Good Friday morning!
Today in New York, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres “to discuss a broad range of multilateral matters.” More below.
Michael Bloomberg is moving forward with the creation of an independent PAC that will employ hundreds of his presidential campaign staffers in six swing states to support the Democratic nominee in the fall.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) blasted U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman over his “partisan defense” of President Donald Trump’s peace plan at AIPAC. Van Hollen urged the administration to “stop treating Israel as a partisan, political football and seek a viable, negotiated, two-state solution.”
Jared Kushnerreportedly told a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the U.S. will approve Israeli annexation over the West Bank in the coming months if the Palestinians refuse to return to talks.
Julia Hahn, a former Breitbart writer who is currently director of rapid response and surrogate operations for the White House, will be replacing departing White House deputy communications director Adam Kennedy, Politico’s Daniel Lippman reports.
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MEET THE CANDIDATE
A day in the Bronx with a DNC vice chair running for Congress
Michael Blake has the resume, the star backing and the infrastructure to support his bid for the open seat in New York’s 15th congressional district, after the retirement of Rep. José E. Serrano (D-NY). But can he go all the way? Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel recently spent a day on the campaign trail in the South Bronx with the state assemblyman and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee — along with Academy Award-nominated actress Alfre Woodard.
Ready to go: “We’re ready,” Blake boasted in an interview with Jewish Insider as he sat down in a cramped room in the back of his Lincoln Avenue headquarters. “And you’re seeing it. You are physically seeing it, right? It is four months from the election, and multiple unions are here. This is not what people usually see in a South Bronx race. They’re not used to that. We’re serious about winning this thing.”
Tough race: Blake is facing an uphill battle against several other prominent names in the June 23 Democratic primary. Rubén Díaz, Sr., a Pentecostal minister who represents the more conservative side of the Democratic ticket and has expressed a kinship with President Trump, has a sizable constituency in the predominantly Hispanic district. Others in the race include 31-year-old city councilman Ritchie Torres, who has already raised more than $1 million, and community organizer Samelys Lopez, who has been endorsed by Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez’s new political action committee, Courage to Change.
Holy Land visits: Blake has been to Israel twice — with the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation and New York’s Jewish Community Relations Council, respectively. Both visits, he said, were eye-opening experiences. “If you want to grow, you need to go see,” he mused. “When you can spend time and meet Miss Israel, who’s Ethiopian, that’s powerful — I was like, ‘Wow, OK.’” Blake said that he opposes the BDS movement, supports pressuring Iran to return to negotiations and proclaims that “for us to have true peace, there has to be a two-state solution at some point. We can’t ignore that.”
Eye towards Milwaukee: Asked how the party’s 2020 platform plank on Israel will pan out, Blake explained it is too early to say. “Until someone’s a nominee, there’s still plenty of time on that premise,” he said. “I think our job at the DNC is to make sure that we’re creating that space for voices to be heard.” Still, Blake insisted that the party would continue to stand by the Jewish state. “We have been attentive to the previous conversations that have happened in terms of making sure there’s not language in there that would be anti-Israel,” he said.
COURAGE TO CALL OUT
Arizona Dem lawmaker ‘disappointed’ in party leadership’s opposition to antisemitism bill
In an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh on Thursday, Arizona Democratic House Representative Alma Hernandez expressed her disappointment at her party’s leadership for opposing a bipartisan bill she introduced to track antisemitic incidents.
Details: The bill (HB2683) — which requires the state’s Department of Public Safety to collect information about criminal offenses “that manifest evidence of prejudice based on antisemitism” and is based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism — passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last week by a margin of 52 to 8, including six Democrats. Among the lawmakers who voted against the bill were Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez and Minority Whip Athena Salman, as well as Reginald Bolding and Randall Friese, members of the leadership team.
Record: Hernandez, a Mexican-American Jewish millennial and the youngest member of the legislature, managed to get two bills passed through the state body — which holds a thin GOP majority (31-29) — in her first term. The other piece of legislation, a Holocaust education bill (HB2682), which would require students to study the Holocaust at least twice between 7th and 12th grades, has already advanced through the Senate committee this week and is up for a full floor vote next week.
Disappointed: Hernandez told JI that she was “fairly disappointed” that the entire Democratic leadership team voted against the antisemitism bill, following lobbying from the American Civil Liberties Union against the measure. “I think it sends a wrong message to the Jewish community. With the rise in antisemitism and everything going on in the country, if anything we should all be united in standing up against antisemitism.”
Looking ahead: “I hope that the rhetoric on the left and among the more progressive people in my party changes when it comes to the Jewish community and Israel — because I think that does not help our case for fighting antisemitism when we have one fracture of the party that is okay with some of the things that have been said and done,” Hernandez said. “I wish that me and many of my friends and colleagues would not feel so isolated when it comes to the Democratic Party on issues that affect our community. I’m hoping that will change hopefully, depending on who the nominee is.”
Jewish Funders Network organizers say annual convening still on — for now
The Jewish Funders Network conference will go on despite growing public concern over the COVID-19 virus, say organizers of the upcoming annual convening, which is scheduled to take place March 22-24 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Not cancelled — yet: In an email sent to participants on Thursday, JFN said that a decision on whether to cancel the conference had not yet been made, adding that some registrants have already pulled out. “We are in the midst of serious discussions about how to proceed, exploring a variety of options, including, but not limited to, cancelling or postponing the conference,” the statement said. Five hundred funders, foundation professionals and philanthropy experts have already registered to attend, a JFN spokesperson told JI.
Monitoring the situation: Marcus Foundation President Jay Kaiman told JI that the foundation, which has a close relationship with the Centers for Disease Control, is monitoring the situation. “We are using sensible judgment and stressing to the staff flexibility if they feel travel is appropriate or not appropriate for them. As of now we are using the same approach for JFN and will be attending,” Kaiman said, noting that the continued spread of the virus could change those plans.
Purell on site? Aaron Dorfman, president of the Lippman-Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah — whose founding director and board chair is the executive chair of Gojo Industries, which manufactures Purell hand sanitizer — said the foundation plans to participate. “I will not be surprised if they cancel it,” he told JI. “A lot of large gatherings of people that include international presences are postponing or cancelling.” Dorfman noted that a number of his foundation’s grantees are scheduled to attend the conference, and “the opportunity for them to share their work with our colleagues is obviously invaluable… At the same time it’s not worth anybody getting sick.”
Added challenge for Israelis: More than two dozen foundation professionals and issue experts from Israel are listed as speakers on the conference schedule. Israeli health officials announced this week that those who have attended conferences abroad must self-quarantine upon their return to Israel. Flights from Israel to a number of European destinations have been cancelled, complicating flight plans for individuals with stopovers en route to Florida.
Bonus: A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Pikesville, Baltimore, cancelled the reservation of Yeshiva University’s basketball team over coronavirus fears. A student at the university has tested positive for the virus, as has a rabbi who teaches two classes on campus. The team’s coach said he “made it very clear to the hotel that it’s discrimination.” The hotel is owned by a local Orthodox Jew. The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey is shutting its doors until at least Wednesday over fears a group of students was exposed to the virus.
Will IAEA consider action against Iran after new report?
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors is expected to meet next week amid a new report that Iran recently crossed the threshold of having enough uranium to produce a single nuclear bomb, for the first time since the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal. The IAEA also documented how the Iranians blocked inspectors from visiting three suspicious sites with evidence of past nuclear activity.
What to expect: Andrea Stricker, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, tells Jewish Insiderthat Iran’s refusal to cooperate could force the international monitor to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council, leading to snapback sanctions on Tehran. “If the matter is eventually referred by vote to the U.N. Security Council due to Iranian stonewalling, [that] may be a natural death of the JCPOA because parties will be more united in the notion of reinstating international sanctions against Iran,” Stricker said.
What comes next: Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director-general of the IAEA, tells JI that Iran’s break-out time will dramatically reduce with the building of new centrifuges. “We should also note that Iran is not dashing to build enriched uranium stocks, but is proceeding in a calibrated way,” he said. “The fact that they are manufacturing advanced centrifuges, which can be installed fairly quickly, brings the breakout time steadily down when they decide to do so. We need also to add to the calculus that they may install those centrifuges to unknown locations.”
View from Washington: Speaking at the State Department on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the latest revelations “an extremely serious matter.” Pompeo highlighted the flaws of the 2015 nuclear deal which would have allowed Iran to expand its uranium enrichment program in 2031.
✍️ Day of Rest: Renowned lawyer Nathan Lewin argues in The Wall Street Journal that the Supreme Court should not have passed on hearing a religious liberty case about an employee forced to work on Saturdays, citing his own workplace experiences as an Orthodox Jew. [WSJ]
🏦 Paper Trail: The Simon Wiesenthal Center claims to have identified thousands of Credit Suisse bank accounts linked to Nazi supporters in Argentina that were used to funnel looted Jewish money, The Financial Timesreports, leading the bank to promise it will fully investigate the new claims. [FinancialTimes]
⛓️ Unchained: OZY reporter Carly Stern profiles Keshet Starr, the executive director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, which helps to free Orthodox Jewish women who have been refused a divorce by their husbands. [OZY]
Around the Web
👩💼 Behind the Throne: In a Bustlelong read, Moe Tkacik explores the role that Rebekah Neumann, the wife of ousted WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, played in the company’s rise and ultimate fall.
⚖️ Court Clash: Investors Markus Schafferer and Ronny Pecik will face off in an Austrian court after the disintegration of their joint plan in 2017 to purchase a stake in Austrian landlord S Immo AG from then-owner Roman Abramovich.
💰 Startup Nation: Israeli startup Hailo, which develops artificial intelligence chips, has raised $60 million in a funding round aimed at bolstering the company’s global rollout.
⛔ Taking Action: The Illinois GOP is launching a five-figure ad blitz against Arthur Jones, an avowed antisemite and Holocaust denier running in the GOP primary for the 3rd congressional district, after failing to stop him from getting the nomination in 2018.
🕍 Facing Justice: The suspect in the deadly shooting at the Chabad of Poway last year will face the death penalty when his trial is set to open in June.
👩⚖️ On the Bench: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg systematically “worked to dismantle” the arguments put forth by supporters of a Louisiana abortion access law during a hearing this week.
👨💼 Transition: Attorney General William Barr has named Will Levi, who served as one of his counselors at the Justice Department, as his new chief of staff. Levi’s grandfather, Edward Levi, served as attorney general under President Gerald Ford.
👨⚖️ Talk of the Town: A former guard at the Neuengamme concentration camp during World War II, now living in Tennessee, was ordered by an immigration judge to be deported to Germany.
✈️ Grounded: All flights to Israel by Lufthansa, Swiss Air and Austrian Airlines have been cancelled due to new strict entry restrictions over coronavirus fears.
🕍 Pray As You Wish: The Lakewood township planning board has approved a change of use to legalize a synagogue 15 years after it first opened.
🎧 Worthy Listen: Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum suggested in an interview with David Axelrod on the “Axe Files” podcast that Sen. Bernie Sanders’s praise of Fidel Castro will help Joe Biden win big in the Florida primary on March 17. Gillum quoted a Colombian-American state senator, who compared the words of praise by Sanders to Donald Trump’s Charlottesville “both sides” comments.
⚔️ Bibi v. Bernie: OZY editor Charu Sudan Kasturi opines on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could sink Sanders’s shot at the nomination.
🚘 Yichus: Actor David Krumholz, starring in the upcoming HBO adaptation of “The Plot Against America,” revealed that his grandfather was once a driver for mobster Meyer Lansky.
💪 Female Power: Film director Alma Har’el talks toVariety about her role curating Time’s “100 Women of the Year” issue, and why she wanted to include Meretz Minister Shulamit Aloni instead of Prime Minister Golda Meir.
🔒 No Mercy: Federal prosecutors said yesterday that Bernie Madoff should not be granted an early release from prison despite his terminal kidney failure.
🥪 End of an Era: Fine & Schapiro, one of NYC’s oldest Jewish delis on the Upper West Side, has closed down after 113 years in business.
🍽️ Closing Doors: The Standard Club, a social nexus for 150 years for Chicago’s Jewish elite, is shutting its doors in May.
🕯️ Remembering: Zara Steiner, a trailblazing female historian who studied World War I, has died at age 91.
🕯️ Remembering: Karel Lek, a Wales-based artist who fled the Nazis during World War II, passed away at age 90.
Pic of the day
A group of disabled veteran IDF soldiers are visiting Aspen for a week of healing and physical challenge sponsored by L’Chaim-Ski To Live, a nonprofit funded by the Aspen Chabad Jewish Community Center in conjunction with UJA Aspen Valley.
On Sunday, author and former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain (1991-2013), Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks turns 72…
FRIDAY: Centenarian, known as “Philadelphia Phil,” the founder of a successful advertising agency, Philip Basser turns 102… Former chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States, Alan Greenspan turns 94… Emeritus professor of Jewish communal service at HUC-JIR Los Angeles, Steven Windmueller turns 78… Actor and producer, he directed “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men,” Rob Reiner turns 73… Author and libertarian pundit, known for his career on both ABC News and Fox Business Channel, John Stossel turns 73… Musical theatre lyricist and composer, he is the winner of three Oscars and three Grammys, Stephen Schwartz turns 72… Chairman of Atlantic Media, David G. Bradley… Actor and comedian, he converted to Judaism upon marrying Roseanne Barr in 1990, Tom Arnold turns 61… Aliza Tendler turns 55… Founder of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto which he sold to Unilever in 2014, he has since co-founded Iris Brands, Joshua Hochschuler turns 47…
Head of innovation communication at Bloomberg LP, Chaim Haas turns 45… Senior director for business development and client services at NYC-based Jewish Communal Fund, Michelle Lebowitz turns 44… Former football quarterback who played on six NFL teams, he is member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Sage Rosenfels turns 42… Managing director at Berkshire Partners, he was the body man and then deputy chief of staff for former President George W. Bush, Blake L. Gottesman turns 40… Fourth-generation developer, owner, and operator of commercial real estate throughout the mid-Atlantic region, Daniel Klein turns 39… National director of marketing and communications at the Zionist Organization of America, Natalie Lazaroff turns 31… Chief programming officer at Alpha Epsilon Pi, Jon Bridge turns 30… Israeli fashion model, Esti Ginzburg turns 30… Artist Tova Suissa turns 29… 3L student at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Riley Clafton turns 25… Founder of Chabad of Korea, Rabbi Osher Litzman… Theodore Furchtgott… Sandra Brown… Nelson Katz…
SATURDAY: Nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Times since 1984, Suzanne Bregman Fields, Ph.D. turns 84… Biologist and 1975 Nobel laureate in Medicine, David Baltimore turns 82… Former bureau chief for the AP in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo, now a journalism educator at The George Washington University, Myron Belkind turns 80… Former chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Michael Eisner turns 78… Geneticist and 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, his parents were immigrants who had fled Nazi Germany in 1938, his father was the cantor of Boston’s Temple Ohabei Shalom, Michael Rosbash turns 76… Retired media executive, she was a member of the first co-ed class at Yale College in 1969, Ruth Barbara Jarmul turns 71… Vice chairman and general trust counsel of Fiduciary Trust International, Gail Ehrlich Cohen turns 64…
Award-winning freelance journalist, author and adjunct professor at Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, Anne Farris Rosen turns 64… British public law and human rights barrister and a member of the House of Lords, he is the long-time chair of the British Legal Friends of Hebrew University, Baron David Philip Pannick turns 64… Executive director of Academic Exchange, promoting understanding of the Middle East within the international academic community, Rabbi Nachum Braverman turns 62… Democratic political strategist, Lewis H. Cohen turns 60… Senior import policy analyst at the International Trade Administration, David W. Cordell turns 59… Professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and the author or editor of several books about Baruch Spinoza, Yitzhak Yohanan Melamed turns 52…
Academy Award winning actress, Rachel Weisz turns 50… Assistant news director for DC’s NBC4 News, Matt Glassman turns 50… Brooklyn-based political consultant and attorney, formerly director of intergovernmental affairs for Senator Schumer, Michael Tobman turns 47… Member of Israel’s diplomatic corps since 2010, currently the spokesperson of the Embassy of Israel in Washington, Elad Strohmayer turns 39… Television news anchor and the host of “Hatched” on The CW Network, Nicole Lapin turns 36… Author, popular science writer, spaceflight historian, YouTuber and podcaster, Amy Shira Teitel turns 34… Senior reporter for Cheddar covering energy, the environment, climate change, transportation and innovation, Alan Neuhauser turns 33… Attorney in Reno, Nevada, SashaAhuva Farahi turns 32… Senior communications manager for CBS News Digital, Rachel Zuckerman turns 31… Jake Hirth… Yaakov Spira…
SUNDAY: Jazz pianist and music director, Dick Hyman turns 93… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-CA-47), Alan Stuart Lowenthal turns 79… Former chairman of the BBC, member of the House of Lords, Baron Michael Grade (family name Winogradsky) turns 77… Former attorney at Seyfarth Shaw and is now the ‘Judaism and Science’ blogger, Roger Price turns 76… Lyricist, singer and New York Times best-selling author, Carole Bayer Sager turns 73… Licensed clinical psychologist and past director of couple therapy training at the Chicago Center for Family Health, Dr. Mona Fishbane turns 73… Senior Fellow on national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, Alan Makovsky turns 70… Brenda Krantz turns 70…
Former governor of Virginia and a former U.S. senator, his mother was from a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia, George Allen turns 68… Retired in 2016 after 29 years as the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester NY, Larry Fine turns 68… Journalist, author and media analyst, managing editor of the WNYC radio program “On the Media,” Brooke Gladstone turns 65… DC-based labor and employment attorney at Bredhoff & Kaiser, he clerked for Justice Brennan at the U.S. Supreme Court, Bruce R. Lerner turns 63… Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress, Camryn Manheim turns 59… Founder and CEO of 32 Advisors, LLC. Robert Wolf turns 58… VP of talent acquisition at Sageview Consulting, specializing in placements at Jewish federations and non-profits, Carin Maher turns 57… VP for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Evan A. Feigenbaum turns 51… Albany reporter for New York’s news channel NY1, Zack Fink turns 47…
Member of Congress since 2017 (D-NJ-5), Josh Gottheimer turns 45… Alexis C. Rice turns 42… COO of social networking site Raya in Los Angeles, Jared Morgenstern turns 39… Principal for corporate communications at PJT CamberView, Eric Louis Sumberg turns 38… Deputy executive director and EVP at the Arlington, Virginia-based American Press Institute, Jeff Sonderman turns 38… Policy director at the Washington State Hospital Association in Seattle, David Streeter turns 33… Actress and comedian, Milana Vayntrub turns 33… Digital manager at Scott Circle Communications, Lauren Farber turns 32… 3L student at Harvard Law School, where he is a senior editor of the Harvard National Security Journal, Nathaniel Sobel turns 31… Program analyst at Mathematica Policy Research, Karen Katz turns 31… Texas Hold ‘Em enthusiast and author of the recently published “A Girl’s Guide to Poker,” Amanda Helen Botfeld turns 27… Campaign strategist at LeagueSide, Charleston native, Alexa (Lexi) Chavin…