Good Thursday morning!
Tune in at 12 p.m. EDT today for our live “Fauda” webcast featuring the show’s star Lior Raz and fellow co-creator Avi Issacharoff in conversation with Dan Senor, along with the new stars of Season 3: Ala Dakka (who plays Bashar Hamdan) and Marina Maximilian Blumin (who plays Hila Bashan). There will be an audience Q&A. Spread the word and register here.
For those asking, we’re told there will not be any spoilers past episode 4 of the new season. And for those wondering if we’ll post a recording of it later — no guarantees, so make sure to join us live with your questions ready!
Shoutout to the hundreds of JI readers who joined State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus and Gabby Deutch yesterday afternoon for a post-profile ‘read & greet’ hangout — including surprise guest, former Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who joined in on the conversation.
Former Vice President Joe Biden confirmed during a virtual fundraiser yesterday that he would keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem if elected. Biden added that he’d “reopen our consulate in East Jerusalem to engage the Palestinians and my administration will urge both sides to take steps to keep the prospect of a two-state solution alive.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is one of the four people picked to serve on Biden’s vice presidential vetting committee.
Spread the word! Invite your friends to sign up and earn JI swag through our Ambassador program
DRIVING THE CONVO
New York elected officials, Jewish leaders ‘hurt’ by de Blasio tweet
More than 100 local clergy and Jewish leaders — along with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), State Senators Brad Hoylman and Julia Salazar; Assemblymembers Harvey Epstein and Linda Rosenthal; and Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin — sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressing “anger and disappointment” at his “scapegoating” of the Jewish community in response to social distancing violations at a funeral in Brooklyn this week.
Details: The letter, spearheaded by the recently launched New York Jewish Agenda and co-authored by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, cautioned the mayor that “laying blame upon Hasidic communities — among the most visible members of our Jewish family — will not stop the spread of COVID-19.” The authors said that de Blasio’s comments directed at “the Jewish community,” only “flattens a diverse group of New Yorkers into a single bloc and fuels the anti-Semitic hatreds that bubble beneath the surface of our society.”
‘Sorry if’: During a press briefing at City Hall Wednesday morning, de Blasio said he regretted “if the way” he expressed himself “gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way.” The mayor stressed that his comments were “tough love” in a moment of “anger and frustration” after witnessing the violations firsthand. “So again, if in my passion and in my emotion, I said something that in any way was hurtful, I’m sorry about that.”
Taking action: The World Jewish Congress is planning to formally censure de Blasio on the recommendation of WJC President Ron Lauder, who also heads the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project. “To blame the entire Jewish community is the type of stereotyping that is dangerous and unacceptable at any time, and particularly pernicious while the world is gripped in fear and the worst among us are looking for scapegoats,” Lauder said in a statement.
Think twice: Former U.S. Envoy on Antisemitism Ira Forman told JI that while de Blasio’s record doesn’t show he has animus towards Jews, “to single out the Jewish community was clearly a mistake, and he should have just admitted it.”
Hot takes:Tablet’s Liel Leibovitz argues that de Blasio “is responsible for the thousands of deaths from COVID-19 he could’ve prevented” by not acting early and put the lives of the Jewish community at risk of violence by singling out Jews for breaking the law. Forward opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon posited that the generalization was “doubly offensive given the mayor’s failure to protect Orthodox Jews last year as they suffered daily physical attacks on the streets of New York City.”
A suggestion for the Mayor: Rabbi Nochum Kurinsky of Chabad @ the Beaches in Jacksonville, Florida suggests de Blasio should single out the Jews who have been on the front lines fighting against the pandemic.
The American Journalism Project’s first CEO is optimistic about the future of news
Sarabeth Berman is taking over as the first CEO of the American Journalism Project during a volatile time for the media industry. She spoke to Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel about her goals for the fledgling nonprofit and her outlook on the news industry as it battles the coronavirus downturn.
Path to viability:“The business model as it is currently constructed doesn’t work,” she said. Despite this outlook, Berman is ultimately optimistic that the industry will find a path to viability. It just might be painful getting there. “I think we can anticipate, sadly, that if this recession carries on, papers across our country will be shuttering,” Berman said. “It’s extraordinarily sad what’s happening.”
Paradox: The virus has only amplified industry trends, Berman believes, as advertising has all but evaporated, some newspapers have stopped printing and tens of thousands of journalists have been laid off, furloughed or forced to take pay cuts. A paradox, Berman pointed out, is that at the very moment communities are in desperate need of accurate local reporting on the virus, newsrooms are more imperiled than ever. “I have a lot of confidence that this moment will really bring to light how vital reliable local community-based information is.”
Details: The AJP — formed by Texas Tribune founder John Thornton and Chalkbeat co-founder Elizabeth Green — seeks to redefine the ad-driven business model in favor of a nonprofit approach that prioritizes a diversified revenue stream. To date, the organization has invested $8.5 million in 11 news operations. According to Berman, the AJP has so far raised $46 million from donors including the Knight Foundation, the Emerson Collective, Arnold Ventures, the Democracy Fund, the Facebook Journalism Project and Craig Newmark.
Looking ahead: The AJP is now looking for new donors with the hope of soliciting $14 million to close out its first fund at $50 million. “We simply can’t accept that because the market fails, the industry needs to die,” Berman averred. “We have so many examples across our country of civic institutions that we uphold through philanthropy and through a nonprofit model. And those institutions play vital roles in our society.”
WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum boosts giving to Jewish and Israel groups
WhatsApp founder Jan Koum’s family foundation has increased its Jewish communal giving, donating more than $19 million to Jewish and Israel-related causes in 2018, a sharp rise over its 2017 activity. Teddy Schleifer, a reporter for Vox’s Recode, first highlighted Koum’s charitable patterns in a tweet yesterday.
Jewish giving: Koum’s foundation made donations ranging between $10,000 and $5.3 million to Jewish and Israel-linked groups. The foundation gave $1 million or more apiece to Bnai Zion Foundation, BBYO, the Birthright Israel Foundation, Friends of Ir David, Israel and Co., Israel Healthcare Foundation, and the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto, California. A $5.3 million donation was made to Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, which sponsors programs and projects for current and former IDF soldiers.
Bringing it home: Koum — who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 billion in 2014 — was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States with his family as a teenager. Two of his foundation’s recipient organizations — the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee — work with Jewry in the former Soviet Union. Several others, including the Russian-Speaking Jewish Community of San Francisco and Friends of Yad Sarah, work with FSU communities in the U.S. and Israel.
🗣️ Speaking Up: In The Washington Post, Richard Morgan explores how New York City Councilman Mark Levine, “a politician with no medical background,” has become a vocal and prominent voice in the city’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic. [WashPost]
🕵️ Deep Dive: Newly public FBI documents reveal that an unnamed Israeli source was in contact with now-convicted Trump confidant Roger Stone during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The documents appear to include messages between Stone and an Israeli minister promising “critical intell” (sic) to aid Trump’s election. [TimesofIsrael]
🎺 Worthy Watch: A U.S. military band played “Hatikvah” for 92-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor Abba Naor via Zoom yesterday, on Israel’s Independence Day, to mark the 75th anniversary of his liberation from the Dachau concentration camp by U.S. armed forces. [NBC]
Around the Web
⚠️ Speaking Out: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) cautioned the Israeli government against annexing the West Bank, tweeting that such a move “clearly violates international law.”
🇩🇪 Terror, Out: The German government has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and banned its activity in the country.
⛪ Cover-up: A researcher studying the newly opened Vatican archives on World War II claims that Pope Pius XII kept reports of the Nazi slaughter of Jews from U.S. authorities.
👨💼 New Hire: Former Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. has been appointed executive chairman of new internet TV service FuboTV.
💲Helping Hand:Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has spent $25 million on more than 50 million masks and medical gear for U.S. healthcare providers, and partnered with Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher to send a planeload of supplies to U.K. health workers.
📉 WeLoss: SoftBank’s troubled investment in WeWork has pushed its losses for the year up to $8.4 billion.
😡 Scam Artist: BuzzFeeddigs into how New York — based on White House advice — paid San Francisco engineer Yaron Oren-Pines $69 million for ventilators that never materialized.
⚖️ Lawsuit: The Simon Wiesenthal Center is suing insurance firm Chubb, claiming it has denied the organization’s claims over its coronavirus losses.
🏺 Furloughed: The National Museum of American Jewish History has sent approximately two-thirds of its employees home without pay.
🎆 Fly By: Israel marked its 72nd Independence Day under lockdown, cheering on its military jet flyover from rooftops and balconies.
🏊♀️ Dip Dilemma:The Washington Post looks at the internal conflict women in Israel face over the government decision to leave mikvahs open while shuttering almost all other institutions.
😷 New Era:The Associated Presshighlights Israel’s new age of mass protests with “chalk lines and discipline” maintaining social distance.
🚘 Startup Nation: Israeli vehicle data services company Otonomo has raised $46 million in a new round of funding.
🥃 Sip a Scotch: Kentucky distillery Buffalo Trace has released three new kosher whiskeys in what will be an annual limited-release line.
🕯️ Remembering: Civil rights prosecutor and Watergate investigator Terry Lenzner has died at age 80. South African apartheid activist Denis Goldberg has died at 87. Veteran casting director and longtime Barbra Streisand collaborator Cis Corman has died at 93. Auschwitz survivor Henri Kichka, one of Belgium’s last Holocaust survivors, has died at 94.
Pic of the Day
San Francisco City Hall was lit up in blue and white on Tuesday night in honor of Israel’s 72nd Independence Day.
She played Wonder Woman and starred in the “Fast and the Furious” film series, Gal Gadot turns 35…
Head of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Ma’ale Adumim since 1982, he served as dean of Jews’ College (now known as the London School of Jewish Studies) from 1971 to 1982, Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch turns 92… Rabbi, scholar and professor of Jewish studies at Yeshiva University, Saul J. Berman turns 81… Founder and CEO of Kansas City-based American Public Square, he was the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal from 2010 to 2013, Allan J. Katz turns 73… Brooklyn-based clinical social worker, Marsha S. Rimler turns 73… Glass-blower, author of several children’s books and self-help books and president of the Saban Family Foundation, Cheryl Saban turns 69… Tunisian-born, Israeli Supreme Court Justice, Menachem “Meni” Mazuz turns 65… Partner in the communications and ad agency GMMB, Jim Margolis turns 65…
London-based international real estate investor and developer, Zachariasz “Zak” Gertler turns 64… Cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his over 100 magazine covers appearing on The New Yorker and other publications, Barry Blitt turns 62… Former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper turns 61… Partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Chai R. Feldblum turns 61… Professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Eva Illouz turns 59… Founding VP of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, David M. Weinberg turns 58… Democratic member of the New York City Council and chair of the Council’s health committee, Mark D. Levine turns 51… Washington, D.C.-based senior director for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, David Rittberg turns 40…
Chief of staff for Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Eric Feldman turns 40… National security advisor for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Omri Ceren turns 40… Director of communications at The New York Times,Ari Isaacman Bevacqua turns 35… Founder of Lubin Strategies, Nathaniel (Nate) Lubin turns 33… Communications director for Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Rachel S. Cohen turns 33… J.D. candidate at The George Washington University Law School, Daniel Wolman turns 30… Elementary school teacher at Broward County Public Schools, Jenna Luks turns 27… Assistant editor at The Wall Street Journal, Rachel B. Wolfe turns 24… Operation specialist at Lightricks, Idan Megidish… Noam Aricha… Campus affairs manager at the World Jewish Congress, Yoni Hammerman…