👋 Good Friday morning!
A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas took effect at 2 a.m. local time this morning, marking the end of 11 days of intense rocket fire on Israel and IDF strikes in the Gaza Strip. A statement from the Israeli prime minister’s office said the deal was made “without pre-conditions,” and that “it is the reality on the ground that will determine the future of the operation.”
As of press time, more than 12 hours following the implementation of the cease-fire, quiet appeared to be holding in both Israel and Gaza. Schools across Israel are expected to fully reopen on Sunday.
In brief remarks from the White House yesterday evening, President Joe Biden welcomed news of the cease-fire, reiterated U.S. support for “Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks” and vowed to “replenish” the Iron Dome.
Biden also pledged to work with the United Nations to support rebuilding efforts in Gaza, “in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal.” Read more here.
In a live address from Tel Aviv this afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Biden for his support, and said Israel accomplished the goals of its operation. “Not everything we did is known yet to the public — nor to Hamas,” he said, adding that he did not believe an IDF ground incursion into Gaza was necessary.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken said he will be traveling to the region in the coming days to meet Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi “and other Israeli, Palestinian and regional leaders.”
A senior Biden administration official toldThe New York Times that U.S. diplomats “will take a new look at the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank” following the cease-fire as well as refocus on “how to build on new alliances between Israel and Arab states” following the Abraham Accords.
Antisemitic attacks in both the U.S. and Europe have spiked over the past 10 days, including multiple instances of synagogue vandalism, two incidents in Los Angeles that police say may be linked, and severalviolentattacks from pro-Palestinian individuals on the streets of New York City.
Many prominent voices in the Jewish community voicedconcerns that the pattern of attacks on Jews in recent days has been under-covered by mainstream press and met by silence from many elected leaders.
Rep. Stacey Plaskett and William Daroff join JI’s podcast
This week on Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” hosts Jarrod Bernstein and Rich Goldberg are joined by Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) to discuss Black-Jewish relations in America as well as by Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations CEO William Daroff, who weighed in from Israel on the recent violence.
On the ground: Daroff said the feelings on the ground in Tel Aviv during the recent conflict with Gaza were mixed. “Israel is amazingly resilient. Israelis have been through conflicts and crises on a monthly, daily, weekly basis, and they figure it out,” he said. During a recent run on the beach, “it was just like any other beach day in Tel Aviv… notwithstanding the fact that 24 hours before you can see images of towels on the beach as people ran from the Tel Aviv beach to get into bomb shelters in the midst of it. So on the one hand, it’s business as usual. On the other hand, I know that many are on edge, particularly in the south in Ashkelon, Ashdod and then the communities that are on the sleeve surrounding Gaza, where there have been rocket attacks on a daily basis.”
Party line: Daroff expressed his appreciation for the support of the Biden administration during the conflict. “I give a big thumbs up to President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken for standing with Israel despite the pressures from the international community, the human rights community… from parts of the progressive community in the left wing of the Democratic Party,” he said. And while he is concerned about some such elements of the Democratic Party, Daroff added: “the leader of the Democratic Party is Joe Biden, and, to date, Joe Biden has been precisely where the pro-Israel community in the United States would want him to be. And from all I can tell, where the government of Israel would want the United States to be.”
Tweet back: He also weighed in on the role social media has played during the latest round of violence. “We see on social media a great deal of attacks on Israel, total distortions of the facts by celebrities and other influencers and certainly by the news media, who are pushing one narrative out there without really in large respect taking account of Israel’s narrative,” he said. Daroff called on supporters of Israel to engage in the social media discourse. “You can tomorrow, get on Twitter, get on Tik Tok, get on Facebook, and express yourself to your universe of friends… If they’re a barber, or a neighbor, or a PTA president and not engaged in the pro-Israel world, they need to hear from us and to hear our narrative as distinct from what they may be hearing on BBC or CNN or Al Jazeera, or reading in the mainstream press.”
Read the full transcript here.
Allied movements: Plaskett, who has represented the Virgin Islands in Congress as a non-voting delegate since 2015, spoke about her unique role in Congress as well as her childhood in Brooklyn, her approach to the Black Lives Matter movement and her position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I think also, for a lot of Black people, we’re concerned because we also see Palestinians as brown people in some respects,” she said. “And so that, in some ways, makes us feel that we have an obligation to use our platform to maybe speak for a group that does not have the same platform as we do.” While Plaskett said she has noted that “not every Jewish person is white, the general consensus or cultural message that has been put to African-Americans is that Palestinians more likely represent the type of oppression that Black Americans have had, or Native Americans have had.”
Dichotomy: The congresswoman said she is worried herself about “the dichotomy” she encounters “that my Jewish brothers and sisters think that if I support the existence of Palestine, that means that I don’t support them as Jewish people.” Plaskett said she is “a supporter of the Jewish state, but I do not believe that Netanyahu is necessarily the best leader of the Jewish state at this time. I believe in a Palestinian state, but I condemn Hamas. So does one cancel out the other?” Plaskett said she hears at times from her colleagues about “the ‘Nakba’… they talk about the displacement of the Palestinians as a major inflection point in their shift in attitude” toward Israel and the Palestinians.
Historic prayers: Plaskett also spoke about the “absolutely stunning” historic St. Thomas Synagogue in the Virgin Islands which serves “one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere” and was started in the late 18th century by Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal. She explained that the synagogue floor is covered in sand, but not for the reason many visitors may think. “Many people think the sand there is because of the beach,” she said, “but really it’s because the Jews wanted to remember their need to muffle the sound of them praying during the inquisition in Spain.”
Read the full transcript here.
Lightning round: Favorite Jewish or Israeli food? “I’ve got like a whole list,” joked Plaskett, “from kugel, to gefilte fish — I actually like gefilte fish!” Daroff: “I had today falafel from a stand on the street in Dizengoff… right now I’m in a falafel state of mind.” Favorite Yiddish word? “Tzadik, an esteemed person,” said Daroff. “My kids know that the word that I overuse with them is ‘kvetching,’” said Plaskett.
New documentary lends rare insight into motivations of Nazi perpetrators
While most Holocaust documentaries have centered on testimonials from survivors, a new film about the Nazi genocide takes a unique and altogether more chilling approach, featuring interviews with the perpetrators who participated in the mass extermination of European Jewry. “The Final Account,” released today and directed by the British filmmaker Luke Holland, lends groundbreaking insight into the apparent motivations of the SS members, camp guards and others who believed in Hitler’s cause. “We’ve always been asking the question of why, how, who was involved in all of this,” Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation, said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Men or monsters? “At the moment, we have this sort of caricature, almost, of these uniformed monsters who committed the Holocaust,” Smith said, “and we hear about them through the stories of [Dr. Josef] Mengele and his medical experiments and the ramp at Auschwitz.” But “The Final Account” complicates that view, while providing an unprecedented look at the seemingly ordinary individuals behind the Nazi atrocities. “There were people on the other side of the story, too,” Smith said. “They were making decisions, and they were pursuing their dreams, and they were becoming part of something greater.”
‘No regrets’: The film, which clocks in at a brisk 90 minutes, makes room for a wide array of interviews with aging Germans as well as archival footage of Hitler Youth programs, where young Germans were indoctrinated by the Nazi regime. Which is not to say that Holland — who died in 2020 at 71, just after completing the film — lets his subjects off the hook. For the most part, he simply lets them speak — and their recollections of life in Nazi Germany are surprisingly nostalgic, even when Holland asks his subjects if they view themselves as perpetrators. “I have no regrets,” says one unrepentant Nazi who looks back with pride on his time serving in the SS, Hitler’s elite paramilitary unit.
Expressing remorse: The most intriguing subject may be Hans Werk, a former SS officer who speaks matter-of-factly about his youthful passion for Nazism, which he admits to having imbued in him a sense of almost delusional grandeur that even his father found unsettling. But looking back on his youth, Werk seems to have developed a deep and genuine sense of regret for his actions — the only individual in the film who appears to have done so in any meaningful way. “These heroes you expect to find,” Werk tells Holland in one pained exchange, “there aren’t many of them.”
Personal endeavor: For Holland, who spent more than 10 years on the film, “The Final Account” was a deeply personal enterprise. In his teens, Holland, who was raised in a Christian community in Paraguay, discovered that his mother was a Jewish refugee from Vienna whose family had perished in the Holocaust — a revelation that would profoundly influence the trajectory of his later career. “I think Luke personally was spurred on by that sense of duty to his parents and his grandparents,” said Sam Pope, a longtime friend of Holland who helped produce the film. “It struck a chord with him and was a major motivating factor. It kept him going.”
as seen on tv
CNN anchor, Pakistani foreign minister spar over antisemitic comments
A CNN anchor shut down comments made by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who alleged in an interview yesterday that Israel has “connections” to “deep pockets” that “control media.”
Pushback: Qureshi made the claims to CNN anchor Bianna Golodryga, who responded, “I would call that an antisemitic remark.” Qureshi initially brushed off Golodryga’s comments, saying, “The point is they have a lot of influence and they get a lot of coverage.” When Golodryga — who is Jewish — later urged Qureshi at the conclusion to the interview to avoid using antisemitic tropes he responded, “I have never been antisemitic and I never will be.”
Standing together: Mehdi Hasan, an MSNBC anchor who has been vocal in defense of Palestinians and criticism of Israel during the recent conflict, spoke out in support of Golodryga’s characterization of Qureshi’s comments. “I see some people trying to defend the Pakistani foreign minister’s remarks as anti-Israeli & not anti-Semitic but let’s be clear: if you are accusing Israelis of having ‘deep pockets’ and ‘controlling’ the media, then yeah, you’re invoking some pretty anti-Semitic slurs,” Hasan tweeted.
Pattern of incidents: Earlier this week, the State Department condemned remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said Israelis are “only satisfied when sucking blood.” The House Antisemitism Task Force said in a statement yesterday that Erdogan’s comments “are tantamount to blood libel against the Jewish people” and that they “fuel the dangerous rise in global antisemitism and increase the threat to the Jewish community.”
Staying quiet: Golodryga also questioned Qureshi on Pakistan’s approach to China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim community, which many describe as a genocide, in light of Pakistan’s loud outcry on Gaza. “China is a very good friend of Pakistan. They’ve stood by us through thick and thin. And we have means of communication and we use our diplomatic channels — we do not discuss everything in public,” Qureshi said.
🤝 New Friends: In Foreign Policy, Benjamin Haddad highlights “How Europe became pro-Israel” and why leaders from Austria, Germany, and the U.K. publicly defended Israel this past week. Haddad cites a combination of economic and geopolitical reasons, including the Abraham Accords, along with the shifts in European societies. “Facing terror attacks in the last few years, Europeans have increasingly associated Israel as a country facing similar challenges,” he writes. [ForeignPolicy]
🗣️ Both Sides: New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait argues that the debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should follow the same principles as conversations about racism. “Thinking about the effect of bogus charges of anti-Semitism on the Israel debate ought to make it easy for those on the left to see the downside,” he writes. “Conservatives, for their part, ought to understand how tempting it is to evade debates over policy by branding one’s opponents racist.” [NYMag]
🎥 Worthy Watch: Bloomberg correspondent Gwen Ackerman goes inside the Israeli city of Lod, a former beacon of coexistence which served as a flashpoint over the past two weeks for violent tensions between Jews and Arabs — that then spilled out across the country. “This coexistence now has been shaken by almost a week of this violence, which many people would like to see disappear.” [Bloomberg]
💥 Constant Conflict: In The New York Times, Israeli political strategist Dahlia Scheindlin suggests that Israel’s political stagnation and democratic gridlock are caused in no small part by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that still “controls” Israel. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dominates Israeli politics, muscling out sound policymaking in other critical areas of life. The conflict is suffocating liberal values, eroding Israel’s democratic institutions. Israeli leadership at large is collapsing under its weight.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
⌚ Ticking Clock: Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna continued this week, including on how to approach the three-month monitoring deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency that expires today.
☢️ Two Accounts: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed that a “major” agreement has already been made and that the U.S. has agreed to lift sanctions, while other diplomats disputed his characterization.
🇮🇷 Pointing Fingers: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel intercepted an Iranian drone during the recent conflict that was sent from either Syria or Iraq.
🚀 Helping Hand: Israeli experts and government officials allege that Iran is providing Hamas with the designs and intelligence to build the rockets it fires at Israel.
🗳️ Jumping In: Iran’s judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, registered his candidacy for the June presidential elections.
✈️ Cutting Back: El Al plans to cut 1,900 jobs as part of an ongoing series of cost-cutting measures to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
🖥️ Upheld: Facebook declined to remove an AIPAC ad showing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) against a backdrop of Hamas rockets, which her office claimed could lead to harassment.
⛲ Now Open: In the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg discussed their newest venture: Little Island, a public park on the Hudson River with live performances, relaxation areas and an outdoor nightclub.
👔 Open Office: WeWork lost more than $2 billion in the first quarter, as membership in the co-working company continued to dwindle amid the pandemic.
📺 Tune In: “CBS This Morning” spotlights Hana Kantor, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor and the grandmother of New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, who lost most of her family in WWII.
🛑 You’re Fired: The Associated Press fired recent hire Emily Wilder due to her social media activity, after posts in support of Students for Justice in Palestine while she was in college raised eyebrows, while others criticized the AP decision.
🗞️ No Go: The editorial board of the St. Louis Jewish Light said that Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) has refused interviews with the publication, the largest Jewish news outlet in the city.
🕯️ Remembering: Outspoken lesbian folk singer Alix Dobkin died at age 80.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Falesco Ferentano
The serious news of this week calls for a serious Italian grape, the Roscetto. This thick-skinned, high-sugar white grape is grown exclusively in the Lazio region of Italy in small bunches. The Falesco Ferentano opens with an oaky vanilla cream, which carries into the mid-palate. The finish is long and luxurious. This wine will be available for purchase in the coming weeks and as soon as you can buy a bottle or two, do, and enjoy with pasta al dente and cheese.
FRIDAY: Former U.S. senator from Minnesota, previously a comedian, actor and writer, Al Franken turns 70… Guitarist and composer, Marc Ribot turns 67… Executive vice president of American Friends of Bar-Ilan University, Ron Solomon turns 67… Chief rabbi of Mitzpe Yericho and dean of Hara’ayon Hayehudi yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer turns 66… CEO of the Boston-based Baupost Group, Seth Klarman turns 64… President and publisher of City & State NY, Thomas Allon turns 59… Actress and playwright, Lisa Edelstein turns 55… Head of Dewey Square’s sports business practice, Frederic J. Frommer turns 54… President and CEO of the Michigan-based William Davidson Foundation, Darin McKeever turns 47… University chaplain for NYU and non-resident chief rabbi of the United Arab Emirates, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna turns 43…
Head of federal government relations at Reef Technology, Brandon Pollak turns 41… Professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, Scott Joel Aaronson, Ph.D. turns 40… President of Mo Digital and a news source on Instagram, Mosheh Oinounou turns 39… International fashion model for Versace, Sharon Ganish turns 38… Windsurfer who represented Israel in the 2008 and 2016 Olympics, she is now a project manager at 3DSignals in Kfar Saba, Maayan Davidovich turns 33… Player on the USC team that won the 2016 NCAA National Soccer Championship, she is now in the 2022 class of UC Irvine law school, Savannah Levin turns 26… Associate director of the Israel Action Program at Hillel International, Tina Malka… Chief brand strategist at Kivvit, Steve Miller…
SATURDAY: Director of the Hudson Institute’s Economic Policy Studies Group, Irwin M. Stelzer turns 89… Award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker since 1989, Connie Bruck turns 75… Former Skadden partner and then vice-chair at Citibank, J. Michael Schell turns 74… Cognitive scientist, former CEO of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven and director of the White House neuroscience initiative, Philip E. Rubin turns 72… Director emeritus of policy and government affairs at AIPAC, he was the U.S. representative at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty negotiations in 1990, Ambassador Bradley Gordon turns 72… Charles Scott turns 68… Former member of the Knesset from the Zionist Union party, previously a major general in the IDF, Eyal Ben-Reuven turns 67… Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Dianne F. Lob turns 67… Former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona’s 1st district, now an attorney in Phoenix, Sam Coppersmith turns 66… CEO of Our Common Destiny and a senior consultant on philanthropy at Cresset Capital, Sandy Cardin turns 64… U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) turns 64… General partner of Google Ventures where he co-leads the life science investment team, David Schenkein turns 64…
Former head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2016), winning coach of the EuroLeague Championship in 2014 with Maccabi Tel Aviv, David Blatt turns 62… British writer, philanthropist and documentary filmmaker, Hannah Mary Rothschild turns 59… Partner at Sidley & Austin, David H. Hoffman turns 54… Former Major League Baseball relief pitcher, Alan Brian “Al” Levine turns 53… Harvard Law School professor, Noah Feldman turns 51… Israeli cookbook author and TV show host, Shaily Lipa turns 47… Actress, producer, and author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, Noa Tishby turns 46… Member of the Knesset on behalf of the New Hope party, Yoaz Hendel turns 46… Executive director of American Compass, Oren Cass turns 38… Co-founder of Facebook and Asana, Dustin Aaron Moskovitz turns 37… Recently retired slot receiver and kick returner for the NFL’s New England Patriots, Julian Edelman turns 35… White House correspondent for McClatchy, Michael Wilner turns 32… Youth advisor to the mayor of Baltimore, Alex Friedman turns 21… JD candidate in the class of 2022 at the University of Virginia School of Law, Peter Walker Kaplan… Emma Kaplan… Gloria Woodlock… Rebecca Weiss… Benjamin Weiss… Aryeh Jacobson…
SUNDAY: Businessman who acquired and rebuilt The Forge restaurant in Miami Beach, Alvin Malnik turns 88… Founding member and chairman of law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a leading D.C. super-lobbyist based in Denver, and a longtime proponent of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Norman Brownstein turns 78… British fashion retailer and promoter of tennis in Israel, he is the founder, chairman and CEO of three international clothing lines including the French Connection, Great Plains and Toast brands, Stephen Marks turns 75… Special counsel in the NYC office of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan focused on election law, he was in the inaugural class of Yeshiva University’s Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, Jerry H. Goldfeder turns 74… Award-winning television writer and playwright, Stephanie Liss turns 71… Israeli diplomat, he served as Israel’s ambassador to Nigeria and as consul general of Israel to Philadelphia, Uriel Palti turns 67… Editor-in-chief of a book on end of life stories, Catherine Zacks Gildenhorn turns 65…
Israeli businessman, Ofer Nimrodi turns 64… President of Newton, Mass.-based Liberty Companies, Andrew M. Cable turns 64… Best-selling author and journalist, Mitch Albom turns 63… Senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Reuel Marc Gerecht turns 62… Israeli-born entrepreneur, author and chairman of the board of the Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook turns 60… Rabbi of the Community Synagogue of Rye (N.Y.), Daniel B. Gropper turns 53… Film and television director, Nanette Burstein turns 51… NYC matrimonial law attorney, Casey Greenfield turns 48… Member of the Knesset for the New Hope party, Yifat Shasha-Biton turns 48… President of the Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust, Dylan Tatz turns 37… Tech and cyber reporter and editor for Haaretz in English, Omer Benjakob turns 34… Professional golfer on the LPGA Tour and the youngest-ever winner of a modern LPGA major championship, Morgan Pressel turns 33… Marketing and communications director, Andrea M. Hiller turns 27…