Good Monday morning!
Rain or shine, don’t leave your umbrella behind. Conference of Presidents leaders love the organization so much they have a hard time saying goodbye. In 2018, Malcolm Hoenlein announced his intention to step down but he’s still executive vice chairman as William Daroff became the new CEO earlier this year. Now, according to an email the organization sent to its members late last night, outgoing chair Arthur Stark will be staying on an extra year as chair and Dianne Lob will become chair-elect until his departure in 2021.
Call it the Quadrumvirate or Gang of Four, two are here for a bit longer more and the other two for some time beyond that… eventually. More details below.
Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s memorial day, begins this evening. In an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, Israel has ordered its cemeteries closed for the day, angering some bereaved families.
Virtual memorials are being held today for Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed one year ago in a shooting attack at the Chabad of Poway.
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Arthur Stark to remain Conference of Presidents chair for another year
Following an uproar from some right-wing groups over the nomination of former HIAS chair Dianne Lob as the next chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, conference leaders announced a new approach on Sunday night. Under the latest proposal, current chairman Arthur Stark will continue in his role through early 2021 and Lob will serve as chair-elect until April 1, 2021, when she will assume the position of chair. The conference is expected to vote on both the proposal and Lob’s nomination during a Zoom meeting tomorrow.
Backdrop: The move comes after several member organizations — led by the Zionist Organization of America and its president, Mort Klein — pushed back against Lob’s nomination. In one of its written complaints, ZOA called Lob “virtually unknown” to conference members and claimed she lacked “the requisite extensive network of relationships and experience with the complex dynamics affecting the Conference.” With the new approach unveiled Sunday night, members of the Conference will now have a year to become more familiar with Lob before she assumes her role.
‘Extraordinary time’: In the email to members on Sunday evening, co-signed by Stark and Lob, the Conference explained that “extension of the Chair’s term has occurred in the past.” Stark and Lob stressed that “creating the Chair-elect role enhances the effectiveness of the transition. Given the extraordinary time in which we are living with the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and its ramifications, this strategy is particularly relevant and impactful.”
Pro-Israel creds: Last week, the conference emailed a statement from Lob to its members, in which Lob reiterated her support for the Jewish state. “Today, my support for a strong and vibrant Israel is rooted in my belief that the safety and security of Israel is critical to Jews in the United States and across the world,” Lob wrote in the email obtained by JI. “I firmly believe that a secure Israel is necessary for our community to thrive, and I will do everything in my power to assure that strength is maintained and enhanced.”
What’s next? Under the new proposal, Stark will remain in his role through March 31, 2021, and Lob will become chair on April 1, 2021. The bigger question, a number of individuals who spoke to JI suggested, was the future of the Conference of Presidents amid an increasingly polarized political landscape. “If it can really be a voice for the broad mainstream of the Jewish community center… that would be excellent,” one former longtime head of a member organization told JI. “This name-calling, it’s just terrible. It’s not what we should be doing as Jews… If the Conference of Presidents is going to survive, it’s going to have to represent the center.”
A Kennedy takes on a Trump convert in South Jersey congressional race
Amy Kennedy, a native of South Jersey, remembers when Donald Trump came to town in the 1980s, opening up a string of casinos that went bankrupt and leaving the city “no better off than they had been before.” But it was the president’s more recent actions that motivated Kennedy to run for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd district, she told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in an interview.
Road ahead: The mother of five — who is married to former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy — was particularly disturbed by the Trump administration’s family separation policy. “I wasn’t really sure what my role would be,” she said. “I just knew I wanted to get involved.” Then the district’s representative, Congressman Jeff Van Drew, switched parties, pledging his “undying support” for the president, and the road ahead became much clearer.
Immediate challenge: Before she can face Van Drew, however, Kennedy has a more immediate challenge: the July 7 Democratic primary, postponed from June 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kennedy’s most formidable opponent, Brigid Callahan Harrison, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University, has earned key endorsements from New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez. But Kennedy has managed to raise the most money to date, having accrued more than $560,000 while loaning herself $250,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Harrison, by comparison, has lagged behind, only having raised about $158,000 while loaning herself $100,000.
Key issue: Kennedy, who previously worked as a middle school teacher and now serves as the education director of the Kennedy Forum, a health care advocacy organization, believes that her background is relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Mental health was, at the very beginning, a big piece of what I hoped to talk about,” she said, adding that it has become even more important now that many vulnerable Americans have been forced into isolation.
Eye on the Mideast: The congressional hopeful admits that Trump “has worked to be a friend to Israel,” but finds other faults with his policies in the region, including his decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran deal as well as his Middle East peace plan. Kennedy supports a two-state solution that respects Israel’s security as well as Palestinian self-determination, and says she “will oppose unilateral actions taken by either Israel or Palestine that make it more difficult to reach a negotiated peace.” If elected, Kennedy told JI that she would work to ensure that the U.S continues to provide aid to Israel — she opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement — while also advocating to restore aid to the Palestinians.
VIEW FROM SOUTH FLORIDA
Will Biden address annexation before July 1st?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a pre-recorded speech for an evangelical group yesterday that he is “confident” President Donald Trump will honor his pledge to recognize Israeli annexation a couple of months from now.” The coalition deal signed by Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz last week allows annexation to be brought to a vote in Israel — with U.S. backing — as of July 1.
Biden’s ‘closest Jewish friend’ weighs in: In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh last Thursday, Miami-based Democratic donor and close friend of Joe Biden, Michael Adler indicated that the former vice president “will absolutely speak out” against the move in “a strong and firm” way. Adler was among the more than 130 Jewish American leaders who signed onto a letter imploring Gantz to block Netanyahu’s plan to apply Israel sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Diplomatic approach: But Adler, who served as Biden’s national finance chair in 2008, maintained that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will come out against annexation in a “nuanced way” because “he understands the ramifications” of politicizing the issue. “I don’t think you’re going to see him shouting the way you may see Trump do it to gain a political advantage,” Adler told JI. “He understands that he has to be respectful of the Israeli government, especially because he’s going to have to deal with them when he becomes the president of the United States. [Biden] is someone who understands that good diplomacy is not something that has to be done in press clippings. It is something that needs to have the results for what we all care about, which is the quality of life in Israel and in the United States, and that we’re working as two countries for the best interests of both.”
Bonus: Jordan is lobbying foreign leaders to put pressure on the new Israeli government not to move forward with annexation of the Jordan Valley or other parts of the West Bank.
🌾 End of an Era: Matti Friedman writes in The New York Times about the “last remnants” of the Israeli left, exploring the movement’s kibbutz vestiges and lingering public art murals as the once-dominant Labor Party has all but disintegrated. [NYTimes]
💲Going Global: Associated Press reporters Alexandra Jaffe and Jonathan Lemire detail how Michael Bloomberg is moving on from his disappointing presidential bid to deploy his personal fortune to combat the coronavirus. Bloomberg is reportedly leaning on his political connections and planning to roll out a new global initiative after talks with international leaders. [AP]
🏥 Common Ground: Steve Hendrix writes in The Washington Post about the now “commonplace” meetings between ultra-Orthodox Jews and Palestinian Arabs — as both patients and medical staff — in Israeli hospitals fighting the coronavirus pandemic. “In here, we are all just humans.” [WashPost]
⚰️ Dark Industry: As deaths from COVID-19 soar in the Jewish community, a “new industry” is developing around shipping bodies to Israel for burial, complicated by the lack of international flights and the strict restrictions on burying those who have died of coronavirus, Amir Kurtz reports in Calcalist. [Calcalist]
Around the Web
🎓 Campus Beat: The president of Tufts University said last week that an award the school gave to its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine should not have happened, and that he would be “reviewing the awards process.”
💵 Conditioning Aid: USAID is seeking to block the $5 million in coronavirus relief to the Palestinian Authority from being distributed to Gaza over concerns it would fall into the hands of Hamas.
🗣️ Calling Out: Financial advisors and investors at ViacomCBS have filed a lawsuit against media mogul Shari Redstone, alleging she forced through the merger of CBS and Viacom last year to protect her own investment.
👏 Cashing In: Marc Benioff’s Salesforce has scored a 370% return on its $100 million Zoom investment in just one year amid the video-conferencing app’s surging popularity.
🛒 Talk of the City: The iconic Park Slope Food Co-op is making drastic changes to adapt to the new reality of the coronavirus.
👰🤵 New Experience: Dani Kohanzadeh and Nathan Saadat, a newlywed couple from Los Angeles, described to The New York Times their “imperfectly perfect” virtual wedding.
😃 Gradual Return: Israel has permitted some businesses and shops to reopen and is considering opening schools as it works to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, El Al extended its suspension of scheduled flights through May 9 but will operate a number of special flights to and from the U.S. and Europe.
💺Musical Chairs, Part 2: Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will step down and seek to head the Construction Ministry in the next government.
📵 Back Track: Israel’s High Court has ruled that the Knesset must introduce legislation to legalize the Shin Bet tracking of cellphones to fight COVID-19 or halt the practice by Thursday.
📺 On Screen: Israel has condemned an Egyptian TV show that predicts Israel’s destruction in the year 2120.
💰 Economic Relief: Shmuel Chafets argues in Bloomberg that Israel’s tech companies should be the last in line to receive government aid to ride out the coronavirus crisis.
🚁 Big Deal: Israel’s Elbit Systems has been granted a $103 million contract to provide an unnamed Asian country with electronic warfare upgrades on its helicopters.
🙎 To the Streets: Several thousand Israelis gathered at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday to demonstrate against the new unity government deal.
💻 Hate Attack: Toronto police said the “Zoomboming” of a synagogue’s prayer services is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
⚖️Across the Pond: British TV host Rachel Riley, who is Jewish, has won the first round of a high court libel suit against a former senior aide to Jeremy Corbyn over her criticisms of the defeated Labour leader.
🎬 Coming Soon: HBO Max is developing an adaptation of The Hellfire Club, the first novel by CNN host Jake Tapper.
📽️ Watch: Television writer Phil Rosenthal released a short film focusing on the “revealing” reaction of the people standing behind or aside President Donald Trump when the cameras are on.
👨💼 Transition: Joel Braunold, previously executive director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, has joined The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace as managing director.
🕯️Remembering: Avraham Rabby, a blind activist who successfully fought against the State Department to become a Foreign Service officer, has died at age 77.
Gif of the Day
Basketball analyst and writer, profiled by Sports Illustrated in 2018 as “the smartest basketball mind outside the NBA” and basketball coach of the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, Benjamin Falk turns 32…
U.S. senator from New Jersey since 2013, Cory Booker turns 51… Former refusenik in the Soviet Union, she made aliyah in 1987 and is now a political activist in Israel, Ida Nudel turns 89… Retired in 2014 as head of marketing for Van Eck Global, Harvey Hirsch turns 79… Turkish preacher, former imam, writer and political figure, now living in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gülen turns 79… Non-profit executive who has managed the 92nd Street Y, the Robin Hood Foundation, the AT&T Foundation and Lincoln Center, he is also the lead director of First Republic Bank, Reynold Levy turns 75… Physician and a NASA astronaut, chief of the education/medical branch of the NASA Astronaut Office, Ellen Louise Shulman Baker, M.D., M.P.H. turns 67…
Director-general of the Israel Antiquities Authority, he was previously a member of Knesset (2006-2014) and deputy director of the Shin Bet, Yisrael Hasson turns 65… VP at Covington Fabric & Design, Donald Rifkin turns 62… Biologist and professor of pathology and genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine, he won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Andrew Zachary Fire turns 61… Entertainment industry executive and a co-founder of Casamigos tequila with George Clooney, Rande Gerber turns 58… Partner in 100 State Street Development, Elliot Mayerhoff turns 54… Founder and CEO of NYC-based Gotham Ghostwriters, Daniel Gerstein turns 53…
Author and nationally syndicated op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, Dana Milbank turns 52… Professor of science writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Seth Mnookin turns 48… Cinematographer and director, Rachel Morrison turns 42… Identical twin brothers, between the two of them they won 11 Israeli championships in the triathlon from 2001 to 2012, Dan and Ran Alterman both turn 40… Area director for AIPAC’s Baltimore office, Leah Berry turns 38… Television and film actress, Ari Graynor turns 37… Digital strategy manager at Trilogy Interactive, Jessica Ruby turns 31… New York City-born actor, David Benger turns 29… MBA candidate at Harvard Business School, Noah Swartz turns 27… Jonathan H. Glidden…
BIRTHWEEK: Mike Bloomberg 2020 alum, now at Hawkfish, Kenneth Zauderer turned 28 on Sunday.