Good Thursday morning!
At the White House, President Donald Trump will celebrate his impeachment acquittal in a noon address.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) voted to convict Trump, ensuring that at least one article of impeachment was bipartisan, a first in U.S. history. In an interview with The Atlantic, Romney lambasted Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz for suggesting that a president can’t be impeached for pursuing a political advantage for re-election. In exclusive comments to Jewish Insider, Dershowitz responded to Romney.
Today in New York, Jared Kushner will brief U.N. Security Council ambassadors on the Mideast peace plan. In an interview published on Wednesday, Kushner tells Ami magazine, a NY-based Orthodox Jewish publication: “One negotiator told me that the goal of negotiations is only to give people hope. It occurred to me that I might be the only person stupid enough to think that you’re actually supposed to be trying to solve this thing.”
Israeli media reports that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold a joint press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New York next week to speak out against the Trump peace plan.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is delivering his State of the City address this afternoon.
Yesterday, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett met with representatives of AIPAC, the Orthodox Union, Israel Policy Forum, JCPA, Hadassah, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Zionist Organization of America for an off-the-record discussion co-hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington at the Israeli Embassy in D.C. Bennett is also set to meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
Twelve Israeli soldiers were wounded in a car-ramming attack overnight in Jerusalem near the First Station entertainment complex.
🤯 With 97% of Iowa precincts reporting, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg was leading in the delegate count by just one-tenth of a percentage point, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was ahead in the popular vote.
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Heard on the trail
Sanders considers AIPAC, Warren ruminates on Israeli embassy
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said on Wednesday that he has no objections to attending the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. next month, but it’s not currently on his schedule.
Checking the calendar: “I don’t think I am [going]. I don’t think it’s going to be on my schedule, but you know, I have no objection to going,” Sanders told a Jewish student during a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire. This year’s conference is scheduled to take place March 1-3, concluding on Super Tuesday.
If and when: Sanders said if he does attend, his speech would be consistent with his criticism of Israel. “The question is what I say when I get there. That’s the point. And what I will say is something that I have said for years, and I speak as somebody who’s Jewish, and that is we need a foreign policy in this country, we need a Mideast policy which absolutely protects the integrity and the independence and safety of Israel, but also understands that the Palestinian people have needs and they have got to be treated with respect and dignity,” he said. “And that is not the case right now.”
Flashback: In 2016, Sanders was the only presidential candidate who declined an invitation to speak at the gathering, citing a scheduling issue. Instead, he delivered remarks outlining his Mideast policy during a campaign stop in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Heard last night: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said during a live CNN town hall last night that the U.S. embassy in Israel should be moved to where the capital is agreed upon in negotiations with the Palestinians. “The parties should negotiate whether or not the capital is in Jerusalem, where the capital is, and then the United States should move its embassy to be in the capital of each of the two states in a two-state solution,” Warren said. But Warren did not say whether she would reverse Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Read the full exchange here.
In other 2020 news: After a devastating blow in Iowa, Democratic insiders say former Vice President Joe Biden now faces “jittery donors, an uncertain landscape in upcoming Democratic contests and a sharp challenge to the central argument of his campaign message: that he is the party’s strongest candidate to win a general election.”
Donor circuit: Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is currently in first place in the still-undecided Iowa caucuses, attended a fundraiser hosted by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and actor Michael J. Fox in New York City last night. He is also hosting a breakfast fundraiser this morning in Gramercy.
Kirk Douglas dies at 103
Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas died yesterday at age 103. The Jewish actor enjoyed a long, varied and storied career, including many iconic Jewish roles.
Bio: Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in New York in 1916, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. He grew up with little religious influence in his life, but began to embrace Judaism when he was in his 70s after a near-fatal helicopter crash in 1991. At 83 he held a second bar mitzvah in Los Angeles, telling the attendees, “Today, I am a man.”
On-screen Semite: In 1966 Douglas portrayed Colonel Mickey Marcus in the big-budget film “Cast A Giant Shadow,” which was shot in Israel. Douglas played a fictionalized version of the real-life American army colonel who joined Israeli forces as a general during the 1948 War of Independence, and was killed by friendly fire. He also starred in the 1976 made-for-TV movie “Victory at Entebbe,” filmed less than six months after the Israeli raid on the hijacked plane in Uganda took place.
Book shelf: Douglas starred in dozens of critically acclaimed films, and later enjoyed a second career as a writer, penning 11 books, including 1997’s Climbing the Mountain about his “quest for spirituality and Jewish identity,” the children’s Holocaust-themed novella The Broken Mirror and 1999’s Young Heroes of the Bible.
Friend of Zion: The actor visited Israel many times over the years, shooting several films there, including 1953’s “The Juggler,” a tale of a Holocaust survivor arriving in Israel soon after the war — which was the first Hollywood feature to film in the nascent state of Israel. In 1982 he flew in to visit soldiers and civilians wounded in the Lebanon war. In the 90s, he contributed $2 million toward building a theater at Aish HaTorah, overlooking the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Tributes: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “mourns the loss” of the “legendary actor, a proud Jew and a great friend of the Jewish state.” Director Steven Spielberg said he was “honored” to have worked with Douglas and witnessed “his wisdom and courage,” while actor Ed Asner tweeted: “May your memory forever be a blessing.”
WHO’S FUNDING WHAT
‘Jewish Currents’ relaunch puts the Puffin Foundation in the spotlight
The Puffin Foundation has been around for more than 35 years. But the recent relaunch and expansion of Jewish Currents magazine could be the first time many heard about it at all. Like its namesake bird, the Puffin Foundation is colorful and relatively small, and unlike many private foundations today, it is committed to funding the arts and progressive journalism. Puffin also funds In These Times, Mother Jones, the radio program “Democracy Now,” the magazines Jacobin and Dissent and a nonprofit connected to The Nation magazine.
Stay the course: The foundation reported nearly $3 million in distributed grants in 2018. Neal Rosenstein, Puffin Foundation’s vice president and the son of its founder, Perry Rosenstein, told Jewish Insider’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen that the foundation’s funding priorities were likely to remain unchanged in 2020.
A long history: The Rosenstein family’s relationship with Jewish Currents goes back decades. Dorothea Rosenstein assisted Jewish Currents’ editor as a volunteer 45 years ago, and Neal did some “minor secretarial work” for them as a teenager.
Today: Puffin is providing the re-launched progressive Jewish magazine with “keystone support,” Jacob Plitman, Jewish Currents’ new publisher, told JI. Three years ago, the foundation gave the magazine endowment funding, Rosenstein said. Puffin gave Jewish Currents’ parent non-profit, the Association for the Promotion of Jewish Secularism, close to $1 million between 2017 and 2018.
Current at Jewish Currents: Plitman told JI that subscriptions to the publication have tripled since he came on board in 2017, bringing the current count to more than 6,000 subscribers. Its budget is also rising, Plitman says, from well under $500,000 a year to what he hopes will reach $1 million in 2020. The expanded budget enabled Jewish Currents to bring on several new hires, including Peter Beinart, who had previously written for The Forward.
Bonus: A new Columbia Journalism Reviewarticle written by self-described left-wing Israeli-American journalist Mairav Zonstein titled “What Happened to The Forward? How America’s Jewish Newspaper Lost the Left,” analyzes the path the famed publication has taken over the last year.
How the Bronfman family founded Brookfield
Writing in The Financial Times on Tuesday, Mark Vandevelde dives into the origins of Brookfield Asset Management, which he describes as less of a company and more of a “giant, triangular jigsaw board that spreads across the world and covers assets worth $500 billion.” Brookfield’s holdings make it by far New York’s largest commercial landlord, and it owns everything from railways to cell towers to a portion of a company that makes nuclear reactors.
Family feud: Peter and Edward Bronfman, nephews of Seagram founder Samuel Bronfman, started the company that eventually became Brookfield in 1952 — after their uncle locked them out of Seagram’s offices and forced them to sell their shares of the company for less than they were worth.
Big money: Peter and Edward, with the help of accountant Jack Cockwell, used a $15 million inheritance to buy Brascan, a corporation that had owned a Brazilian electric utility and became flush with cash when the Brazilian government nationalized it. The Bronfmans invested this money in dozens of different areas, including breweries, sports teams, forests, mines, real estate brokers and investment banks.
The sale: By 1980, the brothers were among Canada’s richest men, and their massive web of investments and corporate entities was thriving. Edward retired in 1989 and Peter sold the company in 1993, leading to the creation of the company now known as Brookfield. Its current investors consist of average stock market investors, public pension systems and countries including Qatar.
Who’s in charge now: Partners Limited, a 40-person company controlled by Brookfield CEO Bruce Flatt and Cockwell, has vast power over Brookfield, according to FT. Its members can essentially control Brookfield’s board of directors and overrule shareholder motions. The members are all current or former Brookfield executives. Flatt told FT Brookfield is run by an independent board and “that partnership does nothing.”
🛍️ End of an Era: Maris Kreizman — whose great-great uncle founded the now-departed Barneys department store — reflects in Vox on how her ancestors lived the “Jewish American Dream,” from “selling schmattas” to becoming a “cultural institution.” [Vox]
🔄 Change of Heart:BuzzFeed Newsexplores the story of Rabia Kazan, a former journalist from Turkey and an ex-Muslim who became one of Trump’s biggest supporters. Kazan — who said she wears a red kabbalah bracelet because of Ivanka Trump — now denounces the president and told the FBI that the campaign accepted illegal donations from her. [BuzzFeed]
🌾 Farmers’ Market: In The Times of Israel, Jacob Magid points out that some Israeli farmers in the central Negev desert are complaining they would end up being surrounded by Palestinian enclaves based on the White House map of a future Palestinian state. [TimesofIsrael]
Around the Web
😭 Let Me Out: Bernie Madoff, 81, has requested an early release from his 150-year prison sentence on the grounds that he is terminally ill.
🚫 Unfriend: Facebook removed the page of the Rise Up Ocean County group, after months of complaints that it directed hateful rhetoric at the Hasidic Jewish community in New Jersey.
🇬🇧 Hate Thrives: A record-high number of antisemitic incidents were reported in Britain last year, a rise of 7% over 2018.
🎙️ Friend of the Jews: Rapper Nicki Minaj said in an interview that “I think I like Jewish people… what is it that makes me love Judge Judy and Larry David so much? It must be a Jewish thing.”
🇸🇩 Time to Talk: A Sudanese military official defended normalization talks with Israel in a news conference yesterday, saying they were aimed at securing Sudan’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror.
☕ Last Drops: Bill Ackman sold his last shares in Starbucks days after the company announced it was closing more than 2,000 branches in China amid the coronavirus outbreak.
👨💼👨💼 Musical Chairs: Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, is stepping down after 11 years to become executive chair later this year. Ryan Roslansky, his first hire and a senior vice president, will be his replacement, and his current responsibilities will go to Tomer Cohen, another VP.
🎤 Linkage: U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien warned the Palestinians in a speech on Wednesday that Israeli settlements will continue to expand because global antisemitism will force Jews to immigrate to Israel. “This could be the last opportunity for a two-state solution,” he argued.
🏠 Walk Up: New York State regulators have declared that brokers can no longer charge fees to renters — only to landlords.
🎓 Campus Beat: A former Oberlin College & Conservatory professor, who was fired for antisemitic online posts, has settled a discrimination lawsuit she filed against the Ohio college.
📺 Small screen: Actor Adam Pally told The New York Daily News that the family in his new sitcom with Fran Drescher, “Indebted,” is very Jewish, but relatable to everyone: “The Jewishness of it, hopefully, is the frame on a painting that everybody has in their house.”🕯️ Remembering: Stanley Cohen, a biochemist and the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in physiology, has died at age 97.
Pic of the Day
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed the rule of law at an ADL board meeting on Tuesday.
Electrical engineer for RCA and then General Electric, the father of film director Steven Spielberg, Arnold Meyer Spielberg turns 103…
Israeli pediatric endocrinologist, winner of the 2009 Israel Prize, in 1966 he described the type of dwarfism later called Laron syndrome in his name, Dr. Zvi Laron turns 93… Bill Levine turns 88… Member of the New Jersey Senate since 2005, she currently serves as Senate Majority Leader, Loretta Weinberg turns 85… Rosalyn Kaplan turns 83… Cantor of Congregation Hugat Haverim in Glendale, California, Harvey Lee Block turns 79… Syndicated columnist for the Washington Post for 43 years until 2019, Richard Martin Cohen turns 79… Louisiana commissioner of administration, he previously served as Louisiana’s lieutenant governor, Jay Dardenne turns 66… Author and professor of journalism at Harvard and at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Michael Pollan turns 65…
Los Angeles attorney specializing in criminal and civil appeals, author of an amicus brief for members of Congress in the Jerusalem passport case of Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, Paul Kujawsky turns 63… Former longtime foreign correspondent for NPR in many capitals including Jerusalem, author of the NYT-bestseller “The Geography of Bliss,” Eric Weiner turns 57… Special events producer at Ballas Bloom Consulting, Jacquelyn Ballas Bloom turns 51… Television and film actress, best known for her role as Pepper in the FX series “American Horror Story,” Naomi Grossman turns 45… Rabbi and author of seven books, Danya Ruttenberg turns 45… Israeli-French singer-songwriter whose hit single “New Soul” was used by Apple in a 2008 advertising campaign for its MacBook Air, Yael Naim turns 42… AIPAC’s Mid-Atlantic regional political director, Stephen Knable turns 39… Investigative journalist, Steven I. Weiss turns 39… Head of sales and business development at Fabko Ltd, Yadin Koschitzky…