👋 Good Friday morning!
In Israel, Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid signed their finalized coalition agreement with all the included parties and gave it to the Knesset secretary shortly before the Friday evening deadline to do so. On Sunday, lawmakers will cast a confidence vote on the new government.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that he is “absolutely concerned” about Iranian navy ships believed to be transferring weapons to Venezuela.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) met with Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N. Gilad Erdan on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Erdan said the two discussed Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israel alliance. Menendez’s office declined to issue a statement or readout on the meeting.
The meeting comes after Menendez issued uncharacteristic criticism of Israel amid the recent war in Gaza, after Israel destroyed a building containing the offices of the Associated Press and other media organizations.
Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member on theSenate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him not to re-open the shuttered Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, citing Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists’ families, U.S. law and delays in the Palestinian elections.
The Biden administration lifted sanctions on several Iranian energy companies and three Iranian individuals in a move Secretary of State Tony Blinken insisted was unrelated to the Vienna talks.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), the ranking member on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging against providing sanctions relief to Iran’s national oil company and central bank.
Candidates in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary met last night for the last debate before early voting begins on Saturday. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who was initially not scheduled to attend, was present and drew fire from his opponents after days of speculation over his residency.
Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, citing a rise in antisemitic hate crimes, discussed her plan to increase mental health services for the city’s residents; Andrew Yang advocated for recruiting police officers from minority communities, including the Jewish community, to alleviate police distrust. At the end of the debate, during a round of lighter questions, Comptroller Scott Stringer said the last gift he bought was “Shabbos flowers for my amazing wife — 12 dozen roses.”
Amid fallout, Omar walks back comments equating Israel, U.S. with Hamas, Taliban
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) walked back comments that appeared to equate actions by the U.S. and Israel to terrorist activities by the Taliban and Hamas amid rising tensions among House Democrats on Thursday, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Backtrack: The Minnesota congresswoman issued a statement Thursday afternoon that appeared to walk back portions of her remarks from earlier this week, saying that she was “in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems” and that she was seeking “accountability for specific incidents regarding those [International Criminal Court] cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel.” This statement appears at odds with her comments on Monday, in which she expressed doubt that the Israeli and American judicial systems were willing or able to address the alleged war crimes the ICC is investigating.
Thumbs up from leadership: House Democratic leadership — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-MA), Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Caucus Vice Chair Pete Aguilar (D-CA) — issued a joint statement welcoming Omar’s “clarification… that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.” The statement reads, “Drawing false equivalences between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all.”
Mending fences: Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), who on Wednesday led a group of 12 Jewish House Democrats in a letter addressing Omar’s comments, told Jewish Insider, “I am pleased Rep. Ilhan Omar heard our concerns about her tweet, issued a clarification and agrees with our point. I hope all can avoid such offhanded statements in the future as we work together to support American jobs [and] families,” adding, “Democracies should never be lumped in with terrorists.”
Not fully resolved: Efforts to ease tensions appeared only partly successful, as some Democrats who publicly backed the Minnesota congresswoman appeared to harbor continuing frustration about the situation on Thursday afternoon. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) slammed Democratic leadership, tweeting that “freedom of speech” and “benefit of the doubt [don’t] exist for Muslim women in Congress” and leadership “should be ashamed of its relentless, exclusive tone policing of Congresswomen of color.”
Jewish organizations raise alarms about proposed regulations on philanthropic giving
A Senate bill introduced Tuesday that could create new rules to govern philanthropic contributions made through donor-advised funds (DAF) has Jewish nonprofit leaders warning of a fundamental change in giving that would “deprive those most in need,” Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Background: The Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, sponsored by Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), would require donations made via donor-advised funds to be distributed to charities within 15 years from when an individual places money in the fund. Existing laws allow individuals to earn tax advantages when they donate to a DAF, but there is no timeline for when the money must be distributed to nonprofit organizations. DAFs have become a popular mode of giving for Jewish donors in recent years, with many funders using independent community foundations, such as the Jewish Communal Fund in New York.
Grave concerns: “We are gravely concerned that efforts to undermine DAFs, the fastest growing vehicle for charitable giving in the U.S., would fundamentally change the nature of philanthropy and deprive those most in need,” Eric Fingerhut, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, told Jewish Insider. “DAFs play an especially important role during times of crisis in their ability to immediately funnel life-saving funds.” JFNA was one of more than 80 groups to sign on to a letter from the leaders of major organizations urging congressional leadership to oppose the new legislation and include charitable groups in future conversations about reform.
Choosing sides: Critics of the current rules say that the lack of timeline for distributing donations keeps money from actually reaching charities and helping people in need, which allows donors to get a tax deduction without actually supporting nonprofits. Backers of current policies say that DAFs provide freedom and flexibility to donors — including an alternative to the more onerous process of creating a foundation — who want a place to put their money while they consider where to donate it.
Reconsider: So far, no senators other than King and Grassley have signed onto the legislation, and it remains to be seen whether the bill will make it to a committee markup, let alone a vote, but the bill does have some backers in the philanthropic world. Early supporters include the organizations Global Citizen, Give Blck and Rehabilitation Through the Arts. And the philosophy behind the bill — the framework of accelerating charitable giving from DAFs — has been endorsed by several prominent philanthropists, including Seth Klarman and John Arnold, as well as the heads of the Ford, Kellogg and Kresge Foundations.
Read more here.
Ben Ray Luján affirms support for Israel amid mounting Democratic tensions
First-term Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) affirmed his support for Israel in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Thursday, amid mounting tensions within the Democratic Party over Middle East policy following the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. “I believe that the United States and Israel share an unbreakable bond, and Israel has been our most important ally in the region,” he told JI in a phone conversation shortly before a floor vote.
Underlying philosophy: “While I did not agree with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, that does not get in the way of my support and love for Israel,” Luján added, referring to Israel’s current leader, now at risk of being ousted by a coalition of opposition parties. “The United States also has a lot of work to do. We just came through four years of President Donald Trump, a president who was the most divisive in our history, and while I have a lot of concerns with President Trump and the way he approached things, that does not take away from my love for the United States of America. I think that’s how so many people feel across the United States, including those I serve with.”
Democratic consensus: Democratic lawmakers remain committed to safeguarding the U.S.-Israel relationship, Luján insisted, despite some outspoken Israel critics within the party. “Just look at the letters and votes that have already taken place on the House floor, votes that will be coming up in the United States Senate,” Luján said. “As we continue to work on the National Defense Authorization Act and appropriation bills, you will see strong support from Democratic members with providing that support to Israel. So if it’s not been seen already and measured with letters and statements that many of us have made, it will be reflected in the votes that we will soon be casting.”
Party pulse: Luján, 49, is well equipped to take the Democratic Party’s pulse. He was the highest-ranking Hispanic lawmaker in the House when he concluded his six-term run as assistant speaker after four years leading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where he helped secure a Democratic majority in 2018. As the 2022 midterms come into view, Luján was eager to discuss Democratic campaign strategies, particularly given the findings of a new and foreboding Democratic report warning that the party is poised to lose critical support from Hispanic voters as well as other communities of color, as it did last cycle, if it does not develop a more coherent economic message and distance itself from Republican attacks.
Hispanic outreach: While Luján seemed to agree with some of the study’s conclusions, he suggested that regardless of the report, Democrats need to take immediate action if they have any hope of increasing Hispanic support next cycle. “You often hear these pundits and these well-paid consultants that pronounce that the Hispanic community is not a monolithic community, but then they don’t do anything to reach out to earn the trust of voters,” he said. “I understand that because of where I come from and who I am. Even in the state of New Mexico, you need to understand that Hispanic voters are not a monolithic community.”
New hope is born for Israeli families at first-of-its-kind pregnancy loss conference
When Elysa Rapoport lost her first baby girl in 2016, born without breath at 31 weeks, she found herself lost and alone. The Australian immigrant to Israel felt that the health system handled her traumatic experience of stillbirth “horribly,” lacking sensitivity and offering little professional support. Grappling with waves of grief, it took 10 months after her stillbirth for Rapoport, 37, to gain a spot in a support group in the city of Rishon Lezion, more than a half-hour’s drive from her home in Tel Aviv. She found the experience of meeting other women who had similar experiences, coupled with the moderation of trained professionals, a saving grace. A year later, Candles of Hope was born, writes Tamara Zieve for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Lighting Hope: Candles of Hope was founded by Rapoport together with her mother Rebecca Dreyfus, who flew from Sydney to Tel Aviv to lend comfort and support to her grieving daughter following her stillbirth. Frustrated by the lack of institutional support available to her daughter at the time, Dreyfus was the driving force behind the founding of the group.Last month, the NGO, helmed by Rapoport, held its first national conference dedicated to the subject of pregnancy and infant loss, shining a light on an issue often hidden in the shadows — to the detriment of those affected.
Group Healing: The conference, which attracted 120 people, featured speakers from various fields including therapy, research, the arts and media, advocacy and public leadership. Nurses, midwives and people who had experienced loss also participated. The name of the organization was inspired by the memorial candles traditionally lit for the deceased, and the hope that shines out of the light; for many, that hope is connected to a future pregnancy, and for others it represents hope to move forward to a positive place. “We see hope as so central and critical to healing,” Rapoport explained.
Big Numbers: Rapoport is far from being a rare statistic, and Candles of Hope seeks to provide a readily available support system to all those who will sadly but inevitably experience loss of this kind. In Israel, the rate of pregnancy termination is some 10 percent of all known pregnancies, Professor Danny Horesh of Bar Ilan University’s psychology department told the conference. Stillbirth occurs in 3.5 to 5 of every 1000 deliveries. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is well-known in Israel, but not its link to pregnancy issues.
Read more here.
Elsewhere: In ultra-Orthodox communities in New York, unsubstantiated rumors of infertility issues have dissuaded some women from seeking the COVID vaccine, Hannah Dreyfus reports in the New York Times.
🌴 Political Paradise: Bloomberg’s Joshua Green reports on the atmosphere in Palm Beach, Fla., where former President Donald Trump — as well as a smattering of aides and other former staffers — decamped earlier this year, and where GOP politicos from around the country continue to visit for meetings, conferences and fundraisers. “As Comic-Con does for actors past their prime, South Florida offers hardcore Trump fans a way to indulge their nostalgia and fawn over their favorite characters from the extended Trump Universe.” [Bloomberg]
📜 Book of Names: In The New York Times, John Leland profiles Tzali Reicher, a 24-year-old Brooklyn man and Chabad Lubavitch staffer who kept a list — more than 1,800 names to date — of the Jewish victims of the coronavirus. “The names came from Israel, Argentina, England, Russia, Iran, but especially from Brooklyn, the source of 266 names so far. Their families, often denied the normal rituals of mourning, were grateful to talk, he found. The dead were becoming people to him, not statistics.” [NYTimes]
🗺️ Plum Appointment: New York magazine’s Gabriel Debenedetti looks at the choices faced by the Biden administration as it mulls the ratio of career foreign service officers to donors for its diplomatic appointments. “Biden, while historically bad at donor schmoozing, is hardly averse to straightforward transactional politics. He has plenty of low-stress, high-résumé-power domestic commission and panel seats yet to hand out, like dozens of presidents before him. And surely some countries will still be sent a fundraiser or two, once the first round of operatives and ex-pols are installed around the globe.” [NYMag]
👩 Labor Leader: In Slate, Amos Barshad examines Israeli Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli’s feminist past and visions for the future of the Israeli left. “This is what Michaeli is best at: presenting a humane, positive, and intelligent face for the Israeli left. Even if the undergirding facts suggest otherwise, it feels like she could be a sane savior.” [Slate]
Around the Web
🏗️ No Passage: Israel asked Egypt to halt shipments of building materials into Gaza until an arrangement is reached to monitor the reconstruction and ensure the shipments don’t benefit Hamas.
🏕️ Newly Hopeful: As the prospect of a new Israeli government looms on the horizon, the country’s Bedouin are “cautiously optimistic” that their community’s needs will be addressed by a coalition that includes an Arab party.
🚢 Deep Dive: Reuters goes underwater with an elite Israeli navy crew on the Leviathan, one of Israel’s five $500 million submarines that patrol the waters around Israel, going as far as the Red Sea.
🕵️ Tinker Tailor: In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen spoke in depth about Mossad operations in Iran.
📸 Sightseeing: U.S. officials have warned that Russia is preparing to provide Iran with advanced satellite imaging systems that could be used to survey military targets.
⚽ No Deal: Online sports broadcaster DAZN Group Ltd. rejected a €500 million bid from Comcast Corp.’s Sky service to share TV rights to the top Italian soccer league, Series A.
💰 Trending Up: Mental health services provider Cerebral Inc. raised $127 million in a fundraising round led by founder and chairman of Access Industries Len Blavatnik.
📈 Business Boom: Shares of Israeli work-management startup Monday.com saw its stock price jump 12% on NASDAQ on Thursday at its stock market debut, netting the company a valuation of $7.6 billion.
🌐 World Wide Web: Bernard Arnault, the world’s richest man, joined former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in investing in Israeli cybersecurity startup Wiz, which recently brought in a $120 million investment.
📺 Media Watch: CNN’s chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, returned to the network following an eight-month leave after indecent behavior on a Zoom call with colleagues at The New Yorker.
💻 Campus Beat: A Zoom lecture at Hunter College turned into a pro-Palestinian rally, with dozens of students and at least one professor changing their backgrounds to the Palestinian flag while reading an anti-Israel manifesto.
🗞️ Down Under: Jewish students at the University of Technology, Sydney raised concerns following a journalism lecture in which students were encouraged to not be objective when covering issues related to Israel.
🙇♀️ I’m Sorry: YouTuber Trisha Paytas apologized for using an antisemitic slur during a monetary dispute with her “Frenemies” podcast co-host Ethan Klein.
👨💼👩💼 Onboard: The Hudson Institute announced the addition of Thomas DiNanno, Ezra Cohen, Casey Michel, Paul Massaro and Josh Block to the think tank’s team of adjunct fellows.
👨 Transition: Adam Teitelbaum has been named executive director of the Israel Action Network and associate vice president for public affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America.
🕯️ Remembering: Judge Robert Katzmann, a legal scholar who sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, died Wednesday at age 68.
Pic of the Day
Director Ruthy Pribar and actress Shira Haas take a selfie at the New York premiere of their film “Asia.” The critically acclaimed film — winner of nine Ophir Awards — is released in the U.S. today.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Covenant BLUE C VIOGNIER 2020:
“With the reopening of global travel, I have embarked on a three-week trek to the sweltering Middle East. To cool down, I brought along a bottle I have been eyeing for quite some time.
“The Covenant BLUE C Viognier is untamed. The wine opens by pummeling your palate with a barrage of citrus and grapefruit. The mid-palate has hints of pear, and the finish is subdued. This wine is barrel fermented which gives it a velvety, round feel on the tongue. The texture makes you want to leave the wine sitting there a little while longer than usual so be careful not to damage your tastebuds. Enjoy this wine with Middle Eastern chicken fricassee and plan to have at least two bottles of it nearby.”
FRIDAY: Heir to the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and minister in two British governments under prime ministers Major and Thatcher, Sir Timothy Alan Davan Sainsbury turns 89… Executive director of NYC-based government watchdog Citizens Union, she was elected as NYC’s public advocate in 2001 and reelected in 2005, Elisabeth A. “Betsy” Gotbaum turns 83… Chairman and CEO of American Eagle Outfitters, Value City Department Stores, DSW and lead sponsor of ArtScroll’s translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Jay Schottenstein turns 67… Israel’s deputy minister of education, Meir Porush turns 66… Longtime hedge fund manager and owner of the New York Mets, Steven A. Cohen turns 65… Past president and national board member of AIPAC, Lee ‘Rosy’ Rosenberg turns 65… Israel’s deputy minister of the interior, Yoav Ben-Tzur turns 63… New Windsor, N.Y., attorney, Barry Friedman turns 63… Served as an Illinois state representative and as human rights commissioner, Lauren Beth Gash turns 61… VP of public affairs and government relations for Duke University, Michael J. Schoenfeld turns 59… President of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami turns 59… Deputy director of the CIA, David S. Cohen turns 58… Senior advisor at Quadrant Strategies, former White House Jewish liaison and current president of New York Jewish Agenda, Matt Nosanchuk turns 56… Founder of Shabbat[dot]com, Rabbi Benzion Zvi Klatzko turns 53… Dean of TheYeshiva.net and noted public speaker, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (YY) Jacobson turns 49… Budget director at the City Council of the District of Columbia, Jennifer Budoff turns 47… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, she participated in two seasons of the Israeli reality show Me’usharot, Nicol Raidman turns 35… Actor, performance artist and filmmaker, Shia LaBeouf turns 35… Israeli attorney and CEO of Dualis Social Venture Fund, Dana Naor… Jennifer Rubin… Director of communications and programming at the Academic Engagement Network, Raeefa Shams…
SATURDAY: Israeli statesman and scholar, Yosef “Yossi” Beilin turns 73… Rabbi emeritus at Temple Beth El in Santa Cruz County, California, Richard Litvak, a/k/a Rabbi Rick, turns 71… British Conservative Party member of Parliament since 1992, son of a rabbi, Michael Fabricant turns 71… Dental consultant and recruiter, Kenneth Nussen turns 66… Peruvian banker and politician, José Chlimper Ackerman turns 66… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Hava Eti Atiya turns 61… President of the premium content group of ViacomCBS and CEO of Showtime Networks, David Nevins turns 55… EVP of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) in Washington, D.C., Rabbi Levi Shemtov turns 53… Editor of Politico, Carrie Budoff Brown turns 45… Communications consultant at Singularity Communications, Eliezer O. “Eli” Zupnick turns 38… Founder and managing partner of the investment firm Thrive Capital and the co-founder of Oscar Health, Joshua Kushner turns 36… Managing director of the New American Economy, Hanna Siegel turns 36… Software engineer and co-creator of the Mozilla Firefox internet browser, Blake Aaron Ross turns 36… Canadian tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Michele Romanow turns 36… Health counsel at the House Ways and Means Committee, Zachary Louis Baron turns 35… MBA candidate at Columbia Business School, Alexis Rose Levinson turns 33… Multimodal transportation coordinator at Montgomery County, Maryland’s Planning Department, Eli Glazier turns 31… Photographer and Instagram influencer, Tessa Nesis turns 28… Associate director of Alums for Campus Fairness, Joel Bond…
SUNDAY: Professor at UCLA who helped develop ARPANET, Leonard Kleinrock turns 87… Founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff turns 83… Senior advisor for George Soros’s Open Society Institute, winner of a 1985 MacArthur genius fellowship, Morton Halperin turns 83… Chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co. (1983-1997), chancellor of Brown University (1998 to 2007) and CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert turns 81… Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Nadler (D-N.Y.) turns 74… Retired justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, he was previously attorney general of Israel, Elyakim Rubinstein turns 74… Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Michael J. Elman, MD turns 66… National political correspondent for NPR, Mara Liasson turns 66… Co-founder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, Ben Horowitz turns 55… Founder and CEO of Overtime, Daniel Porter turns 55… Yoga instructor, Jenny Eisen Verdery turns 54… Family court judge of the City of New York, Judge Erik S. Pitchal turns 49… White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Eli Stokols turns 42… Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, Michael Stern turns 42… Board chair of Girls Who Code, Marissa Shorenstein turns 42… Actor Max Samuel Spielberg turns 36… Film and television actress, she starred in the CBS sitcom “Two Broke Girls,” Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings, turns 35… Deputy editor at Real Clear Investigations, Benjamin H. Weingarten turns 33… Retired NFL football player, he won the 2010 Outland Trophy, Gabe Carimi turns 33… Policy advocate at Protect Democracy, Ariela Rosenberg… Samantha Magnes turns 26…
BIRTHWEEK: Executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Tyler Gregory…