👋 Good Friday morning!
Last night on the social network Clubhouse, more than 2,000 listeners joined Rabbi David Wolpe’s Thursday night Torah talk, including Marc Andreessen, a Clubhouse investor with 2.7 million followers on the app, who was pitched by fellow speaker Bari Weiss to officially join the tribe. Andreessen joked he is on his way, saying: “I may be the first person converted entirely through WhatsApp and Clubhouse.”
Yesterday on the social network Twitter, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a JI article about comments Ben Rhodes made on Peter Beinart’s podcast. Pompeo falsely asserted that Rhodes made the comments to Jewish Insider. He did not. Pompeo also claimed Rhodes said that “Netanyahu — and all Jews — are ‘corrupt and cruel.’” He did not.
Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg clarified Pompeo’s tweets, calling the comments a “series of lies” and pointing out that “there are very loud factions dedicated to fabricating demonic positions and falsely attributing them to the other side.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) was more blunt: “Delete this tweet, Mr. Secretary,” he wrote. “You made that up.”
What the article actually said: “Later, Rhodes speculated on what drives Netanyahu’s world view: ‘Maybe the view is, “Jews have been screwed throughout history, by a corrupt cruel world. And so you know what, we just have to be corrupt and cruel ourselves. That’s the only way to survive in this world.”’” Full video of Rhodes’s comments here.
The Biden administration formally offered to restart talks with Iran over the nuclear deal yesterday, with Secretary of State Tony Blinken telling his EU counterparts that the U.S. is ready to engage.
The U.S. also officially informed the U.N. that it was rescinding an assertion by the Trump administration that all “snapback” sanctions on Iran had been reactivated. Reuters reported that officials in the administration informed Israel ahead of time about its plan.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said this morning that Iran would only reverse recent actions on its nuclear program once U.S. sanctions are lifted, contrary to the timeline of events Blinken and the EU laid out.
An Israeli woman who crossed over into Syria recently was returned to Israel overnight as part of a Russian-brokered deal that saw the release of two Syrian shepherds and clemency for a Syrian woman.
Check out Jewish Insider’s ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into this week.
Tar heel tensions
North Carolina’s new lieutenant governor has Jewish community on high alert
Earlier this month, Mark Robinson, North Carolina’s outspoken new Republican lieutenant governor, organized a press conference to protest an editorial cartoon depicting Republican school board appointees as members of the KKK. As North Carolina’s first Black lieutenant governor, Robinson railed against the insinuation as hypocritical. But those familiar with his past inflammatory pronouncements, however, were no doubt rolling their eyes. During the election, as Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports, Robinson came under scrutiny for a litany of troubling comments in which he invoked antisemitic tropes while denigrating Muslims, transgender people and other groups.
Controversial statements: In strongly worded Facebook posts, Robinson decried a “globalist” conspiracy to “destroy” former President Donald Trump and took aim at “Black Panther,” the Marvel film whose titular protagonist, as Robinson put it, was “created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by [a] satanic marxist.” He went on to allege, using a Yiddish slur, that the movie “was only created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets.” In 2019, Robinson spoke with a fringe pastor, Sean Moon, who claimed that the modern incarnation of the four horsemen of the apocalypse includes the Rothschild family of “international bankers.” Rather than objecting to the antisemitic conspiracy theory, Robinson grunted along in agreement. “That’s exactly right,” he said.
‘Appalling’ comments: Jewish leaders in North Carolina are alarmed by Robinson’s views — all the more so because the rhetoric he has employed has not hindered his prospects at the polls. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a first-term congresswoman from Robinson’s hometown of Greensboro, described the lieutenant governor’s statements as “appalling” in comments to JI. “His hate-filled rhetoric is laced with sexism, discrimination and antisemitism,” said Manning, the former chairwoman of the Jewish Federations of North America. “His words contribute to the division in our nation that is fueling the rise in hate crimes and extremism and they degrade the office he occupies.”
From his own party: Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, offered a forceful denunciation of the lieutenant governor, noting that Robinson’s comments are “clearly antisemitic… His refusal to apologize is troubling and unacceptable to us.” Brooks added, “These kind of comments have no place in our society.”
Background: Robinson, a 52-year-old former factory worker and gun rights advocate shot to fame three years ago when a video recording of a fiery speech he delivered on the floor of a Greensboro City Council meeting went viral. The following month, Robinson spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual leadership forum, at which Trump also gave remarks. In July 2019, Robinson announced his candidacy in the open-seat race for lieutenant governor, all the while racking up a sizable following on social media as he spoke out against abortion, the evils of socialism and other bugbears of the far-right.
No apology: Robinson, whose office did not respond to interview requests from JI, has refused to apologize for his antisemitic comments, even as Jewish leaders have exhorted him to do so. “I’m deeply troubled by the fact that he refuses to come out and renounce what he said,” Rabbi Eric Solomon, who leads the Conservative Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, told JI. “It’s shocking in today’s world, post-Charlottesville, post-Pittsburgh, post-Poway. Can someone actually say this and win an election? Apparently they can.” A member of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Raleigh is currently working behind the scenes to arrange a meeting with Robinson, but the emissary, who asked to remain anonymous, said it is unclear if Robinson is interested.
Barak Ravid predicts a fifth Israeli election
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” hosts Jarrod Bernstein and Rich Goldberg are joined by Barak Ravid, an Israeli journalist with Walla! News and a contributor to Axios. Ravid discussed the upcoming Israeli election, the Iran deal and the shifting relationship between the Israeli government and the Biden administration.
Biden and Bibi: “I would love this to be a story about Biden getting back at Bibi [Netanyahu], for Obama and for Trump and all that, because it’s a much more interesting story,” said Ravid of President Joe Biden’s delayed call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “But I have no evidence that this is politically motivated… I think it’s more that the answer is more mundane than we would like to think,” he added. “Somebody at the White House told me, ‘It’s not you, it’s us.’ It’s just that we’re not a priority right now, Israel, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing… there’s no crisis to solve right now.”
Dealmaker: Discussing the Biden administration’s approach to Iran, Ravid hypothesized that Iran may choose to not return to the deal. “There’s this concept that both the Biden administration and the Iranians want to go back to the 2015 nuclear deal,” Ravid said. “But what if the Iranians don’t want to go back to the nuclear deal? Maybe they just want to drag things on and on and on and not go back?” Goldberg concurred, explaining that Iran may return to the negotiating table only while waiting for the sunset provisions — which remain backed by a U.N. Security Council resolution — to expire.
Keep the peace: Ravid addressed the potential impact the new U.S. administration could have on the Abraham Accords. “I don’t think the agreements between Israel and the Gulf states and Morocco and Sudan are going to fall apart,” he said. “And if they do, it’s not because of the U.S.” The relationships between Israel and both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are already well established, he said. “Morocco is still a question mark, because the U.S. needs to decide if it’s still going to continue to recognize the Western Sahara as part of Morocco. At least, all the signs that I get is that Biden is not going to roll this back,” Ravid added. “And with Sudan, I just think that it’s not about Israel and Sudan. With Sudan, it’s about the U.S. and Sudan.”
Deja vu: Turning to the looming March 23 Israeli election, Israel’s fourth in two years, Ravid suggested that yet another vote will not be far behind. “I do not see right now any possibility that somebody else who’s not Netanyahu will form the next government,” he said. “This does not mean that Netanyahu will form the next government. My assessment is that right now, most chances are — and I hope you’re all sitting down — most chances are that we’ll go for a fifth election.”
Lightning round: Favorite American food? “Buffalo wings.” Book recommendation? Revolt: The Worldwide Uprising Against Globalization by fellow Israeli journalist Nadav Eyal. Journalistic role model? “Jonathan Swan from Axios, my colleague… the guy is just the most talented reporter I’ve ever seen.” Listen to the full episode here.
Subscribe to LLP on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
On the menu
The ‘Six-Minute Rabbi’ takes to the kitchen
Rabbi Hanoch Hecht made a name for himself as the “Six-Minute Rabbi,” conducting on-the-fly Torah study classes largely targeting those who work in the business sector and are limited by time constraints. But in upstate New York, where Hecht lives, he’s known for something else — his love of food. The rabbi, who is a guest lecturer at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) spoke to Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss about his latest endeavor — a book. A Kabbalah of Food: Stories, Teachings, Recipes explores many of the aspects of the culinary arena that caused Hecht to fall in love with food in the first place.
Learning curve: Hecht was always drawn to the kitchen, but it was during his time in yeshiva in Brazil that he was exposed to new cuisines and new recipes. “There was amazing [food] to eat from the marketplaces with the produce and all the other street food — some of it wasn’t kosher, so you didn’t eat it, but basically just watching it and looking at it, smelling it,” he said. “And then the kosher homes and the way they cook, the way they made certain traditional dishes and things like that, brought about great enjoyment to me.”
Food for thoughts: The book is broken down into two parts: the first, a collection of hasidic stories and teachings and the second, dozens of recipes for both special events and year-round cooking. The recipes range from the traditional — brisket and charoset for Passover, for example — to the creative, like his recipe for sweet potato and cheese latkes. He does include a recipe for his favorite Shabbat food, challah. “It’s sweeter than a lot of breads because it’s not a simple bread,” he explained. “Many simple breads are just basic water, flour. Pizza dough, for example, is just water, flour, a drop of oil. [But] challah has sugar and oil and honey and eggs. It’s a very rich dough. And then if you do it right, it’s got a nice crust on the outside. Is that why I like it? Or do I like it because it brings out memories? I don’t know.”
ABCs of kashrut: At the CIA in Hyde Park, N.Y., Hecht teaches students the basics of kosher cooking. “These kids are going to graduate and become the next generation of leaders in the food industry. And it’s very, very possible that they will come across kosher, and they should have some basic understanding of what kosher is,” said Hecht, who has taught at the school for nearly 15 years. “The rule I always tell [students] is, basically, honesty and integrity is the most important part, right?… So that’s not your job as a chef or a food innovator or leader to make a decision on why they keep kosher, or what standards they should or shouldn’t keep kosher. Your job is, ‘Hey, you’re looking for this, I should know a little bit about it, and make sure that I’m able to do it properly.’”
Read the full interview here.
💉 Two Tiers: As Israel soars ahead in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, it also faces questions about the rights of the unvaccinated, reports Isabel Kershner in The New York Times. “Israel is one of the first countries grappling in real time with a host of legal, moral and ethical questions as it tries to balance the steps toward resuming public life with sensitive issues such as public safety, discrimination, free choice and privacy.” [NYTimes]
🇵🇸 New Era: In Foreign Affairs, Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi argue that Israeli normalization deals with Arab countries should lead Palestinians to a reckoning over their global approach. “The Palestinians must now think hard about how to reorder their struggle, how to address what has brought them to this point, and how to change it.” [ForeignAffairs]
🛕 Temple Ties: In The Wall Street Journal, history Professor Reza Afshari spotlights the Baha’i World Center in Haifa. “As I walked up and down the beautiful landscape, it struck me that everything about that hallowed place is Iranian. Even though I was in Israel, I felt as though I was walking in a Persian garden.” [WSJ]
⚖️ Legal Blow: NBC News reporter Yasmine Salam explores the growing difficulties facings hundreds of Jewish families seeking restitution from the German government for Nazi-seized works, after a recent blow from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. “Germany doesn’t deserve a win in Nazi restitution cases and I fear that this procedural victory will prejudice other claimants going forward,” said attorney Christopher Marinello. [NBC]
Around the Web
🚀 Defense Cooperation: Israel and the U.S. are jointly developing a new ballistic missile shield, the Arrow-4, aimed at countering threats from Iran.
🗳️ Vax Vote: Mohammed Dahlan, a rival to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, announced that the UAE would send 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Gaza.
⚕️ One Shot: A new Israeli study shows that a single dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 85% effective within 15-28 days following injection.
🥋 On the Mat: Iranian-born judoka Saeid Mollaei, who fled Iran after refusing pressure to withdraw rather than face an Israeli opponent, is slated to compete today at a judo tournament in Tel Aviv.
🙅🏼♀️ She’s Out: Ivanka Trump reportedly told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that she does not plan to launch a primary challenge against him in 2022.
↔️ Both Sides: House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said this week that there is antisemitism, white supremacy and Holocaust denial on the fringes of both parties.
📱 Under Fire: Melvin Capital founder Gabe Plotkin testified to the House Financial Services Committee that he received antisemitic messages amid last month’s GameStop trading frenzy.
🎓 Blowback: Members of a scholars program funded by billionaire Stephen Schwartzman are angered by his refusal to cut donations to lawmakers who opposed certifying the electoral college results.
📰 News You Can Use: Al Jazeera will license business news content from The New York Times for a new platform focusing on economic development in the Middle East.
🎥 Hollywood: An upcoming documentary, “Who Are the Marcuses?” explores the mystery behind a San Diego couple who gave half a billion dollars to Israel — the largest ever gift to the state.
💼 A Jobs Job: Former Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) will be a senior political advisor to Democratic mega-donor and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs’s organization Emerson Collective.
🥪 Sandwich Stack Up: Eater ranked its picks for the top 10 pastrami sandwiches in New York, with Hometown Bar-B-Que in Industry City, Katz’s Delicatessen and Pastrami Queen taking the top three spots.
🕯️ Remembering: Legendary Hollywood casting director Lynn Stalmaster died at age 93.
Pic of the Day
The building site for the construction of a new synagogue and Jewish community center in Potsdam, Germany.
Founder and president of the eponymous Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, she is on the boards of the NFL’s NY Giants, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Aspen Institute, Laurie M. Tisch…
FRIDAY: 2004 Nobel Prize laureate in physics and a professor at UC Santa Barbara, David Jonathan Gross turns 80… Former chairman of the board and CEO of Sony Corporation, Howard Stringer turns 79… Retired co-founder of integrated digital marketing agency Hawkeye / Mosaic, Sharon Edelman turns 73… Managing partner of Hager Pacific Properties, Adam Tuvia Milstein turns 69… Former Goldman Sachs partner and then a senior executive at JPMorgan Chase, Barry L. Zubrow turns 68… CEO of Taglit Birthright Israel since 2008, Gidi Mark turns 65… Novelist, essayist and short story writer, and winner of a 2005 MacArthur genius fellowship, Jonathan Allen Lethem turns 57… U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Illinois, Judge Gary Scott Feinerman turns 56…Co-founder of the band Phish, Jon Fishman turns 56… SVP of government relations at Las Vegas Sands Corp., Andy Abboud… Communications director since 1997 for U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kevin D. Bishop turns 50… Chairman of the World Zionist Organization and former chair of World Likud, Yaakov Hagoel turns 50… Canadian media personality, Ezra Levant turns 49…
Chief innovation officer at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Joshua Levi Schank, Ph.D. turns 46… Founder of NYT’s DealBook and co-creator of Showtime’s “Billions,” Andrew Ross Sorkin turns 44… Hollywood writer and producer, Gideon Yago turns 43… Jewish rapper, better known by his stage name Eprhyme (pronounced “E-Prime”), Eden Daniel Pearlstein turns 41… Writer of the “In the Know” gossip column for The Hill, Judy Kurtz Altscher turns 37… Founder of the Regional Organization for Peace, Economics & Security (ROPES), Ben Birnbaum turns 36… Former MLB pitcher for the Phillies, he now runs Big League Advance, a company that invests in minor league players in exchange for a percentage of their future MLB earnings, Michael Schwimer turns 35… Samantha Zalaznick turns 34… Founder and former CEO of the e-commerce app Spring, Alan Tisch turns 33… Tight end for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, Anthony Firkser turns 26… Actor who played the young autistic Jacob “Jake” Bohm in the Fox TV series “Touch,” later portraying a young Bruce Wayne in another Fox series “Gotham,” David Mazouz turns 20… Daniel Blum…
SATURDAY: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) turns 79… Former head of the Israeli security agency Shin Bet and later a member of the Knesset for Yesh Atid, Yaakov Peri turns 77… Co-owner of NYC-based TF Cornerstone, Kamran Thomas Elghanayan turns 76… Professor at Brown University and a 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner, David Kertzer turns 73… Physician and acupuncturist, Andrea Hoffman Kachuck turns 70… Nursing home administrator in Hazlet, N.J., Benzion Schachter turns 70… Founder and former publisher of 18 Media in the San Francisco Bay Area, M. Sloane Citron turns 65… SVP of News at CBS-owned local television stations, David M. Friend turns 65… Former NFL player who was one of the NFL’s original long snapper specialists, Adam Blayne Schreiber turns 59… Senior editor at Politico, David Cohen turns 58… Professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, Shmuel Aaron Weinberger turns 58…
Actor William Garson Paszamant turns 57… U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) turns 57… Pulitzer Prize-winning staff writer for The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum turns 55… Senior cantor at University Synagogue in the Brentwood area of West Los Angeles, Kerith Carolyn Spencer-Shapiro turns 51… Comedian, actress and writer, Chelsea Peretti turns 43… Actor best known for his role as Joel Maisel on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Michael Zegen turns 42… Former MLB pitcher and owner of a baseball development facility in Denver, Jason Hirsh turns 39… Chief program officer at Maimonides Fund, Aimee Weiss turns 35… Executive director at NYC-based Integrity First for America, Amy Spitalnick turns 35… Ethiopian-born Israeli fashion model and television personality, Tahounia Rubel turns 33… Levi Shemtov turns 28…
SUNDAY: Holocaust survivor and author, he was the developer of the L’Ermitage Beverly Hills in 1976, Severyn Ashkenazy turns 85… Co-founder of Dreamworks, David Geffen turns 78… Vice-chairman of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, Arn Herschel Tellem turns 67… Director of a fiscal and monetary policy group at the Brookings Institution, David Meyer Wessel turns 67… Chairman of the KABR Group, Kenneth D. Pasternak turns 67… President of Yale University, Peter Salovey (family name was Soloveitchik) turns 63… Former owner of the Cleveland Browns and Aston Villa F.C. of the English Premier League, Randy Lerner turns 59… Former director of strategic initiatives for then VPOTUS Mike Pence, Paul Teller turns 50… Reality television star, Jonathan Cheban turns 47… NYT best-selling novelist, Jonathan Safran Foer turns 44… Chicago Cubs player who was hit in the head on the first pitch of his MLB debut resulting in a compound skull fracture, Adam Greenberg turns 40…
Senior attorney in the West Palm Beach office of the Becker law firm’s government law and lobbying practice, Katie Edwards-Walpole turns 40… French actress, best known in the U.S. for her starring role as Shosanna Dreyfus in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” Mélanie Laurent turns 38… Rochester, N.Y., resident, Joshua Futerman turns 33… Pitcher for the Israeli team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier, he is now a sales associate at Stryker, Brad Goldberg turns 31… Israeli rhythmic gymnast who competed in the 2012 Olympics, Polina Zakaluzny turns 29… Monsey, N.Y., resident, Efrayim Katz turns 28… Professional tennis player, Noah Rubin turns 25… Class of 2021 J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School, Jay S. Schaefer turns 25… Emergency medical physician at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and AIPAC National Council member, Dr. Miriam Fischer Wachter…