Good Friday morning!
Mark Zuckerberg canceled Facebook’s biggest conference amid coronavirus fears.
On Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the administration’s Iran policy. Watch live at 8:30 a.m.
At National Harbor, Maryland, White House senior advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump will speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this morning. A panel featuring Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick and Yishai Fleisher from Hebron, and moderated by former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, will discuss what the map of Israel should look like under a peace plan. President Donald Trump will address CPAC on Saturday.
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driving the convo
Gearing up for a DNC platform showdown over Israel
Ahead of Super Tuesday, Democrats are buzzing about the possibility of a brokered convention or a prolonged primary contest that could bring the presidential nomination process well into early summer. Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh delves into what implications the still-crowded field could have on the party’s platform and its stance towards Israel.
Sanders surge: Twenty-five of the 187 members of the platform committee have been appointed by Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. The remaining members will be decided in accordance with primary votes across the country and how many pledged delegates each candidate brings to the convention. If Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is denied the nomination on the first ballot, he could still maintain leverage over the drafting process of the DNC platform. If Sanders picks up a plurality of delegates in the primaries, he would gain the power to appoint his supporters to a majority of the remaining slots on the committee, opening the door for more progressive proposals to be adopted by the full committee.
Dueling goals: Arab American Institute president James Zogby, who was appointed by Sanders to the 2016 platform committee, tells JI he’s convinced that if the Vermont senator is the party’s nominee, pro-Israel organizations will try to keep the platform from changing. “As in previous years,” Zogby said, “AIPAC will try to draw the line way far down to their side and they will use all the pressure that they possibly can to make sure that that line is not crossed.” In response, an AIPAC spokesperson tells JI, “We work with both parties urging them to adopt platform language that strengthens the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Gearing up: Mark Mellman, CEO of the Democratic Majority for Israel, tells JI his group is preparing to play “a major role” in what he expects will be a “big fight” to change the 2016 platform. Ben Shnider, vice president of political affairs at J Street, maintained that the goal is to “move the Israel plank in the platform to the center, a place that recognizes both the importance of a secured Jewish, democratic Israel and the rights and national aspirations of the Palestinians.” In addition, he said, the platform “should acknowledge the urgent need to end the occupation of Palestinian terrority and to prevent any sort of West Bank annexation.”
Bonus: New York Times reporters Lisa Lerer and Reid Epstein interviewed 93 superdelegates and found overwhelming opposition to handing Sanders the nomination if he fell short of a majority of pledged delegates.
The ‘mom of Democratic politics’ in CA-25 aiming for Congress
Kathy Manning, the first ever female chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s board, is running for Congress in North Carolina. After an unsuccessful 2018 bid, Manning is pinning her political hopes on a newly redrawn district. Voters head to the polls this coming Tuesday.
Why now: “I think I’m the one with the experience and leadership skills to be a great representative for this district,” she told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. “I think I have a much better chance of winning in this district,” which now leans more heavily Democratic following the redistricting. In 2018, Manning handily won her Democratic primary, but lost to incumbent Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), 51-45%.
Communal cred: Manning was voted in as the first female chair of the Jewish Federations of North America in 2009, and is a current board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and of the Jewish Agency’s board of governors. Manning said the lessons she learned growing up have helped shape her life and priorities. “I think it all goes in part to what I learned growing up Jewish, both in our history and in the teachings, those things that impacted me from the beginning,” she said, listing among her inspirations Hillel the Elder’s statement, “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor.”
Priorities: She said her top priority in Congress would be healthcare and prescription drug pricing, a personal issue for Manning, who has battled with her insurance company over medication for her daughter’s chronic illness. “I was just astonished at how hard I had to fight to get the medication approved, and it really started me thinking about what people go through every day to get the healthcare they need and to get the prescription drugs that they need,” she said.
On Israel: “I strongly believe that Israel is the best ally the United States could ever have in that region, because we share values,” Manning said. “It is critically important for the state of Israel to have secure borders.” But she was critical of the recent peace plan introduced by the White House, and said she doesn’t “quite understand how it will get the Palestinians to the table.”
TAKING ON HATE
Cuomo launches broad package of bills to fight antisemitism
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized on Thursday to New York’s Jewish community for having to endure the pain of antisemitic violence under his watch. Cuomo issued the apology as he introduced a package of legislative measures to combat antisemitism in the upcoming April 1 budget. The governor spoke toJewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh at a press conference following a meeting with Jewish leaders in midtown Manhattan.
Details: The package includes a first-in-the-nation domestic terrorism law, $25 million for religious nonprofit organizations vulnerable to hate crimes, an increase of $2 million to support the state police hate crimes task force, and a statewide education curriculum on diversity and tolerance for students. The Cuomo administration also launched a new website and an online petition to express support for the initiatives to combat antisemitism and hate.
We can do better: Following a roundtable with leaders of major Jewish organizations, Cuomo said, “This issue has caused me great personal pain, and my family personal pain, and families all across this nation should be embarrassed by this. I know I speak for every good New Yorker who disassociates themselves from these acts of cowardice and vengeance and hate. We’re sorry and I apologize to the Jewish community of this state that they had to go through this.”
Talk is cheap, action matters: Cuomo told JI that while authorities can punish hate crimes, treat them as domestic terrorism and implement security measures to help prevent such attacks, ultimately “you can’t legislate stopping hate.” But he emphasized that introducing such measures would reassure the Jewish community that the state is taking the issue seriously and it will not be tolerated. “It is not just what you say, it is what you do,” Cuomo said, “What does the state do after you have 22 acts of antisemitism? What does this nation do? I can tell you what New York does — we act. We pass the nation’s first legislative agenda that says loudly and clearly that we won’t tolerate this.”
Dan Shapiro: Democratic president would withdraw annexation approval
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro discussed how a partial Israeli annexation of the West Bank would impact the preservation of a two-state solution down the road during a media briefing hosted by the Israel Policy Forum in New York.
Shapiro wrote the foreword to a newly released study assessing seven approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, authored by Dr. Shira Efron, a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv and an Israel Policy Forum policy advisor, and Evan Gottesman, associate director for policy and communications at Israel Policy Forum.
Less harmful: “In theory, a small, almost symbolic or one relatively consensus area of annexation does less to rule out the possibility of a viable two-state solution from coming to be,” Shapiro told JI. However, if Israel moves forward with annexing the West Bank based on the map outlined in the Trump peace plan, “that would really push us past the point of two states.”
2020 watch: Shapiro suggested that it doesn’t seem that the Trump administration’s goal is to slow down unilateral annexation if the president wins re-election. But, he said, if the U.S. recognizes Israel’s annexation of some parts of the West Bank during the course of this year and a Democrat enters the White House next January, “I think almost any Democratic administration I could imagine will withdraw that recognition. That’s kind of a crisis moment for U.S.-Israel relations, but I don’t think there’s really any doubt that’s what would happen.”
🇦🇷 Pulling Back: In the New York Sun, Benny Avni points out why Argentina’s new government is stalling progress made in investigations into the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires and the 2015 suspicious death of its investigator, Alberto Nisman. The reason is obvious: Kristina Kirchner, the country’s president between 2007 and 2015, is now Argentina’s vice president. [NYSun]
🔁 Twilight Zone: Writing in Foreign Policy, Joshua Mitnick explains how Israel’s political institutions are stuck in an unprecedented “twilight zone” of repeat elections. “Is Israel’s political system broken? Not necessarily, experts say, but it’s in trouble.” [ForeignPolicy]
⚔️ Yes and No: New York Times columnist David Brooks published two op-eds yesterday: one laying out “The Case for Mike Bloomberg,” and the second declaring: “No, Not Sanders, Not Ever.” Sanders, he writes, is not a liberal but a populist, fueled by “rage, bitter and relentless polarization.” Bloomberg, meanwhile, “will turn down the ideological temperature, so we don’t rip ourselves apart as a nation.” [NYTimes; NYTimes]
Around the Web
🖥️ Transition:Facebook hired Zvika Krieger, the former head of technology policy at the World Economic Forum, as its new director of responsible innovation.
🏘️ Going National:Aaron Jungreis’s Rosewood Realty Group is launching a national brokerage division focusing outside the New York metro area in response to new strict state rent laws.
✡️ Expanding Base:The Associated Press’s Elana Schor examines how Sen. Bernie Sanders’s “distinctive take on Jewish values” is a key part of his appeal to black voters.
⚠️ Pride and Fear: In McClatchy, Michael Wilner explores those Jewish groups who, while proud of a potential Jewish president, also fear a spike in antisemitism as a result.
📺 Looking Back: Presidential contender Mike Bloomberg defended New York City’s surveillance of Muslims after 9/11 during an interview with PBS yesterday: “Of course we were supposed to do that.”
👨 As Seen on TV: Apple is in the process of developing a limited series about WeWork. Lee Eisenberg and Drew Crevello will serve as the show’s co-writers and executive producers.
🤝 Thinking Ahead: Vice President Mike Pence is building an outreach team with conservative thinkers, bringing on board Paul Teller from the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
✈️ Closing the Sky: Israel confirmed a case of coronavirus in a man who returned from Italy earlier this week, and said it was barring entry to any non-Israelis who had visited Italy in the past two weeks.
🌈 Change Coming: The Israeli Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state must change a law that excludes gay couples from pursuing surrogacy in the country.
🗳️ Israeli Election Watch: In The New York Times, Isabel Kershner explores why Israeli settlers are not overjoyed by President Donald Trump’s new peace plan — or with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
⚾ Sports Blink: Eric Brodkowitz, a pitcher on Israel’s upcoming Olympic baseball team, discussed his Jewish journey with Howard Blas on Chabad.org.
👨💼 New Head: The Polish government appointed a new director of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews on Thursday after its former director gave up his job to resolve an impasse that lasted almost a year. Zygmunt Stepinski, the previous acting director of the museum, will now serve as its head.
🏥 Talk of the Town:Yosef Neumann, the 72-year-old victim of the Hanukkah stabbing attack in Monsey, opened his eyes yesterday after 59 days in a coma.
⚖️ Day in Court: A lawsuit in Putnam County alleges that a New York City Fire Department assistant chief sent homophobic and antisemitic texts about his underling.
🎸 Jam Session: Musicians Damien Riehl and Noah Rubin, a copyright lawyer and coder respectively, created a program to upload every possible melody to the public domain, hoping to free artists from future copyright suits.
Pic of the day
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) attended a special dedication event for a set of the newly completed “Steinsaltz Edition” of the Talmud at the Library of Congress on Thursday.
Also in attendance: Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Treasury’s David Eisner, and philanthropist George Rohr.
Wine of the week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews Montiano Famiglia Cotarella Kosher 750ML 2014:
“I am an Italophile. Many of life’s pleasures are best in their Italian forms. Anyone who has roamed the hills of Tuscany or lost themselves in the museums of Rome know this to be true. For the longest time kosher wine from Italy did not measure up to its potential. That has all changed. The Montiano Famiglia Cotarella brings the kosher Italian world into the 21st century, setting a new standard.”
“This wine is 100% Merlot. The big berried grapes are hand-picked and hand-sorted; you can taste the dirt and the earth on your palate. The tannins are fierce. The vanilla in the mid-palate bridges your experience from the overpowering opening to a softer finish foreshadowing how this wine will age in 15 years.”
Former State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (2013-2017), now a senior advisor at Human Rights First and an adjunct professor at Georgetown, Ira Niles Forman turns 68 today…
FRIDAY: Nobel Prize winner in physics, professor of science at Brown University since 1958, Leon Cooper turns 90… Professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of California, San Diego, Linda Preiss Rothschild turns 75… Actress and singer, Ilene Susan Graff turns 71… New York Times op-ed columnist and 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, Paul Krugman turns 67… Professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, Samuel Klein, MD turns 67… Stand-up comedian and actor, Gilbert Gottfried turns 65… Greensboro, North Carolina businessman and past chairman of Hillel International, and husband of Kathy Manning, Randall Kaplan turns 64… Self-described as “America’s most notorious lobbyist,” Jack Abramoff turns 61… Editor-in-chief of the Jewish Week, Andrew Silow-Carroll turns 59…
Owner of a commercial lavender farm in New Jersey, she served as a member of the New Jersey State Senate from 2004-2008, Ellen Karcher turns 56… Jerusalem-born businessman who worked as a NYC taxi driver after completing his IDF service, started and sold several companies in the automotive field, Mordechai (Moti) Kahana turns 52… Diplomat and former advisor for Shimon Peres, Ruth Wasserman Lande turns 44… Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, Steven Fulop turns 43… Politics reporter for The New York Times, Lisa Lerer turns 40… Research director at Purple Strategies, Erica Goldman turns 32… Law clerk for a U.S. district judge in Los Angeles, Adam Sieff turns 31… Executive director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, Andrew H. Gross turns 31… Risk assurance manager in the Boston office of PwC, Li-dor David turns 30… Executive director of the Montreal chapter of ORT, Emmanuel Kalles…
SATURDAY (in multiples of four): Polish-born economist and professor at New York University, Roman Frydman turns 72… Advisory director and senior investment strategist at Goldman Sachs, former board chair at JTS, Abby Joseph Cohen turns 68… Former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives (2013-2018), Paul D. Rosenthal turns 60… Former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk and now a UCLA law professor known for his eponymous prominent legal blog “The Volokh Conspiracy,” Eugene Volokh turns 52… Israeli mountain climber, search and rescue professional, photographer and speaker, best known for his heroic rescue of an unconscious Turk he found near the summit of Mount Everest in 2012, Nadav Ben Yehuda turns 32… Synagogue initiative associate at AIPAC, Samantha Friedman turns 28…