👋 Good Monday morning!
Violent clashes raged across Israel over the weekend, with riots in Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli police spilling over into protests in Haifa and multiple rockets fired overnight from Gaza.
Dozens of Palestinians were hospitalized and scores of Israeli police officers wounded amid clashes on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Saturday and Sunday, which continued anew this morning as Israel marks Jerusalem Day.
The outbreak of violence sparked a message of “serious concerns” from the United States as well as condemnations from Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
In an effort to quell further violence, Israel’s Supreme Court agreed to delay a hearing slated for today over the potential eviction of dozens of Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. And Israeli Police temporarily banned Jews from visiting the Temple Mount today.
The traditional Jerusalem Day “flag march,” which generally angers Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem each year, is still slated for this afternoon despite security warnings that it will further inflame violence in the city.
Coalition negotiations between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett continued full speed ahead over the weekend, with reports indicating that the parties are close to signing an agreement with the backing of Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas.
The election for the next president of Israel, who will be chosen by the 120 members of the Knesset, has been scheduled for June 2.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told the Makor Rishon conference yesterday that American Jews are “disproportionately among our critics” and Israel should prioritize outreach to evangelical Christians in the United States.
Dermer said there is “no question” that Israel would have made peace with Saudi Arabia if President Donald Trump had been reelected. He also criticized Israelis for being “less than grateful” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and said he hopes “the successor to Benjamin Netanyahu will be Benjamin Netanyahu.”
On the Issues
What explains Tom Carper’s recent approach on Israel?
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), a deeply religious Christian who looks forward to weekly Bible study, has frequently told friends and colleagues that he prays every night for a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And over the past few months, Carper, 74, has indicated he is pursuing a new and more distinctive path on Middle East issues, one that is frustrating many of Delaware’s pro-Israel advocates, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
‘Puzzling’ vote: In early February, Carper was only one of three senators — alongside Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — who voted against a budget amendment preventing the U.S. government from moving its embassy outside of Jerusalem or downgrading it to a mission. Carper’s vote came as a surprise in large part because he says he supports keeping the embassy in Jerusalem. “I was puzzled when I saw that he was with Warren and Sanders,” former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who was recently enlisted by Carper to help with the D.C. statehood effort, said in a recent interview with JI. “I just generally had the impression that he sort of had a mainstream, Democratic, pro-Israel position.”
Taking a stance: In March, Carper signed a letter asking that the Biden administration “urge the Israeli government to do more to help the Palestinians” with vaccine distribution “in the occupied territories.” And a week later, Carper abstained — as he did the previous year — from signing onto a letter denouncing the International Criminal Court’s newly launched investigation of Israel for alleged war crimes. Taken together, this trio of seemingly principled stands represents a “troubling” direction for Carper, according to David Margules, a member of Delaware’s tight-knit pro-Israel community. Yet as Carper throws his support behind “statements coming from the fringe of the Democratic Party,” Margules was at pains to explain the senator’s motivations. “I’m really not quite sure, to be honest with you.”
‘Always ambiguous’: Barry Kayne, a pro-Israel advocate in Delaware, was equally mystified. “I can’t understand why he’s taken the positions that he’s taken,” he told JI. “I mean, it’s absolutely infuriating to me. But I don’t have an explanation.” Such bewilderment underscores a sense of mounting frustration among some in the state who say they have long struggled to make sense of Carper’s approach, which until recently had been somewhat more muted. “Tom has been a conundrum for me for over a decade,” Kayne added. “I’ve lobbied him for years. I’ve written to him relative to pro-Israel legislation or U.S.-Israel legislation, and he’s always ambiguous.”
Explanation: In a statement to JI, a spokesperson for Carper defended the senator’s embassy vote as “a principled stance on the belief that President Joe Biden — like presidents before him — should have the ability to develop and pursue his foreign policy agenda in any area of the world without limitations set by Congress, especially just a couple of weeks after taking office.” The spokesperson said the senator’s vote was aimed at ensuring “the Biden administration is not constrained in its ability to conduct its own foreign policy… Sen. Carper supports the decision not to move the embassy.”
In his words: In a lengthy email to JI, Carper clarified his underlying philosophy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a function of what he described as deeply held religious views. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no easy feat to address,” he wrote. “But in the process of working towards an equitable resolution, we must never lose sight of the people — on both sides of the conflict — that are affected every single day,” Carper continued. “When it comes to our foreign policy in the Middle East, and the multitude of issues the United States and our allies face and have to consider, we must never lose sight of the innocent men, women, and children that are impacted by the decisions that are made.” Carper, who has visited Israel several times throughout his career in public office, told JI that: “Israel and the United States are connected by a shared set of democratic values and I’m proud to have a voting record that clearly shows my commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity.”
Face to face: Carper, chair of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, is slated to meet President Joe Biden at the White House today to discuss his infrastructure proposal.
‘The Netanyahus,’ Joshua Cohen’s new novel on an Israeli family
The long arc of Jewish history can be summed up in two words: exile and return. And so can the essence of American author Joshua Cohen’s new historical novel, The Netanyahus, whose central character is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s father Benzion, a politically charged historian who was denied a job at Hebrew University for his views — later to be redeemed by the success of his son. “[Benzion] was a resentful, intelligent man trembling with rage at being excluded from history, at being denied what he regarded as his rightful place in history, and he raised children to take the glory that was denied him,” Cohen told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch in a recent interview about the book, which comes out next month. “Be careful with the people you reject, because their sons will come and rule you.”
Sparknotes: The book — whose subtitle, “An Account of A Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family,” hints at some of its comic dimensions — is set in the 1950s at a liberal arts college in western New York. Professor Ruben Blum, a professor in the fictitious Corbin College’s history department, studies taxation — but as the only Jewish faculty member at the school, he is assigned to host Benzion, his wife, and their three children, including a young Benjamin, when Benzion interviews for a position at the university. Blum, whom Cohen called a “weak conformist,” must contend with his own unsettled attitude toward this very proud, loudmouthed historian while also dealing with a flood of well-intentioned if deep-rooted antisemitism from his employer.
True story: The book is based on a true experience that legendary literary critic and Yale Sterling professor Harold Bloom, who died in 2019, shared with Cohen before he died. Cohen said “it was a sort of minor episode” in Bloom’s life, but “it really stuck with me.” Cohen would bring bagels from New York City’s Russ & Daughters to Bloom’s home in New Haven, checking in on him while letting Bloom, a mentor whom he met late in Bloom’s life, share stories from his life. “His body was failing, but his mind was as penetrating as it ever was,” Cohen recalled. He never got to discuss The Netanyahus with Bloom before he died.
Revisionism on the rise: Benzion Netanyahu is better known for his embrace of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and revisionist Zionism than his scholarship on the Spanish Inquisition. Right-wing politics may be dominant in Israel now, but in the 1940s and 1950s, Jabotinsky’s vision of “Greater Israel” was unpopular. “During the most consequential decades of modern Jewish history, the ‘40s and ‘50s, where is Benzion Netanyahu? He’s not being slaughtered in Europe, and he’s not in Palestine, founding the State of Israel,” Cohen noted. “He’s in New York and suburban Philly. He has essentially been exiled from Hebrew University, because he is a Jabotinskyite, because he doesn’t believe we have to wait for the British [or] for any great power to grant us a land. We have to take it.”
Safe spaces: Cohen, 40, likes to think of The Netanyahus as “a book about campus politics and identity politics.” Although set more than 60 years ago, Cohen said its plot has implications for the complicated issues playing out on campuses today, on topics like intellectual diversity and liberal values and concerns about safe spaces. “In many ways, Benzion Netanyahu would be in agreement with a lot of the politics going on on American campuses today and these sort of self-segregating ideologies. I think that in many ways, he wanted to found a safe space, but he wanted to call that safe space Israel, and he wanted to make a safe space with a nuclear program,” Cohen explained. Campus progressives might have more in common with one of the forefathers of Israeli right-wing politics than they may think. “I wanted to see how the left would feel when I associated them so closely with the right.”
On the Hill
Senate Dems urge Biden to reopen PLO Mission in D.C., East Jerusalem consulate
A group of Democratic senators is urging President Joe Biden to follow through on commitments to reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem and the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, D.C. — both of which were closed under the Trump administration, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Major mission: The PLO mission, the letter obtained by JI reads, “long served as a critical point of contact… providing a range of core diplomatic services for Palestinians in the United States” and “helped facilitate the U.S. role as a mediator… and was an important component of the United States’ commitment to advancing a two-state solution.” The PLO mission was shuttered in 2018 by former President Donald Trump. Before taking office, Biden pledged to reopen the PLO mission, but the effort has faced obstacles, as the Palestinians would become liable for more than $650 million in financial penalties in U.S. courts if they establish an office in the U.S. due to legislation passed in 2019 and signed into law by Trump.
Go East: The East Jerusalem consulate, the senators wrote, is “essential to effectively conducting U.S. Palestinian bilateral affairs, while demonstrating that the relationship is not ancillary to or in any way subsumed by the U.S. bilateral relationship with Israel.” Biden has pledged to reopen the consulate in East Jerusalem, which was closed in 2019 as part of a consolidation effort with the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, which opened a year prior. The senators also claim that foreign service officers in Jerusalem have said that the consulate’s closure has handicapped U.S. efforts to engage with the Palestinian Authority and provide information on the situation within the Palestinian territories.
Signatories: The senators lay out their request in the letter which has been circulating since mid-April and will close for signatures on Friday. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) organized the letter, which has also been signed by Sens. Pat Leahy (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).
📵 Day of Rest: In The Wall Street Journal, Sohrab Ahmari argues that now, more than ever, Americans need a Sabbath, to set aside “one day a week for rest and prayer.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, he writes, observed that “Judaism taught men and women to find inner liberty by freeing themselves from ‘domination of things as well as from domination of people.’” [WSJ]
✡️ Place of Pride: In The Times, Louise Callaghan spotlights the small but growing Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates, which is stepping out of the shadows following the Abraham Accords. Before the deal, “everything that was Jewish and everything that was Israeli was taboo,” said Dubai resident Alex Peterfreund. “Now, this is going to be a better place for a Jew to live than Paris or London.” [TheTimes]
📜 Rewriting History: In The New York Times, James Angelos explores how V-E Day in Germany, which was marked on Friday, is increasingly celebrated as a day of liberation, not defeat. “At a time when living memories are disappearing, some Germans — now and in future generations — will take the talk of liberation literally, glossing over the complicity of the masses in Nazi crimes.” [NYTimes]
✍️ No to Noise: Nobel Prize-winning Israeli economist Daniel Kahneman spoke to The Financial Times’s Tim Harford about his new book, Noise, his life’s work and why he doesn’t view himself as a guru. “Subjectively many of those things that I say look pretty obvious and trite, and I hope I’m not boring people. I’m flattered, thank you. And embarrassed.” [FT]
Around the Web
🇮🇷 Saber-Rattling: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Israel a “terrorist garrison” yesterday and said it was “a public duty” to fight against the country.
☢️ Nuke Talks: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he is optimistic about nuclear talks in Vienna, adding that “almost all main sanctions have been lifted and talks continue on some details.”
🔭 Looking Ahead: A Politico analysis indicates that President Joe Biden “has long tried to walk a careful path” on Iran and has adopted a “far-sighted view” on making peace with Tehran.
💵 No Go: Veteran diplomats are urging Biden not to pick wealthy donors, friends and allies for ambassadorial positions in Europe, although he is not expected to heed this warning.
🇮🇱🇰🇷 Growing Ties: Israel and South Korea plan to sign a free trade agreement this week, as Israel works to solidify similar arrangements with several other Asian nations.
⚖️ In Court: Haaretz reported that former Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman is being countersued for sexual harassment after he sued two women for alleging in a closed Facebook group that he engaged in sexual misconduct. Lipman called the Haaretz report “a smear story” and denied all claims.
📱 Apology: Actor Lakeith Stanfield apologized after hosting a Clubhouse room over the weekend that trafficked in antisemitic stereotypes and praised Hitler.
⏪ Reset: New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang’s growing support among the city’s Orthodox community has surprised fellow candidate Eric Adams, who believed his longtime relationships with the community had locked up its support.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: A British neo-Nazi who called Jews a cancer and encouraged their extermination has been charged with 15 terrorism- and hate-related offenses.
✍️ Balfour Battle: The Guardian listed its support of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 as among the publication’s “worst errors of judgment [in] over 200 years.”
💼 Interview: Tony Danker, the new director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, grew up as one of few Jews in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
😷 Protest Movement: World War II resistance fighter Sophie Scholl has become an emblem for German anti-mask activists protesting the country’s COVID-19 regulations.
🏊 Diving In: Swimply, the virtual marketplace connecting pool owners and swimmers launched by Bunim Laskin and Asher Weinberger, announced $10 million in Series A funding.
🖥️ Startup Nation: Israeli software company Monday.com is reportedly working with Goldman Sachs to get ready for its U.S. IPO sometime this year.
📚 Book Shelf: A new book by Leah Garrett, X-Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War Two, details a failed 1942 raid aimed at capturing the Nazis’ Enigma coding machine.
🕍 Lost and Found: Items stolen from the Chabad House at San Diego State University were returned to the congregation last week after the thieves were identified by students.
🕯️ Remembering: Faye Schulman, a partisan fighter and photographer during World War II, died at age 101.
Song of the Day
Israeli pop star Omer Adam released a new song last week, titled “Jerusalem,” in honor of Jerusalem Day, which is marked today.
Former U.S. ambassador to both Australia and Italy, Mel Sembler turns 91… Scion of a Hasidic dynasty and leader of the Beth Jehudah congregation in Milwaukee, Rabbi Michel Twerski… and his twin brother, who is a professor at Brooklyn Law School, following a career as dean at Hofstra University School of Law, Aaron Twerski, both turn 82… Real estate developer and principal owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen M. Ross turns 81… Founding rabbi of Chavurat Aytz Chayim in Connecticut and creator of Shalom TV, Mark S. Golub turns 76… Leading Democratic pollster and political strategist, Stanley Bernard “Stan” Greenberg turns 76… British film, theater and television actress, she was a harsh critic of Jeremy Corbyn and other members of the British Labour Party in recent years, Dame Maureen Lipman turns 75… Israeli businessman and philanthropist, his family founded and owned Israel Discount Bank, Leon Recanati turns 73… Founder and CEO of OPTI Connectivity, Edward Brill turns 71… CEO of Medical Reimbursement Data Management in Yanceyville, N.C., Robert Jameson turns 71… American-born Israeli singer songwriter, Yehudah Katz turns 70…
Claims examiner at Chubb Insurance, David Beck turns 68… Anchor for “SportsCenter” and other programs on ESPN since 1979, Chris “Boomer” Berman turns 66… Former NBA player whose career spanned 18 seasons, Danny Schayes turns 62… U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) turns 62… Brazilian businessman, Ricardo Samuel Goldstein turns 55… Staten Island, N.Y. resident, Neil Winchel turns 55… Senior rabbi of Houston’s Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Brian Strauss turns 49… Israeli rock musician, Aviv Geffen turns 48… Editor-in-chief of Fleishigs kosher food magazine, Shifra Klein turns 39… Chief operations officer at Takoma Wellness Center, Josh Kahn turns 37… Video games reporter at Bloomberg News, Jason Schreier turns 34… Manager of government affairs at the American Forest & Paper Association, Fara Klein Sonderling turns 33… Senior communications manager in the D.C. office of Pew Research Center, Rachel Weisel turns 33… National correspondent for New York Magazine, Gabriel Debenedetti turns 31… Reporter for the Wall Street Journal who writes about cybersecurity, Adam Janofsky turns 30… Actress Halston Sage turns 28… Mollie Harrison…