👋 Good Thursday morning!
Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff is headed to New Mexico today, where he will campaign with Democrat Melanie Stansbury ahead of the special election next week to fill the seat of former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM). Stansbury took a position on conditioning Israel aid earlier this week after shying away from Israel policy questions two months ago.
It took a number of days, however, last night The New York Times finally detailed the rising trend of antisemitic attacks across the country in a story headlined, “U.S. Faces Outbreak of Anti-Semitic Threats and Violence,” that was also distributed to NYT mobile users via a push notification.
Mayorkas said the Department of Homeland Security is working to disseminate threat information to faith leaders as well as to improve its communication with national law enforcement partners.
USAID Administrator Samatha Power told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee yesterday that she’s “very excited” about the Nita Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, a measure passed last year to fund joint Israeli-Palestinian economic ventures and people-to-people programs.
A dozen Jewish community organizations are hosting a virtual rally this afternoon in response to a recent rise in antisemitism. Government officials and congressional leaders are expected to join the event.
In Jordan, Abdullah told Blinken that he welcomes the Biden administration’s announcement that it intends to reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem.
The timely arrival of HBO’s ‘Oslo’
The opening scene of the film “Oslo”begins not in Norway but in an unusually snow-covered Middle East, where Mona Juul, an official in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, is visiting. After returning from the region, Juul and her husband Terje Rød-Larsen, a social scientist, undertake the defining mission of their career: orchestrating the 1993 back-channel negotiations that kicked off what became the Oslo Accords. The story of Mona and Terje — and the Israelis and Palestinians they brought together — was first told in the 2016 Broadway play “Oslo.” That show has now been adapted into a movie, which premieres Saturday on HBO and was produced by Marc Platt and Steven Spielberg, written by J.T. Rogers and directed by the Tony Award-winning Bartlett Sher. “The premise was getting enemies into a room to actually see each other as human beings,” Sher told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutchin a recent interview in Washington, D.C.
PR boost: The recent 11-day war between Israel and Hamas might be compelling marketing for a movie about Israelis and Palestinians who were committed to coming together to end decades of fighting between the two peoples. “I would give anything for it not to be like this at this moment. Let’s just make that clear,” Sher said. While the movie is premiering at a time in which there is increased attention on the conflict, it is also a cultural moment where one-sidedness is very much in fashion, at least on social media. Many people who have recently begun to speak out about the conflict seemingly shun the complexity that is an inherent feature of the film. “Great theater is always not between a wrong and right, but between two rights. If both sides are right, in a way it makes for a better story,” said Sher. “For people now who’ve gotten so entrenched in certain positions, to see that there was a time when people were willing to be helping, doesn’t hurt.”
Not taking sides: The story of these early negotiations is told through the eyes of Mona and Terje, who are meant to be neutral facilitators. Throughout the movie, Mona remains calm, interjecting only to stop an outburst from one of the Israeli or Palestinian negotiators. Keeping thoughts internal is more difficult for Terje, but he, too, succeeds — the conversations are left to the Israelis and Palestinians, who often pull the doors to the negotiating room closed as Mona and Terje watch from outside. “They delivered us into a world we didn’t know, but they didn’t take credit for or try to do it from a motivation, or like they’re there to save all these people,” Sher noted. Still, he recognizes that telling the story of one of the most complicated regional, religious conflicts in the world through the eyes of white Christian characters could be a minefield. “We assiduously avoided that. It would be a trap. It’s not up to us,” he said. “The agency and importance of the story has to live with the Israelis and the Palestinians, and the Norwegians are simply the facilitators.”
Paging members of Congress: The play has been staged in numerous cities around the world, and Sher said people who saw it in London left talking about Brexit while viewers in South Korea walked away discussing the country’s enmity with its northern neighbor. Sher met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) earlier this week, and he said they discussed this “sublayer” of the movie. “What is it going to take — can you get Ilhan Omar and AOC and Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz in the room together? And what would happen?” It’s an almost laughably optimistic message to bring to Washington. Then again, no one thought anything would come of Mona and Terje’s plucky peacemaking efforts. “I think that’s the kind of secret message,” said Sher. “If it’s between two opposing forces, can they come to agreement? How do you get that agreement to work? That’s really what we were always trying to do.”
House Dems respond to GOP ads accusing them of opposing security funding to Israel
House Democrats pushed back yesterday against Republican attack ads accusing them of not supporting Israeli security after their votes on a GOP procedural motion last week, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Backstory: The controversy centers around a failed motion to recommit introduced by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) last Thursday which would have blocked passage of a supplemental funding bill for Capitol security — which House Republicans opposed — by returning it back to the Appropriations Committee, potentially killing it entirely. Gonzales also proposed an amendment to the bill for Appropriations Committee consideration that would have entirely replaced the Capitol security funding with additional funds for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The House vote, however, was only on sending the security supplement bill back to the committee, not on the Iron Dome amendment. The motion failed largely along party lines, with all Democrats present voting against it, as well as one Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) did not vote on the measure.
On the attack: House Republican leadership, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sought to use the vote to paint House Democrats as unsupportive of Israel. Meanwhile, the conservative group American Action Network launched a five-figure ad buy, according to Fox News, claiming four Democrats — Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA) and Susan Wild (D-PA) — abandoned Israel while it was under attack by voting against Gonzales’s motion.
Firing back: Luria called the attacks “disgraceful” and “a flat-out lie,” adding: “The Republicans have taken this as a vehicle to just create a narrative that’s false and say that based on this procedural vote we — being every Democrat — were somehow voting against Israel and against supporting the Iron Dome,” Luria told Jewish Insider. “It’s absurd, it’s harmful, to try to make an issue that’s important to the security of Israel, to our strongest ally in the Middle East, and to try to use it as a political tool, especially when it’s just a straight-out lie.”
Playing politics: “This is to go after Democrats [in] seats they think they can and want to win back so that they can hand the gavel to McCarthy,” Luria continued. “It’s purely a political maneuver. I think this is an issue that shouldn’t be politicized. I can understand policy differences, but strong bipartisan support of Israel in the U.S. Congress is not something that should be politicized because I think it sends the wrong message to the rest of the world.”
Bonus: In an apparent effort to push Democratic colleagues to go on record with their views on U.S. arms sales to Israel, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and seven other Republicans introduced a resolution yesterday in support of two upcoming sales. Cruz’s legislation is unlikely to actually face a floor vote, and the arms sales in question will proceed with or without the Cruz resolution, barring a resolution of disapproval from Congress — which has virtually no chance of passing.
Rosen, Lankford to introduce bipartisan antisemitism resolution urging White House action
Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK) are set to introduce a bipartisan resolution condemning the recent uptick in antisemitic violence and urging President Joe Biden to take steps to combat it, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod has learned. This would mark the first bipartisan legislation introduced in response to the recent surge, and follows a resolution introduced Tuesday by more than a dozen Republicans.
Called out: The resolution enumerates multiple recent incidents of antisemitism in the United Kingdom, Germany, Los Angeles, New York, Arizona and Illinois, as well as antisemitic comments from Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which came in the wake of the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. It also lays out findings that antisemitism, antisemitic hate crimes and threats to synagogues are increasing in the United States and around the world.
Call for action: In addition to condemning the recent increase in antisemitic incidents, the resolution urges Biden to nominate an ambassador to monitor and combat antisemitism; engage international organizations to combat antisemitism; advance Holocaust education through the Never Again Education Act; “allocat[e] sufficient resources” for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program — which provides funding for houses of worship and nonprofits to shore up their security; and produce a report on the U.S. threat level of antisemitism.
Coming soon: A letter soliciting cosponsors for the legislation set a deadline of 1:30 p.m. today for additional senators to sign on, indicating that Rosen and Lankford plan to introduce the legislation prior to the Memorial Day recess.
in the courts
Illinois appellate court to hear arguments on Hamas terror funding
Twenty-five years after American yeshiva student David Boim was killed in a terrorist attack at a West Bank bus stop in 1996, oral arguments are set to begin tomorrow in an appeal over whether the teenager’s family can collect a monetary judgment ordered by a court in 2004. The family is looking to collect from groups linked to now-defunct organizations accused of providing material support to Hamas, the terror organization behind Boim’s murder, reports Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss.
Background: The Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals is hearing an appeal in Boim v. American Muslims for Palestine, in which Stanley Boim, David’s father, alleges that the organization, founded by University of California professor Hatem Bazian in 2006, has direct ties to the now-shuttered organizations that sent tens of millions of dollars to Hamas, which was determined to have carried out the attack that killed Boim. In 2004, the Boim family was awarded a $156 million judgment against the Holy Land Foundation, the American Muslim Society (AMS) and the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) for having provided material support to the terror group. The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the ruling in 2007, and the parties have gone back and forth since.
Linked?: The Holy Land Foundation, which had been based in Richardson, Texas, was designated by the Treasury Department as a terrorist organization in 2001. The Islamic Association for Palestine was shuttered in 2004. Mid-level staffers from the organizations have gone on to work for other groups, including American Muslims for Palestine and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Boim’s parents are now attempting to collect on the 2004 judgment, alleging that AMP is an offshoot of IAP/AMS and the Holy Land Foundation, which folded in 2001. An amicus brief filed by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund of Chicago argues that the “alter ego doctrine,” which has previously been applied in corporate cases in which businesses close and reopen under new names but with a similar revenue stream and staff, can be applied to this case.
Alleged collaboration: Court documents reveal several new examples of collaboration between staffers from IAP and the then-nascent AMP, including a 700-person conference hosted by the latter group three months after its creation. According to the amended complaint filed with the court, the conference featured the same “audience, content, format, management, speakers, and… message” as previous conferences hosted by IAP. In addition, Magdi Odeh, who was listed as AMP’s conference point of contact, was an IAP event organizer. The brief also alleges that AMP provided material support for Hamas through a series of intermediaries, including the Dallas-based nonprofit Baitulmaal. According to the brief, Baitulmaal provides funds to the Gaza-based Unlimited Friends Association for Social Development (UFA), with which it shares staff. UFA gives money to the families of Hamas terrorists who died while carrying out terror attacks against Israelis.
🕊️ Two Sides: In Foreign Policy, Steven A. Cook suggests that the binaries and “flattening” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by partisans and activists will never bring about a solution. “Aid and reconstruction are relatively easier than diplomacy. This is especially true when one starts digging into the hard questions that are at the heart of this conflict — because once you do, you quickly realize that neither party is willing to give up.” [FP]
🗳️ Follow the Leader: National Journal columnist Josh Kraushaar writes that Democrats should follow the pro-Israel message put forth by President Joe Biden if the party wants to maintain control of Congress after the 2022 midterms. “Pro-Israel messaging has relatively large positive effects on Jews and anti-Israel messaging has relatively large negative effects on Jews,” said analyst David Shor. “There really are a lot of single-issue Israel Jewish voters out there” — including in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, which all rank among the top 15 states with the largest Jewish populations. [NJ]
📖 Life’s Mission: In The Toronto Star, Christine Sismondo profiles David Matlow, a Toronto-based lawyer who has amassed the world’s largest collection of Theodor Herzl memorabilia — while also working to reunite families with long-lost heirlooms. “The collection isn’t intended to be static,” he said. “It’s living and it’s supposed to provide meaning and benefit people and do something, because, clearly, the story is still being told and is still unfolding.” [TorontoStar]
Around the Web
⚰️ Death Toll: Hamas said that 80 of its operatives were killed during its clash with Israel, accounting for a third of reported Gaza deaths; the IDF has said at least 120 casualties were Hamas terrorists.
💸 Aid Offer: Qatar said yesterday it was pledging $500 million toward reconstruction efforts in Gaza.
🤝 Staying Strong: UAE and Israeli officials are continuing to establish deep ties with each other even in the aftermath of the recent 11-day war between Israel and Hamas.
⚔️ Rebuttal: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for suggesting Israel was headed toward apartheid, and the French ambassador to Israel was summoned for a reprimand.
🇮🇱 Sunflower Support: The Kansas House of Representatives voted 83-27 yesterday in favor of a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel and condemning Hamas.
🧑⚖️ Rule Change: New York City mayoral contender Andrew Yang called for an update to the state’s bail reform law to permit judges to set bail for those charged with non-violent hate crimes.
📝 Prime Delivery: More than 500 Amazon employees signed a letter urging the company to show support for Palestinians and sever ties with the IDF.
🕍 Defiance: Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagouge urged Jews to remain defiant in the face of growing antisemitic violence, saying: “When they do more evil, I do more Jewish.”
😡 Oldest Hatred: A group of neo-Nazis chanting “Death to Israel” demonstrated in front of a Holocaust memorial across from Boston City Hall.
🧑🏫 BDS Battle: The San Francisco school district teachers union, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, voted in favor of a measure boycotting Israel last week.
🗞️ Media Watch: The Associated Press admitted it made “mistakes of process, and not of outcome” in firing Emily Wilder over her social media posts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
🦈 Ancient Appetites: A new Israeli study reveals that ancient Judeans did not fully follow kosher dietary laws, but ate catfish, skate and shark.
📚 Book Shelf: Author Anita Diamant has a new book out titled Period. End of Sentence, about cultural and religious attitudes toward menstruation.
🎞️ Hollywood Rep: The Anti-Defamation League has signed on as a client of talent agency UTA to “stand against hate, ignorance and bigotry in all its forms.”
⚖️ In Court: Alan Dershowitz has filed an $80 million lawsuit against Netflix for claims made about him in the documentary “Filthy Rich” about Jeffrey Epstein.
📸 Spotted: Seated courtside at last night’s 76ers and Wizards playoff game in Philadelphia, rapper Meek Mill, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and 76ers minority owner Michael Rubin.
Song of the Day
Israeli pop singers Noa Kirel and Omer Adam released a remix of “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem — complete with English verses — this week, which was met by an outpouring of criticism for their take on the tune.
Former National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, he won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, Henry Kissinger turns 98… Retired professor of international marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (1962-2018), Philip Kotler turns 90… CEO of British real estate firm Heron International, Gerald Ronson turns 82… Actor, producer and real estate developer, Zack Norman turns 81… Senior U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California, Christina A. Snyder turns 74… Retired in 2014 as school rabbi and director of Jewish studies at The Rashi School in Dedham, Massachusetts, Ellen Weinstein Pildis turns 71… Analytical psychotherapist, author, and Jewish Renewal rabbi, Tirzah Firestone turns 67… Emmy Award-winning actor, comedian and director, Richard Schiff turns 66… Former MLB pitcher (1978-1982), he is now a financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management, Ross Baumgarten turns 66… Owner of a 310 acre plant nursery in Kansas, he is a former MLB pitcher (1979-1990) and was an MLB All Star in 1979 and 1982, Mark Clear turns 65… Marriage counselor, therapist and author, Sherry Amatenstein turns 64… Dallas-based class action trial lawyer, political activist and Jewish community leader, Marc R. Stanley turns 64…
Beverly Hills-based immigration attorney, founder and chairman of the Los Angeles Sephardic Jewish Film Festival, Neil J. Sheff turns 60… Political strategist best known as the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, David Plouffe turns 54… General manager of Phibro Israel and co-founder of LaKita, a non-profit crowd-funding platform for Israeli public schools, Jonathan Bendheim turns 45… Workplace and labor reporter at The New York Times, Noam Scheiber turns 45… Actor, producer and co-owner of a wine label called Angelica Cellars, Ben Feldman turns 41… Director of philanthropic initiatives at Touro College, Grant Silverstein turns 39… Sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal in New York covering the NBA, college basketball and college football, Benjamin Zachary Cohen turns 33… Director of government relations at Raytheon Technologies, Katherina “Katya” Dimenstein turns 33… Law clerk with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Joshua A. Fitterman turns 28… Philadelphia Inquirer reporter covering Pennsylvania politics, Andrew Seidman… Emily Cohen…