👋 Good Friday morning!
In a scramble to prevent the Lapid-Bennett government’s investiture, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has attacked presumptive incoming prime minister Naftali Bennett’s credibility in the media, called Islamist Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas, pledging to deliver on Abbas’ election agenda.
Parallel to his own efforts to court Ra’am’s defection, Netanyahu criticized the Lapid-Bennett coalition for “[selling] the Negev to Ra’am.” Ra’am wants to relax policies that interfere with illegal building, common among Arab communities in Ra’am’s Negev base.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Secretary of State Tony Blinken yesterday to discuss ongoing regional instability. Blinken reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to Israeli security and reconstruction in Gaza.
Blinken will meet virtually today with Palestinian American community leaders, followed by Jewish community leaders.
Following Gantz’s meeting with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the National Security Council indicated its continued support for the Iron Dome.
Gantz also met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday, telling reporters that Israel would “continue this important strategic dialogue in private discussion…not in the media in a provoking way.”
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) outlined their proposal for an alternative to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran, which would allow Iran to build nuclear reactors to produce electricity. These reactors would be fueled by an International Atomic Energy Agency fuel bank in the region that would serve the entire Persian Gulf.
The senators also argue that America’s diplomatic focus should be on a broader range of Iranian malign activities, including supporting terrorist groups and the Syrian regime and growing its ballistic missile arsenal.
Ron Dermer discusses Israeli politics on the ‘Limited Liability Podcast’
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer joined Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” co-hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein for a conversation on Israeli politics yesterday. In part one of the conversation, released today, Dermer dissects the Israeli political process, giving a detailed history of how prime ministers have risen, fallen, and risen again, and weighs in on the new proposed coalition that would put Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the opposition.
Coalition caution: Dermer, who was a senior advisor to Netanyahu for four years before becoming ambassador, advised added caution before anointing the new government coalition led by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett. “It’s not a government until it passes its confidence vote,” Dermer said, “But do I think that the parties will make it to the finish line? I don’t know. It’s an interesting question. It’s going to be close. You may not have a government sworn in by about another 10 or 11 days… So there’s all sorts of maneuvering that’s going on in Israel. But I think they have a good chance. I don’t know if they’re going to get there. It remains to be seen. I will put the odds are better than 50/50, but I can’t put an exact number on it.”
Bennett’s challenge: “I think the issue is, when you’re a prime minister in Israel, governing is really hard. And you really need a strong base of support and you need a strong base of support within your coalition. Bennett’s support among the right has completely collapsed. Whatever was there before now is, you know, sort of totally gone. The left side of Israel’s political spectrum, they’re happy that Bennett is helping them oust Netanyahu but they’re not supporters of Bennett. So you don’t really see that he has the public support. So if you combine no public support, and no political sort of soldiers to help you govern, I think it’s very difficult. He may be an extremely talented individual but.. it’s very hard to see how he’s going to effectively govern even if he had the right policies and on some issues, visa vi Iran, or the Palestinians, or the other big issues that capture the imagination of people outside of Israel, it’s totally incoherent within that government… The glue that’s holding it together is only the fact that they want to oust Netanyahu. There’s nothing else there.”
Netanyahu’s next act: “He is by far the most popular politician within Israel. And one of the things he was hoping to do, and maybe it will still happen, I don’t put the chances very high, but is to have a direct election, meaning instead of going to new Knesset elections, just have a direct election, let anybody run against him and then we can have a decisive victory that way. Because in our system, our parliamentary system, where you have so many different parties, I think we’ve got 12 parties in the Knesset, eight parties would be in this new coalition. If you think you’ve got a problem with your two-party system in America, try 12. See how that works out for you.”
on the hill
Susan Collins advocates for bipartisan consensus on Israel
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) expressed her hope that support for Israel will remain bipartisan in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Thursday, following weeks in which the recent violence between Israel and Hamas exposed sharp divisions between Democratic and Republican lawmakers. “Our support for Israel should remain strong,” she said, “even as we work to bring peace as we did with the ceasefire in the Middle East.”
Praise for Biden: The five-term senator praised President Joe Biden’s handling of the 11-day conflict, echoing the sentiments of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who thanked Biden for “standing with Israel” at a Tuesday press conference in Jerusalem. “I personally view President Biden as a strong supporter of Israel,” Collins said, commending his recent decision to approve a $735 million weapons sale to Israel that had been opposed by several members critical of Israel within his own party. “It seems to me that the president has not changed where he stands.”
Standing apart: Her comments stand in contrast to those of some prominent Republicans who have accused Biden of abandoning Israel as he faces pressure from the party’s far-left flank to adopt a tougher stance on foreign policy matters concerning the Jewish state. Collins indicated that she wouldn’t be joining that chorus. “I don’t want to see support for Israel used as a wedge issue,” she said. “I want us to be united in our support for Israel.”
Concerning trend: But while Collins maintained that “there are still many very strong supporters” of Israel among Democrats in the House and Senate, she added her concern that such support now appears to be waning. “When I listen to people like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren propose that we put conditions on our commitment to Israel and conditions on aid to Israel, that concerns me,” she said. “It indicates a real change in what has been very strong bipartisan support for the State of Israel.”
Drawing a line: The recent conflict, Collins suggested, has accentuated that tension. “There were some members who seemed to have difficulty in conceding that Hamas is a terrorist group backed by Iran and which started this conflict by firing rockets into Israel and putting the lives of innocent Palestinian citizens at risk,” she told JI. “We need to send a strong, clear, unified message that we support Israel’s right to defend itself,” Collins said, “and that there’s no moral equivalency between groups like Hamas and how Israel responds.”
Read more here.
The life and legacy of Menachem Begin
Forty years to the day after the Israeli Air Force, acting on the orders of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, launched an attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, Jonathan Gruber’s new documentary “Upheaval: The Journey of Menachem Begin,” which examines the legacy of the late prime minister, will hold its world premiere, followed by a virtual release. “He was a complex person. He’s one of the most iconic figures in the 20th century. And I think that people can learn much more and understand the State of Israel more by watching this film and understanding it through his eyes,” Gruber, who wrote, directed and produced the film, told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro in a recent interview.
Lesson in leadership: The film weaves together archival footage, historical interviews with the late prime minister and insights from a range of analysts, thinkers and politicians, including former Ambassadors Ron Dermer and Michael Oren, writers Daniel Gordis and Yossi Klein Halevi, and historian Anita Shapira. The film doesn’t shy away from some of the most controversial events in Begin’s life, including the 1982 Sabra and Shatilla massacre in Lebanon while he was prime minister, the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre while he was head of the Irgun, his role in the Altalena Affair, shortly after the founding of the state, and the deep rivalry with Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, which continued for the rest of their lives. “The reason why I wanted to make this film was because I think Menachem Begin is a great model of leadership,” said Gruber. “And leadership means taking responsibility for your decisions, whether for good or for bad.”
Behind the scenes: The prime minister’s 1983 resignation is largely attributed to not just his feelings of failure over the Lebanon War fallout, but also his deep depression over the death of his beloved wife, Aliza, less than a year earlier. That aspect of his life is something Gruber knew little about before embarking on this film project. “One of the things that really was beautiful was his relationship with his wife, Aliza,” Gruber said. “When she died he was really just broken. I think his relationship with his wife was something that a lot of people really don’t know about. They think of a leader and a man and a fighter and a peacemaker — but not a lover as much.”
‘Begin Doctrine’: Established by the Osirak attack, the so-called ‘Begin Doctrine,’ which has guided Israel’s decision-making in taking preventative action against enemy states, can be traced back to the prime minister’s early life in Poland and his experiences in the Holocaust — where his entire family was wiped out by the Nazis. “I certainly did not know that he spent time in the gulag, that he was on the run. His World War II experiences were all new to me, but really enlightening, because it shaped his whole life,” said Gruber. “Everything was filtered through the Holocaust, through that experience of losing his family and being on the run. And so he said, ‘Listen, if people are going to say that they want to do harm to Jews, they’re going to do harm to Jews — believe them.’”
Deutch links colleagues’ anti-Israel rhetoric to recent antisemitic violence
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) linked comments by fellow members of Congress critical of Israel to recent incidents of antisemitic violence across the United States in remarks at an event addressing the recent spike in antisemitism in the U.S., Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Deutch spoke alongside fellow South Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Lois Frankel (D-FL), Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and Hillel International President Adam Lehman.
Quotable: “If your position is that there’s no place for a Jewish state, there are people in the United States who hear that the entire State of Israel is some unacceptable creation… and all this is the fault of the Jews, then the antisemites take to the streets in New York and [Los Angeles], and then Boca [Raton] and Bal Harbour,” Deutch said. “So of course there is a connection.”
Going further: “When we have colleagues whose position is ‘Palestine from the river to the sea,’ which includes no place for a Jewish state, and when our colleagues… wrongly and falsely describe Israel as an apartheid state, there is a context for all of this,” Deutch said, referring to fellow House Democrats like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO), who have leveled such claims. “Attacks like that against Jews have led to antisemitism and expulsion, and violence around the world,” he continued.
Double standard: Panelists repeatedly drew contrasts between how public figures have addressed recent surges in anti-Asian and antisemitic violence. “There is no one who would say that… attacks [targeting Asian American and Pacific Islanders] are happening and we will condemn them independently, full stop, only when China stops the genocide against the Uyghurs, China stops violating human rights in Hong Kong, China stops considering the invasion of Taiwan,” Deutch argued. “There is likewise no reason that anyone should be able to say that there is some condition that needs to be met in Israel before we condemn antisemitism full-stop.”
Crackdown: Wasserman Schultz discussed her desire to regulate “algorithmic amplification” of extremist content by social media companies. “This year demonstrated that social media companies simply cannot be relied upon to act fast enough or accurately enough to ban or block radicalized content, and we need legislation that holds large social media companies accountable for their algorithmic amplification of harmful radicalizing content that promotes offline opinion and activity,” Wasserman Schultz said. She added that she and Deutch, in their roles on the World Jewish Congress’ International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians, are working with fellow lawmakers abroad to pursue similar efforts on a global scale.
Read more here.
Bonus: Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) argued in an interview with the JTA that acrimony and posturing among pro-Israel groups have created openings for anti-Israel groups to spread their messages. “The grassroots in the pro-Israel movement is somewhat fractured,” Schneider said referring to the rise of J Street over the past decade. “I think because of the disagreements within the pro-Israel community there have been opportunities for those who are antagonistic to Israel to make inroads.”
About Face: The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove and Justin Baragona chronicle Glenn Greenwald’s pivot from co-founder of The Intercept to frequent commentator for conservative outlets. “‘I did not see this coming,’ said The Nation’s national affairs correspondent, Joan Walsh, who was editor-in-chief of Salon more than a decade ago when Greenwald gave up practicing law to spend five-and-a-half years as a star writer there. ‘It’s kind of sad. He won awards for us. He was a beacon during those dark days… The difference between the cantankerous guy we sometimes had to wrangle with—it wasn’t all roses—and this person? Who’s this?’” [DailyBeast]
Next in Line: In The Spectator, Arieh Kovler explores the path Naftali Bennett, formerly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, has taken to — potentially — lead Israel in a post-Netanyahu era. “Bennett was once the subject of Chuck Norris-style memes about how tough he is. Over the years, he lost that image as Netanyahu battered, bruised and humiliated him in the political arena. Now he could be in the prime minister’s chair within days.” [Spectator]
Big Shoes Not to Fill: Los Angeles Times columnist Carolina A. Miranda argues Los Angeles is under-respected as a cultural capital, and concern that the city has lost a guiding patron following arts philanthropist Eli Broad’s passing is unnecessary. “… let’s retire the outmoded idea that the most important factor in a city’s cultural landscape is the presence of some white knight bearing a checkbook and grandiose ideas about turning bulldozed Los Angeles neighborhoods into the Champs-Élysées (as Broad once described his vision for Bunker Hill).” [LATimes]
Making Work Work: In an excerpt from her new book, published in The Guardian, Gillian Tett looks at how remote work has affected how colleagues interact and make decisions — and the “incidental exchanges of information” lost by the lack of day-to-day in-person contact. “In-person teams had more incidental information exchange and sense-making, and at times of stress this seemed doubly important.” [Guardian]
Around the Web
🚨 Leader Detained: The IDF arrested a senior Hamas operative accused of inciting violence from Hamas’ West Bank headquarters in Ramallah.
🇺🇸🇮🇱 Restoring Relationships: Israel’s anticipated new government presents an opportunity to revitalize bipartisan support for Israel in the U.S., argue the Atlantic Council’s Shalom Lipner and William Wechsler.
✉️ Pen Pals: An Israeli journalist and a Palestinian writer and entrepreneur exchanged correspondence after the recent flareup in Gaza, now published here in the Washington Post.
🛢️ Rolling Back Regulations: Israel is considering revising gas export regulations, to allow for more gas exports before an anticipated global drop in demand.
📈 Boosting Employment: Israeli incoming Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman plans to prioritize boosting the ultra-Orthodox employment rate.
🧨 Strategic Shift: Turkey’s low-cost, missile-equipped drones played a pivotal role countering Russian-backed forces in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan, rebalancing regional power between Turkey and Russia.
🔥 Eye in the Sky: New satellite photos display the partially submerged remains of Iran’s largest warship, which caught fire Wednesday in the Gulf of Oman.
🚆 Antisemitic Attack: Men shouting antisemitic slurs attacked a student on a Vienna train. Following the incident, Viennese police told her that her Jewish book provoked the incident.
💸 Overdue: The United Nations suspended Iran’s voting rights over nonpayment of dues, angering Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who called the move “astonishingly absurd.”
💵 Friendly Foe: President Biden privately discussed economic matters with Larry Summers, a longtime Democratic economic adviser who has been critical of the administration’s policies.
🏨 Trump Hotel Development: The Trump organization is attempting to sell its lease on its Washington hotel — turning to Howard Lutnick’s Newmark for assistance.
🎥 Content Comment: Ari Emanuel called Media M&A “‘proof that content is in high demand and short supply.”
💰 Pricey Tunes: Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square SPAC is in discussions to buy Universal Music Group for $40 billion. If completed, it would be the largest SPAC transaction to date.
⚾ Minor League: Minor league baseball team owner and former chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council Greg Rosenbaum is launching a lobbying campaign to secure COVID-19 relief funding to save minor league teams.
🔐 Case Closed: Decades after Baltimore bookie Julius Salsbury skipped bail to avoid a 15-year prison sentence, his daughter confirmed that Salsbury, known as “The Lord,” had fled to Canada and then Tel Aviv, where he ran a hotel gift shop until his death in 1994.🥘 On the Menu: Bubby’s, a new restaurant opening in San Antonio, Texas, will serve a mix of Ashkenazi- and Sephardic-inspired dishes.
🕯️ Remembering: Behavioral psychologist Arthur Staats died at age 97.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz posted a picture from his meeting with AIPAC leaders in Washington, D.C. yesterday.
Owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots, Robert Kraft turns 80 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Holocaust survivor via the Kindertransport, sniper for the Haganah and renowned sex therapist, Ruth Westheimer (“Dr. Ruth”) turns 93… Co-founder of Boston Properties and owner of U.S. News & World Report, Mort Zuckerman turns 84… Emeritus professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, David Kristol turns 83… Professor of organic chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science and winner of the 2012 Israel Prize, David Milstein turns 74… Retired chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Stephen J. Markman turns 72… Judge on the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, he was previously the longest tenured member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Mark B. Cohen turns 72… Lineman for the Miami Dolphins (1973-1984), now a judge on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, Ed Newman turns 70… British journalist and columnist, Melanie Phillips turns 70… First-ever Jewish governor of Hawaii and later chief operating officer of Illinois, Linda Lingle turns 68… President and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Daniel H. Weiss turns 64… Co-founder of Ripco Real Estate and a partner in Sagamore Hill, Todd Cooper turns 59… U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) turns 50… French-Israeli entrepreneur and angel investor, Jeremie Berrebi turns 43… D.C.-based photographer and founder of Revamped Media, Daniel Swartz turns 42… Reporter for the Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz turns 38… Israeli supermodel, Bar Refaeli turns 36… Senior planning analyst at Con Edison, Adam E. Soclof turns 36… Communications and policy advisor for Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jason Hillel Attermann turns 33… Military correspondent for The Times of Israel, Judah Ari Gross turns 32… Gena Wolfson turns 32… Producer of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Emily Gold turns 31… Ken Moss…
SATURDAY: Lithuanian-born Holocaust survivor and co-founder of the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Virginia, known for his ever-present cowboy hat, Jay M. Ipson turns 86… Actress and sales consultant for Chubb’s Combined Insurance, Barbara Pergament turns 83… Training director and broker associate of the Santa Monica, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services branch, Saul Bubis turns 81… Former project manager at CSA Group, now an ESG consultant, Dan Yurman turns 73… VP of new business development at Maresco & Partners, Linda Greenfield turns 71… Author and financial advisor, Susan Lynn “Suze” Orman turns 70… Audrey Freedman-Habush turns 70… Portrait photographer and visual anthropologist, she is the author of The Jews of Wyoming: Fringe of the Diaspora, Penny Diane Wolin turns 68… Former commissioner on the U.S. International Trade Commission, now an international trade attorney at McDermott Will & Emery, Dean A. Pinkert turns 65… Best-selling instrumental musician, the saxophonist “Kenny G,” Kenneth Bruce Gorelick turns 65… Columnist for the New York Post, Andrea Peyser turns 62… Counsel for Alan Taylor Real Estate, Sam Kraemer turns 61… EVP and managing director at DC’s Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), Michael Heimowitz turns 61… Optometrist, elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018 as a member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament belonging to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, Gila Deborah Martow turns 60… Partner in the government, law and policy practice of Greenberg Traurig, he is a candidate for NYC Comptroller, Mark S. Weprin turns 60… First-ever Jewish speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Eileen R. Filler-Corn turns 57… Beth A. Freeman turns 57… Member of Congress (D-PA), her father is a Jewish Holocaust survivor from Poland, Christina Jampoler Houlahan turns 54… Former Member of the British Parliament from the Conservative Party, Baron Ed Vaizey turns 53… Entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author, Nova Spivack turns 52… Professor of Israel Studies at UCLA, Dov Morris Waxman turns 47… Co-founder of BlueLabs, his father and grandfather were both rabbis, Elan Alter Kriegel turns 40… Director of policy at Ed Choice, Jason Bedrick turns 38… Women’s philanthropy and volunteer director at Shalom Austin, Arielle Levy turns 32… Account supervisor at DKC, Maya Bronstein turns 28… Clara Moskowitz… Susan Stein…
SUNDAY: U.S. District Court judge since 1994, on senior status since 2005, serving in the Eastern District of New York, Frederic Block turns 87… Rabbi emeritus of Beth Abraham Synagogue in Dayton, Ohio, Rabbi Samuel Press turns 85… Rabbi at Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa since 1967 (now emeritus) and former co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Rabbi Reuven Bulka turns 77… Real estate entrepreneur and executive chairman of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Thomas Pritzker turns 71… U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) turns 69… Diplomat who has served as Israel’s ambassador to South Sudan and Egypt, Haim Koren turns 68… Two-time Tony Award winner for acting, Harvey Fierstein turns 67… Comedian, musician and author, Sandra Bernhard turns 66… Radio news personality, known as “Lisa G,” Lisa Glasberg turns 65… Immediate past chair of the board of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, Ann Pava turns 64… Israeli conductor and musician, Nir Brand turns 60… Former majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and now vice chair of investment bank Moelis & Company, Eric Cantor turns 58… Managing director and the chief interactive strategist for The Glover Park Group, Jonathan Kopp turns 55… Best-selling author and television personality, Anna Benjamin David turns 51… Chairman of Israeli fintech The Floor, he is the only child of Elie Wiesel, Elisha Wiesel turns 49… Hedge fund manager and founder of Saba Capital Management, Boaz Weinstein turns 48… 2019 Trump impeachment witness, he was director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, Lt. Colonel (retired), Alexander Semyon Vindman… and his twin brother, recently promoted Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, also a former NSC staffer, both turn 46… Political writer and strategist, Michael L. Goldfarb turns 41… ABC News White House and Capitol Hill reporter, Katherine B. Faulders turns 30… Associate director at Finsbury Glover Hering, Anna Epstein turns 30… Special assistant to Anita Dunn, Jordan Finkelstein turns 27… Director at Banner Public Affairs, Allie Freedman… Steve Patner…