DRIVING THE CONVO — From a series of background conversations with House Democrats on Wednesday, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that members are frustrated about being forced to now defend ‘the Squad.’ The members pointed to repeated attacks from their progressive colleagues and noted the contrast with this week’s resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s tweets with the more broad resolution against hate following Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) antisemitic remarks.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Tapper quoted one unnamed House Democrat saying, “Everybody was completely outraged by what the president said, and everybody thought it was appropriate to criticize him. But this was the first time the House has taken action to criticize him in any way. We couldn’t even bring ourselves to have a resolution exclusively condemning antisemitism uttered by one of those members [Omar], but we leapt to their defense here.”
Talia Lavin writes… “When non-Jews wield antisemitism as political shield: The Jews are tired, tired, tired of being used as defenses against naked racism, tired of being used to justify conditions at detention camps. Just plain tired… Jews are not trees, not animals, not mute props to use as cudgels in a war of escalating rhetoric. We do not need to be spoken for, we who have been here since before this country was a country, and want to remain, and know no other home; we are not waiting for your apocalypse.” [GQ]
HEARD ON THE TRAIL — President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on Omar and her progressive colleagues, known as “the Squad,” during a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday evening, drawing chants of ‘send her back’ from the crowd.
“Obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious antisemitic screeds,” Trump said. “And she talked about the ‘evil Israel’ and ‘it’s all about the Benjamins’ — not a good thing to say. So that’s Omar. That’s Omar. And by the way, many other things.” [Video]
Earlier, speaking to reporters on the White House South Lawn before departing for the rally, Trump said that he is “not relishing the fight” with the four members of Congress. “I am enjoying it because I have to get the word out to the American people,” he said. “And you have to enjoy what you do. I enjoy what I do.” Asked by a reporter about the “anti-Israel trend of the Democratic Party,” the president said the party is “going so far left they’re going to fall off a cliff. So I think they’re making a big mistake.” [Video]
HOW IT PLAYED — Trump leans on issue of race in bid for a 2nd term in 2020 — by Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller: “Not since George Wallace’s campaign in 1968 has a presidential candidate — and certainly not an incumbent president — put racial polarization at the center of his call to voters. Though Trump’s comments generated outrage and even a resolution of condemnation in the House, the president and his campaign believe the strategy carries far more benefits than risks.” [AP]
Republican Jewish Coalition’s Matt Brooks tweeted this morning: “The ‘send her back’ chants were wrong, vile, and don’t reflect who we are as Americans. I strongly oppose Ilhan Omar’s views and policies but those chants have no place in our society.”
Rep. Omar added fuel to the flame when she announced the introduction of legislation designed to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The resolution — co-sponsored by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and John Lewis (D-GA) — affirms that “all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution” and “opposes unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad.”
SUMMER TRAVELS — Omar told JI’s Laura Kelly on Capitol Hill that she’ll be traveling to Israel and the Palestinian Territories in August. “I am going in a couple of weeks and so I’ll learn more,” Omar said. “But truly, everything that I hear points to both sides feeling like there is still an occupation.”
When asked where she will visit, the Minnesota lawmaker replied “both,” seemingly referencing Israel and the West Bank, and directed questions about logistics to her office. [JewishInsider]
Last week, Tlaib said she expects to visit the West Bank next month. “My [grandmother] is so excited that I am possibly going to come to see her next month. She is so happy. And I am going to take my two wonderful boys… and they are going to meet their great grandmother. So I am really, really excited about that.”
Following JI’s publication of the story, Haaretz reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to decide whether to issue a waiver to allow Omar and Tlaib to enter the country because they’re supporters of the BDS movement. According to a new law, Israeli authorities can bar the entry of anyone who supports BDS. But denying entry to visiting members of Congress could spark a backlash.
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich tells JI, “It’s very hard for the Israeli government to actually apply the law because, basically in practice, everybody who they try to bar immediately turns to the Supreme Court. So the Supreme Court has barred the effective implementation of the law, and unfortunately, that results in a situation where Israel gets all of the criticism for applying it without the actual benefits of being able to exclude people. Omar is an American congressperson. That is a very strong reason for admitting her. But at the same time, I would expect Israel would seek the opinion of the United States government as to whether to admit her.”
Our friends over at Politico Playbook speculate that Trump would be pretty pleased if his friend and ally Benjamin Netanyahu did not allow Omar and Tlaib into Israel.
HEARD ON CABLE — In an interview with Gayle King aired on CBS This Morning on Wednesday, Omar said she doesn’t regret the “it’s all about the Benjamins” tweet that drew strong condemnation at the time. “But I am grateful for the opportunity to really learn how my words make people feel and have taken every single opportunity I’ve gotten to make sure that people understood that I apologize for it.”
King: Would you like to make it clear that you are not antisemitic?
Omar: “Oh, certainly not.”
King: Would you like to make that clear?
Omar: “Yes and that nothing I said, at least to me, was meant for that purpose.” [Video]
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: At least five bills related to Israel passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, including a resolution by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Karen Bass (D-CA) supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Rep. Brad Schneider’s (D-IL) resolution opposing the global BDS movement against Israel.
Omar said she supports the two-state solution resolution but opposes the anti-BDS measure.
Schneider told JI: “Well, she’s entitled to her opinion. I’ve been very clear. BDS is hateful, BDS oppose[s] two states, BDS is antisemitic at its core. That’s why it’s important to speak out.” [JewishInsider]
The House and Senate are working towards amending the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, a law passed last year, with the intention of restoring funding to key security and humanitarian projects for Palestinians while also holding the Palestinian Authority accountable in the U.S. justice system, particularly in cases brought forth by American victims of terrorist attacks.
“American victims of international terrorism need access to justice and the Palestinian Authority needs our assistance to promote security,” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said in a statement. “This important bill would give victims of terrorism their day in court and promote U.S. security interests in the Middle East by improving our nation’s engagement with Palestinian security forces, a relationship highly praised and valued by the Israeli government.”
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), author of the United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, which passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee markup Wednesday, said that his bill also helps correct unintended negative consequences of the passage of the ATCA. “This bill is a step toward providing American victims of terrorism with a path of justice,” Deutch said during the markup.
The House passed three resolutions Wednesday opposing U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, measures that were earlier adopted by the Senate. The three resolutions, S.J. Res. 36, 37, and 38, were all introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and address opposition to U.S. transfer of weapons, defense articles and services to the two Gulf states.
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt discussed the Trump peace plan in an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour on Wednesday. “The 60-page plan will address everything, including that question [about Palestinian statehood],” Greenblatt said. “Our plan does not contemplate one state. I think, if it did, we would have released it over two years ago. But I think that one of the challenges of this file, as people speak about the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, as being occupied, I would argue that the land is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties.”
IRAN WATCH — Iranian State TV said Thursday that its Revolutionary Guard forces seized a foreign oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz with 12 crew on board. The TV report accused the tanker of smuggling fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers. While the Iranians did not identify the tanker or its country, U.S. officials have speculated that it originated in Panama.
Fifty Republican members of Congress, led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) wrote a letter to the Trump administration on Wednesday protesting a series of sanctions waivers that have permitted Iran to continue its most contested nuclear research, according to the Washington Free Beacon. The letter urges the president to make good on his promise to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran, and to “dismantle the last remaining vestiges of the failed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) once and for all.”
Visiting the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the travel restrictions placed on Iranian diplomats by the United States are “basically inhuman.”
NEW IRAN DEAL — President Donald Trump reportedly signed off on the idea that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) should sit down with Zarif to “extend a fresh olive branch on the president’s behalf,” Politico reported. The idea has reportedly “rankled many administration officials,” and it is currently unclear if the senator’s proposed meeting will actually take place at all.
Eli Lake writes… “On Iran, Is Rand Paul the New John Kerry? Before Paul gets carried away with optimism, he would do well to study a former colleague’s experience with the Iranian foreign minister. In 2015, former Senator and then-Secretary of State John Kerry said that Zarif had assured him that he was empowered to negotiate with the U.S. on regional issues like Syria following the nuclear deal. But that promise was empty… There’s no doubt that Paul, a libertarian who has opposed U.S. interventions since he became a senator, is sincere when he talks about trying to prevent a war with Iran. His interlocutor, however, has a reputation for insincerity.” [Bloomberg]
REPORT — During a trilateral summit in Jerusalem last month, the Trump administration and Israel insisted that any deal on the future of Syria must include Iranian withdrawal from Lebanon and Iraq as well, Israeli Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reported on Wednesday. The first stage in that deal would reportedly require the Iranians to take all their long-range missiles and rockets out of Syria.
In an interview with Moscow-based newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “The U.S. is flexing its muscles by seeking to discredit Tehran and blame all the sins on the Islamic Republic of Iran. This creates a dangerous situation: a single match can start a fire. The responsibility for the possible catastrophic consequences will rest with the United States.” Lavrov said Russia’s ties with both Israel and Iran have “intrinsic value.”
JI INTERVIEW — Nick Langworthy, who replaced Ed Cox as the New York State GOP chairman earlier this month, sat down with JI’s Amy Spiro in Jerusalem this week to discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship, the New York Jewish community and the state’s 2020 congressional races.
Langworthy was visiting Israel for the first time, and was joined by former Governor Mike Huckabee, as well as two New York women he believes can win seats in Congress next year: Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and former Rep. Claudia Tenney.
“I think the president at the top of the ticket makes those seats far more competitive, because people will be coming out to support the president,” said Langworthy of the upcoming congressional races. “It’s going to be a far different dynamic than the midterm elections.”
Langworthy said it was important for him that Israel be his first trip on the job, in order to “establish right away, the strength in the support level from our party that I intend to show as chairman for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Langworthy pledged to run a Republican candidate in all 27 upcoming New York 2020 congressional races, and said his number one goal as the party’s state chairman is to oust Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2022. [JewishInsider]
PROFILE — Trump’s new top Labor official is expected to advance an anti-labor agenda — by Noam Schreiber and Glenn Thrush: “As an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina, [Patrick Pizzella] wrote columns for the school newspaper, including one in 1972 in which he criticized Senator George McGovern, the recently defeated Democratic presidential nominee, for sending his daughter to an upscale suburban school near Washington. ‘The hypocrisy continues as McGovern expresses the opinion that he represents the working man,’ Mr. Pizzella wrote. ‘That’s similar to Hitler saying he represented the Jewish people in Germany during the 1930s.’ …In the mid-1990s, Mr. Pizzella joined the lobbying arm of the law firm Preston Gates, where Jack Abramoff, who was later convicted of defrauding clients, had set up a growing lobbying practice.” [NYTimes]
NEXT FOR POMPEO — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with KCMO Radio in Kansas City on Wednesday that he is open to reconsidering a run for an open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas. “I would have never dreamed that I’d be the secretary of state even a year before I became the director of the CIA, a year before that,” Pompeo said. “And so, I always leave open the possibility that something will change and my path in life will change too, but my mission set is really very clear.”
2020 BRIEFS —Bernie Sanders strikes familiar notes on ‘Medicare For All’… Sanders urges 2020 rivals to reject health insurance industry donations… Donors love a winner — which is why Silicon Valley is chucking money only at the top 2020 candidates… Harris, Warren surge in new California poll… Why progressives think Joe Biden is not ‘electable’… Pete Buttigieg campaign adds ex-DNC CEO to expanded senior staff.
What being Jewish means to Bernie — by David Klion: “‘I think there’s a lot of pain and trauma about what happened to his family,’ says David Sirota, a Sanders adviser who consulted on the Brooklyn College [campaign launch] speech, and who is also Jewish. ‘I do think that [speech] was an important moment for him in that he let people see that pain. And frankly, I don’t think it was all that easy for him.’ …‘He’s talking about [his Jewish identity] where it makes sense,’ says Ari Rabin-Havt, Sanders’s chief of staff, who is Jewish. ‘It’s part of the story of where he gets his empathy from.’” [JewishCurrents]
RACE TO THE KNESSET — At a meeting of party activists in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of fomenting a “poisoned atmosphere” leading to a “blood libel” against him over ties to accused sex trafficker and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Barak railed against the “mudslinging that is spread against anyone today who stands against Netanyahu,” comparing it to the incitement in the days before the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
The Daily Mail, which published photos on Tuesday of Barak entering Epstein’s home in 2016 with his face covered, ignored the former prime minister’s ultimatum yesterday that it remove the article by 7 p.m. Israel time or face a defamation suit.
The Ohio State University said on Wednesday that it plans to reviewdonations made by Epstein and any organization affiliated with him. “Preliminary findings show that the university has received one gift from Epstein and one gift from an affiliated foundation,” the university said in a statement.
‘It’s going to be staggering, the amount of names’: As the Jeffrey Epstein case grows more grotesque, Manhattan and DC brace for impact — by Gabriel Sherman: “The Jeffrey Epstein case is an asteroid poised to strike the elite world in which he moved. No one can yet say precisely how large it is… A wave of panic is rippling through Manhattan, DC, and Palm Beach, as Epstein’s former friends and associates rush to distance themselves, while gossiping about who might be ensnared… Likely within days, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will release almost 2,000 pages of documents that could reveal sexual abuse by ‘numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders.’” [VanityFair]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Boeing hires Kenneth Feinberg to handle 737 max claims [WSJ] • Former New York Governor David Paterson takes VP role at Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. [NYPost] • The Louvre museum in Paris has removed the name of the Sackler family from a major wing devoted to eastern antiquities [TheGuardian] • Shekel resumes gains despite falling inflation [Globes] • Another $860 million recovered for Bernie Madoff customers in Kingate settlement [Reuters]
Haim Saban pledges $500 million for new record label — by Leila Cobo: “In late 2018, the same topic of conversation would come up every time entertainment mogul Haim Saban chatted with two of his friends, Lucian Grainge and Lyor Cohen. ‘They thought we were on the cusp of the golden age of the music world,’ recalls Saban. ‘The first thing that came to my head was, ‘If this is the golden age, why am I ignoring it?’’ Saban decided to pay attention, to the tune of half a billion dollars: He plans to invest $500 million in Saban Music Group (SMG), a new Los Angeles-based label and music company with a global outlook and a roster to match.”[Billboard]
EXPLORING THE LAND — Remains of 9,000-year-old Neolithic settlement unearthed outside Jerusalem — by Oscar Holland: “A huge Stone Age settlement unearthed outside Jerusalem may have been home to 3,000 people, the Neolithic equivalent of a large city, according to details released by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Tuesday. Believed to have been inhabited 9,000 years ago, the site has yielded thousands of tools and ornaments, including arrowheads, figurines and jewelry… The discovery was made near the Israeli town of Motza, about three miles west of Jerusalem.” [CNN]
Discarded windows give view of Jerusalem’s diversity — by Shahar Golan: “A project in downtown Jerusalem is using an ornate tower constructed of discarded windows from around the city to give people a view of its diverse cultural past and present and bring life to a neglected area. ‘Window Stories’ is made of 550 windows collected by the late Jerusalem artist Yoram Amir, who died earlier this year… The exhibit is part of an annual festival put on by Mekudeshet, a group that sponsors artistic events that focus on Jerusalem’s complexities.” [AP]
TOP-OP — Daniel Gordis writes from Jerusalem… “Why American Jews mostly shrugged off the ultimate insult: The relatively muted response to [Education Minister Rafi] Peretz may stem in part from a long overdue but growing realization by American Jews that the world’s two largest Jewish communities were fashioned on utterly different foundations. The U.S. is a liberal democracy, committed to a country with no inherently privileged ethnicity, race or religion, while Israel was always intended to be a ‘national home for the Jewish people.’ American Jews believed that in the U.S., they would prove an exception to the antisemitism and assimilation that had always plagued diaspora communities, while Zionists thought that belief a foolish misread of history, and were certain that only in a Jewish State could Jews flourish for the long haul.” [Bloomberg]
TALK OF THE TOWN — A McDonald’s job, a Jewish man’s beard and a religious discrimination lawsuit — by David Neal: “The owner of several McDonald’s franchised stores in Florida finds itself the defendant in a religious discrimination lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after, the suit says, a Hasidic Jewish man’s beard prevented his hiring.” [MiamiHerald]
Toronto court hears challenge over conflict of fall federal election date and Jewish high holiday — by Adrian Humphreys: “On election day, the most important date of this fall’s federal campaign, Chani Aryeh-Bain, a Conservative candidate in Toronto, will not be able to call supporters… or run the crucial get-out-the-vote ground game… The current election date of Oct. 21 falls on a Jewish high holiday, although a more obscure one called Shemini Atzeret… Aryeh-Bain, running in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, and Ira Walfish, a Jewish voter in Toronto, are asking the Federal Court of Canada to order the Chief Electoral Officer… to push the election date back a week.” [NationalPost]
TALK OF OUR NATION — Jewish delegation visits Christchurch mosques in New Zealand, marking $1.1m donation for terrorist victims — by Thomas Mead: “Jewish leaders visited the two mosques targeted in the Christchurch terror attack [on Wednesday] to mark a $1.1 million donation from their communities around the world… At times the Jewish delegates knelt in the mosque alongside the Muslim worshipers to listen to the imam, while the Muslim representatives donned the traditional skullcap or kippah inside the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation synagogue… The $1.1 million dollar fund was raised in the months following the attack, with fundraisers arranged by the New South Wales Jewish Community, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh in the U.S.” [TVNZ]
Argentina creates anti-terrorism database: “Argentina is creating an anti-terrorism database ahead of the 25th anniversary of its worst terror attack… Wednesday’s decree also declares July 18 a day of national mourning in remembrance of the victims of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires. The decision comes ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Argentina.” [AP] • The move is being interpreted by many as Argentina moving one step closer to declaring the armed Lebanese group Hezbollah a terrorist organization [ToI] • Argentine photo exhibit stirs memories of 1994 bombing attack on Jewish center [Reuters]
ACROSS THE POND — Jeremy Corbyn criticized for meeting anti-LGBT education Charedi Jewish activist — by Nicola Bartlett: “Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for meeting with a controversial Charedi Jewish activist who opposes LGBT issues being taught in school. Photographs emerged online of Mr. Corbyn eating with Shraga Stern in Parliament after PMQs — prompting anger from the party’s Jewish wing.”[TheMirror]
ON THE SCREEN — The filmmaker creating ‘Friends’ for Modern Orthodox Jews — by Carly Stern: “Most Orthodox Jews date explicitly for the goal of marriage rather than for personal exploration, [Leah] Gottfried says. Navigating this paradigm while chasing a film career supplied a gold mine of artistic fodder for a web series shedding light on a group that rarely gets screen time. Gottfried created, writes, directs and acts in Soon by You, the only show about Modern Orthodox Jews in the U.S.” [Ozy]
WELL WISHES — In post-surgery update, Norm Coleman says all visible signs of cancer removed from his lung — by Liz Sawyer: “Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman offered a medical update on his Facebook page Tuesday, saying that a seven-hour surgery at Mayo Clinic removed all visible traces of cancer from his lung. He praised his team of doctors, who successfully excised the lower left lobe of his lung Monday after ‘determining the cancer was more invasive than seen in earlier scans.’” [StarTribune]
TRANSITION — Shira Siegel was hired as legislative director for Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA). Siegel was previously senior legislative assistant for Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).
DESSERT — A fledgling endeavor: Pigeon Bagels opens in Squirrel Hill — by Dan Gigler: “Gab Taube punched in for work Wednesday at just about 2 a.m., because, to borrow a phrase, it was time to make the bagels. And not just any bagels, but the first batches for the 7 a.m. grand opening of her Pigeon Bagels, a certified kosher bakery on Hobart Street in Squirrel Hill [in Pittsburgh].” [PostGazette]
BIRTHDAYS: Cognitive therapy psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, Aaron Temkin Beck turns 98… Hidden with his mother in a school attic in Poland during WW2, theoretical chemist who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he has also published plays and poetry, Roald Hoffmann (born Roald Safran) turns 82… Rhoda Rosen turns 78… Jan Allen turns 74… Leader of the Alberta Party since 2018, he was previously the mayor of Edmonton, Alberta (2004-2013) and Minister of Health in the Alberta provincial government (2014-2015), Stephen Mandel turns 74… Politician, legislator and former Prime Minister of Peru (2008-2009), Yehude Simon Munaro turns 72… Executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (1985-2009) including during the 1994-95 MLB strike, he became executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association in 2010, Donald Fehr turns 71…
Beverly Hills resident, Felisa Bluwal Pivko turns 68… Nursing home executive, attorney, founder of two banks and chairman of the Israel Discount Bank of New York (2006-2007), Leonard Grunstein turns 67… Former Israeli Police spokesman, he is now a senior national radio broadcaster in Israel and an international talk-show host, Elihu Ben-Onn turns 65… Former deputy finance chairman of the RNC (2017-2018) and owner of Circinus (a global security company), Elliott B. Broidy turns 62… Minister for Congressional Affairs at the Embassy of Israel to the United States, he was previously the Israeli ambassador to Belarus (1998-2002), Martin Peled-Flaxturns 61… Creative director and co-founder at Let’s Bench, a publisher of customized keepsake prayer books and benchers, Yitz Woolf turns 44…
Assistant Professor in the Cyber Science Department at the U.S. Naval Academy and formerly an attorney at Covington & Burling, Jeffrey Michael Kosseffturns 41… Kiev-born, Australian writer, advocate, commentator and lawyer, he is the co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Alexander Ryvchin turns 36… Graphic designer at Acronym, she was previously a digital media associate at NYC-based The Workmen’s Circle, Lauren Friedlanderturns 30… VP of development and strategy at 70 Faces Media, Shuli Karkowsky turns 36… Jewish Insider‘s Capitol Hill reporter, Laura Kelly… VP at World Jewish Congress, he was previously the chairperson of the Jerusalem-based World Union of Jewish Students, Yosef Tarshish… Izi Doenyas… Regina Brenner… Ted Rosenberg…