Today is Friday.
As Seth Mandel, executive editor of the Washington Examiner, quipped earlier in the week, “There are now two days of the week: Shabbos and Not Shabbos.” Wishing you all a safe and restful Shabbos.
On Capitol Hill, the House is expected to pass — by voice vote ― the bipartisan stimulus package later today. Politicoreported yesterday that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held up the bill until he secured language designed to bar President Donald Trump and his family’s businesses from benefiting from the relief.
After weeks of political stagnation in Israel, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz dramatically split his faction in half in order to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an emergency unity government. More below.
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Gantz splits with allies in order to broker unity deal with Netanyahu
In a stunning turnabout, Israel’s Blue and White Party split in two yesterday, paving the way for Benny Gantz to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a unity government after a year of political turmoil and three elections.
How it all went down: On Thursday afternoon, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz split from his political partners Yair Lapid and Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon. Gantz nominated himself as the next Knesset speaker after the parliament was forced by the Supreme Court to hold a vote following the dramatic resignation of Likud’s Yuli Edelstein a day earlier. Gantz put himself up for the job in order to block MK Meir Cohen — of Blue and White’s Yesh Atid faction — from being elected to the position and ending unity talks with Likud.
Parting ways: Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction and Ya’alon’s Telem faction officially split from Blue and White yesterday. Lapid exited the party’s Whatsapp group, wishing Gantz’s Israeli Resilience faction the best of luck. Later in the evening, Lapid and Ya’alon jointly denounced Gantz’s decision, saying he “betrayed” the will of voters in order to “crawl” into a government led by Netanyahu. Gantz tweeted thanks to Lapid and Ya’alon for their partnership, saying he made the decision in order to avoid a fourth election “during such a challenging time.”
Why it matters: Gantz’s move paves the way for an imminent three-year rotation agreement to be signed between him and Netanyahu. The Blue and White leader will reportedly serve as defense minister for 18 months until he is slated to replace Netanyahu as prime minister in September 2021. A Likud member is expected to serve as finance minister, while a Gantz ally will likely become foreign minister.
Coalition wrangling: It was not immediately clear if Netanyahu’s traditional allies — Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism — would be part of the unity government. Experts predict that Labor’s Amir Peretz is also likely to join the coalition, splitting off from the alliance formed with Meretz ahead of the last election. “[Yamina’s Natfali] Bennett is flexing some muscles because he wants to remain defense minister,” Jerusalem Post diplomatic correspondent Lahav Harkov told JI. “So maybe there will be some sort of blow up… but I think in the end Bennett will prefer to be in the government than in the opposition.”
Call of duty: Ari Harow, a member of Likud and former chief of staff to Netanyahu, tells JI that “Gantz did the right thing for the country by bringing a much-needed sense of unity. Politically, he was out of options.”
Betraying voters: Dahlia Scheindlin, an international public opinion analyst who worked for the Joint List as a researcher in the March 2nd election, told JI that Gantz “seemed to have been frightened” about forming a minority government with the support of the Arabs MKs to oust Netanyahu. Scheindlin noted that Gantz campaigned almost exclusively on committing to get Netanyahu out of office, “and the only thing voters actually knew about him, he’s not held up.”
View from Washington: Jason Greenblatt, former White House Mideast peace envoy, told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh it was “heartening” to see Gantz work toward a unity government with Netanyahu. “This unity is needed now more than ever,” he stressed. “It gives me hope that if this effort is successful, perhaps peace might be possible between Israel and the Palestinians.”
‘THE JEWISH NIELSEN’
In the age of Zoom, who is watching what?
As events and conferences around the country are cancelled and postponed, Jewish organizations are pivoting to Zoom to engage their members. A slew of webinars and conference calls were held this week featuring authors, heads of organizations and members of Congress, many of which focused on the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
By the numbers: We collected and verified viewership numbers from more than a dozen webinars.
- ADL 3/26: “Fighting Hate From Home” feat. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) — 1633 participants
- AJU 3/26: “Jewish Responsibility in a Time of Plague” feat. Bari Weiss and Dr. Jeffrey Herbst — 761 participants
- The Forward 3/24: “The 11th Plague? Passover in a Pandemic” feat. Archie Gottesman, Joan Nathan, Abby Pogrebin, and Rabbi David Wolpe — 497 participants
- Hillel International 3/26: “Why Is This Passover Different Than All Others?” feat. Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks — 493 participants
- J Street 3/19: “Forming a Government in the Time of COVID-19” feat. Barak Ravid — 409 participants
See the full list here.
Of note: JI has partnered with the AJC on their webcast platform. Tune in today at 1 p.m. to hear Italy’s Ambassador to the United States Armando Varricchio and AJC CEO David Harris discuss the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Italy and the stringent measures the Italian government has taken to try and slow the spread of the virus.
The power of silent ‘Resistance’
Award-winning director Jonathan Jakubowicz — the grandson of Polish Holocaust survivors — never imagined he’d make a film about the Holocaust. But after the Venezuelan-born filmmaker learned the story of Marcel Marceau, the world-famous mime who was a Jewish member of the French Resistance during World War II, he knew he had to adapt the story for the screen. Jakubowicz spoke to Jewish Insider about his new film “Resistance,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, which hits digital platforms today.
Untold tale: “This particular story, I feel like it’s unlike any other,” he said. “This is a bunch of Jewish kids who decided to not wait, and risked it all to save all the Jews [they could].” Jakubowicz never knew Marceau was Jewish, let alone that he was a partisan fighter or that his father was murdered in Auschwitz. “My jaw dropped when I heard that, not only was he Jewish, but he used his art — in a way created his art — in order to save Jewish children escaping from the Nazis.”
On-set emotions: The director said shooting the film in Germany and the Czech Republic was a very emotional experience — including one scene in Nuremberg, the site of major Nazi rallies in the 1920s and 30s. “We literally shot that scene the night after the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh,” Jakubowicz said. “And the whole thing just felt crazy. Jesse [Eisenberg] is an American Jew and me, surrounded by a crew of Jews and Germans, shooting a silent performance of a Jewish artist in the place that Hitler built for his rallies — there was a level of significance that I can’t compare to anything I’ve ever done in my life.”
Virus viewing: The film was originally slated to hit select theaters this weekend, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it will become available instead today on digital platforms including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Apple TV. “In a way I feel like it’s a good movie to watch right now, because it really gives you perspective,” Jakubowicz said. “We’re all convinced we’re living in the worst moment in history, but it’s really not.”
OFF THE TRAIL
Coronavirus causes congressional campaigns to shift focus, strategy
The coronavirus is shaking up congressional races around the country — replacing impeachment as the hot topic on the campaign trail — and causing candidates to shift their messaging to address the pandemic and its effects on their districts. Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod spoke with a variety of candidates about their new approach.
Going digital: “The term social distancing is just about the perfect antonym to the term political campaign. We’ve had to recalibrate everything,” said Jake Auchincloss, who is running in a crowded Democratic primary in Massachusetts’s 4th district. Auchincloss, who serves as a city councilor in Newton, told JI he’s conducting outreach through video and phone calls. “If you can’t canvass by door, and if you can’t do meet-and-greets in people’s homes, how do you still establish connections with voters? Because conversations with voters at the end of the day [are] what matters.”
Dominating the conversation: The virus is now the leading issue in campaigns across the country, congressional candidates tell JI. “This is by far the number one issue” voters are talking about, Gina Ortiz Jones, the Democratic nominee in Texas’s 23rd district, told JI. “People have real concerns about their ability to meet the bills that are due here in just over a week. So this is by far the number one issue. It’s a health issue but it’s also an economic issue.”
Constituent concerns: Sara Jacobs, who’s running in California’s 53rd district, told a similar story. “It’s clear that everyone is feeling this crisis and is scared of what is happening right now. And especially so many folks in the district whose small businesses are not getting any money, whose incomes are being cut because of this,” Jacobs said. “I think it’s affecting every single person.”
Spreading the word: Mike Garcia, a Republican running in California’s 25th district, has been conducting community outreach to provide constituents with information about the spreading virus. He said outreach is especially important in his district, which currently has no representation in Congress following the resignation of Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) in October. “I have taken on a responsibility to make sure that we’re getting the information out to our district, to our constituents, [on] both sides of the aisle,” he said.
Outreach: Alan Khazei, who is also running in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts’s 4th congressional district, is using social media to reach out to constituents. “I’m just trying to use it to connect with people and inform them and share policy ideas and get access to experts,” Khazei told JI, noting that the next digital event he is hosting will feature Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a former classmate of his from Harvard.
⚔️ Flatter or Fight? Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s public battle with President Donald Trump has come to exemplify the struggle facing the nation’s 50 governors who are desperate for the necessary supplies and funding from Washington to fight the pandemic, The Associated Press reports. [AP]
😢 In Limbo: Amelia Nierenberg, a newsroom fellow with The New York Times, shares her fears as her father, an emergency room doctor, battles COVID-19. “We think loss looks the way it does at funerals, shivas and wakes, when the immediate slap still stings,” she writes. “But, in a way, I am already grieving.” [NYTimes]
🇩🇪 Across the Sea:Despite a rise in antisemitism in Germany — including a thwarted Yom Kippur attack last year — Felix Klein, the country’s commissioner for the fight against antisemitism, believes Germany is witnessing a resurgence of Jewish life. [DW]
Around the Web
☢️ Preparing for the Worst: Israeli officials have opened a “nuclear bunker” outside Jerusalem to aid in its ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
🎰 Chessed Call: Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson made calls to his contacts in Washington to spur the passage of the stimulus bill, but won’t be seeking loans for his own company.
🏗️ Hidden Code: The $2 trillion bailout package awards a “potential bonanza for America’s richest real estate investors,” by including a small tax policy change that could provide huge benefits.
🤝 First Priority: Officials from NORPAC and AIPAC told JTA’s Ron Kampeas that they are scaling back their lobbying efforts as America deals with the national health crisis.
🗣️ Speaking Out: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy slammed those who have blamed Jewish communities in Lakewood and elsewhere for the spread of the novel coronavirus.
👨💼 Spotlight: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri is managing one of the world’s biggest social networks from his garage in San Francisco, he told CNN Business.
📉 Downsized: Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor is beginning layoffs amid concerns that its biggest financial backer will pull back from the troubled talent agency.
💰 Start-up Nation: The U.S.-Israeli business intelligence platform Pyramid Analytics has raised $25 million, led by venture capital fund Jerusalem Venture Partners.
🥪 Sharing Food: Two kosher Boston-area chefs have teamed up to feed schoolchildren who no longer receive free lunch, while Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen in Maryland and Delaware is offering a 50% discount to medical professionals.
📺 TV News: Omri Givon, the Israeli co-creator of “When Heroes Fly,” speaks toVariety about his new series, “The Grave,” about an earthquake in northern Israel that uncovers dark secrets.
Pic of the day
A boy carries a box of matzos for Passover that he picked up from his synagogue in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn yesterday. Passover begins April 8.
Former member of the Knesset and leader of the Israeli Labor Party, Shelly Yachimovich turns 60 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Sports cartoonist and writer whose art has been used by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Murray Olderman turns 98… Music executive and chairman emeritus of Warner Brothers Records, Mo Ostin (born Morris Meyer Ostrofsky) turns 93… Founder of Business Wire, he has donated almost $800 million to charities, Lorry I. Lokey turns 93… Composer and violinist, Malcolm Goldstein turns 84… Founder of one of the oldest and largest private equity firms globally, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Thomas H. Lee (family name was Leibowitz) turns 76… Former technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal and editor-at-large of Recode, Walter S. Mossberg turns 73… Executive director at Milwaukee’s Grand Avenue Club (a mental health center), Rachel Forman turns 73…
Chairman and CEO of First International Resources in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Zev Furst turns 72… Sports agent who is widely reputed to be the real-life inspiration of the film “Jerry Maguire” in 1996, Leigh Steinberg turns 71… Host of the “Matty in the Morning Show” in Massachusetts on KISS 108, Matt Siegel turns 70… Director of development in NY for the American Technion Society, Linda Altshuler turns 70… Member of Knesset representing the United Torah Judaism party, Yisrael Eichler turns 65… Director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany, Susan Neiman turns 65… Economist and banker in Latvia, Valerijs Kargins turns 59… Smooth jazz saxophonist, Dave Koz turns 57…
COO of the Maimonides Fund, Daniel Gamulka turns 53… CEO of BBYO, Matthew Grossman turns 49… Founder and CEO of the Movement Vision Lab, Sally Kohn turns 43… Associate professor and director of undergraduate studies at Columbia University School of the Arts, Dorothea Lasky turns 42… Correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, Jacob HirschSoboroff turns 37… Professional baseball outfielder with a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he starred for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Blake Shane Gailen turns 35… Account executive at Yext, Adam B. Engel turns 31… Producer at ABC’s “The View,” Daniella Greenbaum Davis… The only individual to appear on JI’s birthday list every year of his life, Theodore James Kushner turns 4…
SATURDAY: Professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics, Jerome Isaac Friedman turns 90… Tarzana, California resident, Marlene R. Bane turns 87… Chairman and CEO of the Hartz Group, Leonard Norman Stern turns 82… Israeli electrical engineer and business executive, he was the founder and first general manager of Intel Israel and the inventor of the EPROM chip, Dov Frohman turns 81… Law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ruth Gavison turns 75… Expert on healthcare, supporter of women’s health issues and wife of former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, Hadassah Lieberman turns 72… Glenview, Illinois resident, Genie Kutchins turns 70… Iranian-born CEO of LA-based toy company MGA Entertainment (maker of Little Tikes and “Bratz” and “Lalaloopsy” dolls), Isaac Larian turns 66…
Presidential historian and author, Jewish liaison and deputy HHS secretary in the George W. Bush administration, Tevi Troy turns 53… Film producer, Brett Ratner turns 51… Journalist, crime writer and blogger who has spent most of his career in Japan, Jake Adelstein turns 51… Israeli journalist and radio presenter for Reshet Bet, Keren Neubach turns 50… Author of seven best-selling novels including in 2003 “The Devil Wears Prada,” Lauren Weisberger turns 43… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Makhlouf “Miki” Zohar turns 40… Los Angeles-based, Israeli fashion designer, Yotam Solomon turns 33… Retired MLB outfielder, Ryan Kalish turns 32… Project manager at Tradepoint Atlantic, Michael Hurwitz turns 32… LA real estate star and VP of Asset Management at Hackman Capital Partners, Zachary David Sokoloff turns 31…
SUNDAY: Evolutionary biologist, professor of zoology and biology at Harvard for many years, Richard Lewontin turns 91… Florida plaintiff’s attorney, he earned a $300 million fee suing the tobacco industry, the University of Florida law school bears his name, Fred Levin turns 83… Chemist, professor at both Hebrew University and UCLA, Raphael David Levine turns 82… Attorney, NYT best-selling author, sports agent for many athletes, Ronald M. Shapiro turns 77… Houston-based labor law, employment law and personal injury attorney, Carol Nelkin turns 75… Orthopedic surgeon, former professional boxer, entrepreneur and writer, Harold “Hackie” Stuart Reitman, MD turns 70… Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for economics, University of Chicago professor Roger Myerson turns 69…
Computer scientist and founder of the D. E. Shaw & Co. hedge fund, David Elliot Shaw turns 69… Chairman of consulting firm Roubini Global Economics and professor at NYU, Nouriel Roubini turns 62… Hollywood mogul, co-CEO of entertainment and media agency William Morris Endeavor, Ariel Zev “Ari” Emanuel turns 59… Miami businesswoman and Jewish leader, JoAnne Papir… Senior director of international government relations at Shell, Eric Pelofsky turns 49… Vice President at CRC Advisors and Kosher MRE connoisseur, Will Scharf turns 34… Director of battleground state communications for the Democratic Party, David A. Bergstein turns 32… Senior energy consultant at Aurora Energy Advisors, Alexander Zafran turns 29… MBA candidate in the class of 2021 at Columbia Business School, Annie Rosen… Founder of Leopard Strategies, Liz Jaff…