Good Monday morning!
Polish President Andrzej Duda has narrowly won re-election over his rival, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski. Poland’s small Jewish community was a contentious topic in the election until the final days of the campaign.
The Biden campaignhas hired Aaron Keyak, former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, as its Jewish outreach director.
Foreign policy advisors to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tell Axios that if elected, he will drastically pivot from Trump’s approach and push for “a re-engagement with the world and an effort to rebuild those alliances.”
The Washington Redskins and owner Dan Snyder are expected to announce today that they will change the team’s name after years of complaints due to renewed pressure amid a nationwide reckoning on racism.
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Nick Cannon spreads antisemitic conspiracy theories online
TV host and actor Nick Cannon is facing backlash after video of him sharing antisemitic conspiracy theories and praising virulent antisemite Louis Farrakhan has resurfaced in recent days.
Details: Cannon — who currently hosts “The Masked Singer” on Fox and previously hosted “America’s Got Talent” on NBC — spoke with Richard Griffin, aka Professor Griff, on a recent episode of “Cannon’s Class,” the TV host’s YouTube talk show. Cannon appears to have filmed the video last year, and reposted it to his channel a few weeks ago — where it gained renewed attention over the weekend.
Background: Griffin was a member of the hip hop group Public Enemy until the late 1980s, when he was ousted over antisemitic remarks he made in a series of interviews, including a 1989 interview with The Washington Times in which he said that Jews are responsible for “the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe.” Griffin told Cannon that during that now-infamous interview, he was merely “speaking facts” about who controls the music industry: “I’m hated now because I told the truth.” In the reposted video with Cannon, the TV host praised Griffin for having “the most substance and weight in speaking unapologetically… and you stuck to your guns.”
Spreading hate: Cannon later referenced “going as deep as the Rothschilds, centralized banking, the 13 families, the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America.” Cannon claimed that when people understand who the real Jewish people are, “it’s never hate speech, you can’t be antisemitic when we are the semitic people. When we are the same people who they want to be. That’s our birthright.” He later added that “we are the true Hebrews.” The TV host also spoke about “giving too much power to the ‘they’ — and then the ‘they’ turns into the Illuminati, the Zionists, the Rothschilds.”
Reaction: Rabbi David Wolpe, the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, told JI’s Amy Spiro that the comments in the video “are a lamentable combination of ignorance and hostility.” In comments to JI, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said “anyone seeking a Ph.D in Jew-hatred should watch this ‘interview’ in its entirety. Farrakhan’s hateful screeds on full display in the next generation, inculcating [the] 21st century through cultural figures and social media. Pure poison.”
Elsewhere: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has accepted an invitation from Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg to visit Auschwitz after facing backlash for posting a fake Hitler quote on Instagram. The Eagles stated on Friday that they “penalized” Jackson for his social media posts, without elaborating on the punishment.
Race to Watch
In runoff, Air Force veteran and longtime state politician vie to unseat a powerful Republican senator
In a Texas primary runoff on Tuesday, two Democrats — M.J. Hegar, a white, female veteran of the United States Air Force, and Royce West, an African-American state politician — are competing for the chance to go up against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the powerful Republican incumbent who has held onto his seat for nearly two decades, in November. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel spoke to both contenders ahead of the upcoming contest.
Frontrunner: The most recent polling on the race found that Hegar leads her opponent by a comfortable margin of 12 points. Hegar, a Purple Heart recipient who completed three tours of duty in Afghanistan, is the candidate with the most out-of-state institutional support. She is backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as well as Emily’s List, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and J Street. In 2018, Hegar ran for Congress in the state’s 31st congressional district — attracting national attention with a viral ad — but lost by less than 3 percentage points to Rep. John Carter (R-TX).
Eyes abroad: In an interview with JI last week, Hegar expressed concerns about “racial injustice,” but seemed more at ease discussing foreign policy, including her support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Criticizing Trump’s Middle East peace plan, Hegar said, “I’m going to advocate for policies that come from national security experts and advance the long-term goal of peace without sacrificing safety. I don’t believe his plan does that.” Hegar added that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal was a mistake. “It wasn’t perfect,” she said. “I do think it was a practical step in the right direction. The president acting unilaterally to abandon it and escalate confrontation with Iran — which he’s shown a willingness to continue to do — has really put troops and our allies at risk.”
Not as familiar: West, who has brought in nearly $1.8 million in donations — still trailing Hegar’s $6.6 million haul — was more comfortable discussing police reform than foreign policy in his interview with JI. He supports a two-state solution and expressed a desire to visit Israel if he is elected to the Senate. “Israel is our strongest Democratic ally in the Middle East, and so America should be supportive of Israel,” he said. West also appeared to support rejoining the Iran nuclear deal, but seemed somewhat hazy on what that would involve. “The fact is, I don’t know all the details of the plan, but any type of plan that we have can always be reviewed to improve upon,” he said.
Uphill battle: Even if Hegar emerges victorious on Tuesday, Cornyn will be tough to unseat in the general election, according to Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston. “He’s got pole position — more money, better name identification and a veteran Texas campaign operation — he can define [Hegar] early and she might not have the money to respond unless she can raise Beto money,” Rottinghaus told JI, referring to former presidential candidate and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who raised more than $80 million in his unsuccessful bid to oust Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Driving the Convo
Are the walls caving in on Iran’s regime?
A series of mysterious blasts at sites across Iran in recent weeks have led to speculation that the U.S. and Israel may have launched a covert sabotage campaign against Tehran’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, Iran is reportedly close to inking a wide-ranging security and economic partnership with China. Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh checked in with experts to provide insight into the latest developments.
Wait and see approach: Iran’s reluctance to lay the blame on America and its allies and the lack of immediate retaliation suggests the ayatollahs are waiting to see the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November, posited Danielle Pletka, senior fellow of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. “Right now, Iran’s posture is to wait out [President Donald] Trump. If he loses, [Joe] Biden’s on the hot seat. If not, Iran has to rethink everything,” Pletka told JI.
Crippling sanctions: Some American security analysts suggest the walls seem to be caving in on Iran. “It’s increasingly clear that President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign is working,” said Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member of Trump’s National Security Council. Nazee Moinian, an Iranian native and a former consultant to the Council on Foreign Relations, told JI that while the U.S. sanctions have clearly “been effective” in hurting the Iranian regime, it’s “too early to tell if the walls are caving in. The news of the Islamic Regime’s demise has repeatedly been exaggerated. But one can clearly see that the Iranian economy is in a downward spiral.”
New alliances:The New York Times reported on Saturday that Iran and China have quietly drafted a sweeping economic and security partnership that would result in billions of dollars in revenue for Iran from Chinese investments in energy, banking and other sectors. The Washington Institute’s Patrick Clawson explained that “Iranian officials are exuding confidence that their strategy is working — that the U.S. is in decline at home and abroad and they have figured out how to do well despite the U.S. maximum pressure.” But FDD’s Goldberg noted that “the bad news for both Iran and China is this: U.S. sanctions already make most deals very difficult to pull off and once the leaked agreement is translated and analyzed, it will become a roadmap for U.S. financial warriors at Treasury and State.”
Ethan Felson, the new head of A Wider Bridge, is ready to confront anti-Zionism in LGBTQ spaces
Ethan Felson, the former executive director of the Israel Action Network, assumes a new role today as the executive director of A Wider Bridge, an organization focused on creating connections between LGBTQ+ leaders and Israel. Felson spoke to Jewish Insider’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen about the goals and challenges he will face in his new role.
Background: Felson replaces Tyler Gregory, who left A Wider Bridge earlier this year to head the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco. Felson, 54, joined the Israel Action Network, an arm of the Jewish Federations of North America focused on advocacy and coalition building, in 2016 after 15 years at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Prior to joining the JCPA, he worked as director of the Hartford Jewish Community Relations Council.
Full selves: Felson, who worked at the Human Rights Campaign in the 1980s, told JI: “We don’t have to compartmentalize our passions or identities. We need to be our full selves and AWB helps make that possible.” He rejected the claim that AWB is funded by the Israeli government or controlled by outside groups. “The work AWB does is not at the behest of anyone,” Felson told JI. “It’s because of fervently held beliefs, that these are stories that need to be told and information that needs to be shared.”
Building bridges: Felson intends to continue the group’s approach to Israel advocacy by focusing on building relationships between individuals rather than directly addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Having a platform that doesn’t look at every issue through a conflict lens but through a relationship can be transformative,” Felson told JI. “People learn from hearing different voices and we stand for that. At the same time, we’re not going to be silenced by anyone.”
🚴♂️ Mass Appeal: Canadian-Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams spoke to AFP about his efforts to serve as an unofficial ambassador for Israel on the global stage through cultural and sporting events. “I’m trying to appeal to very large audiences,” he said. “I don’t want to convince people one at a time. It’s just too slow and I’m too old.” [AFP]
🎥 Final Act: The late comedian Carl Reiner’s last recorded gig was a quarantine-filmed charity project remake of his son Rob Reiner’s iconic 1987 film “The Princess Bride,” in which the 98-year-old portrayed the grandfather in the movie’s poignant final scene. [VanityFair]
👨💼 Man With a Plan? The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar spoke to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about the immense challenges of economic recovery amid COVID-19. “If we have a vaccine in December or January, I think we’re going to have a much faster economic recovery,” he said. “I don’t really want to speculate on where we are next year.” [NewYorker]
🙏 Keeping the Faith: In The Wall Street Journal, Allan Ripp tells the story of his friend Bina, a Holocaust survivor who fled Vienna in 1938 on the Kindertransport. “Not such a happy story, is it?” she told Ripp. “But Hashem still has a plan and you need to pray every day.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
🏫 Religious Freedom: Jewish groups celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru, which ruled that religious schools are exempt from discrimination laws when it comes to employment of teachers.
✈️ Sky High: Eli Rozenberg, the 30-year-old son of Kenny (Naftali) Rozenberg, founder of the Center HealthCare nursing home chain in the U.S., is in talks to buy the struggling El Al.
⚕️Iron Protection: Daniel Gold, the inventor of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, has embarked on a mission to discover a coronavirus “game-changer.”
⚾ In Play: Billionaire Steve Cohen has made the highest bid out of groups interested in the first round of bidding to purchase the Mets.
👨💻 WeWork Again: After a turbulent year, WeWork is now on track to make positive gains next year, predicted company chairman Marcelo Claure.
⚔️ Friendly Competition: Marc Benioff’s Salesforce has managed this year to stay ahead of its longtime competitor, Larry Ellison’s Oracle.
💰Open Wallet:George Soros’s Open Society Foundations is pledging to invest $220 million in efforts to advance racial justice.
👎 Hate Continues: The NYPD is looking for three suspects who beat up an Orthodox Jewish man while yelling antisemitic slurs in Brooklyn on Saturday.
🕍 Talk of the Town: The St. Louis couple who confronted protesters with firearms during a Black Lives Matters march last month have a history of disputes, including destroying a beehive outside a local synagogue ahead of Rosh Hashanah.
🏢 Pink Slip: The Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center of Manhattan has laid off or furloughed 72 staffers in the wake of COVID-19.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond:Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a member of Keir Starmer’s shadow government, has apologized for saying that Zionism is a “dangerous nationalist idea.”
🖼️ On the Market: Sotheby’s is set to auction off a £4 million painting after it was returned to the heirs of the Jewish retail magnate who was forced to sell it in 1938 to Hitler’s art dealer.
💍 Engaged: Actress Nicola Peltz, daughter of financier Nelson Peltz, and Brooklyn Beckham, son of David and Victoria Beckham, announced their engagement over the weekend.
🕯️Remembering: Herman Benson, a union democracy pioneer, died at age 104. Ida Haendel, a legendary Polish-British violinist, died at age 96. Holocaust survivor Magda Brown died at age 93. Edward Kleinbard, a U.S. tax lawyer, died at 68 after a battle with cancer.
Pic of the Day
Thousands of protesters gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday night to criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the COVID-19 economic fallout. Netanyahu pledged immediate relief yesterday for the self-employed, while Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz called for an immediate 10-day lockdown to halt the spike in new cases.
One of the highest box-office grossing actors, his maternal grandmother was a Jewish immigrant from Minsk, Harrison Ford turns 78…
Retired teacher and president of the San Fernando Valley Council of Na’amat USA, Zita Gluskin turns 94… Scottsdale, Arizona resident and retired teacher, Howie K. Kipnes turns 81… Ridgefield, Connecticut resident, Louis Panzer turns 74… Co-host of “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN, Tony Kornheiser turns 72… Manager of regulatory and legislative affairs at PJM Interconnection, Stuart Widom turns 63… Television executive and producer, Carolyn Strauss turns 57… Film director and screenwriter, Shari Springer Berman turns 57…
Television writer, David X. Cohen turns 54… Owner of the D.C. area franchise of SafeSplash Swim Schools, Jennifer Rebecca Goodman Lilintahl turns 40… Founder of Omanut Consulting, Sarah Persitz turns 35… Creator, writer and producer of the TV show “Casual,” Alexander “Zander” Sutton Lehmann turns 33… Managing partner of Surround Ventures, Jared Kash turns 27… Television and film actor, Wyatt Jess Oleff turns 17… Founding partner and CEO of Trinnacle Capital Management, Eric A. Kohlmann… Director of development at Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County (FL), Yishai Mizrahi…