Good Thursday morning!
Negotiations between Sudan and the U.S. over recognizing Israel have stalled, as a Sudanese official accused the White House of “pure blackmailing” the African nation during the talks.
The U.S. militaryreceived its first Iron Dome battery from Israel yesterday, with a second battery still slated for delivery under the deal signed last year.
New York University has reached a deal with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and agreed to revise its discrimination policy following allegations of multiple instances of antisemitism on campus. The settlement is the first at an American university since an executive order on college antisemitism was signed by President Donald Trump in December 2019. Read more here.
Last night, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a controversial state assembly bill that mandated high school students to complete an ethnic studies program in order to receive their high school diploma. The bill was opposed by a number of Jewish organizations. Read the background on the bill here.
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The scion of a New Jersey political dynasty looks to take on Washington
It would be unlikely to find a New Jersey voter over the age of 40 who hasn’t heard of the Kean family. Tom Kean, Jr., who has served as minority leader in the New Jersey State Senate since 2008, is part of the newest generation of one of the state’s oldest political dynasties. And now he is hoping to be the next in his family to hold a seat in the U.S. Congress. Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh recently sat down with Kean to discuss his campaign against first-term incumbent Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) in the state’s 7th congressional district.
Raised to serve: The son of former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, grandson of former Rep. Robert Kean (R-NJ) and great-grandson of former Sen. Hamilton Fish Kean (R-NJ), the junior Kean is still an outlier among his siblings, both of whom chose careers away from politics — his twin brother, Reed, is a realtor and his sister, Alexandra, is an educator. In an interview with Jewish Insider at his campaign headquarters in Westfield, N.J., Kean said though his parents never directed him to seek public office, watching them give back to their community inspired him. “They were always focused on giving back,” he said. “Whether it was in a volunteer capacity as a camp counselor, or as a volunteer firefighter, or whether it was working in a food bank, they always thought it’s very important to give back and help your neighbor.”
Family tree: Kean’s grandfather, Robert, served 10 terms in the House of Representatives representing New Jersey’s 12th district. In the late 1930s, Robert Kean became the first member of Congress to speak about the Holocaust on the House floor and in 1943 called for the U.S. to admit Jewish refugees. He was also an early advocate for U.S. recognition of Israel’s independence. Robert’s son, New Jersey Gov. Bob Kean Sr., signed an executive order in 1982 creating the New Jersey Advisory Council on Holocaust Education in memory of his late father. A year later, he was invited by the Israeli government to attend a special ceremony at Yad Vashem to mark the 40th anniversary of his father’s plea to rescue Jews from extermination by the Nazis.
Life-changing experience: In October 1988, the younger Kean — then 20 — visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland to pay his respects to those who perished in the Holocaust. At the time, Kean was studying in nearby Budapest, Hungary, and some friends were planning a trip to Poland. “Because I knew the things that my grandfather had done, and the things that my father had done, I said that if we’re going to Poland we have to go by Auschwitz,” Kean recalled. Two months later, Kean met up with his father, who was visiting the Soviet Union to meet with Jewish refuseniks he had symbolically adopted. Kean told JI his visit to Auschwitz and his experience in Moscow affected his “entire approach to public service, especially my entire approach towards the State of Israel.”
Challenging Washington: During the interview, Kean repeatedly painted Malinowski as a lifelong Washington insider, noting that the congressman previously served as a lobbyist for Human Rights Watch and briefly worked at the State Department under President Barack Obama. “You cannot have individuals that change their positions depending on the positions they hold,” Kean proclaimed. “When he was in the Obama administration, he was a strong advocate for the Iran nuclear deal, and is still supportive. And when you look at issues related to Israel, he has not been where he needed to be.”
Push back: In an interview with JI, Malinowski defended his work with the United Nations Human Rights Council in his role as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor. “I’m realistic about the U.N. It’s not as if strong American leadership alone would instantly cure the anti-Israel bias that exists in a lot of the U.N.’s voting bodies. But we were certainly in a much better position to fight against it when we were present and we are in no position to fight against it when we’re absent,” Malinowski told JI. The first-term incumbent maintained: “I have a strong pro-Israel record in Congress, and as a representative of our country during my State Department days.”
Read the full feature and interviews with Kean and Malinowski here.
Guy Raz on what makes entrepreneurs tick
Guy Raz has interviewed hundreds of founders and CEOs as the host of “How I Built This,” the immensely popular NPR podcast launched in 2016. But in a new book, he admits that business was a vocation he once regarded with disdain. “In high school and college, I used to think that ‘business’ was a dirty word,” Raz writes in the introduction to How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs. His views have changed, of course, as Raz has come to view with a sense of wonderment the varying risks taken by some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs. In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, Raz discussed his own path and what makes business leaders tick.
Jews and entrepreneurship: When asked if Jews have a propensity to be boot-strapping entrepreneurs, Raz said it was possible. “Maybe,” he said. “But I have data to back this up. I think everyone has the propensity — with good planning and a good idea — to be a boot-strapping entrepreneur.” One of his most revealing interviews was with Haim Saban in 2018. Did he believe there are characteristics associated with Israeli life and culture that lead to innovation? “I think there is probably something about the Mediterranean basin that makes people more entrepreneurial,” he said. “It is the cradle of so many seafaring cultures: Phoenicians, Greeks, Turks, Romans, Cypriots.”
Demystifying business: The book, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt last month, is a collection of stories based on interviews with such innovators as James Dyson, Lisa Price and Jenn Hyman. “My goal is to pull back the curtain on entrepreneurship,” he writes, “to shed light on the black box of entrepreneurial success and to provide an architecture for how to think creatively about building something, whether that’s an idea, a movement or, of course, a business.”
Background: Raz is the host of “TED Radio Hour” and “Wow In The World,” a podcast for kids. In his storied career as a foreign correspondent for NPR and CNN, he has done stints in Berlin, London and Jerusalem. “I started out as a radio reporter in the late 1990s,” Raz told JI. “I was never that great as a reporter. Always much better as a storyteller. In 2012, I left the news world behind to jump into the then-unknown world of podcasting. I worked with TED to recreate and relaunch a show called the ‘TED Radio Hour’ and that was the sort of ‘rebirth’ of my career as a podcast creator.”
What’s next: Raz told JI that he has no immediate plans for another book. “Oh no! Not anytime soon. I need a break!” he exclaimed. Still, he hinted at the possibility that there was another podcast project in the works, though he didn’t go into specifics. “I will double down on the podcast,” he said, “and maybe — just maybe — there might be a new one coming in the future.”
Beinart predicts a rightward shift on Israel among Jewish millennials
Jewish Currents editor-at-large Peter Beinart argued that the moderate Democratic center of the Jewish community is collapsing, a move that will ultimately shift the future of pro-Israel advocacy. Beinart spoke yesterday during a virtual panel event hosted by the Arab Center Washington DC about shifting demographic and political dynamics on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Split camp: According to Beinart, new generations — millennials and Generation Z — of Jewish Americans are splitting between two camps: less religious “universalistic” Jews who are disinterested in Israeli issues and “highly tribal” Orthodox Jews who align more with the Republican Party on issues related to Israel. “That future is further right than where AIPAC is partly because the Orthodox community is very ensconced in the Republican Party,” Beinart argued. “There are many, many, many, many, many Jared Kushners coming.”
On the Hill: During the panel discussion, Foundation for Middle East Peace President Lara Friedman predicted that a wave of new progressive members of the House will shift things in Congress next year when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Things are going to be changing in the next Congress,” she said. “We’re going to see some of the old guard departing.” Friedman noted that outside spending in several Democratic primaries failed to prevent many incumbents from being unseated. “That sends a really powerful message to members of Congress,” she said.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz to Jewish Dems: ‘God forbid’ Trump wins
Jewish Biden supporters forcefully condemned President Donald Trump’s reluctance to denounce white supremacists at Tuesday’s presidential debate, during a campaign Zoom call last night. The Biden presidential campaign hosted the call with speakers Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), DNC spokesperson Lily Adams, DNC Jewish outreach director Matt Nosanchuk and Biden’s Jewish engagement director, Aaron Keyak.
GOTV pitch: Wasserman Schultz remarked that “given the chance to denounce white supremacists, a very simple thing that universally most good human beings would do, Trump instead embraced and emboldened these hate mongers,” she said. Wasserman Schultz told participants that early in Trump’s presidency she visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington with her then-teenaged daughter, “and when she saw in the beginning of that museum walkthrough what Hitler did in the lead up to the atrocity, she turned to me and said, ‘Mom, that is exactly what it seems like is happening right now in our country.’” The Florida congresswoman added: “God forbid that we have another [Trump] term and we see what comes next. Essentially, we have an opportunity to stop him in his tracks.”
On the Hill: The House of Representatives passed yesterday Rep. Max Rose’s (D-NY) Transnational White Supremacist Extremism Review Act (H.R. 5736), requiring the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy to combat global white supremacist terrorism.
Time is now: Republican lawmakers — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — refused to defend Trump’s comments at the debate, with some urging him to forcefully denounce white supremacy to repair the damage. Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump sought to clarify his statement calling on the violent Proud Boys group to “stand back and stand by,” insisting that he is unaware what the extremist group represents.
Both sides: In a statement yesterday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said it was “extremely disappointed and troubled that President Trump did not explicitly denounce white supremacists.” But the group said they were equally “troubled by Vice President Biden who refused to acknowledge Antifa and did not condemn antisemite Louis Farrakhan and his followers.”
🚫 No Entry:British-Israeli journalist Jonathan Spyer revealed in The Wall Street Journal that the U.S. government has permanently banned him from entering, accusing him of engaging in terrorist activity due to extensive interviews with ISIS and PKK members. “Journalists, including those of us who interview terrorists, aren’t the enemy.” [WSJ]
🙅♂️ NIMBY:Bloomberg’s Ethan Bronner spotlights the raging debate on Manhattan’s Upper West Side over 600 homeless people lodged in local hotels. The Jewish Center’s Rabbi Yosie Levine questioned if “people feel safe walking down the street,” while former New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman posited: “Where do you draw the line between compassion and annoyance?” [Bloomberg]
🤳 No Laughing Matter: In The Atlantic, Helen Lewis explores the history of “meme culture,” its early ties to violence and white supremacy and the historic link between absurdity and bigotry. She highlights the case of Jewish lawyer Hans Litten, who attempted and failed to prosecute Hitler in 1931, as the world joked about him. [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
💥 Drone War:Azerbaijan is reportedly using Israeli-made “kamikaze drones” in its ongoing conflict with Armenia.
💰 Startup Nation:Israel Aerospace Industries is looking to raise $200 million to support the creation of startups aimed at adapting military technology for civilian use.
⛓️ Behind Bars: Seagrams heiress Clare Bronfman has been sentenced to six years and nine months in federal prison for her role in supporting the fraudulent NXVIM cult.
🖥️ Media Watch: The Drudge Report’s Matt Drudge is reportedly seeking new investors, as the one time Trump booster is no longer backing the president.
Coming Soon: Gary Ginsberg, a senior VP and head of global communications at SoftBank, is coming out next fall with a book titled First Friends: The Powerful, Unsung (and Unelected) People Who Shaped Our President, and Our Country. h/t Playbook
📺 C-List: A $300 million Health and Human Services COVID-19 ad campaign flopped after the only celebrities on board were actor Dennis Quaid, gospel singer CeCe Winans and Hasidic singer Shulem Lemmer.
👨💼 Stepping Up: New York Jewish community leaders will meet with state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to tackle the spike in COVID-19 cases in Brooklyn neighborhoods, following a virtual meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
🤐 Oy Vey: New York City’s coronavirus contact tracing programming has less than half a dozen Yiddish speakers on staff, leaving it struggling to handle rising cases in Jewish communities.
😷 Hot Spot:New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy warned that new COVID-19 cases in the town of Lakewood are rapidly rising and a regional lockdown could be ordered.
🎥 Dark History: An investigation commissioned by the Berlin Film Festival confirmed that its founder, Alfred Bauer, was a high-ranking Nazi official who concealed his role following WWII.
🎻 Falling Silent: The “Violins of Hope,” a traveling music and dance performance centered around restored Holocaust-era instruments, was forced to cancel its tour and upcoming exhibition and ship the violins back to Tel Aviv.
👩💼 New Gig: Sarah Leah Whitson, the former director of Human Rights Watch’s MENA division, was tapped as executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, the brainchild of murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
👨💼 Transition: Campaign strategist and public opinion research analyst Steve Miller is joining public affairs firm Kivvit as the company’s chief brand strategist.
Song of the Day
Israeli singers Omar Adam and Ishay Ribo sing ‘Sheket,’ in a performance recorded during Sukkot last year and released today.
MLB second baseman who appeared in 18 straight All-Star Games, he is immortalized as Jewish in Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song,” Rod Carew turns 75…
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Andrew David Hurwitz turns 73… Haifa-born biologist and physician, professor at the Technion, he won the 2004 Nobel prize in Chemistry, Aaron Ciechanover turns 73… Film, stage and television actress and, more recently, an ordained Jewish cantor, Lorna Patterson turns 64… Reality television personality, Cindy Margolis turns 55… Director of philanthropic partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert A. Rosen turns 52… Film director, screenwriter and producer, Stacie Passon turns 51… SVP at the Glover Park Group, Robert Bennett Seidman turns 47… Manager of special projects at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Samantha J. Greenberg turns 32… Copy editor at Politico, Andrew Goodwin… Director at iVoteIsrael, Yossi Raskas... Scott Rosenthal…