Good Thursday morning!
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburghas been discharged from the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and is “home and doing well,” a Supreme Court spokesperson said.
President Donald Trump has ousted Brad Parscale as his campaign manager as polls show the president lagging behind Joe Biden, a move pushed for by Jared Kushner, who many see as “the de facto campaign manager.”
On Capitol Hill, the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, chaired by Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), is holding a hearing on the threats posed by militia extremists and accelerationists.
Spread the word! Invite your friends to sign up and earn JI swag through our Ambassador program
POWERING ONLINE PAYMENTS
How a small New Jersey bank cornered the fintech and e-commerce markets
Even if you haven’t heard of Affirm — the lending startup launched in 2012 by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin — you’ve likely seen its logo on the checkout page of an online order. But you might not know that Affirm — along with a number of other fintech companies— is underwritten by a small commercial bank run by Orthodox Jews and headquartered across the Hudson River in Fort Lee, N.J. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel spoke with key figures at Cross River bank about how it punches well above its weight.
Invisible powerhouse: Cross River has established itself as something of an invisible powerhouse in the fintech world since it was founded a mere 12 years ago, with dozens of lending partners including Upstart, Rocket Loans and Upgrade. “At the end of the day,” said Phil Goldfeder, vice president of government affairs at Cross River and a former New York State assemblyman, “we’re the community bank behind a lot of the financial technology companies that are operating.”
Filling a niche: In its capacity as a lender to other lenders, Cross River, which employs 320 people, occupies a rarefied place in the banking world. For logistical and legal reasons, most tech startups can’t make loans on their own. That’s where Cross River comes in, offering access to banking networks for companies that would otherwise struggle to overcome complex regulatory hurdles. Investors seem to think they are onto something. In 2018, the bank secured $100 million in funding from high profile firms including KKR, LionTree Partners and Andreessen Horowitz.
Community service: Cross River was founded amid the Great Recession “with a singular focus on community service,” Gilles Gade, the French-born founder and CEO of Cross River, told Jewish Insider. Over the past decade, Cross River has expanded its portfolio of fintech partners by orders of magnitude, while also maintaining its foundational identity as a sort of community bank with ties to the area.
PPP pros: In recent months, Cross River has worked tirelessly to secure loans through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which helps businesses stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. Though the bank’s individual PPP loans are relatively small, averaging in size below $39,000, the company has processed nearly 146,000 loans as of this week, according to a company spokeswoman. That number puts Cross River fourth in line nationwide behind the financial juggernauts Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, which have collectively underwritten nearly 790,000 loans at an average rate, respectively, of approximately $56,000, $75,500 and $107,300, according to data from the Small Business Administration.
Stepping up: All told, Cross River has doled out a staggering $5.5 billion in PPP loans. “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on businesses across the country and we immediately recognized how to leverage our own technology, knowledge of fintech and expansive relationships to ensure wide access to PPP loans,” said Gade. “True to our roots, our team stepped up when others refused, ensuring that every small business in need had the resources and opportunity to receive funding, regardless of size or location.”
After speaking with SWC’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Nick Cannon issues apology
Hours after an angry online tirade following his firing by ViacomCBS, TV host Nick Cannon returned to social media to issue an apology to the Jewish community following a conversation with Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss spoke with Cooper about his interaction with the embattled celebrity.
Walking back: “On my podcast I used words & referenced literature I assumed to be factual to uplift my community [which] instead turned out to be hateful propaganda and stereotypical rhetoric that pained another community,” Cannon wrote. “For this I am deeply sorry but now together we can write a new chapter of healing.” Cannon admitted that the comments he made “reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from.” He added that he had removed the video in question from YouTube.
Owning up: Cooper told JI that Cannon reached out to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. But before their conversation took place, the center sent Cannon a list✎ EditSign of hateful remarks that Louis Farrakhan has made over the years. “If you want to talk, I’d like to make sure you read that first,” Cooper said he told Cannon. “If someone is interested in talking and moving forward and doing things together, the first thing that has to happen is there has to be an apology,” Cooper said, noting that he gave Cannon “a little lesson in Judaism 101. Which is, I think one of the greatest gifts that we gave to the world is the notion that a person can change and you can repent and you do so by owning up to what you did.”
Changing tone: Earlier Wednesday, Cannon fired back angrily after he was fired by ViacomCBS. In a lengthy Facebook post, Cannon said that a moment that could have been about reconciliation “was stolen and highjacked (sic) to make an example of an outspoken black man. I will not be bullied, silenced, or continuously oppressed by any organization, group, or corporation,” he added. “I am disappointed that Viacom does not understand or respect the power of the black community.”
Not canceled: While ViacomCBS has cut ties with Cannon, Fox is standing by him after his apology. On Wednesday, Fox issued a statement that Cannon would continue to host and executive produce “The Masked Singer” following his apology. “When we were made aware of Nick Cannon’s interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick,” the network said in a statement. “He is clear and remorseful that his words were wrong and lacked both understanding and context, and inadvertently promoted hate… On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly.”
Changing channels: The fate of Cannon’s new talk show, produced by Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury and slated to launch in September on Fox channels, was not immediately clear. Debmar-Mercury did not respond to a request for comment from JI. After ViacomCBS effectively canceled Cannon’s VH1 show “Wild ‘N Out,” the rapper Diddy offered him a new home at his TV network, Revolt TV. “I am here to support you fully in any way you need,” he wrote. Diddy’s Revolt TV is the network that aired Farrakhan’s live speech earlier this month, after the Fox Soul channel pulled it from air amid protests.
Guilt by association: Basketball Hall of Famer and former Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson posted a photo with Farrakhan to his 8 million Instagram followers on Tuesday. The photo, taken on an unknown date, was accompanied by the comment “I didn’t choose to be black. I just got lucky!!!” An hour after posting, embattled fellow former NBA player Stephen Jackson commented on the post “Love u bro.” Philadelphia Eagles star DeSean Jackson, who last week apologized for his own antisemitic post, also appeared to initially like✎ EditSign the photo, but later removed his like without explanation.
DNC advances its 2020 platform, including a pro-Israel plank, by unanimous consent
The Democratic National Committee advanced the party’s 2020 platform following a vote by members of the drafting committee to approve the language during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh reports.
Language on Israeli-Palestinian issue: The platform’s Israel plank — a draft of which was obtained by Jewish Insider — includes language that expresses support for the U.S.-Israel alliance, a commitment to security funding for Israel and support for the two-state solution “that ensures Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state with recognized borders and upholds the right of Palestinians to live in freedom and security in a viable state of their own.” The platform also notes opposition to “unilateral steps by either side — including annexation — that undermine prospects for two states” and opposition to “settlement expansion.”
On the issue of Jerusalem, the Israel plank states, “We believe that while Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The language expresses opposition to “any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, while protecting the constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.”
Bernie camp hopes: Josh Orton, a senior advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and one of 15 members of the panel, was hopeful that wording referencing “occupation” and support for Palestinian rights would be added in the final draft ahead of the July 27 vote by the full 187-member platform committee. “Ending the occupation is an issue of racial justice, and at a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans have been marching in our streets for equality and civil rights, it is absolutely necessary for the Democratic Party to speak truthfully to the policy efforts to secure those same rights [to the Palestinian people],” Orton told the committee. J Street echoed the same sentiment in a statement to JI.
View from Ramallah: Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said on Wednesday that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would need to undo the Trump administration’s moves regarding Israel in order to restore trust in the Middle East peace process. “If Mr. Biden wins, the first thing he needs to do is to reopen the American consulate in East Jerusalem, open the [PLO] mission in Washington, reiterate the U.S. position of two states on the 1967 borders — states with mutually agreed swaps by the two sides — and no side should take any steps that may unilaterally impede, preempt or prejudge these issues,” Erekat said during a Zoom call hosted by the Arab Center Washington DC.
Waiting out: Erekat, who serves as chief Palestinian negotiator, said he is in close contact with Democratic Party officials and Jewish American leaders about preserving the prospects of peace. Erekat said Palestinian leadership has been “encouraged” by recent letters sent by members of Congress to the Israeli government and the Trump administration cautioning against unilateral annexation. “We do a lot with it here in our papers to tell Palestinians, ‘Look, what Trump did is not who the U.S. is. These are the American voices that you should listen to. They are with you. You’re not alone’ — because you want to keep hope alive in the minds of people here,” he said.
With outside help, Antone Melton-Meaux outraises incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar
Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, has a 2-1 upper hand in campaign cash over the first-term incumbent with less than a month to go until the August 11 primary.
Money game: In the last filing quarter, between April and June, the first-time candidate raised a whopping $3.2 million, including $2 million cash on hand. In the same period, Omar raised only $471,600, and remains with a little over $1 million cash on hand, according to the recent FEC filings.
Building momentum: “Our fundraising strength has given us the resources to build an organization and volunteer network to carry Antone’s message to every corner of this district,” the Melton-Meaux campaign told Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh. “Through every channel available we are connecting with voters and have a ground game that will be able to turn out our supporters more and more as we approach election day.”
National referendum: Melton-Meaux told JI that the influx of outside money — only $323,310 in contributions come from Minnesota — is an indication that the race is “becoming a referendum on standing up to the politics of division at the national level.” In recent weeks, Melton-Meaux has managed to raise his profile as a viable candidate against Omar. Nonpartisan pro-Israel groups like NORPAC and Pro-Israel America, among others, have hosted virtual fundraisers for the candidate.
Spending spree: With the financial backing, Melton-Meaux said he’s managed to invest in resources to connect with voters in the district, despite the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign told JI on Wednesday it plans to use the bulk of the money on integrated paid, earned, social and owned media to get out the vote. Last month, Melton-Meaux’s campaign released two television ads highlighting his background as a mediator — a skill set, he said, he wants to bring to a divided Washington. “That energy and enthusiasm for a better kind of representation is what will ultimately lead us to victory in August,” Melton-Meaux said.
Read more here.
Backing Omar: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) released a video yesterday endorsing Omar’s re-election. “Ilhan has been subjected to more vile and racist attacks than any other member of Congress,” Sanders noted, “and she has responded with incredible dignity and pride that should make the people of her state and her district extraordinarily proud of her.”
🤳 Fighting Back: Writing for NBC News, Israel activist Hen Mazzig explains how Jewish Twitter users, including celebrities Sarah Silverman, Josh Gad and David Simon, reclaimed the white supremacist hashtag, #JewishPrivilege, and turned it into “an educational moment.” [NBC]
🤷♂️ Gone Missing: Months after quitting the 2020 presidential race and pledging to support the Democratic nominee to defeat President Donald Trump, Mike Bloomberg is nowhere to be found. The Daily Beast’s Hunter Woodall and Lachlan Markay take a close look at how Bloomberg has come up short on his prior commitments to put his personal fortune to good use. [DailyBeast]
🎮 Gamer Gear: Emanuel Maiberg explores in Vice the political undertones of the popular new post apocalyptical video game “The Last of Us Part II,” and its underlying echoes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict showcased as an ongoing “cycle of violence.” [Vice]
Around the Web
🛬 Grounded: El Al announced today that it was extending its suspension of all flights through the end of August, as it continues its government bailout talks.
☢️ Talk of the Region: The head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said that if Iran doesn’t allow access to nuclear sites by the end of the month, it will face serious consequences.
📰 Byline Bust: Reuters has exposed a deepfake campaign that succeeded in publishing articles in The Algemeiner, The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post.
💵 Bibi Handout: Against the objections of his Blue and White partners, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday immediate direct stimulus payments to all Israelis.
👨 Holding Options: White House senior advisor Jared Kushner has decided to remain an investor in Cadre, the real estate tech start-up he co-founded.
⚾ Game Changer: Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and private equity giant Silver Lake Partners have reportedly partnered with a group led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, the respective owners of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers, in a bid to buy the Mets. Spokespersons for Adelson and Silver Lake denied the rumors.
🙅♀️ Push Back: Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson rejected Bari Weiss’s allegations of bias at the newspaper in an interview with Fox News.
🤐 Opposing View: Forward editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren, a former associate managing editor at TheNew York Times, writes that Weiss’s claims about the paper leave her “terrified.”
📶 Rebooting: Israel’s new communications minister is seeking to upgrade the country’s heavily outdated telecoms infrastructure, which has been partly held up due to ongoing corruption investigations into Netanyahu’s involvement with Bezeq.
👨🏫 Teachable Tenure: Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon told The Washington Post that he dedicated a lot of effort during his years at Turtle Bay to educate his colleagues about the dangers of antisemitism.
🚨 Red Light: Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly is warning Jewish communities across America to implement security measures in synagogues to protect themselves.
🇨🇦 Global Hate: The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Canada has filed a police complaint against the leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party for a flyer using antisemitic language.
🕯️Remembering: Mike Vigoda, founder and owner of Israeli chain Mike’s Place, died of apparent suicide.
Pic of the Day
Actors Michael Aloni and Shira Haas pose for a photo on the set of “Shtisel,” where filming of the long-delayed third season began this week.
Chair of United Israel Appeal, Cynthia D. Shapira turns 65…
Former State Department official under JFK and LBJ and then managing editor of TheNew York Times, James L. Greenfield turns 96… Billionaire real estate developer and former member of Knesset, Ze’ev Stef Wertheimer turns 94… One of the three co-founders of Comcast Corporation, Julian A. Brodsky turns 87… World-renowned violinist and conductor, Pinchas Zukerman turns 72… Co-creator of the first-ever spreadsheet program (VisiCalc), Dan Bricklin turns 69… Senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Douglas J. Feith turns 67… Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, Rabbi Keith Stern turns 66… British solicitor advocate, Anthony Julius turns 64… Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and screenwriter, Tony Kushner turns 64…
Former U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon David Sondland turns 63… Professor of psychology and philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Carlo Strenger turns 62… Retired airline executive at Northwest and Delta, Andrea Fischer Newman turns 62… Former president of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, Doug Herzog turns 61… Co-founder of Ares Management, he is the owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, Tony Ressler turns 61… Chairman of BHB Holdings, and Chair of the AJC’s Board of Trustees, Matthew Bronfman turns 61… Canadian journalist working for CNN International, Jonathan Mann turns 60… Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, Yizhar Nitzan Shai turns 57… Chief of Staff of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Jim Rosenberg turns 53… Chicago based philanthropist, Victoria Rivka Zell turns 52…
Former NFL offensive lineman, now a division manager at Premier Mortgage Group in Boulder, Colorado, Ariel Solomon turns 52… Israeli former professional tennis player, Anna Smashnova turns 44… Founder of Pinkitzel, a cupcake cafe, candy boutique and gift store located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Jonathan Jantz turns 42… National political reporter for The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher turns 37… Marketing and communications strategist at Meteorite Social Impact Advisors, Steven Max Levine turns 36… White House staff assistant and liaison to the Jewish community in the Bush 43 administration, now head of sales at Voxie, Scott Raymond Arogeti turns 36… Managing Director at Vine Capital Management LP, Eric Reiner turns 29… VP of strategy and operations for healthcare legal solutions at Guidepoint, Chantal Low Katz...