Good Friday morning!
Tonight at 8 p.m. EST on ABC, seven Democratic 2020 candidates — former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire Tom Steyer — will hit the debate stage ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
In New York on Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and members of the New York congressional delegation will speak at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York’s annual breakfast. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who is retiring at the end of the year, will deliver a farewell address.
Also on Sunday, Likud MK Nir Barkat, former MK Yehuda Glick and New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn) will address an event hosted by the Zionist Organization of America in Brooklyn’s Manhattan Beach to promote their slate for the World Zionist Congress election. Barkat will appear in the evening at a similar event in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Yesterday in Los Angeles, actor Michael Douglas spoke of how much his father, Kirk Douglas — who died on Wednesday at age 103 — “loved” Michael Bloomberg during an event in support of Bloomberg’s White House bid. In The New York Times, Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple shared his experience studying the bible with the late Douglas.
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on the hill
100 House Democrats pen letter against Trump’s peace plan
Around 100 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday expressing their “strong disapproval” of the Middle East peace plan released last week.
In the draft letter — spearheaded by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Andy Levin (D-MI) — obtained by Jewish Insider ahead of its public release, the House members assert that the plan will push Israelis and Palestinians toward further conflict, and that the proposal gives Israel a “license to violate international law” by annexing settlements in the West Bank.
Not what we expected: According to the Democratic lawmakers, the map crafted by the administration’s Mideast peace team — which includes a demilitarized Palestinian state on 70% of the West Bank — makes a “genuine two-state solution impossible.” The territory given to the Palestinians for a state, they argue, would be surrounded by settlements and under Israeli control, which “does not constitute statehood.”
Poor timing: “Coming just over a month before Israel’s third election in a year – against the backdrop of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictments – releasing the plan now appears to be an inappropriate intervention in a foreign election,” the letter reads.
Stern warning: Jared Kushner, the architect of the peace plan, blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for an increase in violence since the plan’s release last week. Leaders who are ready for statehood “don’t call for days of rage and encourage their people to pursue violence if they’re not getting what they want,” Kushner said following a meeting with members of the U.N. Security Council. Kushner urged the Palestinians to seize the moment and return to the negotiation table. “If they would like to meet, we’re happy to do it, but we’re not going to chase them,” he added.
Just jealous: Kushner told reporters at the U.N. that the upcoming joint press conference between Abbas and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in New York is “almost pathetic.” The fact that they are “criticizing other people’s efforts to try and reach an agreement,” he said, “comes from a lot of jealousy that they couldn’t do it themselves.”
Wait and see: U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman clarified his position on annexation on Thursday, telling The Jerusalem Post that the White House will support a move to annex some settlements in the West Bank once a technical and detailed map is drawn. Last week, Haaretz reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s initial declaration that he would immediately move forward with annexation was done at the urging of Friedman, but without the approval of Kushner. But Friedman insisted to JPost that “there has never been a substantive disagreement on these issues.”
heard on the trail
Warren says she’ll skip AIPAC, Sanders reflects on Jewish heritage
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said during a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, yesterday that she will skip the AIPAC Policy Conference this year, scheduled to take place March 1-3 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C.
Professional questioner: The questioner, an IfNotNow activist who identified herself as Sarah from Boston and who asked Berne Sanders the same question a day earlier, asserted that AIPAC has formed an “unholy alliance with Islamophobes and antisemites and white nationalists, and no Democrat should legitimize that bigotry by attending their annual policy conference.” Warren didn’t push back and simply said ‘yeah’ when asked if she would commit skipping the conference.
Personal views: Warren refused to say whether she would encourage other candidates to follow suit. Instead, the 2020 hopeful explained her views on Mideast peace: “The way I see this, is that for America to be a good ally of Israel and of the Palestinians, we need to encourage both parties to get to the negotiating table.”
Jewish heritage: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke about the effect his Jewish heritage has had on his life during a live CNN town hall in New Hampshire last night. “I remember as a kid looking at these big picture books of World War II, and tears would roll down my cheeks when I saw what happened to the Jewish people,” he said. “Six million people were killed by Hitler. And I think, at a very early age, even before my political thoughts were developed, I was aware of the horrible things that human beings can do to other people in the name of racism or white nationalism or, in this case, Nazism.” Watch the full exchange here.
Friend-raisers: Michael Bloomberg is courting wealthy donors, The New York Timesreports, just not for donations. Instead he is asking for their “personal support,” scaring other financially strapped candidates in the race.
No answers: 100% of the results in Iowa were reported Thursday, but The Associated Presssaid it still could not declare a winner due to “irregularities” and the “tight margin” between the two leading candidates, Sanders and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg. A new poll in New Hampshire showed a surge for Buttigieg after his surprisingly strong showing in Iowa. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has “gone missing” in New Hampshire after his disappointing Iowa finish.
JI’s guide to this year’s Oscars
Millions of viewers will be tuning in Sunday evening for the 92nd Academy Awards, the most prestigious prize in Hollywood. Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro breaks down what to look out for at this year’s ceremony:
Laughing at Hitler: “Jojo Rabbit” is up for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Scarlett Johansson. The film — written, directed and produced by the Jewish phenom Taika Waititi — is about a Nazi youth who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. The black comedy gets an extra punch from the appearance of the boy’s imaginary friend, Hitler, played by Waititi himself.
Hebrew watch: Israeli actress Gal Gadot will be presenting an award at the ceremony Sunday night — though she’s unlikely to break out her native tongue. But Quentin Tarantino is up for best director for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” — which is also nominated for Best Picture. The director could very well repeat parts of his Golden Globes speech, which included a Hebrew shoutout to his Israeli wife, Daniella Pick, who is due to give birth any day now in Tel Aviv.
Getting political: After a week capped by the acquittal of President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment, it would be no surprise to hear acceptance speeches turn political Sunday night. While the Academy Awards tends to be a more staid affair than other recent awards shows, presenters and red carpet walkers may also make known their views on the current state of politics.
Remembering: The Academy rushed to edit its “in memoriam” package to include Kirk Douglas, the Hollywood legend who died on Wednesday at age 103. Douglas never won a competitive Oscar — despite three nominations — but he was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1996 for his 50 years in the business.
in the race
Candidate in Silicon Valley state senate race attracts big-name supporters
Josh Becker, a philanthropist, venture capitalist and entrepreneur, is gaining attention for his run for California’s state senate, racking up support from big-name endorsers and fundraisers. Becker spoke withJewish Insider’s Marc Rod about his political priorities.
Why he’s running: “I’m motivated by innovative solutions to big public problems,” Becker said. “I’m always looking for how to have the biggest impact, I’m always looking for innovative solutions.” He said he is focused on education, environmental policy, housing and transportation. “I want to be the statewide leader in climate change,” he said. His policy proposals include making state agencies carbon neutral by 2030 and providing incentives for developing technology to remove carbon from the air.
Famous supporters: Becker is running in the state’s richest district, which encompasses parts of Silicon Valley. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and prominent progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) have all endorsed Becker. A committee supporting Becker recently received a $500,000 donation from billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, the Palo Alto Daily Postreported, bringing his fundraising total to more than $1.4 million. Becker says these supporters have been attracted by his “lifetime of involvement.”
Background in philanthropy and activism: Becker founded the Full Circle Fund, a nonprofit which has provided more than $12 million in grants to Bay Area nonprofits. It was through this work that Becker met Newsom and Hoffman, he said. He’s also the chairman of a legal analytics firm, a member of California’s Workforce Development Board and has been involved in other civic and fundraising work at the local and national level. His experiences in the philanthropic world spurred his run: “After 20 years at Full Circle, funding innovative ideas out in the nonprofit world, there was an open seat and people felt like I should run,” he said.
Not his first rodeo: After an unsuccessful run for the California State Assembly in 2010, Becker ran again in 2016, but dropped out following his father’s brain cancer diagnosis.
The race: Becker will face off against six other candidates in the primary on March 3. The top two vote-getters — regardless of party affiliation— will move on to the general election this November.
👩 Love Story:The Washington Postsat down with Diana Taylor, the longtime girlfriend of Michael Bloomberg, to discuss their unorthodox relationship. The Connecticut native said that until college, “I was never really exposed to anybody who wasn’t just like me… The first Jewish person I really came across was somebody I worked with after I graduated — she invited me to go to a seder. I had no idea what it was.” [WashPost]
🤝 Call for Bipartisanship: Fred Zeidman, a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, writes in The Houston Chronicle that bipartisanship, a “crucial underpinning” of U.S. exceptionalism, “is eroding, and it will profoundly weaken us domestically and abroad if we don’t address it soon.” [HoustonChronicle]
📚 Hogwarts, Oy Vey: Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg unveils the inside story of the journey to translate Harry Potter into Yiddish — almost 23 years after it was first published in English — thanks to an Indian-American Jewish translator and a publishing house in Sweden.[Tablet]
Around the Web
🚪 Farewell: Three WeWork board members — longtime SoftBank executive Ron Fisher, Rhone Capital CEO Steven Langman and former Goldman Sachs executive Mark Schwartz — have resigned in the past month.
💲 Helping Hand: Elliott Management has quietly built up a $2.5 billion stake in Japan’s SoftBank Group to improve its corporate governance. The investment is estimated to be around 3% of SoftBank’s market value.
😡 Revenge: The White House is considering ousting Alexander Vindman from his post on the National Security Council because of his testimony in Trump’s impeachment hearings.
🎬 Hollywood: Netflix has enlisted “Fauda” star Lior Raz and actress Sanaa Lathan to star in its upcoming thriller “Hit and Run,” now filming in Israel.
📽️ Theater Near You: Beta Cinema has acquired world sales rights for the new film “My Neighbor Adolf,” about a Holocaust survivor in Colombia in the 1960s who suspects that his new neighbor is Adolf Hitler.
⚾ Sports Blink: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said yesterday that he doesn’t believe billionaire Steve Cohen’s bid to buy the New York Mets will come to fruition.
🏃♀️ On the Run: Pioneering Orthodox marathon runner Beatie Deutsch is all ready for the Miami marathon this Sunday — her first in the U.S.
🏃♂️ Don’t Stop: Michael Granoff writes in Runner’s World that over the past 30 years he has run almost 35,000 miles in a bid to stay fit, despite the fact that he “didn’t run on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.”
✍️ Dog Whistle: Brittney Cooper, a professor at Rutgers University and a supporter of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, lashed out at Sen. Bernie Sanders’s religious faith and affiliation in a series of since-deleted tweets.
⚠️ Across the Pond: The Conservative Party has issued a formal warning to MP Daniel Kawczynski for attending a conference with far-right politicians in Italy this week, condemning his actions as “not acceptable.”
⚰️ On the Ground: An overnight Israeli airstrike on an Iranian target in Syria on Thursday has reportedly killed 23 Syrian and foreign fighters. On Friday, Russia accused Israel of endangering a plane full of civilian passengers in the strike.
🚌 Gone Dark: Haaretzreports that the once-steady stream of Chinese tour groups to Israel has dried up amid the coronavirus epidemic.
🌱 Grow For Me: 2,000-year-old date palm seeds discovered near the Dead Sea have sprouted, thanks to the work of a Hadassah Medical Center team.
Gif of the Day
At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. yesterday, Arthur Brooks, former president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and author of the book “Love Your Enemies,” asked the audience to raise their hands if they love someone whom they disagree with politically. President Donald Trump, who sat on the dais, didn’t raise his hand.
“Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you,” Trump said at the beginning of his remarks. “When they impeach you for nothing, then it’s not easy to like them.”
Milwaukee-born businessman and former U.S. senator from Wisconsin (1989-2013), Herb Kohl turns 85 today… and also born in Milwaukee on the same date 16 years later, his first cousin, senior Rabbi (now emeritus) of Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto, Baruch Frydman-Kohl turns 69…
FRIDAY: French native, now living in West Roxbury, MA, he is director of training for the Bulfinch Group, Michel R. Scheinmann turns 72… Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, Robyn Gabel turns 67… Senior research scientist at Battelle Memorial Institute and part-time instructor at Carnegie Mellon University, Rick Wice turns 64… American businessman arrested in Bolivia in July 2011 and held for 18 months without charges, freed through public outcry and the efforts of Sean Penn, Jacob Ostreicher turns 61…
Actor, humorist, comedian and writer known for his Saturday Night Live “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts and as the puppeteer and voice behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Robert Smigel turns 60… Rabbi at Beth Chai Congregation in Bethesda, MD, Deborah Bodin Cohen turns 52… VP of communications at PM Hotel Group in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Jennifer Diamond Haber turns 51… Executive director of the Aviv Foundation, Adam Simon turns 45… VP at Lieberman Research Worldwide, Jonathan Weiss turns 44… MLB pitcher from 2005 to 2017, Scott Feldman turns 37… Director of development at Chicago’s Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Rachael Fenton…
SATURDAY: Boston attorney and author, whose 2013 book on Jews and baseball was turned into the 2016 play “Swing, Schmendrick, Swing,” Larry Ruttman turns 89… Broadcast journalist Ted Koppel (born Edward James Martin Koppel) turns 80… Stand-up comedian, singer and actor, Robert Klein turns 78… CFO of the Morris A. Hazan Family Foundation, Lovee Arum turns 76… Columbus, Ohio-born attorney and president of Schottenstein Legal Services, James M. Schottenstein turns 73… President of the New York State Magistrates Association, Judge Jonah Triebwasser turns 70… CEO of NYC-based Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation, Charles S. Cohen turns 68… Active private investor and business operator, Marc Lauren Abramowitz turns 67… Founder and President of NYC-based BlackRock, Robert S. Kapito turns 63… Senior director of synagogue affiliations and operations for United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Barry S. Mael turns 62… Chairman of the board of trustees of the Hudson Institute, Sarah May Stern… British businessman and chairman of the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur, Daniel Levy turns 58…
Former member of Knesset for the Jewish Home party, Shulamit “Shuli” Mualem-Rafaeli turns 55… Attorney, rabbi and New Jersey political consultant, Benjamin G. Kelsen turns 48… Popular Israeli musician Eviatar Banai turns 47… Executive director at Blue Prosperity Coalition, Heather R. Zichal turns 44… Member of the Knesset for the Labor party, Itzik Shmuli turns 40… Founder of DC-based JTR Strategies, Jenny Thalheimer Rosenberg turns 40… Senior counsel to the inspector general at USAID, Adam Kaplan turns 38… USDOJ attorney and former law clerk to Justice Samuel Alito, William Ranney Levi turns 36… Retired professional ice hockey center, Trevor Smith turns 35… Canadian jazz-pop singer-songwriter, Nicole “Nikki” Rachel Yanofsky turns 26… Pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, he is also on Team Israel slated to play at the 2020 Olympics, Jake Layton Fishman turns 25…
SUNDAY: Grammy-winning songwriter of over 150 hits, Barry Mann turns 81… Member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Carole King (born Carol Klein) turns 78… Economist and a professor at Columbia University, Nobel laureate in Economics in 2001, Joseph Stiglitz turns 77… Three-time Tony Award and two-time Emmy Award winning actress, Judith Light, turns 71… Professor of history and modern Jewish studies at UCSD, Deborah Hertz turns 71… Israeli singer Shimi Tavori turns 67… Australian philanthropist and owner of a series of mineral and energy companies, Georgina Hope “Gina” Rinehart turns 66… Former governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, a/k/a “the Macker,” turns 63… Creator of HBO series “The Wire” and NBC’s series “Homicide,” David Simon turns 60… Theoretical physics professor at Columbia University, Brian Greene turns 57… Play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s men’s college basketball and for the Toronto Blue Jays, Dan Shulman turns 53… President since 2019 of the U.S. education portfolio at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Julie Mikuta turns 51…
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Los Angeles Times, now an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA, Abigail Helaine (“Abbe”) Goldman turns 50… Managing director of Tiedemann Wealth Management, Jeffrey L. Zlot turns 49… Charleston, South Carolina resident, Ellen Miriam Brandwein turns 43… Television and film actress, Margarita Levieva turns 40… Director of public policy and strategy for the Christians United for Israel Action Fund, Boris Zilberman turns 36… Area director for AIPAC, he was previously chief development officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, Jason Pressberg turns 36… Principal at DC-based Blue Zone Partners (a private equity fund) and CEO of Precision Safe Sidewalks, Thomas Szold turns 35… Associate director at W2O Group, Carly Abenstein turns 26… Israeli-Arab who as a teenager in 2014 was forced to go into hiding after he publicly expressed support for the State of Israel, Muhammad Zoabi turns 23…