Good Tuesday morning!
This afternoon in Las Vegas, Ivanka Trump will keynote the annual CES conference, in conversation with CEO Gary Shapiro, during a talk held at Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian resort.
In New Jersey, Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) are holding an interfaith event at the Hackensack Performing Arts Center to discuss the alarming rise of antisemitism.
Tonight in Los Angeles, Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook will discuss the Trump administration’s Iran policy in a conversation with Rabbi David Wolpe at Sinai Temple. More below.
In Jerusalem last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with White House Mideast Envoy Avi Berkowitz to discuss the long-delayed Mideast peace deal.
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DRIVING THE DAY — Brian Hook to field questions on Iran at L.A. synagogue
Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, will discuss the Trump administration’s Iran policy in a conversation with Rabbi David Wolpe at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles this evening.
Rabbi Wolpe tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that although the event was scheduled before the U.S. killing of Qassim Soleimani last week, he is interested in hearing from the Trump administration official about preparations made before the assassination and the anticipated fallout. “I mean, we hear a lot of pundits, but ‘What do you think — from where you are — will happen?’” Wolpe said he intends to ask Hook: “‘Does Iran’s leaving the nuclear agreement, which seems now definitive, lead you to question your strategy, and what steps should Israel, America, even American Jews, take or what awarenesses should they have?’ There’s a lot here.”
On his mind: Wolpe added that since half of his congregation are of Iranian descent, they would want to know “if there were, for example, any consideration of the Jewish community in Iran, and also what’s the end game? I don’t think any of them are upset that Soleimani is gone. I mean, we’re all delighted. But the question is, was this done with the kind of forethought and planning that was put in when America took out Saddam Hussein? Have we prepared and in what ways can you share with us that we’ve prepared? And also I’m curious if Israel was consulted and why does he think that previous presidents, as well as Israel, have never done this?’”
Shul-hopping: Hook spoke last night at the Eretz Synagogue in L.A.
Coming soon: Vice President Mike Pence will outline the administration’s policy on Iran in a speech at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies national security summit on Monday in Washington, D.C.
DRUMS OF WAR — Israel aims to distance itself from Iranian fallout
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told cabinet ministers during a briefing on Monday that Israel wasn’t involved in the killing of Soleimani and that the Jewish state “should stay out of it.”
Israel’s intel chiefs: According to Israel’s Channel 13’s report, Mossad head Yossi Cohen and Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heyman of IDF military intelligence told ministers that the possibility of an Iranian attack against Israel is low and that “Israel stayed at a distance from the incident.”
In an annual report presented to President Reuven Rivlin on Monday, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) warned that Iran’s recent actions and the killing of Soleimani increase the possibility of war in the region. “Iran will likely try to respond powerfully to Soleimani’s death with attacks on American targets, but it may also take action against U.S. allies in the Middle East, including Israel,” the Israeli think tank posited.
Warning: The U.S. Embassy in Israel warned American citizens in the country of possible rocket attacks in an advisory issued on Monday.
Heard yesterday: Yaakov Amidror, a former national security advisor to Netanyahu, said on a conference call hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) that it “wouldn’t be wise” to discuss whether Israel would retaliate to possible Iranian attacks. “We are in a confrontation with the Iranians in Syria for a long time,” he explained. “We intend to pick the battlefield [where] we feel we are stronger, and the main goal is to stop Iran from establishing a presence in Syria. We should not take premature decisions before such an attack may happen.”
Recipe for escalation: Ilan Goldenberg, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, said in a briefing hosted by the Israel Policy Forum: “There are ways to restore deterrence without triggering an all-out conflict that we might have gotten. Take for example, what the Israelis have done. Israelis have managed to hit 1,000 Iranian targets inside of Syria over the last few years without triggering much Iranian retaliation. Why? Because they’ve done it quietly, because they’ve been methodical, because they’ve gone out of their way to not cause major casualties, and had it planned weeks ahead. And [the Soleimani killing] was all done slap-dash in just a few days, and was owned very publicly. When we beat our chest very loudly, as the president does, you make a retaliation by Iran much more likely.”
Diplomacy dip: The U.S. reportedly denied Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif a visa to enter the country and attend a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York this week. Meanwhile, European diplomats said yesterday that they would be meeting on Friday to discuss the 2015 nuclear deal, and potentially renew U.N. sanctions on Tehran.
Bibi’s magic wand: Iran’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal could revive the possibility of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, The Associated Press‘s Josef Federman writes. As such, it could play in Netanyahu’s favor as the issue moves to the forefront ahead of the March 2 election.
Hot take: William J. Burns and Jake Sullivan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote in The Atlantic that “the collateral damage from the strike on Soleimani will likely be greater than the Trump administration bargained for.”
Bonus:The New York Times’ Michael Crowley talks to Never Trumpers who supported the president’s decision to target Soleimani.
NEW BOSS — Hillel International names Adam Lehman as CEO
Adam Lehman, the acting CEO and former COO of Hillel International, will become the organization’s next permanent CEO, Jewish Insider first reported yesterday.
Bio: Lehman joined Hillel International as COO in 2015 after serving as president and COO of New York-based software company Lotame Solutions. His resume includes time as a senior vice president at AOL, founder of Rock Ridge Ventures and president and COO of GeniusRocket.
Big plans: “In 2020 and beyond, we will work to engage and inspire even more Jewish students on campus through our uniquely pluralistic and inclusive philosophy and approach,” Lehman said in a statement. “We’ll also further strengthen Hillel’s role as the platform through which Jewish communities on campus live out our Jewish values, pursuing social justice, volunteerism and relationship building initiatives that serve the broader campus community and world.”
Read more here.
MOVING UP — Mark Levine announces run for Manhattan borough president
New York City Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) is set to formally announce today a bid to replace outgoing Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in the 2021 Democratic primary.
Bio: Levine has represented New York City’s 7th Council district in northern Manhattan since 2014. Levine, who will hit his term limit in 2021, served as chairman of the New York City Jewish Caucus in his first term. Levine is one of three councilmembers who pushed for legislation to create the recently opened Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes.
Breaking down barriers: In an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh on Monday, Levine said that “the borough of Manhattan is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world,” and as such it is obviously subject to antisemitism. “I’m really proud of being someone who not only openly embraces his Jewish identity, but also as one who represents a city council district in northern Manhattan, which is fabulously diverse and mostly home to people of color — it’s actually only 7 or 8% Jewish. And that reflects the power of coalition building across diverse lines that we need more of,” he explained. “I think that we here in Manhattan have an opportunity and obligation to prove that we can come together, that we can break down the barriers that are dividing people, and we need government to lead on that.”
Big shoes to fill: Levine acknowledges that he has big shoes to fill, as Brewer is well-liked and a dedicated public servant. “Gale Brewer has simply set the standard of what it means to be an ethical, smart, hardworking and successful elected official,” he stated. “She’s a role model for me, and I’m hoping to be able to continue on her amazing work.”
Fighting antisemitism: In both of his races for the New York City Council, Levine faced a vicious antisemitic campaign from his primary opponent, activist Thomas Lopez-Pierre. Levine tells JI he doesn’t know if Lopez-Pierre will attack him in this race, but it doesn’t matter. “I felt vindicated in the 2017 election in that I faced an open antisemite and we won 75% of the vote,” he said. “It’s a hopeful sign for me, and it’s the kind of strategy that I’m going to take borough-wide. I have confronted explicit antisemitism in politics before and I’ve proven that we can beat it, and I plan on continuing that strategy of openly denouncing antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head.”
Bonus: Levine often speaks in Hebrew in public appearances.
NUMBER CRUNCHING — Antisemitic incidents jumped 26% in NYC last year
New York City saw an increase of 26% in antisemitic incidents in 2019, according to the latest annual crime statistics released by the NYPD on Monday. The number of reported crimes rose from 186 incidents in 2018 to 234 in 2019. The vast majority of incidents, between 70 and 75%, were swastikas and antisemitic graffiti found in public spaces.
Taking action: To address the growing trend, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters that the NYPD has a fully staffed Hate Crimes Task Force and a new Racially and Ethnically Motivated Extremism unit, in addition to increased police presence — more than 150 officers in uniform — in select areas of the city. Shea also announced that, for the first time, the department will start incorporating hate crime stats into each precinct’s weekly CompStat reporting.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that increased patrols in Jewish neighborhoods will continue as long as necessary. “Obviously, we all want this crisis to end. We all want to get to the normal we had before… I think it would be safe to say this is one of the places in the history of the world the Jewish community found the most refuge, the most support, the most peace. We want to restore that reality 110%.”
That was me: At the press conference, the mayor also admitted that he intervened in the prosecution of an accused antisemitic attacker, Tiffany Harris, after she was released twice before being charged for multiple crimes. “I absolutely made an inquiry,” de Blasio said.
Bonus:Tablet’s Jacob Siegel has penned a profile of Devorah Halberstam, the mother of Ari Halberstam, a 16-year-old boy who was murdered in a 1994 antisemitic shooting on the Brooklyn Bridge. Today Halberstam, who “seems to know the numbers for half the cops, prosecutors, and politicians in New York,” is sounding the alarm of “a real crisis” in the city.
👩💼 New Path: In New York Magazine, David Freedlander looks back at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) first year in office and how she reshaped her party’s agenda ahead of the 2020 election. [NYMag]
👑 Royal Family:The New Yorkerpreviews Andrea Bernstein’s upcoming book, American Oligarchs: The Kushners, The Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power, on the Kushner family history and Jared Kushner’s relationship with his father, Charlie. [NewYorker]
💸 Big Bucks: Vox’s Theodore Schleifer is shining a light on Mind the Gap, a secretive group of Silicon Valley academics who have been funneling millions of dollars to Democratic candidates, in part by building donor pitches complete with statistics and analytics. [Vox]
AROUND THE WEB
🤴 Royal Visit: Buckingham Palace confirmed yesterday that Prince Charles will travel to Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories later this month, including a visit to Bethlehem and a speech at a forum in Yad Vashem marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
📱 Controversial Tweet:Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon came under fire for tweeting that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) had been selected as the “antisemite of the year” by a newly created organization, Stop Anti-Semitism.
🖋️ Against antisemitism: Oil tycoon Harold Hamm, Fred Zeidman and John McNabb, leaders from the Council for a Secure America, an organization that pushes American energy independence and bolsters ties between the oil and gas industry and the pro-Israel community, penned an op-ed denouncing antisemitism.
📈 Hiring Spree: Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has hired 500 staffers in more than 30 states, including all 14 Super Tuesday states.
🚪 Closing the Door: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly decided against running for an open Senate seat in Kansas.
⚽ Sports Blink: A British soccer player is being investigated by the English Football Association for tweeting about “the Rothchilds” (sic) profiting from “WWIII.”
🇨🇳 Timing Dept: At a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, Michael Bloomberg’s company continues to host Davos-style events in China.
🏟️ League Gamble: Americans with a background in private equity are increasingly looking to purchase or invest in British soccer teams.
🚌 Hate Knows No End: A 13-year old Jewish boy was attacked aboard a London bus on Monday. Headed towards the Stamford Hill neighborhood, the boy was punched in the stomach by a male assailant shouting antisemitic slurs.
👫 Countering Nazis: At the same time as Sunday’s “No Hate, No Fear” march, hundreds of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn residents linked hands on 3rd Avenue protesting recent Nazi fliers that have been posted around the neighborhood.
🗳️ Moving On: The Jewish Labour Movement tellsThe Jewish Chronicle that there has been “a flood” of new applications to join the group since election day in order to cast a vote in Labour’s forthcoming leadership contest.
🇲🇰 New Post: North Macedonia, a country with approximately 200 Jews, has named Rasela Mizrahi as its first-ever Jewish cabinet minister.
🏺 Digging Deep: Archeologists in Israel say they have discovered an ancient wine-measuring table dating back 2,000 years in Jerusalem.
🏖️ Tourist Stats: Israel enjoyed a record 4.55 million visits from tourists last year, but is worried 2020 will see a slowdown after a cut in the Tourism Ministry’s advertising budget.
🖼️ Artistic Journey: A painting looted from a Jewish family by the Nazis in World War II ended up unknowingly donated to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 1993; the painting will be returned to its rightful owners later this year.
🥂 Drink Up: The first kosher bar in the former Soviet Union has opened in Odessa, Ukraine, serving kugel, Torah study and drinks named after Sholem Aleichem and Meir Dizengoff.
👶 Mazel tov: Rich Goldberg, who was reported to have left his post at the National Security Council “due to personal reasons,” and his wife, Roxanne, welcomed a baby girl on Sunday.
🕯️ Remembering: Emily Landau, a senior research fellow and Iran expert at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, died yesterday at age 59.
🕯️ Tzipora Fanny Dayan, the mother of Israeli Consul General to New York Dani Dayan, died yesterday in Israel.
PIC OF THE DAY
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the AIPAC Northeast Gala at the Lincoln Center in NYC last night.
Public officials in attendance included Reps. Eliot Engel, Jerry Nadler, Yvette Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Carolyn Maloney, Kathleen Rice, Max Rose, Tom Suozzi, Josh Gottheimer and Tom Malinowski; Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, State Senators David Carlucci and Brad Hoylman; Assemblymembers Michael Blake, David Buchwald, Simcha Eichenstein, Nicole Malliotakis, Daniel Rosenthal, Aravella Simotas; Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Councilmembers Ritchie Torres, Joe Borelli, Robert Cornegy, Mark Levine, Kalman Yeger; Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman, New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon, and Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan.
|Founder of Keystone Strategy + Advocacy, Aryeh Eliezer “Ari” Mittleman turns 37…|
U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, he was appointed by President Clinton in 1994, Judge Paul D. Borman turns 81… Pulitzer Prize-winning sports writer, Ira Berkow turns 80… Co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jann Wenner turns 74… Scottsdale, Arizona resident, Bruce Robert Dorfman turns 74… Retired president of the University of South Florida System, Judy Genshaft turns 72… Israeli Minister of Education and the leader of the Bayit Yehudi party, Rafael “Rafi” Peretz turns 64… CEO of Glencore, Ivan Glasenberg turns 63… Dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Beverly Hills, starting in 2011 he assumed control of his family’s nationwide real estate operations with over 200 properties, Dr. Ezra Kest turns 62… Documentary filmmaker with a focus on social justice inquiries and Jewish history subjects, Roberta Grossman turns 61…
Heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, Anthony Pritzker turns 59… Physician, U.S. Senator from Kentucky since 2011, Rand Paul turns 57… Managing director and senior relationship manager at Bank of America, she also serves as president of the Jewish Communal Fund, Zoya Raynes turns 44… Television and film actress, Lauren Cohan turns 38… Director of communications at the Center For Global Development and senior communications advisor to the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Holly Shulman turns 37… Assistant director at Hillel of Stanford University, Jeremy Ragent turns 33… Chief conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and music director designate of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Lahav Shani turns 31… Los Angeles-based creator and host of the history podcast Noble Blood, and correspondent at Entertainment Weekly, Dana Schwartz turns 27… The first Israeli player ever drafted by a Major League Baseball team, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 2018, Dean Kremer turns 24…