👋 Good Tuesday morning!
COVID election provisions in place include drive-through polling stations for infected voters, designated polls for those quarantining, stations set up in hospitals and old age homes as well as four polling stations in Ben-Gurion Airport, where arriving Israelis can cast their votes before entering quarantine.
The extra polling stations are expected to cause a delay in officiating the final vote count, as the “double envelope” votes — any voters who cast their ballots outside their designated polling station — take longer to tally up. While exit polls will be released at 10 p.m. local time today, final vote tallies could take until Friday.
The Central Elections Committee has until March 31 to present the official vote results to President Reuven Rivlin, who will then begin consultations with party leaders over who to task with forming the next government. Rivlin has until April 7 to issue his recommendation.
On Capitol Hill, Samantha Power, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead USAID, will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for a confirmation hearing.
The Senate confirmed Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, the former mayor of Boston, by a vote of 68 to 29.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose vote is crucial to moving Colin Kahl’s nomination out of the Armed Services Committee, is still undecided, he told reporters yesterday.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken is reportedly expected to meet with his Greek and Turkish counterparts on the sidelines of a gathering of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels this week, the first high-level official meeting between the U.S. and Turkey since Biden took office.
The White House sent out invitations yesterday for a pre-Passover virtual event being held this Thursday featuring Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.
The Israeli lawyer on Facebook’s independent Oversight Board
At an introductory meeting of Facebook’s Oversight Board — the independent body formed last spring to make decisions about controversial posts on the platform — members were asked to participate in a virtual show-and-tell. Emi Palmor, former director-general of Israel’s Justice Ministry, went first, showing the group a photo of her mother and her aunt as young children in Romania, weeks before they were sent to a concentration camp. “The other board members were in shock,” she told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch. “They were like, ‘Oh, my God, what is this? This is too much information. This is so intimate and so open.’ So, OK, this is me.” As the only Israeli and one of the few Jewish members of the Oversight Board, Palmor hopes to bring her mix of humor, chutzpah and Holocaust history to the body, which has been referred to as “Facebook’s Supreme Court.”
2.5 billion users: The creation of the board is designed to allow a group of outside experts to weigh in on controversial cases and make policy recommendations to Facebook that will govern its 2.5 billion users. Palmor argues that everyone who uses the platform has a vested interest in the board: “If you care about Facebook,” Palmor argued, “you have to care about the Oversight Board, because I think that the Oversight Board is an honest experiment in trying to improve the platform. I think that the platform is like a baby, who grew up all of a sudden, and somebody has to educate it or somebody has to restrain it in certain ways.”
Trump watch: The average Facebook user likely hasn’t heard about the Oversight Board or read its wonky case decisions. If they know anything about it, it’s probably this: The biggest decision currently facing the 19-member body is whether to maintain Facebook’s current ban on former President Donald Trump, who has been barred from the platform since the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Twitter banned the former president for good, so Facebook would immediately become the largest social media platform available to him if he is allowed to return. The Oversight Board’s decision is expected in the next few weeks. (Palmor was unable to comment on ongoing cases.)
Opening ranks: Throughout her 24 years at the Justice Ministry, Palmor sought to increase diversity in the ranks of Israel’s civil service, aiming to recruit more Arabs, women, ultra-Orthodox Jews and Ethiopian-Israelis. She is best known for what has been called the “Palmor Report,” a 2016 Justice Ministry report that acknowledged that Israel had perpetuated systemic racism against Ethiopian Jews. She hopes to bring her experience fighting racism to the Oversight Board, in addition to “my perspective as a Jew on issues of antisemitism and issues of genocide,” she said. “I feel that my responsibility as a Jew in Israel is to be different, to be a country where minorities can feel as equal as possible, as protected as possible, as not discriminated [against] as possible, whether it is a non-Jewish minority, or whether it is a Jewish minority of other color or other social status.”
An avowed Robert Morgenthau acolyte makes her bid for Manhattan DA
In Manhattan’s crowded district attorney’s race, there have been few kind words spared, if any, for Cyrus Vance, Jr., the outgoing incumbent who has drawn scrutiny for many of his decisions. Diana Florence, one of eight Democratic candidates competing in the June primary, has emerged as one of Vance’s most outspoken detractors — and she claims to speak from experience, having worked under him for about a decade. “I’m running on my record of 25 years of standing up to power and bringing landmark, record-breaking cases,” Florence told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview. “I did that in spite of Cy Vance.”
Bad blood: The 50-year-old former assistant district attorney stepped down from her position as the head of Vance’s formidable Construction Fraud Task Force last January after she was accused of withholding evidence in a series of bribery and corruption cases. “I made an inadvertent mistake,” she acknowledged. “I owned it, because that’s what leaders do.” Still, Florence didn’t go quietly, charging in her resignation letter that her unit had been “stripped” of “resources” and that she had faced a “hostile work environment” and “bullying conduct.”
Morgenthau connection: In an interview with JI, Florence sought to distance herself even further from Vance, aligning herself with his predecessor, Robert Morgenthau, who died in 2019 and presided over the office for 35 years. “I spent the bulk of my career under him,” said Florence, who worked for Morgenthau from 1995 until his retirement in 2009. “He taught me that serving the public is a privilege, and it’s my honor to have fought alongside people who never thought they’d win.”
Family ties: Florence said her cousin, the late Israeli politician Yitzhak Moda’i, instilled in her a dedication to public service — as did his wife, Michal Har’el, a former president of the Women’s International Zionist Organization and an advocate for victims of domestic violence. The former prosecutor is confident that her record will outshine her opponents, pointing to her involvement in a variety of wage theft and construction cases. Florence, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, said the DA’s office needs to take a “proactive” role in addressing incidents of antisemitism and other forms of bigotry. “We need to go after hate groups in their pocketbook,” she said.
Trump investigation: Despite her criticism of Vance, Florence suggested that there was at least one aspect of his legacy she would seek to continue, noting that she would be well-equipped to take on the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s finances, which is likely to be inherited by the next DA. “As Manhattan DA, I will follow the facts without fear or favor, never bowing to power or acting only after public outcry.” Still, the allusion to one of Morgenthau’s favorite lines indicated that she wouldn’t be giving her most recent boss much credit for the case. “The deference to power under Cy Vance was unprecedented,” Florence said, “and it is anathema to what I learned under Morgenthau.”
Beinart university lecture generates controversy
A lecture by Peter Beinart slated for this evening at Virginia Commonwealth University is causing controversy after several local Jewish groups asked to be removed as cosponsors, Jerusalem-based writer Abby Seitz reported yesterday in The Washington Post.
Background: The event was originally scheduled for 2020, but postponed due to coronavirus concerns. Prior to its rescheduling, local Jewish organizations that cosponsored the annual lecture hosted by the university’s libraries and Center for Judaic Studies voiced concerns over Beinart, but did not withdraw their cosponsorship. Over the summer, Beinart publicly voiced support for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which Seitz wrote is “considered a ‘red line’ among many Jewish groups, which often interpret a one-state solution as a threat to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”
Reaction: Beinart tweeted that he is “sorry (though not surprised) this happened. It’s because the American Jewish establishment is an oligarchy run largely by its (often right-wing) donors,” he added, inviting people to attend the event and “ask me difficult questions.”
Playing the numbers: The Post report cited a 2019 survey conducted by the Mellman Group on behalf of the Ruderman Family Foundation that found that 80% of American Jews describe themselves as pro-Israel to varying degrees. Seitz’s article framed the results as “only 23 percent said they are pro-Israel and supportive of Israel’s government, while 57 percent identified as pro-Israel with ‘certain’ or ‘heavy’ criticism of the Israeli government.” An assessment by Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport months earlier found that 95% of American Jews hold pro-Israel views.
Of note: Seitz also penned an opinion piece yesterday explaining why she’s supporting the Joint List in today’s Israeli election.
🗣️ Not Taking Sides: The Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg interviews Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid about his election chances, views on the conflict and the most pressing problems facing Israel. “Netanyahu is playing with fire with the Democrats,” Lapid said. “You cannot affiliate the State of Israel with just the Republican Party, or with just a certain group of the Republican Party.” [Atlantic]
🕵️ Opening Up: In his first interview since arriving in Israel last year, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard told Israel Hayom that America “stabbed Israel in the back” by withholding intelligence, defending his decision to spy on the U.S. “I know I crossed a line, but I had no choice.” [IsraelHayom]
📖 On the Defense: In The New Republic, Laura Marsh dives deep into Blake Bailey’s new authorized biography of Philip Roth, which “sets about addressing a laundry list of Roth’s gripes,” according to Marsh, as Roth sought to defend himself from charges of “Jewish self-hatred, misogyny, and general unseriousness.” [TNR]
Around the Web
☢️ Cover Up: Western intelligence reports indicate Iran is concealing elements of its nuclear program — including machinery and spare parts for centrifuges — from U.N. inspectors.
🇮🇷 Intel Intercepted: Senior U.S. intelligence officials said that the National Security Agency intercepted an Iranian plot against Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.
🇸🇦🇾🇪 Arms Down: Saudi Arabia proposed a U.N.-supervised ceasefire to end the six-year conflict with Yemen.
👃 Breathe In: Israel and New Zealand both gave approval to an Israeli-produced nasal spray said to treat and help curb the transmission of COVID-19.
🤳 More Bars: The Israeli government is planning to sell the rights to 5G frequencies to mobile operators later this year, in an effort to boost 5G service in the country.
🗳️ They’re Running: Republicans Eric Greitens and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) announced their bids yesterday for open Senate seats in Missouri and Alabama, respectively.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: A report issued by the U.K. advocacy group Hope Not Hate indicated that one in five Britons believe at least some components of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
👋 Early Exit: Leon Black resigned as chair of Apollo Global Management ahead of his previously announced July departure, pointing to concerns about his and his wife’s health.
📉 Looking Up?: WeWork, which is pursuing investors for a SPAC IPO deal, revealed that it lost $3.2 billion last year — less than the $3.5 billion it lost in 2019.
📰 Call the Editor: The Asbury Park Press printed a profanity-laced photo caption using a derogatory term for a Jewish woman in a slideshow about COVID-19 vaccinations.
🎭 Living On: The family of Carl Reiner, who died last year at 98, is donating the archives of his seven-decade comedic career to the National Comedy Center.
🍩 Shot of Sugar: Krispy Kreme is offering free doughnuts through the end of 2021 to individuals who provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination.
🥪 Big Bite: The once-famed “Doozie” sandwich in Dallas created by caterer Bertha Spiritas is coming back to life thanks to her grand-nieces, Wendy Horowitz and Dana Eisenberg.
🧁 Sweet Snacks: A “virtual bakery” in Chicago called Masa Madre offers baked goods that combine the owners’ Mexican and Jewish heritages.
Pic of the Day
A man arrives to vote at a special drive-through polling station set up in Hadera, Israel, for those in COVID-19 quarantine.
Actor and producer, Mark Rydell turns 92… Former NFL referee for 23 seasons, Jerry Markbreit turns 86… Of counsel at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, he served as White House counsel for President Clinton, Bernard W. Nussbaum turns 84… Together with her husband, Theodore, she pledged $25 million to BBYO in 2019, Harriette Perlman turns 81… Mandolinist and composer of acoustic music, David Grisman turns 76… Writer and TV producer, David Milch turns 76… Professor of music at the Juilliard School, Yoheved “Veda” Kaplinsky turns 74… Los Angeles-based psychologist and author, Wendy Mogel turns 70… Footwear designer, Kenneth D. Cole turns 67… Mayor of Austin, Texas, Stephen Ira Adler turns 65… Former director of business development at Fannie Mae, Beth Millstein turns 60… Investor and commentator, Peter Schiff turns 58… Russian-American businessman, Eugene Shvidler turns 57… Senior writer for “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Daniel Radosh turns 52… French actress who has appeared in 40 films, her Holocaust survivor grandparents changed their name from Goldreich, Judith Godrèche turns 49… Client partner at Facebook, Scott Shapiro turns 49… Maryland state senator, Craig Zucker turns 46… Israeli actress and television host, Adi Ashkenazi turns 46… Three-time Grammy Award-winning record producer and songwriter, Ariel Rechtshaid turns 42… Member of the rabbinics faculty at the Academy for Jewish Religion California, Yehuda Martin Hausman turns 39… Staff reporter for The New York Times, Sarah Maslin Nir turns 38… Israeli singer-songwriter and actress, Riff Cohen turns 37… Deputy chief of staff and public information officer for the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Fairfax County, Va., Benjamin Shnider turns 32… Tennis coach at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Julia Cohen turns 32… Former member of the National Israeli Rhythmic Gymnastics Team, Moran Buzovski turns 29… Television and film actress, Victoria Pedretti turns 26…