👋 Good Wednesday morning!
We have a new feature on our website: A profiles tab and hub highlighting the wide range of emerging voices and leaders our reporters have interviewed over the past few years. Sort by category, industry and geography to find stories that are just as interesting to read now as they were when first published.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is set to vote today on Colin Kahl’s nomination for undersecretary of defense for policy. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who is still publicly undecided, will likely cast the deciding vote.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told reporters on Tuesday that it was unlikely that the vote would be held if committee chairman Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) “didn’t have the votes to get [Kahl] out of the committee,” an indication that Manchin is likely to vote yes on advancing the nomination.
Kahl’s nomination looked like it might be in increased peril yesterday after Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said they would boycott Kahl and other Biden nominees until they received assurances that the president would pick more diverse nominees, but they later both stood down.
A subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will hear testimony today from state attorneys general about domestic terrorism.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who chairs the subcommittee, told reporters yesterday that the hearing will likely address local resource shortages and debates over the necessity of a federal domestic terrorism statute.
Slotkin also expressed frustration about partisan infighting over domestic terrorism, which appears to have decreased the chances that Congress will establish a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot.
The House Armed Services Committee is holding a hearing today on extremism in the armed forces.
by the numbers
As Israel counts votes, election deadlock appears inevitable
The results so far from Israel’s fourth election yesterday in two years lay the groundwork for further deadlock and instability as no candidate appears poised to form a majority government. Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro breaks down all the latest developments and potential outcomes.
Numbers game: With close to 90% of votes from standard polling stations counted, neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor any of his opponents have a clear path to a coalition. The current results give Likud 30 seats, Yesh Atid 17, Shas 9, Blue and White 8, Labor, Yisrael Beytenu, United Torah Judaism and Yamina 7 each, the National Religious Party, the Joint List and New Hope 6 each, and Meretz and Ra’am 5 apiece. With this seat outcome, Netanyahu would be unable to form a 61-seat coalition even with the support of potential kingmaker Yamina. The anti-Netanyahu bloc faces similarly impossible math. But these figures could continue to change as votes come in.
Declarations: Netanyahu declared a “huge victory” last night and called on “all of my colleagues who agree with me” to join him in forming the next government to avoid a fifth election. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid celebrated becoming the second-largest Knesset faction, and vowed to “do everything to create a sane government.”
Waiting game: Only once all of the standard votes are tallied up can the counting of the “double envelope” votes commence. This year, in addition to the votes cast by soldiers, prisoners and overseas envoys, the double envelopes include a range of special COVID-related stations, expanding the potential that these votes could have a significant impact on the overall outcome. It also means that the final vote count is likely to not be confirmed before Friday.
Winners and losers: The biggest loser of the election appears to be New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, who was at one point floated as a potential prime ministerial candidate but is predicted to finish with just six seats. In an election night speech at his party’s headquarters, Sa’ar admitted that the outcome was disappointing, but renewed his vow not to join Netanyahu. Meanwhile both the far-right National Religious Party led by Bezalel Smotrich and the center-left Blue and White led by Benny Gantz exceeded polling expectations, and celebrated their parties’ achievements.
Kingmaker? Yamina leader Naftali Bennett has long been predicted to be this election’s kingmaker, as he vowed to replace Netanyahu — who he says “profoundly failed” — but also refused to rule out joining his coalition. Speaking to supporters last night, Bennett said he would wait for the final results and then make “the best decision for the State of Israel.” Bennett told JI earlier this month that he would “do everything in our power to prevent a fifth election. It would be crazy.”
Wild card: While all three exit polls last night predicted the Islamist Ra’am Party, also known as the United Arab List, would fall beneath the electoral threshold, the vote counts made it clear that Ra’am will receive 4-5 seats in the next Knesset. Its leader, Mansour Abbas, split the party from the Joint List last year over his refusal to rule out working with Netanyahu. Following the election, Abbas has said he is open to talks with either bloc, though his party would make uncomfortable alliance partners with factions on both sides, and some Likud MKs have already publicly disavowed him.
What’s next: Once the final votes are tallied up, all eyes will turn to the meetings party leaders will begin to hold next week with President Reuven Rivlin. Each party will recommend one individual to be tasked with forming the next government. Unlike past elections, the decisions of many of the parties are not a foregone conclusion. Rivlin has until April 7 to hand the mandate to one politician, who has a month to negotiate an at-least 61-seat government. If that person fails, Rivlin can task others with the job, but if nobody succeeds, a fifth election will ultimately be triggered.
Brad Hoylman sets his sights on the Manhattan borough presidency
Like any new transplant, New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman was initially disoriented by the abrupt change of scenery when he decamped to Manhattan from rural West Virginia 27 years ago. “It was a bit of ‘fish out of water’ for me,” Hoylman recalled in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. But Hoylman, 55, managed to carve out a piece of small-town Appalachia in bustling New York, working his way up from the block association to the community board to his current perch in Albany. Recently, though, he has been feeling homesick, and is now seeking a new job to engage more intimately with his city: Manhattan borough president. “It’s been an honor to be in the Senate for close to 10 years,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to coming home and continuing that service at the city level.”
Return to form? In many ways, the position represents a potential return to form for Hoylman, who would be tasked with making community board appointments and land-use recommendations, among other duties, if he is elected. But because the role is largely advisory, it also symbolizes something of a tonal shift for a legislator who boasts of having passed more than 100 bills and who now serves as the powerful chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Still, Hoylman argued that the job had great potential. “I’ve always had enormous respect for the position,” he said, “as, essentially, planner-in-chief for the borough.”
Bold proposals: Hoylman laid out a series of bold policy proposals as he discussed his vision for the office, including a data collection system dubbed “Borough STAT” that would allow Manhattanites to determine how neighborhood services are being deployed as well as a “Manhattan Marshall Plan” that would empower local communities to set their own priorities around social services and land use. Perhaps his most personal proposal would initiate a borough-wide screening of all kindergartens for dyslexia and other learning disabilities. “We’ve been teaching our children to overcome dyslexia for the better part of a century, but for whatever reason, not every school is equipped for this type of regimen,” said Hoylman, who learned last year that his 10-year-old daughter is dyslexic.
Keeping the faith: The state senator lives in the West Village with his husband and two daughters. Before the pandemic, they were regular attendees at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, an LGBTQ synagogue in Manhattan. Hoylman, who was raised Catholic, converted to Judaism two years ago, a decision he made after his children were born through surrogacy. Hoylman described the process as a kind of “awakening” that helped confirm his devotion to public service. He said his faith has grounded him in his personal and professional life as he seeks higher office. “I really take a lot from my understanding of Judaism and my family’s experience to the office with me when I’m a state senator,” he told JI, “and hopefully when I’ll be a borough president.”
on the hill
Samantha Power questioned over U.N. 2334 resolution at confirmation hearing
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the United States Agency for International Development, was challenged yesterday at her confirmation hearing over the Obama administration’s controversial decision to abstain from a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in December 2016.
Background: U.N. Resolution 2334 condemned the Israeli settlements in “occupied Palestinian territories,” which the resolution defined to include East Jerusalem, including the Old City of Jerusalem, as violations of international law. The U.S. abstention allowed the resolution to pass by a unanimous vote of the 14 other members of the Security Council.
Q&A: Power repeatedly dodged Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) questions about whether she personally supports the resolution, but defended the abstention as “in keeping with President [Barack] Obama’s desire to encourage the parties to avoid unilateral steps, including terrorism, incitement to violence and the building of settlements.” Power continued, “The problem with the resolution… was by and large the venue, because the U.N. has been so biased.” In response to a follow-up question from Cruz, the former U.N. ambassador said that she does not believe the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem is illegally occupied territory.
Trading barbs: Cruz suggested that the timing of the resolution — a month after the 2016 election — was politically motivated and orchestrated by the Obama administration, saying that it “was passed with, at best, the acquiescence of the United States and of you as U.N. ambassador and, at worst, the active encouragement of the Obama administration and you as U.N. ambassador.” Power said she was “disappointed” that she did not have the opportunity to discuss her record on Israel at the U.N. with Cruz during a private pre-hearing discussion.
🎧 Podcast Playback: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined The New York Times’s “Ezra Klein Show” podcast to discuss his legislative agenda and the party dynamics in the Senate. Sanders called former President Donald Trump “a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian,” but said he was still not “particularly comfortable” with Trump’s ban from Twitter. [NYTimes]
✍️ History Lesson: Writing on the current state of political correctness emanating from America’s elite campuses, Tevi Troy looks back at the backlash these trends first received in the 1990s, when scholars such as Alan Bloom, Dinesh D’Souza and Roger Kimball brought them to mainstream attention. At the time, conservative and liberal commentators decried what they saw as an assault on free speech, concerns echoed by Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election. [NationalAffairs]
🚨 Rising Crime: In an interactive Washington Post feature, Miriam Berger explores the rise in gun violence plaguing Israeli-Arab communities. “We are supposed to be living in a democratic country with laws, but where are the police?” asked Sawsan Nasra, the aunt of a recently slain 19-year-old. [WashPost]
Around the Web
🕊️ Peace Plan: Representatives of the Mideast Quartet — the EU, U.K., U.N. and Russia — met virtually yesterday to discuss relaunching Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
🤝 New Venue: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said today that he plans to invite the Israelis and Palestinians to hold peace talks in China.
🚢 Traffic Jam: A large container ship became stuck in the Suez Canal yesterday, blocking traffic on one of the world’s most important shipping routes.
💰 Market Change: Israeli regulators may begin rating bonds issued by foreign companies in an effort to dissuade foreign developers from receiving cheap financing.
🦄 Startup Nation: Israeli cloud security startup Orca has raised an additional $210 million leading to a valuation of $1.2 billion.
😨 Death Threat: Agnes Callamard, the U.N. investigator looking into the killing of Jamal Kashoggi, told The Guardian that a top Saudi official threatened to have her “taken care of.”
🖥️ Conspiracy: According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, QAnon adherents have been spreading a combined anti-Chinese and antisemitic COVID vaccine conspiracy theory.
🏈 Bad Audible: The ADL of New England called for an investigation into reports that the Duxbury High School football team used Holocaust and Jewish-related terms for playcalls.
🎥 Casting Call: Steven Spielberg has cast actor Seth Rogen to play the director’s uncle in an upcoming film loosely based on Spielberg’s childhood in Phoenix.
🧑🍳 Table Talk: Still looking for Seder dishes? Bon Appetit has six Passover recipes from a wide range of chefs.
Song of the Day
Hasidic singer Shulem Lemmer recorded a version of “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt” ahead of Passover.
Award-winning classical pianist, Byron Janis turns 93… Beverly Hills-based estate planning attorney, Ronald M. Kabrins turns 83… HR director at Bond Distributing Company and a board member of The Associated, Rochelle “Ronnie” Footlick turns 79… Member of the House of Lords and star of the UK’s version of The Apprentice, Baron Alan Sugar turns 74… Attorney in Tarzana, Calif., Paul Marshall Leven turns 65… Former CEO of Microsoft, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer (seen above in a classic 1986 advertisement for Microsoft’s Windows 1.0) turns 65… Jewish community activist in Austin, Deborah E. Rudy turns 65… Managing partner at Joslynda Capital, Michael Weiss turns 65… Retired NASA astronaut and a veteran of four space shuttle missions, he had a mezuzah on his bunk in the space shuttle, Scott Jay “Doc” Horowitz turns 64… Poet and professor of fine arts, design and art history at Hofstra University, Martha Hollander turns 62… Former professional wrestler under a series of ring names including “The Star of David,” Barry Horowitz turns 61… President of American Jewish University, Jeffrey Herbst turns 60… CEO of The Female Quotient, Shelley Zalis… Former official at UJA-Federation of New York, now at NYC’s 92nd Street Y, Laura Spitzer… Actor who is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Chris Taub on the Fox medical drama series “House,” Peter Jacobson turns 56… Political commentator and columnist, he works for the U.S. division of Israeli tech firm HackerU, Fred Menachem turns 49… Chief communications officer and advisor to Israel’s U.S. and U.N. ambassador Gilad Erdan, Ruth Marks Eglash turns 49…
Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel — West Side Jewish Center on 34th Street in Manhattan, Jason Herman turns 44… Actor best known for his role as FBI Special Agent Aram Mojtabai in NBC’s “The Blacklist,” Amir Arison turns 43… Director of marketing at Window Nation, Eric Goldscher turns 42… Executive editor at Bloomberg Green, Aaron Rutkoff turns 41… Famed NYC photographer now working for the MTA, Marc A. Hermann turns 39… Retired MLB and Team Israel pitcher, he is now a pitching analyst for the Chicago Cubs, Josh Zeid turns 34… Chief of staff for Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Joshua D. Cohen turns 34… Venezuelan-born celebrity chef on NBC’s “Food Fighters,” she is a caterer and a private chef in Los Angeles, Deborah Benaim turns 33… Founding director of the Orthodox Union’s Impact Accelerator, Jenna Nelson Beltser turns 30… Canadian women’s ice hockey three-time all-star player with the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League, Kaleigh Fratkin turns 29… COO at Bnai Zion, Justin B. Hayet turns 27… Competitive pair skater who with a partner were the first pair representing Israel to qualify for an Olympics, Andrea “Anya” Davidovich turns 24… Tami Wolf…