Good Tuesday morning!
In Dubai, Michael Milken hosts his institute’s Middle East and Africa Summit, with speakers including former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, former Rep. Ed Royce, Apollo’s Leon Black, Edgar Bronfman, Goldman Sachs’ Dina Powell, Bridgewater’s David McCormick and Ray Dalio, and Thor’s Joseph Sitt.
In New York, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will address the U.N. Security Council meeting on President Donald Trump’s peace plan. In the afternoon, Abbas and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are expected to meet and address the media. More below.
Trump’s newly released budget for fiscal year 2021, which proposes slashing foreign aid by 21%, preserves the 10-year MOU by providing $3.3 billion in military aid for Israel and $1.3 billion in economic and security assistance to Jordan.
In New Hampshire, 2020 presidential candidates are hoping for a solid result in today’s first-in-the-nation primary, a key test of their candidacy heading into Super Tuesday. At Milken in Dubai, Trump ally Tom Barrack told CNBC that a Democrat could oust the president, and that he likes both Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg.
On the rope line, Joe Biden defended attending AIPAC’s annual conference while former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told an IfNotNow activist that he has yet to review his March schedule. Andrew Yang, meanwhile, blamed a staffer for his “yes” answer on the Palestinians’ full right of return in The New York Times.
GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson has reportedly already committed to spend at least $100 million on Trump’s re-election and Republican congressional races.
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Meet Ravi Gupta at the intersection of progressive and pro-Israel politics
The founder of the non-profit Arena, an organization dedicated to supporting Democratic political candidates, Ravi Gupta works to bridge the divide between progressive politics and Israel and empower politicians who stand up to antisemitism. The 36-year-old recently sat down with Mathew Kassel for Jewish Insider to share his journey from law school dropout to charter school founder to full-time political activist.
An organization is born: Arena was created in the wake of the 2016 election, as Gupta spoke with friends and colleagues about the evolving political environment. The organization has since become an estimable force, thanks in part to its fellowships and training academies. By 2018, it was supporting 37 state- and congressional-level candidates through its fellowship program, 35 of whom won their primaries and 21 of whom ultimately made it to office.
Zero tolerance: “We don’t support any candidates who advocate hate based on racial or ethnic identity in any form, and we’re on the lookout for it,” Gupta told JI. “I think we’re even more vigilant now, especially given what’s going on in New York,” where antisemitic hate crimes have skyrocketed over the past year. “I think we as an organization need to do more and play more of a leading role in saying that’s just not OK. I expect, when hate crimes occur in any form, [for] candidates to forcefully speak out against them.”
Allyship: “People like Ravi oftentimes can tell the stories of Israel in ways that Israelis and members of the American Jewish community can’t,” former senior director at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation Seth Cohen, who has been to Israel with Gupta, told Jewish Insider. “He is,” Cohen said, “a rare kind of boundary-spanner.”
Driving the day
Abbas arrives at U.N. to lobby against Trump peace plan
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan during a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council meeting today.
Diplomatic stumble: On Monday, the Palestinians announced that they withdrew their request to hold an immediate vote at the U.N. Security Council after even a watered-down resolution — one that omitted direct condemnation of Trump’s Mideast peace plan — failed to garner international support. Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat denied that the resolution motion was shelved, but acknowledged that the vote was delayed.
Save the miles: During a media briefing on Monday, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon told reporters that his remarks at the U.N. today will focus on the future, urging the Palestinians to drop the arguments of the past and engage with Israelis in good faith on the issues detailed in the U.S. framework. “It is easy to play the blame game, but we have to look at the future,” Danon said. “At the end of the day, it has to be a bilateral effort between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And it is important that [Abbas] gets the message that — instead of coming to New York — he should come to Jerusalem, or the prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] can travel to Ramallah” to restart negotiations.
Open eyes: The Israeli diplomat didn’t celebrate the Palestinian Authority’s failure to garner support for their initiative. “For us, a victory would be when Abbas will enter negotiations, when we have a peace treaty signed,” Danon toldJewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh. “There is nothing to celebrate right now.”
Not the time: Danon called former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s choice to appear at a joint conference with Abbas in New York on Tuesday “unfortunate.” He pointed out that Abbas has yet to respond to Olmert’s generous offer in 2008, and noted that the former premier planned to appear with the Palestinian president despite recent terror attacks in Israel. “I think it is shameful that he would be standing with President Abbas at such a time,” Danon said.
Preview: Olmert toldThe New Yorker’s Bernard Avishai that during their press conference, he will seek “to remind people of what we almost achieved in 2008, and signal a way forward.” He is expected to warn that “a one-sided annexation” by Israel “will risk a Jordanian reaction that is going to be very unfriendly, and seriously undermine our relations.”
Bipartisanship on hold: Danon told JI that he never expected the Trump peace plan, described in Israel as a “historic” achievement for Israel’s security interests, to get bipartisan support in the U.S. “I think it is very hard to get bipartisan support for anything today in the U.S.,” he explained.
Tevi Troy’s ‘Fight House’ details White House tumult through the years
Released today, Tevi Troy’s latest book, Fight House: Rivalries in the White House from Truman to Trump, takes a close look at the sometimes tumultuous relationships among White House staffers. In detailing the relationships between key administration members — from George Marshall and Clark Clifford during the Truman years to Obama aides Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett — Troy seamlessly weaves together West Wing gossip and significant moments in modern history.
Unexpected surprises: “I was surprised by how nasty some of the fights were,” Troy toldJewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss. “All of the people I look at are technically on the same ‘team.’ They all worked for the same presidents and yet they did incredibly vicious things to one another, in the form of leaking, trying to get coworkers fired, and even turning a blind eye while a colleague faced potential jail time.”
Looking back: Troy said he was also taken aback “by how many of the disagreements in Fight House had to do with Israel. Obviously, the most consequential disagreement was over the recognition of Israel during the Truman administration, in which George Marshall argued against and Clark Clifford argued for. Clifford won, and Marshall never again spoke to Clifford, nor uttered his name for the rest of Marshall’s life.”
The evolution of drama: “The biggest change I have seen in infighting is the rise of technology. Staffers use Signal and private text to leak without getting caught. Instead of just assigning derisive nicknames, staffers now give their rivals unflattering emojis to go along with the nicknames. Infighting is as old as human civilization, but technological improvements can make it seem new and different.”
Israeli and U.S. journos team up to create investigative reporting incubator
A group of journalists, activists and philanthropists have joined together to support the creation of groundbreaking investigative reporting in Israel. The new organization, called Shomrim: The Center for Media and Democracy, has published an open call for proposals for reporting and documentary projects that will be granted financial and professional support. Shomrim co-founder Ethan Bronner and CEO Alona Vinograd explained the organization’s vision to Jewish Insider‘s Amy Spiro.
Sorely missing: “I do believe that this kind of reporting is sorely missing in Israel, where media are in financial crisis as they are in much of the world,” Bronner told JI. He said the organization is modeling itself partly on the U.S.-based ProPublica — whose president, Richard Tofel, serves on its advisory committee — and on the Center for Investigative Reporting — whose former executive director, Robert Rosenthal, also sits on the committee. According to The Marker, the initiative intends to spend $3 million over a period of three years.
A-team: Shomrim was co-founded by Bronner, a senior editor at Bloomberg, along with philanthropists Laura and Gary Lauder; venture capitalist and social activist Oded Hermoni; Prof. Moshe Zviran; photojournalist Vardi Kahana; Calcalist publisher Yoel Esteron and editor and journalist Tamar Prizan-Litani. In addition to Tofel and Rosenthal, its advisory committee includes leading journalists in both Israel and the U.S.: Channel 12’s Ilana Dayan; Channel 13’s Raviv Drucker; Times of Israel editor-in-chief David Horovitz; New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and former NPR president Vivian Schiller.
Untold tales: Vinograd, who previously led the Center for Democratic Values and Institutions at the Israel Democracy Institute, said Shomrim is looking to support projects that highlight the marginalized voices “of those less heard in Israeli media — Arabs, Haredim, immigrants [and] disadvantaged communities.” Bronner said he wants the organization to focus on societal challenges, “because these tend to be undercovered in Israel, where politics and national security take up most of the space of serious journalism.”
Free press: Bronner, a former Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times, Reuters and The Boston Globe, has also worked as a journalist in London, Madrid and Brussels. “Media freedom is pretty strong in Israel,” Bronner noted, “which is one reason we believe this project can work and make a difference.”
Wide net: While the current open call for projects has a deadline of March 31st, Vinograd said the center intends to accept proposals in both English and Hebrew three to four times a year. “We will support a large number of projects,” she said, “not only of the written word. We hope to work also on audio (podcasts) or video (documentary) stories, and photojournalism as well.”
👨🏫 Profile: The New Yorker’s Ian Parker wades deep into the life of Israeli professor and historian Yuval Noah Harari, who opines on everything from the threat of technological disruption to meditation, his experience coming out and his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[NewYorker]
👪 Family Fragments: In The Atlantic, David Brooks argues that the once-prized family structure is eroding, “fragmenting into ever smaller and more fragile forms,” building lives with more freedom but less stability. This development, he believes, “liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.” [TheAtlantic]
✌️ High Hopes: In a rare interview with Washington Post reporters Ruth Eglash and Steve Hendrix, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz opens up about his rapid rise in Israeli politics and his extraordinary run for prime minister — three times in the past 12 months. [WashPost]
🕊️ Strategy Shift: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who served as Quartet envoy for the Mideast peace process, writes in Project Syndicate that a Palestinian state can only come into being “if there is a fundamental shift in Palestinian strategy” — away from historical justice and toward political reality. [ProjectSyndicate]
Around the Web
💪 Mom Power: Donna Finkelstein, whose daughter was shot during the 1999 attack on the Los Angeles JCC, is one of many mothers pushing gun safety regulations through school boards across the country.
🤝 Holding Hands: Six months after the horrific shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart in El Paso, Texas, experts of the Israel Trauma Coalition are assisting local officials in helping stricken members of the community facing mental health issues.
👨⚖️ Talk of the Region: Three Palestinian men on trial for their involvement in the fatal bombing attack last year that killed 17-year-old Rina Shnerb have accused Shin Bet interrogators of torturing them during questioning, The Associated Press reports.
📱 Security Breach: The personal data of all 6.5 million eligible voters in Israel was exposed thanks to a software flaw in a mobile app touted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.
🤷 No, Sir: In an interview with CNBC on Monday, WeWork Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure denied a report that ousted co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann walked away with $1.7 billion. Neumann is currently residing in Tel Aviv with his family, Business Insider reports, but is expected to return to New York later this year.
✈️ Travelers Kit: United Airlines is introducing a new variety of options from several leading kosher brands for customers traveling between the U.S. and Tel Aviv.
🕶️ In the Sun: Eyewear company Safilo is purchasing a majority stake in David Schottenstein’s sunglasses label Privé Revaux.
👨⚖️ Resistance: A documentary filmmaker who refused to sign Georgia’s required oath not to support BDS is suing the state for violating his free speech rights.
🧑⚖️ Talk of the Town: A former Hasidic couple is suing the Quebec Education Department for failing to ensure that they received an adequate education while attending a school run by the Tash Hasidic community in Boisbriand, Montreal.
🎒 Recess: Education officials in New York State are putting a halt on plans to exert more control over private schools after an outpouring of complaints.
🏫 Case Closed: A 24-year-old man pled guilty yesterday to plotting violent attacks against a synagogue in Las Vegas and the Anti-Defamation League.
🎶 Passing Notes: NY1/Spectrum News takes an inside look at the Paul Simon Music Fellows Program, which was recently launched with a $1 million donation from the legendary singer and songwriter, a graduate of the NYC public school system.
🙏 Paying Tribute: The Jewish community of Belarus held a memorial service to honor the late film actor Kirk Douglas, a descendant of the Belarusian Jewish community, during a joint Limmud FSU/Regional Nahum Goldmann Fellowship meeting on Sunday.
🕯️ Remembering: Philanthropist and Philadelphia-based real estate developer Richard Fox, who was a founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition and served as its first national chairman, passed away at age 92.
Pic of the Day
Over the weekend at Grand Slam Paris, Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei poses with Israeli judoka Sagi Muki, who won the Judo World Championship in Tokyo last year, after Iranian officials forced him to lose his fights so as not to face an Israeli.
Second son of former President George H. W. Bush, former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush turns 67…
Los Angeles attorney Shirley Cannon Munch turns 90… Writer and author of a Passover Haggadah, co-written with his late wife Cokie Roberts, Steven V. Roberts turns 77… NYC-based gastroenterologist, he is the past president of American Friends of Likud, Julio Messer, M.D. turns 68… Former Knesset member for the Jewish Home and Likud parties, Eliyahu Michael “Eli” Ben-Dahan turns 66… ProPublica’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Engelberg turns 62… Victorville, California resident, Tricia Roth turns 62… National medical director of Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, Gary E. Applebaum, MD turns 61… Principal at Conduent HR Services and Buck Global, LLC, Alan Vorchheimer turns 60…
Founder and president of RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, he is also the CEO of A&I Publishing, Scott Berkowitz turns 51… Lieutenant governor of Hawaii, Joshua B. Green turns 50… Elected as a member of the Broward County (Florida) School Board in the months following the death of her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa at the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Lori Alhadeff turns 45… Executive producer for Atlantic Live, Rob Hendin turns 43… Global head of communications at Bloomberg Media, Ilana Ozernoy turns 42… VP of programming and music director at City Winery in NYC, he is also a pitcher for Team Israel who secured the final out in the team’s 2019 qualification for the 2020 Olympics, Shlomo Lipetz turns 41…
Tight end on the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for four seasons (2003-2006), having played college football at UCLA, Mike Seidman turns 39… Republican strategist, he is the president of Somm Consulting, Evan Siegfried turns 37… VP of global healthcare banking at Bank of America / Merrill Lynch, David B. Stern turns 36… Deputy director of project management for Politico, Michelle Zar turns 31… Senior account manager at Politico, Rachel Kosberg turns 30… Director of baseball development for MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, Eve Rosenbaum turns 30… M&A associate at the NYC office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Alix Simnock turns 29… Student at Yale Law School and author of two books on origami, Scott Wasserman Stern… and his twin brother, Eric Wasserman Stern, both turn 27… Joy Neuberger… and her brother, exactly one year younger, Israel Neuberger…