Good Tuesday morning!
After the Israeli government unanimously approved the Abraham Accords deal with the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan spoke and agreed to meet soon.
Historic talks between Lebanon and Israel over the countries’ maritime border are slated to begin tomorrow.
Israel’s Intelligence Minister Eli CohentoldReuters that Israel would oppose any U.S. sale of F-35 jets to Qatar.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) are urging the FBI to increase the federal response to the far-right Proud Boys group as it increases its activity across New Jersey.
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JI’s election guide to the ‘races to watch’
New map feature: We’ve added an endorsements filter to our interactive elections map. Select from among eight different political groups including J Street, the Republican Jewish Coalition, Democratic Majority for Israel, Pro Israel America and more to see which House and Senate candidates they are endorsing this cycle.
New guide: With three weeks until the 2020 general election, the Jewish Insider elections team has created a succinct guide to the key Senate and House races to watch in the wildest election year of our time. In addition to interviews and in-depth looks at races across the country, read through dozens of candidate questionnaires with answers to some of the questions that matter most to JI readers. The Daily Kickoff will continue to feature updates on these races and more over the next three weeks.
California 50th: Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) vs. former Rep. Darrell Issa (R)
California 53rd: Georgette Gómez (D) vs. Sara Jacobs (D)
Georgia 7th: Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) vs. Rich McCormick (R)
Indiana 5th: State Rep. Christina Hale (D) vs. State Rep. Victoria Spartz (R)
Michigan 8th: Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) vs. Paul Junge (R)
Minnesota 7th: Rep. Collin Peterson (D) vs. Former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach (R)
Nebraska 2nd: Rep. Don Bacon (R) vs. Kara Eastman (D)
New Jersey 2nd: Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R) vs. Amy Kennedy (D)
New Mexico 2nd: Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) vs. State Rep. Yvette Herrell (R)
New York 1st: Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) vs. Nancy Goroff (D)
New York 2nd: Jackie Gordon (D) vs. Andrew Garbarino (R)
New York 11th: Rep. Max Rose (D) vs. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R)
New York 22nd: Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D) vs. former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R)
North Carolina 11th: Madison Cawthorn (R) vs. Moe Davis (D)
Pennsylvania 7th: Rep. Susan Wild (D) vs. Lisa Scheller (R)
Pennsylvania 10th: Rep. Scott Perry (R) vs. State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D)
Texas 10th: Rep. Michael McCaul (R) vs. Mike Siegel
Virginia 2nd: Rep. Elaine Luria (D) vs. former Rep. Scott Taylor (R)
Virginia 5th: Bob Good (R) vs. Cameron Webb (D)
Alaska: Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) vs. Al Gross (D)
Arizona: Sen. Martha McSally (R) vs. Mark Kelly (D)
Colorado: Sen. Cory Gardner (R) vs. former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)
Georgia: Sen. David Perdue (R) vs. Jon Ossoff (D)
Georgia special election: Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Rep. Doug Collins (R), Matt Lieberman (D) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D)
Kansas: Rep. Roger Marshall (R) vs. State Sen. Barbara Bollier (D)
Maine: Sen. Susan Collins (R) vs. State Rep. Sara Gideon (D)
Michigan: Sen. Gary Peters (D) vs. John James (R)
South Carolina: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) vs. Jaime Harrison (D)
Read the complete guide here.
Bonus: On Friday, DMFI released an ad supporting Rep. Max Rose (D-NY). This morning, DMFI PAC has released its newest round of congressional endorsements. The latest batch of 11 candidates, featuring two incumbents, includes Dana Balter (NY-24), Diane Mitsch Bush (CO-03), Michelle De La Isla (KS-02), Joyce Elliot (AR-02), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Christina Finello (PA-01), Margaret Good (FL-16), Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09), Kate Schroder (OH-01), Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and Hiral Tipirneni (AZ-06).
Former Sanders aide Joel Rubin to head American Jewish Congress
Democratic strategist Joel Rubin, who served as director of Jewish outreach for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) 2020 presidential campaign, has been tapped as executive director of the American Jewish Congress, the group announced on Tuesday. American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh that Rubin’s hiring reflects the ideological shift within the American Jewish community in recent years and the challenges ahead.
New path: “I think that’s going to require new approaches to new leadership and we have to be ready for this new future,” Rosen explained. “Our mission is to connect with influential people and influence policy at the highest level. And when you look at all of that, I think Joel has the experience in Washington and the qualities that can help the American Jewish Congress fulfill its purpose and help the Jewish community.”
Background: Rubin, 49, currently the vice mayor of Chevy Chase, Md., previously served as the U.S. State Department’s chief liaison to the House of Representatives — where he worked in 2015 to build congressional support for the Iranian nuclear deal — and as a career officer in the State Dept.’s Bureau of Political-Military affairs and Near-Eastern Affairs during the George W. Bush administration. He was also the founding political and governmental affairs director at J Street. In addition to working as a congressional staffer for Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Rubin mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2016.
Focus on Congress: In an interview, Rubin said that his Washington experience has primed him to lead the group, which will take on a new focus in the years ahead. The American Jewish Congress, Rubin explained, “has always been at the forefront of helping bring American Jews into the mainstream American political dialogue and have an impact. And it’s a role that after the election is going to only increase with the policy community and in the public dialogue — within and outside the Jewish community.”
Bridging gaps: Rosen, a longtime donor to Democratic candidates and an early supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, told JI the board tapped Rubin for the role after a “pretty thorough” conversation. “His heart, his DNA was with Israel,” Rosen said. Pointing to the pressing issues — such as rising antisemitism both in the U.S. and around the world, the delegitimization of Israel and the need to advance racial justice — Rubin said the prime goal of the American Jewish Congress is “being a voice for tomorrow, being a voice for the American Jewish community and building bridges to other communities.”
Tracing the transformation of American Jewish philanthropy
Jewish history professor Lila Corwin Berman was surprised to discover that in the early 20th century, American Jewish charitable organizations largely worked to ensure they were never holding on to too much money. “I was really interested when I discovered that the New York Federation had in its bylaws a rule against building endowments,” Berman told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro in a recent phone interview about her new book. “That was so contrary to everything that I just had assumed was part of the story, that of course it was always the goal to build up these big funds.”
Transformation: The dramatic evolution of Jewish communal organizations is the focus of Berman’s latest book, The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex. In the meticulously researched work, Berman — a professor of American Jewish history at Temple University — traces the history and the transformation of the extensive network of Jewish charitable organizations, and how that evolution was inextricably interconnected to both changing U.S. tax law and growing capitalistic sentiments. Berman charts this major turnaround over a period of many decades, from a model that “worked to make the process of collection and allocation as efficient as possible, as if moving funds through a revolving door,” to the current structure that supports building extensive endowments designed to ensure indefinite funding.
Vignettes: Throughout the book, Berman details prominent figures, organizations and movements that had a significant impact on the development of American Jewish philanthropy. The events and incidents she documents include the formation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in the 1950s, the establishment of the Republican Jewish Coalition in the 1980s, the Bernie Madoff scandal that shook up global Jewish philanthropy in 2008 and the creation and financing of Birthright, one of the most ambitious and well-funded Jewish communal programs.
Disclaimer: Berman, who spent several years digging through private archives and personal records and interviewing relevant figures, begins the book with a unique disclaimer: the concern that she could be “treading the same ground that has provided fodder for antisemitic theories of Jewish power or domination.” She told JI that she doesn’t feel “like I tried to back away from something or made decisions that I couldn’t talk about things because I was scared — I never felt constrained. But it was very important to choose my words wisely, to make sure that anything I was saying I could very responsibly back up with the historical evidence that I had found. That’s always what a good historian is supposed to do.”
Looking ahead: Berman notes how the history and identity of global Jewry played a role in many organizations’ decisions, and may have fueled the desire to build endowments and plan long term. As Jews in America found success and middle-class comfort, they were “trying to reckon with the fact that a third of world Jewry had been murdered [in the Holocaust]… and that kind of creates a logic for endowment,” she told JI. “You don’t need millions of dollars in this particular minute to create identities, but you want these kinds of visions of the money existing in perpetuity so that Jews and Jewish identity will exist in perpetuity,” she added. “I think that that has a very specific historical and psychological grounding in American Jewish life.”
Facebook will no longer allow Holocaust denial on its platforms
Facebook announced on Monday that it will ban content “that denies or distorts the Holocaust” from the social media platform, a reversal of a controversial policy that did not remove Holocaust denial-related content.
Drawing a line: In a public Facebook post, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that the decision came in part due to rising global antisemitism. “I’ve struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust,” Zuckerberg wrote. “My own thinking has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as have our wider policies on hate speech. Drawing the right lines between what is and isn’t acceptable speech isn’t straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance.”
Cause and effect: ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt welcomed the announcement, noting a rise in antisemitic incidents across the country and recent polling showing that young Americans have an “alarmingly low” amount of knowledge about the Holocaust. “The sum total of that led Mark, in part, to think, ‘Should we do something here?’” Greenblatt told JI’s Melissa Weiss.
Our town: Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations CEO William Daroff has been engaged in conversations with Facebook over its controversial content for several years. On Monday evening, he spoke via Zoom with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and the company’s head of policy in Israel, Jordana Cutler. “Facebook has become very much the town square of our town — our Jewish town, our American town, our world town,” Daroff said. “And so ensuring that Facebook is there to work together to battle against the rising tide of antisemitism is important.”
Bonus: Zuckerberg has spent more than $10 million through his family’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative backing a California tax reform measure that is on the ballot next month, and has donated an additional $100 million to local election administrators.
🎥 Colorful Career:The New Yorker’s Rachel Syme interviews actor Mandy Patinkin about his four-decade career, his newfound social media stardom, his first-ever trip to New York with his dad for his bar mitzvah and his time undercover at a yeshiva in Monsey while researching for “Yentl.” [NewYorker]
🚫 Stand Down:In The New York Times, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik urges people to leave Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s religion out of their criticism. “A judge’s jurisprudence… are worthy matters of debate, and they are appropriate reasons to oppose or support Judge Barrett’s nomination. But her faith is not.” [NYTimes]
🕍 New Era:Author Tevi Troy reflects in Tablet magazine about the ways that COVID-19 is changing American Jewish life — perhaps permanently. “It seems safe to predict that the American Jewish community that emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic will be more fractured and fractious than the community that existed before it.” [Tablet]
Around the Web
🛬 Open Gates: Israel has approved the immigration of more than 2,000 Ethiopian Jews, roughly a quarter of the remaining Jews in the East African nation.
🤝 Sit Down: World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend “to discuss a range of issues regarding Palestine and the Middle East.”
🕯️ Grim Tally: Israel passed the milestone of 2,000 dead of COVID-19 yesterday, as the government meets today to decide on loosening lockdown restrictions.
⛽ Still Waiting: Five years after a landmark deal in Israel to develop offshore gas fields, electricity prices in the country remain high with no relief in sight.
📰 Media Watch:The New York Times’s Ben Smith explores the controversial ISIS reporting done by his colleague, Rukmini Callimachi.
💰 Dark Money: Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black sent upwards of $50 million to Jeffrey Epstein in the decade following Epstein’s 2008 conviction for solicitation of a minor.
🗞️ Corrections Dept: In a New York Timescolumn lamenting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to back out of a memorial for Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Roger Cohen removed an off-the-record comment from her staff saying she did not want to either “endorse” or “indict” Rabin’s legacy.
☑️ Identity Question:New York Times ethicist columnist Kwame Anthony Appiah answers a question from a Jewish reader who says they don’t want to select the “white” box on forms.
📻 Say What: Firebrand radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed “it’s only fair” to note that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is Jewish in relation to the confirmation hearing of Catholic Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
👮 Crack Down: Five houses of worship in New York City were each fined up to $15,000 for operating despite COVID-19 restrictions, after a federal judge ruled against a lawsuit by Agudath Israel of America on Friday.
😷 Hot Take:In The Atlantic, Yehuda Kurtzer laments the ultra-Orthodox anti-mask protests in Brooklyn, claiming that “people of faith should be the first to understand” our obligations to each other.
💄 You’re Fired: A British beauty blogger was fired from Grazia magazine after her past antisemitic social media posts surfaced.
🎬 Hollywood: Israeli actress Gal Gadot was cast as Cleopatra in an upcoming film, leaving some people claiming the role should have gone to an Arab woman.
📺 Coming Soon: HBO Max has purchased the rights to the upcoming Israeli show “Valley of Tears,” a 10-part miniseries about the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
🏆 Big Win: Jewish American economist Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson shared the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on auction theory.
⚾ Sports Blink: Presumptive new Mets owner Steven Cohen is reportedly aiming to overhaul the team’s technology and sink millions into boosting its prospects.
Gif of the Day
Israeli singer Omer Adam celebrated Simchat Torah in Dubai over the weekend, making him the first Israeli performer to visit the UAE following the historic Abraham Accords.
Retired nurse, health educator and mother of Ethan Bronner, she is the youngest of 11 children and hails from the Horowitz-Margareten matzo-making clan, Leah Bronner turns 103…
Encino, Calif., resident, Sonia Bordo turns 83… Former deputy assistant secretary at the USDA, now an attorney working on organic food law, Richard D. Siegel turns 81… Musician, singer, songwriter, best known for his lead role in the Simon & Garfunkel duo, Paul Simon turns 79… Chair of the Anti-Defamation League, Esta Gordon Epstein turns 77… Former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, now a sports media consultant, Ari Fleischer turns 60… Managing director at Finsbury Glover Hering’s Glover Park Group, Jack Krumholtz turns 59… Former Associated Press bureau chief in Israel, now a journalist in the Indian state of Goa, Steven Gutkin turns 56…
Attorney on leave of absence from DLA Piper while his wife, Senator Kamala Harris, runs for VPOTUS, Douglas Emhoff turns 56… Chairwoman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment, Dana Freedman Walden turns 56… Rick Lamke turns 56… Film director, producer and screenwriter, Amy J. Berg turns 50… Award-winning actor and comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen turns 49… Israeli fashion model, Shiraz Tal turns 46… Author, novelist and blogger, Emily Gould turns 39… Associate at Seattle’s Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, he is temporarily serving as a regional voter protection director for the DNC, Josh Friedmann turns 32… Congressional reporter for NBC News, Rebecca Shabad turns 31… Executive director at Hillel at Ohio University, Sarah Livingston…