Good Wednesday morning!
A report in Israel Hayom this morning claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is exploring dividing annexation efforts into two stages. The first stage would reportedly center on settlements that fall outside of the large settlement blocs, constituting about 10% of the West Bank.
Yesterday, in separate conference calls with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and key Senate and House committees, King Abdullah of Jordan warned that any unilateral Israeli annexation “is unacceptable and undermines the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the region.”
UAE Foreign Minister Dr. Anwar Gargash said during an address to the American Jewish Committee’s virtual Global Forum yesterday that his country can work with Israel on combating the coronavirus and on technology despite having political differences.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America is announcing a list of more than two dozen congressional endorsements today. See the full list here.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) became the latest prominent progressive yesterday to endorse Jamaal Bowman in his primary challenge against Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). Politico reports that progressives are rallying around Bowman and hoping for a win after the disappointment of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) failed presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) endorsed Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) for re-election.
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Chelsea Handler finally deletes Farrakhan video after days of outrage
Comedian Chelsea Handler posted and then deleted a video of Louis Farrakhan on Instagram this week — but only after two days of doubling down amid a wave of criticism.
Making the rounds: Before Handler deleted the video, it had reportedly been shared and liked by a wide range of other Hollywood celebrities, despite Farrakhan’s well-documented history of virulent antisemitism and homophobia. Handler, who has close to four million followers on Instagram, called the video “powerful,” and defended posting it even when called out by commenters. “Perhaps Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic views took form during his own oppression,” she wrote.
Not speaking up: Ari Ingel, director of the nonprofit Creative Community For Peace, which works to counter antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment in the entertainment industry, told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro that he wasn’t shocked that few celebrities publicly called out Handler. “It’s not surprising other celebrities didn’t speak out against the post,” said Ingel. “Unfortunately, many Jews in Hollywood and in the entertainment industry have a long history of not speaking up about antisemitism.”
Double standard:Israeli actress Noa Tishby told JI it was “disheartening” that more A-listers did not criticize Handler for sharing the video. “One can not be against one form of racism or discrimination and not another,” Tishby added. “If we stand against hate, we stand against all hate, not just some of it.” Nobody would quote Stalin or Hitler or Mussolini’s “inspirational moments” today, Tishby said, and suggest those leaders be “given a pass” on their other actions. “I think Chelsea Handler should take a good look at this guy, and take the appropriate actions,” she said. “He can not be accepted into the mainstream.”
Ice cold: Handler’s post came less than a week after the rapper Ice Cube tweeted a series of antisemitic posts to his 5.4 million followers, including praise of Farrakhan. He, too, faced little pushback from mainstream Hollywood voices. “It’s disturbing to see a cultural icon who is such a powerful voice for social justice in the black community fail to understand the impact his words and the images he shares have on the Jewish community,” Ingel said of the rapper. He added that CCFP “has been in touch with members of his team,” but “as Ice Cube has clarified on social media, he stands by his posts, which is unfortunate.”
TO THE RESCUE?
He wrote a book about them. Now they might buy his favorite baseball team
When Yaron Weitzman heard that billionaire investors Joshua Harris and David Blitzer were in talks to buy the New York Mets — a purchase that would build upon a sports portfolio that already includes the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils — he had mixed feelings. “I was kind of conflicted,” Weitzman, who covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and, perhaps against his better judgement, is a long-suffering Mets fan, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview.
Let’s make a deal: Weitzman, who recently published Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports, said he could understand why Harris and Blitzer might pursue the team. “If you think about it, it kind of makes sense,” Weitzman mused, pointing out that Harris, a co-founder of Apollo Global Management, has always been on the lookout for “good companies with bad balance sheets.” The Mets are currently owned by the Wilpon family, which has overseen a tumultuous couple of decades at the baseball franchise.
Inside baseball: Weitzman was mildly optimistic about the potential Mets purchase. Harris, he said, is a “data-oriented guy,” which might benefit the Mets given that baseball is a sport deeply reliant on statistics. And Harris and Blitzer, he said, have been spending more money on free agents for the 76ers in recent years, which could bode well for the Mets. “That would seem to be a step up,” said Weitzman, who told JI that he has become frustrated with the Wilpons’ supervision of the foundering Mets franchise.
Strike out: Weitzman said Harris and Blitzer were not forthcoming as he wrote his book, and both declined to be interviewed. “They made my life harder than it had to be,” Weitzman sighed. “Current employees were told to stay away from me because I was writing this book,” he wrote in the intro. “Sources were called by higher-ups and asked to strike quotes. Players were instructed not to have book-related conversations.”
RACE WE’RE WATCHING
Poll shows Mondaire Jones opens lead in race to succeed Nita Lowey
A week before Democrats in New York’s 17th district head to the polls, attorney Mondaire Jones appears to have taken a sizable lead in the seven-person race to succeed longtime Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). A poll — conducted over 24 hours on Monday and published on Tuesday — showed Jones, who previously was a fellow in the Obama Justice Department, nine points ahead of his closest challengers with 25% of the vote, while one in four voters remains undecided. Jones was interviewed in JI last month.
Rest of the field: The poll of 1,141 likely✎ EditSign Democratic primary voters — conducted by Public Policy Polling for the local Greenburgh Democrats — showed former L.A. federal prosecutor Adam Schleifer and former Defense Department official Evelyn Farkas tied for second place with 14% each, followed by Rockland County State Sen. David Carlucci with 11%. State Assemblyman David Buchwald is in single digits (8%), while college professor and veteran Asha Castleberry-Hernandez and former NARAL chairwoman Allison Fine rank at the bottom with 3% and 2%, respectively.
Background: Carlucci and Buchwald are the only two candidates in the race to ever hold elected office. They also both represent areas that fall within the congressional district. Buchwald, who has represented Westchester County since 2013, has the support of the local party machine, while Carlucci represents the other part of the district — Rockland County — with the largest Jewish population per capita of any U.S. county. Sixty-three percent of the poll’s respondents were from Westchester County and 37% were from Rockland County. Schleifer, the son of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals CEO Leonard Schleifer, is self-funding his campaign and has recently made some inroads in the Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland, according to several observers in the district.
ON THE HILL
House Dems gather signatures for letter against annexation
A group of Democratic House members are collecting signatures for a letter cautioning Israeli leaders against unilaterally annexing portions of the West Bank.
Details: The letter, authored by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and David Price (D-NC), and shared with Jewish Insider, warns Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz that annexation is likely to jeopardize Israel’s warming ties with Gulf states, put Jordan’s security at risk and complicate Israel’s relationships in European countries and around the world.
Second thoughts: “We do not see how any of these acute risks serve the long-term interest of a strong, secure Israel,” the Democratic lawmakers write. The letter, first reported by JTA, was distributed to members of the Demcoratic caucus on Monday. The lawmakers implore the Israeli government, “as committed partners in supporting and protecting the special U.S.-Israel relationship,” to “reconsider” annexation plans before the July 1 target date.
Pointing fingers: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) sent a similar letter✎ EditSign to President Donald Trump on Tuesday. “In recent months, your Administration appears to have given a green light to unilateral annexation, despite the risks to peace and Israel’s security and democracy,” the California senator wrote. Harris suggested that annexation “not only risks Israel’s security, but would also call into question this Israeli Government’s commitment to shared values of democracy and self-determination.”
Across the pond: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on Tuesday that West Bank annexation “would amount to a breach of international law.”
On the ground: Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan told reporters on a Zoom call yesterday marking his upcoming departure that applying Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the West Bank would be the position of the Israeli government in any hypothetical peace talks. “The so-called annexation, yes it creates a different reality on the ground,” he said. “But from 2020 until the Palestinians and Israel reach an agreement, we will have a different status quo that will be in many senses a more realistic one and more attuned with Israel’s interests. There’s no apartheid here.”
Work to do: On the call, Dayan said he directed his staff to find him “at least five Democrats” for every Republican he meets to keep support for Israel bipartisan. “It’s tough to maintain Israel as a bipartisan issue — some of the reasons depend on [Israel], some of the reasons depend on America ― because nothing is bipartisan anymore in this country,” he said. “It’s difficult, but it’s imperative for the State of Israel.”
⚰️ From Beyond: In Atlas Obscura, Gitit Ginat highlights the blue-painted graves in an ancient Safed cemetery that have been deteriorating for years despite hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors pre-COVID. Archeologist Yossi Stepansky claims that GPS mapping failed in the area of the cemetery devoted to ancient Kabbalists. [AtlasObscura]
⚠️ Trade Triangle: Joshua Mitnick writes in Foreign Policy about the ongoing U.S. struggle to convince Israel to cut ties with China. “With the U.S.-China trade war threatening to shift global commerce into two competing economic blocs, it will become increasingly harder for Israel to maneuver between them.” [ForeignPolicy]
👗 Style Rules: Hannah Tindle spoke to several Orthodox Jewish women for CNN about the fashion trends in their community, and how the recent Netflix show “Unorthodox” portrayed the clothing choices of Satmar women in Brooklyn. [CNN]
Around the Web
⚖️ Day in Court: Victims and survivors of the shooting at the Chabad of Poway last year are suing gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson for negligently marketing the semiautomatic rifle used in the attack.
💪 Pressure Campaign: The Anti-Defamation League has joined other civil rights groups that are pushing advertisers to pull spending from Facebook over hate speech on the platform.
💰 Giving Back: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have donated $450,000 toward research into a rare genetic disease affecting Ashkenazi Jews.
📱 Double Standard: Dozens of Tunisian, Syrian and Palestinian human rights activists and journalists claim Facebook has deactivated their accounts despite Zuckerberg’s stated commitment to free speech.
📕Stop the Press: The White House has sued former National Security Advisor John Bolton in an attempt to prevent or delay publication of his memoir.
📈 Startup Nation: Investments in Israeli financial tech firms more than doubled in 2019 to a record $1.8 billion, ranking Israel fifth in the world.
💊 Saving Lives: Israel has approved the use of the experimental coronavirus treatment remdesivir developed by U.S.-based Gilead Pharmaceuticals.
✈️ Plan Your Summer: Israel has set August 1st as a target date for potentially renewing tourism with Greece and Cyprus.
🕵️ Buzz on Balfour: An Israeli watchdog group has petitioned the High Court to order a state inquiry into Netanyahu’s role in the so-called “Submarine Affair.”
🏞️ Open Gates: The battle between Orthodox Jewish leaders and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over city parks escalated yesterday, with local elected officials continuing to cut the locks on sealed-off playgrounds.
⚔️ Blame Game: David Miller, a British academic and professor, quit the Labour Party after being suspended for saying that Opposition Leader Keir Starmer took money from “the Zionist movement.”
👎 Disapproval: Jewish community leaders in Warsaw have voiced opposition to the “dehumanizing” language used by Polish President Andrzej Duda against the LGBT community ahead of the June 28 presidential election.
🎥 Going Global: Apple TV+ has signed on to co-produce the spy thriller series “Tehran” with Israel’s Kan. MGM has struck a deal with Israeli production company Tadmor Entertainment to co-produce original scripted series for global audiences.
🥡 New Eats:Sami & Susu, an Israeli/Mediterranean eatery, has opened a takeout location in Brooklyn, and Pulkies, an Ashkenazi Jewish-style barbecue spot, has launched takeout and delivery services from Chelsea Market.
🕯️ Remembering: Betty Goudsmit-Oudkerk, the last living staff member of a kindergarten that saved Jewish children from the Nazis in Amsterdam, died at age 96.
Pic of the Day
El Fantasma, president of Mexico City’s Lucha Libre commission, hands out food and household items donated by the city’s Jewish community to female wrestler La Zorra as part of an initiative to help more than 200 professional wrestlers who have been unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fashion designer Tory Burch turns 54…
U.S. diplomat and long-time UN special representative, Matthew Nimetz turns 81… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, he is married to retired Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin, George Akerlof turns 80… Best-selling singer-songwriter, Barry Manilow turns 77… Former member of the Knesset Eitan Broshi turns 70… Former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission Jon Leibowitz turns 62… Interfaith peace activist Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen turns 53… Shavei Israel’s Michael Freund turns 52… Life & Arts editor of Spectator USA, Dominic Green, Ph.D. turns 50… Political counsel at Chicago-based Beyond Advisers David Elliot Horwich turns 44… SVP for the Economic Program at Third Way Gabe Horwitz turns 44…
Conservation Lands Foundation’s David Eric Feinman turns 41… Rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, NJ Michael Bleicher turns 36… The Hollywood Reporter‘s Alexander Weprin turns 36… Founder and executive director of Zioness, Amanda Berman turns 35… Manager of strategic partnerships at Avodah, Alexander Willick turns 33… College football reporter for The Athletic, Nicole Auerbach turns 31… Member of the United States Ski Team Jared Goldberg turns 29… Editorial designer at HuffPost, Rebecca Zisser turns 28… Shortstop in the Colorado Rockies organization and a member of Team Israel, Scott Burcham turns 27… DC-based freelance foreign media consultant, Mounira Al Hmoud…