Good Monday morning!
Following JI’s report on Friday morning, which detailed an effort led by student activists at Columbia University to cancel the class taught by lecturer Mitch Silber, the university issued a letter exonerating Silber. Read the report and preface from administrators here.
The DNC platform committee is meeting virtually this afternoon to vote on the 2020 platform.
At 4:30 p.m. ET today, seven of the candidates competing for Rep. Joe Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts’s 4th congressional district will appear at a virtual forum hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
Five of the candidates in the Massachusetts 4th race have already completed Jewish Insider’s candidate questionnaire (all questionnaire responses are accessible on JI’s election map) including Jake Auchincloss, Dave Cavell, Jesse Mermell, and Alan Khazei.
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol today and tomorrow.
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Walter Mosley on the DSA wave that defeated him and other New York State legislators
A little over two years ago, New York Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D-Brooklyn) stood on the main stage at AIPAC’s policy conference in Washington, D.C., where he was recognized as one of the group’s leading African-American activists. Last week, Mosley, 52, lost his reelection bid to a 31-year-old primary challenger, a nurse named Phara Souffrant Forrest, who was backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh late last week, Mosley said there was nothing he could have done to win a race that was influenced by a wave of anti-establishment sentiment.
Red flag wave: “When you’re dealing with those types of outside forces, coupled with the exorbitant number of people who are first time and ideologically-driven voters, there is nothing that I could have done from a campaigning perspective that would have changed people’s minds,” he said. Five DSA-backed candidates won their races in the June 23 New York state primary.
Bumpy road ahead: Mosley expressed concern that the newly elected DSA-aligned lawmakers will not just try to push their agenda in Albany, but also influence other statewide lawmakers and future candidates. “You know, a lot of it is about self-preservation, about how I can keep my feet,” he explained. “You have members who are currently sitting in the Assembly, who have befriended DSA and their affiliates that you have to concern yourself with their allegiance and and their priorities. If you’re a younger person who’s in the legislature, maybe your alignment is with DSA because you know they’re going to be around, potentially, for a very long time.”
Record on Israel: In 2015, Mosley — who was first elected in 2012 to succeed the now-chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), in the 57th Assembly district — was the lead sponsor, along with former Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, of a resolution that rejected the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. In 2017, Mosley earned AIPAC’s Ralph Bunche Award, which recognizes African-American activists who work to advance the U.S.-Israel relationship. Mosley told JI that Israel didn’t come up in the race, except when his opponent, Souffrant Forrest, filled out a questionnaire for DSA. “She clearly stated that she was supportive of BDS,” he said.
Departing message: “It is time for other people to step up and it’s time for other people to show themselves as friends of Israel even as the Assembly changes,” Mosley told JI. Mosley, who visited Israel in 2018 as part of an Assembly delegation, urged his colleagues to do the same and “meet with Israelis, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, talk to members of the Knesset from both sides, and formulate your opinion like that. But don’t allow others to formulate it based upon what they think you should hear and through their mouth.”
Bonus: State Senator Julia Salazar, who became the first DSA-backed candidate to win a seat in the legislature in 2018, toldThe City, “What I know is what we’ll see is a bunch of new people in office who are not accountable to the establishment or to people who are maybe too comfortable with the status quo.”
Investigating the mysterious man behind the Drudge Report
Journalists know a link in the Drudge Report is the ne plus ultra of online engagement, but few reporters know much about Matt Drudge, the press-shy media mogul behind the barebones news aggregation site. So it was no surprise that Drudge ignored Matthew Lysiak’s repeated requests for an interview as Lysiak was working on a new biography, The Drudge Revolution, which will be published tomorrow. Lysiak sent Drudge “a billion emails” and personally showed up at his properties in Florida and Arizona. “Absolutely no response,” Lysiak told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent phone conversation.
Write-around: Lysiak, 42, made do without his subject’s cooperation, interviewing more than 200 sources including Joseph Curl, “the only full-time employee ever employed by the Drudge Report,” according to the book, which is being adapted into a film. “The story I found out was really more than the story of this remarkable individual who, through sheer force of will, was able to usurp an entire media industry and kind of turn it on its head,” Lysiak told JI. “But also, it told this broader story about the populist movement in journalism that, I think, you can say directly led to the election of Trump.”
Background: Drudge, who was born in Maryland, fought hard for his own relevance. “Nothing was handed to him,” said Lysiak, noting that Drudge came from a “dysfunctional family” and didn’t attend college. Drudge got his first few scoops by sifting through the trash in search of Nielsen ratings when he was a gift shop clerk at CBS Studios. It was this DIY approach that influenced a whole new generation of young conservative reporters, including Andrew Breitbart, who began his career as an editor at the Drudge Report and went on to help found The Huffington Post before launching his eponymous site.
Jewish roots: In his book, Lysiak notes that Drudge formed a close bond with Breitbart because of their Jewish backgrounds. “Breitbart, who had been adopted into a Jewish family, would later tell friends, ‘It is kind of weird that Drudge and I are both secular Jews who are interested in faith issues,’” Lysiak writes. “In Breitbart, Matt saw someone with boundless energy, a skeptical worldview, and who shared a passion for headlines and news.”
Staying relevant: Lately, Drudge has turned a jaundiced eye toward the president, coverage that has earned him scorn from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who in a Friday segment characterized Drudge as “now firmly a man of the progressive left.” Left or right, however, Lysiak explained that Drudge’s motivations for posting negative coverage of Trump aren’t simply ideological. “People make this mistake of looking at him through a political lens, but Matt Drudge’s loyalty is to one thing, and that is his website and page clicks and anything relevant,” Lysiak mused. “If you notice, people are talking about Matt Drudge again.”
Josh Kraft takes charge of his family’s philanthropic efforts
Josh Kraft, the third of four sons of Robert Kraft, is set to take over his family’s philanthropic efforts, including a new foundation created last year to combat antisemitism. Though this transition occurs away from the limelight of the football field, it signals an important shift for the myriad philanthropic programs run from the offices of One Patriot Place. Kraft spoke with Jewish Insider’s Sam Zieve Cohen about the transition and the future of Kraft Family Philanthropies.
Getting his start: Kraft, 53, has spent the last 30 years working for the Boys and Girls Club of Boston. Originally managing the group’s youth outreach program in south Boston, Kraft founded the group’s Chelsea branch in 1993, and was named its CEO and president in 2008. “I’ve learned so much,” Kraft told JI. “But I just feel it was time for a needed professional change.” Looking at different options in the nonprofit space, Kraft found the transition to his family’s foundation to be a natural fit. “I couldn’t picture myself working for another nonprofit,” he said.
Larger plate: As president of Kraft Family Philanthropies, he will oversee a high-profile operation that includes the Kraft Family Foundation, the Patriots Foundation, the Revolution Foundation, the Kraft Center for Community Health and the newly formed Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism. While his new role appears to have a larger portfolio than the Boys and Girls Club, Kraft emphasized that the mission, which he describes as “supporting marginalized groups and building community,” remains the same.
Combating Hate: Robert Kraft announced the creation of the Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism in June 2019 while accepting that year’s Genesis Prize in Jerusalem. That was followed by a high-profile $5 million donation to the foundation by Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, and the hiring of Rachel Fish as the group’s executive director in October. Kraft promised that the organization, which remains in development, will open a new front in bringing awareness to the continued propagation of antisemitism. The effort, he hopes, will put “antisemitism in the discussion with other forms of hate,” he explained. “It’s not just a Jewish problem, it’s everybody’s problem.”
🏖️ Sun and Sand:In Vogue, Liana Satenstein spotlights swimwear brand Sherris, designed by Maayan Sherris, who teamed up with photographer Mayan Toledano to photograph families at beaches from New York to Senegal to their native Israel. [Vogue]
🖼️ On Auction:The Guardian’s Dalya Alberge recounts the dark history of the Paolo Uccello painting “Battle on the Banks of a River,” which was forcibly sold to the Nazis in 1942 by a Jewish banker later murdered in Theresienstadt. After a settlement agreement between the owner and the heirs, the painting will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s tomorrow. [Guardian]
🏃♀️ She’s Running: Israeli-American marathon runner Bracha ‘Beatie’ Deutsch is training for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and hoping that somehow her event will be rescheduled from Shabbat, allowing the religious mom of five to participate. “I feel like they should be more tolerant,” she said. [Telegraph]
Around the Web
🕊️ On the Hill: On Friday, the House approved the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, as part of a spending package for Fiscal Year 2021, that would provide $250 million over five years to facilitate joint ventures between Israelis and Palestinians.
🎖️ Short Trip: U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley met with senior Israeli military leaders and held a video conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss Iran during a brief visit to Israel on Friday.
😡 Buzz on Balfour: After earning praise for his early coronavirus response, Netanyahu is now facing growing daily public protests outside his residence in Jerusalem over his corruption charges and his response to the crisis, as COVID-19 cases top 60,000.
📱 Micro Waves:Intel’s announcement that it is considering outsourcing chipmaking sent shockwaves through Israel, where 10 nanometer chips are produced for Intel, the country’s largest hi-tech employer.
🏷️ For Sale: Banksy donated three oil paintings to a charity auction raising money for a Bethlehem hospital.
💌 Love Thy Neighbor:Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a warm letter to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, calling him a man of peace.
🤐 Silent Protest: Following Twitter’s slow response to Wiley’s tweets, thousands of British Twitter users, including celebrities and politicians, have announced a 48-hour walkout from the platform in protest.
✍️ Call to Action: The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is calling for the resignation of Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, for sharing an antisemitic post on his Facebook page.
💊 Waiting Game: Settlement talks over Teva’s liability in the opioid crisis are on hold and could heat up again, despite the company’s rally after its October pledge.
📣 Exposed: Andrew Richard Casarez, a 27-year-old pizza delivery driver, has been unmasked as the leader of a neo-Nazi group, Bowl Patrol, that influenced Robert Bowers to carry out the 2018 attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
🧪 Off the Trail: Jon Ossoff, the Democratic challenger to Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), is awaiting results of a COVID-19 test after his wife tested positive.
💰 No Unity:Jared Kushner is being blasted by Republicans for ignoring requests for financial help from the House GOP as they trail House Democrats in fundraising.
🧔 Protecting Religion: New York state legislatures passed a bill that will repeal the religious-waiver requirement for prisoners signing on to participate in a unique rehabilitation program.
👩 Making History: Amelia Schimmel has become the first woman to serve as public-address announcer for the Oakland Athletics, filling in for Dick Callahan, who is on leave for health reasons.
🕯️Remembering:Irina Shur, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, was murdered in her apartment in Moscow last week. Fleetwood Mac blues guitarist Peter Green, born Peter Greenbaum, died at age 73. Prominent sociologist Richard Gelles died at age 73.
Pic of the Day
Real estate developer and founder of PJ Library, Harold Grinspoon turns 91…
Television producer and founder of People for the American Way, Norman Lear turns 98… Forensic pathologist known for his work investigating high-profile deaths, Michael M. Baden turns 86… Managing partner of Access Fund Management Company, Harold Zlot turns 83… Former CIA director and deputy secretary of defense, John M. Deutch turns 82… Steven M. Mizel turns 81… Former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Stephen M. Greenberg turns 76… Artist and museum founder focused on Fusionism, Shalom Tomáš Neuman turns 73… Editor and director at Israel’s Channel 1 TV, Yarin Kimor turns 68… Israeli-born fitness personality, Gilad Janklowicz turns 66… Comedian, writer and actress, Carol Leifer turns 64… Journalist at the Christian Science Monitor, Linda Feldmann turns 61…
Former VP of global communications at Facebook, Elliot Schrage turns 60… Heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, now a film producer, Jean “Gigi” Pritzker turns 58… Former CEO of the Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld turns 55… Member of the Hungarian Parliament and member of the European Parliament, Tamás Deutsch turns 54… Rabbi at Kesher Israel: The Georgetown Synagogue, Rabbi Hyim Shafner turns 52… National platform director for the Democratic National Committee, Andrew Grossman turns 52… Former chief of staff of the House Republican Conference, he is now the managing partner at Capitol Venture, LLC, Jeremy Deutsch turns 44… VP of marketing at Xometry and winner on Jeopardy! in 2019, Aaron Lichtig turns 40… D.C. area political activist, Benjamin Rothenberg turns 38… Communications director for the House Republican Conference, Jeremy Adler turns 28…