Good Wednesday morning!
Yita Ruchel bat Tzirel Leah, otherwise known as Joan Ruth Bader and now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore yesterday for treatment related to a benign gallbladder condition.
In a victory for Bernie Sanders supporters and down-ballot candidates who feel they’ll benefit from higher Bernie-related turnout, a federal judge has ordered New York Democratic officials to reinstate the June 23 presidential primary.
UAE Ambassador to the U.N. Lana Nusseibehsaid yesterday during a joint JI-AJC webinar that Abu Dhabi would not oppose collaborating with Israel in tackling the coronavirus. “I’m sure there’s a lot of scope for collaboration — I don’t think we would be opposed to it. I really think this public health space should be an unpoliticized space.”
Yesterday, Saudi Arabia’s cabinet affirmed that the Palestinian cause will remain a “central issue” for the Arab world and “reviewed” the results of a recent Arab League meeting that condemned Israeli annexation plans. More on the Israeli-Palestinian issue below.
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Cardin indicates he won’t sign colleagues’ letter against Israeli annexation
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) told Jewish Insider — during a webcast hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America on Tuesday — that he is refraining from publicly warning the Israeli government against a unilateral move to annex parts of the West Bank. Cardin’s comments come amid an effort from Maryland’s junior Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), to voice opposition to a possible vote in the Knesset on the matter, which could happen as early as July 1.
Letter pushers: The three Democratic senators are circulating a letter claiming that unilateral annexation “would fray our unique bonds, imperil Israel’s future and place out of reach the prospect of a lasting peace,” according to an action alert sent out by J Street on Monday. J Street also emailed its Maryland-based supporters on Monday asking them to sign a petition pushing Cardin to join the letter.
Cardin’s reply: Asked by JI whether he would sign onto the letter, Cardin replied: “I don’t like to second-guess Israel’s government’s decisions, although I have been pretty critical of a lot of policies under the Netanyahu prime ministership.”
Protecting bipartisanship: Cardin explained that while he finds unilateral action “not to be a helpful process” and would “encourage [Israel] to try to preserve” the advancement of a two-state solution, he added “I don’t think it is helpful for us to sow dissension in the United States as it relates to the support for Israel.” Cardin continued, “I think we have to show that even when we disagree with the policies of the government that the relationship between the United States and Israel must remain strong.”
Israeli government’s base: A new poll — conducted by Israeli pollsters Gilad Hirschberger and Camil Fuchs for Commanders for Israel’s Security — shows that 36% of Likud voters compared to a mere 4% of Blue and White voters see annexation as the ideal outcome.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tells The Jerusalem Post, in an interview to be published Friday, that Netanyahu must offer the Palestinians the opportunity to establish a state in order for the U.S. to support annexation in the West Bank. Friedman offered other conditions for support, all of which entailed a commitment to the Trump administration’s peace plan and would require agreement before the announced July 1st annexation target date.
In race to succeed Rep. Nita Lowey, David Buchwald wants to stand out from the pack
Congressional candidate and New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald touted his opposition to the U.S. re-entering the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran as an issue he believes sets him apart from his competitors in the race to succeed Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) in New York’s 17th district, during an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh.
Big deal: At a candidate forum hosted by the NAACP in January, Buchwald was the only one of 10 candidates on stage who didn’t support the U.S. reentering the agreement. Buchwald told JI he was “frankly shocked” that the rest of the field was not on the same page. “I would oppose re-entry in the Iran nuclear deal unless the deal, first, curtailed Iran’s ability to finance terrorist proxies around the region, and, second, it has to be a potentially long duration,” Buchwald said.
Bio: Born and raised in Westchester, Buchwald had his bar mitzvah at Larchmont Temple. He is presently a member of the Jewish Community Center of Harrison, a progressive Conservative synagogue. A public school graduate, he studied physics at Yale University, and went on to earn a law degree from Harvard and a masters in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He then worked as an economics researcher on antitrust issues and as a tax attorney at the law firm Paul, Weiss. He entered public service in 2009, when he was elected to the White Plains Common Council. In 2012, Buchwald beat two-term Republican incumbent Robert Castelli by almost nine points to win his current State Assembly seat.
Proud son: Buchwald’s mother, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by then-President Bill Clinton in 1999. “I technically have the privilege of having the word ‘Honorable’ in front of my name, though my mom is the true Honorable Buchwald,” the New York lawmaker told JI.
Rabbinic lineage: Buchwald is the paternal grandson of Rabbi Baruch Rabinowitz✎ EditSign, a seventh-generation direct descendant of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement. Rabinowitz, the son of the “Brownsviller Rebbe” in Brooklyn, was one of 400 rabbis who marched on Washington in 1943 — three days before Yom Kippur — to ask President Franklin D. Roosevelt to save the Jews of Europe and increase the number of Jewish immigrants allowed into the U.S. “I am honored that that’s part of my family legacy, that at a time when, frankly, it was not considered typical for a rabbi to be conveying his views to the federal government, that my grandfather was one of the leaders making sure that we tried to live up to our country’s high ideals of being a refuge for people who are afflicted around the world,” Buchwald stated.
Big shoes: Buchwald told JI his “guiding light” has been the advice given to him years ago by Lowey — whom he interned for while at Yale — when he told her it would be an honor to succeed her in Congress one day. “The best advice she had for me was to be as good an assemblyman as I can be,” Buchwald recalled. “I think Democrats will want someone who’s not just a fighter, but also someone who gets things done, and actually produces the results that make a difference to people’s lives,” he added.
Obituarists are busier than ever as pandemic takes its toll
Obituary writers are normally a hardened lot. But as the coronavirus takes its toll in the United States — having claimed more than 70,000 lives as of this writing — they have been overwhelmed by the grim reality of death. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel spoke with more than half a dozen in the profession about the emotional toll of their busy workload.
Busy times: “This is definitely the busiest time in my five years of writing obituaries,” said Harrison Smith, who sits on the obits desk at The Washington Post. Not all of Smith’s recent obituaries have been COVID-related, but he believes that his increased caseload can still be attributed to the pandemic, as those who need medical care but are not sick from the coronavirus have been struggling to get proper help. “I’ve never had a stretch like this,” he said. “It just seems like there are more deaths than we’re used to.”
Spotlighting the lesser-known:The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe, among other papers, have all assembled teams of reporters to write about those who have died but who wouldn’t normally be covered. Ann Wroe, the Economist’s obituary editor, told JI that she was contemplating a similar approach — in a break from her usual habit of writing about well-known figures. “Somehow, I just feel that because everyone is in the same boat with this,” she reasoned, “we ought to acknowledge that it’s touching everyone in society.”
Remembering life: “Death is one sentence in most obituaries,” said Sam Roberts, an obituaries reporter for the Times. “They are stories about people’s lives, mini-biographies. They should reflect, for better or worse, what those lives were all about.”
Painful privilege: “As painful as it is, it’s a privilege to get to tell these stories,” said Howard Reich, an arts critic for the Chicago Tribune who has been writing about COVID-related deaths in the jazz world. “Probably not until after we’re through with this wave of death will it really hit me how severe and tragic this is.” John Pope, who writes obituaries for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, told JI, “It reminds me of the early days of AIDS when there were lots of deaths — except this time people aren’t being furtive about it, and it hits all sectors of the population.”
😢 Still Grieving: Arnold and Frimet Roth, the parents of terror victim Malki Roth, who was killed in the 2001 Sbarro bombing, are hoping the United States will reverse course and pressure Jordan to extradite her murderer, Ahlam Tamimi — who was released in the 2011 deal to free Gilad Schalit — to stand trial in the U.S. “This is justice for Malki,” Arnold told The Times of Israel. “This is our highest calling.” [TimesofIsrael]
👨⚕️ Circle of Life: Ari Ciment, a critical care doctor in Miami, tellsThe New York Times that his hospital began to fill up with coronavirus patients “as Passover approached.” He described how plasma from a COVID-19 survivor helped one patient, whose pulse oximeter helped a third person fighting the disease. “The patients don’t know one another yet, but they’re all interwoven. Everybody is connected. ‘Chad Gadya.’” [NYTimes]
💧 Helpful Neighbor: Georgian-Israeli billionaire Michael Mirilashvili tellsThe Associated Press that he wants to deliver hundreds of water generators to the Gaza Strip to solve its chronic water crisis. “They are our neighbors and it’s a great pity to look at them suffering from such severe water shortages.” [AP]
Around the Web
🧫 Mass Test: Israel is planning to conduct 100,000 antibody tests on residents to determine how prepared the country will be for a potential second wave of COVID-19.
💥 Shattered Quiet: The IDF struck three Hamas sites in Gaza this morning in response to the first rocket fire from the strip aimed at Israel in more than a month.
💰 Big Buy: Microsoft is reportedly in negotiations to purchase Israeli cybersecurity company CyberX for $170 million.
✈️ Still Grounded:El Al has extended its passenger flight suspension through May 30.
👴👵 Talk of Our Nation:The New York Timesspotlights how New York’s Holocaust survivors are now facing the coronavirus.
🕯️Tragic Outcome: Another 1,700 undisclosed deaths have been reported in nursing homes across New York, with the highest number of reported fatalities at Parker Jewish Institute in Queens.
😕 B-Team: Jared Kushner’s coronavirus response team is reportedly slowed down by its reliance on a team of inexperienced volunteers.
🥡 Demanding Equality: State Senator Alessandra Biaggi sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and food czar Kathryn Garcia, requesting to add the Bronx to the locations in the rest of the city serving free kosher meals. A city spokesperson told JI that neighborhoods with significant “kosher-observant populations” were prioritized and that kosher food is available for delivery in the Bronx.
🏠 Pass the Ranch: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid close to $45 million for a 4,600-acre ranch in northwest Colorado owned by billionaire Henry Kravis.
📉 Lowering Expectations:Investor Sam Zell cautioned in an interview with Bloomberg TV that “too many people are anticipating a v-like recovery” after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
👨💼 High Profile Case: Alan Dershowitz has joined a team of lawyers representing Azeri-Turkish billionaire Mubariz Mansimov Gurbanoglu on charges of terrorism in Istanbul.
👎 Outburst: Pennsylvania State Rep. Cris Dush, a Republican, has apologized for comparing Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to the Nazis during a committee hearing on Monday.
🖥️ Opponent Tracker: Two progressive Jewish organizations — Bend the Arc and Jews Against White Nationalism — have jointly launched a new website that tracks antisemitism in the Republican Party.
😡 Boisterous Equation: Ammon Bundy, a notorious militia leader, compared government coronavirus restrictions to the killing of Jews in the Holocaust during an anti-lockdown protest in Idaho on Saturday.
🛩️ On Loan: Israel has signed a deal to lease unmanned planes to Greece to be used for border defense.
⚖️ Friendly Advice:Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit advised the High Court against striking down the Likud-Blue and White rotation deal — a move that would likely lead to a fourth election.
🕌 Muted Celebrations:Gaza has eased up on some coronavirus restrictions for Ramadan as its outbreak appears contained, while UNRWA announced it was running out of cash after the U.S. halted its payments to the troubled Palestinian refugee agency.
🏥 Deadly Weapons: An investigation by BBC News Arabic has concluded that Iran’s largest airline — Mahan Air — contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
⛓️ Prisoner Swap? The United States is slated to deport an Iranian professor — pending his coronavirus recovery — after he was acquitted on charges of violating sanctions, in signs of a possible prisoner swap deal with Tehran.
🚧 Troubling Incident:Jewish leaders in Prague discovered dozens of paving stones used in the redevelopment in the 1980s, under the Communist regime, of the city’s landmark Wenceslas Square that were made from headstones raided from Jewish graveyards.
🏋️ Sports Blink:NFL star Julian Edelman and actor Skylar Astin were among the stars who teamed up for a virtual workout class to benefit homebound Holocaust survivors.
📺 Binge Watch: Comedian Chelsea Handler toldVariety that during quarantine she has been watching shows in “the Jewish genre,” including “Unorthodox,” “Shtisel” and “Fauda,” which has been “a great way to brush up on my Haftorah portion.”
👨 Replacement: President Donald Trump has appointed U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Ronald Gidwitz as acting EU envoy after the firing of Ambassador Gordon Sondland in February.
🕯️Remembering: Rabbi Dr. Nachum Eliezer Rabinowitz, a Montreal native, prominent halachic authority and the dean of the Birkat Moshe Hesder Yeshiva in Maale Adumim has died at age 92. Rabbi Rabinowitz was also the rabbi of former U.K. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Pic of the Day
Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, discussed immigration policy and the recent campaign against the nomination of former HIAS chair Dianne Lob as chair of the Conference of Presidents during a webcast hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America yesterday.
Partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, she is a former Deputy Attorney General of the U.S., Jamie S. Gorelick turns 70…
Senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford U, previously a U.S. District Court judge (1979-1985) and the State Department legal adviser (1985-1990), Abraham David Sofaer turns 82… Media executive and philanthropist, he was a long-time executive of Time Inc. (later Time Warner) who negotiated the merger between AOL and Time Warner in 2000, Gerald M. “Jerry” Levin turns 81… Born in Buenos Aires, later emigrated to Chile and then the U.S., novelist and playwright, professor of Latin American studies at Duke University, Vladimiro Ariel Dorfman turns 78… Professor of law and philosophy at the University of Chicago, Martha Nussbaum turns 73… Israeli theoretical physicist and astrophysicist, Tsvi Piran turns 71… Former prime minister of the United Kingdom and special envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East until 2015, Tony Blair turns 67… French-born president emeritus of the Jerusalem College of Technology / Lev Academic Center, he is the holder of two Ph.D. degrees (Nice University and Bar Ilan), Noah Dana-Picard turns 66…
Ruderman professor and director of Jewish studies program and professor of English, all at Northeastern University, Lori Hope Lefkovitz turns 64… Vice chairman and co-founder of Boston-based HighVista Strategies, Daniel Jick turns 63… President and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America, Eric David Fingerhut turns 61… Chair of the Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest N.J. and chair of Livingston Celebrates Israel, Sheri Goldberg turns 57… Attorney and partner in LA-based real estate development firm Regent Properties, Daniel Todd Gryczman turns 45… Los Angeles-based television personality and video blogger, Shira Lazar turns 37… Conductor, pianist, clarinetist, and composer, he is currently music director of the Louisville Orchestra and Britt Festival Orchestra, Edward “Teddy” Paul Maxwell Abrams turns 33… Alyse Cohen turns 32… VP at DC-based Sovereign Infrastructure Group, he was a staffer at the NSC and Treasury during the Obama administration, Benjamin Levine turns 30… (h/ts Playbook)