Good Friday morning!
Yesterday, President-elect Joe Biden announced that he has made his selection for Treasury secretary, but won’t reveal who it is until next week.
‘Is the left wing overplaying its hand?‘ After progressive groups criticized Biden’s appointments of Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Steve Ricchetti, Politiconotes the aggressive tactics could lead Biden to tune them out altogether. “If all you do is escalate, then people eventually think that you’re enemies and not friends and they’re like: ‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists,’” Democratic strategist Jess Morales Rocketto told the publication.
Today, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden turns 78 today. In The Wall Street Journal, presidential historian and author Tevi Troy looks back at Biden’s clashes with former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin as a young senator — and draws a parallel between Begin, who spent 29 years working to become premier, and Biden, who waited 43 years since entering politics to become the most powerful leader in the world.
Before departing Israel this morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toldThe Jerusalem Post that “we’re still counting votes” in the presidential election, and would not answer questions about the upcoming transition.
Check out Jewish Insider’s ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into over the past week.
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Will Biden call up Dr. Mandy Cohen?
Mandy Cohen took over as North Carolina’s secretary of health and human services in 2017, after a decade-long career in federal government. These days, she is devoting most of her energy to keeping a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic at bay in her state — although observers speculate she could be heading back to D.C. as COVID-19 rages across the U.S. “This is nothing anyone has ever faced before,” Cohen told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview.
Beltway bound? Washington could be calling Cohen back as President-elect Joe Biden works to assemble a cabinet in the lead-up to his January 20 inauguration. In recent weeks, Cohen, 42, has emerged as a contender to lead the Department of Health and Human Services — a position that has taken on an unprecedented level of importance this year. Cohen said it was “flattering” to be considered and indicated that she would be interested in the position if the opportunity should present itself. However, she noted she has yet to hear directly from anyone on the transition team about the role.
Task at hand: Cohen emphasized that she is focused on the more immediate task of curbing the pandemic in her state. “As of right now,” Cohen told JI, “I’m here in North Carolina and doing the work.” Cohen oversees a department of 17,000 employees and is in charge of the state’s Medicaid program as well as mental health and economic services, among other things. Lately, she has marshaled the department’s resources toward addressing the virus as more than 325,000 people in North Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19 and cases and hospitalizations in the state continue to rise.
Background: Born in Baldwin, New York, Cohen attended the Yale School of Medicine and trained as a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. But she yearned to apply her medical background to public policy. Her first stop in D.C. was at the Department of Veterans Affairs, after which she spent several years at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and helped implement the Affordable Care Act. By the time North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, came calling, Cohen felt ready for a change. “It was an opportunity,” she said, “to continue the work I had done at the federal level, bring it here to the state and go beyond just the insurance component.”
Jewish values: Cohen, a member of Raleigh’s Conservative Beth Meyer Synagogue, has always had a strong connection with Judaism. “My Jewish identity is very much a part of who I am and how I lead here in the state,” she told JI, adding her belief that her faith complements her dedication to scientific inquiry. “I always joke that I think that Judaism is founded on public health,” Cohen mused. “It’s about kashrut and being kosher and washing your hands. We make that a point in our prayer. Pork and shellfish had a lot to do with disease-borne illnesses. I find that so fascinating. Before we even understood what germs were, we embedded into our cultural practices things that would stop the spread of germs.”
Rep. Susie Lee weighs in on Democrats’ swing district struggles
Rep. Susie Lee‘s (D-NV) reelection in Nevada’s 3rd district on Nov. 3 was something of an anomaly this year. Although House Democrats lost many of the swing districts they hoped to pick up — or in several cases, hold onto — Lee eked out a three-point win over former WWE fighter and Republican Dan Rodimer, down from her nine-point margin of victory in 2018. Lee spoke to Jewish Insider‘s Marc Rod about the tight race and her plans for the next two years in office.
Ballot breakdown: The newly reelected congresswoman told JI that she believes presidential election year dynamics were the source of the closer-than-expected race. “This is an electorate that performs better for Republicans in a presidential year than a midterm,” Lee said. “There was increased turnout… I think that was reflected on both Democrats and Republicans, and independents.” Lee was hesitant to weigh in definitively on why Democrats struggled to win at the polls until she had a chance to examine the data closely. “In 2018, many of my colleagues, like myself, won in districts that Trump had carried by many, many points, and Trump was not on the ballot,” she said. “And so you have to weigh that dynamic when you’re looking at these results, the impact of him being at the top of the ballot.”
Working together: The congresswoman interpreted the election results as a signal that the country remains divided, and that voters expect their representatives to work in a bipartisan manner to solve problems. “I take it as a mandate to continue the work that I have done to continue to find common ground, to work to find solutions that are going to impact the lives of the people I serve,” she said. “I think that there is a yearning for us to work together. I’m personally gonna take that to heart and continue to do the work that I’ve been doing.”
Department of Justice upholds deportation of Nazi camp guard Friedrich Karl Berger
The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed an appeal on Thursday by Friedrich Karl Berger, a former Nazi camp guard living in Tennessee who was ordered deported from the United States, according to an announcement from the Department of Justice, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. After a two-day trial last February, a judge ruled that Berger must be removed to Germany.
Background: Berger, who is in his mid-90s, worked during the war as an armed guard in a Neuengamme subcamp. The most important piece of evidence used in the case was an index card featuring Berger’s name and service details, which had been recovered from a sunken German ship in the Baltic Sea after the war. Prosecutors also assembled other supplemental Nazi-era documentation and historical information.
Eviction notice: Acting assistant attorney general Brian C. Rabbitt said in the statement: “Berger’s willing service as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp cannot be erased and will not be ignored. On the eve of tomorrow’s 75th anniversary of the commencement of the Nuremberg trials of the surviving leaders of the defeated Nazi regime, this case shows that the passage of time will not deter the Department from fulfilling the moral imperative of seeking justice for the victims of their heinous crimes.”
Nazi hunter: The appeal was handled by Eli Rosenbaum, the legendary Nazi hunter who serves in the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section. Rosenbaum also helped try the case in court. Over 40 years, Rosenbaum’s office has won 109 of 133 cases against former Nazis living in the United States, some of which ended because the defendants either died or became medically incapable of appearing in court.
Heard last night
Rivlin: Mideast peace cannot be achieved by ‘making a deal’
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin shared his views on why successive U.S. administrations have failed to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a one-on-one conversation with Rob Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, after receiving the prestigious Scholar-Statesman Award at the think thank’s virtual annual gala last night.
Step by step: Rivlin said he had privately shared with both former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump his plans to promote confidence-building measures and establish mutual trust before presenting a public framework. “Without confidence, we cannot get to any kind of agreement and understanding, to bring to an end the tragedy that we are living in and sign a real peace,” Rivlin said. “We can talk about ‘two states for two people,’ ‘one state for all the people,’ federation, confederation — but first of all we have to build confidence.”
Frankly speaking: Rivlin said he “tried to convince” Trump — before the president released his Mideast peace plan, initially boosted as the “Deal of the Century,” earlier this year — that “building confidence, you cannot get it by making a deal. You have to have confidence with somebody.” Rivlin said Trump “understood” his concerns and “wanted to learn more.” But currently, Rivlin opined, there is “no one who understands it in the region.”
Word on the street: The Abraham Accords facilitated by the Trump administration, Rivlin suggested, are a positive first step in that direction. “I really believe that when the [Arab Israelis] will go to Abu Dhabi, they will be asked, ‘Where are you from?’ They will say, ‘From Israel.’ ‘You are Arab?’ [the Emirati will ask with amusement]. They will say, ‘Yes we are. But we are Israelis.’ Then I know that we have found the solution, the right way to create real confidence between everyone in the region,” Rivlin explained. “And because of that, the Abraham Accords, I really believe, could be a real first step of finding the way of cooperation between Jews and Arabs in the region.” Rivlin expressed hope that this will convince both the Israelis and the Palestinians about the benefits of peace.
Administration to administration: Rivlin also weighed in on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, expressing his congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden, with whom he spoke by phone earlier this week, while noting the deep appreciation Israelis have for Trump. “We are not Republicans and we are not Democrats. We know we have a friend in the American people — [and it’s] bipartisan,” Rivlin stressed. “We know that the friendship between the Americans and the Israelis goes beyond politics. Everyone who was elected to become the president, we would like him to hear us, because we know that first of all he not only respects us because of our values, and our way of thinking, and our behavior, but also because we know we have a real strategic partnership in many fields.”
🌎 America First 2.0: In Politico, Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky lay out how they think Biden should “craft a foreign policy for a world the U.S. doesn’t rule,” including working “to de-escalate tensions with Tehran” via back channels or humanitarian aid. [Politico]
💼 Memories:The Washington Post’s Ben Terris looks back at the colorful figures who emerged over the past four years, described as the “Trump Guys,” including publicist and fixer Rob Goldstone — infamously known as the person who set up Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer — who now compares himself to former White House aide Monica Lewinsky. [WashPost]
💥 Fatal Flaws:Der Spiegel’s Uwe Buse, Christoph Reuter and Thore Schröder dive deep into the timeline leading up to the 2,750-ton explosion that ripped through Beirut’s port in August, a result of years of “missteps, corruption and incompetence.” [DerSpiegel]
⛹️♂️ Making History:The Washington Post’s Ava Wallace explores how the Washington Wizards’ newest draft pick, Israeli Deni Avdija, caught the eye of the team’s general manager, due to his parents’ athletic legacy and his star turn as the youngest player to ever play for Maccabi Tel Aviv’s senior team. [WashPost]
Around the Web
📈 Green Light:The state-run Israel Aerospace Industries has been given ministerial approval to move ahead with a filing on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
👨💼 Job Security: The Trump administration has tapped Aryeh Lightstone, a senior advisor to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, to head the newly created Abraham Fund for projects developed through the UAE-Israel peace deal.
🌊 Moving Ahead: Lebanon proposed a demarcation line for its maritime border with Israel as part of its ongoing talks with the Jewish state to settle the dispute.
🛬 On the Go: Israel was among three countries added to Britain’s safe travel list on Thursday.
💰 Cash Flow: Millions of dollars in ad spending are flooding Georgia’s two Senate runoff races, where Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are attempting to unseat Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
👩 Musical Chairs: Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are vying to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) as chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
🎙️ Podcast Playback:Wharton professor Adam Grant joined Dan Senor’s “Post Corona” podcast to discuss the future of work, capitalist kibbutzes and COVID-19’s effect on Israeli innovation.
🧑💻 Media Watch:BuzzFeedhas acquired Verizon Media’s HuffPost in a stock deal that would unite the two digital media companies in pursuit of more revenue.
🍔 Big Bite:Paul Singer’s Elliott Management is reportedly launching a takeover bid of Swiss baking company Aryzta, which supplies buns to McDonald’s.
💸 It’s a Deal:Investment bank Perella Weinberg is poised to go public with a blank-check company.
💲 ROI: Izzy Englander’s Millennium Management said it is planning to return $8 billion to investors by the end of the year.
🧑⚖️ Pushed Off: The trial of an Ohio man charged with threatening the Youngstown Jewish Community Center was delayed yet again due to the coronavirus.
👎 More Hate: Cleveland police are investigating a swastika and antisemitic graffiti found at a Jewish cemetery in the city.
🎓 Campus Beat: Students at the U.K.’s De Montfort University are calling for it to change its name due to namesake Simon de Montfort’s persecution of Jews.
👴 Life Story: Deutsche Welle spotlights the key role that war crimes investigator and prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, now 100, played in the Nuremberg trials.
📺 Now Streaming:The New York Timescalls “Soros,” a new documentary about billionaire financier George Soros, “unfocused” and not objective.
👨 Transition: Dylan Tatz has been named president of the Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust, where he previously served as executive vice president.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Pompeo M Series Psagot:
This week’s column comes to you from Dubai where I have spent the past week in this beautiful, energetic, clean and bustling city. When meeting with local companies and investors, the primary topic has been how to partner with Israeli companies following the Abraham Accords. However, a number of our new friends have also asked about Israeli wines and luckily I have a great recommendation for them — the new wine from Psagot Winery that is named after a dear friend, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Pompeo M Series Psagot tastes as miraculous as recent regional shifts and is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah grapes. The adventurous Syrah tickles the front palate, the soft Merlot from the rough terroir of the Judean Hills dances on your mid-palate and the brilliantly bright Cabernet subtly coats the back palate. The flavors all come together at the end with great resolve. Enjoy this wine with great friends and it is ready to drink now, or you can save it for when the next monumental Mideast peace agreement is announced.
CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan A. Greenblatt turns 50 on Saturday. “My wife says [it’s a] ‘quarantine surprise’ so we’ll see,” Greenblatt told JI in an email, when asked how he will celebrate.
FRIDAY: Retired dean at City University of New York, Dr. James Goldman turns 85… Art dealer and former owner of MLB’s Miami Marlins, Jeffrey Loria turns 80… President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden turns 78… Singer and songwriter, Norman Greenbaum turns 78… Former national security advisor of the United States and U.N. ambassador, John R. Bolton turns 72… Major-General (reserves) in the IDF, he is a former combat pilot, military attaché to Washington and head of Aman, Amos Yadlin turns 69… Long-time spokesman (now emeritus) to the foreign press at the Jewish Agency for Israel, Michael Jankelowitz turns 68… Pulitzer Prize-winning national affairs writer, Ron Suskind turns 61… White House official in both the Bush 41 and Bush 43 administrations, now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, Jay P. Lefkowitz turns 58… Pianist, composer and author, Robin Spielberg turns 58… Fashion designer, hotelier and real estate developer, Alan Faena turns 57… Vice chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and a trustee of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Heidi Monkarsh turns 56… Senior advisor at the National Science Foundation, Graciela Narcho turns 56… American-born former member of Knesset for the Likud party, Yehudah Glick turns 55… Founding member of the hip hop group the Beastie Boys, Michael Louis Diamond, better known as Mike D, turns 55… Founder and president of Greenlight Capital, David Einhorn turns 52… Boston-based real estate attorney at Goulston & Storrs, Zev D. Gewurz turns 49… Anchor for Yahoo Finance, Julie Hyman turns 44… Political consultant and founder of Beehive Research, Devorah Adler turns 46… Executive director at Aish HaTorah since last month, Rabbi Benjamin Gonsher turns 41… Former outfielder for four MLB teams, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and is now the player information coordinator for the Philadelphia Phillies, Sam Fuld turns 39… Director for North America at the Saban Family Foundation and the Cheryl Saban Self-Worth Foundation for Women & Girls, Jesse Bronner turns 39… Actress and writer, her decision to convert to Judaism was the subject of a 2006 article in The Sunday Times, Margo Stilley turns 38… Actress and playwright, Halley Feiffer turns 36… Health care reporter for Politico, Dan Goldberg turns 36…
SATURDAY: British entrepreneur and philanthropist, Baron Harold Stanley Kalms turns 89… Academy Award-winning actress, director, producer and occasional singer, Goldie Hawn turns 75… Founder of Men’s Wearhouse, now CEO of Generation Tux, an online tuxedo rental platform, George Zimmer turns 72… Beverly Hills resident, Julie Shuer turns 68… U.S. district judge for the Northern District of California, Judge Beth Labson Freeman turns 67… Chairman of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, Thomas Rothman turns 66… VP of wealth management at the San Francisco office of Taylor Frigon Capital Management, Jonathan Wornick turns 57… Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and op-ed columnist for TheNew York Times, Bret Stephens turns 47… Founder and publisher of the business magazine The Real Deal, Amir Korangy turns 47… Former NFL running back for the Raiders and Rams, he is now a real estate entrepreneur, Chad Levitt turns 45… Political director of ABC News, Rick Klein turns 44… Director of government relations at the Hershey Company, Joanna Liberman Turner turns 44… U.S. foreign service officer, Danielle Hana Monosson turns 44… Reporter at Bloomberg News and Businessweek, Max Abelson turns 36… Vice president for public affairs at Edelman, Alexis Weiss… Pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Robert Stock turns 31… Social media strategist at Anti-Defamation League, Alexander Freeman turns 29… Judy Brilliant… Ruth Shapiro…
SUNDAY: Former majority owner of MLB’s New York Mets, he was a high school teammate of Sandy Koufax, Fred Wilpon turns 84… Professor at NYU Law School, Sally Katzen turns 78… Novelist and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, Roger Lichtenberg Simon turns 77… Born to a Jewish family in Tunisia, he served as a member of the Canadian House of Commons (1997-2006), Jacques Saada turns 73… Former president of the Service Employees International Union, now a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project, Andy Stern turns 70… SVP of development for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, his bar mitzvah was at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Tim R. Cohen turns 67… Television personality with past shows on MSNBC, CNN and Bloomberg TV, Donny Deutsch turns 63… Silver Spring, Maryland, resident, Martin Robinson turns 63… Ukrainian businessman, best known for being the chairman of Dynamo Kyiv (Kiev’s soccer team) since 2002, Ihor Surkis turns 62… Author of multiple New York Times bestsellers, Peggy Orenstein turns 59… President of Nickelodeon, known professionally as Brian Robbins, Brian Levine turns 57… Senior editor and writer for The Daily Beast and columnist for the New York Daily News, Harry Siegel turns 43… Actress Scarlett Johansson turns 36… Manager of communications and media relations for theSkimm, Jessica Sara (Turtletaub) Pepper turns 35… Chief of staff of Israel’s Embassy in Washington, Yarden Golan… Actor Alden Ehrenreich turns 31… Social media personality known as Baby Ariel, she has 34.8 million followers on TikTok, Ariel Rebecca Martin turns 20…