JI INTERVIEW — Former Israeli Air Force general and head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate Amos Yadlin discussed Israel’s political crisis and the challenges a new government will face in an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh.
“I think a unity government is a very important development for Israel’s national security,” Yadlin told Jewish Insider during a recent visit to New York.
Yadlin, who now serves as executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), outlined what he called the “six huge national security challenges” the next Israeli government will face. He listed the Iranian nuclear threat, Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria, Hezbollah’s precise ballistic missile development, the situation in Gaza, the Trump peace plan and the relationship between Israel and diaspora Jewry.
The “current political situation,” in which a national unity government appears to be the most likely outcome, is better suited to deal with the aforementioned challenges, Yadlin said. “I hope we will heal some of the wounds to remind us that we are one people,” he added. “We have too many enemies, we cannot waste too much of our energy on fighting each other.”
Yadlin on Israel’s approach to Iran: “Israel has to be prepared” for two outcomes — possible talks between the U.S. and the Iranian regime or further aggression that could lead to a military conflict. “There must be an Israeli strategy to be involved with the Americans. Send your best people, and put forward what are the main disadvantages of the JCPOA to make sure they are corrected…. and we have to be prepared for the Iranians refusing to negotiate, but breaking out with the [nuclear] program, to defend ourselves.”
Yadlin cautions about a U.S.-Israel treaty: “The classical defense treaty like NATO — which would include U.S. soldiers fighting for Israel and Israeli soldiers fighting for America, and would also have some limitations on Israel’s freedom of action and the special strategic capabilities of Israel — is not good for Israel. I think that the disadvantages of such an agreement would overshadow the advantages. There may be another format that we can find that specifically deals with the existential threat of a nuclear war.”
Yadlin on Trump’s tweets: “As a former chief of intelligence, this is a goldmine for America’s enemies. To know what leaders are thinking — usually the enemy leaders, not your allies — you have to invest a lot of effort and resources, and here you get it for free.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — The 22nd Knesset was sworn in on Thursday, despite the political deadlock and uncertainty. During his speech at the ceremony, Netanyahu once again called for a broad national unity government to be formed. The prime minister referenced other countries mired in political uncertainty, but said that Israel — with its dire security concerns — could not afford such problems: “No one faces as many challenges as we face,” he said. “No other country.”
Presidential appeal: During his speech Thursday, President Reuven Rivlin admitted that “at times like this it feels hard to live the dream.” And he renewed his appeal for a unity coalition, even noting that it may be unpopular with many voters. “There are some moments in the life of a people when the president is required, as part of carrying out his official role, to intervene.”
Likud primary challenge averted? Netanyahu appeared to back down late Thursday from his plan to hold a primary vote for the leadership of Likud. Instead, he is reportedly mulling holding a leadership vote next year, a proposal put forward by Foreign Minister Israel Katz. No final decision on any upcoming primary has been made.
STATE VISIT — A bipartisan group of members of Congress — Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Andy Harris (R-MD), Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) — met separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh during a trip to Israel this week.
Message to Trump:Shtayyeh told the group during a meeting in Ramallah on Wednesday: “We rely on the wisdom of the members of Congress to pressure the U.S. administration to retract its unilateral steps towards the Palestinians.” [Pic]
Across the aisle: During their meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday, Netanyahu stressed, “The bipartisan support for Israel is a mainstay of our national security. It is not something that we just say pro forma. It is deep and abiding.” [Video]
VIEW FROM MOSCOW — Israeli airstrikes in Syria “further destabilize the situation and could lead to an escalation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in an interview with the Arab daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. “Syria should not become a platform for implementing plans or settling accounts.”
DEPARTURE LOUNGE — Energy Secretary Rick Perry is expected to submit his resignation by the end of November, Politico reported on Thursday. Perry recently visited Israel on a trip that was aimed at enhancing U.S.-Israel energy cooperation and advancing regional energy production.
SCENE TO WATCH —Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is expected to attend tonight’s Yankees playoff game vs. the Minnesota Twins in the Bronx with Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, The Associated Press’s Jonathan Lemire tweeted Thursday night.
ON THE HILL — House Republicans will force a vote to formally condemn Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) when they return from recess next week, Politico reported on Thursday. “We’re going to exercise the limited tools we have in the minority, and we’re going to fight to get the truth out and hold [Schiff] accountable for falsehoods,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said of the symbolic move, which won’t get approved by the Democratic-controlled House.
Taking the stand:Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is expected to testify on November 5th at a federal court hearing as part of a lawsuit filed by former New York Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who claims she illegally blocked him on Twitter.
RUN FOR THE SENATE — Matt Lieberman, the son of former senator and vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, threw his hat in the ring on Thursday for an upcoming Senate race in Georgia. Lieberman is so far the only Democrat in the race to replace retiring Republican Senator Johnny Isakson. Lieberman said his father will serve as an informal advisor to his campaign: “If people were fans of my dad, maybe they’ll give me an extra hearing,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And for people who aren’t fans, I want them to remember we’re different people and to hear me out as well.”
HEARD YESTERDAY — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared to agree with Senator Bernie Sanders’s assertion that “billionaires shouldn’t exist” during a live Q&A with employees on Thursday. “I understand where he’s coming from,” Zuckerberg said. “I don’t know that I have an exact threshold on what amount of money someone should have, but on some level, no one deserves to have that much money… I think if you do something that’s good, you get rewarded, but I do think some of the wealth that can be accumulated is unreasonable.”
2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden raised only $15 million in third quarter, trailing Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg… Flush with cash, Buttigieg bets his campaign on a breakthrough in Iowa… Cory Booker struggles to sell unity as Democrats itch for fight… Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Bernie Sanders “feels rejuvenated” after visiting him in hospital… Sanders will participate in the next debate, his spokesperson says… Marianne Williamson raised $3 million in third quarter, doubling her previous haul… Elizabeth Warren is the presidential favorite for L.A. County Jewish voters, survey shows
SCENE LAST NIGHT — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and her husband, financier Richard Blum, hosted a fundraiser for former Vice President Joe Biden at their residence in San Francisco on Thursday. Pool reporter Joe Garofoli recounts: “Toward the end of his remarks, Biden was talking about a job training program when he caught the eye of Feinstein, who was standing in the front row. ‘I’m ending,’ Biden said, and the audience laughed. ‘I think we should go upstairs. There are a lot of major donors,’ Feinstein said. ‘Take a picture with them.’”
CANADIAN ELECTIONS — Quebec’s Bill 21, a ban on public employees wearing religious symbols including hijabs, turbans or yarmulkes on the job, “has become an increasingly uncomfortable topic for the candidates for prime minister” in the upcoming October 21 federal election in Canada, The Washington Post’s Amanda Coletta reports.
Quebec is considered a battleground in the tight race between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party and opposition leader Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party. It holds 78 of the 338 seats up for grabs. Both leaders have expressed their opposition to the bill, but only Trudeau left the door open to “intervening at a later date,” saying it would be “counterproductive” to join a legal challenge put forward by several organizations.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Barneys finds a potential buyer — Sam Ben-Avraham — in bankruptcy court [WSJ] • Mark Rachesky purchases John Malone’s shares in Lionsgate [HollywoodReporter] • SoftBank’s plans for second mega-fund hit by WeWork debacle [Reuters] • WeWork bosses tell employees job cuts are coming this month [Bloomberg]
MORE BRIEFS: Goldman Sachs faces $260 million hit from equity bets as Uber plunges [Bloomberg] • Israel’s Bank Leumi gets regulatory clearance for new CEO Hanan Friedman [Reuters] • Who needs moonshots? How former Hollywood mogul Barry Diller built a $4.2 billion tech fortune out of underdog assets [Forbes]
SPOTLIGHT — Shari Redstone opened up for the first time about the battle to merge Viacom and CBS and her dealings with Les Moonves in a recent interview with Forbes Magazine. “Basically, it was really a lot about financial engineering and stock buybacks and not believing in the people who created content, not supporting the people creating content, not creating a culture of creating content,” Redstone said. “So, I was up against that, and I tried to fight that battle for years to no avail.” [Forbes]
Holy Land hackers: The Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm Candiru has been accused of selling cyber weapons to Uzbekistan and hacking computers on behalf of other countries. According to Forbes, Candiru is linked to cyber attacks traced back to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
TOP-OP — David Bashevkin, the director of education at NCSY, writes… “#MeToo Should Include #SinToo: Most Jews sit solemnly in synagogue on Yom Kippur and recount their sins. #MeToo prompted conversations about crime, abuse and corruption, but sin itself hardly gets mentioned. Many Jews find ‘sin’ too Christian, and non-Jews often think it comes with too much religious baggage. But sin deserves a more important role in the conversation about our shortcomings.” [WSJ]
DEEP DIVE — ‘You won’t believe what happened’: The wild, disturbing saga of Robert Kraft’s visit to a strip mall sex spa — by May Jeong: “Kraft hadn’t gone to Orchids on that January day because the Florida heat had driven him mad, or because he was in search of anonymity… he went to Orchids, in his relatively new status as a single rich guy, to get a massage.”
The ‘Gaza Strip’ in Palm Beach: “Breakers Row — home to mostly Jewish residents, including Robert Kraft — is referred to by the island’s WASPs as the Gaza Strip. The clubs are so exclusive, local legend has it, that Burt Reynolds was once turned away at the door on account of his dark skin color. Even Joseph Kennedy Sr. was reportedly spurned on account of his Catholic faith.” [VanityFair]
CAMPUS BEAT — The University College Union (UCU) in the U.K. issued an apology on Tuesday after it omitted Jews from a description of the different groups murdered in the Holocaust in an email to branch and local association secretaries ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, which is marked on January 27. UCU, the world’s largest higher education union, represents over 120,000 academics, staff, and postgraduates. In a subsequent email, UCU apologized “for the offence this caused and reassures all members that it continues to fight against all forms of antisemitism, hatred and bigotry in society.”
TALK OF THE TOWN — The heirs of a Jewish man who died in the Theresienstadt Ghetto in the Czech Republic are demanding the return of a multi-million-dollar painting by Egon Schiele, which is currently owned by the Lehman Foundation and held at Christie’s auction house in Manhattan. The suit, filed at a Manhattan court on Thursday, claims that the painting, titled “Portrait of the Artist’s Wife,” is worth between $5 million and $7 million.
Across the sea: A photo showing a Jewish boy in Australia forced to kiss the shoes of another classmate has created a firestorm of controversy, with some describing antisemitic bullying in Australian schools as “a rapidly spreading crisis.” According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a Muslim student forced his 12-year-old Jewish classmate to kiss his shoes. The Jewish student was reportedly also assaulted by a classmate in the locker room, who punched him in the face. In a separate incident, a five-year-old Jewish boy was taunted by his classmates who called him a “Jewish vermin” and a “Jewish cockroach.” Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg called for more Holocaust education in schools to combat the problem. James Merlino, the Victorian education minister, said he has ordered an “immediate review” of the incidents.
A cut above: Sweden’s Centre Party voted last week to work to ban circumcision in the country, but the party’s leader has already backtracked. Centre Party leader Annie Lööf said she “regrets the outcome” of the vote, and that it went against the wishes of party leadership, yet still represented the will of the party. Jewish and Muslim groups have vowed to fight any such efforts.
Lone Jew: Rabbi Chava Bahle writes in The Washington Post that she is the only Jew in her small village of Suttons Bay, Michigan, and things could get lonely around the High Holidays. Instead, she said, she has allied with her neighbors of all faiths in an effort at “social justice intersectionality.”
HOLLYWOOD — Actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish is studying for her bat mitzvah, a process she will discuss in her upcoming Netflix special, titled “Black Mitzvah.” Haddish told USA Today that after she discovered her father was an Eritrean Jew, “I’ve explored that and I’m connected even more to the Jewish culture.” Haddish said the day the special airs, she will hold her own bat mitzvah, and she has been learning how to read Hebrew in order to read from the Torah.
SPORTS BLINK — Italian soccer authorities unveil new anti-racism measures — by Andrew Dampf: “Italian soccer federation president Gabriele Gravina hailed new rules approved this week that make clubs responsible for identifying offenders of any unruly conduct in the stands as a ‘landmark turning point.’ … On Thursday, Gravina visited Rome’s synagogue and met with Ruth Dureghello, the president of Rome’s Jewish community. The visit came two years after Lazio fans littered the Stadio Olimpico with superimposed images of Anne Frank… wearing a jersey of city rival Roma.” [AP]
TRANSITION — Shuli Karkowsky, vice president of development at 70 Faces Media, will join Hazon as its executive vice president in November.
REMEMBERING — Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, the father of the famous Emanuel brothers — Rahm, Ari and Zeke — passed away at the age of 92. The senior Emanuel was born in Jerusalem with the last name of Auerbach, according to The New York Times, but the family changed its surname to honor Benjamin’s brother, Emanuel Auerbach, who was killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem in pre-state Israel. He later settled in Chicago, where he became a pediatrician.
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Melvin A. “Mickey” Steinberg turns 86… Senior Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Judge Robert David Sack turns 80… Executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, Norman Pearlstine turns 77… Chairman of the executive committee at the University of Haifa, former peace negotiator during the term of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dov Weissglass turns 73…
President of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Steven Rakitt turns 64… Attorney and congressional staffer, Nathan Steven Bergerbest turns 62… Director of the Israeli Government Press Office, Nitzan Chen turns 56… Canadian businessman, impresario and philanthropist, Aubrey Dan turns 56… Film, television and stage actress, Alicia Silverstone turns 43… Akiva Gerstein… Gefen Kabik…
SATURDAY: Senior U.S. Senator from Maryland, Benjamin L. Cardin turns 76… Theodore Steiner turns 78… South African-born lyricist whose works include the English-language musical adaptation of “Les Misérables,” Herbert Kretzmer turns 94… Investor and former owner of the Baltimore Orioles, Eli Jacobs turns 82… Psychiatrist in Cameron, North Carolina, Morton Meltzer, M.D. turns 80…
Author and lecturer Jonathan Dobrer turns 75… Executive Vice President of donor relations at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Andrew Cushnir turns 56… Editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Michael Jacobs turns 50… Canary Islands native, she is a mission coordinator at Israel’s Mission to the United Nations, Gladys Bendahan… Robert Winer…
SUNDAY: Scion of a Hasidic dynasty and a psychiatrist specializing in substance abuse, Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, MD turns 89… Ousted CEO of CBS, Leslie Moonves turns 70… Awarded a Ph.D. at UCSD in space science, consultant to NASA and author of many science fiction novels, David Brin turns 69… President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas (2008-2015) and then VP of development at Onward Israel, Elliot B. Karp turns 64… Former senior editor at Newsweek for 28 years and author of two bestsellers on President Obama, Jonathan Alter turns 62…
Spiritual leader of Congregation Ner Tamid in the Las Vegas suburbs since 1988, Rabbi Sanford Akselrad turns 62… Former member of the New Jersey General Assembly (1996-2002), he is now the managing director of Quest Associates, Joel M. Weingarten turns 60… Attorney in Lakewood, NJ, Samuel Zev Brown turns 54… Deputy chief planning officer at UJA-Federation of New York, Hindy Poupko Galena turns 36… Houston area director at AIPAC, Madeline S. Burak turns 27… Michael Hershfield… Evan Bernstein… Rosanne Selfon…