Good Wednesday morning!
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to visit Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates next week.
Israeli and Lebanese delegations — led by Israeli Energy Ministry director-general Udi Ariri and Lebanese army deputy chief of staff Brig. Gen. Bassam Yassin — met briefly this morning at a U.N. post along the border for talks mediated by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker, who arrived in Lebanon yesterday.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdansaid yesterday that the election of China and Russia to the U.N. Human Rights Council proves “once again that this council has nothing to do with protecting human rights and everything to do with violating them.”
The Republican Jewish Coalitiondropped $800,000 yesterday in a massive ad buy to support Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) in his tough reelection bid in New York’s 1st congressional district. The group is seeking to label Zeldin’s Democratic opponent, chemistry professor Nancy Goroff, as a far-left candidate with radical views on Israel.
A new Pew Research Center poll published on Tuesday showed Biden leading Trump 70%-27% among Jewish voters. Post-election analysis by Pew in 2016 showed Hillary Clinton beating Trump 71%-24% among Jewish voters.
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view from vegas
Harry Reid pulls no punches with his political predictions
Since he retired from the Senate four years ago, Harry Reid has watched with dismay as the chamber he inhabited for three decades has deteriorated into what he regards as a cauldron of incivility. The 80-year-old Nevada-born Democrat — who served for eight years as Senate majority leader — blames the Republican Party. “I don’t think it was bad when I left,” he told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a phone interview yesterday from his home in Las Vegas. “What has happened is Republican senators have been dismal failures, as far as I’m concerned, because they’re lap dogs for [President Donald] Trump.”
Blue wave: Reid sees an upside to this dynamic as November 3 comes into view. “It’s going to be a change election,” he predicted, charging that the GOP has badly damaged its reputation in cozying up to the president, whose popularity has waned as he goes up against Democratic nominee Joe Biden. “I think Trump’s going to be beaten.” The former senator, who has kept a close eye on the national political scene, envisions a Democratic sweep in which the party maintains control of the House and picks up the Senate. “You’re going to see many down-ballot races decided in favor of Democrats,” Reid said, “just because people don’t like Trump.”
Eyeing the races: Reid believes Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) will fall in Colorado, as will Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in North Carolina, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) in Montana and Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) in Arizona. He is optimistic, too, that Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) will lose his seat in Georgia and that Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) will be vanquished in Alaska. As for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is currently engaged in a fight for his political life as his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison outraises him at every turn? “I hope he loses,” Reid said.
Maintaining ties: Reid now co-chairs a public policy institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). His partnership with Boehner underscores his conviction that Democrats should reach across the aisle. He still maintains ties with his former colleague, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), as well as the billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson. “I knew him when he was a Democrat,” Reid said of Adelson. “I understand his politics have changed. I accept that. We have an agreement where he respects what I do, and I respect what he does.”
Grudging praise: Despite his antipathy toward the president, Reid reserves some praise for Trump, giving a nod to his role in brokering peace deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. “I think it’s one of the highlights of the Trump administration,” Reid said, characterizing the effort as “commendable.” Not that he thinks such diplomacy has indemnified the president from what Reid regards as an otherwise abysmal run in public office — one he believes will soon come to an end. “Instead of giving him a D-,” Reid said, “I guess we’ll give him a D+.”
Read the full interview with Reid here.
For argument’s sake
Barbara Boxer: Rise in antisemitism should unite Jewish voters for Biden
Former Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) pointed to a rise in antisemitism as an argument to convince undecided Jewish voters to cast a vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, during a virtual “Jewish Women for Joe” event yesterday.
Wink and a nod: “We have seen antisemitism spring up openly for the first time in a very, very long time, and we have seen a president not only give a wink and a nod, but even encouragement to these white supremacist groups. We are high on their list,” Boxer said. “This is the soul of the country. Not every single Jewish person shares our views. But the vast majority of Jewish people share the view that when we said ‘Never Again,’ we meant never again. And that’s at stake.”
Closing message: Boxer suggested that message would also resonate with voters who supported Trump in 2016 if the argument is made that “we must come together” to send a message of unity around the issue of antisemitism. “Look, nothing is permanent. You know, this is four years. Give it a chance,” Boxer asked the Biden supporters to relay to their friends. “I think we can argue for Joe [that] he has been very close to the Jewish community for a very, very long time, and his policy on Israel is, from my perspective, just pitch perfect on how to move forward with the two side-by-side states.”
Mensch alert: When asked what excites her most about the idea of a Biden-Harris administration, Boxer demurred. “I’m so nervous about it, I don’t really get past Election Day. But if you’re asking me this, I would start off by simply saying, ‘they’d have a mensch in the White House.’ That would be a start.”
A Jewish journalist stares into the white nationalist abyss
Talia Lavin didn’t expect that she would become the target of a vicious antisemitic harassment campaign when, in June 2018, she mistakenly suggested on Twitter that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent had a tattoo resembling an Iron Cross. The pile-on left her feeling helpless and traumatized, but rather than retreating, she stood firm. “I chose to just stare right into the depths,” Lavin, 31, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview. Her first book, Culture Warlords: My Journey into the Dark Web of White Supremacy, released this week, is an up-close-and-personal examination of the growing movement of white nationalist extremists whose views have flourished in the digital age.
Roots of hatred: Undergirding the movement, Lavin says, is a deep and abiding hatred of Jews. “To the white supremacist,” she writes, “the Jew is most dangerous because of his adjacency to whiteness, and a desire to destroy it, with crafty malice, from within.” Lavin was certainly crafty in her own reporting methods. She immersed herself for 18 months in the online ecosystem of the far-right, lurking on messaging apps to observe its inner workings. It was a world she knew would reject her if she revealed her identity, so she took a gonzo approach, going undercover by assuming a number of aliases and alternate personas.
Unorthodox approach: One of her most memorable characters was Ashlynn, a honey trap Lavin invented to infiltrate white nationalist networks. Ashlynn was convincing enough that Lavin was able to use her in a scheme to catfish a Ukrainian neo-Nazi. Lavin reveals in the book that the man is David Kolomiiets, whose name she coaxed from him during five grueling months of flirtatious exchanges. “In order to get him to reveal his face, I ask him to ‘prove he’s not a Jew,’ and he offers to send me a photo of his foreskin,” Lavin writes. “I decline and ask to see his nose instead.”
Background: As a Jew, Lavin felt an obligation to plunge headfirst into the white nationalist underworld. The Holocaust loomed large throughout her upbringing in a modern Orthodox Jewish family in Teaneck, N.J. Though she is no longer observant, she still carries the past with her wherever she goes. “Holy s**t, I care about this stuff,” she told JI. “A lot. The fact that the Holocaust is so f***ing close to me as, like, a person. You know, like, literally, not even a full generation away. I lost an aunt in the Holocaust, who was a baby.”
Future plans: Lavin is now working on a project about militia movements and vigilante violence in the United States, and she is putting together a proposal for a second book, the topic of which she declined to reveal just yet. Her mission remains clear. “I’m planning to keep on writing, keep on talking, keep on generally being as much of a pain in the ass to the neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements in the United States as possible,” she said. “I hope to discomfit them and make them filled with rage, fear and irritation whenever they hear my name.”
Gal Gadot reveals her morning ‘Modeh Ani’ routine
Israeli actress Gal Gadot gave an extensive sit-down interview to Vanity Fair’s Nancy Jo Sales — published as the magazine’s cover story this month — opening up about her role as Wonder Woman, her parenting approach and her upbringing in Israel.
Higher goals: Gadot, who enrolled in law school but later dropped out, said her family never wanted or expected her to become an actress. “I came from a home where being an actress wasn’t even an option,” she said. “I always loved the arts and I was a dancer and I loved the movies, but being an actress was never a discussion. My parents were like, You need to graduate university and get a degree.”
Girl power: The actress said she is thrilled to embody a strong female role model and portray a protagonist super-heroine in the films. “I think it’s so important — and of course it’s ultra-important for me because I’m a mother of two girls — to show them the potential of what they can be. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be athletic or physically strong — that too — but that they can be bigger than life.”
Calling for change: Gadot lamented a recent gang rape in Eilat that shocked the nation, pointing to it as a moment for education. “How come there were multiple men in the room, and no one was like, Hey guys, this is wrong, stop, somebody call the police?” she asked. “We have to role-model ourselves to our children and we have to educate them for equality. There is still a long way to go because there’s no true equality yet. If we focus our resources on this type of thing, then real change would happen.”
Giving thanks: The “Wonder Woman” star invoked the Jewish morning prayer of “modeh ani,” telling the interviewer that “every morning I wake up and step out of bed and I say, ‘Thank you for everything, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.’”
Bonus: Gadot also filmed a video for Vanity Fair teaching viewers popular Hebrew slang.
👑 New Era?:The Financial Times’s Simeon Kerr highlights how the recent deaths of the peacemaking leaders of Kuwait and Oman could turn Gulf nations from a push to resolve regional conflicts towards younger leaders “more interested in asserting themselves, especially militarily, than in making peace.” [FT]
😷 Argument: In Foreign Policy, David E. Rosenberg posits that government officials from Brooklyn to Bnei Brak can’t adequately enforce coronavirus restrictions in ultra-Orthodox communities — but religious leaders can and should. “In a closed, tightly bound community, change won’t come easily, but the toll of sickness and death may be the catalyst.” [ForeignPolicy]
🗽 City Under Siege: New York magazine’s Andrew Rice explores the potential devastating long-term effects of COVID-19 on the city’s construction and real estate industries, as new deals stall and workers stay home. “The future of the city will depend in large part on three unknowns,” writes Rice: the “still-not-yet-invented vaccine,” the presidential election and the 2021 mayoral and city council vote. [NYMag]
Around the Web
✈️ Fast Track: Israel and the United Arab Emirates are set to sign a commercial aviation deal within a few days — ahead of reciprocal delegation visits next week.
🏗️ Builders of Jerusalem: Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum is working to leverage the Abraham Accords to bring infrastructure investment and property development to her city.
🙏 Like A Prayer: Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh expressed his desire to see Joe Biden win the U.S. presidential race to get the peace process back on track. “God help us” if Trump wins reelection, he told European lawmakers.
📋 Foggy Bottom: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is requesting think tanks disclose their foreign donors in a move to prevent American adversaries from gaining a foothold in the U.S.
👨⚕️ Family Matters: Joe Biden’s son-in-law, physician Howard Krein, is raising eyebrows for informally advising Biden on COVID-19 while also investing in healthcare startups.
📱 Tangled Web: Anchorage, Alaska, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigned after admitting to an inappropriate messaging relationship with news anchor Maria Athens, who left him a voicemail threatening to kill him and his wife and calling him a “Jewish piece of living f***ing sh*t.”
👎 Defaced: At least a dozen campaign signs in support of independent congressional candidate Josh Eisen in New York’s 17th congressional district were vandalized with antisemitic messages and graffiti.
👮 Moving Aside: The NYPD chief of patrol is stepping down after less than a year on the job following months of friction with Mayor Bill de Blasio that culminated in last week’s protests in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in the city.
🛫 Takeoff Delay: El Al has delayed allowing new controlling shareholder Eli Rozenberg to convene and appoint a new board of directors.
📨 Media Watch: Morning Brew, the business newsletter founded by Alex Lieberman and Austin Reif, is reportedly in talks to be sold to Business Insider in a deal that could value the five-year-old company at more than $75 million.
📚 Book Shelf: The New York Times reviews the new book The Language of Thieves by Martin Puchner, about Rotwelsch, the Yiddish-inflected street language the Nazis tried to eliminate.
✡️ Paying Tribute:The Associated Press highlights the work of the late Rabbi Avraham Pinter, an influential British Orthodox Jewish leader who spent his life trying to get his community in Stamford Hill out of isolation before he died of COVID-19.
🕯️ Remembering: Ruth Kluger, a Holocaust survivor who wrote a groundbreaking memoir, Still Alive, died at age 88. Bernard Cohen, a lawyer who won the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia in a victory for interracial marriages, died at age 86. Herbert Kretzmer, who wrote the lyrics for “Les Misérables,” died at age 95.
Song of the Day
Singer-songwriter Yosef David released a new song this week titled “Woah.”
President and founder of Extell Development Company, Gary Barnett turns 65…
Emeritus professor of history at the University of London, Shula Eta Winokur Marks turns 82… Fashion designer, philanthropist and business executive, Ralph Lauren (born Ralph Lifshitz) turns 81… Former Major League Baseball player (1965-1972) for the Reds, Mets, Cubs and Athletics, Art Shamsky turns 79… Former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve (1994-1996), co-founder and a vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network and a Princeton professor, Alan Blinder turns 75… International trade attorney who held senior posts in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Ira Shapiro turns 73… Author, political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Norman Ornstein turns 72… Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi turns 59… CEO of Lakewood’s Beth Medrash Govoha, the largest yeshiva in the U.S., Rabbi Aaron Kotler turns 57…
Sports radio host, his talk show is syndicated by CBS Sports Radio, Jim Rome turns 56… SVP of international affairs for the ADL, Sharon Nazarian, Ph.D. turns 53… Founding partner and managing director of Glover Park Group, Michael Feldman turns 52… President and co-founder of the R Street Institute, Eli Lehrer turns 45… Writer of On Tech, a New York Times newsletter, Shira Ovide turns 44… Program strategy director at Microsoft’s Defending Democracy, David Leichtman turns 42… Chief policy advisor for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Eve S. Lieberman turns 36… Actress and singer, best known for playing the role of Gertrude “Gert” Yorkes in the Hulu original series “Marvel’s Runaways,” Ariela Barer turns 22… Defenseman for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, he is the son of hockey star Ellen Weinberg-Hughes, Quinn Hughes turns 21… A young JFK, Joseph Frederick Kushner turns 7… Jason Epstein… Marsha Grossman… Chana Yemini…