Good Tuesday morning!
Iran placed sanctions on Rich Goldberg of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies for “economic terrorism” against Iran. Goldberg welcomed the news on Twitter and dedicated the distinction to “the victims of Iran-sponsored terror.”
The Biden presidential campaign is hosting a virtual conversation on fighting antisemitism today with Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), moderated by actor Jason Alexander.
President Donald Trump will reportedly hold a fundraiser on Sunday at the Deal, N.J., home of the late Stanley Chera, the real estate developer who died of COVID-19 in April.
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Pivoting from the runway to COVID relief
Suffice it to say that 2020 has not gone the way Adi Heyman expected. In early March, she kicked off the launch of the Jewish Fashion Council at an event in London. But before the end of the month, she was back home in New York and had tested positive for COVID-19. Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch spoke with Heyman about refocusing her efforts to provide coronavirus relief for the community.
Embracing modesty: Heyman is often described as a “fashion stylist turned blogger.” But neither of those descriptions fully capture her — she’s a trendsetter and a trendspotter, an advocate for equality and against antisemitism, a community builder and a social media influencer who sees her modesty as something to embrace, instead of to overcome. She is not an Orthodox woman who happens to buy cute skirts; she is a Fashion Week regular who has been photographed for glossy photo spreads in the “street style” section of upscale magazines.
People in need: Heyman recovered from the coronavirus after a week of mild flu-like symptoms. But she saw that things were getting worse for so many others in her community. “It was insane, the amount of suffering,” Heyman said in a recent phone interview from the Hamptons, where she is spending the summer with her family. With “kids out of school, abuse rates were going up,” she said, and “our Holocaust survivors needed to be fed. The elderly Jews in my community weren’t leaving their homes at all, and they had no way to get medications.”
Redirect: With the fashion industry on pause, Heyman’s new nonprofit had little to do. So she converted it to serve as a vehicle for COVID relief efforts, both in and outside the Jewish community. Her organization has hosted five clothing and kosher food drives since May, for Jewish communities — but open to non-Jews as well — in Manhattan, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, the Catskills and Long Island’s Five Towns. She organized volunteers to pick up donations from the homes of individuals who were concerned about going out. “I felt like we were helping the people that we were enabling to give, because people weren’t sure how to at that point,” Heyman said.
Unique path: Heyman’s story begins far from Manhattan, and even farther from the religion that has come to define her life, her career and her family. She was born into a religious Christian family in San Antonio, Texas. When she was in her teens, her family converted to Judaism and moved to South Florida, where she legally changed her name from Amber to Adi. She learned later that members of their synagogue thought at first that Heyman’s family was part of the witness protection program. “We’re all very blonde and we didn’t know Hebrew,” Heyman said, laughing, “so I guess it makes sense.”
Lifestyle choice: “As a teenager, what I think was very shocking to me, I met so many people who said to me, ‘Why would you want to be Jewish? I would never choose to be Jewish,’” Heyman recalled. “I think it was shocking for me to hear that people who were so committed to this lifestyle, that is very much dictated by religion and inheritance and tradition — which is so rich and so beautiful — [would] say, like, ‘I don’t know if I would choose it.’” But Heyman never questioned her connection to Judaism. “If it’s not something I wanted to do, I don’t think at 38 years old I’d be doing this.”
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s shadow coronavirus czar
A little over a year ago, following the first of Israel’s three recent elections, Naftali Bennett found himself out of a job and out of the Knesset. Sixteen months later, following a comeback in Israel’s second election and a short tenure as defense minister, Bennett’s stock appears to be rising. While he’s currently part of the opposition, his party, Yamina, which received only five seats in the latest March elections, is averaging 12-14 projected seats in recent public opinion polls. Bennett spoke with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh about his role in opposition and the challenges facing Israel.
Changing times: Bennett’s rise appears to be tied to the coronavirus outbreak. Since March, while he was still serving in the cabinet, Bennett became an outspoken critic of the government, cautioning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans were not sufficient to counter the economic disaster brought on by the pandemic. Now, Bennett is acting as a shadow coronavirus czar and seeking to serve as an alternative to Netanyahu on an issue most Israelis can rally around: the government’s failure to handle the crisis. “People are looking for competence, people are looking for problem solving, and for leaders who will put the good of the country first,” Bennett explained in a phone interview with Jewish Insider on Sunday.
Next in line? A poll released on Sunday by Channel 12 showed Bennett as the leading candidate to succeed Netanyahu as prime minister. But Bennett was careful to avoid criticizing Netanyahu directly — a cautionary measure Israeli politicians often adopt when talking to the foreign press — or to discuss his own ambitions. Shalom Lipner, a 26-year veteran of the prime minister’s office and now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told JI that it might be premature to view Bennett as the immediate successor to Netanyahu, “especially given his limited appeal beyond the right.” However, depending on Netanyahu’s departure, Lipner said, “the country remains tilted rightward and with no other obvious successor in a field where nobody has gained much traction, it’s anybody’s game.”
Current focus: Bennett said his primary focus is to “put aside our differences, and for the next three years, heal the society and fix the economy.” Bennett cautioned against a political system where everything is framed as either pro- or anti-Netanyahu. “We can’t allow our society to become polarized by yes or no Bibi,” he said. “That’s something that we could afford when everything was looking good in Israel and the economy was growing. Now we are in Israel’s worst socio-economic crisis ever. We have to set aside the disagreements for a while.”
Buzz on Balfour: Netanyahu lashed out at the media yesterday — claiming it has “reached North Korean terms” — over its coverage of the ongoing mass protests outside his residence. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court issued a restraining order on Netanyahu’s oldest son Yair, prohibiting him from tweeting or publishing content about the leaders of the protest movement after he publicly shared their phone numbers and addresses.
The race to succeed Rep. Justin Amash heats up
Rep. Justin Amash (L-MI) was once a popular figure in Michigan’s 3rd congressional district. But when the former Republican announced he would not seek reelection, both Republicans and Democrats set their sights on the seat that represents a southwestern portion of the state, including Grand Rapids. Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod spoke with two leading Republican candidates in the race and the presumptive Democratic nominee for the seat.
Heated race: Hillary Scholten, who served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Iraq veteran Peter Meijer — scion of the Midwestern Meijer grocery chain — and State Representative Lynn Afendoulis are leading the field in the five-person Republican primary that is slated for tomorrow.
Marked difference: Amash, who left the Republican Party and advocated for impeaching Trump, has alienated voters on both sides of the aisle. Afendoulis had strong criticism for the outgoing congressman. “Justin Amash… has had a constituency of one,” she told JI. “And he has represented his own needs and his own beliefs and his own agenda, rather than the agenda of the district.” Although Scholten praised Amash for his anti-Trump stance, she was skeptical of his overall record. “I really think that Congressman Amash wasn’t doing enough for our district,” Scholten told JI. “I raised my hand to run because I realized that the congressman was not representing our values on so many crucial issues.”
Neutral tone: Meijer, who leads the field in fundraising, has avoided the aggressive pro-Trump rhetoric many Republican congressional candidates have embraced this cycle — noting obliquely in a recent interview that “the easiest way to win the primary is the easiest way to lose the general.” On the campaign trail, Meijer has stressed his customer service bona fides. “Every stage of this campaign, it’s been a very simple message. It’s been about talking to the community and making sure that we are focused on how to continue to make west Michigan a great and strong place.”
Former hawk: Meijer served as an intelligence officer in Iraq and later worked with an NGO in Afghanistan supporting aid workers within the country. He said his experiences in the Middle East changed his views on U.S. military engagement abroad, making him a committed advocate for ending the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “I definitely came in as a hawk,” he said. “I came away that, when we lead with a military-first international engagement, it doesn’t make us more secure. It doesn’t make us safer. And it only increases risks and dangers for our allies throughout the world. I want us to be leading with a diplomacy and intelligence-first approach.”
Israel approach: Meijer favors a diplomatic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the U.S. acting as a “mediating force,” but stopped short of endorsing any specific plan. “I vastly prefer not to go into any negotiation with a preset outcome,” he said. Afendoulis avoided discussing specifics about the Mideast peace process, saying she needs to study the issue further, but emphasized that she supports a “secure, vibrant Israel.” Scholten, however, was clear in her support for a two-state solution. “I think the U.S. should play a role of independent and neutral mediator or arbiter,” she said. “I don’t think the United States should insert itself in a way that puts the thumb on the scale of the very necessary two-state solution process.”
📊 Number Crunch:Tiffany Hsu and Eleanor Lutz detail in The New York Times the effect of the #StopHateforProfit boycott effort against Facebook, led by the ADL, which “may have caused more damage to the company’s reputation than to its bottom line.” [NYTimes]
⚔️ Under Attack: French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy writes in The Wall Street Journal about his recent experience being ambushed while visiting a mass grave in Libya. Lévy, accused of being “a pro-Israel agent” and a “criminal Zionist,” was fired at by a militia shouting “Jewish dog!” [WSJ]
🤝 Birds of a Feather: In Politico, Jean Guerrero writes about the long relationship between White House senior advisor Stephen Miller and conservative activist David Horowitz. The two first connected when Miller invited the right-wing author to speak at his California public high school. [Politico]
🎤 Role Model:The Washington Post’s Ruth Eglash spoke with Israeli pop star Noa Kirel about her IDF service. “I felt that because I was famous I had to serve to set an example to others,” Kirel said. “I know people abroad will probably not understand this… but it was clear to me that I had to do this.” [WashPost]
💻 Dark Hatred: In Wired, Brian Friedberg explores the “centuries-old antisemitic myth” that Jews harvest blood from children, which has warped and taken on new life among right-wing and QAnon conspiracy theorists online. [Wired]
Around the Web
👩💼 Behind the Scenes: New York Times reporters Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman reveal that Julia Hahn, the former Breitbart writer and the White House director of rapid response and surrogate operations, prepares the briefing binder for press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
👪 Family Roots: American novelist Sarah Schulman spoke about growing up in a Jewish family scarred by the Holocaust in a wide-ranging interview with New York magazine about dealing with violence.
👨💼 In the Spotlight: Author and retired IDF Brig. Gen. Amir Haskel, a leader of the anti-Netanyahu demonstrations, tellsNBC News that he learned from his research on the Holocaust not to “stand on the sideline” of history.
💥 Crisis Averted: The IDF said Monday that it thwarted an attack by a Syrian militant group that placed explosives along the border.
😷 Ground Troops: Israel’s Defense Ministry plans to draft 3,000 reservists to assist with epidemiological investigations and staffing for coronavirus quarantine hotels.
💵 Giving Back: A group of Israeli businessmen launched a fund on Sunday, headed by former IDF chief Gadi Eizenkot, that will collect and donate the government’s relief payouts.
👨💻 Startup Nation: Israeli IoT startup Ecoplant, which develops software to manage air compression systems, raised $8 million in grant and VC funding to expand its operations in the U.S.
😌 Sabbatical: Apollo Global Management’s Marc Rowan is taking a ‘semi-sabbatical’ from the firm to focus more on other endeavors, including high-end eateries in Long Island. “He has a well deserved desire to not be involved in so much day-to-day, given the great team that’s been built up and how much that’s already been accomplished,” Apollo founder Leon Black said Thursday.
🏚️ New Opportunities: Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group is seeking to collect $11 billion for its flagship Starwood Global Opportunity Fund XII and a sidecar fund earmarked for distressed opportunities for new real estate wagers.
↪️ Workaround: Anthony Tata, whose nomination hearing to serve as undersecretary of defense was canceled after he was found to have spread conspiracy theories, has reportedly been placed in a senior defense role that does not require Senate confirmation.
💲 Cash In: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner reported $36.2 million in income from their owned companies last year. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank has opened an internal investigation into banker Rosemary Vrablic over a real estate transaction with Kushner.
🖋️ Standing Strong: Alex Soros, deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, writes that the attacks against his father George Soros and antisemitic accusations that Jews are behind the racial justice protests will not deter the family.
🧑🎤 Speaking Out: A group of more than 100 British pop stars and artists signed an open letter against “all forms of racism” after rapper Wiley’s antisemitic tirade.
🎥 Complicated: Alon Zingman, the director of “Shtisel,” details how the third season, currently filming in Jerusalem, is downsizing and adapting to the pandemic.
⛽ Talk of the Region:Israel’s alliance with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt on natural gas has triggered a maritime contest with Turkey over the eastern Mediterranean.
🐔 Talk of the Town: An anti-kaporos group has launched a new legal battle against the Jewish High Holiday ritual by arguing that it is particularly unsafe during the pandemic.
🖼️ Helping Hand: A group of Japanese citizens raised more than $35,000 to keep open a memorial museum in Lithuania, dedicated to Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who helped thousands of Jews flee Europe.
🇩🇪 Across the Sea: A New York Times report delves deep into the growing threat of neo-Nazi infiltration into German state institutions.
👨 Bipartisan Honor: Former British Labour MP Ian Austin, who quit the parliament over Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism, was appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the House of Lords.
🕯️Remembering:James Silberman, a revered book editor, died at age 93. Leon Fleisher, a famed pianist who lost the use of his right hand, died at age 92. Tom Pollock, the former chairman of Universal Pictures, died at age 77.
Pic of the Day
Approximately 70 Israeli expats gathered yesterday in Washington Square Park in Manhattan to express solidarity with the Israeli protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Organizer Kobi Cohen told JI he took action after discussing the matter with friends across the U.S. over WhatsApp because “it doesn’t make any sense that our brothers and sisters in Israel are fighting for how Israeli democracy will look like and we stand aside.”
Retired NFL head coach and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Marv Levy turns 95…
English actor and theatre director, Steven Berkoff turns 83… EVP emeritus of the UJA-Federation of New York, John S. Ruskay turns 74… Recently retired development director in the Cleveland office of the ADL, Anita Gray turns 72… Chairman and CEO of the NYC office of commercial real estate brokerage firm Savills, Mitchell S. Steir turns 65… General campaign chair for the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Orna Amir Wolens turns 59… President of DC-based Freedman Consulting, LLC, Thomas Z. Freedman turns 57… Co-founder of Pushkin Industries, Jacob Weisberg turns 56… Canadian entrepreneur, Alexander Shnaider turns 52… VP of community planning at the Jewish Federation of Broward County (Florida), Evan Goldman turns 51… Editorial page editor of the New York Daily News, Josh Greenman turns 47… Chief advancement officer at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Joshua Cherwin turns 43…
Deputy communications director and deputy press secretary at the White House, Brian Morgenstern turns 38… Director of national security policy and international government affairs at SoftBank, Jeffrey A. Dressler turns 36… Director of development at the Anti-Defamation League, Erica Greenblatt turns 36… Freelance strategy and operations consultant, Caroline Keller-Lynn turns 33… Congressional district grassroots coordinator at Christians United For Israel, Liliya Bychuk turns 33… Program officer at The Natan Fund, Adina Poupko turns 32… Co-founder and president of the Reducetarian Foundation, Brian Kateman turns 31… Fashion model and social entrepreneur, Karlie Elizabeth Kloss turns 28… Talent guide for FirstMark venture capital’s portfolio, Leigh Bonner… Curated content writer and editor at the Financial Times, Emily Goldberg turns 26… Social secretary to the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ariana Kaufman…