Good Friday morning!
U.A.E. Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba published an unprecedented op-ed in Israel’s Yediot Aharonot accompanied by an English video message positing that unilateral annexation will “immediately upend Israeli aspirations” for normalizing ties with the Arab world, at a time when “Emirati initiatives have been opening the space for cultural exchange” with Israel.
The Republican Jewish Coalition is launching a lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to rally support for Israeli annexation.
RJC executive director Matt Brooks told JI that the intention is to counter growingpublicopposition to annexation by Democratic members of Congress. “I think we’ll see overwhelming support by Republicans to support what the democratically-elected unity government in Israel has decided to do in terms of what it feels is in its best national interests,” Brooks added.
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Virginia GOP rep. faces tough battle at nominating convention
This Saturday, Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA), who is popular in the Jewish community, will face an unusual circumstance for a freshman lawmaker: fighting for his party’s nomination for his own seat, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Unconventional convention: Riggleman is facing a strong challenger in Bob Good, a former Liberty University official and Campbell County supervisor who is running to the congressman’s right and has drummed up support from party leaders in the 5th district. Instead of a traditional primary held next Tuesday, when voters in the rest of the state cast their ballots, Riggleman and Good will face off at a party convention on Saturday. Rather than a day-long gathering with speeches and discussion, the approximately 3,500 pre-approved delegates will drive through a church parking lot in Lynchburg, in the southern portion of the expansive district, to cast their votes.
Tough challenge: “If we were talking about a normal situation in another state, you’d assume the power of incumbency to be pretty strong,” John McGlennon, a government professor at Virginia’s College of William & Mary, told Jewish Insider. “Because of the nature of the convention process and adding to that the complications created by the pandemic, I think Congressman Riggleman faces a very difficult challenge.” Riggleman’s politics lean libertarian, and he has faced strong opposition within the district over his voting record and his decision to officiate the same-sex wedding of two campaign volunteers. Good falls more in line with the district’s evangelical conservative base, and the convention process tends to favor such candidates.
Fighting back: Riggleman, who has the backing of both the Republican Jewish Coalition and Pro-Israel America, claims the local party’s decision to hold a convention is a deliberate attempt to keep him off the ballot. “If they have a candidate they can’t control or somebody who they don’t think is far-right enough, they’ll try to run conventions to get that person out,” he told JI in late April. Riggleman has made several unsuccessful attempts to push the local party committee to adopt a more open primary process or alter the convention’s format. Most recently, his campaign tried and failed to move the convention from the church — which is several miles from Good’s home — to another location in the district.
Jonathan Chait argues against illiberal liberalism
Hand in Hand
White House imposes sanctions on ICC
The Trump administration announced sanctions yesterday against the International Criminal Court in the Hague in response to its decision to launch an investigation into alleged war crimes by the U.S. and its allies in the war against terror in Afghanistan. During a press briefing with Attorney General William Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court.”
Protecting allies: The move was reportedly coordinated with Israel and was a key topic of discussion during Pompeo’s brief visit to Israel last month. According to Channel 13’s Barak Ravid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz — who is leading the Israeli response to its own ICC investigation — urged Pompeo to issue sanctions against ICC officials over the court’s treatment of Israel.
Background: Last week, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced she is pursuing a probe against Israel for alleged war crimes in the IDF’s handling of weekly demonstrations held along the Gaza-Israel border in recent years and for “disproportionate use of force” in the 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza. The initial allegations were filed last December and are pending a review by the court’s judges. Last month, 331 members of Congress sent letters to Pompeo encouraging the administration to support Israel in its battle against the probe.
No daylight: “Given Israel’s robust civilian and military legal system and strong track record of investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing by military personnel, it’s clear the ICC is only putting Israel in its crosshairs for nakedly political purposes,” Pompeo said at Thursday’s briefing. “It’s a mockery of justice.” During a press conference in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “once again America, thank you for standing up for justice, and for standing up for truth.”
Pushback: The European Union expressed “serious concern” about the sanctions, which E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “very bad news.”
Alternative partners: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke on the phone with his U.S. counterpart, the first official conversation with Esper since Gantz took office. Gantz also spoke with Borrell, who called their talk an “important + good call” and reaffirmed the E.U.’s “commitment to Israel’s security.”
Birthday gift: The Israeli cabinet is expected to approve funding to build a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Donald Trump at its weekly meeting on Sunday, a year after the plaque-unveiling ceremony of Trump Heights (Ramat Trump). The vote will coincide with Trump’s 74th birthday.
😡 Uprising: Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier takes an inside look at how Facebook is grappling with a revolt from disgruntled employees who claim that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not doing enough to fight back against disinformation and racism. [Bloomberg]
📹 Embedded: Daniel Lombroso, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, writes in The Atlantic about the experience of filming his upcoming documentary, “White Noise,” about the alt-right. “White nationalists aren’t dumb, or poor,” he writes. “They’re scared of losing power.” [TheAtlantic]
👣 Small Steps: Eli Reiter writes in The New York Daily News about the hope he feels at seeing growing groups of progressive Orthodox Jews speaking out in favor of social justice. “The seeds of a serious dialogue within the broader Orthodox Jewish community are being planted.” [NYDN]
📰 News Biz:The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison spoke with financier Heath Freeman, who has bought up dozens of local newspapers, and is accused “of having done more than any other to shrink and dismantle local media.” Despite the claims, Freeman promises his goal is to be remembered as the man “that saved the newspaper business.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
🕵️ Witness Protection:Haaretz’s Gidi Weitz reports that Israeli law enforcement officials are facing difficulty accessing U.S. financial information related to a corruption investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
👩 Taking Responsibility:Audrey Gelman said she is stepping down as CEO of The Wing, the women-only co-working space she co-founded, after facing backlash from former employees over racial and gender inequality.
👩💼 Stepping Back: Leandra Medine Cohen is leaving Man Repeller, the fashion blog she started a decade ago, following discrimination allegations.
💵 Step Up: The Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf family announced a $5 million donation to fund social justice causes.
⚕️ Faulty Delivery: Noah Marco, chief medical officer of the Los Angeles Jewish Home network, called the plastic protective gowns sent by FEMA “embarrassingly unusable.”
✈️ Locked Out: Thousands of Palestinians who were overseas when COVID-19 broke out are still stranded and unable to return home due to closed borders and canceled flights.
⚔️ On the Ground: Reuters reporter John Davison documents the behind-the-scenes power battle between U.S.-allied politicians and Iranian-backed militias over control of Iraq’s Nineveh province since the defeat of ISIS in Mosul.
🍞 Breaking Bread: Rachel Levin writes in The San Francisco Chronicle about how baking challah with her daughter has become the one constant in “the endless Shabbat” of quarantine.
🕯️Remembering: Murray Olderman, a cartoonist and sports writer, has died at 98. Nanci Ryder, a famed Hollywood publicist, died at 67 after a battle with ALS. Hollywood costume designer Denise Cronenberg died at 81.
Gif of the Day
Carrying posters and riding bikes, a group of Hasidic kids disrupted traffic in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., on Thursday evening to demand the reopening of sleepaway camps in upstate N.Y. during the summer.
FRIDAY: Israeli statesman Yossi Beilin turns 72… Rabbi Richard Litvak a/k/a Rabbi Rick turns 70… British Conservative MP Michael Fabricant turns 70… Dental consultant Kenneth Nussen turns 65… Peruvian banker and politician José Chlimper Ackerman turns 65… Member of the Knesset Hava Etti Atiya turns 60… CEO of Showtime David Nevins turns 54… Editor of Politico Carrie Budoff Brown turns 44… Singularity Communications consultant Eli Zupnick turns 37… Thrive Capital’s Joshua Kushner turns 35… Truman National Security Project’s Hanna Siegel turns 35… Co-creator of Mozilla Firefox Blake Aaron Ross turns 35… Canadian tech entrepreneur Michele Romanow turns 35… Oversight counsel at the House Ways and Means Committee Zachary Louis Baron turns 34… MBA candidate at Columbia Business School Alexis Rose Levinson turns 32… Montgomery County, Maryland’s Eli Glazier turns 30… Instagram influencer Tessa Nesis turns 27…
SATURDAY: Computer scientist at UCLA Leonard Kleinrock turns 86… Founder of Graff Diamonds Laurence Graff turns 82… Open Society Institute’s Morton Halperin turns 82… Source of Hope Foundation’s Stephen Robert turns 80… Ophthalmologist Michael J. Elman, MD turns 65… National Public Radio’s Mara Liasson turns 65… Co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, Ben Horowitz turns 54… CEO of Overtime Daniel Porter turns 54… Yoga instructor Jenny Eisen Verdery turns 53… Family Court Judge in Brooklyn Erik S. Pitchal turns 48… Los Angeles Times reporter Eli Stokols turns 41… JDS Development Group’s Michael Stern turns 41… Chief communications officer at WeWork Marissa Shorenstein turns 41… Actor Max Samuel Spielberg turns 35… “Two Broke Girls” star Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings, turns 34… ChangeUp Media’s Benjamin H. Weingarten turns 32… Retired NFL player Gabe Carimi turns 32… Samantha Magnes turns 25…
SUNDAY: Civil rights activist June Shagaloff Alexander turns 92… Writer Vladimir Minkov, Ph.D. turns 87… Former Member of Knesset Avraham (“Beiga”) Shochat turns 84… SVP at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles Dr. Beryl Geber turns 83… Former French diplomat Jean-David Levitte turns 74… Billionaire Sir Leonard “Len” Blavatnik turns 63… CEO at M+R Strategic Services Bill Wasserman turns 61… Head of news partnerships at Facebook Campbell Brown… SVP at Weber Shandwick Daniel M. Gaynor turns 39… Businessman Pavel Khodorkovsky turns 35… Deputy assistant secretary at HUD Paige Esterkin turns 30… Analyst at Salesforce Lilly Rapson turns 29… Campaign Inbox’s Julia Cohen turns 25… Freelance writer Liam Hoare… Joanna Lerner…