Good Wednesday morning!
Twitter announced Tuesday night that it had removed 7,000 accounts in recent weeks that had been spreading Qanon conspiracy theories and participating in coordinated harassment campaigns.
The London-based nonprofit Campaign Against Antisemitismclaims Twitter is locking accounts that display the Star of David in their profile or header because it violates the platform’s guidelines against “hateful imagery.” (See here for an example) Sources expect the company to retract this policy today.
The Israeli Knessetvoted in favor of legislation today that would criminalize the already-banned practice of conversion therapy, after a fiery hearing and angry protest from haredi lawmakers. Blue and White MKs voted in favor while Likud lawmakers — with the exception of Minister Amir Ohana, who defied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s orders — voted against.
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In the spotlight
The mayor of Minneapolis reflects on a tumultuous few months
It hasn’t been an easy few months for Jacob Frey. The 38-year-old Minneapolis mayor saw his city unravel this spring as demonstrators took to the streets en masse to protest the killing of George Floyd. Frey, who is in his first term, ran on a campaign to reform the police department, and supports the structural changes called for by activists. But on a Saturday in early June, he was booed out of a public demonstration in a tense moment that made national news. Reflecting on the episode a month later, Frey seemed calm during an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “These issues are controversial and they’re tough,” he said. “But that’s what I love.”
Carrying on: Asked if he was surprised by the reaction, Frey took the incident in stride. “As mayor, you’re frequently a focal point and a target from all sides,” he said. “In Minneapolis, we have a very activist-oriented and engaged community, so it’s not the first time I’ve been protested and it certainly won’t be the last… I was calm and I told the truth. By the way, I didn’t leave either. I was there for 45 minutes afterward answering every last question that any reporter or activist had for me. I do not hide from difficult situations just because the optics are tough.”
Unique position: Frey is only the second Jewish mayor of Minneapolis, a city that, he said, has a “fairly antisemitic history.” Still, until about a year ago, he didn’t really think of himself as a Jewish mayor. “Now, over the last year, the number of antisemitic attacks that we’ve been subjected to has been through the roof, whether it’s from the far right or the far left,” he told JI. “Usually, it’s from some of these Donald Trump supporters.” The attacks have caused him to rethink his personal relationship with Judaism. “That sort of ethnic and cultural identity,” he said, “has come to the forefront more over the last year for me personally.”
Baby on the way: Frey is expecting a baby with his wife, the lobbyist Sarah Clarke, in September, but in spite of the personal milestone, his focus over the past few months, he said, has been on governance. “Babies usually bring a sense of optimism, of hope, that the next generation will do things better than we have,” he told JI. “And that hope, that sense of optimism, is clearly in the back of my head right now, but front of mind is getting through these crises, with a complete transformation to how our city does business.”
Birthday boy: Frey’s birthday is tomorrow, but he said he has no plans to celebrate. “If I could grab a socially distanced beer with a few friends, I’d certainly welcome that,” he said. “Before all this, I was certainly looking forward to enjoying the full scope of summer, with events and activities and Pride Parade and Aquatennial, these big celebrations that we have, and just having this last summer where I don’t have a child and having any freedoms that are associated with that. And it clearly has not worked out that way.”
Nick Cannon visits Holocaust museum, pledges donation
After coming under intense fire for antisemitic comments made on his podcast, TV host Nick Cannon is working to make amends with the Jewish community. Cannon reached out to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the two met at Cannon’s home in Los Angeles last Thursday, Cooper told Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss. Cannon uploaded their nearly two-hour discussion to YouTube as the latest episode of his podcast “Cannon’s Class.”
Unintended hurt:“I know how you could have taken many of the things that I said as hate and propaganda, but that was never my heart and intentions,” Cannon told Cooper in the video. “I was talking about how amazing Black people were, but it hurt so many people that weren’t a part of that community while I was trying to encourage and uplift my own community.” He told Cooper: “I’m asking to be corrected from your community. Give me books. Teach me. I’m an empty vessel — an empty broken vessel. Teach me. Fix me. Lead me.”
Moving forward: Toward the end of their long conversation, Cooper told Cannon: “The core question for everybody in our community is… is he sincere? Is this real?” Cannon replied: “Do you feel I’m sincere?” and Cooper answered: “At this point, yes. If what I’m hearing is an interest and a commitment to want to do things together to move forward for the betterment of people, that’ll be the proof of the pudding.” On Monday, four days after their discussion, Cannon visited the Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance and met with founder Rabbi Marvin Hier. The SWC said that Cannon “generously made a pledge to donate his first paycheck from ‘The Masked Singer’ to support” its activities.
Working together: Cooper told JI he was hopeful his conversations with Cannon have opened the door to further interactions. Cannon also met with Richard Trank, head of the Wiesenthal Center’s film division, Moriah Films, to discuss collaborating on a future project to reach members of the Black and Jewish communities. “It’s not so much of changing minds, it’s a matter of opening up minds and opening up hearts,” Cooper said. “If you can do that, then we have a shot at it.”
On air: Radio host Howard Stern, a longtime friend of Cannon, weighed in on the controversy on his show Tuesday morning. Stern said he tried to call Cannon but never heard back from him, and hopes he is doing OK. “I don’t see Nick as a hateful guy. I honestly don’t,” Stern said. “I think he’s trying to find out some answers. I think he’s trying to figure it out. I think he’s also trying to figure out where he fits in.” Read more here.
Likud minister ‘worried’ about Biden rejoining Iran nuclear deal
Likud minister Tzachi Hanegbi said during a Zoom call hosted by American Friends of Likud on Tuesday that while the Israeli government has remained impartial ahead of the U.S. presidential election, he is concerned that the U.S. would rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran if former Vice President Joe Biden is elected.
Big mistake: “The issue that I feel a little worried about is the issue of the Iran deal. I hear candidate Biden and other officials in the Democratic Party that talk about going back to the JCPOA, which, in my opinion, would be a very, very big mistake,” Hanegbi said. “I am not so sure that Democrats don’t still believe, like they did during the Obama administration, that engaging with Iran, trying to appease Iran, is [a] policy that is good for the United States.”
Recalling events: Hanegbi, who serves as minister without portfolio in the prime minister’s office, recalled that he was the only member of the Knesset to attend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial address on Iran before a joint session of Congress in 2015, an event that was boycotted by the Obama administration and criticized by members of the Democratic Party. “I was mostly excited to see hundreds of members of Congress giving a standing ovation and [applauding] the prime minister, not as a gesture of being polite but realizing that everything that he said there was [true],” Hanegbi said, noting that “the majority of Democrats seemed to be very much impressed” by Netanyahu’s remarks. The Likud minister quipped that former President Barack Obama “was watching Netflix” while Netanyahu made his case against the Iran deal.
Annexation watch: Hanegbi said while negotiations between Netanyahu and the Trump administration on annexation are “the most secretive issue in the world,” he believes the prime minister is “very much committed to the issue of sovereignty. He believes that we cannot give the Palestinians a veto right and we need to take advantage of the fact that there is a very, very friendly administration, a very friendly president that understands the importance of sovereignty.”
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told Yediot Aharonot yesterday that there are currently “no discussions” in the cabinet about any such plan. “We are all committed, at this time, to addressing the [coronavirus] disease and the economy.”
🎤 Joining Voices: In The Colorado Sun, Kevin Simpson spotlights a synagogue and a Black church near Denver that held a “pulpit swap” and musical collaboration to build bridges between the communities. [ColoradoSun]
🥁 Making Noise: E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg spoke toThe Wall Street Journal’s Marc Meyers about his childhood in New Jersey. “My mother, Ruth, taught girls gym at a Newark high school… My father, Bert, owned and operated a summer camp.” [WSJ]
😨 Bad Memories:The Forward’s Molly Boigon speaks to members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn about their reluctance to fill out the census, in part due to a general distrust in government and fear that the past — when Jews were rounded up and persecuted — could repeat itself. [Forward]
💻 Cutting Out:Cantor Mark Kushner, a full-time mohel, tellsMel magazine that the biggest benefit of conducting a bris on Zoom, the new norm during the pandemic, is that the chatter of the guests can be muted. [Mel]
Around the Web
💰 Big Bucks: The Israeli-founded insurance startup Hippo — a competitor of Israel’s Lemonade — has been valued at $1.5 billion.
🚖 Road Ahead: Israel-based taxi app Gett has raised $100 million as it plans to continue investing in its B2B business.
💊 Startup Nation: AMoon, Israel’s largest health-geared venture capital fund, has raised $750 million for its latest fund.
🎶 Taking Action: The Warner Music Group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation are partnering up to create a joint $100 million social justice fund.
🖼️ Cashing In: Billionaire Ron Perelman is looking to sell two modern paintings that could go for up to $53 million as he reworks his assets.
📰 Media Watch: A group of Wall Street Journal reporters have asked the paper’s new publisher to make the division between its news and opinion content more clear.
📚 Claims Dept: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, claims in a lawsuit that he was sent back to jail to prevent him from publishing a book highlighting antisemitic and racist remarks made by the president.
💰 New Clients: Lobbyist Matt Schlapp, who lost many clients over his comments on Black Lives Matter, has picked up business from the president and from the Triple Five Group, which owns both the Mall of America in Minnesota and the American Dream complex in New Jersey.
⛳ Sand Trap: U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Woody Johnson reportedly told colleagues that President Trump had requested he ask the U.K. government to move the annual British Open golf tournament to a Trump-owned property in Scotland.
⚔️ Corona Clash:The Blue and White Party is hoping Netanyahu will acquiesce to demands to hand over COVID-19 containment measures to the IDF. Meanwhile, Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton has drawn ire from her party for undermining government decisions on the pandemic.
🚫 Attack Foiled: Israel said Iran and Hezbollah were involved in planning to kidnap an Israeli soldier to use as a bargaining chip for releasing Palestinian prisoners.
💸 Admission: The Netherlands admitted to paying part of the salaries of two Palestinian terrorists responsible for the murder of 17-year-old Israeli Rina Shnerb in the West Bank last year.
🧑⚖️ Justice Served: The Palestinian terrorist who killed American-Israeli settler Ari Fuld was handed a life sentence yesterday.
⚖️ In Court: Stephan Balliet, the man who killed two bystanders after failing to gain entry to a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur last year, used racist slurs during the opening of his trial yesterday.
🎓 Cancel Culture:A British university lecturer who was fired for controversial comments, including that Jews “are the cleverest people in the world,” lost his wrongful termination suit.
🍲 Helping Hand: Former ADL national director Abe Foxman has joined the Met Council to lead a $28 million initiative to distribute food to Holocaust survivors in need during the pandemic.
🍽️ Hearty Appetite: Restaurateur Danny Meyer announced he will end the no-tips policy at his Union Square Hospitality Group’s restaurants due to the economic crisis.
Pic of the Day
General treasurer of the state of Rhode Island, Seth Magaziner turns 37…
Israeli theatre and film actress, Gila Almagor turns 81… Retired member of the UK Parliament, Anthony Steen CBE turns 81… Historian and professor, Judith Walzer Leavitt turns 80… British biochemist, Sir Philip Cohen turns 75… Actor, director and comedian, Albert Brooks turns 73… Past president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit, Richard Martin Nodel turns 72… Pianist and composer, Alan Menken turns 71… Owner of Seven Mile Market, Hershel Boehm turns 70… Managing director of a public affairs firm in Munich, Germany, Terry Swartzberg turns 67… Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Amy Berman Jackson turns 66… Member of AJC’s Jewish Religious Equality Coalition, Cindy Masters turns 62… Former secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin turns 61… Attorney focused on Internet law and domain name litigation, Stevan Lieberman turns 55…
Television journalist and news anchor, David Shuster turns 53… Owner of West Bloomfield-based Saltsman Industries, Daniel A. Saltsman turns 46… Former Pentagon official, Jonathan Freeman turns 45… Contemporary artist living in Brooklyn, Dustin Yellin turns 45… Director of the field operations team at the Pew Charitable Trust, Elise Rachel Shutzer turns 40… Supervising writer for VICE News Tonight, Reid Cherlin turns 39… White House correspondent for Newsweek, Andrew Grant Feinberg turns 38… Executive director of the American Sephardi Federation, Jason Guberman-Pfeffer turns 33… CEO and co-founder of n*gram health, Maor Cohen turns 30… Talia Thurm Abramson turns 29… Serial entrepreneur and product strategist, Yoela Palkin turns 28… Actor and voice actor, Skyler Gisondo turns 24… Senior editor at The Wall Street Journal, Warren Bass… Michael Suissa…