👋 Good Monday morning!
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced additional House committee assignments.
Congresswoman-elect Sara Jacobs (D-CA) was the only incoming House freshman named to the Foreign Affairs Committee. “I look forward to bringing my experience in U.S. foreign policy and international organizations — and my voice as a millennial who has never known a day in my adult life that the United States has not been at war — to the committee as we work to rebuild America’s standing in the world,” Jacobs told Jewish Insider in a statement.
Congresswoman-elect Kathy Manning (D-NC) told JI last month that she was hoping to join Foreign Affairs. Instead, Manning was tapped for the Education and Labor Committee. Additional committee assignments are likely to be announced in January.
Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) is also joining Foreign Affairs and Reps.-elect Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM), and Frank Mrvan (D-IN) are joining Education and Labor. Reps.-elect Cori Bush (D-MO) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY) were nominated to the Judiciary Committee. Reps.-elect Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Marie Newman (D-IL), Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), and Marilyn Strickland(D-WA) were selected for Transportation and Infrastructure.
Rep.-elect Ritchie Torres (D-NY) told the New York Post that he will not join the group of progressive House legislators known as “The Squad” once in Washington, citing his support for Israel as a key difference.
In Georgia, Orthodox Rabbis Ilan Feldman from Atlanta and Avigdor Slatus from Savannah penned a letter to Rev. Raphael Warnock expressing concerns over the Senate candidate’s past statements on Israel. This follows a letter from last month signed by nearly 200 rabbis defending Warnock.
Three Georgia Senate candidates — Warnock, Jon Ossoff and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) — wrote letters to the Jewish community in The Atlanta Jewish Times over the weekend.
Likud and Blue and White struck a deal to further delay the Dec. 23 Knesset deadline for passing a state budget in order to buy more time for negotiations seeking to avoid a new election in Israel. Legislation codifying the deal must be passed by the full Knesset, and support for the move has appeared to waver.
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner arrived in Israel today ahead of a historic flight from Tel Aviv to Rabat tomorrow to discuss the Israel-Morocco normalization deal. He is slated to attend a tree-planting ceremony in Jerusalem this afternoon.
Spread the word! Invite your friends to sign up and earn JI swag through our ambassador program.
Canada’s ambassador to the UAE is celebrating Jewish life in the Emirates
When Marcy Grossman celebrated Hanukkah in the United Arab Emirates last year, it was a subdued, underground affair. But this year, said Grossman, who has served as Canada’s ambassador to the UAE since October 2019, the celebrations reached another dimension. Grossman spoke to Jewish Insider‘s Amy Spiro about her posting in Abu Dhabi and the transformation that has occurred in the country since the Abraham Accords.
New era: “It’s a different world,” Grossman told JI in a video interview from Abu Dhabi on the seventh night of Hanukkah. “I was in Dubai last week for the start of Hanukkah… there were three major Hanukkah celebrations to choose from, there was a 12-foot menorah put up in front of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, there was ‘Sevivon’ [the dreidel song] being sung in the streets, there were kippot, there was kosher food — it’s just unbelievable, really,” she added. “And it just keeps growing.”
Big move: Grossman, a career officer with the Canadian Foreign Service, first arrived in the UAE in 2018, as Canada’s consul general to Dubai. After close to 20 years serving in cities across the U.S., Grossman was ready for a change — and grateful when one came her way. “Dubai was really calling to me, I don’t know why,” she told JI. “I was really thrilled when I got matched to Dubai. I like to say that Dubai picked me.” And she was prepared for a certain level of culture shock in the Emirates. “I had no idea what to expect when I was coming to the UAE,” recalled Grossman. “I didn’t know how I was going to be received, I didn’t know what it was like to be a woman in the UAE… I was wondering what it was going to be like as a Jewish woman here.” But any reservations she had before arriving were quickly assuaged. “I’ve always felt very, very, very warmly welcomed here and respected.”
Going public: Within a few months of arriving in Dubai in 2018, Grossman sought to track down the local Jewish community, which at the time was operating largely under the radar. “I had heard there was a Jewish community but I did not know anyone in it, and anyone from it, and I had no idea how to find it,” Grossman recalled. After making a few calls, she managed to connect with the organizers of the home-based synagogue and was able to attend gatherings, “but it was still very quiet, and very subdued.” Things first began to change in late 2019, but the announcement of the Abraham Accords this summer shifted everything into high speed. “I can’t even tell you how many Jewish Canadians, Jewish Israeli-Canadians have reached out to me and talked to me about wanting to come here,” Grossman said. “It’s just really incredible. It’s just been nonstop.”
Front row seat to peace: Grossman told JI that she always hoped — but never quite imagined — that she would occupy a front-row seat to Middle East peace. “I joined the Foreign Service 20 years ago always with a view in mind of somehow making a contribution to peace in the Middle East,” she said. “I didn’t know how that was going to transpire, I certainly never expected it to happen in the UAE. I feel so blessed and so honored to actually be here at this time.” The ambassador said she has been blown away by the number of Israelis who have flooded into the Emirates over the past month alone. “It’s just amazing how warm and welcoming the peace has been and how many people have come here,” she said, opening up “some really, really interesting new ways of working.”
The Black Jewish leader atop Canada’s Green Party
Last Wednesday evening, Annamie Paul, Canada’s newly elected Green Party leader, gathered with friends and family for a virtual menorah lighting ceremony on Zoom. Ever since she clinched the leadership role nearly three months ago, Paul has kept up a demanding schedule, but with Hanukkah in full swing, she seemed grateful for the opportunity to slow down and reflect on her achievement with those who are close to her. “I’m incredibly moved somehow,” Paul, 48, told the group, adding: “I am the first Jewish woman as a federal leader to be able to do this, and the first Jewish person since 1975.” Paul discussed her historic victory in further detail with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Breaking the mold: Paul, a lawyer who lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons, broke a number of barriers when she prevailed through eight rounds of ranked-ballot voting and emerged victorious in early October to become not only the first Jewish woman to take the helm of a federal party in Canada, but also the first Black party leader in Canadian history. “Those were a lot of firsts packed into one person,” she said, noting that she didn’t try to make her identity a central part of her campaign. Still, Paul acknowledges that the historic win may give her increased license to help reshape her party’s image, which is often associated with environmental advocacy. “But that’s not really the source of everything,” said Paul, emphasizing her ambition to bring new attention to a broader array of social policies such as guaranteed livable income and decriminalizing illicit drugs.
Background: The daughter of Caribbean immigrants, Paul grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Toronto and has always felt something of an affinity for Judaism. In law school, she met her husband, Mark Freeman, a human rights lawyer who is Jewish. She converted in 2000 during her time at Princeton University, where she received her master’s in public affairs. Her spiritual guide was Rabbi Jim Diamond, the university’s Hillel director, who died in a car crash in 2013. “He was a wonderful mentor,” said Paul, who spent a year studying closely with Diamond. “It’s been 20-plus years now, and it’s an important part of my life,” Paul said of her faith. “We have two kids, and they’re both bar mitzvahed, one in Spain and one here in Toronto.”
Views on Israel: Paul’s views on Israel are primarily aligned with the liberal advocacy group J Street, says Richard Marceau, vice president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. Paul, who has visited Israel twice, supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and opposes both annexation and the BDS movement. In 2016, the Green Party passed a resolution supporting BDS but later that year put out a revised policy calling “on the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people and the State of Israel to accord mutually recognized statehood.” Marceau expressed hope that Paul would push back against BDS during her tenure as Green Party leader.
New Year’s resolutions: Paul is well-attuned to international affairs thanks to her years working abroad in Europe, but she made clear in conversation with JI that she is now largely focused on domestic concerns, noting that she had no immediate plans to visit Israel again because she is trying to reduce her carbon footprint. For the most part, she has been working to introduce herself to Canadians and give them a sense of her approach. Though her relatively low profile in national politics may hinder her effort to popularize Green Party talking points, she believes that the pandemic has forced Canadians to embrace a new path forward. “Around the world, when Green Parties make breakthroughs, it’s usually in moments like that, in moments of disruption,” Paul said, “moments where people are ready to take a leap.”
Tufts student body passes anti-Israel referendum targeting campus police
The student-run Tufts University Elections Commission certified the results of a November referendum targeting trainings and conferences for U.S. law enforcement in Israel, delivering a symbolic win to the campus’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which sponsored the ballot initiative. University officials have already said they will not take action as a result of the referendum, which passed 1,725-665, with 161 abstentions, reports Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss.
Pushback: A student involved in the effort to oppose the referendum criticized the election commission’s decision to certify the results despite acknowledging procedural irregularities — one of which was the commission’s own failure to hold a mandated forum ahead of the vote. “Frankly, this is what happens when you have the same entity being the judge, jury, executioner and defense,” the Tufts student told JI. “[The elections commission] essentially cleared themselves of any wrongdoing.”
Not so fast: Both the university and the ADL have challenged the claims made by the campus’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. “While we respect students’ right to make their voices heard on this or any issue, we believe the referendum was misinformed,” said Patrick Collins, executive director of public relations at the university. ADL New England regional director Robert Trestan told JI in a statement: “The referendum campaign intentionally was based on misinformation and innuendo, twisting the very important issue of police reform and using it as an opportunity to contrive facts, vilify Israel and isolate Jewish students on campus.”
For comparison: A second referendum item, focused on the private prison industry, passed by a vote of 2,245-198. The Tufts student who spoke to JI attributed the vote disparity between the two measures to an extensive get-out-the-vote effort led by Jewish students ahead of the referendum. “It does demonstrate that even at ‘social justice lefty Tufts,’ people know antisemitism when they see it.”
📰 End of an Era: Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who will retire this month as chairman of The New York Times, told The Guardian’s Charles Kaiser that he knew the paper needed “to develop new sources of revenue to support the continuation of our journalistic mission… Adapt or die.” [Guardian]
🇮🇱🇺🇸 Parallels: Tel Aviv University sociologist Nissim Mizrachi explained to The New York Times’s David Halbfinger why Israeli Jews of Mizrahi descent have consistently remained politically right wing, what that explains about Trump supporters and why liberal ideas fail “to reach the hearts and minds of working-class people.” [NYTimes]
⏳ Against the Clock: In The Washington Post, Michael Ruane spotlights how Holocaust survivors are turning to Zoom to record their stories for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s oral history project — before it’s too late. “By the time this pandemic is over, a lot of these people may not be here.” [WashPost]
🚫 Stop the Spread: In The New York Times, authors John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro look at the 1947 smallpox outbreak in New York City and the efforts of the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Israel Weinstein, to organize a city-wide vaccination campaign that curbed the virus’s spread. [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🚔 Seeking Answers: Israeli police are investigating whether the murder of a Jewish mother of six in the West Bank last night was a terrorist attack.
💉 Role Model: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first person in Israel to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday night, as Israel kicks off its first wave of vaccinations.
📵 Fake News: Facebook in Israel removed misleading and inaccurate content about vaccines over the weekend at the request of the government.
😷 Safety First: Israel has instituted mandatory hotel-based quarantine for all arriving travelers beginning on Wednesday, due to fears over the new COVID mutation.
📱Big Cousin: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have reportedly been using advanced software from Israel’s NSO Group to spy on journalists from Al Jazeera.
⏪ Rewind: Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken might seek to walk back some parts of the incentives the Trump administration provided to the UAE, Morocco and Sudan to convince them to sign normalization deals with Israel, according to longtime associate and former Obama White House colleague Rob Malley.
⛪ Living History: Israeli archaeologists have recreated the tiles from a temple on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem upon which the New Testament says Jesus once walked.
🕊️ Table Talk: In a statement with his Jordanian and Egyptian counterparts, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki called on Israel to return to peace negotiations.
💃 Cyber Harassment: A French beauty pageant contestant was inundated with antisemitic messages on social media after mentioning her father’s Israeli roots.
⚖️ Behind Bars: A German court sentenced Stephan Balliet to life in prison for the murder of two people during his attempted attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur last year.
👩⚖️ Naming Rights: Rutgers University will rename one of its residence halls after the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who taught there from 1963-1972.
🚓 Vandals: Police are searching for two suspects caught on a security camera spray painting a swastika onto the side of a Bais Yaakov in South Slope, Brooklyn.
🕎 On the Quad: A menorah on Dartmouth University’s campus was vandalized with a pellet gun last week.
✉️ Backlash: An anti-racism letter signed by dozens of faculty at the Upper East Side’s Dalton School has sparked an uproar among parents who accuse the school of “virtue-signaling.” “My ancestors experienced white supremacy by being slaughtered,” a Jewish parent was quoted telling the New York Post. “The idea that being white automatically means you are privileged or a white supremacist is ridiculous.”
🎙 Podcast Playback: On the new Post Corona podcast, John Podhoretz and Dan Senor ponder “Is Broadway over?” Podhoretz explains how live theater became central to New York’s economy and lays out the challenges it faces even with vaccines, including “ideological demands of the moment that were not present” before. Podhoretz weighs whether plays like the “fashion forward” Broadway hit “Hamilton” could open in this new environment: “People are deperately trying to prove that Alexander Hamilton, who was an early opponent of slavery… may have owned a slave, and therefore is canceled.”
📚 Back in Print: Book editors Cindy Spiegel and Julie Grau, formerly of the Penguin Random House imprint Spiegel & Grau, are reviving their imprint as an independent endeavor.
🥯 Nosh: New Yorker food critic Hannah Goldfield reviews two recent entries to the New York bagel scene: Mark’s Off Madison and Edith’s. Over the weekend, JI’s Sam Zieve Cohen followed Goldfield’s advice, and especially recommends Edith’s schnecken.
🥪 Chow Down: Chicago Jewish deli Manny’s will feed 4,000 needy people on the city’s South Side on Monday, thanks to a donation from a local car dealership owner.
🕯️ Remembering: Writer and comedian Catie Lazarus died at 44.
Gif of the Day
Nurses and doctors at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital, which has been at the forefront of Israel’s pandemic response, dance in celebration before receiving the COVID vaccine.
CEO of WndrCo and the former CEO of DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg turns 70…
Former chair of the NY Fed and a partner at Goldman Sachs, Stephen Friedman turns 83… Producer of over 90 plays on and off Broadway for which she has won seven Pulitzer Prizes and ten Tony Awards, Daryl Roth turns 76… Born in Auschwitz five weeks before liberation, she is one of only two babies born there known to have survived, Angela Orosz-Richt turns 76… Artistic director of the New World Symphony, conductor, pianist and composer, Michael Tilson Thomasturns 76… Member of Knesset since 1999 for the Likud party, Haim Katz turns 73… Director of the L.A. Initiative at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, he was a member of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the L.A. City Council, Zev Yaroslavsky turns 72… Actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild, Barry Gordonturns 72…
Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney, Drew O. Findling turns 61… Four-star general who served as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, he retired in October 2020, David L. Goldfein turns 61… Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, Steven Mnuchin turns 58… NFL insider for ESPN, Adam Schefter turns 54… Owner of Liberty Consultants in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, Cherie Velez… Former member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party, Rachel Azaria turns 43… Founder and president of Junction Investments, Brian Goldsmith turns 39… Chief creative officer of Five Seasons Media, Josh Scheinblum turns 32… SVP in the financial services practice at NYC-based Bliss Integrated Communication, Julia Mellon turns 31… Politics editor for the Boston Globe, Joshua Miller…