Good Friday morning!
Today in Virginia, the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School’s Center for International Law in the Middle East will host its inaugural workshop on the European Court of Justice’s ruling in the Psagot Winery case. Former U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Stuart Eizenstat will deliver opening remarks.
In the UK, the British Treasury announced that it had designated all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and will freeze the group’s assets.
120 members of Congress issued letters of support to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for their annual gala conference last November, according to a new report from the Free Beacon.
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Jared Kushner opens up to ‘Time’
Jared Kushner opened up about his work at the White House and his role with the 2020 reelection campaign of his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, in an in-depth interview with Brian Bennett in Time magazine, featured on the cover of next week’s issue and published online on Thursday.
Case of survival: Kushner revealed his secret formula to navigate a chaotic White House amid an unprecedented amount of staff turnover. “One thing you have to remember when you work for President Trump is that you don’t make the waves. He makes the waves,” Kushner explained. “Your job is to surf the wave as best as you can every day. And you have to always smile and have a sense of humor with it, because he’s the one who’s got the instinct… It’s very rare that I’ll give my opinion to the President in front of other people… My job is to, when he asks my advice on things, give him my advice. But then when the President makes a decision, my job is to help him execute that decision.”
Deputy POTUS: Brad Parscale, who serves as Trump’s re-election campaign manager under Kushner’s guidance, tells the magazine, “Nobody has more influence in the White House than Jared. Nobody has more influence outside the White House than Jared. He’s No. 2 after Trump.”
Palace intrigue: Bennett details the internal debate over moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the fall of 2017, and how Kushner twisted the arms of then-secretaries of state and defense Rex Tillerson and James Mattis to persuade the president to defy their objections. “I just want to say for the record, I am against this,” Tillerson is quoted as telling Trump during a meeting on the matter. “Less than a month later,” Bennett writes, “Tillerson learned he was being fired as he read Twitter on the toilet. Kushner and others suggested replacing him with CIA chief Mike Pompeo… Pompeo took the job and has become one of Trump’s most loyal aides, pushing a pro-Israel, anti-Iran agenda that comports with Kushner’s.”
Tech Shabbat:“Campaign officials competing for power often waited until Friday nights to approach Trump about decisions Kushner opposed, according to two former campaign officials, knowing that as modern Orthodox Jews, Kushner and Ivanka would be home for Shabbat and off electronic devices. In October 2016, rivals tried to strip Parscale’s control over television ad buys while Kushner was out of the office observing Yom Kippur.”
Noticeable items: The magazine featured photos of a framed revised map of Israel with a personal note from Trump, pointing to his Golan recognition, a folder marked AEI (the American Enterprise Institute) and a mezuzah at the entrance to Jared’s office in the West Wing.
Leon Black grants a rare interview to Businessweek
Known for avoiding the press, Apollo Global Management founder and CEO Leon Black granted a rare interview to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Caleb Melby and Heather Perlberg. Black discussed his professional career — and his personal journey, including the suicide of his father when the younger Black was in his early 20s.
Risky business: Black gained his reputation — and fortune — from buying debt-saddled and low-performing companies, adopting strict austerity measures and eventually exacting enormous management fees. According to Melby and Perlberg, Black worried this strategy has left him with a reputation for unnecessary risk, something he angrily denied. “We’ve actually made our most money during recessions,” he countered. “Everybody else is running for the doors, and we’re backing up the trucks.”
Starting off: A philosophy major at Dartmouth, Black did not initially intend to pursue a career in finance. His father, the chief executive of United Brands Co., insisted his son attend Harvard Business School. In Black’s second year in Cambridge, his father killed himself. “My father was God to me. And then he committed suicide. Suicides, you know, aren’t usually committed by gods,” Black told Bloomberg. “It took me years of therapy to get over that and to figure out where he ended and I began.”
If at first you don’t succeed: Black was rejected for a job at Lehman Brothers and told that he wasn’t cut out for Wall Street. After meeting Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc.’s Fred Joseph through a family friend, Black joined Joseph at the bank in 1977. Four years later, Black made partner.
On Epstein: Black dodged questions regarding his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who had served on the board of Black’s family foundation. According to one source who spoke to Bloomberg, Black’s career would be severely impacted were Epstein still alive.
Coming out on top: “If anything has made Apollo seemingly risk-immune, it’s this ability of Black’s to emerge clean from a quagmire,” Melby and Perlberg write. “It’s a pattern that’s defined his career: One way or another, Black always wins.”
talk of the city
Bail reform dispute draws protests
Jewish elected officials and liberal Jewish groups gathered on the steps of New York City Hall on Thursday to push back against efforts to amend the new bail reform bill in the wake of a wave of antisemitic violence.
Defending criminal justice reform: Assemblymembers Harvey Epstein, Dan Quart and Linda Rosenthal — sponsors of the bail reform law passed last year — highlighted their Jewish identity to argue against the assertion that a rollback of the new law would make Jews safer in New York. “As a Jewish person, I understand that we cannot allow our fear, which is now stoked for political gain, to be used to deny justice to the most vulnerable members of our society,” Rosenthal said.
Not in our name: Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), who represents parts of the Hasidic community in Borough Park, touched upon an essay written by James Baldwin during the struggle for civil rights in the mid-60s. Lander suggested that “Jews become scapegoats for inequalities in society and fear-mongers used inequality to scapegoat Jews, and that is a very large reason why Jews are in harm’s way. But if you know that antisemitism is in very large parts scapegoating Jews for inequality in society, then why on earth would you propose making more inequality? It’s not just and it won’t keep Jews safe.”
View from within: At the rally, activists Elad Nehorai, known online as “Pop Chassid,” and Abby Stein, a former Hasidic rabbi and trans activist, shared their views on the matter. Stein said the attempt to roll back bail reform has managed to “confuse and bring in even more fear in Hasidic communities. I see it, I talk to these people. Right now, many of them are buying into the misinformation, and those who don’t are confused about what is really happening.”
Combating hate speech: In a press conference on Wednesday, legislators and local leaders in Ocean County, New Jersey, decried the rise of hate speech and growing antisemitism on social media platforms specifically targeting the Jewish community in the county and in small towns across the state of New Jersey.
Hands down: In a letter sent to Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina, Dr. Richard Roberts, a prominent Republican donor from Lakewood N.J., accused the town of a blatant antisemitic campaign against the growing Jewish population. “The use of the power of government to discriminate against and trample a particular religious expression must not be allowed to stand,” he writes. Roberts warns Reina that he will draw national media attention and lobby federal government officials if the anti-Orthodox hatred continues. Read the full letter here.
United against hate: Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based GOP donor, write in The Hill that the fight against antisemitism must be bipartisan. “Members of both political parties must stop politicizing acts of extremism and vilification by the members of the other party,” they stress. The pair also call on the Senate to follow the House and upgrade the role of special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism to an ambassador-rank official.
Shabbat in Iowa: On Friday evening January 24th, join OneTable in Des Moines, Iowa for a pre-Caucus unity Shabbat dinner. Register here
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📱Cell Service: The battle between the U.S. federal government and the Chinese communications company Huawei is detailed in Wired. Accused of serving as a Trojan horse for the Chinese government, the company has led a massive expansion campaign across the globe. This includes seeking work within Iran. [Wired]
🎓 Campus Beat: Two New York rabbis, Ammiel Hirsch and Joshua Davidson, argue in The New York Times that growing “hatred of Israel” is spreading from college campuses to elementary and high school classrooms, producing an environment that “teaches, accelerates and normalizes antisemitism.” [NYTimes]
🗳️ On the Trail: Rosie Gray writes in BuzzFeed News about the atypical campaign Michael Bloomberg is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. The former New York City mayor, she says, “stormed into the campaign with a shock-and-awe approach,” and is already acting like he’s running in the general election. [BuzzFeed]
Around the Web
🙏 Like a Prayer: The White House yesterday announced a new guidance that pushes states to inform the federal government if complaints are filed regarding students’ right to pray. The Jewish Democratic Council of America said the move was another attempt to chip away at the separation of church and state.
🇮🇷 Choosing Sides:In The Daily Beast, Ronald Radosh looks at Senator Bernie Sanders’ support of the Iranian government during the 1979-1980 standoff between Washington in Tehran, during which time dozens of Americans were held hostage in the Islamic republic.
💾 Shining Example:In an interview with the New York Times editorial board, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg pointed out how the Israeli start-up community is able to thrive with state-supported grants. Buttigieg’s comment came amid a broader conversation about solutions to tackle income inequality.
🚫 Grassroots:The Times looks at how a coalition of disparate groups, including Agudath Israel of America, banded together to bring down legislation in New Jersey that would have ended religious exemptions for vaccinations.
📺 Premiering on Sunday:The first episode of the 10th season of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” titled “Happy New Year,” will air Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. EST on HBO.
📱 Mea Culpa: Twitter apologized yesterday for allowing the purchase of ads targeting neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.
🎥 Coming Soon: CNN anchor Jake Tapper announced yesterday that “The Outpost,” a film based on his book about one of the deadliest battles in the war in Afghanistan, will premiere in March at SXSW.
⚖️ Day in Court: A Tel Aviv court judge rejected a petition by the spyware firm NSO Group to dismiss a case brought against it by Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent Saudi dissident based in Canada, who alleged that the company’s surveillance technology was used by Saudi Arabia to hack his phone and obtain his conversations with murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
💸 J’accuse: Christian Saunders, the interim head of UNRWA, accused the U.S. and Israel of working to prevent the U.N. body in Gaza from receiving funding from Europe, but later backtracked and said “pro-Israel groups” are the ones doing so.
🚃 Ghost Rails: Matti Friedman explores the abandoned train tracks that dot Israel from north to south, and the stories they tell about a once more-connected strip of land.
📖 Never Again is Now: The New York Time sshines a spotlight on the nonfiction work De-integrate Yourselves by Max Czollek, who argues that Germany is a “huge graveyard” and that the country is not “reckoning with the rise of antisemitism, xenophobia and racism.”
🔫 Talk of the Nation: The FBI arrested three suspected neo-Nazis who were planning to attend a gun rally in Virginia next week that is expected to draw white supremacists and extremist groups. In Maryland, a Nazi sympathizer pleaded guilty after threatening in Facebook messages to kill Hispanic people.
⌨️ Talk of the Town: The Sussex County Republican Party in Delaware voted earlier this week to oust its vice chair, Nelly Jordan, over Facebook comments that singled out Jews as being responsible for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
🥫 Chow Down: The BBC reports on the rising popularity of kosher food around the world, and how the global kosher food market is expected to hit $60 billion in annual sales by 2025.
🎬 Hollywood: The first season of HBO and Keshet’s “Rise and Kill First,” based on Ronen Bergman’s book about Israel’s history of targeted assassinations, will focus on the joint CIA-Mossad operation to take out Hezbollah co-founder Imad Mughniyeh.
Pic of the Day
Texas Governor Greg Abbott listening to a presentation from Wendy Singer during a visit to Start-Up Nation Central on Thursday while on a trip to Israel. Seated next to Abbott is Anat Kaufman Zeidman, a Houston-based strategic partner of Start-Up Nation Central.
Abbott also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited the Western Wall.
President and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies in D.C., Steve Rabinowitz turns 63 today…
FRIDAY: Former member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1980-1996), in 1967 he was the attorney who won the Supreme Court case banning state laws against interracial marriage, Bernard S. Cohen turns 86… Former two-term member of Congress from Iowa (1973-1977), he is the father-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, Edward Mezvinsky turns 83… Host of television’s tabloid talk show “Maury,” originally known as the “Maury Povich Show,” Maury Povich turns 81… Reporter, columnist and editor covering religion, education and NYC neighborhoods for The New York Times (on staff 1984-2014) and author of four books, Joseph Berger turns 75… Australia’s Chief Scientist since 2016, and former chancellor of Monash University, Alan Finkel turns 67… Economist, professor and the founder of six companies, Paul Zane Pilzer turns 66…
Executive health care editor at Politico, Joanne Kenen turns 62… Majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and investor in dozens of companies, Dan Gilbert turns 58… Professor of law at Harvard University, Jesse M. Fried turns 57… Film director and producer, Bart Freundlich turns 50… President of the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute, Yohanan Plesner turns 48… Kansas City-native, now DC-based managing director for PR firm Finsbury, Jeremy Pelofsky turns 45… Odessa-born choreographer and dance instructor, widely known as one of the professional dancers in “Dancing with the Stars,” Maksim Chmerkovskiy turns 40… Associate director for foundation relations at J Street, Becca Freedman turns 38… Executive director of GatherDC, Rachel Gildiner turns 37… Director of operations at the City of Hoboken, Jason Freeman turns 31… Political reporter for CNN, Rebecca Berg Buck turns 30… Senior social policy and content strategist at Elizabeth Warren for President, Alyssa Franke turns 28… Impact finance attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Perry Teicher…
SATURDAY: Publisher of The Boston Guardian, David Jacobs turns 72… Communications director at NYC’s Charter Commission, JoAnne Wasserman turns 65… Microbiologist and professor of biology at Wichita State University, Mark A. Schneegurt, Ph.D. turns 58… 2016 presidential candidate and former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley turns 57… Chief financial officer of Harold Grinspoon’s Aspen Square Management, Jeremy Pava turns 57… Strategic advisor for Olami (an umbrella group for campus outreach) and a founding director of the Honest Reporting website, Rabbi Yitz Greenman turns 56… Personal finance commentator and journalist, Beth Kobliner turns 55…
VP of government and airport affairs at JetBlue Airways, Jeffrey Goodell turns 51… Head of public affairs at the DC office of APCO Worldwide, Gadi Dechter turns 45… SVP of PR firm GMMB, with a focus on education policy, Samara Yudof Jones turns 42… Actor and producer, he wrote and acted in 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and 2011’s “The Muppets,” Jason Jordan Segel turns 40… Baltimore-born basketball player, dubbed by Sports Illustrated as the “Jewish Jordan” in a 1999 feature, Tamir Goodman turns 38… Israeli-born actor, best known for his web series “Jake and Amir,” Amir Blumenfeld turns 37… Deputy political director of the midwest region of AIPAC, Talia Alter Gevaryahu turns 29… Linda Rubin… Executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition of Greater Washington, Judy Novenstein…
SUNDAY: Retired after 40 years of service as a news reporter and White House correspondent for ABC News, Ann Compton turns 73… CEO of Charleston, South Carolina-based InterTech Group, a family-owned chemicals manufacturer, Anita Zucker turns 68… Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Amy Laura Wax turns 67… President and CEO of PayPal and Chairman of the Board of Symantec, he is also on the board of Verizon, Daniel H. Schulman turns 62… Jay Susman turns 59… Los Angeles-based attorney and founder of the blog, American Trial Attorneys in Defense of Israel, Baruch C. Cohen turns 57… Retired member of the British Parliament (1997-2009), he was Speaker of the House of Commons (2009-2019), his family name was originally Berkowitz, John Simon Bercow turns 57…
Governor of Illinois since 2019, Jay Robert “J.B.” Pritzker turns 55… Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News, Jonathan Karl turns 52… United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba turns 46… Television journalist and motivational speaker, Jessica Abo turns 39… D.C.-based director of political outreach at AJC: Global Jewish Advocacy, Julie Fishman Rayman turns 39… VP of income security, child care and early learning at the National Women’s Law Center, Melissa Boteach turns 37… Isaac (Ike) Wolf turns 36… Assistant director of policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Alex Bronzo turns 35… Actor since early childhood, he has already appeared in over 25 films including playing d’Artagnan in 2011’s “The Three Musketeers,” Logan Lerman turns 28… Senior account executive at Chicago’s Resolute Consulting, Emily Berman Pevnick…