👋 Good Monday morning!
Months after the audio app Clubhouse was accused of providing a platform for antisemitism, the company is once again under fire after several Clubhouse “rooms” created yesterday included speakers freely sharing antisemitic tropes.
The rooms, which had names including “Do White Jews Benefit From White Privilege? Part 4,” “Finally, White Jews are getting a taste of their own 💊” and “Booted out of room speaking truth about Jewish Privilege!” amassed hundreds of listeners.
In a tweet Sunday evening, Clubhouse announced it had “shut down a number of rooms found to be in violation and, where appropriate, issued suspensions and removed users indefinitely…All forms of racism, antisemitism, hate speech and abuse are prohibited on Clubhouse and are a direct violation of the Community Guidelines.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who has challenged Facebook over its failure to crack down on hate speech, told JI: “The antisemitism that we have seen spread on Clubhouse in recent weeks, particularly the ugly surge this weekend, is a painful reminder of the persistence of anti-Jewish hate and how it infects so much of social media. This weekend we know that there was a torrent of ugly, indisputable hatred, from raw Holocaust denialism to disgusting lies about the Jewish people and slanderous claims against the Jewish state.”
Greenblatt added that the ADL’s Center for Technology and Society had been in touch with Clubhouse about concerns over antisemitism on the platform.
A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers is introducing legislation that would provide $30 million over five years to facilitate joint cybersecurity partnership programs between the United States and Israel, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports exclusively.
The bill is sponsored by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Todd Young (R-IN), joined by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) in the House.
Iran’s chief negotiator said over the weekend that “a new understanding appears to be emerging” among parties at the nuclear talks in Vienna, though “serious disagreements” remain.
Israeli intelligence officials are reportedly concerned that U.S. officials could be “weeks away” from signing a deal with Iran to return to the terms of the 2015 agreement.
New DNC chair stands by Israel amid progressive headwinds
Jaime Harrison, the newly appointed chairman of the Democratic National Committee, emphasized in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Friday that his party would follow President Joe Biden’s lead with respect to U.S.-Israel policy. “We as a party take our guidance from the White House and the Biden-Harris administration,” Harrison told JI. “So in many ways, the party won’t deviate from that. We will follow the president’s guidance and the administration’s policy.”
Party platform: The Democratic Party platform affirms a commitment to U.S. funding for the Jewish state while opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, as well as such actions as annexation and settlement expansion that some fear could undermine a two-state solution. The platform was regarded as a reflection of Biden’s views when it was approved last August, as internal discussions about adding a reference to “occupation,” which caused some debate during the drafting process, were ultimately nixed. Still, a growing chorus of progressive lawmakers have called for conditioning U.S. aid to Israel, which the Biden administration rejects.
‘Greatest ally’: Despite such efforts, Harrison, who took over at the DNC in January after a failed bid against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), suggested that support for Israel within the Democratic Party remains strong. “Joe Biden has, as president and even before, been very clear about unwavering support for Israel as our ally, as our partner, as our friend,” said Harrison. “Individuals may have their own opinions, but it is very clear to me, as a party-wide stance, we see Israel as a friend, as an ally and as our greatest ally in that region of the world — and we aren’t moving away from that.”
Iran deal: As Biden negotiates a return to the Iran nuclear deal, his administration has also met some resistance from moderate Democrats, like Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), who are wary of the 2015 agreement. “The majority of Democrats, I’m sure, will follow where the president is and how he’s proceeding on this,” Harrison told JI. “It does not mean that, at the end of the day, you’ll get unanimous support. There are members who, for whatever reason, given their districts or their own perspective and experiences, may differ, and that’s fine. I mean, we’re a big-tent party.”
The world leader Tom Donilon admires most? Yitzhak Rabin
BlackRock Investment Institute Chairman Thomas Donilon, who served as national security advisor under President Barack Obama from 2010-2013, and who maintains strong ties within Biden world, reflected on leadership lessons from his career in politics and government during a recent virtual event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
‘Something special’: At the CFR event, moderator Richard Haass asked Donilon, who also worked in the Carter and Clinton administrations, which world leader had made the biggest impression on him in his years of government service. After deflecting for a moment, Donilon named former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. “There was something special about the man,” Donilon said. “He had this combination of humility. He was a quiet person, as you know, you spent time with him in and out of the office, in kind of the off hours. He was a very modest person living in a very modest lifestyle, right. But he also had, it was combined with a kind of steel in him.”
Not a typical politician: Donilon noted that in his 40-year career he had met with many world leaders, but the former Israeli prime minister “had the biggest kind of intangible effect or presence in a room of any of the leaders that I’ve had the good fortune to deal with… he was a type of leader that you rarely see, right? He didn’t seem worried 24 hours a day about his political outlook, but rather focused on the big things.”
Changing history: Haass added that Rabin’s assassination by a far-right extremist in 1995 had a devastating effect on the peace process that had come to define the first half of the decade. “Often history would have turned out [in] similar ways if people had or had not been assassinated. I actually think his assassination may have fundamentally changed history for the worst in significant ways.”
on the hill
Menendez and Feinstein renew push to limit F-35 sales to UAE
Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are making a new push to create roadblocks for the sale of advanced F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates after the Biden administration announced last week it would allow the sales to go forward, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Longshot: In December 2020, a joint resolution to stop the F-35 sale failed in the Senate by a vote of 49 to 47. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who has become one of the Senate’s swing votes, was the only Democrat to vote to allow the sales to proceed, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a longtime skeptic of U.S. military engagements abroad, broke with his party to vote with Democrats. As such, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, and, with the Biden administration’s imprimatur, it’s possible more Democrats will lend their support to the sale.
Pushing ahead: “I remain concerned with the implications of a sale of our most advanced fighter jet given numerous outstanding, unanswered questions about the implications of this sale for U.S. national security, our technology interests and implications for regional stability including the legal parameters of Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge,” Menendez said. “But if the administration has decided to proceed with this Trump-era deal, then we must enact protections to ensure the incredibly sensitive technology of these aircraft is not compromised by powers hostile to the United States, including making sure the UAE pulls back from its burgeoning relationship with China and other U.S. competitors.”
Inside the debates: According to David Makovsky, the director of the Arab-Israeli relations project at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Biden administration likely greenlit the sale because it sees it “as integral to the Israeli-Emirati breakthrough on normalization.” He added that, if passed, the Menendez-Feinstein bill would be unlikely to stop the sale entirely. “Before delivery of the F-35 in 2025 or 2026, the U.S. would verify the sale would not hurt Israel’s qualitative military edge, technology safety measures are in place and the UAE has [not] provided weapons to the enemies of Israel.”
Lapid expects shot at coalition as Netanyahu’s deadline approaches
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid renewed his call on Sunday for a “unity government” made up of parties seeking to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office. Netanyahu, who was handed the mandate to form the next government, has 15 days remaining to form a government — or request an extension. Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro breaks down all the latest political developments in Israel.
Ready to go: In a press conference Sunday evening, Lapid said he would be “surprised” if President Reuven Rivlin did not hand him the mandate if Netanyahu fails to form a coalition by May 4. Lapid called for the creation of “a government that will unite us. Not a right-wing government, not a left-wing government but an Israeli unity government,” he said. “I want to echo what Naftali Bennett said last week: Israel cannot afford a fifth election. Israel needs a government.” Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman tweeted and then deleted a post that called on Lapid not to agree to a rotation agreement with Yamina head Bennett.
Out of the box: Several right-wing parties are floating legislation that would call for a special direct election for prime minister, without overturning the current Knesset election results. Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu lawmakers have expressed opposition to the move, which would echo the voting method Israel adopted and then discarded in the ’90s. Meanwhile, Israel’s High Court on Sunday rejected a petition that sought to prevent Netanyahu from being able to form the next government due to his ongoing corruption trial.
No progress: National Religious Party leader Bezalel Smotrich indicated he would prefer a coalition led by Lapid and Bennett over one backed by Ra’am — and that even a fifth election would be better than aligning with the Islamist party, further narrowing Netanyahu’s chances of forming a coalition. Meanwhile, Ra’am MK Waleed Taha called Smotrich “the scum of the human race.” Netanyahu’s overtures to New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar to join him have so far been met with silence as the prime minister’s window further narrows.
Deadlock: While a Netanyahu government backed by both Ra’am and the National Religious Party seems all but impossible, the path for Lapid to form the next government is equally bumpy. Even if Lapid could somehow convince Yamina, New Hope, Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor and Meretz to all join him, that would leave the Yesh Atid leader with just 58 seats, three short of the majority needed. Efforts to bring in either the ultra-Orthodox parties or the Arab Joint List will face major obstacles.
⚔️ Palace Intrigue: In The Financial Times, Mehul Srivastava and Andrew England dive deep into Jordan’s royal crisis, including allegations that rivals to King Abdullah were colluding with Bassem Awadallah, an east Jerusalem native and “Jordanian adviser to Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince who reportedly dislikes the Jordanian king.” [FT]
⏫ Leveling Up: The New Yorker‘s Connie Brucklooks at the yearslong relationships between Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel and Gulf leaders as Emanuel sought to pivot from talent agent to entertainment mogul. Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman was an Endeavor investor, as was Emirati entrepreneur Khaldoon Al Mubarak, who pushed Emanuel to move a series of UFC fights to an isolated, COVID-free resort in the UAE early in the pandemic. “Ari has clients—he has few close friends,” said one person close to Emanuel. “He is at another level now. He’s a mogul.” [NewYorker]
🛋️ Take a Seat: In Vulture, Maya Binyam profiles Esther Perel, the daughter of Holocaust survivors who is a bestselling author and one of the most famous couples therapists in the U.S. thanks in part to her unconventional approach. “Therapy is an art for me, not just a science or a method. For that, you need to be able to use many different tools.” [Vulture]
👨💼 Chuck’s Pluck: New York magazine’s Gabriel Debenedetti highlights Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) evolution from “angry centrist,” to a party activist pushing for progressive reforms, who speaks to most of his 49 Democratic colleagues daily. “Government has atrophied over the last 15 or 20 years, and the problems we face are so much greater,” he said. “Only government can really solve them now.” [NewYork]
👫 Outreach: An excerpt of Amanda Ripley’s new book, High Conflict, printed in Time magazine, explores the positive benefits of “good conflict” and the ways to mediate disagreements, highlighting B’nai Jeshurun’s decision to bring in mediators when disagreements flared up in the congregation over Israel and interfaith marriages. Years later, the largely liberal New York congregants took part in an exchange with conservatives in Michigan to better understand their support for Trump. [Time]
Around the Web
⚖️ Stepping In: French President Emmanuel Macron called for a change in French law after a court ruled that the man who murdered Jewish woman Sarah Halimi in 2017 would not face trial.
🤝 New Effort: Start-Up Nation Central is launching a new economic and research policy institute focused on Israeli innovation co-chaired by Eugene Kandel and Paul Singer.
🛩️ Defense Deal: Israel and Greece signed a record defense deal that includes $1.65 billion for Israel’s Elbit to establish and operate a training center for the Hellenic Air Force.
❌ No Go: Sudan denied a report that it plans to send a delegation of intelligence and security officials to Israel this week.
✈️ All Aboard: Bahrain’s national airline will begin direct flights to Israel on June 3, Wizz Air is launching Tel Aviv-Abu Dhabi flights next month and American Airlines will resume flying to Tel Aviv after a five-year hiatus.
🖥️ Mind Meld: An Abu Dhabi-based firm has set up a venture with Israel’s Rafael Defense Systems to jointly develop artificial intelligence and big data analysis.
🗳️ Poll Probe: Israeli briefly detained three Jerusalem-based candidates in the Palestinian Authority elections yesterday, raising questions about if Israel will allow east Jerusalem residents to vote.
⛏️ Digging Around: Archeologists have begun to piece together remnants of a Jewish cemetery in Khartoum, some of the last traces of a once-vibrant Jewish community in Sudan.
🛫 Relocating: In The New Yorker, Laura Moser chronicles her family’s decision to relocate from the United States to Berlin, where her grandfather had lived before fleeing the Nazis.
🏗️ Grand Opening: After nearly two decades and many delays, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s museum in Jerusalem is set to open in 2022.
📈 Rising Star: The Wall Street Journal profiled Sam Bankman-Fried, the vegan billionaire founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
💰 Big Deal: Australian billionaire James Packer has received a $2.3 billion offer from Oaktree Capital Management to purchase his stake in casino operator Crown Resorts.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: Gravestones in the Jewish section of Belfast’s city cemetery were vandalized last week, the second time that the section was targeted in five years.
⛓️ Locked Up: The Justice Department is arguing against the release of a rioter who stormed the Capitol on January 6, warning that he poses a threat to nearby Jewish communities.
🕯️ Remembering: Marie Supikova, a Czech Holocaust survivor who later testified at Nuremberg, died at 88. Rabbi Moshe Dov Ber Beck, the leader of the extremist anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect who met with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2008, died at 87.
Song of the Day
Rapper and singer Stephane Legar released a new song yesterday, “Nice to Meet Me,” in Hebrew and English, exploring his complex identity as the son of Togolese diplomats born in Israel.
Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Peter Tarnoff turns 84… Literary theorist and scholar, Stanley Fish turns 83… Former Attorney General of Israel, Yehuda Weinstein turns 77… Rebbe of the Vizhnitz hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Yisroel Hager turns 76… Head of strategic human resources at Elliott Investment Management and board member of The Paul E. Singer Foundation, Terry Kassel… Comedian, actress and mental health campaigner in the UK, Ruby Wax turns 68… VP of GEM Commercial Flooring Company in Kansas, Gloria Elyachar turns 61… Angel investment fund manager and former NFL player who won three Super Bowls, Harris Barton turns 57… Law professor at Arizona State University and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Orde Félix Kittrie turns 57…
Jerusalem-born historian and senior lecturer at the Hebrew University, Gadi Taub turns 56… Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi turns 53… Attorney General of Michigan, Dana Nessel turns 52… French stand-up comedian and actor, Gad Elmaleh turns 50… Author and a frequent columnist in The New Yorker, Rivka Galchen turns 45… Award-winning actor, James Franco turns 43… CEO and co-founder of Klick Health, Leerom Segal turns 42… Actress, author and fashion entrepreneur, Kate Hudson turns 42… Managing director of development at the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, Brian Tregerman turns 34… Rabbi who writes a weekly Torah commentary on Substack, Zohar Atkins turns 33… Podcast host and global director of young leadership at the American Jewish Committee, Seffi Kogen turns 30… Investment banking analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Jake Gerber…