👋 Good Friday morning!
Iran, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia are meeting again today in Vienna to “take stock of the work done this week,” said one Russian diplomat.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters yesterday that he would “hasten to not allow expectations to outpace where we are” on the Vienna talks.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is slated to depart for Israel tomorrow, and then visit Germany, Belgium and the U.K.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Fred Upton (R-MI), Judy Chu (D-CA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) reintroduced the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which seeks to improve federal hate crime reporting and expand assistance to and resources for victims of hate crimes, on Thursday.
A broad coalition of Jewish groups, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, HIAS, JCC Association of North America, J Street, Union for Reform Judaism, Orthodox Union and the Zionist Organization of America, are supporting the legislation.
Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died Friday morning. In 1994, the Duke of Edinburgh was the first British royal to visit Israel since the end of British rule and the founding of the state.
Maggie Haberman, Noa Tishby join JI’s Limited Liability Podcast
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider‘s “Limited Liability Podcast,” hosts Jarrod Bernstein and Rich Goldberg are joined by both actress, producer and author Noa Tishby and New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman.
Glass ceiling: Tishby, an Israeli native who now calls Los Angeles home, joined the podcast to discuss her new book, out this week, titled Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth. She said it was “shocking” to discover how few women have written about Israeli history. “I realized very early on that this is the first history book about Israel to be written by a woman.” Tishby said her book was written “with a younger, liberal crowd in mind,” but initial feedback has made her realize it has “a wider net.” In the book, she said, “I do not gloss over Israel’s problems. There isn’t a single country in the world that doesn’t have problems. There isn’t a single country in the world that is unblemished with past actions. And even when you weigh everything together, you still have a good case for Israel.”
Famous father: Haberman, a veteran reporter who joined the Times in 2015 and extensively covered the Trump administration, spoke about her upbringing, her views on the media and her upcoming book on former President Donald Trump. Haberman, the daughter of prominent journalist Clyde Haberman, said she was keenly aware growing up that journalism was a difficult job for a parent. “We didn’t see a lot of him,” she said. “But we did always know that he was doing something important.” Haberman Sr. served as Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Post in the early 90s, “and actually left, two months before Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, a story that I think he was very sad that he was not there to cover.”
Trump era: Haberman, one of the most prominent reporters to cover the Trump White House, said reporting on the Trump presidency “was very strange. I’m never going to be able to fully explain what the last four years were like — just the sheer volume that was coming at us. It was a privilege to be covering this.” She added that one of the strangest aspects of the experience was that “Donald Trump makes people characters in his movie, and I ended up becoming one of those characters. And it led a lot of people to think that they knew me or knew my motives, or knew why I did things or how I did things… it was strange and uncomfortable.”
Future of media: Haberman said that despite the rise and importance of digital journalism, “I’m still very old school. And I’m a big believer in print. And I am a big believer in deadlines that are not, you know, the forever rolling deadlines of the internet. And I am a big believer in having time to work through a story and report it out and think.” And writing a well-reported, durable story, she suggested, “I think in the internet era, that is much harder, because I think the pressures are different.”
Lightning rounds: Favorite Yiddish phrase? Haberman: “I say ‘oy’ a lot.” Tishby: “Tuches” or “farshteys.” Book recommendation? Haberman: Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth by Wayne Barrett. TV show recommendation? Tishby: “The Last Czars” on Netflix. Best bagel in New York City? Haberman: Shelsky’s in Brooklyn. Best falafel in Israel? Tishby: Shlomo & Sons on Nordau St. in Tel Aviv.
Oliver Sacks in full
Shortly after the British writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the winter of 2015, he summoned a small group of friends and a film crew to his West Village apartment. Over five days, he reminisced about his storied career while musing on mortality. Sacks, who died that summer at 82, imbued a sense of humanity in the curiously afflicted subjects of such books as Awakenings. But in his final months, he held himself up as his final subject. Ric Burns, who filmed the session — now the documentary “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life,” which airs tonight on PBS — recognized that he was witnessing a rare event. “It won’t happen again,” Burns told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “Not for me.”
Finally at peace: For most of his life, Sacks led a monkish existence dedicated almost exclusively to writing and medical work. But privately, he struggled with self-doubt, addiction and discomfort with his own homosexuality compounded by his Orthodox Jewish upbringing. By the time Burns showed up, however, Sacks had managed to find a measure of personal stasis thanks to a late-in-life relationship with his partner, the writer and photographer Bill Hayes, who survives him. Despite the diagnosis, Sacks was approaching death with an attitude that suggested he was at peace. “He had some kind of enormous grace and trust,” Burns observed.
Shared vulnerability: While the documentary was filmed six years ago, Burns believes it has only become more relevant as the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted many of the issues to which Sacks was attuned throughout his life. “The guiding insight of Oliver is that we’re all locked in,” Burns said. “We all have this unique, special access to our own perception and consciousness.” Still, “we also have these means of communication,” he said, and “in this moment, the empathy that Oliver felt because of his sense of shared vulnerability somehow hits harder.”
Jewish identity: Though he was raised observant, Sacks was a nonbeliever and rejected the possibility of an afterlife. He found great meaning, however, in his Jewish identity, which was something he “cherished,” according to Kate Edgar, an early editor of Sacks’s work who became his personal assistant and now serves as the executive director of the Oliver Sacks Foundation. “He might not have said it in so many words, but part of growing up as an Orthodox Jew is he had a huge, very close family, and he loved that,” she said. “He loved the ritual and he loved the family and he loved the food. The whole cultural part of being Jewish he did love.”
Elegiac mood: Sacks was extremely productive in the lead-up to his death, and some of his pieces took on a wistful, elegiac tone as he delved into his Jewish past. He wrote movingly of observing the Sabbath as a child as well as his fondness for gefilte fish, which he rediscovered in his 80s when cancer restricted his diet. Whatever subject he took on after his diagnosis, Sacks wanted to leave behind a sense of who he was after years of neglecting that project. “This was his last opportunity to share his thoughts about his own life and all of his work,” Edgar said, “and he made use of every second of that time.”
Lessons learned from the trial of Adolf Eichmann
When Adolf Eichmann’s trial began in a Jerusalem courtroom on April 11, 1961 — 60 years ago on Sunday — the world was about to reckon with the Holocaust in a deeper way than ever before. Eichmann, an architect of the Final Solution, had been hiding in Argentina before he was captured by Mossad agents, brought to Israel and cross-examined in the first televised trial in history. The prosecution, however, was about more than one perpetrator. “It was the first time that the world heard from survivors of the Holocaust — most of whom were young men and women — in such a concerted fashion,” Deborah Lipstadt, Holocaust historian and author of The Eichmann Trial, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
‘Pivotal event’: The trial remains a “pivotal event in Jewish history, Israeli history and world history,” according to Lipstadt. Israelis who had previously regarded Holocaust survivors as weak and passive in the face of Nazi aggression suddenly realized that they had been mistaken. “They saw people who, there but fortune,” Lipstadt said, “go you or I.” Above all, “this was the first time in 2,000 years that the Jewish people got to sit in judgment on someone who had done them evil,” Lipstadt told JI. “They did not have to depend on secular authorities acting on their behalf. They did not have to plead for justice to be done. And they rendered justice.”
Beyond the conviction: Even after six decades, as the era of Nazi hunting comes to an end, the trial “continues to offer a significant lesson on the importance of bringing evil to justice,” said Neal Bascomb, the author of Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi. “Yes, the trial ultimately convicted Eichmann for his crimes, a necessary act,” Bascomb added. “But I would argue that this was the least of its impact,” as the trial “served as a model” for pursuing other World War II criminals and perpetrators of international war crimes today. The trial also “opened the floodgates,” as Bascomb put it, for storytelling about the Holocaust. “It is almost like the trial finally gave permission for people to tell their stories, for artists to expose their truths about it, for historians to investigate it deeply and thoroughly.”
Never forget: The story of Eichmann’s abduction and eventual trial endures thanks to such experts as Avner Avraham, a former Israeli intelligence official who has curated exhibitions on the Nazi war criminal and served as a consultant on the 2018 film “Operation Finale,” about the covert mission to abduct Eichmann in South America. “I feel that my personal mission is to teach about the capture of Eichmann and to teach about the Holocaust,” Avraham told JI in an interview. “People like spy stories, so you come with a spy story. But at the end of the day, you teach them the Holocaust.”
on the hill
GOP senators claim renewed Palestinian aid violates Taylor Force Act
Some of the aid the Biden administration plans to provide to Palestinians may violate the Taylor Force Act, which restricts U.S. funding to the PA until it stops making payments to the families of terrorists, 18 Republican senators claimed in a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken yesterday, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Money moves: The letter highlights concerns about $75 million in United States Agency for International Development (USAID) economic support funds that the administration plans to provide for a range of infrastructure, community development and other initiatives in the Palestinian territories. It comes a day following the administration’s announcement that it will provide more than $235 million in aid to the Palestinians. The senators argued that the administration would be in violation of the 2018 legislation, named after an American tourist who was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in 2016 by a Palestinian from the West Bank, because “these activities are the governance responsibility of the PA.”
Pause button: The GOP letter urges Biden to put the USAID funding on hold until the administration strengthens oversight and provides more information to Congress about how it will ensure that the funding it provides complies with the Taylor Force Act. “Instead the Biden-Harris administration should focus on the necessary programs Congress has consistently envisioned, and for which it has appropriated resources and carved out exceptions from restrictions on assistance,” the letter reads.
On the list: The letter, spearheaded by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), was also signed by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Todd Young (R-IN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), all of whom cosponsored the Taylor Force Act.
🗞️ Reckoning: In The Atlantic, Emma Green profiles “Reuven,” a pseudonym for the Hasidic editor of the Yiddish Der Veker magazine, who has called for a reckoning in the approach many in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community adopted to COVID. “We shouldn’t be judged merely on the fact that we feel that some forms of gatherings are important to us, even during a pandemic,” he said. “What’s so disappointing and depressing, and even shocking, is the fact that we chose to do all this with zero precautions.” [Atlantic]
🐗 Haifa’s Hogs: New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Patrick Kingsley highlights the wild boars that have become “an unavoidable presence in Haifa” over the past two years. Some residents have embraced the intrusion while others fear the boars “who have become increasingly carefree in recent years and now regularly venture into built-up areas, undeterred by their human neighbors.” [NYTimes]
📝 Living Memory: Professors James Loeffler and Leora Bilsky explore the work of Polish Jewish lawyer and writer Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide, and its impact on our understanding of Holocaust memory. “Genocide represents more than a large-scale physical assault on human bodies, he suggests; it is also an attack on the very existence of minority cultures.” [Atlantic]
🌐 Language Lesson: The Wall Street Journal details the challenges of creating a logo for Duolingo’s new Yiddish course, rejecting designs that included a peacock and different popular Ashkenazi Jewish foods. The company settled on an image of one of the first Yiddish letters taught to learners of the language. “Yiddish speakers and Ashkenazi Jews are all over the map, in both senses of the word,” Meena Viswanath, one of the course’s contributors, said. “I think we came up with the best solution that we could.” [WSJ]
🎧 Soothing Sounds: In The New York Times, Aubree Nichols profiles Axel Mansoor, the founder of the whisper-only Lullaby Club on Clubhouse, which has become one of the most popular groups on the audio app. “The thing about the Lullaby Club is that it proves that in this loud freaking world, you don’t have to be loud to get noticed.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🕯️ Never Again: In a video message for Yom HaShoah recorded for the Jewish Federations of North America, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden spotlighted the struggles of Holocaust survivors who “wrestle with trauma and poverty.”
📜 Historical Mistakes: Secretary of State Tony Blinken highlighted the failures of the State Department to rescue Jews in the Holocaust during his remarks yesterday marking Yom HaShoah.
⛔ Shut Down: Israel plans to tell the International Criminal Court that it does not recognize its authority and will not cooperate with its inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes.
🧑⚖️ Denied: Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a decision to not award the Israel Prize to a prominent academic because he signed a petition calling on the EU to halt funding to Ariel University in the West Bank.
☢️ Go Further: Iran must give up its entire nuclear weapons program, not simply return to the limits laid out in the 2015 deal, Eli Lake argues in Bloomberg.
✍️ Teaming Up: Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and U.N., and Enes Kanter, a Turkish-born NBA star, co-authored an opinion piece calling for an international effort against antisemitism.
🎮 Promotion: Gamestop will name Chewy co-founder Ryan Cohen, who owns a 13% stake in the game retailer, as its new chairman.
🖥️ Going Public: Israel-based digital intelligence firm Cellebrite is set to go public in a SPAC deal with a valuation of $2.4 billion.
🗳️ Locked In: New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger is running unopposed for reelection registered as a Democrat, a Republican and an independent on the ballot.
💰 War Chest: Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a candidate for Manhattan district attorney, has raised more than $2 million, with sizable donations from Wall Street figures with ties to her husband, Saba Capital Management founder Boaz Weinstein.
📚 Book Shelf: The Economist highlights three new books that tell the story of Jewish art collectors in pre-war Paris.
🎬 Hollywood: Sigal Avin, the creator and director of the Israeli TV show “Losing Alice,” has signed on to be represented by CAA. 🎥 Silver Screen:The New York Times reviews “Shiva Baby,” a dark comedy about a woman who encounters her “sugar daddy” — and his wife — at a shiva call.
FRIDAY: Retired singer-songwriter, satirist and mathematician, Tom Lehrer turns 93… Board certified internist in Burbank, California, Lester S. Garfinkel, MD turns 86… President emeritus of the Duberstein Group, Michael S. Berman turns 82… Retired fighter pilot and brigadier general in the Israeli Air Force, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest-ever and longest-serving combat pilot, Uri Gil turns 78… EVP of real estate and business development at KB Home and chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Albert Zane Praw turns 73… Gail Kritz turns 69… Fashion designer, Marc Jacobs turns 58… President of CNN Worldwide and chairman of Warner Media News and Sports, Jeff Zucker turns 56… Visual and performance artist, Alex Kahn turns 54… Attorney and commentator, Debbie Schlussel turns 52… Clinical psychologist in Boca Raton, Dr. Lori Gutmann Fineman turns 46… Senior program manager in marketing operations at Freddie Mac, Jill Gershenson-Cohen turns 44… Director of communications for David Weprin’s campaign for NYC Comptroller, Ross M. Wallenstein turns 43… Actress and writer, Rachel Sarah Specter turns 41… Former associate at White & Case, now owner of D.C.’s Baked by Yael, Yael Krigman turns 40… Israeli actress, Moran Atias turns 40… Film and television actress, Lili Mirojnick turns 37… VP at Nili Capital Partners, Soraya Hoberman turns 30… Figure skater who competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Paige Conners turns 21… Executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Asaf Romirowsky… Zurich resident, Jonathan Bollag… Herbert Levine…
SATURDAY: Imprisoned in a Hungarian slave labor camp during WWII, he later became a successful tailor in NYC for U.S. presidents, Steven Salen turns 102… Past president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Alan Rothenberg turns 82… Author and former senior editor at The New Yorker and a deputy editor of the Outlook section in the Washington Post, Jeffrey Frank turns 77… Author of 265 books including 56 books in the Cam Jansen series, 68 biographies and books for youth on the Holocaust, David Abraham Adler turns 74… Founder of Gantman Communications, Howard Gantman turns 70… Scarsdale, NY resident, Robin Samot turns 65… Soviet-born Israeli-American pianist, Yefim “Fima” Bronfman turns 63… Member of Knesset for Likud since 1999, Yuval Steinitz turns 63… Author of three books and chief national correspondent at Yahoo News, Lisa Belkin turns 61… Dana B. Fishman turns 60… Tom Kohn turns 60…
Author of five best-selling memoirs and five novels, Dani Shapiro turns 59… Editorial director for audio for New York Magazine, Hanna Rosin turns 52… Former governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens turns 47… President of NJI Media and co-founder of FamousDC blog, Josh Shultz turns 43… Movie producer, Jordan Horowitz turns 41… Director of communications at RespectAbilityUSA, Lauren Appelbaum turns 38… Bristow fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General of the U.S., Yishai Schwartz turns 31… Senior partnerships manager in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. State Department, Shelley Greenspan turns 31… Associate at Eversheds Sutherland, Daniel Wolman turns 31… Basketball player for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association, Sylven Landesberg turns 31… Ariel Hyre turns 30… Naomi Atlani… Phil Hayes… Susie Diamond…
SUNDAY: Actress Louise Lasser turns 82… Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist, Ellen Goodman turns 80… Founder and CEO of the USA Network, Kay Koplovitz turns 76… Chicago-based celebrity and event photographer, Larry Engelhart turns 75… West Bloomfield, Michigan-based inventor on more than forty patents, Barry Schwab turns 74… Sarita Dery turns 72… Former deputy director of WomenStrong International, Sydney Rubin turns 69… Managing partner and a founder of LA-based law firm Glass & Goldberg, Marshall F. Goldberg turns 67… Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Dan B. Frankel turns 65… Executive chairman of Visy Industries and Pratt Industries US, Anthony Pratt turns 61… Executive chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, William P. Lauder turns 61… Professor at Sarah Lawrence College, Glenn Dynner turns 52… Co-founder of Caracal Global Strategies and founder and CEO of Brigadoon, Marc A. Ross turns 50… Israeli-based angel investor and entrepreneur, David Galper turns 46… Head of U.S. rates sales at Citadel LLC, he was previously a Major League Soccer midfielder, Jordan Cila turns 39… Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, George Deek turns 37… Head of Tesla in Israel, Adi Gigi… Almog Elijis…