.C. Dyke March’s Ban on Jewish Pride Flags is Anti-Semitic: If one of Judaism’s classic symbols makes you feel ‘threatened,’ the problem is with you, not the symbol. If members of your organization complain about a Jewish pride flag because it looks like an Israeli one, and your response is to expel the Jews with the flag rather than educate your members to tell the difference, you are not an opponent of anti-Semitism, you are an accomplice to it.”

“If you feel the need to interrogate every Muslim and demand they denounce a Muslim country or group before allowing them into your space, you are a bigot. If you feel compelled to interrogate every Jew and demand they denounce Israel (or any other Jews or Jewish actions) before allowing them into your space, you are a racist.” [Substack

ON THE HILL – By JI’s Laura Kelly:
 Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will join the bipartisan Black-Jewish Caucus, her communications director Jeremy Slevin confirmed to JI.

Omar earlier offered her support for the cause, posting on Twitter, “Last month [Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)] and I joined together to talk about the common threat of white nationalism faced by the Muslim, Black and Jewish-Americans. Glad to see colleagues follow through on working on things that unite us and not divide us,” while sharing a tweet from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who announced the caucus this week.

Yet Omar, who has frequently clashed with Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), one of the co-founders of the caucus, later tweeted her support for statements by Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who called Zeldin “anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian bigot.”

“Just to be clear, my endorsement of the caucus and willingness to unite our communities against the threats of White supremacy isn’t an endorsement of Zeldin’s bigotry!” Omar posted on Twitter. “Linda’s point still remains valid but my hope here is that Zeldin can learn and grow.”

Zeldin responded by tweeting“This new Caucus is a positive, bipartisan push to build bridges between 2 groups. Be helpful, accurate & better. Unite; don’t divide or try to poison like this latest personal attack. This is bigger than us & we have to be better than this.” [JewishInsider]

ANNEXATION WATCH — Prominent Senate Democrats, including members of minority leadership and two presidential candidates, introduced a resolution Wednesday affirming support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and opposing any attempts by the Israeli government to annex parts of the West Bank.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and supported by 2020 candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Tom Udall (D-NM).

The text of the resolution affirms support for the two-state solution and says that unilateral annexation of “portions” of the West Bank  “threaten[s] Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity, and undermine[s] Israel’s security.”

REPORT — The Trump administration has reached out to a number of business figures close to the White House — Colony Capital’s Tom Barrack, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and Goldman Sachs’ Dina Powell — to attend the Kushner-led ‘economic workshop’ in Bahrain later this month, CNBC reported on Thursday.

Barrack’s spokesperson Owen Blicksilver told CNBC, “Tom is pleased to be a participant in a well-organized forum for the purpose of advancing the peace process in the Middle East. He has been a lifelong advocate of economic prosperity being a foundation stone of hope for the entire region especially its exploding young and largely unemployed population.”

CNBC cited a source saying that Fink will not participate “due to previous commitments.” [JewishInsider]

Aaron David Miller tweeted“White House invites Trump’s billionaire friends to Bahrain. I lost count of how many Middle East Marshall Plans came across my desk in 1990s. All of Tom Barrack’s money and all the King’s horses and men can’t put this Humpty-Dumpty back together again.”

King Abdullah of Jordan fears that old allies are ditching him: “King Abdullah moans that the administration of Donald Trump is ignoring him as it draws up a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. The king fears that he will be pushed to provide a permanent home for millions of Palestinians, who are the majority in Jordan, making it the de facto Palestinian state. The king also worries that the plan will ignore his historical claim to custodianship of Jerusalem’s holy places or give countries that support Mr. Trump, such as Saudi Arabia, a role in the city.” [Economist]

IN THE GULF — On Thursday, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said in an interview with NBC News that U.S. forces in the region face an “imminent” threat from Iranian proxies. “I don’t actually believe the threat has diminished” weeks after the USS Abraham Lincoln was deployed to the Persian Gulf, McKenzie said. “I think we’re still in the period of what I would call tactical warning. The threat is very real.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the military spent two weeks monitoring two Iranian cargo ships after watching “Iranian forces load missiles into launchers on their decks.” After two weeks sailing in the Persian Gulf, the vessels “pulled into a harbor and unloaded the missiles.”

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said in a briefing to members of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that the attacks on four Saudi tankers off its coast last month “were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, most likely a state actor.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — On Thursday, President Trump addressed his disagreements with the remaining partners in the JCPOA over the 2015 nuclear deal during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron after attending a D-Day commemoration ceremony in Caen, France.

“The one thing that [Iran] can’t have is they can’t have nuclear weapons. And I think the President of France would agree with that very strongly. I think that he would agree that they cannot have nuclear weapons,” Trump said before the meeting.

“I think we do share the same objectives on Iran,” Macron replied. “What do we want to do? First, you want to be sure they don’t get nuclear weapon. I mean, we had an instrument until 2025. We want to go further and have full certainty in the long run.”

Trump Allows High-Tech U.S. Bomb Parts to Be Built in Saudi Arabia — by Michael LaForgia and Walt Bogdanich: “When the Trump administration declared an emergency last month and fast-tracked the sale of more American arms to Saudi Arabia, it did more than anger members of Congress who opposed the sale on humanitarian grounds… The emergency authorization allows Raytheon Company, a top American defense firm, to team with the Saudis to build high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia… The new arrangement is part of a larger arms package, previously blocked by Congress, that includes 120,000 precision-guided bombs that Raytheon is prepared to ship to the coalition.” [NYTimes]

On Thursday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to once again postpone his “pre-indictment hearing” scheduled for October 3rd. The PM issued the request to postpone the hearing — which had already been moved from July — for next year because of the repeat Knesset elections taking place on September 17.

An aide to AG Mandelblit, Gil Limon, said in a letter to Netanyahu’s attorneys that the dissolution of the Knesset “cannot justify” the postponement of the hearing since Netanyahu himself wouldn’t be attending the hearing. “We believe that the time allocated to Netanyahu is enough to properly prepare for the hearing,” he said.

“The repeat elections that were forced on us in an unprecedented manner are an unusual event that also obligates unusual treatment on the part of law enforcement authorities regarding the date of the hearing,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said of the decision. “It’s unacceptable that an ill-defined wild chase is taking precedence over the need to search for the truth.” 

Pollster Mark Mellman, who served as a senior advisor and pollster on the Kachol Lavan campaign in the April 9 elections, will not continue working with the party in the upcoming September 17 Knesset repeat election, Jerusalem Post’s Gil Hoffman reported on Thursday. Mellman worked with Yair Lapid in the past and joined the Kachol Lavan campaign when Lapid and Benny Gantz merged their parties ahead of the election.

Mellman tells Jewish Insider“Last time I spent months in Israel. For personal and professional reasons (my son is getting married in early September and I’m running this exciting new pro-Israel organization and my business), I’m not in a position to play the same role I played last time, but I will continue offering advice as I’m able. The good news is they don’t need me. Ironically, Bibi went into the last election stronger than he had ever been. As a result of his daily debacles since then, he will be a lot easier to beat this time.”

Israeli TV show says Black Cube spied on Cabinet minister: “An Israeli investigative TV show reported on Thursday that one of the country’s richest men hired Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube to spy on a Cabinet minister. Tycoon Idan Ofer hired the firm in 2014 to dig up dirt on then-Finance Minister Yair Lapid and other top officials, Uvda reported, as part of his efforts to influence tax policy on natural gas finds at the time.” [ABCNews]

Jason Willick writes… “The Culture War Behind Israel’s Political Crisis: 
Israel’s political crackup is about more than political maneuvering. It highlights a simmering culture war over Jewish religious traditionalism that, even more than the Palestinian conflict, may define Israeli identity in the 21st-century.” [WSJ]

PROFILE — Amir Ohana Is Gay and Right-Wing. How Far Can He Go in Israel? — by Matti Friedman: “Mr. Ohana’s role in the last campaign, and in the new one, was recognized Wednesday when, after just one term in parliament, he catapulted through the party ranks to make history by becoming justice minister in Israel’s interim government. The new Knesset has five openly gay members, a record. But four are on the center-left, where L.G.B.T. rights have long been popular. Mr. Ohana, the first openly gay lawmaker on the right, is in uncharted territory… The Israeli right isn’t the American right; here right-wing mainly means a tough stance on the conflict with the Arab world, and the rest is flexible. Or, as Mr. Ohana has said before entering the Knesset in 2015, ‘Being attracted to men doesn’t mean you have to believe in creating a Palestinian state.’” [NYTimes]

2020 BRIEFS — Bernie Sanders wants to change America. But he may have to change himself first… Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic darling in 2018, is struggling on the national stage… 20 candidates qualify for first Democratic National Committee debates, reaching limit… Behind the scenes, candidates vie for Hollywood cash while keeping populist cred… TV networks staffing upto cover 2020 presidential election.

** Good Friday 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: Gus Wenner is following through on his vision for Rolling Stone [FolioMag• Barnes & Noble nearing deal to be acquired by Elliott Management [WSJ]• Michael Bloomberg promises $500 million to help end coal [NYTimes• Estée Lauder executive chairman, William Lauder, lists Manhattan home for $45 million [WSJ]

SPOTLIGHT — Inside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s split with Bobby Kotick — by Emily Smith and Sara Nathan: 
“Sandberg, 49, and Activation Blizzard CEO Kotick, 56, began dating in 2016, a year after the loss of her beloved husband, Dave Goldberg… A source close to the former couple said, ‘Sheryl is under a huge amount of work stress right now. And she and Bobby are very different people. She’s a left-wing Democrat who takes herself very seriously. He’s a right-wing Republican who, if he wasn’t a very, very successful businessman, he’d probably be a stand-up comedian.’ The source added: ‘Sheryl likes to do things on weekends like take her kids to help out in a soup kitchen, while Bobby likes flying helicopters. Understandably, she is fully devoted to her children and work at the moment.'” [PageSix]

RISING STAR — “Shilpa Yarlagadda started her fine jewelry company, Shiffon, in her Harvard dorm room. It’s become a celebrity favorite and she’s using half of the profits to fund female-led companies around the world—and she hasn’t even graduated yet.” [WSJPic]

MEDIA WATCH — Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic,
 came under fire on Twitter over a comment he made in an interview with Laura Hazard Owen of Nieman Lab, in which he remarked: “It’s really, really hard to write a 10,000-word cover story. There are not a lot of journalists in America who can do it. The journalists in America who do it are almost exclusively white males.”

Goldberg told Politico Playbook“I remember telling Laura Owen that, ‘The journalists who have been allowed to write cover stories [in the magazine industry] have been almost exclusively white males.’ This was obviously the intent of my quote, and I know — because Laura told me this — that she understands this to be the intent. If you read my quotes in context, you’ll see that this is clearly the intent. I was hoping that Nieman would issue a clarification on this point but I also recognize that Laura’s piece reflects accurately the many changes we’re implementing at The Atlantic to bring women to leadership, and to the cover of the print magazine as well.” 

TALK OF THE TOWN — Vandal scrawls anti-Semitic hate on Bay Ridge mailbox — by Paula Katinas: “In the wake of a jarring incident in which a vandal scrawled an antisemitic rant on a mailbox on a Bay Ridge street, the neighborhood’s elected officials are vowing to take strong action… The vandal wrote the words ‘Kill All Jews’ on the portion of the front of the mailbox listing the pickup schedule. Next to the antisemitic message was a curious drawing that appeared to a haphazard attempt at a swastika. There were two other messages left by the vandal — one that read ‘Israel Now.'”[BrooklynReporter]

LONG READ — Auschwitz Is Not a Metaphor: The new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage gets everything right—and fixes nothing — by Dara Horn: 
“The Auschwitz exhibition labors mightily to personalize, to humanize, and these are exactly the moments when its cracks show. Some of the artifacts have stories attached to them, such as the inscribed tin engagement ring a woman hid under her tongue. But most of the personal items—a baby carriage, a child’s shoe, eyeglasses, a onesie—are completely divorced from the people who owned them.”

“The audio guide humbly speculates about who these people might have been: ‘She might have been a housewife or a factory worker or a musician …’ The idea isn’t subtle: This woman could be you. But to make her you, we have to deny that she was actually herself. These musings turn people into metaphors, and it slowly becomes clear to me that this is the goal. Despite doing absolutely everything right, this exhibition is not that different from ‘Human Bodies,’ full of dead people pressed into service to teach us something.” [TheAtlantic]

DESSERT — This Former Techie is Bringing Yemenite Jewish Food to Silicon Valley — by Shannon Sarna: “In Israel it’s common to find malawah, jachnoun, hilbeh, and kubaneh among other delights. But here in the United States, Yemenite cuisine is pretty rare. Doreet Jehassi wanted to change that in her hometown of Santa Clara, California. Israeli cuisine has gained popularity in many parts of the country, especially in Silicon Valley. But Yemenite food, especially Yemenite Jewish food, has remained largely unknown. And so she launched her home catering and food service business, The Malawah Bar, last year.” [MyJewishLearning]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence turns 60… Born in Lithuania where his father was a rabbi, he is the developer of the cardiac defibrillator, he also won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in nuclear disarmament, Bernard Lown MD turns 98… Chicago and Aspen-based investor and philanthropist, Lester Crown turns 94… Former five-term Democratic Congressman from California (1983-1993), he now serves as President of the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners, Mel Levine turns 76… Senior Counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group, she was previously Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (2011-2015) and lead negotiator of the Iran nuclear agreement, Wendy Ruth Sherman turns 70…

Senior Advisor in the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. State Department, he was previously the staff director of the House International Relations Committee, Hillel Weinberg turns 67… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-PA-7), she won a special election for a remaining term and a full election for the following full term on the same day in 2018, Susan Ellis Wild turns 62… Director of voice, creativity and culture at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Isaac Luria (born Isaac Goldstein) turns 36… Managing editor of The New YorkerEmily S. Greenhouse turns 33… Actress and model, Emily Ratajkowski turns 28… Andrea Gonzales

SATURDAY: Comedian and actor, originally of the comedy team of Stiller and Meara, later of both Seinfeld and King of Queens, Jerry Stiller turns 92… Hebrew University mathematics professor and 2005 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Aumann turns 89… Partner in the Cincinnati-based law firm of Aronoff, Rosen & Hunt, he was a member of the Ohio State Senate (1967-1996), Stanley J. Aronoff turns 87… Founder of the Family Dollar Stores chain, Leon Levine turns 82… Guru of alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil turns 77… South African businessman and philanthropist, formerly the Chairman of De Beers, Nicholas F. (Nicky) Oppenheimer turns 74… Hedge fund founder and manager, founder of the Paloma Funds and New China Capital Management, board member of Carnegie Hall, Selwyn Donald Sussman turns 73…

Detective novelist, best known for creating the character of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky turns 72… Founder and CEO of Sitrick And Company, one of the most prominent crisis management firms in the USA, Michael Sitrickturns 72… Classical pianist, teacher and performer at the Juilliard School and winner of a Grammy Award, he is the child of Holocaust survivors, Emanuel Ax turns 70… Community affairs coordinator at UCLA’s Leve Center for Jewish Studies, she was awarded a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from USC, Mary Enid Pinkerson turns 68… Former member of Knesset (2015-2019) from the Zionist Union party, professor at Ben-Gurion University, Yosef “Yossi” Yonaturns 66… Principal at Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based O2 Investment Partners, a private equity firm, he is an active real estate investor, Robert Harris (Rob) Orley turns 64…

Journalist, stand-up comedian, author, cartoonist, blogger and occasional commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Aaron Freeman turns 63… Assistant Vice President for Campaign at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Patti Frazin turns 58… Moscow-born, living in the US since 1976, he is a major figure in the Russian energy sector and co-founder and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets turns 56… Winner of many Emmy and SAG awards, star of the long-running TV series “The Good Wife,” Julianna Margulies turns 53… Actor and screenwriter, he is married to the sister of baseball executive Theo Epstein, Daniel Paul “Dan” Futterman turns 52… Former Congresswoman (2007-2012), she is a survivor of an assassination attempt near Tucson in 2011, Gabrielle Giffords turns 49…

Actor who starred in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” he also wrote and created the CBS series “9JKL,” Mark Feuerstein turns 48… Executive director at Consulate Health Care in New Port Richey, Florida, Daniel Frenden turns 46… Chief advocacy officer at AJC Global, Daniel Elbaum turns 45… Deputy Chief of Staff for Charlie Baker, the Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Emanuel Vallarelli turns 40… Senior organizer at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Suzy Stone turns 39… Businesswoman, art collector and editor, founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Dasha Zhukova turns 38… Head of innovative partnerships for T-Mobile, he was previously the chief marketing officer at Layer3 TV (later acquired by T-Mobile), Eric J. Kuhn turns 32… Offensive tackle for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, his Hebrew name is “Mendel,” Mitchell Schwartz turns 30… Michael Fishberg

SUNDAY: Standup comedian Jackie Mason (born Yacov Moshe Maza) turns 91… Journalist for 30 years at CBS who then became the founding director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, Marvin Kalb turns 89… Retired Israeli diplomat who served as ambassador to Italy and France, Aviezer “Avi” Pazner turns 82… Author of 11 books, journalist, lecturer and social activist, founding editor of Ms. Magazine, mother of identical twin daughters, Robin Pogrebin and Abigail Pogrebin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin turns 80… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Maurice of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi which became the largest in the world, Charles Saatchi turns 76… Diplomat, Pentagon official, political writer, policy analyst, Shakespeare historian, he was national editor of Washingtonian magazine for more than 17 years, Kenneth Adelman turns 73…

Founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network (a broker/dealer network) and chairman of Southworth Development (a golf and leisure business), Joseph Deitch turns 69… Professional mediator, she was previously a syndicated advice columnist in many Jewish newspapers (1995-2006), Wendy J. Belzberg turns 61… Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset since earlier this year as the head of the Blue and White party, he was previously the IDF’s Chief of General Staff, Benjamin “Benny” Gantz turns 60… Producer, playwright and screenwriter, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin turns 58… Craig Appelbaum turns 49… Founder and CEO of Delve LLC, an opposition research firm for political campaigns, he was previously a White House Jewish liaison (2005-2006), active in the Republican Jewish Coalition, Jeff Berkowitz turns 40…

Jerusalem-born actress, producer and director, Natalie Portman turns 38… Online producer, writer and director, who together with his brother Benny, are best known for their React video series which has over 6.6 billion views on YouTube, Rafi Fine turns 36… Principal (communication and digital strategist) at DC-based Precision Strategies, Jeffrey Francis (Jeff) Solnet turns 27… Serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies, Daniel Fine turns 26… Deputy press secretary for VPOTUS Joe Biden during most of his second term (2014-2017), he is now a law student at the University of Chicago, Stephen Spector

MONDAY: Author of award-winning books about her experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, Aranka Davidowitz Siegal turns 89… Emmy Award-winning TV journalist who has worked for CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN and PBS, he is the author of 13 books, Jeff Greenfield turns 76… Strategic communications director at the Generation to Generation program powered by Encore[dot]org, Stefanie “Stef” Weiss turns 61… Former Attorney General and then Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer turns 60… President of Skokie-based Pharmore Drugs which was sold to CVS in 2017, Avi H. Goldfederturns 60…

Film, television and stage actress, singer and author, Gina Gershon turns 57… Melbourne native, now associate VP of strategic partnerships at the Birthright Israel Foundation and director of community education at NYC’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Rabbi Daniel Kraus turns 38… Executive director of NYC-based Encounter Programs, designed to transform communal engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yona Shem-Tov… Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner newspaper, Dovid Efune… Cathy Miller

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