👋 Good Friday morning!
For less-distracted weekend reading, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including our profiles of Hoboken’s Sikh Mayor Ravi Singh Bhalla and popular Armenian artist Michael Aram, plus interviews with noted Texas painter George W. Bush’s artistic subjects, including Henry Kissinger and Dina Powell McCormick. Print the latest edition here.
Violence has flared across Israel in recent days, including clashes last night between Jewish and Arab residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem amid an ongoing eviction battle. This morning, three Palestinians opened fire at an IDF base on the border of the West Bank, and two of them were killed by return fire.
Israeli police and IDF forces are gearing up for next week, during which both Jerusalem Day and Eid al-Fitr, the celebration ending Ramadan, will be observed, sparking concerns of the possibility of further violence.
Israeli party leaders Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar met this morning for coalition negotiations for the first time since Lapid received the mandate to attempt to form a government.
In a speech last night, Lapid suggested that a unity government would help heal internal strife: “We’ve had enough of anger and of hate. We’ve argued enough. Israel is hurting and it needs quiet, it needs unity and it really needs a functioning government.”
Mossad chief Yossi Cohen met with top Bahraini security officials in the Gulf nation yesterday to discuss regional security issues.
The latest round of nuclear talks began today in Vienna. A senior State Department official told reporters yesterday that the U.S. and Iran could reenter the 2015 nuclear deal within weeks, but said the ball is now in Iran’s court when it comes to agreeing to a range of U.S.-mandated concessions.
making a statement
Shelley Berkley sounds the alarm on antisemitism across the political spectrum
Former Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) left politics nearly a decade ago. In that time, she has seen antisemitism increasingly consume elements of the political right — and is concerned that the same thing could happen in her own party. In her new role as the co-chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s security and antisemitism committee, she wants to address the issue head-on. Berkley spoke to Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod about her concerns.
Quotable: “If you look at the right, they are as antisemitic as the Nazis,” Berkley, who represented Nevada’s first congressional district from 1999 to 2013, remarked in an interview with Jewish Insider on Thursday. “When you look to the left, there are Democrats on the far left that are just as hateful and antisemitic as on the right.” She added, “It upsets and angers me that there is a segment of the Democratic Party that is not only anti-Israel, but from their rhetoric there is no other conclusion than they are antisemitic… It worries me on the left that mainstream Democrats are not taking a stand against the antisemitic, pro-[Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] rhetoric coming out of the left.”
New job: As co-chair of the JFNA committee that leads the federations’ advocacy, education and training efforts fighting antisemitism and securing Jewish institutions, Berkley is attuned to the growing threats facing the community. Berkley says she plans to actively oppose legislation like a recent bill from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that would place restrictions on U.S. aid, as well as any BDS initiatives, and to support the National Security Grant Program and bills promoting Holocaust education.
Across the aisle: Berkley said right-wing antisemitism “once was a fringe” but is “becoming far more mainstream on the right,” pointing to incidents like the January 6 Capitol riot and the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. “Now, members of the Republican [Party in] Congress do not want to investigate that insurrection. The only conclusion is that they agree with it,” Berkley said, “or they would be far more anxious to get to the bottom of how that happened and ensure it never happens again.”
In memoriam: Berkley also reflected on the legacy of another major figure in Nevada and pro-Israel politics, Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who died earlier this year. Berkley and Adelson had a long and complicated relationship — she was a high-ranking lawyer for the casino mogul in the ‘90s, but the two split over a union dispute, and Adelson ultimately dedicated significant resources to her political opponents. “One must give credit where credit is due. Some of the issues that came to the forefront under the Trump administration — moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which I have always supported, and initiating the Abraham Accords — I suspect came from Sheldon,” Berkley said. “Sheldon and Trump were very close allies. And I know that Sheldon had Trump’s ear. So I applaud those initiatives.”
man about town
Schumer calls on Biden to address broader range of issues in Iran talks
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the Biden administration to address a range of issues in addition to Iran’s nuclear program in its negotiations with Tehran during a virtual event on Thursday with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Two wrongs: Schumer emphasized that he opposed both the 2015 nuclear deal when it was signed as well as the Trump administration’s withdrawal from it three years later, which he said “isolated the U.S., instead of Iran.” Schumer added: “Today Iran has a greater ability — they’re closer to producing a nuclear weapon — than they were the day Trump pulled out of the agreement or the day Obama signed the agreement.”
Longer list: The longtime New York senator indicated that he would like to see a broader deal with Iran addressing a range of issues including terrorism, ballistic missiles, human rights and hostage-taking, rather than focusing on the nuclear issue alone. “I understand why the current administration is in negotiations and I don’t have any problem with them sitting down and talking, but I also believe… we have to follow through on all of these issues,” Schumer said. “It’s not that we shouldn’t sit down, because if we don’t sit down, Iran could just go forward and produce a nuclear weapon… but when we do sit down we have to make sure there are a lot of issues on the table.”
Funding increase: The Senate majority leader also said he plans to push for $360 million in funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) for fiscal year 2022. In 2020, the House approved $360 million in funding, while the Senate only approved $90 million; the chambers compromised at $180 million. “I wanted $360 [million]. I was only minority leader in December. I got it doubled to $180 [million], now we’re going to try to get the full $360 [million] a year, which is very much needed and has broad support, so I’m very optimistic,” Schumer said.
Paying respects: Earlier on Thursday, Schumer paid a shiva call to the family of Pinchas Menachem Knoblowitz, who died in the stampede at a Lag B’Omer gathering at Israel’s Mount Meron last weekend that killed 45 people. Schumer told the family he has “a Jewish heart — a neshamah,” adding: “I have a deep faith in God. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be in this job.” The senator also stopped by Junior’s in Times Square yesterday, digging into a slice of the restaurant’s famous cheesecake to celebrate the location’s reopening.
Seth Siegel’s next chapter
Seth Siegel has been many things in his life: a CEO, a Broadway and television producer, an author. Now he’s taking on a new role: chief sustainability officer at N-Drip, the manufacturer of a pioneering gravity-powered Israeli irrigation system. He spoke to Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss about his new role — and his third book, in stores this week.
How it happened: Siegel interviewed more than 200 people for his first book, Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World, released in 2015. One of them was Uri Shani, a Hebrew University professor and a former head of Israel’s Water Authority. Siegel and Shani crossed paths again after the book’s release, when both were speaking at an event in Milwaukee. Shani tried to pitch him on an idea for his next book. “[Shani] says, ‘I’ve invented something that’s gonna change the world,’” Siegel recalled. Shani had built a system that relied on gravity to move water, making the new system energy efficient and able to cover large expanses of land.
Signing on: Siegel first joined Shani’s company, N-Drip, as an investor. His relationship with the company evolved to a point of daily communication with N-Drip executives, giving advice and facilitating connections made originally during his years of research for his books. When he was offered the opportunity to come on board as an employee, Siegel was unsure how to proceed. “Now first of all, I’m kind of at retirement age,” he said. “Second of all, last time I had an employer, I was 27 or 28 years old. So now it’s been a while since I had a boss. And third of all, you know, it’s seven time zones away from where I live.” After giving more thought to the idea, Siegel eventually put aside his reservations and signed on.
Side project: For someone who admits to be approaching retirement age, Siegel shows no sign of considering a typical retirement. After the success of his first two books (the second, Troubled Water: What’s Wrong with What We Drink, was released in 2019), both focused on water and technology, he wrote a third book, one that is markedly different from his prior writings but has been in the works for many years. That book, Other People’s Words: Wisdom for an Inspired and Productive Life, hit stores this week. When Siegel was a teenager, he began collecting notable quotations wherever he saw them: in books or in the text of news articles, scribbled or posted on walls. What started as a collection of scraps of paper with a few sentences scribbled down and shoved into a drawer morphed into a collection, typed onto index cards, of thousands of thoughts, words of advice and ruminations.
⚠️ Warning: In Foreign Policy, John Hannah, a former national security advisor to Dick Cheney, suggests that if the Biden administration swiftly reenters the Iran deal, it should expect Israel to take action. “If Washington’s strategy leaves Israel convinced that it faces a choice between fighting a much weakened Iran now or a much stronger Iran on a glide path to nuclear weapons a few years from now, no one should be surprised if Israel chooses the former.” [ForeignPolicy]
🀄 Tile Time: In a Wall Street Journal essay, Annelise Heinz explores how the Chinese tile game mahjong soared in popularity among American Jewish women. “In effect, mahjong served as a way for Jewish Americans to distinguish their evolving ethnic identity… As mahjong ceased to be widely popular and became particularly associated with Jewish women, it subtly marked a space apart from mainstream Christian society.” [WSJ]
🎧 Listen Up: Time magazine reporter Raisa Bruner spotlights the “growing cohort of Jews” building a community on the audio-only social media app Clubhouse. “Thousands of listeners and speakers tune in regularly for events like weekly Shabbat, hours-long talks from Holocaust survivors and even a celebrity-studded Passover Seder with guests like Jeff Garlin and Ari Melber.” [Time]
👬 Shadow Mayor: New York Times reporters Dana Rubinstein and Emma G. Fitzsimmons dig deep into the close relationship between New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang and lobbyist and venture capitalist Bradley Tusk, which has raised concerns over a potential conflict of interest. “Tusk could essentially be the shadow mayor for New York, while he is representing the interests of big corporate clients,” said John Kaehny, executive director of the good-government group Reinvent Albany. [NYTimes]
Around the Web
💰 Accused: Israel charged a Spanish woman living in the West Bank with funneling tens of millions of dollars from European governments to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terrorist group.
🛑 Stop Work: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom issued a statement yesterday calling on Israel to halt settlement expansion in the West Bank.
🤝 Warm Welcome: In a Ynet op-ed marking his first month in Israel, UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed al Khaja wrote that “the citizens of Israel can make anyone feel at home.”
⛔ Declined: Canada will join the U.S. and Australia in boycotting the upcoming U.N. events commemorating the 2001 Durban conference.
🧳 Eurotrip: The European Union added Israel to a list of countries whose citizens can travel to EU nations as part of the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions.
🎙️ Podcast Playback: Dan Senor says he felt as though he “boarded a DeLorean and time-traveled to the future” as he takes listeners of his Post Corona podcast around Tel Aviv, where life has resumed and the streets are bustling.
💵 Big Buy: Israel’s Wix purchased Israeli startup Rise.ai in order to offer gift and loyalty cards to its users.
🚓 Back Behind Bars: After a brief furlough, former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver returned to prison to complete his sentence after being rejected for home confinement.
📺 Never Forget: Holocaust survivor Selma van de Perre appeared on “The Daily Show” this week to talk about her experiences in the war and her new book, My Name is Selma.
🎥 In the Works: “Orange Is The New Black” writer Hilary Weisman Graham has signed on to adapt the Israeli series “The Commune” for an American audience.
👨 Transition: Steven Ingber was named CEO of the Jewish Federation/United Jewish Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit.
🕯️ Remembering: Yitzhak Arad, the longtime chairman of Yad Vashem, died at age 94. Documentary filmmaker Joel Bender died at 72. Rabbi Avraham Hamra, the chief rabbi of Israel’s Syrian Jewish community, died at 78.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Contessa Annalisa Collection Prosecco:
“I have written previously about the ability of a good wine to elevate an already glorious setting. This spring, I attended a Passover program which was not quite ready for prime time and that left multiple opportunities for wine to save the day. To our rescue came numerous grapes including the Glera. Also known as Prosecco, the Glera grape is grown in abundance close to Venice. As an unabashed Italophile this wine did not disappoint.
The Contessa Annalisa Prosecco is a bubbly, vivacious, uplifting wine. The wine is intensely honeyed, a sugary assault on your mouth, assuaged by the cooling hints of honeydew in the mid-palate. The finish is of a dry, tart green-apple which makes you want to take the next sip in order to get battered by the sweetness all over again. Drink this wine within a few weeks of purchase. Even matzah meal is palatable if washed down with this wine.”
FRIDAY: Investor who converted Chris-Craft Industries from a small boat business into a large media holding company that later sold to Rupert Murdoch for $5.3 billion, Herbert J. Siegel turns 93… Winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989 and a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and chemistry at Yale University, Sidney Altman turns 82… Member of the New York State Assembly since 1993, Sandra R. “Sandy” Galef turns 81… Senior member of the Mobile, Ala., law firm of Silver, Voit & Thompson, Irving Silver turns 81… Napa-based media executive and podcast host, Jeffrey Schechtman turns 71… Theatrical producer at Press the Button Productions in Monterey, Calif., Jane J. Press turns 71… Former member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Rabbi Meshulam Nahari turns 70… Former deputy secretary of state and earlier deputy national security advisor, now a professor at Syracuse University, James Braidy “Jim” Steinberg turns 68… Director of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” “Look Who’s Talking” and “Clueless,” Amy Heckerling turns 67… Professional poker player and hedge fund manager, Daniel Shak turns 62…
CEO of Rationalwave Capital Partners, Mark Rosenblatt turns 62… Emmy Award-winning director, Adam Bernstein turns 61… Founder of JewBelong and the co-founder of Starch Branding, Archie Gottesman turns 58… Member of the Virginia House of Delegates and candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia in the 2021 election, Mark H. Levine turns 55… Congressman from Florida, Theodore Eliot “Ted” Deutch turns 55… Director of floor legislative operations for Speaker Pelosi, Keith Stern turns 47… Member of the Knesset for the Yamina alliance, Ayelet Shaked turns 45… Congressional liaison at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C., Eyal Naor turns 45… AIPAC national board member and regional political chair for AIPAC’s Northeast Region, Yana J. Lukeman turns 44… Head of platform sales at Stripe, Rob Saliterman turns 39… Social entrepreneur and CEO of Napa Valley’s OneHope winery, Jake Kloberdanz turns 38… Director of state and county affairs in the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, Arthur L. Mandel turns 36… Communications director for Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Benjamin Suarato turns 36… CEO of Austin-based Harris Media, Vincent Robert Harris turns 33… Las Vegas-based fashion blogger, model and writer, Bebe Zeva turns 28…
SATURDAY: Retired senior British judge, Baron Leonard Hubert “Lennie” Hoffmann turns 87… Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and Canada’s first special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism, Irwin Cotler turns 81… MIT biologist and 2002 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, H. Robert Horvitz turns 74… Former MLB pitcher, Lloyd Allen turns 71… Rabbi in Dusseldorf, Rabbi Raphael Evers turns 67… Former director of the USDOJ’s Office of Special Investigations focused on deporting Nazi war criminals, he is now the director of human rights enforcement strategy at USDOJ, Eli M. Rosenbaum turns 66… Chief financial officer for The Manischewitz Company, Thomas E. Keogh turns 66… Past president of Congregation B’nai Torah in Sandy Springs, Georgia, Janice Perlis Ellin turns 65… President at Central Illinois Home Furnishings and a member of the JFNA Board of Trustees, Barry Seidman turns 62… President of Clayton, Missouri-based JurisTemps, Andrew J. Koshner, J.D., Ph.D. turns 61…
CEO and founder of NSG/SWAT, Richard Kirshenbaum turns 60… Author of If I Could Tell You and a movie critic for The Jerusalem Post, Hannah Brown turns 59… Co-founder and CEO of the disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi turns 57… Journalist and host of the Israeli investigative program Uvda (“Fact”), Ilana Dayan-Orbach turns 57… Mediator and political fundraiser in Florida, Benjamin W. Newman turns 54… Canadian social activist and documentary filmmaker, Naomi Klein turns 51… Chairman of the World Likud, he previously served as Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Danny Danon turns 50… Stand-up comedian, actress and author, Jodi Miller turns 50… COO at West End Strategy Team’s DC office, Ari Geller turns 48… Director of strategic initiatives at J Street, Josh Lockman turns 39… Communications director for Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Benjamin Suarato turns 36… Founder and CEO at Axion, Daniel First turns 31… Speechwriter for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Ami Fields-Meyer turns 27…
SUNDAY: Owner of St. Louis-based Harbour Group Industries and a former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Sam Fox turns 92… Budapest-born philanthropist and social activist who marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eva Haller turns 91… Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter, James L. Brooks turns 81… Guitarist and record producer, best known as a member of the rock-pop-jazz group “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” Steve Katz turns 76… Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he is a professor of structural biology at Stanford University and lives in both Israel and California, Michael Levitt turns 74… Pianist, singer-songwriter, composer and one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, Billy Joel turns 72… Physician in Burlington, Vermont, she was the first lady of Vermont from 1991 until 2003, Judith Steinberg Dean turns 68…
Sharon Mallory Doble turns 68… Principal of crypto-asset development firm Bitzerland and CEO of PlayMedia, Brian D. Litman turns 67… Film director and producer, Barry Avrich turns 58… DC-based, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, Mark Leibovich turns 56… Co-managing partner of Bain Capital and an owner of the Boston Celtics, Jonathan Lavine turns 55… VP of global public policy at Facebook, Joel D. Kaplan turns 52… Political and election law attorney, she served as senior counsel at Biden for President, Danielle Elizabeth Friedman turns 38… Opinion columnist and podcast host at The New York Times, Ezra Klein turns 37… Jenna Weisbord turns 33… Director at 25Madison, Nathaniel Rosen turns 31… J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School, Mikhael Smits turns 25… Founder of Talk Social, Zvi Band…