Good Friday morning!
Last night, during a webcast hosted by the Trump re-election campaign, former Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt blasted Joe Biden for criticizing the “context” of the U.S. Embassy relocation in Israel.
After Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit this week to Israel to warn it over ties with China, the Chinese Embassy in Israel said, “We trust that the Jewish friends are not only able to defeat the coronavirus but also the ‘political virus,’ and choose the course of action that best serves its interests.”
Check outJewish Insider’s latest ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into this week.
We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at our interactive wine tasting on Sunday. If you haven’t yet, you can still purchase the discounted package here and attend even though your wine may not arrive until after.
Spread the word! Invite your friends to sign up and earn JI swag through our Ambassador program
The newest ‘Fauda’ star doesn’t want to play identity politics
By the time he finished filming the third season of “Fauda,” actor Ala Dakka had still never seen an episode of the hit show. It was only when he wrapped up shooting his role as Bashar Hamdan, a young Palestinian boxer, that he finally began watching the series. “I wanted to bring myself into ‘Fauda’ and not bring ‘Fauda’ into me,” he told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro in a recent interview. “I wanted to bring out the tragedy of that young man as much as I could. I didn’t watch it because I wanted it to be real.”
Between two worlds: The 25-year-old actor, born to Muslim parents, grew up in Beersheba, the southern city whose residents are 90% Jewish. Caught between his Palestinian roots and his Israeli immersion, Dakka chooses not to fully identify as either. “If I tell you right now I’m a Palestinian and I’m proud of it — that echoes weird in me,” he told JI. “If I tell you I’m Israeli and I’m proud of it — that echoes weird in me as well. I’m trying to put myself somewhere but I don’t know — I don’t know if it’s so important.”
On-screen identity: Dakka grew up attending Jewish schools, having Jewish friends and often hiding or downplaying his Palestinian identity. While his parents opted to raise their family in Beersheba, they both hail from majority-Arab towns in Israel’s north. He often finds more clarity while playing a role on the stage or screen. “As a character, I know who I am,” he said. “In ‘Fauda,’ I’m 100% Palestinian as Bashar. But as a person — I don’t know. It’s more complicated for me.”
Resumé: Dakka got his start in the local theater, and before long was booking parts in Israeli TV shows, including “Mossad 101,” “PMTA” — where, to his lawyer father’s delight, he played a prosecutor — and the 2017 film “The Cousin,” where he portrayed a Palestinian handyman accused of assaulting a young Jewish girl, which garnered him a nomination for best supporting actor at Israel’s Ophir Awards. He also landed a small role in the 2018 Hollywood film “7 Days in Entebbe,” about the 1976 Palestinian hijacking of a plane from Tel Aviv.
Rocket fears: Growing up in Beersheba meant that Dakka often experienced the rocket fire that plagues residents of Israel’s south. Living through the flareups of violence, he said, was “very, very scary.” Such experiences also left him with mixed emotions. “You find yourself in a bomb shelter with everybody from your building, and they’re all Jewish, and they’re kind of looking at you,” he said. “Those two sides, Gaza and the [Israeli cities nearby], they live in a war zone,” he added. “It’s very unfortunate.”
Living in hope: “I really hope this country will understand how privileged we are to have so many different identities in one place — how much potential it has,” he said. “Our differences give us power.” Despite his concerns, Dakka is optimistic about the future of Israel. “We have to find that common ground, and that will happen — but it will take time,” he said. “This country is very young. It still acts sometimes like a kid finding its way.”
Bonus: Watch Dakka discuss Season 3 on our recent Fauda Talks webcast with co-creators Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, Marina Maximilian Blumin and Dan Senor.
buzz on balfour
Battle over ministries delays swearing-in of unity government
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to postpone the swearing-in of his fifth government on Thursday — rescheduling it for Sunday — amid an internal revolt and a last-minute defection.
Lineup: As of Friday morning, the majority of ministerial positions were determined, although a few positions are yet to be filled. As expected, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz will become defense minister, and the party’s Gabi Ashkenazi will serve as foreign minister. After 18 months, when Gantz is scheduled to become prime minister, Ashkenazi is slated to replace him as defense minister, and firebrand Likud MK Miri Regev will become foreign minister — after serving until then as transportation minister. Shas leader Arye Deri will keep his job as interior minister, former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will become the health minister, and Blue and White’s Avi Nissenkorn will serve as justice minister.
New faces: Blue and White’s Omer Yankelevich will be sworn in as diaspora affairs minister, becoming the first Haredi woman to be a minister. The party’s Pnina Tamano Shata was appointed minister of aliyah and immigrant absorption, the first-ever minister of Ethiopian descent. Outgoing Likud Justice Minister Amir Ohana will serve as the next public security minister, and Labor MK Itzik Shmuli will become welfare minister, marking the first time two openly gay ministers have served simultaneously.
Revolt: With so many portfolios handed to Blue and White in the coalition deal, Netanyahu was left with few jobs for Likud loyalists, angering many veteran party members, including Avi Dichter and Tzachi Hanegbi — who threatened to boycott the swearing-in. The education, finance and several other ministries have yet to be formally announced as Netanyahu continues to try to keep his party members happy, despite the record-breaking number of ministers in the next government.
Defection: Hours before the scheduled swearing-in yesterday, Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz defected from the rest of his faction and joined the government, accepting the position of minister of Jerusalem affairs and heritage. The New Right’s Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked will remain in the opposition with National Union’s Betzalel Smotrich.
Opposition: Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, the presumptive opposition leader, continued his pointed criticism of the incoming government. “The Netanyahu government has been too close to the Republicans, and we cannot lose the Democrats,” Lapid told a conference yesterday. “Most American Jews are Democrats, and we cannot make them choose between their American identity and their love for Israel.”
The Palestinian Authority leadership is meeting on Saturday, and is expected to make “major decisions” regarding “American-Palestinian relations and Israeli-Palestinian relations in its totality,” PLO General Secretary Saeb Erekat said on a webcast hosted by the Palestine-Israel Journal yesterday.
Rep. Bill Pascrell demands action on COVID-19 antisemitism
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) is demanding the federal government step up efforts to combat hate and antisemitism amid a surge in attacks on members of the Jewish community during the coronavirus pandemic.
Unacceptable: “In the midst of people trying to come together and do the right thing [to battle the virus], it is very sad when you see people falsely being accused of being the cause of COVID-19, and this has being going on for a while,” Pascrell said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh. The New Jersey Democrat pointed to a report released earlier this week by the Anti-Defamation League, which found a 73% increase in antisemitic attacks in the state, an all-time high. “That’s nauseating, absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “And things like this don’t start in a vacuum. They are initiated by those who seek to divide us.”
Locking arms: Last week, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced legislation✎ EditSign requiring the Department of Justice to provide Congress with regular updates on the status of reported bias incidents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (H.R. 6721) commands Attorney General William Barr to designate a DOJ officer to facilitate the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes reported to federal or local law authorities. The officer would also be required to issue a monthly report on the status of the cases for at least a year after the health emergency is lifted.
Time to act: Pascrell expressed hope that the legislation, which was co-sponsored by more than two dozen Democratic House members, would bring awareness to the rise of antisemitism — an issue Pascrell called “a very serious problem which is affecting democracy” that “would precipitate” action. “Antisemitism has existed before COVID-19, it has existed for years — all over the place, and we’re not addressing it,” Pascrell lamented. “We bumper-sticker the problem. We say, ‘Oh, we are with you.’ But what are we doing?” Pascrell told JI it was time for lawmakers to call out antisemitism and bigotry “wherever and whenever it may appear.”
Heard last night: Former Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt dismissed criticism that the Trump administration has been silent on antisemitism and that the president’s rhetoric has contributed to the rise in antisemitic violence. “President Trump has not only been a supporter of Israel but a supporter of the Jewish people,” Greenblatt stressed. “I would say there are very few people in the world who understand President Trump’s relationship with the Jewish people, as well as I do… He is a president who will not only support Israel but support the Jewish people — black and white, no questions asked.”
🏠 Not Home: The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere spotlights Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who has remained near Washington for the past two months, without making any appearances in his district, despite facing four primary challengers next month. [TheAtlantic]
🎓 Seismic Change: NYU Professor Scott Galloway tellsNew York magazine’s James D. Walsh that the pandemic will likely have permanent effects on higher education. He predicts hi-tech partnerships will lead to hybrid online-offline degrees, “the affordability and value of which will seismically alter the landscape of higher education.” [NYMag]
🇯🇴 Tense Ties: In Foreign Policy, Eetta Prince-Gibson posits that annexation of some West Bank settlements could prove the final blow to Israel’s already tense relationship with Jordan. “Both Israel and Jordan have an interest in maintaining the agreements, but the deteriorating situation means that the resumption of high-level strategic dialogue isn’t likely.” [ForeignPolicy]
🖼️ Art Heist: Emily Benedek writes in Tablet about how Willem de Kooning’s “Woman-Ochre” painting — valued at more than $100 million — was discovered hidden in the New Mexico home of two recently deceased Jewish retirees, 31 years after its theft by an overcoat-wearing duo in Arizona. [Tablet]
Around the Web
🕵️ Shadow Thoughts: The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, writes about how dangerous conspiracy theories are taking over American thinking.
🗣️ Infighting:Politico’s Holly Otterbein reports on the “disarray” plaguing Bernie Sanders supporters and their progressive network after his second failed presidential bid.
🚫 Boycott Ban: Lawmakers in Missouri passed a bill banning the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.
💰 Big Debut: Billionaire real estate executive Barry Sternlich is reportedly readying to launch an IPO at $600 million.
👋 End of an Era:Les Wexner formally stepped down as CEO and chairman of L Brands yesterday, the company he founded in 1963.
📦 Outside the Box: American-Israeli designer and MIT Professor Neri Oxman spoke with 52 Insights magazine about the “unconventional style of thinking” she brings to her work.
🌴 On the Island: Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox predicts that “coronavirus summer” in the Hamptons is going to be “insane,” with the pandemic upending the usual activities of its wealthy visitors.
💲Raising Dollars: U.S.-Israeli startup Immunai, a biotech company working to detect disease and map the immune system, raised $20 million in seed funding.
💻 Online Boom: Israel-based website maker Wix[dot]com said Thursday it expects a strong second quarter after recruiting 3.2 million new users last month amid coronavirus lockdowns.
⚰️ New Normal: Rabbis in the U.K. are adjusting to new burial restrictions as the coronavirus epidemic has hit British Jews disproportionately hard.
👨⚖️ Oversight:New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has launched a probe into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s response to the coronavirus.
🇪🇸 Right of Return: Spain’s Justice Ministry has extended the deadline for descendants of Sephardi Jews to complete the Spanish citizenship process until September 2021, due to the pandemic.
📣 No to Hate: The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Bosnian authorities to ban a memorial gathering in Sarajevo next weekend for Croatian Nazi supporters killed in World War II.
⛹️♂️ Sports Blink: Former Kent State forward and Brooklyn native Jimmy Hall has signed a contract with the Israeli Hapoel Holon basketball team.
📺 Yanky Speaks: “Unorthodox” star Amit Rahav spoke with Variety about acting alongside his longtime friend Shira Haas and his status as a role model for LGBT youth.
🥪 Sigh of Relief: Nate’ n Al’s, an iconic Beverly Hills deli that recently closed its doors after a rocky two years, has extended its lease and rehired staff to to begin delivery and takeout for the time being.
🥤Reading the Tea Leaves: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf announced that its stores in southern California will be ending their kosher status beginning June 8.
🕯️Remembering: Joel Kupperman, a philosophy professor who was one of the “Quiz Kids,” on the NBC radio and TV show in the 1940s and 1950s, died at age 83. Billionaire investor and philanthropist Richard Gilder has died at age 87.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Herzog Lineage Momentus Sparkling Wine:
“There is a great bottle of bourbon, the 14-year-old Black Maple Hill, which we call our ‘breakfast bourbon.’ It is soft, supple and its caramel-apple sweetness soothes the throat. This week, while sheltering in place, I discovered a great ‘breakfast wine,’ which also held its own at lunch and dinner. The Herzog Lineage Momentus Sparkling Wine is lively on the tongue. This wine opens up the ‘pores’ of your mouth, an oral sauna, and lets the green apple and sour lemon seep into your taste buds.”
“The wine is a proprietary blend and my best guess is that there is some sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc and some chardonnay too. Even though this is a breakfast wine, do not drink it mixed in with your cereal, but rather with sweet cheeses, celery, hummus and healthy crackers.”
Purchase the Herzog Momentus here.
Founder of Reeves Advisory and a senior advisor to Melinda Gates, she is also a senior fellow and member of the Board of Trustees at Brown University, Pamela R. Reeves turns 55…
FRIDAY: Canadian molecular biologist and pioneer in human genetics, Louis Siminovitch turns 100… Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, she was the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001, Madeleine Albright turns 83… Principal of Queens-based Muss Development, a major real estate development company founded by his grandfather Isaac in 1906, Joshua Lawrence Muss turns 79… Chairman emeritus of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States, a human rights organization in NYC, Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim turns 77… Retired major general in the IDF, he served as Israel’s National Security Advisor and is now a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, Yaakov Amidror turns 72… CEO of Emigrant Bank and a New York real estate developer, Howard Philip Milstein turns 69… Owner of Midnight Music Management, Stuart Wax turns 63… Deputy editorial page editor at the Washington Post overseeing signed opinion content and writer of a weekly column on domestic politics and policy, Ruth Allyn Marcus turns 62… Chicago Sun-Times D.C. bureau chief and columnist, Lynn Sweet…
Five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and filmmaker and Latin media marketing entrepreneur, Giselle Fernandez turns 59.. Owner/President of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, he is the chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, Mark Wilf turns 58… Member of the Nevada Assembly, she serves as secretary of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Ellen Barre Spiegel turns 58… Actor David Krumholtz turns 42… Doctoral candidate at Yale Law School, Noam Finger turns 42… Executive director at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Daniel M. Rothschild turns 40… Actress best known for her role as Tony Soprano’s daughter, Meadow, on “The Sopranos,” Jamie-Lynn Sigler turns 39… Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author, Eli Eric Saslow turns 38… Rochelle Wilner… Ofir Richman… Gabriel Band turns 33…
SATURDAY: Retired judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, she has served as president and chair of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Ellen Moses Heller turns 79… Special assistant to VPOTUS Walter Mondale (1977-1981), later Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (1989-1993), Bernard W. Aronson turns 74… Longest-serving member of the New York State Assembly representing portions of Manhattan, he was a high school classmate of Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Richard N. Gottfried turns 73… Outgoing chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, Andrew Lack turns 73… Member of the House of Representatives since 2013 (D-FL-21), she was previously the Mayor of West Palm Beach from 2003 to 2011, Lois Frankel turns 72… Harvard history professor Emma Georgina Rothschild turns 72… Michael E. Pollock turns 67… Real estate developer and ‘mechutan’ of President Donald Trump, Charles Kushner turns 66…
Proto-punk singer, songwriter and guitarist, Jonathan Richman turns 66… Managing partner at private equity firm Accretive LLC, Edgar Bronfman Jr. turns 65… Film and stage actress, Debra Winger turns 65… President of Tribe Media and editor of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, David Suissa turns 64… Real estate mogul, hotelier and collector of modern and contemporary art, Aby J. Rosen turns 60… Executive assistant at Los Angeles-based FaceCake Marketing Technologies, Esther Bushey turns 59… Co-founder of non-profit Jumpstart, Jonathan Shawn Landres turns 48… Actress, television personality and author, Victoria Davey (Tori) Spelling turns 47… Author, actor and host of Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food,” Adam Richman turns 46… Assistant General Counsel at CNN, Drew Shenkman turns 38… Communications director at America Rising PAC, Jeff Bechdel turns 34… Bruce Goldberg… Harriet L. Caplan…
SUNDAY: President of the Philadelphia-based Honickman Foundation, her family owns one of the largest Pepsi and Canada Dry bottlers in the US, Lynne Korman Honickman turns 84… Annapolis, Maryland resident, Robert M. Pollock turns 75… Randolph Stuart Koch turns 73… News anchor for WPVI-TV (ABC Channel 6) in Philadelphia, Jim Gardner turns 72… Canadian philanthropist and the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia (2000-2006), Myra Ava Freeman turns 71… Corporate and securities attorney at NYC’s Eilenberg & Krause, he serves as counsel for Israeli technology companies doing business in the U.S., Sheldon Krause turns 65… Comedian, actor and television host, Bob Saget turns 64… Founder and president of ENS Resources, Eric Sapirstein turns 64… Host of “Marketplace Morning Report” on public radio and “Now on PBS,” David Brancaccio turns 60… Former Jewish outreach director for Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, author of the 2005 book “Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish” and a 2017 book about Jewish holidays, Abigail Pogrebin… and her identical twin sister, Robin Pogrebin, reporter on the culture desk for The New York Times where she covers the art world and cultural institutions, both turn 55…
General manager for corporate strategy at Microsoft, Kinney Zalesne turns 54… CPA and founder of the Baltimore Hunger Project, providing food packs for the weekend that are discretely slipped into over 600 poverty-stricken public-school children’s backpacks each Friday, Lynne Berkowitz Kahn turns 51… Reporter for TheNew York Times covering national politics, Reid J. Epstein turns 41… Former member of Knesset, when elected in 2013 she became the youngest female Knesset member in Israel’s history, Stav Shaffir turns 35… Deputy campaign manager for Cory Booker’s presidential run, a digital strategy adviser to Democratic organizations and candidates, Jenna Ruth Lowenstein turns 33… Magazine writer for ELLE, Marie Claire, The Washington Post magazine and GQ, Rebecca Rose Nelson turns 29… Teacher at Prozdor, the high school program of Boston’s Hebrew College, Heather Renetzky turns 27… Account executive at Houston’s Zintel Public Relations, Katherine (Katie) Keenan turns 25… Managing supervisor at Cura Strategies, Sarah Sonies…