👋 Good Friday morning!
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to readouts from bothcountries, the two leaders discussed cooperation on fighting COVID-19 and expressed their mutual opposition to the ICC probe of Israel.
An Israeli Justice Ministry official said yesterday that Israel is still weighing the extent of its participation in an ICC investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday announced the chairs and ranking members for its subcommittees in the 117th Congress.
The Senate began debate on its version of the latest COVID-19 relief bill with a party-line vote. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) forced a full reading of the 628-page bill, which took nearly 11 hours, finishing at 2 a.m. Votes on a slew of amendments are expected to stretch into the weekend.
A man armed with a knife reportedly attempted to storm his way into a Jewish day school in Marseille, France, this morning, and was arrested by authorities.
Check out Jewish Insider’s latest ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into over the last two weeks.
Matt Duss expected to remain on Bernie Sanders’ staff
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) foreign policy advisor Matt Duss, who was previously rumored to be under consideration for a position in the Biden State Department, is expected to remain with Sanders instead of making the move to Foggy Bottom, sources with knowledge of the matter inform Jewish Insider.
Tough tweets: This comes as Duss has boosted a series of tweets this week critical of the Biden administration’s handling of foreign policy issues, including the decision not to punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and U.S. condemnation of the International Criminal Court’s decision to open an investigation into Israel. On Wednesday, Duss retweeted a post from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) criticizing Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s opposition to a recently announced investigation into Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza.
‘Progressive pipe dream’: Some Hill staffers were skeptical that Duss was ever a serious candidate for a position in Foggy Bottom. “I think that was a progressive pipe dream advocated by the very far left and never seriously considered by Biden or Blinken,” one congressional staffer told JI.
Inbox: This week, Duss started distributing a letter authored by Sanders to other Senate offices calling on Secretary of State Tony Blinken to urge Israeli officials to do more to assist in the vaccinations of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the only other senator that has signed onto the letter, which closes next week.
ON THE HILL
Iran deal at center of Kahl’s nomination hearing
Colin Kahl, President Joe Biden’s nominee for under secretary of defense for policy, faced intense scrutiny from Senate Republicans at his confirmation hearing on Thursday, focusing in particular on his past tweets and on comments about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, former President Donald Trump’s actions against the Iranian regime and issues related to the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Iran inquiries: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) sought to sum up the tenor of much of the hearing. “I think your nomination is sort of a proxy for a sharp difference of opinion in this committee and in Congress about the wisdom of the JCPOA, and that is the core of many of the questions today,” he told Kahl, who, if confirmed, would be the top policy official at the Pentagon.
Walking back: During the hearing, Kahl tempered past comments in favor of sanctions relief for Iran and in opposition to the Trump administration’s killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. “It’s completely conceivable” that some of the $100 billion in frozen assets that were released to Iran in 2015 may have gone toward Iranian proxy forces which have since attacked Americans, he admitted. In early 2020, Kahl spoke out against the killing of Soleimani, but said Thursday: “I think [the world] is probably a better place without him.” Committee ranking member Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told JI after the hearing that he agreed with “some of the things” Kahl said about Iran, but “he wasn’t strong enough.”
Tweet troubles: Republican senators repeatedly pressed Kahl on partisan tweets that stridently criticized the Trump administration and others in the GOP. “Your long record of volatile outbursts will have a toxic and detrimental impact on your relationship with Congress. What’s worse, I fear your intemperate manner will create an equally toxic environment inside the Pentagon,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Kahl. “If this is the way you respond to mere policy disagreements when you’re sitting at home reading the news, I do not think that you’re fit to sit in the Pentagon and make decisions about life and death.” Kahl apologized for being “swept up” in “polarizing” social media rhetoric.
Uphill battle: Kahl seems unlikely to pick up many, if any Republican votes, with numerous Republican committee members indicating during the hearing that they planned to vote “no.” “There are obviously concerns, legitimate concerns — not just a proxy, as Senator Kaine said, on JCPOA — and it’s certainly not a partisan one because some pretty high-level Democrats opposed JCPOA,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told JI. “My sense of it is at least at this point it’s going to be pretty close to a straight party-line vote on his confirmation, but we’ll see what happens there.” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a critical Democratic swing vote who helped sink Tanden’s nomination and voted against the JCPOA, told, told The Washington Post he’s currently undecided on Kahl.
Jake Cohen embraces the ‘ish’ in Jewish
When Jake Cohen first met his now-husband, Alex Shapiro, Cohen had never tried Sephardi staples like kubbeh or tahdig. And Shapiro didn’t have any exposure to Ashkenazi soul foods like babka, gefilte fish or even matzah ball soup. Their romantic — and culinary — union spurred Cohen, 27, to explore the disparate threads of Jewish cuisine in his new cookbook, Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch, out next week. “I had never heard of any of these dishes,” Cohen told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro in a recent interview. “This whole concept of blending our families is about this idea of different Jewish communities coming together to celebrate Judaism, even though our definitions of Jewish food are different. I think that’s what makes this so special.”
21st century cholent: “This book is a love story, it’s a family tree, it’s everything that is representative of my journey towards a deep understanding of identity,” said Cohen. Jew-ish is far from a traditional approach to Jewish cooking; there is saffron in the latkes, Chex mix laced with schmaltz and short ribs in a cholent recipe Cohen calls “shtetl chic.” And Cohen wouldn’t have it any other way. “My perspective in terms of Jewish food is that you can honor those aspects while modernizing them, while bringing them into the 21st century,” he said. “The way I cook is completely representative of that. The fact is, I make cholent — but I don’t do it in the traditional way… I’m very open that I don’t keep Shabbat in that way, but I still want to make cholent, and I cook it for a few hours in the oven versus overnight.”
Exploring Shabbat: While Cohen, a food writer based in New York City, has long been immersed in the culinary world, Jewish foods and Shabbat meals weren’t a major part of his day-to-day life until he and his husband got involved with the nonprofit OneTable, which encourages millennial Jews to host their own individualized Shabbat dinners. “I always like to say it was bashert,” said Cohen. “It’s something that my husband and I were looking for while we were trying to figure out our community in New York and understanding our Jewish identity… We started to try hosting through OneTable and it was everything. It was something that became integral to the friends that we made, our deepening connection to Jewish identity, all of it.”
Jewish pride: Cohen — who became a OneTable board member — and Shapiro soon became known for their elaborate and well-attended Shabbat meals, including those specifically geared to the LGBTQ community. Those meals, he said, enabled him to explore his identity in a way he hadn’t up until that point. “I’m Jewish, I’m not Jew-ish, however the way that I practice rituals, the way that I practice Jewish tradition, are where that ‘ish’ comes from,” he said. “The way I cook is all in the practice of Jewish ritual, but I never pretend that it’s completely authentic. The second that I gave myself that permission to really lean in to that aspect of exploring and experimenting… it made it quite easy to become much more proud to be Jewish, much more enthusiastic about my identity.”
race to gracie
Kathryn Garcia wants to clean up New York City
Kathryn Garcia, who recently resigned from her position as New York City sanitation chief to run for mayor, was in a light-hearted mood on Wednesday morning. It was her 50th birthday, but rather than celebrating privately with her family, she was girding herself for a campaign event organized by her kids as a kind of gag gift. “We’re having a fundraiser tonight,” she told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in an interview about her candidacy. “My children are going to roast me, which I’m a little concerned about. But everyone thinks this is a great idea. I was like, ‘I’m not sure.’”
No-nonsense approach: The celebration was, to a certain extent, appropriate for a candidate who casts herself as a straight shooter. In a campaign kickoff video released in December, Garcia warned that the next mayor would inherit a “shitshow” as the city, already ravaged by the pandemic, stares down its worst economic crisis in decades. “I’m not a politician, but right now we don’t need politics,” Garcia told JI. “We really, really need experience, and someone who’s a problem-solver with a track record of getting things done.”
Unique advantage: Though she has never run for public office, Garcia argues that her long tenure working for the city gives her a unique edge. The Brooklyn native previously held high-level positions in the city’s housing and environmental protection departments and oversaw an emergency meal distribution program while serving as sanitation commissioner. “She understands what it means to run a city,” said Leon Goldenberg, a real estate executive in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood. “She’s very impressive.”
Community ties: Garcia argues that her past jobs put her in touch with voters’ needs. She was in constant communication with the Orthodox Jewish community as sanitation chief, and is working to deepen those relationships now that she is running. Garcia, who opposes BDS, told JI that she would also be eager to visit Israel if elected. “But we’ll see whether or not I get to leave the city of New York over the next few years,” she said. “I have to say, as sanitation commissioner, I never left the city in snow season. Someone at City Hall once asked me, like, ‘Why are you going to the Caribbean in May?’ And I was like, I can’t go in the winter. It might snow and you have to be here.”
Uphill battle? But Garcia’s path to victory in the Democratic primary appears somewhat elusive, with recent polling on the race putting her at just 2% among likely voters. “I don’t see her as a top choice right now and doubt she’d be second or third choice of many voters,” said a Democratic consultant. “The state of politics is that, unfortunately, experience doesn’t factor in many times,” added Republican strategist Tom Doherty. Still, it would be unwise to rule Garcia out just yet, according to Michael Hendrix, director of state and local policy at the Manhattan Institute. “I do think she occupies a unique role in the race,” he told JI.
💉 Never Forget: In The New York Times, Alyson Krueger tells the story of 97-year-old Holocaust survivor Mira Rosenblatt, who showed up at Mount Sinai Brooklyn for a COVID-19 vaccine and moved the nursing staff to tears with her life story. “My mother believes because she lived, she has a responsibility to tell as many people as possible,” said Belinda Levavi, Rosenblatt’s daughter. [NYTimes]
👨💼 Reb Jake: JTA’s Ron Kampeas interviewed CNN anchor Jake Tapper about his Jewish upbringing, his journalistic journey — and his one ill-timed date with Monica Lewinsky. “I’m not a young rebel anymore,” he said. “I don’t think I’m that different in hopefully calling out hypocrisies, wherever they are. And indecencies, but I do hope, maybe I’m doing so in a way that reaches more people.” [JTA]
😷 Green Light: In MIT’s Technology Review, Cat Ferguson and Joshua Mitnick explore how Israel’s “green passport” system could provide a model for a global exit from the pandemic — with many caveats over privacy issues, deepening inequalities and access for minors. [TechReview]
Around the Web
🛢️ Staking a Claim: Israeli Environment Minister Gila Gamliel doubled down yesterday on her claim that Iran intentionally spilled oil off Israel’s coast, while defense officials remained silent.
🤝 Joint Jabs: Israel, Denmark and Austria have agreed to set up a joint research and development fund to collaborate on COVID-19 vaccines.
💥 Precision Strike: President Joe Biden reportedly called off an air strike on a second Iranian target in Syria at the last minute after a woman and children were seen in the site’s courtyard.
🎓 Campus Beat: More than 100 members of the U.K. Parliament wrote a letter to the University of Bristol condemning a professor who is alleged to have made antisemitic comments.
🚨 High Alert: Germany’s domestic intelligence agency placed the far-right AfD party under surveillance over concerns of extremism, a first since the end of World War II.
🕵️ Drug Probe: The EU opened an antitrust probe into allegations that Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals worked to strategically take down a generic rival to its multiple sclerosis drug.
🕯️ Remembering: Henry Goldrich, the longtime owner of Manny’s Music in Manhattan, died at 88.
Pic of the Day
Israel’s Health Ministry kicked off a pilot program yesterday to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to Palestinians who legally work in Israel. After 700 received their first shot, the program will expand on Sunday with 11 stations set up to vaccinate more than 100,000 Palestinian workers.
Centenarian known as “Philadelphia Phil,” Philip Basser turns 103…
FRIDAY: Israeli-American psychologist and author, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, Daniel Kahneman turns 87… Former university counsel for California State University, Donald A. Newman turns 78… Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author, Roy Gutman turns 77… Partner emeritus of Los Angeles law firm, Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP, Mark Edelstein turns 76… President of Los Angeles PR firm Robin Gerber & Associates, Robin Gerber Carnesale turns 75… Managing partner at Lerer Hippeau, Kenneth B. Lerer turns 69… Founder and CEO of the D.C.-based News Literacy Project, Alan C. Miller turns 67… Artist, writer, and professor of computer science at Yale University, David Hillel Gelernter turns 66… Actor, screenwriter and film producer, Jonathan Penner turns 59… President of AIPAC and the founder of BVision Sportsmedia, Betsy Berns Korn turns 53… President and founder of West End Strategy Team, Matt Dorf turns 51… Los Angeles-area builder and developer, and a trustee of Temple Beth Am, Michael Reinis turns 50… President of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, Michael N. Kruger turns 45… Senior vice president at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Daniel S. Schwarz turns 36… Business operations associate at TEKsystems, Andrew Leiferman turns 27… Popular singer whose career started with a song she performed at her own bat mitzvah, Madison Elle Beer turns 22…
SATURDAY: Former chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States, Alan Greenspan turns 95… Writer and emeritus professor of Jewish communal service at HUC-JIR Los Angeles, Steven Windmueller turns 79… Director of “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men,” Rob Reiner turns 74… Television personality, John Stossel turns 74… Musical theatre lyricist and composer, Stephen Schwartz turns 73… Actor, comedian and sports show host, Tom Arnold turns 62… Aliza Tendler turns 56… Executive producer at Momentum, Judy Victor turns 50… Founder of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto and co-founder of Iris Brands, Joshua Hochschuler turns 48… Head of innovation communication at Bloomberg LP, Chaim Haas turns 46… Senior director for business development and client services at the Jewish Communal Fund, Michelle Lebowits turns 45… Former football quarterback who played on six NFL teams, Sage Rosenfels turns 43… Managing director at Berkshire Partners, Blake L. Gottesman turns 41… Fourth generation mid-Atlantic real estate developer, Daniel Klein turns 40… National director of marketing and communications at the ZOA, Natalie Lazaroff turns 32… Israeli fashion model, Esti Ginzburg turns 31… Artist Tova Suissa turns 30… Graduate of Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, Riley Clafton turns 26… JD Candidate at Stanford Law School, Theodore Furchtgott… Sandra Brown… Nelson Katz…
SUNDAY: Author and columnist, Suzanne Bregman Fields, Ph.D. turns 85… President emeritus of the California Institute of Technology, a 1975 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, David Baltimore turns 83… Journalism educator at The George Washington University, Myron Belkind turns 81… Former chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Michael Eisner turns 79… Geneticist and 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, Michael Rosbash turns 77… Retired media executive, Ruth Barbara Jarmul turns 72… Chairman and general trust counsel of Fiduciary Trust International, Gail Ehrlich Cohen turns 65… Journalist and adjunct professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, Anne Farris Rosen turns 65… British public law and human rights barrister and a member of the House of Lords, the long-time chair of the British Legal Friends of Hebrew University, Baron David Philip Pannick turns 65… Executive director of Academic Exchange, Rabbi Nachum Braverman turns 63… Democratic political strategist, Lewis H. Cohen turns 61…
Senior import policy analyst at the International Trade Administration, David W. Cordell turns 60… Professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and the author and editor of several books about Baruch Spinoza, Yitzhak Yohanan Melamed turns 53… Academy Award-winning actress, Rachel Weisz turns 51… Assistant news director for DC’s NBC4 News, Matt Glassman turns 51… Brooklyn-based political consultant and attorney, Michael Tobman turns 48… The spokesperson of the Embassy of Israel in Washington since 2018, Elad Strohmayer turns 40… News anchor and the host of “Hatched” on The CW Network, Nicole Lapin turns 37… Author and podcaster, best known for writing Breaking the Chains of Gravity, Amy Shira Teitel turns 35… President of HAUS Strategic Communications, Alan Neuhauser turns 34… Attorney in Reno, Nevada, Sasha Ahuva Farahi turns 33… Freelance writer at Just Women’s Sports, Rachel Zuckerman turns 32…