👋 Good Friday morning!
Last night,Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch and Marc Rod broke the news that the White House plans to name Deborah Lipstadt to be the administration’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. More below.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is delaying quick passage of a bipartisan bill that seeks to expand and strengthen normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab countries over his objection to a line in the bill expressing U.S. support for a two-state solution. “Sen. Cruz believes that America should support our allies and that it’s not the place of American diplomats to dictate to our allies what to do with their sovereign territory,” a Cruz spokesman said.
Cruz was a cosponsor of the bill but pulled his support during a Foreign Relations Committee meeting after the committee voted 19-3 against an amendment proposed by the Texas senator stripping the language. The bill has 62 cosponsors, approximately half of them Republicans.
Asked about the Cruz objection, Emmalee Cioffi, a spokesperson for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), the bill’s lead sponsor, said, “The fact that this bill has more than 60 cosponsors proves it is a thoughtful and responsible approach, and we will continue to work in a bipartisan way to advance it in the Senate.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who announced in June that Israel planned to request $1 billion in supplemental aid for the Iron Dome missile-defense system, told Jewish Insider yesterday that he had not heard any developments on the funding request since Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in early June.
Graham said he hopes that the request advances “sooner rather than later.” With the House and Senate soon set to leave Washington for the summer recess, it’s unlikely that the aid will be approved soon unless members are called back to Washington.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) told JI she voted against the 2022 State and Foreign Operations funding bill, which contained $3.3 billion in military aid to Israel, because, she said, “this vote is a global extension of the work we’re doing to demilitarize our approach to safety in our own communities… Giving money to militaries with a record of committing human rights abuses is not how we advance justice — nor is it how we keep our country safe. To create a safer, more just world, we must invest in people’s livelihoods and basic needs, not militarized violence.”
Deborah Lipstadt to be named State Dept. antisemitism envoy
After months of deliberation and calls from congressional and Jewish community leaders, the White House will name Emory University professor and historian Deborah Lipstadt to be the administration’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism today, report Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch and Marc Rod.
Background: Lipstadt is a noted Holocaust historian whose most recent book, Antisemitism: Here and Now, won a 2019 National Jewish Book Award. She has served as a consultant and fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and is widely known for successfully defeating a lawsuit in the U.K. in which she was accused of libel for referring to writer David Irving as a Holocaust denier.
High praise: “She has been a model of a passionate, committed academic, who is not afraid to be a practical activist as well. And I think that makes her uniquely suited for the position,” Mark Weitzman, who serves as director of government affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and has known Lipstadt for decades, told JI on Thursday. “She has a history of engaged scholarship. She has a history of being willing to speak out and fight antisemitism when she sees it. And I think she’s got to be a really strong and vigorous advocate for an administration that has committed itself to fighting antisemitism.”
Deborah Copaken uses her ‘Ladyparts’ to talk gender, money and Judaism
Deborah Copaken’s Ladyparts takes readers through the series of maladies and injuries Copaken experienced as she reached middle age, with each illness standing in as a metaphor for some larger theme in her life: Heart palpitations as she finally opened her heart, post-divorce. A hysterectomy right as the writer Nora Ephron, a surrogate mother, died, and right as Copaken’s daughter first got her period. Removal of her precancerous cervix just when she was looking for romance. “What I kept thinking as I was writing Ladyparts,” Copaken explained to Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch in a recent interview, is that “your body’s not yours anymore… You’re giving the public your body as a megaphone for everything that can and does go wrong in women’s lives.”
Money talks: The book presents a detailed picture of Copaken’s finances: $3,000 in her bank account. $2,314 in monthly COBRA fees. Renting out her son’s bedroom when the rent on the apartment rises from $3,500 to $5,000. Deciding whether to pay for the $6,000 MRI to make sure a breast lump is gone. Numbers that many Americans have memorized, and others don’t think twice about. Writing the book was a way for Copaken to counteract the stigma around money, particularly for people who look like they have it but do not. “I’m not gonna say, ‘I don’t have money,’ because it’s shameful. You’ve had all these advantages, you’ve gone to good schools, why don’t you have money? Well, I don’t have money because I can’t afford my life,” she explained. “That’s partially why I was just so brutally honest about my economic situation, because I cannot be the only one going through this.”
Deriving inspiration: Ephron reached out to Copaken following the release of Copaken’s first book, Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War, about her time as a war photographer, and the two began a friendship that continued until Ephron’s death in 2012. “What Nora teaches through her writings and through her films are ways to manage that [and] ways to reframe what’s happening to you in order to move forward with a smile and be able to manage tragedy poignantly, for lack of a better word,” Copaken told JI.
In the mix: She doesn’t shy away from getting political — when she has to take an Uber Pool to the hospital during a medical emergency because she can’t afford an ambulance, she bemoans the poor care and massive costs of the COBRA insurance system for people who have recently lost their jobs — but the book is not a political manifesto. “It became very popular about 10 years ago — there were a lot of recipes online, where you hide the vegetables in your kid’s food by, like, grinding them up and putting them in the pasta…so they would get their vegetables,” she explained. “That’s how I see my writing: I sort of grind up the policy issues into humor and storytelling. But hopefully, because it’s entertaining enough, people pay attention.”
on the hill
Congress sounds alarm bells on Lebanon
A panel of experts warned House members at a Thursday House Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing that the Lebanese military cannot be relied on as a bulwark against Hezbollah and that the entire nation is on the brink of state failure, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The hearing comes as Congress scrambles to figure out ways to press for changes in the unstable Middle Eastern nation.
On the stand: Expert witnesses Mona Yacoubian, the former deputy assistant administrator for the Bureau of the Middle East at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute; and David Schenker, the former assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, offered dire assessments of the capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces’s (LAF), efforts to combat the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and the possibility of total state failure, among other issues.
‘No hope whatsoever’: Schenker said that the LAF “does nothing to oppose Hezbollah” and is increasingly weak in general, owing to issues like frequent desertions, low pay and food shortages. At times, he said, the LAF actually helps Hezbollah, for example, by restricting the movement of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). There are also a significant number of Hezbollah-affiliated individuals within the LAF itself. Hezbollah’s efforts to upgrade its munitions with guidance systems represent a serious strategic threat to Israel, Schenker added, but there is “no hope whatsoever” that the LAF will go after Hezbollah in a meaningful way.
Good vs. bad: “I don’t think there are good guys and bad guys. They are all bad, but there are shades of bad,” Slim said. “Some are worse than others. Hezbollah is the only party that has the kind of military arsenal to be able to impose its military will on everybody else… But everybody else is corrupt.” She added, “The good guys are the Lebanese people who are protesting in the streets and who are trying to upend this political system.” Yacoubian concurred, noting, “The lights are really flashing red in Lebanon.”
Hill-side happenings: Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) sent a letter on Wednesday to the prime minister of Slovenia urging him to prioritize the issue at the EU, JI has learned exclusively. Slovenia currently holds the presidency of the European Council, one of the EU’s governing bodies. “Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and should be recognized as such in its entirety… One cannot distinguish between Hezbollah’s political and military branches,” Rosen told JI. “I applaud Slovenian Prime Minister [Janez] Janša for recognizing the threat that Hezbollah poses to Europe. Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the EU presents an opportunity for the EU to confront Hezbollah’s activities in Europe, and so I urge Prime Minister Janša to continue his leadership.”
Presented by SAPIR
Today in SAPIR, Ambassadors Dore Gold and Michael Oren consider the power of diplomacy (and its limits). Join us on August 16 at 12 noon ET for a conversation with Ambassador Gold and Bret Stephens — register here.
Unthinkable Ties:Drawing a direct line between former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 speech to Congress on Iran and the Abraham Accords that brought Israel together with several of its Gulf neighbors, Amb. Dore Gold proposes a new code of conduct in the Middle East. “Even now, it is clear that Israel has achieved a level of integration with a large part of the Arab world that would have been unthinkable not long ago. The threat Israel and many Arab states face is the same. Iran’s dreams of ‘wiping Israel off the map’ are well documented. But Tehran also likes to remind its people that the Arab states had once been part of its territory, and that those lands must one day be returned to Iran. This leaves Israel and the Sunni Arabs on the same side, at least strategically, at least for now. But a common threat, to adapt a phrase, is a terrible thing to waste. The time to move this improbable, promising, and essential alliance forward is now.” Read here.
Power’s Limits: Amb. Michael Oren calls the “alliance between Israel and the United States… probably the deepest and most multifaceted in the world.” Yet reflecting on his time as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., he reveals that “in my conversations with Israeli leaders, I explained what the situation looked like to Americans and how they might react to our decisions. This was perhaps my hardest role, as it often meant going against the advice of most of the prime minister’s senior staff, some of whom faulted me for being too conciliatory to the administration. My strategy was to be as creative and proactive as possible, to regard every crisis as an opportunity, to present Israel’s case directly to the American public, and to elevate the embassy’s status in Washington’s social calendar. And yet, no matter how imaginative and robust, an ambassador is only one person whose ability to affect the course of events is ultimately limited.” Read here.
🍣 Chow Down: Four years after the Israeli national baseball team first traveled to Tokyo — that time for the World Baseball Classic — the team members recalled to the Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton the most memorable meal of that trip, and for some, of their lives. The team linked up with David Leibowitz, a Miami-raised international tuna trader, who directed them to a sushi restaurant where they could get a fresh kosher meal. “They had the type of unforgettable meal that none of them believed existed in Tokyo. Leibowitz, who joined the meal midway through, had provided parts from a special bluefin tuna, the type of fish that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars whole. Some of the parts they ate were delicacies: the head, the cheek bone and the inner rib cage. They scraped the meat off the spine. They drank. Then they grilled the tuna head.” [WSJ]
📅 Reflection: Writing in Financial Times, Chloe Cornish looks back at a year of political turmoil in Lebanon in the wake of an explosion at an ammonium nitrate warehouse ripped through Beirut on August 4, 2020. Since then, the government has crumbled, leaving a power vacuum that has allowed the Iranian-backed Hezbollah to take more control. “It has an increasingly sophisticated and large missile arsenal and an international criminal network that helps fund its activities, according to the U.S. It sends its young men to fight in other countries’ conflicts, especially Syria. For its investment, Iran gets a proxy force on the border of its enemy, Israel, and extends its influence to the Mediterranean. Hezbollah’s control over southern Beirut is so complete that journalists have to ask permission to report from there. If they don’t, they will be detained.” [FT]
👋 Say Goodbye: In Bloomberg, Eli Lake argues that now is the best chance for President Joe Biden to leave the Iran nuclear talks as civil unrest continues to erupt across Iran and after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced the West could not be trusted. “So Biden now has an opportunity. He should follow up on the State Department statement this week supporting Iranian protesters and offer U.S. technical support to help activists get around the country’s Internet blackout and slowdown. He should rally European governments to join in his solidarity campaign for the Iranian people. He should consider creating a modest fund for the families of Iranian workers going on strike. He should build on the last administration’s work to reach out to Iranians on social media.” [Bloomberg]
Around the Web
✋No Entry: Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to bar Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi from entering the U.S. to attend the U.N. General Assembly in September.
🧽Revolution Rebranded: Our Revolution, the activist group formed by former staffers on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 2016 presidential campaign, will rebrand itself and shift from advocating for more progressive causes, such as Medicare For All and the Green New Deal, to alternatives backed by the Biden administration.
💰Big Money: Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, a possible 2024 presidential hopeful, has raised nearly $5.5 million for her Stand For America PAC since launching it in January.
🛑 Sad Day: Stephen Ross, the real estate developer behind Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, is considering shuttering its Vessel sculpture after a 14-year-old boy took his own life by jumping from the eighth story.
😋 Bon Appetit: Lenny’s Casita, Los Angeles’s only meat-vegan kosher restaurant, has opened in the city’s heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood.
🎞️ Coming Soon: Producer Jessica Rhoades is developing an hourlong Netflix series titled “Nice Jewish Girls,” a dark and comedic family crime drama about four sisters who, in the wake of a family death, learn the parts of each other they never knew.
💉 Third Time’s a Charm: Israel will begin administering booster shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to its elderly population on Sunday, as fears of the Delta variant prompt new protective measures.
👶 Baby Blues: An Israeli girl was born with a twin embryo in her stomach, a 1-in-500,000 medical rarity, termed “fetus-in-fetu.”
🕊️ Baby Steps: Azerbaijan opened its first trade and tourism office in Tel Aviv.
🏗️ Sending a Message: The U.K.’s housing and planning minister signed off on a recommendation to build the country’s new Holocaust Memorial Center in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Parliament building.
☎️ Ring Ring: Former President Donald Trump placed almost-daily phone calls to Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at the end of last year, prodding the Justice Department to investigate allegations of voter fraud.
🐱 Cat and Mouse: The U.S. plans to impose sanctions targeting Iran’s precision-guided missile program, with U.S. security officials telling the Wall Street Journal that it views the country’s precision-strike capabilities as a more serious immediate threat than its nuclear program.
⌛Tough Timeline: Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Thursday that talks with Iran “cannot and will not go on indefinitely.”
🇸🇬 Island Life: President Biden announced the nomination of entrepreneur and founder of the Flip video camera company, Jonathan Kaplan, to become ambassador to Singapore.
💣 War Zone: National Interest’s Sebastien Roblin analyzes the conflict between Israel and Iran’s presence in Syria, concluding that Israeli airstrikes easily overpower Syria’s Russian Pantsir-2 SAM defense system.
🕯️ Remembering: Former Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Michigan’s longest-serving senator, died at 87. Ron Popeil, the inventor behind dozens of household products he pitched on television, died at 86. Massachusetts attorney Howard Goldstein died on Thursday.
Gif of the Day
Israel Baseball President Jordy Alter leads the Olympic baseball team in Kiddush prior to the start of their game this morning.
U.S. career diplomat now serving as ambassador to Columbia, Philip Seth Goldberg turns 65 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: Commissioner emeritus of Major League Baseball, Allan Huber “Bud” Selig turns 87… Retired attorney from the firm of Hatton, Petrie & Stackler in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Ronald E. Stackler turns 84… Long-time owner and editor-in-chief of The New Republic, he was chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation for 12 years, Martin H. “Marty” Peretz turns 82… Film director, writer, actor, producer, critic and historian, Peter Bogdanovich turns 82… The first female justice on the Nebraska Supreme Court (1998-present), as a teen she won two gold medals and a silver medal as a swimmer at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman turns 74… Actor, director and producer, Ken Olin turns 67… Businessman known as the “King of Diamonds,” Lev Leviev turns 65… Former mayor of Arad and then a member of the Knesset for the Kulanu and Likud parties, Tali Ploskov turns 59… President of C&M Transcontinental, he served as COO for the Trump campaign in 2020, Michael Glassner turns 58… Emmy Award-winning actress, comedian and producer, Lisa Kudrow turns 58… Best-selling non-fiction author and co-creator of the HBO series “Vinyl,” Rich Cohen turns 53…
District director for House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold L. Nadler (D-NY), Robert Gottheim turns 50… Motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur, he served as a law clerk in 2008 for Justices O’Connor and Ginsburg, the only blind person to clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court, Isaac Lidsky turns 42… SVP and head of programming at CNN, Rebecca M. Kutler turns 42… Assistant director of media relations and public outreach at UCLA Arts, Avishay Artsy turns 41… President and founder of Dallas-based ECA Strategies, Eric Chaim Axel turns 41… Clinical therapist after five years as a division director at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Lewis Sohinki turns 41… Author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered: One Woman’s Year in the Heart of the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem, Sarah Tuttle-Singer turns 40… Former director of policy and public affairs for the Jewish Community of Denmark, Jonas Herzberg Karpantschof turns 39… Head of new media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Tamar Schwarzbard turns 31… Research analyst at WPA Intelligence, Joshua Weintraub turns 27… Winner of the Miss Israel pageant in 2014, Mor Maman turns 26…
SATURDAY: Investment banker and chairman of Blum Capital, he is married to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard C. Blum turns 86… Actress who went on to become CEO of Paramount Pictures and president of production at 20th Century Fox, Sherry Lansing turns 77… Nobel laureate in Economics in 1997, known for his quantitative analysis of options pricing, long-time professor at both Harvard and MIT, Robert C. Merton turns 77… Scholar, professor, rabbi, writer and filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust, Michael Berenbaum turns 76… Founder of Apollo Global Management, in 2015 he bought a 16th century copy of the Babylonian Talmud for $9.3 million, Leon David Black turns 70… Author of 35 best-selling mystery novels, Faye Kellerman turns 69… Software entrepreneur, he is president of Ameinu and serves on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, Kenneth Bob turns 69… Manhattan-based criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, radio talk show host and television commentator, Ronald L. Kuby turns 65…
Owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, he has been a “shark” investor on the ABC reality program “Shark Tank” since 2011, Mark Cuban turns 63… CEO at Leenie Productions, she served for 5 months in 2018 as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, Helene Miller-Walsh turns 62… Israeli libertarian politician and activist, Moshe Zalman Feiglin turns 59… Professor at USC, UC Berkeley and Pepperdine, Dan Schnur turns 58… Born in Nazareth, Israel, investor and owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tom Gores turns 57… President at Ellicott City, Maryland’s Old Town Construction LLC, Jared Spahn turns 48… Manager of MLB’s San Francisco Giants and former MLB outfielder, Gabe Kapler turns 46… Founder and creative director at Wide Eye Creative, Ben Ostrower turns 42… Political activist and the founder and president of Stand Up America, Sean Simcha Eldridge turns 35… Manager of global policy communications at WhatsApp, Danielle Meister turns 33… Sales development representative at Ayyeka Technologies, Aryeh Samet Canter turns 31… Adam Rosenberg… David Goldenberg… Richard Rosenstein…
SUNDAY: Culver City, Calif., resident, Allene Prince turns 82… Former CEO of Cendant Corporation, now CEO of 54 Madison Partners, Henry Silverman turns 81… Israeli film director and screenwriter, winner of the Israel Prize and professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, Ram Loevy turns 81… Founder and chairman of NYC-based Midtown Equities, Joseph Cayre turns 80… Former president of Brandeis University, now president of the Cleveland-based Mandel Foundation, Jehuda Reinharz turns 77… British businessman, he has been described as “the father of British venture capital,” Sir Ronald Mourad Cohen turns 76… Israeli born businessman and film producer, later CEO of Marvel Studios, Avi Arad turns 73… Second-generation owner of a Los Angeles flooring business, Eric Kalman Biren turns 69… President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Rhoda Smolow turns 68… Media analyst at Fox News, Howard Kurtz turns 68… Director of New York government relations at Agudath Israel of America, Yeruchim Silber turns 65… CEO of Atlanta’s Jewish Family & Career Services, Terri E. Bonoff turns 64…
Professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D. turns 62… Policy director in the D.C. office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Andrew “Drew” Littman turns 60… Retired senior Rabbi of the British movement for Reform Judaism, Laura Naomi Janner-Klausner turns 58… Former U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration, Daniel B. “Dan” Shapiro turns 52… Producer for CBS’s “60 Minutes” since 2007, Shachar Bar-On turns 52… Professor of mathematics at Princeton and Hebrew U, Elon Lindenstrauss turns 51… CEO of NYC’s Quantum Media Group, Ari Zoldan turns 45… Founder and CEO of Moishe House, David Cygielman turns 40… Chief communications officer at The Center for Strategic and International Studies, H. Andrew Schwartz turns 40… CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, Sheila Katz… Chief operating officer at Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Noam Gilboord turns 36… VP of public relations at Burford Capital, David Helfenbein turns 35… Board certified family physician, Mor Toledano Shapiro, M.D. turns 34… Analyst in the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, Yael Rabin turns 29… 2019 graduate of Harvard Law School, Asher Perez turns 29…