👋 Good Wednesday morning!
The House of Representatives will vote this morning on the final version of the COVID-19 relief bill as amended by the Senate.
It’s a busy day for Congress’s foreign policy committees. The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hear testimony from Secretary of State Tony Blinken, while the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will host former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Bonnie Glick, the former deputy administrator of USAID, will testify before the newly formed Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact. Glick previewed her testimony to Jewish Insider last night. Read more below.
The Miami Heat announced last night that center Meyers Leonard will step away from the team “indefinitely” after he used an antisemitic slur while playing a live video game on Twitch. Leonard posted an apology following the incident, stating that his “ignorance about [the word’s] history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will reportedly travel to the United Arab Emirates tomorrow for his much-delayed first visit to the UAE since the Abraham Accords were signed.
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queen of queens
Grace Meng vows to protect her constituents from rising hate
Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) has earned a reputation over her eight years in office as a staunch ally of the Jewish community and a vocal advocate of pro-Israel causes. And last week she was named co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism — an appointment she views as an opportunity to unite two seemingly disparate communities as incidents of antisemitism have increased alongside hate crimes against members of the Asian-American community. Meng spoke to Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel about her efforts and her views on a range of issues.
Bridge builder: “I represent a district that’s really diverse,” Meng, 45, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who represents Bayside, Flushing and Forest Hills, among other neighborhoods in Queens, told JI. “The heart of my district is Main Street, where on one side is a predominantly Asian community, and on the other side is a predominantly Jewish community.” And during her time in office, “I’ve always tried to find ways to bring the two communities or different communities in general closer together.”
Safety first: This past week, Meng held a virtual meeting with Gilad Erdan, Israel’s newly appointed ambassador to the U.N. and U.S. “I invited him to our district, so hopefully that will happen,” Meng said, adding that they discussed, among other things, her work securing nonprofit security grants for synagogues in her district. “Just in the last few days, we had a break-in at one of our local synagogues,” Meng told JI. “Fortunately, they had the equipment, like the cameras, to catch the perpetrator and to see exactly what happened, and luckily, no one was hurt. But this is something that is really important.”
Eye on Iran: With the debate over reentering the 2015 Iran deal heating up, Meng maintains that she has no regrets in bucking the party line at the time and voting against the original deal six years ago. “I know it wasn’t a popular opinion amongst my colleagues and my party at the time,” she said, “but I’ve never regretted that vote.” Now, as Biden weighs reentering the agreement, Meng is taking a wait-and-see approach, signing on to a bipartisan letter this week loosely laying out a middle path on how to proceed on rapprochement with Iran. “I know there’s a lot of pressure on President Biden to rejoin the deal, and I understand that we want to show the world that diplomacy is back,” Meng acknowledged. “But it’s very complicated, it’s not going to be easy, and we can’t just automatically settle back into the agreement. So I’m just pushing for slow, cautious and measured actions on the side of all parties, and to make sure that any deal that we head into is based on the situation today, what’s on the ground.”
Cuomo’s case: Meng’s profile in state and federal politics is rising after nearly a decade in Congress, leading to speculation that she may outgrow the seat in the near future. A recent Politico article posited that Meng could prevail in the next gubernatorial race as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces mounting accusations of sexual impropriety. “I was honored to be mentioned amongst many of my qualified colleagues,” Meng said of the mention, leaving it at that. While some Democratic lawmakers have called for the governor to resign, Meng has taken a characteristically more cautious approach. “I’ve called for an investigation that is independent,” she said. “I support our attorney general. I want to make sure that she has the opportunity to conduct that investigation. The allegations are disturbing, but he is also entitled to due process. So for now, I’m reserving further judgment until after the investigation.”
What Bonnie Glick plans to tell Congress today
Bonnie Glick, the former deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will testify today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact about USAID and the state of international development after a year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Glick spoke to Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod last night about her plans for today’s hearing.
Background: Glick, who was chosen by the Trump administration to become the second highest-ranking official at USAID in 2019, was fired by the former president shortly after the November 2020 election to allow John Barsa, then the agency’s acting director, to legally continue on in his position. Glick’s refusal to commit to leaving at the end of the Trump administration also played into her firing, a former Trump official told JI. Barsa will not testify at the hearing. “He would not be a qualified witness,” Glick said. “I think that probably Congress determined that he would not be a qualified witness.”
Peace projects: Glick told JI that she plans to discuss a range of issues at the hearing, including the Abraham Accords, earmarks, countering China’s influence and COVID vaccinations. She described the accords, which normalized relations between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, as having expanded possibilities for USAID’s economic development partnerships. “[Israel and the UAE] can partner in development projects in developing countries, in emerging markets, and they can use some of the great ‘start-up nation’ Israeli technology that has had such a tremendous impact,” Glick explained. “And they can be combined with entrepreneurial undertakings coming out of the UAE for some really groundbreaking development projects in third countries.”
Hands tied: Glick also plans to advocate against earmarks and other congressionally directed spending, which she characterized as tying USAID’s hands. USAID’s $20 billion budget is almost 90% directed spending, which “makes it very hard to have a meaningful impact with the very limited discretionary funding that’s available,” Glick explained. “It’s not a healthy way for Congress, which is an oversight body, to exercise its influence,” she said. “When [earmarks are] important, it’s kind of a big-picture level of importance, not down to the micromanaging level of importance, which is how they are today.”
on the hill
70 Democrats and 70 Republicans sign bipartisan Iran deal letter
A bipartisan House letter organized by Reps. Anthony Brown (D-MD) and Michael Waltz (R-FL), which lays out a middle path for Biden to address Iran’s nuclear program and other malign activities, has collected 140 signatures, with 70 Democrats and 70 Republicans signing on, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Diverse list: Waltz noted in a press call Tuesday afternoon that the letter’s signatories encompass a wide range of ideological positions, including members of both the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the House Freedom Caucus. On the Democratic side, signatories include Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY). Republican signatories include Reps. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Ken Buck (R-CO), Brian Mast (R-FL), Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).
On the record: Waltz characterized the letter as a direct response to a December letter from 150 Democrats to the Biden administration explicitly calling for sanctions relief for and a quick return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action. “The important thing from this letter is that we’re seeing 70 Democrats on the record to the administration saying that we need to have all of these pieces on the table for a future deal,” Waltz explained. “We did not want to leave the only thing out there from Congress — and many Democrats did not want to leave as the only thing out there from the House — the letter in December that just said blindly get back into the JCPOA.”
In agreement? State Department spokesman Ned Price said yesterday that the “letter and the ideas put forward in the letter are in important ways very consistent with the approach that we have laid out… It sure sounds like we are on the same page in broad terms.” But Waltz pushed back Tuesday evening, saying “we are NOT on the same page. We need to see these demands put forward and Iran held directly accountable.”
GOP gripes: In the final letter, an earlier passage that some Republicans said appeared to blame the Trump administration’s decision to exit the deal for Iran’s violations was edited, and no longer specifies when Iran began violating the deal. Another passage, which one Capitol Hill aide suggested was a coded endorsement of sanctions relief, remained unchanged. Waltz noted that he opposes sanctions relief and said “we’ve negotiated the language back and forth in this letter.”
This Israeli journalist argues in favor of a new globalization
The Appalachian coal miner, a stand-in for the long-suffering white working class, looms large in American politics. In a new book, one Israeli journalist suggests that the story of the American coal miner transcends electoral politics and is actually a powerful parable about our era of global turmoil. Yediot Aharonot columnist and Channel 13 News commentator Nadav Eyal spoke to Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch about why his “outsider’s view” helped him predict Donald Trump’s ascent before many American political insiders.
Bigger than Trump: Eyal’s 2016 TV documentary, “Trumpland,” which revealed to Israelis that the then-candidate Trump might win, led him to write Revolt: The Worldwide Uprising Against Globalization. But from the beginning, he decided that Trump would not be the centerpiece of his project. “The era of the revolt is too momentous, too consequential, to be defined by Trump or by the media’s addiction to him,” Eyal writes in the book’s introduction.
Not nationalism: Eyal argues that disillusioned coal miners in Pennsylvania are just one piece in a global puzzle of vulnerable people being crushed by globalization. “What we’re seeing is a multi-layered, leaderless revolt of some sort against porous structures, which are deemed corrupt, hollow, or unrepresentative,” he said. The book, recently translated into English from its original Hebrew, argues that the solution is not nationalism — instead, Eyal thinks the answer is a better, more cooperative globalization.
Israel first: Revolt will soon be available in local languages in countries including Brazil, Croatia, and Spain. Each version includes some local flavor: the German edition has a particular focus on the country’s neo-Nazi problem, while the Italian one has a lengthy section on COVID-19, the north of Italy having been devastated in the early days of the pandemic. Only the original Hebrew edition focuses on Israeli current events. Eyal’s politics lean left, as does his message to Israelis: If Israel moves too far to the right or too far in the direction of the country’s ultra-Orthodox, then Israel is “just going to destroy its own partnership with globalization.”
👨💼 Majority Mensch: New York Times reporter Luke Broadwater sat down with new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who “peppers his speech with Yiddish expressions” and revealed that that the anti-war movement in the 1960s was “beshert — God’s hand,” in guiding him towards his chosen life path. [NYTimes]
📈 Market Trend: The Wall Street Journal’s Amrith Ramkumar explores how blank-check SPAC companies — the hottest current trend on Wall Street — were first invented in 1993 by law school friends David Nussbaum and David Miller. “It’s taken me 27 years to become an overnight sensation,” said Nussbaum. [WSJ]
🗣️ In His Words: In a wide-ranging English interview with The Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he does not regret strongly embracing President Donald Trump, and said the recent Supreme Court ruling on non-Orthodox conversions leaves him concerned about African migrants pursuing “fake conversions.” [JPost]
🎒 School’s Out: New York Times columnist Bret Stephens rails against California’s proposed ethnic studies curriculum, noting that while “anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist dog whistles have been taken out,” the new draft still offers a “tendentiously racialized view of the American-Jewish experience.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
⚔️ Blame Game: Iran’s U.N. ambassador denied Tehran was behind an attack on an Israeli-owned ship, accusing Israel of “playing the victim to distract attention” from its “malign practices.”
🕵️ Conflicting Case: FBI and Justice Department officials reportedly overlooked exculpatory evidence against Omar Sheikh, the man freed earlier this year in the murder of Daniel Pearl, complicating the pursuit of justice for his killing.
🚫 New Policy: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rescinded its “blacklist” of firms who worked with primary challengers to incumbents, marking a victory for progressives.
👱🏼♀️ On Camera: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) denied she circulated the “Jewish space lasers” conspiracy, blaming “some leftist ‘journalist’” for coining the phrase.
🌍 New Gig: Vice President Kamala Harris is, with President Joe Biden’s backing, seeking to establish herself in the foreign policy sphere and to supplement her limited experience.
🤳 Company Line: Asked about the firing of “Mandalorian” actress Gina Carano over controversial social media posts, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the company stands for “values of respect, values of decency.”
🏦 New Initiative: Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and Dina Powell McCormick, Goldman’s global head of sustainability and inclusive growth, unveiled a new $10 billion investment in support of Black women.
🌆 Big Spender: Real estate billionaire Stephen Ross is preparing to launch a Super PAC aimed at supporting moderate Democrats in the New York City mayoral race.
💼 Welcome Aboard: Outgoing CNN President Jeff Zucker has joined the board of Group Nine Acquisition, a SPAC focused on purchasing digital properties.
🇬🇧 Campus Beat: The president of Britain’s National Union of Students sparked the ire of some Jewish advocates by agreeing to appear at an event with BDS leader Omar Barghouti.
🏫 Stepping Down: The head of New York’s Ethical Culture Fieldston school will step down after a tenure marked by several anti-Israel controversies.
🇸🇬 Behind Bars: A man in Singapore was arrested for plotting a knife attack against Jews at a local synagogue in order to avenge Israeli actions in Gaza.
👭 Reunited: Holocaust survivors and best friends Betty Grebenschikoff and Ana María Wahrenberg each believed the other had been killed until they found each other 82 years later.
🏡 House Hunting: Miami rapper Rick Ross purchased the Fort Lauderdale house of former NBA all-star Amar’e Stoudemire for $3.5 million in cash.
🕯️ Remembering: Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth, died at 91. Barbara Ess, a musician and photographer born Barbara Eileen Schwartz, died at 76. Carl Shapiro, a philanthropist and investor who lost $545 million in the Madoff scheme, died at 108.
Song of the Day
In his new song, “Wants and Needs,” Drake raps: “yeah, I probably should go to yeshiva, we went to Ibiza,” which rhymes with “I need me some Jesus.”
Long Beach, California general surgeon, Leonard M. Lovitch, MD turns 77… Author and publisher of the Phoenix Scottsdale Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook, Michael Alan Ross turns 74… Albert (Bert) Meyers turns 73… Senior cryogenics engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Lawrence Sobel turns 68…
Founder and CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pegasystems, Alan N. Trefler turns 65… CEO of Strategy3i Ltd. and Beyond Remotely, Jeffrey Kahn turns 63… Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, he won four medals in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games and is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Mitch Gaylord turns 60… Record producer, former co-president of Columbia Records and a co-founder of Def Jam Records, Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin turns 58… Co-host of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” David Faber turns 57… Executive director of the America Israel Friendship League, Wayne L. Firestone turns 57… Actor and the son of novelist Norman Mailer, Stephen Mailer turns 55… Investigative reporter for The New York Times, Danny Hakim turns 50… Real estate agent and reality television personality, Josh Altman turns 42… VP of lending and exchanges at Celsius Network, Aliza Landes turns 38… Former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. State Department, Carrie Filipetti turns 32… Actor and director, Sawyer Avery Spielberg turns 29… Editor-at-large of Mishpacha Magazine, Binyamin Rose…