Good Tuesday morning!
President Donald Trump will deliver his third State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. EST. More below.
Also in D.C., Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who is on his first visit to the U.S. in his current role, will meet with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and members of Congress.
More than 33,000 voteshave been cast in the World Zionist Congress elections during the first two weeks of voting, a 200% increase in comparison to this time period in the 2015 election, Jewish Insider has learned.
Politico is reporting about a whisper campaign against deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates, claiming that she’s the “anonymous” Trump administration whistleblower who authored the bestseller A Warning. The campaign prompted the book’s literary agents to deny that Coates is the author.
Gabriel Sherman reports in Vanity Fair that Trump is gearing up to take revenge on those he believes have wronged him in the impeachment hearings, including John Bolton, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
Sheryl Sandberg is engaged, mazal tov! And Mark Zuckerberg told a crowd he’s become more religious in recent years. More below.
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driving the day
Trump set to deliver the state of the union
President Donald Trump will deliver his third State of the Union Address, and fourth speech to a joint session of Congress, this evening.
Shifting gears: As in past years, Trump is expected to strike a positive tone as he faces a likely impeachment acquittal on Wednesday and a tough re-election battle this fall. “I think he’s going to give a positive, forward-looking vision,” a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing call. The theme of the address is the “Great American Comeback.”
Behind the scenes:The New York Timesdrew back the curtain on the process and the identities of the SOTU speech writers. According to the report, while White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller oversees the the speech-writing process, he “has been careful about exerting too much influence on the tone” of such high-level addresses.
What to look out for: The administration official declined to preview any foreign policy issues that will arise during the speech, but Trump is expected to address the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan he rolled out last week. Many will be watching to see if the president clarifies his position on West Bank annexation amid a debate over Israel’s immediate plans.
Heard yesterday: James Stavridis, a retired Navy admiral and former NATO Supreme commander, told Fox News Radio that Trump has several foreign policy accomplishments he could highlight in his speech, including the killing of Qassim Soleimani and the pressure campaign against Iran.
Invites: The White House did not release a full list of its guests as of Monday evening. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) has invited Englewood, New Jersey, Rabbi Zev Reichman as his guest to the speech in order to “provide moral clarity to our national mission against antisemitism.” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) is bringing Courtney Wild, a victim of sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein.
Across the Aisle: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will deliver the Democratic response from a high school in East Lansing. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), who introduced articles of impeachment against Trump in 2017 and skipped the last two State of the Union addresses, toldThe Hill that he has no intention to “go in a very cold room and hear a bunch of puff and lies.”
Bonus: According to analysis of a recent global Pew Research survey, “Israel is the only surveyed country where a majority of people (55%) express net approval of Trump’s policies. In fact, the share of net approvers is 18 percentage points higher in Israel than it is in the U.S., the second-most-approving country included in the survey.”
Nation awaits Iowa results as candidates move on to New Hampshire
Results from the 1,608 caucus sites were heavily delayed on Monday night after reporting issues and inconsistencies were discovered in the new system designed to deliver the evening’s results. The Iowa Democratic Party stressed that the delay was due to technical issues and inconsistencies and “not a hack.” Iowa officials expect the results to be announced “some time” on Tuesday.
Reaction: The candidates expressed their disappointment about the unexpected outcome — Pete Buttigieg and the Bernie Sanders campaign both declared victory — while the Trump campaign highlighted the flaws, calling it “the sloppiest train wreck in history.”
The other wild card:The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere explores what could happen if the Democratic primary comes down to a contested convention this summer between Sanders and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. The superdelegates could end up with the deciding voice, and potentially even Tom Steyer or Andrew Yang could “rack up enough delegates to play kingmaker themselves.”
Iowa scene: Elon Glickman, an activist with IfNotNow, was dragged out of a Donald Trump Jr. press conference in Iowa yesterday while shouting “you are killing Jews.” Glickman was one of eight activists who walked off a Birthright trip in 2018 as an act of protest. In response, Trump Jr. said: “I don’t think anyone’s done more for Israel and American Jews than Donald Trump.”
Jim Joseph Foundation CEO discusses shifts in funding priorities
On the first episode of the second season of the Jewish Funders Network’s“What Gives?” podcast, which dropped Monday, JFN CEO Andres Spokoiny interviews Barry Finestone, CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation. In addition to sharing their distinguished accents (Spokoiny hails from Argentina, while Finestone grew up in Scotland), the pair discussed trends in Jewish philanthropy and the shift in the Jim Joseph Foundation’s funding priorities.
By the numbers: Finestone elaborated on the issues in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen. The San Francisco-based foundation will distribute about $55 million in 2020, he told JI. The organization’s tax filing showed foundation assets of $1.266 billion at the end of 2017.
Jews of color: Jim Joseph has invested a total of about $1 million to support Jewish communities of color, Finestone told JJF, and is the “leading player in the funder collaborative” backing the Jews of Color Field-Building Initiative. Other collaborative partners include the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Leichtag Foundation.
Finestone explains the motivation in the podcast: “In a few short decades this country will be majority non-white. This is an attempt not just to prepare the community, but to ask: ‘Where are these people in leadership, in our organizations, in serving the community?’ For a tradition that likes to count Jews, we have a million people we don’t count… this is 15-20% of the [Jewish] community,” he said, referring to the findings of a 2019 study✎ EditSign. Finestone, who called the lack of inclusion “a disgrace,” said further, “Our goal here is to elevate the issue, to build the field so this becomes embedded in the DNA of the Jewish community.”
Keeping the lights on: “You don’t walk into Starbucks and say, ‘I just want to pay for the milk and the coffee,’” Firestone told Spokoiny. “You have to pay for the lights, the health benefits of the employees. In our world the deliverable of good product is 150% correlated to the people who work in the field. The health of the Jewish community is directly related to the health of those who work in it. If we’re not going to provide good benefits and competitive salaries, then we’re going to get an inferior product.”
Following suit: Referring to a commitment by the heads of the U.S.’s five largest foundations last September to increase their support for grantees’ basic costs — rather than fund only specific programs — he said that Jewish foundations must follow suit.
U.K.’s John Bercow reveals Conservative Party antisemitism
John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons and a Conservative MP for 20 years, revealed that he was subject to antisemitic abuse from within his own party during a launch event this week for his new book, Unspeakable: The Autobiography.
In an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, Bercow, who retired last year after a 10-year tenure as parliament speaker, said:
“In 22 years, I never experienced antisemitism from a member of the Labour Party, but I did experience antisemitism from members of the Conservative Party. A lot was subtle. I remember a member saying, ‘If I had my way, Berkoff, people like you wouldn’t be allowed in this place.’ And I said, ‘Sorry, when you say people like me, do you mean lower-class or Jewish?’ To which he replied, ‘Both.’”
Career: Bercow, the son of a Jewish cab driver from North London, rose through the ranks of the Tory party through sheer elbow grease, according to a New York Times profile. He resigned when he accepted the nonpartisan role of speaker in 2009. Last month, outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — who faced a wave of antisemitism allegations — nominated Bercow for a peerage, an honorary lifetime title, for defying his own party in leading opposition to Brexit.
💲 Managing Expectations: In The Atlantic, professor Daniel Markovits offers an inside look at McKinsey, painting it as the “epicenter of economic inequality and the destruction of the American middle class” — and how that reflects on 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg’s political aspirations. [TheAtlantic] 🗑️ No Trash Talk: The Washington Postprofiles Barney Shapiro, the Jewish founder and CEO of Tenleytown Trash, who gives his employees the day off on Christmas and drives a truck himself to collect the garbage around Georgetown. [WashPost]
📈 Trust issues: David Graham asks in The Atlantic’s upcoming issue if we can still trust polling? Graham visits data journalist and FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver who believes he got 2016 right but thinks the media is making the same mistakes in 2020. The question of whether to listen to Silver returns. [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🤝 Talk of the Region: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan met in Uganda yesterday and “agreed to begin cooperation” over establishing diplomatic ties between the nations. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited Burhan to visit the United States, and Sudan is reportedly hoping that normalization with Israel could aid its campaign to be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror.
📝 Next on Agenda: Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reports that Israel has been pushing the White House to recognize Moroccan sovereignty in the occupied Western Sahara in return for Morocco taking steps to normalize relations with Israel.
🗣️ Pitching the Plan: Jared Kushner will brief ambassadors to the U.N. Security Council about the Trump peace plan at a meeting in New York on Thursday.
🏠 Rumor Mill: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly pushed the Trump administration to include a provision in the recently released Middle East peace plan that would have seen the Israeli Arab population living in an area near the Green Line stripped of their Israeli citizenship and forced to live under Palestinian rule.
🚜 Making Noise: Dozens of Israeli settlers crossed into the West Bank on tractors demanding the immediate annexation of the Jordan Valley.
💑 Match Made in Heaven: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg got engaged to Tom Bernthal after being set up by her late husband’s brother, Rob Goldberg. Last year, the couple brought their children and their parents on a summer trip to the Middle East, including Jerusalem, where they pledged a $2.5 million donation to IsraAID.
🎤 Trending: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed in an appearance at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit on Friday that he has “become more religious” in recent years.
💰Money Talks: Despite attacks from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, Silicon Valley donors including Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and software exec Steve Silberstein have collectively poured millions of dollars into left-leaning groups seeking to eke out victory in November.
#️⃣🛑 Time Out: Twitter suspended a “large network of fake accounts” in Israel, Iran and Malaysia that were seeking to exploit a Twitter feature that matches usernames to phone numbers. The social network said some of the accounts “may have ties to state-sponsored actors.”
📈 Going public: Software company Asana has filed to go public through a direct listing, avoiding a traditional public offering. The move will ultimately save the company money in bank fees and will allow current investors to sell their shares without delay.
🔊 Loud and Clear: Jennifer Lopez used an arrangement by the Israeli social-musical initiative Koolulam to perform her song “Let’s Get Loud” at the Super Bowl on Sunday after watching a video of people singing the song en masse to promote breast cancer awareness.
📼 Sorry About That: Yad Vashem apologized on Monday for “inaccuracies” and “partial” facts in its presentation at last month’s World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, after it was criticized for emphasizing Russia’s role in ending World War II while downplaying the role of the U.S, Britain and Poland.
👩⚖️ Contempt of Court: The judge in the trial of Grafton Thomas, the suspect in the Monsey Hanukkah stabbing, scolded Thomas’s lawyer for tipping off reporters to a yet-to-be-released sealed transcript from the trial.
🎓 Campus Beat: Duke University has settled a discrimination complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights over alleged antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents that took place during an event sponsored by the Duke-UNC Middle East Consortium last year.
👎 Poor Widow: The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that Fadia Khalil Mohammad, the wife of notorious Palestinian terrorist Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, cannot collect on her late husband’s life insurance because he failed to mention his role in the 1968 attack against an El Al plane in Athens when he took out the policy in 1987.
👨⚖️ On the Bench: The American Bar Association Journal profiles David Avraham Voluck, an Orthodox Jew from Philadephia who has served as a tribal court judge in Alaska for the past two decades.
🏆 Tainted Trophy: The Berlin Film Festival has reached out to recipients of its Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize, awarded since 1987, expressing “surprise” at recent reports that festival founder Bauer was an enthusiastic member of the Nazi party, and pledging to change the prize moving forward.
🥪 Breaking Bread: The president of the Tampa Jewish Community Centers and Federation extended a lunch invitation to a Tampa city councilman who used an anti-Jewish slur in conversation with a reporter last week. 🕯️ Remembering: George Steiner, an author and literary critic who wrote frequently about the reaction of culture to atrocities including the Holocaust, has died at age 90.
Pic of the Day
AIPAC held its annual Black History Month event, paying tribute to the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and his youth leadership program that takes students to Israel and prepares them as future leaders, at the Paley Center for Media in Manhattan. Speakers included Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, AIPAC President-elect Betsy Korn and a fireside chat with Maryland General Delegate Nick Mosby, moderated by noted media personality Eboni Williams.
Spotted: Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, New Jersey Assemblymember Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan and his deputy Israel Nitzan, David Greenfield, Bob Cohen, Jason Koppel, Mike Sachs, Jay Haberman, Labriah Lee Holt, Michael Krasna, Hannah Levin, Aldrin Enis, Phil Darivoff, Yana Lukeman, Seth Siegel, Michael Miller, Michael Fragin, William Rapfogel, Ezra Friedlander, Missy Balmir, Andrew Gross, Ryan Karben, Larry Scott Blackman, Al Cockfield, Allison Nagelberg, Sara Liss, Jacques Blinbaum, Batsheva Neuer, Emanuel Almog, Francine Raubvogel, Michael Alexander, Jenna Friedberg, Jillian Berkowitz, Pinny Ringel, Pinny Hikind, Jonathan Shabsheikes, Michael Cohen, Sara Liss, Herb Block, Jeff Leb, Masha Pearl, Daniel Sperling, Richard Constable, Sara Valenzuela, and Ari Weiss.
President and COO of Blackstone Group and Chairman of the Board of Hilton Worldwide, Jonathan D. “Jon” Gray turns 50…
Actor best known for his work as Herman “Hesh” Rabkin on HBO’s “The Sopranos” and as Howard Lyman on CBS’s “The Good Wife,” Jerry Adler turns 91… Stowe, Vermont resident, Barbara Gould Stern turns 86… Co-founder and chair of SAGE Publications, Sara Miller McCune turns 79… Attorney, bank executive and philanthropist, donor of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Adrienne Arsht turns 78… Patrick Leek turns 67… Attorney, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson turns 63… Senior content editor of the Koren/Steinsaltz English Talmud and director of E-Communities at the Lookstein Center of Bar Ilan University, Shalom Berger turns 60… Actress, best known for her award-winning role as Private Vasquez in the 1986 science fiction action film Aliens, Jenette Elise Goldstein turns 60… Member of the State Senate of Maryland since 2013, Brian J. Feldman turns 59…
Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, previously the Democratic minority leader in the Alaska House of Representatives, Ethan Berkowitz turns 58… Talent agent and co-CEO of WME with Ari Emanuel, Patrick Whitesell turns 55… The first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti turns 49… Television writer and producer, Edward Lawrence “Eddy” Kitsis turns 49… Executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, Howard Libit turns 48… Senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, Ilan Goldenberg turns 42… Author, psychotherapist and group fitness instructor, her book is about her genetic disease that has made her almost completely blind and deaf, Rebecca Alexander turns 41… Manager in the NYC office of Monitor Deloitte, Justin Meservie turns 37… Business operations manager at Delegate, a personal assistant subscription service, Abigail Dana Cable turns 32… Executive director of research & strategy at StandWithUs, Max Samarov turns 31…