Good Wednesday morning!
Big c-suite changes as Sergey Brin and Larry Page step down from running Alphabet. At Bridgewater, Dave McCormick is now the sole CEO. Glencore signaled yesterday that longtime CEO Ivan Glasenberg would step aside in 2020.
On Capitol Hill, impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee begin today. Norm Eisen will serve as the committee’s counsel, doing the questioning for Democrats at the hearing.
At the U.N., there’s a new initiative to recognize Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries. More below.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon, Portugal. More below.
Bernie Sanders surrogate Linda Sarsour came under pressure this week for comments made over the weekend at the annual American Muslims for Palestine conference in which Sarsour said that Israel was “built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else.” After video of the event began to circulate, Sarsour attempted to walk back her comments on Twitter. The Sanders campaign did not respond to JI’s request for comment.
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TOP TALKER — Kamala Harris drops out of 2020 race
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has suspended her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential election.
Crowd thins: Harris’s departure is considered the first major withdrawal from the crowded primary field as the race continues to narrow ahead of the Iowa caucuses in February. While she raised nearly $37 million during the course of her run, Harris said yesterday that her campaign “simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”
Identity first: One of the senator’s most memorable campaign moments came during the June debate, when she brought her personal experience to a dispute with former Vice President Joe Biden over his past opposition to busing students to desegregate schools. But a rival Democratic strategist told JI’s Ben Jacobs that the Harris campaign “ran basically an identity-first campaign at a time when people want a message and a cause.”
Who’s next? The race is continuing to tighten, as Harris became the third Democratic candidate to drop out just this week. But some presidential hopefuls see her withdrawal as a potential boon. One Iowa-based operative for another primary campaign told JI: “This is an incredible opportunity, there is only a limited amount of media bandwidth available for candidates and this opens some of that up.”
AT THE U.N. — Danon urges U.N. to recognize Jewish refugees
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon urged the international body to recognize the more than 800,000 “forgotten” Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly marking the anniversary of November 29th, 1947 — the date the United Nations voted for the partition plan.
In an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh, Danon said he plans to submit a resolution to the General Assembly to raise awareness of the issue. “We hear too much about the Palestinian refugees at the U.N. Every week there’s a discussion about it,” Danon explained. “We want to get the recognition that Jewish refugees deserve as well. It is time to correct the narrative [of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] and bring justice to the families. The story of those communities and their heritage should be known and heard.”
Next step: Danon suggested that once the matter is adopted by the international community, it could be brought up in bilateral discussions with the Palestinians if peace talks resume.
Today at Turtle Bay: Israel’s Mission to the United Nations will host U.N. officials and ambassadors from around the world — at an event co-hosted by Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) — to formally launch the initiative to recognize the expulsion of Jewish refugees. Featured speakers will include Danon, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan Carr and former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan.
COALITION CONUNDRUM — Amid political uncertainty, Israel’s diplomatic efforts march on
With no end to Israel’s political gridlock in sight, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still pushing ahead on the diplomatic front, and is scheduled to meet today with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon. This will be the first meeting between the two since Pompeo announced a reversal in U.S. policy on West Bank settlements last month.
Annexation watch: Israeli military officials have warned Netanyahu that annexing the Jordan Valley could imperil Israel’s 25-year-old peace treaty with Jordan, Israeli Channel 12 reported. In a meeting with Likud members on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he wants to seize the opportunity to gain U.S. support for annexation before the 2020 U.S. election campaign kicks into high gear.
Possible setting: President Donald Trump will address the annual conference of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), largely funded by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, in Hollywood, Florida on Saturday. But a senior administration official toldMcClatchy “not to expect any significant policy announcements” out of Trump’s speech at the gathering.
Facing reality: Danon tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that the Trump administration’s reversal of the 1978 State Department’s legal view of Israeli settlements “doesn’t repair the damage” done by UNSC 2334 in December 2016, but it is “a great indication that the U.S. continues to inject a dose of reality into the conflict and reviews previously-held assumptions with a pragmatic and objective eye.”
Ultimate deal watch: The Trump administration has reportedly reached out to several Arab countries to advance a historic “non-aggression pact” between Israel and the Gulf states, according to Israel’s Channel 13. Channel 12 News reported last month that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed interest in pursuing the initiative, being pushed by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, during his recent trip to Israel.
According to Channel 13’s Barak Ravid, Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates met last week with the ambassadors of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Morocco to get their approval for such a move. The diplomats were non-committal, but promised to “return soon with an answer.” Coates also met with an Israeli delegation about the matter this week, Ravid reported.
Talk of the region: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has been personally invited by the Saudi monarch to attend this month’s summit of Gulf Arab nations in Riyadh. The gesture indicates a possible breakthrough to end a 30-month feud between the two countries.
FRIENDS ABROAD — France adopts IHRA antisemitism definition
Countering hate: The resolution, proposed by lawmaker Sylvain Maillard of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist LREM party, passed 154-72 with 43 abstentions in the parliament’s lower house. “Anti-Zionist acts can at times hide antisemitic realities,” the resolution states. “Hate toward Israel due to its perception as a Jewish collective is akin to hatred toward the entire Jewish community.”
Mark Weitzman, director of government affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Authority (IHRA), tells JI: “The French Assembly vote to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is a major step in fighting antisemitism. Its adoption by vote despite a highly organized opposition campaign demonstrates both France’s commitment to fighting antisemitism and the importance of the IHRA Definition as an international standard.”
Across the pond: Ireland’s Foreign Minister, visiting Israel yesterday, said that the government has blocked a controversial bill in the country’s parliament that would make it a crime to buy or sell products from West Bank settlements.
BOOK SHELF — A former Obama speechwriter pens a book about his Holocaust survivor grandparents
At first glance, Adam Frankel’s The Survivors: A Story of War, Inheritance, and Healing, appears to be a book about the author’s grandparents who survived the Holocaust. At second glance, it looks more like a book about the author’s time at the White House, where he was a speechwriter for former President Barack Obama. It’s not until halfway through that it becomes clear The Survivors is about a family revelation that serves as a surprise nobody sees coming: Frankel learns that the man who raised him is not his biological father.
Plot twist: It’s rare that memoirs — especially those that track a family’s experience through a heavily documented tragedy — contain a massive plot twist. But Frankel’s does just that, illustrating for readers how generational trauma can have ripple effects that alter the course of many lives. JI spoke recently to Frankel about the book, his relationship with noted JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen, and his time in the White House.
On telling his own story: “When I left the White House, my now-wife would sometimes tease me and say that whenever I was speaking to a group or anything like that, I was sort of mimicking Barack Obama’s mannerisms and way of speaking… It happened to all of us. It happens to any speechwriter who’s been with somebody for awhile… I was initially kind of mindful and wondering to myself, ‘Will I be able to find my own voice here?’ because I’ve spent so long trying to inhabit [and] capture someone else’s. First of all, the experiences that I’m writing about — about my family and the revelation — were so raw and personal that it was almost in a way easy to express my own voice.”
Frankel grew close to Sorenson while working as an assistant on the speechwriter’s memoirs: “He was like a grandfather to me. His family and I are still close. Look, Ted was an extraordinary person and a combination of a number of different things: He combined brilliant intellect — what you would have called, as he said about people he saw were good writers, ‘a gift of words’ — and a very high standard of integrity, his strong character. And you don’t often find that combination of things in the same person. He also would always hold political leaders to the highest standards. He didn’t believe in… lowering standards to suit the time when there might not have been a lot of political people who met those standards.”
Response to the book: “I’ve had many third-generation survivors reach out about how they see their own family story, and how they started dog-earing pages that resonated and the whole book is dog-eared. I think the whole story has some uniquely insane details about my family revelations and disclosures. But the broader story, and the Holocaust experience and the way that trauma reverberates through families, is one that I think many of us share and a lot of Holocaust survivors’ families share.”
🇺🇦 Real-Life TV:The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer looks back at the rise of Volodymyr Zelensky and his tumultuous year, transforming from a comedian playing the Ukrainian president on TV to his role in a real-life U.S. political scandal just months after being elected president. Foer also documents a recent visit to the now-contentious village of Anatevka. [TheAtlantic]
🗣️ Civil War: Julia Ioffe writes in GQ about President Trump’s “war on American diplomats,” including firing an envoy to the U.K. for simply mentioning a visit by former President Barack Obama in a speech to university students. The State Department, Ioffe reports, is losing foreign service officials “at an alarming clip.” [GQ]
🎯 In the Middle: Despite the ongoing political polarization, writes William Galston in the Wall Street Journal, it is still easy to argue that the United States “is a centrist country.” A new survey claims that a plurality of Americans say they have middle-of-the-road political views. [WSJ]
AROUND THE WEB
👨🎤 Hollywood Star: In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, actor Michael Zegen — who plays “Joel” in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — spoke about his childhood in New Jersey, spending time with his Holocaust survivor grandfather, his desire to be an actor and his current on-screen role.
🎬 Close Alliance: Endemol Shine is teaming up with actress Gal Gadot to develop a U.S. version of Israeli crime drama “Queens,” which is returning for a second season in 2020.
🗳️ 2020 Watch: Arthur Jones, an outspoken Holocaust denier and antisemite, has filed petitions to run again in the Republican primary for Illinois’s 3rd congressional district. In 2018, Jones ran uncontested for the GOP nomination, but this time around there’s another candidate in the race to challenge Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski.
💰 Gearing Up: Amid speculation that he’s eyeing a run for Senate in Kansas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has quietly reached out to top Republican donors, including Sheldon Adelson.
👋 Stepping Down: Maryland State Sen. Bobby Zirkin, who has been a member of the General Assembly since 1999, announced yesterday that he will be resigning from office.
🙇🏻 Finally Sorry: U.K. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn finally apologized on Tuesday to the British Jewish community during an interview on ITV’s “This Morning” program: “Obviously I’m very sorry for everything that has happened, but I’m dealing with it. And I’ve dealt with it.”
📺 Media Watch:Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple writes that antisemitism “has found modern harbor at Fox Business,” and that the network is not dealing with it.
✡️ Slippery Rope: The International Skating Union apologized on Tuesday for mistakenly nominating a Russian figure skater’s Auschwitz-themed yellow star outfit for a best costume award.
💪 Taking a Stand:“Game of Thrones” star Carice van Houten pulled out of a TV appearance in Belgium alongside the mayor of Aalst, due to his continued defense of the city’s antisemitic parade.
⚰️ Grave Desecration: More than 100 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg, France, were vandalized with swastikas and antisemitic graffiti.
🕎 Mystery Menorah: A 14-foot bronze menorah that went missing 22 years ago has popped up at an auction in Long Island — sparking a heated ownership battle.
😷 New Life: Israeli scientists at Tel Aviv University have discovered a new treatment they claim could help cure pancreatic cancer in two weeks.
🤝 Transition: Eileen Murray is planning to step down as co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates in March after a tumultuous tenure. David McCormick, who shared duties with Murray, will become the world’s largest hedge fund’s sole CEO.
💻 Hands Off: Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down as leaders of parent company Alphabet, but said they expect to remain actively involved as board members and co-founders.
PIC OF THE DAY
A diverse crowd of political leaders attended the AIPAC Connects holiday celebration at AIPAC’s offices in New York on Tuesday. Speakers included AIPAC’s Northeast Political Director Jason Koppel, Outreach Director Aldrin Enis, Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan and AIPAC National Council member Richard St. Paul.
Spotted: Michael Miller, Alyson Spindel, State Senators David Carlucci and Brian Benjamin; Richie Taylor, Herb Block, Sara Liss, Phil Jones, Amelia Adams, Sara Valenzuela, Julian Kline, Yana Lukeman, Phil Darivoff, Matt Engel, Batsheva Neuer, Ari Hirt, Karen Blatt, Linda and Ronald Daitz, Tiffany Raspberry, Stella Binkevich, Maria Castro, Calvin Souder, Larry Scott Blackman, James Hendon, Ryan Karben, Keren Viktor, Andy Marte, Shir Cohen, Dor Malul, Daniel Flesch, Emanuel Almog, Justin Hayet, Chanina Sperlin, and Yeruchim Silber.
Born in Ramat Gan, now living in New Jersey, Grammy Award-winning violinist, Miri Ben-Ari turns 41…
Biographer and winner of the 1980 National Book Award, A. Scott Berg turns 70… Television director and producer, Dan Attias turns 68… Founder, senior rabbi and lead guide of the Adventure Rabbi program based in Boulder, Colorado, Jamie Korngold turns 54… Publisher and founder of FlashReport on California politics and principal of the Fleischman Consulting Group, Jon Fleischman turns 52… Actor best known for playing Stuart Bloom on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Kevin Sussman turns 49… Co-founder of Manhattan-based hedge fund Knighthead Capital Management, Ara D. Cohen turns 49… Screenwriter and producer, he co-created ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” Adam Horowitz turns 48…
Founder and former CEO of Relativity Media, Ryan Kavanaugh (family name was Konitz) turns 45… Comedian and former host of HQ Trivia, one of his viral videos was “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Jew,” Scott Rogowsky turns 35… Assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, he was previously a U.S. Treasury aide and a law clerk for Judge José A. Cabranes on the Second Circuit, Sam Adelsberg turns 33… Deputy director of the States Team at the Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign, Sarah Baron turns 29… First round pick in the 2016 National Hockey League draft, he is a center for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, Luke Kunin turns 22… Israeli fashion model, as a 14-year-old she became the lead model for Dior, in 2019 she enlisted in the IDF, Sofia Mechetner turns 19… Tony Sarif...