Good Friday morning!
RSVP today: Join Jewish Insider‘s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum for an interactive wine tasting live on Zoom from a Napa Valley winery at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT on Sunday, May 17th. All attendees will receive four bottles of wine ahead of time. More details in Yitz’s column below.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin officially handed the mandate to form the next government to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night. The unity government is slated to be sworn in on Wednesday.
Emi Palmor, the sole Israeli voice on Facebook’s new oversight board, told JI, “I have a reputation as someone who is ready to tackle explosive issues, and right now I am committed to act so that Facebook takes responsibility for content issues while also improving the transparency and fairness of its operations in this field.”
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Chris Coons has the inside track to be Biden’s secretary of state
On a Friday evening in February, former Sen. Joe Lieberman stepped out of his hotel in Germany en route to the second annual presentation of the John McCain Dissertation Award, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. The destination was a restaurant more than a mile away, and Lieberman, who is Shabbat-observant, was planning to set off on foot for the long walk when he ran into his former colleague, Chris Coons, the junior senator from Delaware who was also attending the dinner. To Lieberman’s surprise, Coons decided to accompany him. “It was a great opportunity for conversation,” Lieberman fondly recalled to Jewish Insider. And the former vice presidential candidate, noting their similar worldviews, believes that “Chris would make a wonderful secretary of state.”
Top contender: Lieberman isn’t alone in thinking that the senator would be a strong contender to lead the State Department if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Coons’s Delaware predecessor, is successful in November. Jewish Insider discussed the possibility of Biden selecting Coons for Foggy Bottom’s top job with a dozen foreign policy experts, Delaware insiders and Jewish community leaders.
Global experience: “Senator Coons would make an excellent secretary of state,” former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who knows both Biden and Coons well, told JI. “He has terrific global experience both before and after entering the Senate, and he is widely respected in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and around the world.” Stuart Eizenstat, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union and an informal advisor to Biden, echoed that assessment, telling JI that Coons “would be a very strong candidate” for the role.
Strong ties: “The vice president has learned to count on Chris,” said Miami-based developer Michael Adler, who is considered to be Biden’s closest friend in the Jewish community. Coons was among the first to endorse Biden for president back in April 2019.
Across the aisle: Coons — whom Politico once described as “the GOP’s favorite Democrat” — has developed a reputation for bipartisanship. In 2018, the Delaware senator cast the “present” vote that allowed Mike Pompeo’s confirmation as secretary of state to advance in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The senator’s history of reaching across the aisle could serve him well if he gets the secretary of state nod, said Nancy Karibjanian, director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication. “There wouldn’t be a real learning curve,” she said. “He already would be capable of doing the job.”
Mideast outlook: Coons “understands the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel,” Lieberman told JI. “He’s voted that way — it’s not just words.” Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, who served as Coons’s senior foreign policy advisor from 2010 to 2014, described her former boss as “a principled and values-driven leader when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, including on the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
OBJECTION, YOUR HONOR!
Inside a contentious Pennsylvania House committee hearing where a Nazi comparison was made
In his almost 10 years in the commonwealth’s House of Representatives, Pennsylvania State Rep. Kevin Boyle has always waited for his turn to speak and avoided cutting in on his colleagues. That changed earlier this week when, during a committee hearing, Boyle interrupted Rep. Cris Dush for comparing Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to the Nazi party during a discussion about the governor’s restriction orders aimed to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. “Chairman, this is outrageous,” Boyle, the committee’s ranking Democrat, cut off Dush.
‘Reprehensible’: In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh on Thursday, Boyle said, “I’ve never interjected and interrupted someone before, despite disagreeing with them, but to me, comparing the governor of Pennsylvania and the broader approach of elected officials who have been supportive of shutdown measures to protect human life; to compare our approach to the Nazi regime is reprehensible and just flat-out wrong.”
No excuse: Though Dush apologized for the perception of the analogy, Boyle suggested it may be insufficient. “I personally know people who I represent, and I’ve gotten to know over the years, who are Holocaust survivors. I’d be more curious about their views on whether they accept that qualification that he gave,” he said. Boyle added that the comparison was shocking not just in terms of tone, but also in substance, “because the Wolf administration, they’ve been taking action to save human life, and the Nazi regime killed six million people of the Jewish faith in the Holocaust.”
Rising star: In 2008, Boyle — who was then an aide to former Philadelphia City Councilman William Greenlee — was described by The Philadelphia Inquirer as one of the state’s rising stars. He was elected to the state legislature in 2010, beating a 32-year GOP incumbent, former Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel. For the first five years of his political career, Boyle served alongside his older brother Brendan — who now represents Pennsylvania’s 2nd district in Congress. “It was unique to work with my brother every day,” the younger Boyle recalled.
Israel trip: In 2013, Boyle and his brother visited Israel on a mission organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. “It was just remarkable,” Boyle said of the trip. “I think it really gives the Israeli perspective by physically being in the Jewish homeland to see what a small patch of land that they have, and just how they’re surrounded by people who, unfortunately, don’t believe in their right to exist.”
‘THE JEWISH NIELSEN’
Week 7 of Zoom events — who is watching what?
As in-person convenings across the country have been rendered impossible due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizations have taken to the internet to connect with supporters and expand their reach. Since the start of the pandemic, Jewish Insider has compiled statistics, released weekly, on the webinars and online events being held across the community.
All numbers are verified by Jewish Insider prior to publication. To be considered for future reports, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
⏸️ Press Pause: Attorney and former White House official Jay Lefkowitz writes in The Washington Post that the blurred calendar of coronavirus quarantine can be countered by observing Shabbat — something even the pope has endorsed. [WashPost]
⚰️ Parting Gift: Wall Street Journal columnist Ted Rall highlights the work of Chesed Shel Emes, the Jewish volunteer burial group that has been operating around the clock to handle the coronavirus death toll. “In a pandemic defined by distance and solitude, it is somehow fitting and ironic that the most intimate human contact comes to those unaware of the gift.” [WSJ]
🤹 Full Plate: Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Joe Biden and later as President Barack Obama’s Ebola response coordinator, discusses his behind-the-scenes role in the Biden campaign with The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere as he juggles his day jobs and his advisory position. [TheAtlantic]👨💻 Screen Time: Democratic campaign communications specialist Lis Smith explains in The New York Times how Joe Biden can benefit from the campaigning restrictions imposed by the coronavirus to appeal to voters — looking for a “healer in chief” — from the confines of his home while avoiding a grueling campaign on the trail. [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🕍 Baby Steps: Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a call organized by the Orthodox Union that synagogues may be able to hold High Holidays services if contact tracing is implemented, but that full functionality would have to wait for a vaccine.
💻 Zoom With Joe: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is holding a virtual fundraiser with the Jewish community on May 19.
🖱️ Tech Challenged: The Wall Street Journal spotlights the struggles members of Congress face working from home, including “devoted flip-phone user” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), whose daughter helps him position his iPad for interviews.
🛑 Hold Up: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has placed a hold on the Never Again Education Act over “minor changes,” a day after the Holocaust education bill was cleared for a full Senate vote.
🏃♂️ He’s Running? Billionaire investor Mark Cuban says he hasn’t “closed the door” on running for president, but his “Shark Tank” costar Barbara Corcoran says his wife would never allow it.
🖋️ Hot Take: Haaretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer posits that Netanyahu will never move forward with full annexation because it would jeopardize the status quo he has worked so hard to achieve.
🖥️ Military Operation: The New York Times spotlights the role of Israel’s Defense Department in coordinating and managing the country’s multi-pronged coronavirus-fighting approach.
👩👦Reunited: A two-year-old Palestinian boy was reunited with his mother yesterday after undergoing a heart procedure at an Israeli hospital while separated from his family due to coronavirus restrictions.
😷 Sharing is Caring: The Israeli Embassy in Nigeria has donated 2,000 masks to support local medical workers in the fight against coronavirus.
🏜️ Regional Developments: U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is leading a push within the Trump administration to withdraw U.S. troops from an international peacekeeping force in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula despite Israeli objections.
🚰 Pipe Bomb: Iran is reportedly behind a thwarted cyberattack against a number of Israeli Water Authority facilities last month.
🌿 High Quality: The Economist reports on Ugandan cannabis company Industrial Hemp, which works in partnership with an Israeli firm and shipped 250kg. of medical marijuana to Israel last month.
😟 Never Again: German Jewish leaders, marking 75 years since the end of World War II, say they are worried that antisemitism is seeing a resurgence and acceptance in the country.
📰 Media Watch: The Washington Free Beacon calls out The New York Times for hosting author Alice Walker on a podcast without asking about her history of antisemitic comments.
⚖️ Court Battle: Israeli diamond trader Beny Steinmetz has been accused of hiding money in New York real estate to avoid paying out a $2 billion arbitration award against a Brazilian mining company.
🇦🇺 Down Under: The ex-financial controller of Moriah College in Sydney has been charged with defrauding the Jewish school of more than $7 million AUD over 15 years.
👩 Transition: Dana Rubinstein, a senior reporter at Politico New York, is joining The New York Times as a metro reporter.
🕯️ Remembering: Talk radio show host Barry Farber, a former candidate for Congress and for New York City mayor, has died at age 90.
Wine of the Week
JoinJewish Insider‘s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum for an interactive wine tasting live on Zoom from a Napa Valley winery at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT on Sunday, May 17th.
All attendees who register here will receive the four bottles we’re tasting in the mail ahead of time. The package includes a Flam Blanc, Jezreel Valley Single Vineyard Carignan, Bazelet Hagolan Cabernet Sauvignon and a Gito Shani Red. Use code: JEWISHINSIDER to reserve your package and attendance today at the discounted rate of $120, including free shipping. Yes, you must buy the wine to participate. To guarantee the wine’s arrival, reserve today. See you then
Now onto Yitz’s weekly wine review of the Jezreel Valley Rosé 2019:
“I am an investor in a “double-bottom-line” wine producer that sells its product directly to consumers. Pre-COVID, the company sold tens of thousands of bottles of wine per day. Over the past month the company has been selling hundreds of thousands of bottles per day. I suspect that many of readers of this column are part of this explosion in wine sales during this trying time (I know that I am). I recently relocated to Napa Valley to more easily socially distance myself and to more aggressively support the local wine industry. The first wine that I had while enjoying the California spring weather, is the Jezreel Valley 2019 Rosé.” Read the full review here.
Gif of the Day
Vice President Mike Pence was welcomed by Norman Rokeach, CEO of Marquis Health Services, as he delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) from FEMA to the Woodbine Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Alexandria, Virginia, yesterday.
Anchor for ESPN’s “SportsCenter” since 1979, former host of ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” program, Chris “Boomer” Berman turns 65…
FRIDAY: Retired senior British judge, Baron Leonard Hubert “Lennie” Hoffmann turns 86… Former attorney general of Canada and past president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Irwin Cotler turns 80… MIT biologist and Nobel Prize laureate H. Robert Horvitz turns 73… Former MLB pitcher, Lloyd Allen turns 70… Born in Amsterdam to a survivor of Auschwitz, now a rabbi in Dusseldorf, Rabbi Raphael Evers turns 66… Former director of the USDOJ’s Office of Special Investigations from 1994 to 2010 focused on deporting Nazi war criminals, he is now the director of human rights enforcement strategy at USDOJ, Eli M. Rosenbaum turns 65…
Chief financial officer for The Manischewitz Company, Thomas E. Keogh turns 65… Past president of Congregation B’nai Torah in Sandy Springs, Georgia, Janice Perlis Ellin turns 64… President at Central Illinois Home Furnishings, Barry Seidman turns 61… President of Clayton, Missouri-based JurisTemps, Andrew J. Koshner, J.D., Ph.D. turns 60… CEO and founder of branding agency NSG/SWAT, Richard Kirshenbaum turns 59… Novelist, author of If I Could Tell You and movie critic for the Jerusalem Post since 2001, Hannah Brown turns 58… Co-founder and CEO of the disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi turns 56… Israeli journalist, anchorwoman and attorney, the host of the investigative program “Uvda” (“Fact”) on Israeli television, Ilana Dayan-Orbach turns 56…
Longtime litigator and political fundraiser in Florida, now serving as a mediator and arbitrator, Benjamin W. Newman turns 53… Canadian social activist and documentary filmmaker critical of corporate capitalism, now teaching feminist studies at Rutgers University, Naomi Klein turns 50… Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations since 2015, Ambassador Danny Danon turns 49… Stand-up comedian, known for appearing on the 9th season of “America’s Got Talent,” Jodi Miller turns 49… COO at West End Strategy Team’s DC Office, Ari Geller turns 47… Southwest regional director at J Street, Josh Lockman turns 38… Management consultant at McKinsey & Company, Daniel First turns 30… Head of social media for the Israel Defense Forces, Keren Hajioff… Speechwriter for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Amiel Fields-Meyer…
SATURDAY: Owner of St. Louis-based Harbour Group Industries and former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Sam Fox turns 91… Budapest-born philanthropist and social activist, she marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965, Eva Haller turns 90… Academy Award-winning director, James L. Brooks (family name was Bernstein) turns 80… Guitarist and record producer, best known as a member of the rock-pop-jazz group “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” Steve Katz turns 75…
Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, a professor of structural biology at Stanford University, Michael Levitt turns 73… Pianist, singer-songwriter and one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, Billy Joel turns 71… Physician in Burlington, Vermont, former first lady of Vermont, Judith Steinberg Dean turns 67… Sharon Mallory Doble turns 67… Principal of crypto-asset development firm Bitzerland and CEO of PlayMedia, Brian D. Litman turns 66… Film director and marketing executive, Barry Avrich turns 57…
DC-based, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, Mark Leibovich turns 55… Co-managing partner of Bain Capital and a minority owner of the Boston Celtics, Jonathan Lavine turns 54… VP of global public policy at Facebook, Joel D. Kaplan turns 51… Political and election law attorney, Danielle Elizabeth Friedman turns 37… Co-founder and editor-at-large at Vox, Ezra Klein turns 36… Jenna Weisbord turns 32… Director at 25 Madison and ‘living the life’ in Tel Aviv, Nathaniel Rosen turns 30… Analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mikhael Smits turns 24…
SUNDAY: Shopping center developer and former U.S. ambassador to both Australia and Italy, Melvin Floyd “Mel” Sembler turns 90… Majority owner of The Related Companies and owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen M. Ross turns 80… Founding rabbi of Chavurat Aytz Chayim in Connecticut and creator of RTN TV channel and Shalom TV, Mark S. Golub turns 75… Democratic pollster and political strategist, Stanley Bernard “Stan” Greenberg turns 75… British actress and critic of Jeremy Corbyn, Maureen Lipman turns 74… Israeli businessman and philanthropist, Leon Recanati turns 72… Founder and CEO of OPTI Connectivity, Edward Brill turns 70… CEO of Medical Reimbursement Data Management in Yanceyville, NC, Robert Jameson turns 70… David Beck turns 67…
Former NBA player whose career spanned 18 seasons from 1981 to 1999 on 7 teams, Danny Schayes turns 61… Brazilian businessman, serial entrepreneur and partner with Donald Trump in Trump Realty Brazil, Ricardo Samuel Goldstein turns 54… Senior rabbi of Houston’s Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Brian Strauss turns 48… Israeli singer Aviv Geffen turns 47… Manager of government affairs at the American Forest & Paper Association, Fara Klein Sonderling turns 32… Senior communications manager in the DC office of Pew Research Center, Rachel Weisel turns 32… National correspondent for New York Magazine, Gabriel Debenedetti turns 30… Reporter for the Wall Street Journal focused on cybersecurity, Adam Janofsky turns 29… Actress Halston Sage (born Halston Jean Schrage) turns 27… Mollie Harrison…