👋 Good Tuesday morning!
The Conservative Political Action Conference canceled a planned speech by the hip hop artist and commentator known as Young Pharaoh after a MediaMatters report drew attention to past comments promoting antisemitism and bizarre conspiracy theories, including calling Judaism “a complete lie completely made up for political gain.”
CPAC, which titled its conference this year “America Uncanceled,” said Young Pharoah’s views are “reprehensible” and “have no home with our conference or our organizations.” The American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, did not respond to questions about why Young Pharaoh was initially invited.
The American Jewish Committee called on CPAC to “denounce his antisemitic conspiracy theories and act to ensure that Jew-hatred has no place at the conference” before the speech was cancelled. Young Pharaoh responded by asking AJC to “send me your best rabbi to debate me.”
Neera Tanden appears increasingly unlikely to be confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget, after moderate Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both announced their opposition to the pick, following Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) announcement that he would vote against.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke again yesterday with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, stressing the Biden administration’s “belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.” Blinken also reportedly asked Ashkenazi for Israeli assistance in transferring COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians.
The end of an era for Nazi hunters?
In recent years, Nazi criminal cases have grown increasingly rare as the remaining perpetrators die out or prove incompetent to stand trial. But on Saturday, the Department of Justice prevailed in deporting Friedrich Karl Berger, a 95-year-old former Nazi camp guard who had been living in the United States for six decades. For Eli Rosenbaum, a veteran Nazi hunter who prosecuted the case, Berger’s deportation is a Pyrrhic victory. Though Berger has been sent back to his home country, he could still return to the U.S. because his appeal has not yet been denied — only a stay of removal. “Theoretically, if he were to prevail on the appeal, he would have to be allowed to return to the United States,” Rosenbaum told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “So it’s not over yet.”
No cases pending: Still, the larger project of finding and deporting Nazis may soon come to an end. Berger’s deportation represents a possible capstone to a long and estimable string of cases against former Nazis living in the U.S. Rosenbaum, a director in the Justice Department’s human rights and special prosecutions section, confirmed that his unit currently has no remaining Nazi cases in court. “Can’t be sure what the future will hold,” he said. “But at the moment, we’re still doing investigative work in this field.”
All eyes on Canada: Only one case is now in litigation in the Western Hemisphere, according to Rosenbaum, referring to a Canadian effort to deport Helmut Oberlander, who served in a killing squad of the infamous Einsatzgruppen before settling in Waterloo, Ontario. Earlier this month, a federal court delayed Oberlander’s deportation hearing until at least mid-March — another postponement among many in the winding, protracted case. “Just to show you how complicated these cases can be and how they don’t always go the way you might hope,” Rosenbaum said, “the Canadians brought that case in 1995.”
Belated justice: Rosenbaum knows from experience how long these cases can last. “I probably spent more time trying to get Germany and other European governments to take these Nazis back against whom we had won orders of removal, than any other single thing I worked on,” Rosenbaum said. Richard Breitman, a Holocaust historian and professor emeritus at American University, told JI that such “prosecutions are intrinsically difficult,” but added: “The Justice Department’s special investigative and prosecution unit, for much of that time under Eli Rosenbaum, brought about some measure of belated justice for these persecutors.”
Too little, too late: Recently, German prosecutors have demonstrated something of a belated renewal of commitment to try aging collaborators. The thaw, for Rosenbaum, suggests an attitudinal shift. “I think it’s a new generation of prosecutors who don’t have psychological baggage that some of their predecessors have,” Rosenbaum speculated. “They didn’t have fathers who may have been involved in misdeeds during the Nazi era.” But in many ways, this about-face isn’t sufficient given years of neglect. “This newfound commitment to pursuing justice comes at a very late date,” Rosenbaum lamented, “and the vast majority of the most heavily implicated Nazi perpetrators went unpunished.”
Progress: Berger, who arrived in Frankfurt on Saturday, has agreed to be questioned by investigators seeking to determine if there is enough evidence to bring charges in a German court.
on the hill
Garland shares family history of fleeing antisemitism at emotional confirmation hearing
Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland visibly fought back tears while discussing his family fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe in the early 1900s during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing yesterday, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod from Capitol Hill.
Getting emotional: In response to a question from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) about Garland’s family’s history “confronting hate and discrimination,” the nominee for attorney general spoke about his grandparents’ flight from western Russia. “I come from a family where my grandparents fled antisemitism and persecution. The country took us in and protected us,” Garland said, visibly emotional. “I feel an obligation to the country to pay back,” he continued, pausing as his voice broke. “This is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back. And so I want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you’re saying I could become. I’ll do my best to try to be that kind of attorney general.”
Friendly exchange: Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) later thanked Garland for sharing his story, noting that his family has a similar history. “They probably knew each other,” Garland quipped, chuckling, in response. Ossoff added, “I’m sure your ancestors could hardly have imagined that you’d now be sitting before this committee pending confirmation for this position.”
Read more and watch a video of the exchange here.
Coming up: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its second day of confirmation hearings on Garland today, hearing from outside witnesses, including former Judge Ken Starr.
Tufts student alleges antisemitism and harassment at university
A Tufts University student leader has accused the school of failing to protect him during “a months-long campaign of intimidation, harassment and discrimination” spearheaded by student government leaders and the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and stemming from a campus-wide anti-Israel referendum held in the fall, reports Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss.
Details: In a personal statement submitted to the university through the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law on February 3 and obtained by Jewish Insider, Max Price, who has served on the school’s student judiciary since April 2020, said he has “been targeted and marginalized, called a racist, a fascist, a Nazi, an enemy of progress.” Price, a junior at Tufts, is one of five undergraduates who serve on the student judiciary, which works in part to ensure that legislation voted on by the student body is fact-checked and neutral. During the effort to pass an anti-Israel referendum during the fall 2020 semester, Price was tasked with removing biased and misleading information from the text of the ballot initiative. In a screenshot of a group text message with members of the school’s senate, which was provided to JI, one student leader wrote, “Fuck Max Price.” SJP also sought to have Price removed from deliberations over an anti-Israel campus-wide referendum, which passed overwhelmingly in December 2020.
Friction: Price, who served as a co-president of Tufts Friends of Israel until January, denied the requests to recuse himself. After an emergency meeting in November over SJP’s objections to Price’s participation in proceedings involving the referendum, the school judiciary voted unanimously that Price did not have to recuse himself. A second meeting, convened by the student senate the following day, found the same. Following the second meeting, SJP issued a complaint calling for Price’s removal from the judiciary. A hearing on his removal is scheduled for February 28.
Prediction: Price, who told JI he is not optimistic ahead of the trial, could face punishments ranging from a formal warning to expulsion from the student judiciary. “So far, there’s been no due process and no assumption of innocence. So that’s just the next domino to fall,” he said. “I fully anticipate that if the university doesn’t stop this trial, that I’ll be unjustly removed from my position.” He is also concerned for future generations of Tufts students. “If this could happen to me, someone who’s been very outspoken, and has tried to stand up in the face of antisemitism and bigotry of all forms, it could happen to anybody,” Price told JI. “And if this is allowed to continue, if Tufts doesn’t step up, then it will happen to more people. It’s inevitable.”
by the numbers
Inside JFNA’s lobbying efforts on the COVID-19 relief bill
When he spoke to Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod late Monday morning, Jewish Federations of North America lobbyist Steven Woolf was fresh off a call with staffers working for Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) — having been on similar calls since 7:30 a.m. Woolf’s work, alongside other JFNA lobbyists, is part of a scramble to make tweaks to the latest COVID-19 relief bill as it races through Congress ahead of the March 14 expiration of federal unemployment insurance benefits.
On the agenda: The JFNA lobbyist said one of the organization’s top priorities is lobbying senators for further increases in unemployment insurance reimbursement programs for self-insured nonprofits. The current bill includes 75% reimbursement — up from 50% previously — but JFNA and other nonprofits would like to see that pushed up to 100%. In the interest of expediting the bill, the Senate is skipping the standard committee markup process. “That’s why we’re spending a lot of our lobbying time right now talking to senators because, for example, getting a change in the self-insured unemployment [is not likely] on the House side, because the bill’s pretty much cooked,” Woolf explained. “I think there will be some minor changes in the bill that the Senate will pass sometime next week.”
Off the table: Two other provisions JFNA supports — an expansion and an extension of universal charitable tax deductions and an increase in federal Medicaid reimbursements to states, known as FMAP — appear unlikely to make it into the bill, due to the high price tags associated with them. “We hope that something can be done for the end of this year, at least,” on charitable tax deductions, Woolf said. “We’re asking that senators keep that in mind, but we’re pretty much realistically acknowledging that that’s not going to be in this bill. But that’s a fight we’re going to fight toward the end of 2021 to ensure that it’s increased and extended to 2022 and beyond.”
🪙 Blue Box Brouhaha: The decision of Israel’s Jewish National Fund to explore formally funding the purchase of Palestinian-owned land in the West Bank has sparked controversy among many longtime supporters of the 120-year-old storied organization, reports the AP’s Joseph Krauss. The U.S.-based JNF, meanwhile, maintains that it is a separate entity with no involvement in politics. [AP]
💼 Deskmates: White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Daily Beast reporter Hannah Trudo that the White House will soon be announcing the hires of several progressive staffers. “Progressives are a big part of our party and making sure their voices are heard here at the White House is a big part of my job,” said Klain. [DailyBeast]
🗿 Rightful Owners: Around 1,800 stone artifacts that spent decades in the Israel Museum were returned today to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Canberra, before they will be handed over to indigenous communities, reports Doug Dingwall in The Canberra Times. The Israel Museum is the first international institution to agree to return aboriginal artifacts amid a four-year Australian lobbying effort. [CanberraTimes]
Around the Web
⚖️ Still Waiting: A Jerusalem court ruled yesterday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will only resume after the March 23 national election.
🌍 United Front: Netanyahu held a cabinet meeting yesterday devoted to building consensus on the issue of Iran, the first such meeting since President Joe Biden took office.
💰 Offer: The Israeli government offered to compensate the families of Yemenite babies who mysteriously went missing during the early years of the state, following decades of lobbying.
🛢️ Get to Work: Thousands of Israeli volunteers are mobilizing to assist in cleaning up a massive oil spill that dumped tar across Israel’s entire Mediterranean coast.
💉 Give it a Shot: The Gaza Health Ministry began administering yesterday the first of 22,000 COVID vaccine doses it received from the United Arab Emirates.
🛑 Closing Time: Israel has cut the number of Israelis allowed to enter the country daily to just 200, as its airport closure was extended through March 6 and isolation hotels have closed.
↩️ End of an Era: Officials in Jerusalem and Riyadh are bracing for an end to “the sugar high of the Trump years,” posit Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky in Politico.
🧔🏽♂️ Guess Who’s Back: Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is reportedly interested in running for president again, if the clerics will allow it.
🤳 Twitter Jab: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei referred to the U.N. as an “international Zionist clown” in a tweet yesterday.
😡 Oldest Hatred: A public COVID-19 vaccine appeal from an Italian Holocaust survivor sparked a wave of antisemitic comments on social media.
🖼️ Art Attack: Artist Ai Weiwei said he would request his works be removed from the Museum of Modern Art if it does not oust Leon Black as chairman of its board over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein.
💸 Let’s Make A Deal: WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann is nearing a settlement with SoftBank that would reduce his payout from the company by $500 million.
💍 Mazel Huh? Rapper Azealia Banks announced her engagement to artist Ryder Ripps yesterday, setting off a social media firestorm with her declaration: “I’m Jewish now.”
🎥 Hollywood: “The Vigil,” a horror film set in a Yiddish-speaking community in Brooklyn, is slated for a nationwide release this week.
👩 Transition: Sydney Rachael Levin-Epstein, who previously worked for Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA), will become finance director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
🗞️ Media Watch: Emily Greenhouse was named the editor of The New York Review of Books, while the Washington Times’s Philip Klein will become the editor of National Review. Maggie Haberman will join the New York Times’s Washington-based investigative/enterprise team after six years covering former President Donald Trump for the paper.
Chairman of Agudath Israel of America and CEO of the sportswear line, OuterStuff, Sol Werdiger turns 70…
Senior counsel in the Baltimore office of DLA Piper and former president of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Shale D. Stiller turns 86… Former New York City comptroller for 16 years, Harrison J. Goldin turns 85… EVP emeritus of the Orthodox Union and editor-in-chief of the Koren Talmud Bavli, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb turns 81… Bethesda, Md., resident, Lois Copeland turns 77… Novelist and public intellectual, winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 1996, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein turns 71… Madison, Wisconsin, resident, Mark Jacobs turns 70… Former president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Alexander Mashkevitch turns 67… Mission director for USAID in the West Bank and Gaza, Monica Stein-Olson turns 64… Former VP at West End Strategy Team, Joe Berkofsky turns 61… Political consultant and pollster, Frank Luntz turns 59… Founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, Michael Dell turns 56… Best-selling author of young adult novels, Nova Ren Suma turns 46… Actor, comedian and singer, Josh Gad turns 40… Financial consultant and organizer for non-profit organizations, Johnathan Morpurgo turns 36… Chief operating officer and director of research at The Lawfare Project, Benjamin Ryberg turns 36… Senior account director at Sunshine Sachs, Rebecca Chalif turns 35… Bloomberg White House reporter, Jennifer Epstein turns 35… Senior front-end web engineer at Business Insider, Reuben A. Ingber turns 33… Program officer for U.S. Jewish grantmaking in the DC office of Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Mary Ann Weiss turns 32… Political reporter for the Texas Tribune in Austin, Patrick Svitek turns 29… Director of special projects at Securing America’s Future Energy, Gidon Feen turns 26… Barak Daon…