Good Monday morning!
Driving the week: The Democratic presidential primary could be settled later this week, depending on who wins tomorrow’s crucial Michigan primary.
In Israel, the political deadlock is forcing both sides to consider drastic action that could result in a minority government or a fourth election. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested a delay in his corruption trial, which is slated to begin March 17.
Amid fears of the spread of coronavirus, several synagogues in New York, D.C. and across the country have cancelled their Purim celebrations to minimize exposure. More below.
As of now, the RJC’s Las Vegas gathering, where President Donald Trump is slated to speak, is still on. RJC Board Chair Norm Coleman said precautions — including “spraying all siddurim before and after services with Lysol” — are in place.
The Pentagon has scrapped plans to adopt the Iron Dome missile defense system in the United States, reportedly in part due to Israel’s refusal to provide the source code.
Spread the word! Invite your friends to sign up and earn JI swag through our Ambassador program
The Sephardi millennial serving as Maryland’s first Orthodox legislator
Each Monday, Dalya Attar packs up enough kosher food for the week and heads to Annapolis. While she’s there, the first Orthodox Jewish member of the Maryland House of Delegates works to represent the Baltimore community that elected her and bring about positive change for the disadvantaged. For Jewish Insider, Gabby Deutch sat down with Attar, who shared her unconventional journey.
Not sitting back: Attar was elected in November 2018 among a wave of diverse Democratic female candidates — the most in the country’s history. “I was running for office at a time that many women wanted to step up and said, ‘It’s time for us now,’” Attar said. “We are just as strong as anyone else.”
No drama: Her job, she insists, is to represent the people of Baltimore, not to think about “the drama” in Washington. She’s been doing that for six years as an assistant state’s attorney, prosecuting narcotics and firearms cases. “I was in the juvenile system, and I was just horrified by what I saw taking place,” Attar said — kids going to bad schools and sometimes coming home to a cold house with no food — so she decided “to go the policy side of things.”
Winning hearts and minds: Attar hopes that her position will change some of the misconceptions Marylanders have about the Orthodox Jewish community. “People assume that, ‘Oh, they just don’t care about anyone but themselves,’” Attar said. “We do believe in tikkun olam… It’s in our Torah that you have to help others, whether or not they look like you.”
Goal oriented: The fourth of six children, Attar knew by middle school that she wanted to become a lawyer working in criminal justice. She attended Bais Yaakov, an Orthodox all-girls school, where Attar says she “was always the girl who thought outside the box.” She joined the debate team and questioned everything, which she admits “made my parents crazy sometimes.”
Bernie Sanders’s do-or-die moment arrives with Michigan primary
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is entering the most pivotal moment of his political career this week. After falling short in the delegate count on Super Tuesday, Sanders is the underdog ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Michigan presidential primary, which he narrowly won in 2016.
Delegate math: Former Vice President Joe Biden is currently leading the primary contest with 664 pledged delegates, including 610 delegates from last week’s contests, while Sanders is at 573. There are 102 delegates from the Super Tuesday states that have yet to be allocated. Some 332 delegates are at stake in the Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington state primaries tomorrow, including 125 delegates in Michigan alone.
Why it matters: Sanders needs to catch up with Biden in the delegate count, and since there are no moderate candidates left in the race to split the vote, he has to outdo his 2016 performance in more challenging circumstances. As Biden proved on Tuesday, his lack of spending in the state doesn’t necessarily work to his disadvantage as voters seek to consolidate behind a candidate who can win in November. A loss for Sanders in Michigan will reduce his chances of winning a bulk of the delegates in the March 17th contests in Ohio, Arizona, Florida and Illinois. A poll released Monday morning has the former vice president leading Sanders by 24 points.
Reaching out: At a rally in Detroit on Friday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) told Sanders supporters they had just four days to show the political establishment “that they underestimate us.” Analysts believe the demographics of Michigan, with a large Muslim population, “provide a unique backdrop to test Sanders’s vision.” Rev. Jesse Jackson also endorsed Sanders at a rally on Sunday in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Missed opportunity: On Saturday, Sanders scrapped prepared remarks on race just moments before he took the stage for a town hall meeting in Flint, Michigan. “He does not have those experiences. He is a white Jewish man,” a Sanders spokesman explained.
Heard yesterday: Three days after a Nazi flag was unfurled during his campaign event in Arizona, the Vermont senator said on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper on Sunday that he “never expected” in his life “to see a swastika at a major political rally. It’s horrible.” Biden issued a statement of support, saying “attacks like this against a man who could be the first Jewish President are disgusting and beyond the pale.”
Ringing endorsement: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced Monday morning that he was throwing his support behind Biden.
Former Labour MP: Corbyn’s successor must do ‘quite a lot’ to bring party back to ‘decency’
Former British MP Joan Ryan reflected on her political career — which ended with her resignation from the Labour Party over Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism — and her message to U.S. Jews in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh while visiting D.C. for AIPAC’s policy conference last week.
Moment to remember: “I can look myself in the mirror every morning. I feel proud of the action I took,” Ryan told JI. “I don’t regret it for a minute, and I would do the same again if necessary. It’s almost like a relief that, when push came to shove, I did have the moral courage to do the right thing.”
Electing Boris was worth it: While Corbyn’s defeat led to the election of Boris Johnson and the creation of a Tory government, Ryan said it was the right thing to do. “I am not a Conservative and I’m not a fan of Boris Johnson’s politics, and I think life might be very tough for a lot of people going forward,” she asserted. “But there are some things that are not policy matters. I think there is a political price to be paid for being antisemitic, and it’s not wrong that Labour has paid that price, and will continue to pay it if it doesn’t reform itself, visibly and transparently.”
Corbyn’s successor: There are three candidates running to lead the party after Corbyn announced he would not seek re-election: MP Keir Starmer, considered to be the favorite and backed by Gordon Brown; Rebecca Long-Bailey, a former shadow minister in Corbyn’s cabinet considered an ally of the defeated leader; and MP Lisa Nandy, who is polling far behind both Starmer and Long-Bailey.
Long road ahead: Ryan suggested that the next leader will have three to six months to “take some actions that demonstrate that this isn’t just going to be now passed over, hidden away somewhere; that it is going to be tackled. I think [the new] leader is going to have to do quite a lot to demonstrate before we can say Labour is on its way back to decency,” Ryan told JI. “This is going to be a long road back, because the Corbynistas are all still there. They’ve got their hands on every lever of power within the party, and it’s going to be a really tough job to peel their fingers off and loosen that grip to start moving the party forward.”
No fan of Trump: “I’m not a Donald Trump supporter,” Ryan noted, warning that the president’s allegations that the Democratic Party is anti-Israel are “wrong and dangerous, and it’s making a wedge issue of Israel. I don’t think that’s of any benefit to anybody.”
Brexit’s impact on Israel: Ryan also argued that Trump’s support of Brexit impacted Israel’s standing in the world. “That really has some consequences for Israel, because the U.K. was probably the strongest friend of Israel in the European Union and that voice has now been lost,” she explained. “I think it has a real impact on the U.K.’s ability to be a strong voice as a friend of Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood and it’s always going to need its friends.”
Mass cancellations continue amid COVID-19 spread
The rapid spread of the coronavirus is causing widespread event cancellations, massive cutbacks in travel and concerns the virus may have circulated among lawmakers in Washington.
Closed borders? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined Sunday evening to announce travel restrictions on those arriving from the United States, hours after speaking with Vice President Mike Pence about coordinating responses to the coronavirus. Netanyahu implied that a decision on restricting entry to travelers arriving from all countries could be made later today. The number of confirmed cases in Israel jumped over the weekend to 39.
Mass cancellations: The March of the Living program scheduled for April in Poland has been postponed indefinitely. The Jewish Funders Network conference in Florida this month is also postponed, and all Birthright trips to Israel have been halted. SXSW in Austin, Texas, has been called off, and the annual Milken Institute Global Conference has been rescheduled for July 7-10. Many synagogues around the world have canceled or scaled back their Purim celebrations.
Communal spread: One hundred people who attended a shiva house in Rockville, Maryland, last month could have potentially been exposed to a man with a confirmed case of coronavirus. Seven Jewish schools in Baltimore said they were cancelling all extracurricular Purim activities, and SAR Academy and High School in New York — which will be closed until at least March 16 — have launched an extensive remote-learning operation.
Conference contagion: A third attendee at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington last week has tested positive for coronavirus after returning to Los Angeles. This follows two other attendees from New York who tested positive, though the D.C. Health Department said on Friday that “there is no identified risk to conference attendees at this time.”
A confirmed case of coronavirus at the CPAC conference led to the self-quarantine of both Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who shook hands with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the conference, said he himself also had contact with the infected man.
👩 Nightmare Scenario: Speaking to The New York Times, four women — including an Orthodox Jewish teacher — explain how Quebec’s new public ban on religious symbols upends their lives and future careers. [NYTimes]
🏛️ Art and Architecture: In The Wall Street Journal, Heidi Mitchell recounts her recent trip to Israel to explore the thousands of Bauhaus-style buildings in Tel Aviv, where “architects strove for linear uniformity and egalitarianism.” [WSJ]
✡️ Yiddish Envy: Sarah Glazer writes in Air Mail about the phenomenon of philo-semitism becoming fashionable among Poland’s non-Jews. “In a small Jewish community like Krakow’s, some members are suspected of inventing Jewish roots — one sign that being Jewish has cachet.” [AirMail]
🎒 First Hand: The Washington Postspotlights the Student to Student initiative run by the JCRC of Greater Washington, which sends Jewish teenagers to explain their faith to public school students as a way to fight a spike in antisemitic bullying. [WashPost]
Around the Web
✍️ Modern Lessons: Rabbi Meir Soloveichik writes in The New York Times that Purim “marks the fragility of Jewish security, but also the possibility of heroism in the face of this vulnerability.”
🏪 Roll Tide: Ahead of a GOP run-off between Alabama Senate hopefuls former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and former Sen. Jeff Sessions, The New Yorker visits a shop in Jerusalem’s Old City that has become somewhat of a pilgrimage site for Alabamans in the Holy Land. There, Tuberville’s rival isn’t Sessions, but University of Alabama coach Nick Saban.
📺 On Air: Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt sent a letter to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott noting that Raymond Arroyo — filling in for regular host Laura Ingraham — played into “deep seated antisemitic canards” in a Thursday night segment mocking Michael Bloomberg.
👑 Palace Intrigue:Saudi authorities detained four princes over the weekend, including King Salman’s brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, and his nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef for allegedly plotting a coup against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
🤝 Summit of Allies:President Donald Trump hosted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday. The two leaders discussed, among other issues, peace in the Middle East, according to a White House readout. “President Bolsonaro lauded the United States’ vision for the peaceful coexistence of the State of Israel and a Palestinian state.”
🎤 On the Agenda: In addition to the president, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley are slated to appear at the Republican Jewish Coalition this weekend in Las Vegas.
⚔️ Coalition Conundrum: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz traded barbs over the weekend, accusing one another of subverting the will of the voters in an attempt to get the mandate to form a government. Gantz and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman appear close to signing a coalition pact. Meanwhile, the Knesset beefed up the security detail protecting Gantz after deeming various death threats against him to be credible.
🧕 A Knesset First:Iman Yassin Khatib, poised to become the first member of the Knesset in Israel’s history to wear a hijab, told Reuters she plans to be a role model for young Arab women.
🎈 Party Poopers:In recent months, Gaza militants have sent off hundreds of booby-trapped balloons — sometimes bearing the messages ‘I Love You’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ — to target Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip.
🏈 Strengthening Ties: Two NFL players, Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson and free-agent cornerback Josh Norman, trained with Israeli soldiers at the Wingate Institute in Netanya on Thursday as part of an introduction to the country’s military drills.
💪 Not Giving Up:Sixers managing partner Joshua Harris said at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that he has no plans to sell the team as franchise valuations continue to soar around the league.
📈 New Venture: Hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen is working on creating his first private-market fund, which will back early-stage tech companies focused on artificial intelligence.
👊 Fighting Back: Brooklyn developer Toby Moskovits and her partner Michael Lichtenstein are fighting off lawsuits and foreclosure at a Bushwick development site, accusing lenders and creditors of being motivated by a “personal vendetta.”
😠 Hate Knows No Bounds: A Jersey City man has been charged with a bias crime after threatening a Hasidic man, the property manager of the building housing the kosher supermarket where three people were killed in December.
🖼️ Learning About the Past:A new exhibition by artist Jonathan Horowitz, titled “We Fight to Build a Free World,” opens this month at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan and examines the ways artists have explored issues like oppression, authoritarianism, antisemitism, racism and xenophobia.
🕵️ Talk of the Nation:The decades-long hunt to track down Nazi collaborators in the United States, The New York Times reports, may be coming to its natural end.
Pic of the day
On Saturday night, the Yeshiva University men’s basketball team, Yeshiva Maccabees, beat Penn State Harrisburg 102 to 83, nabbing a spot in the NCAA Division III Sweet 16.
Moroccan-born member of Knesset (since 1998) now the leader of the Labor-Gesher-Meretz party, he was previously Minister of Defense (2006-2007), Amir Peretz turns 68…
Former mayor of North York, Ontario (1973-1997), then mayor of Toronto (1998-2003), founder of the Bad Boy Furniture chain, Melvin Douglas “Mel” Lastman turns 87… Co-founder of Sunbeam Television and developer of a 400-acre business park in Broward County, Florida, Edmund Ansin turns 84… Professor emeritus of sociology and Jewish studies at the University of Toronto, Y. Michal Bodemann turns 76… Sag Harbor-based painter, sculptor and printmaker, Eric Fischl turns 72… Radio and television journalist, he hosts public radio program “Science Friday,” Ira Flatow turns 71… Rhodes scholar, Harvard Law graduate, political journalist and commentator, Michael Kinsley turns 69… President and CEO of NYC’s flagship public TV station WNET, he was previously the president of NBC News and the executive producer for “Dateline NBC,” Neal Shapiro turns 62… Susan Liebman turns 60… Founder and president of NYC-based Gotham Media, Gordon Platt turns 58…
CEO, chairman and controlling shareholder of Quontic Bank based in New York, Steven Schnall turns 53… VP at Facebook, David I. Ginsberg turns 45… SVP at the D.E. Shaw group, he held senior posts in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative during the Obama administration, Matthew Vogel turns 42… CEO of the Trevor Project, Amit Paley turns 38… Co-founder and CEO at ImpactTechNation, he is also a co-founder of Wake-Up Jerusalem (Hitorerut B’Yerushalayim party), Hanan Rubin turns 38… Israeli-born singer, now one-half of the world music duo Shlomit & RebbeSoul, Shlomit Levi turns 37… Communications director for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Alissa “Sadie” Weiner turns 33… CEO at New Orleans-based QED Hospitality, Emery Whalen turns 33… Founding partner of Mothership Strategies, a DC-based firm using digital strategies for organizational fundraising and activism, Jacob “Jake” Austin Lipsett turns 27… Israel and antisemitism education coordinator at the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, Marla Topiol turns 27… Private equity and venture capital investor, Howie Fialkov… Stephen Lent… Menachem Wecker…