👋 Good Friday morning and happy National Bagel Day 🥯!
Today, we’re launching a new podcast: Jewish Insider LLP (Limited Liability Podcast) is a new weekly podcast co-hosted by Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein.
Rich is a Republican and served as the director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction on the White House National Security Council during the Trump administration. He previously worked as chief of staff to former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and deputy chief of staff to former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).
Jarrod is a Democrat and served as the director of Jewish outreach (aka Jewish liaison) during the Obama administration. He also worked for former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Each week, Rich and Jarrod will share their perspectives on the latest news driving the conversation and have deep discussions with guests from across the political spectrum. This week’s guest is freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY). More highlights below.
Check out Jewish Insider’s latest ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into over the last several weeks.
Ritchie Torres vows to prevent the ‘Corbynization’ of progressive politics
Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-NY) cautioned about the rise of antisemitism in progressive politics during a wide-ranging conversation in the inaugural episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” hosted by Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein.
Man on a mission: Torres, who describes himself as “the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive,” said he is mindful of anti-Israel elements within the Democratic Party that have the ability to turn antisemitic. “We have an obligation to combat antisemitism no matter where it emerges, whether it’s from the right, from the left. It has to be fought at every turn and in every form,” he said. “My concern is that the pro-BDS left could be to the Democratic Party in American politics what Jeremy Corbyn has been to the Labour Party in British politics,” Torres cautioned. “It only takes a few demagogues to pump antisemitic poison into the bloodstream of a political party. And so I see it as my mission to resist the Jeremy Corbynization of progressive politics in the United States.”
Sending a message: Torres, a freshman representing New York’s 15th congressional district, addressed his hard-fought primary victory, which pitted him against a diverse group of Democratic candidates, from the conservative Rubén Díaz, Sr. to Democratic socialist Samelys López. “I had powerful forces arrayed against me — I had Bernie Sanders, [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], the [Working Families Party], the DSA, all endorsed Samelys López against me. And not only did I win, but I won decisively,” Torres said of his primary victory. “And I sent a powerful message that you can run as a pro-Israel, pragmatic progressive without catering to the extremes and you can win decisively in a place like the South Bronx.”
Ground zero: “New York City has become Ground Zero for Democratic socialism. In the latest election cycle, the [Democratic Socialists of America] won every single race in which it endorsed, except mine,” Torres noted. The former city councilmember seems intent on reversing that trend, endorsing the New York City mayoral run of Andrew Yang on Thursday morning. “Like myself, Andrew Yang is an idiosyncratic progressive,” Torres explained in the podcast.
Approach to Iran: Asked about re-entering the Iran nuclear deal, Torres told Goldberg and Bernstein that “we should negotiate a better deal rather than maintain the status quo.” He later added, “I would have concerns with arbitrarily lifting the sanctions and the effect had of releasing funds that could subsidize terrorism against Israel and our allies in the region.”
All aboard ‘Air Adelson’
Sheldon Adelson’s Airbus A345 touched down at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport yesterday, after completing the late casino magnate’s last flight aboard one of his beloved private jets. It was a fitting final journey for Adelson, who died this week at age 87 and will be laid to rest in Jerusalem today in the presence of his immediate family. Jewish Insider‘s Amy Spiro spoke to a handful of people about their own experiences aboard one of Adelson’s planes.
Message delivered: Abraham Foxman, the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told JI that he flew aboard Adelson’s jets on numerous occasions. But one specific journey, he said, stands out. “The first week of December, the year that President George W. Bush was elected, I flew to the West Coast for a series of speeches,” said Foxman. “As I arrived in Vegas to meet with the Adelsons, I received an invite to meet with the president on Tuesday.” Foxman said he told Adelson about the invitation, but noted that he wouldn’t be able to make it to the White House due to prior commitments. “He said, ‘Oh no — I will fly you in one of my planes round-trip — on condition you tell the president how you got there,’” Foxman recalled. “I went and delivered the message.”
Round trip: In 2015, Israeli basketball star Omri Casspi and his friend, investor and serial entrepreneur David Schottenstein, set out to bring a planeload of NBA stars and other celebrities to Israel to experience the country firsthand. But they wondered just how to transport them. “Someone connected Omri to Miriam and Sheldon, and let them know that there was this effort to try and bring NBA players to Israel,” Schottenstein recounted to JI. The couple immediately agreed to provide a plane round-trip to Tel Aviv for the project, and repeated the offer when the trip recurred in 2016. “They provided everything,” said Schottenstein. “It really was amazing how we had this vision to do this trip, and the Adelsons were like ‘whatever you need, we’re here for you guys, we’ll make it happen.’”
Saving lives: Earlier this year, one of the Adelson planes made a special flight from Miami to Tel Aviv to bring home Eli Beer, the president and founder of United Hatzalah, after he spent more than a month in a Miami hospital battling COVID-19, including a period in an induced coma. Once he recovered enough to travel home to his wife and children, Beer said, the Adelsons immediately offered to send him to Israel via one of their planes. “I had a lot of people that offered planes, but I knew that if Sheldon sent a plane, it’s not going to be taken off of his charity to Hatzalah — it would be in addition,” Beer said. “Miriam said to me, ‘Sheldon really, really wants to help Eli go back to saving lives.’ That made me cry.”
Bonus: A range of figures in the nonprofit world spoke to Jewish Insider’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen about their experiences with Adelson’s philanthropy and community activism. David Brog, CEO of the Maccabee Task Force, told JI that something Adelson told him at the launch of the task force has stuck with him for years: “He said that his legacy is not going to be the casinos he built or money he earned, but what he did for Israel and the Jewish people. ‘This work is my legacy,’ he said. It wasn’t just talk.” Read more here.
U.N. agency head admits printing ‘inappropriate’ content in Palestinian classroom materials
The head of the U.N. agency tasked with providing support to Palestinians acknowledged on Thursday that learning materials widely distributed in Gaza and West Bank schools contained “inappropriate” content glorifying Palestinian militants and encouraging violence, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.
Background: The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) printed and distributed its own materials to complement the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum. The materials, which repeatedly refer to Israel as “the enemy,” also include instructions in a math workbook for students to select the correct number of “martyrs” from the first intifada. A grammar booklet published by UNRWA includes the sentences, “Jihad is one of the doors to Paradise,” and “The Palestinians have become an example of sacrifice.”
Apology tour: In a series of tweets, UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini indicated that the material in question was distributed in error, and that the agency had replaced the offending pages with “content that adheres to U.N. values.” Lazzarini’s tweets came in the wake of a report by IMPACT-se, a watchdog organization that monitors content in educational materials distributed in schools throughout the Middle East.
Reaction: “This avoidance of peace education is absolutely appalling. A U.N. organization has to teach the children to whom it has a duty of care about the possibility of peace,” Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, told JI. “They don’t just avoid it. They make absolutely no effort whatsoever to do that.”
Eye on Washington: The Trump administration withdrew its funding from the U.N. agency in 2018. President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will restore aid to the Palestinian Authority that was cut off by the current administration, but has not specified whether that incudes aid to UNRWA. In 2017, the U.S. accounted for roughly one-third of the aid given to the organization, which spends more than 50% of its budget on education.
📺 Off Camera: Variety’s Brian Steinberg explores the implications of the likely end of Jeff Zucker’s tenure at CNN, during which he ushered in an era of “no-holds-barred reportage” at the network, which is reaping the benefits of “following many of Zucker’s strategies.” [Variety]
🗣️ Ben Backlash: The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani details the newsroom controversy that erupted at Politico yesterday after conservative media personality Ben Shapiro guest-edited its Playbooknewsletter. “We’re not going to back away from having published something because some people think it was a mistake to do so,” said editor Matt Kaminski. [DailyBeast]
📝 Feeling Flat: Tablet magazine editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse penned an essay titled “Everything is Broken,” laying out the existence of “a set of principles that collectively might be thought of as flatness,” in which a cohort has turned the “once-independent parts of the American cultural complex into a mutually validating pipeline for conformists with approved viewpoints.” [Tablet]
📰 Hot Off the Press: The New York Times’s John Leland profilesformer furniture store owner Diana Weiner, a self-described “big-mouthed Jewish girl from Brooklyn,” who started a newsletter, The Buzz, at age 80 in her suburban New York retirement community in response to a lack of transparency from management over COVID-19. [NYTimes]
Around the Web
New Era: The Trump administration has reportedly ordered that CENTCOM, the U.S. Mideast Central Command, be expanded to include Israel, overturning a decades-long policy.
☢️ On Guard: Israel is reportedly exploring all options to counter Iran’s nuclear program, including revisiting possible military options.
🛢️ Team Effort: The energy ministers of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Sudan and Bahrain held a joint video call for the first time to discuss cooperation in the energy sector.
👨 Round Two: Biden also selected David Cohen, who served as deputy CIA director under former President Barack Obama, to serve in the same capacity in the new administration.
📊 Promising Results: Early data from Israel’s vaccination drive indicate that COVID-19 infections begin to decrease after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
👨⚕️ On Board: President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Dr. David Kessler to head Operation Warp Speed, the initiative to accelerate developing of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
💉 Seeking Immunity: Israel will begin vaccinating prisoners, including Palestinian security prisoners, against COVID-19 next week.
💉 Vaccination Nation: The co-author of Start-Up Nation, Dan Senor, coined the term “Vaccination Nation” during a new episode of the Post-Corona podcast with Yonatan Adiri, CEO of Healthy.io, discussing Israel’s unprecedented data set that has been generated over the last three weeks.
💵 Buying In: Former CIA Director David Petraeus has invested in Israeli startup Carbyne, which provides intelligence to law enforcement agencies in emergency situations.
📈 Startup Nation: The Israel-based gaming startup Playtika exceeded its goals and raised $1.88 billion in its U.S. IPO.
🚕 Straight Ahead: Israel-based taxi app Gett closed on a $115 million funding round and announced that it is now profitable.
⚖️ Back Again: Trump is reportedly considering hiring Alan Dershowitz for his second impeachment trial, who said he would advise the president to “refuse to participate” in the proceedings.
🙅 On Notice: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) could be censured for her comments at a pro-Trump rally earlier this month that “Hitler was right on one thing.”
🥋 Karate Kid: Gazan man Youssef Abu Amira, who was born without legs and with only partially developed arms, has set his sightson competing in international karate competitions.
💸 TV Deals: David Zaslav’s The Discovery Channel is reportedly in talks to buy a 33% stake in Israel’s Reshet Channel 13.
🎥 Silver Screen: “Til Kingdom Come,” a documentary about U.S. evangelical support for Israel, has signed a North American distribution deal.
📹 Small Screen: “Fauda” producer Maria Feldman is working with“Tel Aviv on Fire” writer-director Sameh Zoabi on a new comedy series about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
🇺🇸 Not on My Watch: Neal Kirby, the son of Captain America co-creator Jack Kirby, denounced Trump rioters who wore imagery of the character “created by two Jewish guys from New York who hated Nazis and hated bullies.”
🎨 Going Once: Michael Diamond, better known as Mike D of the Beastie Boys, is auctioning off his mother Hester Diamond’s extensive art collection following her death last year.
🥎 Eye on the Ball: Theo Epstein resigned as president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs last year and on Thursday revealed that he will become a consultant to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to improve baseball’s on-field product..
👴 Retirement: Jim Simons, the founder and chairman of Renaissance Technologies, is stepping down from the hedge fund.
💼 Transition: American Jewish Committee chief advocacy officer Dan Elbaum will become the president and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development (JAID) in March.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Netofa DOR 2017 Syrah:
Zoom zoom zoom. On a slow day I seem to have a dozen Zooms. Yesterday was a fun Zoom though, as I hosted my fifth Zoom wine tasting. We tasted four wines and the clear winner was the Netofa DOR 2017 Syrah. The color of this wine is an intoxicating garnet red which makes one simply want to stare. While the forward is a bit rough on the tongue, it softens significantly and by the time you swallow, there is an explosion of black olive and black pepper. This wine is ready to drink now and it will pair well with smoked brisket.
Prime Minister of Belgium since October, she is the first female head of government of Belgium, Sophie Wilmès turns 45…
FRIDAY: Senior counsel at Covington & Burling, Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat turns 78… Partner in BECO Management LLC, Michael David Epstein turns 76… University professor at Columbia University, he won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Martin Chalfie turns 74… Long-time member of Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara, Madelyn Silver Palley turns 72… Chair of the Aspen Institute’s Middle East Program and EVP at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, Toni G. Verstandig turns 68… President and managing partner of The Stagwell Group, Mark Penn turns 67… Head coach and general manager of the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, Marc Trestmanturns 65… President and CEO of Discovery Inc., David M. Zaslav turns 61… Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Rumson, New Jersey, Douglas Sagal turns 59… Cryptographer and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Bruce Schneier turns 58… CEO of Words Matter Media and executive producer of the Words Matter Podcast, Adam L. Levine turns 52… Filmmaker and educator, Tali Avrahami turns 52… Basketball analyst for Fox Sports, Doug Gottlieb turns 45… Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Steven Menashi turns 42… Editor emeritus of the Daily Wire and a recent guest-author of Politico Playbook, Ben Shapiro turns 37… Investigative reporter at TheNew York Timesfocused on health care, Sarah Kliff turns 36… Real estate investor and co-founder of 48 states in 48 hours, Hershy Tannenbaum turns 35… Actress, she starred as Hodel in Bartlett Sher’s acclaimed revival of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Samantha Massell turns 31… CNN’s White House correspondent, Jeremy Diamond turns 31… Senior associate of global student leadership at Hillel International, Michael Kagan turns 27…
SATURDAY: Physicist and former professor of materials science at Oxford, Sir Peter Bernhard Hirsch turns 96… Founder of Jones Apparel Group, Sidney J. Kimmel turns 93… Former editor-in-Chief of Commentary magazine and author of the book “Why Are Jews Liberals?” Norman Podhoretz turns 91… Author and sports journalist, Robert Lipsyte turns 83… Talk radio host, Dr. Laura Schlessingerturns 74… Staff writer for the Atlanta Jewish Times, Suzi Brozmanturns 74… Chef and culinary editor for the Modern Library, host of PBS’s “Gourmet’s Adventures With Ruth” and recipient of four James Beard Awards, Ruth Reichl turns 73… Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, Harav Yitzhak Yosef turns 69… Uzbekistan-born Israeli industrialist, Michael Cherney turns 69… VP for government affairs and director of the DC office of Agudath Israel of America, Abba Cohen turns 65… CEO of Belfor Property Restoration, Sheldon Yellen turns 63… Founder, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks, Robert Denis “Rob” Glaser turns 59… First employee and subsequently first president of eBay, philanthropist and movie producer, Jeffrey Skoll turns 56… Founder and CEO of Cognition Builders, Ilana Kukoff turns 56… Editorial producer at CNN, Debbie Berger Fox turns 48… Amy Graiwer turns 48… San Francisco-based cybersecurity reporter for The New York Times, Sheera Frenkel turns 38… Assistant professor at Toronto’s Ryerson University, Rob Goodman turns 37… 2020 J.D. graduate at Seton Hall University School of Law, David Ptalis turns 31… Left wing for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, he won the NHL’s 2019 award for leadership based upon his philanthropic efforts, Jason Zucker turns 29… Joseph Bornstein…
SUNDAY: Former two-term member of Congress from Iowa, he is the father-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, Edward Mezvinsky turns 84… Host of television’s tabloid talk show “Maury,” Maury Povich turns 82… Longtime New York Times journalist and author of four books, Joseph Berger turns 76… Australia’s chief scientist until a few weeks ago, and former chancellor of Monash University, Alan Finkel turns 68… New York Times best-selling author and social entrepreneur, Paul Zane Pilzer turns 67… President and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, Steve Rabinowitz turns 64… Executive health care editor at Politico, Joanne Kenen turns 63… Chair of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming, she was the Democratic nominee in the 2020 U.S. Senate election in Wyoming, Merav Ben-David turns 62… Founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert turns 59… Professor of law at Harvard Law School, Jesse M. Fried turns 58… Film director and producer, Bart Freundlich turns 51… President at NYC-based Rosewood Realty Group, Aaron Jungreis turns 51… President of the Israel Democracy Institute, Yohanan Plesner turns 49… DC-based managing director for PR firm Finsbury, Jeremy Pelofsky turns 46… Odessa-born choreographer and dance instructor, widely known as one of the professional dancers in “Dancing with the Stars,” Maksim Chmerkovskiy turns 41… Associate director for foundation relations at J Street, Becca Freedman turns 39… Executive director of GatherDC, Rachel Gildiner turns 38… Impact finance attorney in the NYC office of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Perry Isaac Teicher turns 36… Business administrator at the City of Hoboken, Jason Freeman turns 32… Political reporter for CNN, Rebecca Berg Buck turns 31… Digital political strategist who has recently worked for the campaigns of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Raphael Warnock, Alyssa Franke turns 29…