👋 Good Thursday morning and happy Tu Bishvat!
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) has deleted a tweet he posted on Sunday that called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians have access to the Covid vaccine.” The tweet also declared: “This cruelty is another reminder of why the occupation must end.”
Earlier in the week, Jewish leaders were quick to publish responses to Bowman that explained how “The Palestinian government is party to the Oslo Agreement, which in Article 17 declares that it is responsible for the health of its citizens.”
Yesterday, Bowman tweeted in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, stating that, “The Holocaust was an unspeakable horror that stole 6 million Jewish lives. On today’s #HolocaustRemembranceDay, we mourn. But we also must recommit to ending antisemitism in all of its forms, and acknowledging that the fight against hate is far from over.”
Yesterday’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day events — most of which were moved online due to the pandemic — looked a little different this year. In Paris, France’s Holocaust memorial was vandalized with graffiti reading “Uighur Lives Matter.” At the Vatican, Pope Francis warned of the possibility that another genocide could occur, and in Austria and Slovakia hundreds of survivors received the COVID-19 vaccine.
President Joe Biden recalled learning about the Holocaust from conversations with his father. “The passion he felt that we should have done more to prevent the Nazi campaign of systemic mass murder has stayed with me my entire life,” the president said in statement, noting that he brought all of his children to visit the Dachau concentration camp, and hopes to do the same for his grandchildren.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi yesterday and “discussed regional security challenges and the importance of continued cooperation,” according to the State Department.
The Biden administration paused the sale of F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates — approved following the Abraham Accords last year — in order to review the deal, something Blinken said in his first press conference yesterday is “typical at the start of an administration.” Blinken also said the administration hopes there will be “an opportunity to build on” the accords.
A delay in the 2020 census, and therefore expected redistricting, has left both Democrats and Republicans scrambling to plan for the 2022 midterm elections.
Mayor of the 305
Meet the first Jewish mayor of Miami-Dade County
Daniella Levine Cava cleared an array of hurdles when she was elected mayor of Miami-Dade County in November, becoming the first woman as well as the first Jew ever to hold the job. “I am very proud to be the first woman mayor,” Levine Cava said in a recent interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “I’m surprised there has not been one before. But it just seems very natural and normal to be here. As far as being the first Jewish person to hold the post, we have a very strong Jewish community in Miami-Dade County, and circumstance would have it that this is my fate.”
Tough race: Perhaps the most formidable obstacle Levine Cava overcame was one that a number of other Democratic candidates in South Florida failed to surmount. Despite successful efforts in the county overall, Levine Cava was unaffected by the GOP campaign painting Democrats as socialists and radical leftists. “My campaign was truly about listening to people, caring about their concerns, focusing on basic quality-of-life issues as I’ve done my whole life,” said Levine Cava, who worked in child welfare and founded a Miami-based nonprofit before she entered politics as a county commissioner seven years ago. “I think people really related to that and really didn’t care about the accusations that maybe I was going to defund police or something — which I, of course, wasn’t. There were a lot of lies that just didn’t stick with the public because they already had a relationship with me or had learned about me through the campaign.”
Overcoming COVID: As mayor, Levine Cava’s immediate goal is to help the county get past the pandemic, which has gutted the travel industry as cases in Florida continue to rise. “We live in paradise,” she said. “We have many people moving here, which is a great boon to us. People want to visit, and so we are going to be working as hard as ever to make sure that we build back better.” Levine Cava contracted COVID-19 in late November just two weeks after assuming office — an inauspicious start to her first term in office but one she took in stride. Her symptoms were mild, she told JI, but she still suffers from some lingering congestive issues. “It’s very sobering,” she said. “I worked throughout the time virtually, and was able to spend a lot of time communicating with the public about the disease and my own experience as well.”
Communal ties: Levine Cava, a member of Temple Israel of Greater Miami, said she feels a strong connection to her faith. “It has continued to be a meaningful part of my life,” she told JI, adding that she and her husband became more deeply involved with attending synagogue after their children left home. “We started to study Torah,” Levine Cava said. She has visited Israel three times and says she maintains good relationships with the Israeli Consulate in Miami. As a former county commissioner representing a constituency including farmers, Levine Cava said she worked to facilitate agricultural partnerships with Israel. “I was very interested in how we could work together on innovations in farming as well on water technology.”
High praise: Ron Klein, a former Florida congressman who chairs the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said the newly elected mayor is an “authentic” leader whose campaign message carried broad appeal in a charged political atmosphere exacerbated by the pandemic. “She was probably the right person for the right time,” he told JI. “She wasn’t making up a story. It was her.” Nikki Fried, the first Jewish woman ever elected to statewide office in Florida as agriculture commissioner, said Levine Cava’s victory “means so much… she’s leading the way for others, showing the Jewish community and little girls everywhere that it’s possible to break these ceilings.”
Nicole Malliotakis calls for unity amid House GOP divisions
Republicans entered the 117th Congress riding high off a series of unexpected election victories. Now, Republicans in the House are facing deep fractures over votes to overturn the Electoral College as well as members who chose to impeach former President Donald Trump. But freshman Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), who represents Staten Island and South Brooklyn, believes the party will be strongest when it comes together, she told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod on Tuesday.
Repairing fractures: Malliotakis told Jewish Insider she opposes efforts to remove Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), who voted to impeach Trump, arguing that the party needs to stick together. “If we stand united as a conference, being that the margin is so close, that we can have an impact on shaping some of the legislation. If the president is truly open to hearing what all Americans have to say, we represent millions of Americans and their voices need to be heard as well,” Malliotakis said.
Looking abroad: Malliotakis was one of several GOP freshmen selected on Monday to join the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee, and said she hopes Biden will take advantage of the momentum of the Abraham Accords. She also praised Trump’s efforts to isolate Iran on the global stage. “The more pressure that we’re placing on them with these agreements with the neighboring nations puts more pressure on them economically,” she said. “I think that perhaps we can have an opportunity to negotiate in good faith at some point.”
For all Americans: Malliotakis suggested that Biden could turn to Republicans, rather than what she called the “radical left,” for support in advancing policies on COVID recovery, the economy and transportation and infrastructure. But she emphasized that she does not see Biden’s recent executive orders as in line with his inaugural pledge to be a president for “all Americans,” adding: “We should be able to expect [him]… to listen to what our concerns are, and try to address them. Unity is a two-way street.”
ON THE HILL
Biden’s U.N. ambassador nominee pledges to support Israel at the U.N.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, President Joe Biden’s pick for ambassador to the United Nations, pledged to stand behind Israel in her role at the U.N. during her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing yesterday, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Singled out: “I look forward to standing with Israel, standing against the unfair targeting of Israel, the relentless resolutions that are proposed against Israel unfairly,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “It goes without saying that Israel has no closer friend than the United States and I will reflect that in my actions at the United Nations.” She also condemned the BDS movement, saying it “verges on antisemitism” and should “not be allowed to have a voice at the United Nations.”
Building up: The former assistant secretary of state for African affairs praised the recent normalization agreements between Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, describing them as opportunities for further progress both within the U.N. and around the globe. “We need to push those countries to change their approach at the United Nations,” she said. “If they’re going to recognize Israel in the Abraham Accords, they need to recognize Israel’s rights at the United Nations.”
Radio silence: Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee did not raise the issue of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, a 2016 measure that declared that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories have “no legal validity” and constitute “a flagrant violation under international law.” In a rare step, the U.S. broke with Israel at the time and abstained in the Security Council vote on the resolution. In 2017, 78 senators cosponsored a resolution condemning the resolution.
🔓 Fight for Freedom: The Baltimore Sun’s Justin Fenton reveals how billionaire Isaac Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment, hired trial consultant Josh Dubin to push former President Donald Trump to pardon Jawad Musa, a Baltimore man he had never met serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. “I’m the American Dream. I never graduated college, never had the opportunity to go,” the Israeli-born Perlmutter said in his first news interview since 1985. “I came here with $250, and the rest is history.” [BaltimoreSun]
😢 Bad Memories: Holocaust survivors living in Israel are struggling with COVID lockdowns and long-term social distancing, exhibiting higher rates of post-traumatic stress than the general population, Steve Hendrix and Shira Rubin report in The Washington Post. “They’re returning back to memories of the ghetto, of the camps, of death,” said one psychiatrist. “Some of my patients feel that this is like Auschwitz.” [WashPost]
🎖️ Family History: In The New York Times, Silvia Foti, the granddaughter of a Lithuanian Nazi collaborator, explores how her grandfather’s legacy as a war hero has been distorted to erase his complicity in the mass murder of Lithuania’s Jews. “He is a microcosm of the entire national story, and that national story echoes across Eastern Europe.” [NYTimes]
🌍 Shifting Alliances: In Foreign Policy, Shlomo Roiter Jesner posits that Qatar, the biggest provider of funds to Gaza, “understands that the best place to reassert its importance as a regional actor is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” But the recent Qatari reconciliation with the Gulf could spell change in the region, he argues. [FP]
Around the Web
🚢 Bid Review: Israeli officials have granted security clearance to the UAE’s DP World to bid on the Haifa seaport, but are still scrutinizing the bid of Turkey’s Yildirim Holding AS.
💥 Tense Ties: Violent backlash in ultra-Orthodox communities over COVID-19 restrictions is jeopardizing the once-solid alliance between haredi political parties and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
⛓️ Walking Free: Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the release of the man who was convicted of beheading U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
⚔️ Fighting Words: An Iranian official accused Israel of waging “psychological war,” following IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi’s comments this week about preparation for an attack on Iran.
🚓 Locked Up: Iran has arrested an Iranian-American on charges of spying as he was attempting to leave the country.
📉 Debut: Israeli shipping company Zim raised $218 million in its New York Stock Exchange IPO, falling short of the estimate it set last week.
👑 Thanks But No Thanks: Many historians and Jewish groups said a recent apology to Holocaust victims from a descendant of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III was too little, too late.
💸 Making Amends: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said she will pay a fine after previously failing to disclose a stock purchase her husband made last year in a polling company.
📈 Cashing In: The crowd-sourced surge of GameStop stock has most benefited Ryan Cohen, co-founder of Chewy, who owns a 13% stake in the company.
🖼️ Art Ado: Leon Black is still the chair of the Museum of Modern Art’s board, despite announcing plans to step down from Apollo Global following a report into his ties to Jeffrey Epstein.
🎥 Spotlight: The Paley Center has launched a quarterly web series exploring the role media plays in combating antisemitism and Holocaust denial.
🥪 Closing Time: Los Angeles deli Jerry’s has closed up shop after a series of closures and reopenings and rebrandings in recent years.
📚 Book Shelf: A new picture book for children, Nicky & Vera, tells the story of Nicholas Winston, the British man who rescued 669 Jewish children during the Holocaust.
🎙️ Mic Drop: New York Jewish grandmothers Rita Kaye and Ellin Grodsky are launching “Call Your Grandmother,” a podcast focused on dating and pop culture.
🎂 Celebration: Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and Mayim Bialik attended a virtual 90th birthday celebration for Marion Wiesel, the widow of Elie Wiesel.
😔 Mourning: Larry King’s widow, Shawn King, told ET that he was buried soon after his death since, “in the Jewish faith, they do it very quickly, so you almost don’t have time to, for me, to process.”🕯️ Remembering: Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, a pioneer in treating AIDS, died at age 88.
Gif of the Day
Israeli musician Dennis Lloyd, aka Nir Tibor, has released a new song, “Anxious,” inspired by his own experiences with anxiety and panic attacks.
Senior U.S. District Court judge for the Central District of California, Judge Dean Douglas Pregerson turns 70…
Retired dentist in Jupiter, Florida, Joel I. Goldberg turns 76… Former chair of the political science department of the Hebrew University, Avraham Diskin turns 74… 26th National president of Hadassah from 2016 through 2019, Ellen Hershkin turns 74… U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) turns 74… Attorney and lobbyist, Kenneth Levine turns 73… Actress and singer, Barbi Benton turns 71… Elayne Z. Wolf turns 71… Chairman and founder of London-based Stellar Group Limited, Jonathan Ian Barnett turns 70… Freelance writer and a 2009 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Reba Carmel turns 68… NYC-based advisor and fin-tech investor, Donna Redel turns 68… Director at UCLA Center for Community Learning, Shalom David Staub turns 65… Angel investor, Mark N. Schwartz turns 65…
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 2006 until last year, Amy H. Handlin turns 64… Executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Robert B. Satloff turns 59… Chairman of Genesis Philanthropy Group and a member of the Taglit-Birthright Israel Planning Committee, Gennady Gazin turns 56… Founder and CEO of Lyons Capital LLC, Jason Lyons turns 52… Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Amy Coney Barrett turns 49… CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego, Michael Jeser turns 45… VP of content and strategy at Zeno Group, Ariel Bashi turns 39… Israeli theatre and movie actress, Adi Bielski turns 39… Director at London-based Park Hill Group, he is also chair of Tamid Group, Max Heller turns 30… Financial analyst for Goldman Sachs, Perry Bloch turns 26… Actress and singer, she stars as Ashlyn Caswell in the Disney+ series “High School Musical,” Julia Lester turns 21…