Good Wednesday morning!
Disney announced CEO Bob Iger’ssurprise resignation yesterday, saying he will stay on as executive chairman and “direct Disney’s creative endeavors.” The CEO role will be filled by Disney veteran Bob Chapek.
Former White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt is joining Israeli crowdfunding venture investing platform OurCrowd as a partner overseeing its ties across the Middle East.
On Capitol Hill, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, chaired by Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), will hold a second hearing this afternoon about confronting the rise in antisemitism and domestic terrorism.
Brand synergy: AIPAC announced on Tuesday evening that Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg will speak at its annual policy conference next week. “Mike is pleased to join AIPAC 2020 to share his perspective on issues important to the Jewish community and America’s strong relationship with Israel,” a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson tells JI.
At least two other presidential candidates are expected to announce later today that they’ll be addressing AIPAC via satellite.
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The Hebrew-speaking spokeswoman on the road with Mike Bloomberg
Whenever Michael Bloomberg heads out on the campaign trail, Galia Slayen is never far behind. The 29-year-old Jewish native of Oregon — and daughter of Israeli parents — joined the 2020 hopeful’s team last year as his traveling press secretary. She sat down recently with Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro to discuss her personal and political journey.
Bio: Slayen’s parents — from South Africa and Zimbabwe — met in Israel while playing field hockey at the Maccabiah Games. They settled in Israel, served in the IDF and had Slayen’s older brother. While her mother was pregnant with her, the family moved to Oregon. “We grew up with them speaking Hebrew to us,” Slayen recalls. “And I had a weird Israeli name that no one in Portland, Oregon, could pronounce.” And while her family was never religiously observant, they were always heavily involved in the Jewish community and Jewish causes; she attended Jewish day school in Portland, went to B’nai Brith camp in the summers and took part in an American Jewish World Service service trip to Ghana during high school.
Campaign life: Since 2012, Slayen has jumped from campaign to campaign, working to elect Democratic candidates as congressmen, senators, attorney general, governor — and now president. In 2017, she was hired as the communications director for the Illinois gubernatorial campaign of J.B. Pritzker, who defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018. “I was so excited to have my first Jewish candidate,” she said of Pritzker. “Having a leader who is Jewish and showing that antisemitism cannot get in our way, I think is really important.”
Jewish pride: Slayen is enthusiastic about working for a man who could be elected the first Jewish president of the United States. She said that watching the “xenophobia and the divisiveness” emanating from the White House has been particularly frightening. “You have a president who was literally stoking those flames,” she said. “So for me, being very public and open about the fact that I’m Jewish is important.” And looking ahead, “to have a Jewish president beat Donald Trump — what stronger message can we send?”
Winning streak: Looking back on her long campaign record, Slayen can’t help but notice a pattern. “Every other year I’ve won,” she points out. And her most recent candidate, Gov. Steve Bullock, dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race before the primaries began. “So we’re up to the winning one,” she proclaimed. “We’re on the winning streak right now.”
CBS struggles, Sanders takes heat and Bloomberg whiffs on Israel
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) came under fire from his rivals seeking to slow the frontrunner’s momentum, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) directed most of her barbs at former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the debate in South Carolina last night. Having adjusted expectations following an underwhelming first debate performance, Bloomberg struggled to convey some of his messages last night, stumbling at times, including on a question about Israel.
Missed opportunity: Bloomberg kicked off the debate with an attempt to define Sanders as a Kremlin favorite and unelectable. He also made a more effective case defending his record as mayor and pushed back against many of the attacks against him. But Bloomberg, seeking a boost heading into Super Tuesday, missed a unique opportunity to draw a stark contrast with Sanders on his approach towards Israel.
Embassy debate: Asked if he would move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, Sanders said that it “would be under consideration.” Dodging a question on his recent comments about AIPAC, Sanders escalated his attacks against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the Israeli leader a “reactionary racist.”
History lesson: Asked to weigh in on the issue,Bloomberg gave a reply that was met withcriticism. “Well, the battle has been going on for a long time in the Middle East, whether it’s the Arabs versus the Persians, the Shias versus the Sunnis, the Jews in Israel and the Palestinians, it’s only gone on for 40 or 50 years… The real problem here is you have two groups of people, both who think God gave them the same piece of land,” Bloomberg said. “And the answer is to obviously split it up, leave the Israeli borders where they are, try to push them to pull back some of those extra on the other side of the wall, where they’ve built these new communities, which they should not have done.”
When asked about the embassy location, Bloomberg said, “You can’t move the embassy back.” But he suggested that moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, without getting something in return from the Israeli government, was a mistake.
Lost debate prep memo: Bloomberg’s Twitter account, however, issued a more direct response to the AIPAC question while the candidate was still on stage. “To characterize AIPAC as a racist platform is offensive, divisive, and dangerous to Israel — America’s most important ally in the Middle East — and to Jews,” @MikeBloomberg tweeted. “How can Bernie profess he’s the path to unity when he’s already managed to polarize a people and a party?”
Feisty night: After a lackluster showing last week, former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a stronger performance last night, going on the attack against Sanders over his past gun votes and his support for Fidel Castro. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg also landed a series of jabs against Sanders, warning that — if he is the nominee — Democrats risk losing their majority in the House and their chance of taking the Senate.
While it’s unclear who won last night’s debate, it’s quite clear that CBS and its debate moderation lost.
Who had the strongest debate showing?
Campaign strategists and political observers weighed in on the combative debate, and the testy exchange over Israel policy.
Bernie camp spin: Joel Rubin, Sanders’s director of Jewish outreach, told JI’s Melissa Weiss that the senator’s composure while weathering attacks from the other candidates demonstrated he would be a formidable opponent in the general election. “He stuck to his message, he communicated what he’s all about. He maintained a strong backbone under assault [and] demonstrated what it will take in a prime-time general election debate fight with Donald Trump, with a guy who can really sling from any different angle,” Rubin said. “Bernie, he demonstrated that he could take the heat. He knew it was coming and it came from all directions.” Rubin also weighed in on Bloomberg’s Middle East policy: “His answers made it clear why he endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 and supported the war in Iraq.”
Democratic campaign strategist Hank Sheinkopf told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that Bloomberg “was very clear about where the embassy should stay,” and has already drawn a stark contrast with Sanders “by showing up at AIPAC — and the Sanders-Sarsour gang don’t show up there.”
View from Jerusalem: Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Sanders’s response on Israel was a “horrifying comment.” Katz told Army Radio that: “We don’t intervene in the internal American electoral process, which is splendid,” but that “people who support Israel will not support someone who goes against these things.”
Not impressed: Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tells JI that the exchange was the “worst five-minute exchange and discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian issue in [the] history of presidential campaign debates.”
Biden camp spin: Andrew Weinstein, a member of Joe Biden’s national finance committee, tells JI, “In arguably the most important debate of the primary so far, Joe Biden had his best night. He was authoritative, compelling, and undeniably presidential. He also made it clear that he was the only person on the debate stage who can beat Donald Trump, keep the House under Democratic control, and help to take back the Senate.”
Aaron Keyak, former National Jewish Democratic Council head, emails JI: “What you saw [last night] is exactly the type of conversation that you could see at any Shabbat table in America.”
Quincy Institute forum hosting Petraeus, Beinart and three members of Congress
The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, in conjunction with Foreign Policy, is holding a leadership forum on the future of U.S. foreign policy and national security at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. this afternoon.
Speakers include Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA); former CENTCOM commander and CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, journalist Peter Beinart, and Matt Duss, a foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Background: The Quincy Institute — founded in 2019 and funded by the unlikely pairing of George Soros and Charles Koch — calls for an end to American military intervention and a refocus on diplomatic strategy. Neorealist scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, who in 2007 jointly published the controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, are both non-resident scholars at the institute. In a Senate floor speech last month, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) accused the think tank of fomenting antisemitism.
Petraeus defended his participation, telling JI he was invited to speak by the editors of Foreign Policy, with whom he has a close relationship. “It is likely that my thoughts and contributions may contrast with those of some of the other participants gathered when it comes to the U.S. role in the world, the need for a sustained sustainable commitment in the fight against Islamist extremists, the importance of alliances, allies, and partners — including Israel,” Petraeus said. “And that is the principle reason that I decided to participate — similar to when I offer thoughts and assessments to political figures or policy makers of either party, even when I may disagree with them on a variety of issues.”
Norm Eisen reflects on his yearlong role in the impeachment process
Former White House ethics czar Norm Eisen wrapped up a yearlong stint on Monday as the House Judiciary Committee’s special counsel, building the case for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Mission accomplished: In an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh, Eisen called the experience “a tremendous privilege.” He added, “Our tradition teaches tzedek tzedek tirdof — pursue justice intensely. I felt I was doing just that.”
Behind the scenes: While the president was acquitted by the Senate, Eisen noted that “it was telling” that even many Republicans who voted against conviction “said publicly or told me privately that we had proved our factual allegations against the president.”
Revolving door: Eisen told JI he will be returning to his previous role as a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.
😷 Mother Nature: In Bloomberg, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj highlights how the coronavirus is dealing a fatal blow to Iran’s economy far and beyond what the U.S. economic sanctions were intended to do — shutting down non-oil exports. [Bloomberg]
🎙️ Atop the Charts:The New York Times’ Matti Friedman interviews Nasrin Kadry, the unlikely Israeli pop star who was born Muslim, converted to Judaism and rose to fame after her appearance on an Israeli musical reality show. [NYTimes]
🇺🇸🇮🇱 Shakeup Incoming: In Foreign Policy, Colum Lynch breaks down the fears among many Israelis and American Jews over a Bernie Sanders presidency, and the shakeup in the U.S.-Israel relationship that could come from “something of an outlier among the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership.” [ForeignPolicy]
Around the Web
📺 Media Watch: An investor group made up of Searchlight Capital and ForgeLight has purchased a 64% stake in Haim Saban’s Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications.
🏟️ New Gig: Former Apollo Global Management partner David Abrams was named head of investments for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.
🏡 Big Bucks: The former estate of Seagram CEO and philanthropist Edgar Bronfman Sr. in Westport, Connecticut is at $8.6 million the most expensive listing currently on the market.
👨💼 Leading Alone: Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block is stepping down, leaving Marc Benioff as the company’s sole chief executive.
🏗️ Dealmaking: Related Companies’ developer Stephen Ross has signed an agreement with Amtrak to pursue a $1 billion low-debt federal loan to fund a platform over the West Side rail yard to support the second half of New York’s Hudson Yards.
🤝 Shadow Diplomacy: Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) met with European leaders over the weekend to discuss a new nuclear deal with Iran and U.S. allies in the Gulf region. The lawmakers told the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin that they are working on legislation that would designate a potential new deal as a treaty that would give Iran confidence a new president won’t pull out of it.
🚫 Political Retribution: Israel’s Foreign Ministry has ordered its embassies in Russia, Canada and Bulgaria to cancel planned speaking events by an Israeli academic and prominent Iran expert, Raz Zimmt, after Zimmt criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy on Iran.
🏞️ Electioneering: Netanyahu vowed yesterday to revive a plan to build a Jewish settlement in the E-1 area east of Jerusalem, which opponents say will split the West Bank in two and isolate it from Jerusalem.
💻 Unmasked:Facebook has removed 30 fake profiles that sought to suppress the Arab-Israeli vote in next week’s election. Half of those profiles regularly posted on the page of Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh.
✍️ Speaking out: 345 Reform, Conservative and Orthodox pulpit rabbis have signed an open letter to Bernie Sanders rejecting his claim that AIPAC fosters bigotry.
📮 Window Closing: Bernie Madoff’s victims have a Friday deadline to submit their objections to the notorious Ponzi plan fraudster’s plea to be freed from jail.
🏐 Sports Blink: Student athletes at Brooklyn College are under fire after kneeling during the singing of Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” before a volleyball match against students from Yeshiva University.
✡️ Symbolic Name: Former Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy explained that he wears a Star of David necklace despite not being Jewish because people sometime call him “Jew” as shorthand for his last name. He later tweeted: “no disrespect to the Jewish people!”
🌟 Star Power: Michael Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones, will return to Jerusalem in June to co-host the Genesis Prize ceremony, which this year will honor Natan Sharansky.
📚 Oy Vey: Surprising its publisher, the new Yiddish translation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stonesold out within 48 hours, reports The Wall Street Journal.
🕯️ Remembering: Steve Ross, a Holocaust survivor and the founder of the New England Holocaust Memorial, has died.
Pic of the day
On Monday night, Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan hosted an interfaith event to mark Black History Month and pay tribute to the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Clarendon Road Church in Brooklyn, N.Y.
In attendance were NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, Assemblyman Walter Mosely (D-Brooklyn), Councilman Robert Cornegy (D-Brooklyn), Pastor Charles Galbreath, Pastor Mullery Jean-Pierre, Pastor Gilford Monrose, JCRC of NY CEO Michael Miller and Jewish National Fund board member Howard Wallick. (Photo by Anthony Mitchell)
Founder and editor-in-chief of Tablet Magazine, Alana Newhouse turns 44…
Senior fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Chaim Isaac Waxman, Ph.D. turns 79… Businessman, art collector and the president of the World Jewish Congress since 2007, Ronald Lauder turns 76… Las Vegas resident, Chantal Reuss turns 74… Singer and songwriter Michael Bolton turns 67… Julie Levitt Applebaum turns 63… Member of Knesset since 1988, he also serves as Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Regional Cooperation, Tzachi Hanegbi turns 63… Former U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey (2009-2017), now a partner at Arnold & Porter where he heads the crisis management team, Paul J. Fishman turns 63… Sociologist and bioethicist, he is a professor at Emory University and the older brother of Rabbi David Wolpe, Paul Root Wolpe turns 63…
President of Perception Neuroscience, Jonathan Sporn, M.D. turns 62… Director of digital research at Lake Research Partners and SVP of digital strategies at turner4D, Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D. turns 58… Chief operating officer of the Paramus-based Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Lisa Harris Glass turns 54… Former president of MLB’s Miami Marlins and contestant on the 28th season of “Survivor,” David P. Samson turns 52… Motivational speaker, focused on anti-bullying, Jon Pritikin turns 47… Brett Michael Kaufman turns 26… Talent producer at “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Neil Goldman… Media and promotions supervisor at Showtime, Leora Borzak…