👋 Good Thursday morning!
In Tokyo, Team Israel and South Korea are tied 2-2 in the 6th inning at the time of publication. following Ian Kinsler’s two-run home run in the 3rd inning.
The House passed the 2022 State and Foreign Operations funding bill, including $3.3 billion in military aid to Israel. All Republicans and three Democrats — Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO), each of whom have been vocally critical of aid to Israel — voted against the bill, which passed 217-212. More below on a new military aid oversight provision in the bill.
In addition to $3.3 billion in military financing for Israel, the bill provides $50 million for the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act; $2 million for U.S.-Israel development cooperation on water, agriculture and energy; and $6 million — a 20% increase — for collaborative research between Israeli and Arab scientists.
The bill also requires also requires that the State Department submit a report on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s efforts to eliminate antisemitic and violent content in its textbooks.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told Jewish Insider that the discovery of a swastika in a State Department elevator was “totally alarming and distressing” and that the perpetrator should be found and prosecuted. “In no place is that acceptable but certainly in our diplomacy for the world is the last place you want to have it,” he added.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), a former assistant secretary of state, told JI, “It’s a reminder that it can happen anywhere.”
Malinowski does not believe that there is a broader hate or extremism problem within the State Department. “I know that the more-than-overwhelming majority of folks who work at the State Department are horrified by this,” he said. “I have no reason to think that there’s a systemic problem.”
Ben & Jerry’s cofounders Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who have not had operational control over the ice cream company since its sale to Unilever in 2000, penned an essay in The New York Times backing the decision by the company’s board to cease sales in the West Bank, which was announced last week.
The entrepreneurs called the decision to remove its products from West Bank shops “one of the most important decisions the company has made in its 43-year history.” Cohen and Greenfield describe themselves in the essay as “supporters of the State of Israel,” while calling last week’s announcement a “rejection of Israeli policy.”
Meanwhile, regulators in Illinois are expected to warn Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever to reverse the decision or face possible divestment by the state. The Illinois Investment Policy Board committee focused on Israel will meet to approve a decision to give Unilever 90 days to override its subsidiary’s decision.
Malinowski says U.S., Israel, other democracies should work to restrict technologies like NSO’s Pegasus
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), the vice chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a former assistant secretary of state, told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod on Wednesday that the U.S. must work with allies, including Israel, to prevent the abuse of technologies such as the NSO Group’s Pegasus software.
Background: Recent reports revealed that authoritarian regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and Kazakhstan, used the Israel-based NSO Group’s military-grade Pegasus hacking software to spy on journalists and activists. Any foreign sales of the software must be approved by Israel’s Defense Ministry.
Bilateral relations: “I do think this needs to be addressed diplomatically,” Malinowski said. But Malinowski emphasized that he sees the issue as much broader than NSO or Israel, viewing it as a multinational problem that needs to be addressed both at home and abroad. “The United States can’t tell Israel to prevent its companies from proliferating spyware if we, the United States, don’t have similar rules,” the New Jersey representative said. “So it’s not a conversation where we blame the Israeli government or ask them to take upon themselves the burden of solving this problem. It’s a conversation where we say there need to be rules that apply to all of us.”
Quotable: “I was disturbed, but not surprised,” Malinowski said of the revelations about NSO. “I’ve been concerned for some time about the completely unregulated ‘hacking for hire’ industry that has emerged in recent years. The NSO Group is just one example. This is not really a story about one company from one country.”
I’ve got new rules: “What the NSO Group did was perfectly legal,” he added. “My point is that it shouldn’t be. And that’s on us to fix.” Malinowski told JI that democracies like the U.S., Israel and European allies need to establish rules for “hacking for hire” companies and should not allow technologies like Pegausus to be given to authoritarian and anti-democratic regimes. These weaponized technologies, he said, should be treated similarly to exports of weapons systems like drones and missiles, and should not be provided to dictatorships.
Republican senators seek to codify Trump settlement import-labeling policy
Seven Republican senators are seeking to codify import-labeling rules implemented by the Trump administration on products produced in West Bank settlements, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rodreports.
Background: In November 2020, the Trump administration changed U.S. policy to allow goods produced in some Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be labeled as “Made in Israel.” Under the policy, products created in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of the West Bank were labeled as products of the West Bank, and those produced in the Gaza Strip were marked as such. Previous U.S. policy from 1995 labeled all goods produced in the territory as “Made in West Bank.” A Biden administration memo on resetting ties with the Palestinian Authority reportedly recommended rolling back Trump administration’s policy change.
Locked in: The new GOP bill, the “Anti-BDS Labeling Act,” would codify the policy change into federal law, blocking any administration from changing it by executive action. The bill, introduced on Tuesday night, is sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rick Scott (R-FL), John Boozman (R-AR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). “Left-wing activists abuse country-of-origin labels in order to stigmatize products made in Israel,” Cotton said in a statement to JI. “Our bill will defend the integrity of the Jewish State by ensuring that Israeli products may proudly bear the label ‘Made in Israel.’”
On the ground: “Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should strongly support Senator Cotton’s important legislation,” David Milstein, who served as special assistant to former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, told JI. “The Biden administration would have absolutely no legitimate or factual basis to reverse the Trump administration’s decision that was consistent with long-standing U.S. policy and practice along with prior diplomatic agreements and the reality on the ground.”
Countering BDS: Proponents of the Trump administration policy point to the European Union as an example of how certain labeling requirements can undermine Israel and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state. The EU requires that products coming from Israeli settlements be clearly labeled as such, rather than just as “made in Israel.” Milstein said, “Reversing the labeling requirements would… only be politicized, anti-Israel and wrongly facilitate BDS against Israel and Israeli-controlled territories just like the EU has been doing with its pejorative labeling requirements.”
Bonus: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and John Thune (R-SD) wrote a letter to Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Vice Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) urging them to support Israel’s full $1 billion request for resupply assistance for its Iron Dome missile-defense system.
on the hill
New oversight provision passes House alongside $3.3 billion in aid to Israel
Tucked more than 100 pages into the massive Department of State and Foreign Operations spending bill passed in the House last night was a new oversight and accountability provision governing the way aid is disbursed to American allies, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch and Marc Rod report. The goal of the new provision, according to the bill, is to ensure that countries that receive military aid from the U.S. use the money in a way that is consistent with U.S. national security policy.
Break it down: According to this provision, the secretary of state would be required to meet with countries who receive U.S. military aid to ensure that the government complies with U.S. law and is in line with U.S. national security policy. If an aid recipient appears to be using the funds in a manner that goes against the agreed-upon uses, the secretary of state must inform Congress.
Unclear intentions: The provision does not mention any country by name — though Israel receives more foreign military financing from the U.S. than any other country — and will apply to all countries that receive military aid from the U.S. “When I read this, the first thing that came to mind actually wasn’t Israel,” said Daniel Harsha, who served as a senior staff member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee under former Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY). “It was Saudi [Arabia], particularly the use of [foreign military financing] funds for Saudi that were, then, being used to support ongoing operations in Yemen.”
Ideological battle: The new oversight language comes amid a battle between centrist pro-Israel Democrats who support current aid to Israel and some Democrats who want to restrict or condition that aid. Earlier this year, J Street was among a handful of left-wing Jewish groups to throw its weight behind a bill from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that would add restrictions to U.S. aid to Israel.
Claiming success: J Street praised the proposal, telling JI that the organization “lobbied both for the full provision of the $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing security assistance for Israel pledged in the MOU [the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding outlining military aid to Israel for 10 years], and for new measures to help ensure that equipment purchased with such aid is not used to support acts of creeping annexation, violations of Palestinian rights or in other ways contravene longstanding U.S. interests and values,” said Debra Shushan, J Street’s director of government affairs.
Nothing to see here: Critics of conditioning or regulating aid do not view the new provision as particularly worrisome. “There’s no specific conditions here. There’s no restrictions. The committee is solely funding [foreign military financing] for Israel, which is a clear signal of a commitment to provide those funds to Israel,” said Rich Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former staffer on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) who co-hosts Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast.” Goldberg added that Israel has “undoubtedly” already been having such meetings with the State Department for years.
Jewish leaders give mixed reviews of Madison Cawthorn’s antisemitism resolution
Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) began his first term in Congress earlier this year on uneasy footing with Jewish leaders in his district of western North Carolina. Even before assuming office, the 25-year-old political upstart had come in for criticism due to an old Instagram post in which he described Hitler as “the Führer” as well as an admission that he had tried to convert Jews to Christianity. But on Tuesday, Cawthorn introduced a House resolution, co-sponsored by three Republican congressmen, condemning the uptick in anti-Jewish hatred that followed the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel talks to the community members who may have helped spark the resolution.
How it happened: In February, after months of fraught planning, Cawthorn finally met with a group of Jewish community leaders at his district office in Henderson County for a listening session in which they aired their concerns about his controversial rhetoric. Despite some tension, attendees largely emerged from the hour-long discussion with a sense of cautious optimism, characterizing the congressman as a careful and engaging listener notwithstanding his incendiary social media personality. At one point, a participant requested that Cawthorn consider reintroducing a previously unpassed resolution addressing the rise in antisemitism, and Cawthorn asked a staffer to look into it.
What it says: The GOP firebrand wastes no time identifying in the resolution what he characterizes in a strongly worded resolution title as the “malignant and metastasizing ideology of antisemitism.” Further down, Cawthorn runs through a series of antisemitic tropes, including accusations of dual loyalty, while finally “rejecting the idea that Jews are some nefarious force controlling the world behind the scenes.” The resolution also rejects “any moral equivalence between the United States and any regime that represses minorities, abuses its citizens, murders civilians” or withholds “inalienable rights.” And it singles out, among other things, “evil people” who “try to cloak antisemitism in criticism of the Israeli government.”
Report card: Jewish leaders in Cawthorn’s home district, which includes the liberal redoubt of Asheville, offered mixed reviews of the congressman’s resolution, which arrives at a moment when hate crimes in North Carolina have been on the rise. In the district last week, for instance, an antisemitic flyer was found attached to a gas station pump at a convenience store in Fairview — a photo of which has been circulating via email among Jewish community members in the area. The flyer was reported to the Anti-Defamation League through its website form. “When the group of us that met with Rep. Cawthorn talked with him back in February, the rise in antisemitism and security concerns was the topic of our entire meeting,” said Rochelle Reich, executive director at Congregation Beth Israel, an independent synagogue in Asheville, who was one one of five Jewish leaders present at the meeting. “We spoke with him about our concerns — many of which are outlined in this resolution.”
Reax: Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, said in an interview with Jewish Insider that he believes Cawthorn’s decision to omit direct references to particular members of Congress is part of a strategy to shore up bipartisan support for the resolution. The pro-Israel activist was unaware of the resolution until Wednesday afternoon, when JI asked for comment. But he expressed admiration for Cawthorn’s effort, noting that he was about to call the congressman’s office to discuss the resolution in further detail. “This is one the strongest resolutions against antisemitism that I’ve seen a member of Congress issue,” he said, arguing that Cawthorn’s decision to use the “powerful word ‘evil’ in describing Jew hatred” was “especially important.”
Today in SAPIR, we examine the delicate balance of power in academia and philanthropy.
Sacred Scholarship: In an interview, Brandeis professor Jonathan D. Sarna discusses the evolution of Jewish Studies, the growing politicization of the field, and how Jewish communal life should engage with academic experts. “Even high-minded motivations cannot justify sacrificing truth for the sake of political expedience or utility. Absent a shared commitment to “truth even unto its innermost parts,” as my university’s motto puts it, the scholarly enterprise as a whole is imperiled, and the free market of ideas closes down.” Read here.
Ethical Giving: Today in SAPIR, philanthropists Jeff Swartz and Elisa & Robert Bildner provide varied and personal perspectives on the balance of power between donors and their recipients. Swartz advocates for a new tzedakah mindset that challenges donors to give communally rather than as individuals, with accountability and humility. “Tzedakah adds to philanthropy a much-needed sense of responsibility for the common good, a corrective to the fetishization of one person’s genius or whim.” In a joint interview, Robert and Elisa Spungen Bildner reflect on their roles and relationships that helped advance the Jewish communal world. ““Philanthropy isn’t just about putting money into something; it’s also about respecting the people in the trenches who are doing the work…it’s investment, collaboration, and partnership.” Read here and here.
✍️ Problem Child: Politico’s Michael Kruse looks at the troubled history of Max Miller, “the poster child of Trump’s post-impeachment retribution tour,” as the Republican, who has been arrested multiple times for varying offenses and reportedly struck an ex-girlfriend, seeks a seat in the House of Representatives representing Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. “What is especially striking to many in these different sets of people from these different chapters of Miller’s life is not simply that he apparently hasn’t elementally changed. It’s that he is running for Congress—with the endorsement of Trump—with the past that he has. They marvel at the seeming expectation that either nobody was going to talk about any of this—or that it wouldn’t matter if they did.” [Politico]
🗳️ Cold Campaign: The New York Times’ Emma Goldberg spotlights Amber Adler, an Orthodox Jewish woman and former City Council candidate, who endured sexism from within her community and faced numerous hurdles in her campaigning efforts, ultimately placing third in the race. “Almost immediately after she announced her campaign in June 2020, her inbox and social media accounts were flooded with messages, many of them from Orthodox Jewish men, trying to discredit her campaign. Some said that they didn’t want their district to be represented by a woman; others criticized her as not religious enough or a neglectful mother.” [NYTimes]
🥘 On the Menu: What is “Jewish cuisine”? Grubstreet’s Jason Diamond visits Edith’s, a new restaurant in Brooklyn that seeks to distance itself from the “traditional” New York Jewish deli to serve up dishes that are inspired by different Jewish communities around the world. “I know that there are other people that have gone through my experience where they grew up, went to Hebrew school and got a bat mitzvah, but, like, didn’t really know that there was so much more to Jewish history, culture and storytelling,” owner Elyssa Heller told Diamond. “All of these colorful things that I think were totally missed.” [Grubstreet]
Around the Web
💉 Shots in Arms: Jews are the religious group most willing to get the COVID-19 vaccination, according to a recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute, which found that evangelical Christians are the least willing.
💰 Five-Year Plan: Jared Kushner is reportedly planning to launch an investment firm, and is looking to open an office in Israel that will focus on regional investments.
🍕 Spotted: Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann was photographed in the Hamptons, holding a pizza box and talking with a rabbi.
🍨 Bad Business: The owner of a Ben & Jerry’s in Manhattan said sales in his shop have dropped since the company’s announcement that it will no longer sell its products in the West Bank.
👍 Lending Support: In an op-ed, leaders of the Reform Jewish Movement voiced their support for H.R. 40, a proposed federal reparations bill.
🌱 Gift of Life: An Israeli woman who lost three family members in terror attacks donated one of her kidneys to a 3-year-old boy from Gaza.
✈️ Plane Crash: A plane crash in Sheparivtsi, Ukraine, killed four people, including three yeshiva students from New York and London.
🇵🇱 Pressure Campaign: The U.S. is pressing Poland to prevent passage of a contentious restitution bill that would make it difficult for Jews to make restitution claims over property confiscated during the Holocaust and during the Communist era.
🇩🇪 Bite of the Right: The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany called on the country’s political parties to distance themselves from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) ahead of the September election.
🖼️ Second Look: Washington Post art critic Sebastian Smee looks back at Helen Frankenthaler’s 1957 abstract painting “Jacob’s Ladder.”
📞 Reunited: Relations between the new Israeli government and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continue to warm, with several phone calls between the PA leader and senior Israeli officials taking place in recent weeks.
💵 Money Secured: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman finalized a $17.8 billion defense budget for the IDF for 2022.
🤝 Back In: The Israeli government is considering rejoining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), an organization it left, along with the U.S., in 2019.
Gif of the Day
Holocaust survivor former gymnast Agnes Keleti, 100, the oldest living Olympian and winner of gold medals at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Games, featured in a commercial aired throughout coverage of the Tokyo Games.
Twin brothers, Los Angeles based philanthropists and businessmen, Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz and Yisroel Zev Rechnitz turn 50…
Chairman of BOK Financial Corporation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, George Kaiser turns 79… Newspaper columnist for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth and author of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, Meir Shalev turns 73… Shoe designer, entrepreneur and founder of an eponymous shoe company, Stuart A. Weitzman turns 72… Denver-based trial lawyer, film producer and author of both fiction and nonfiction, Kenneth Eichner turns 67… Deputy health and science editor at The Washington Post, Carol Eisenberg turns 64… Global economic correspondent for The New York Times, Peter S. Goodman turns 55… Actor, filmmaker and musician, he is best known for his role in the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” Joshua Radnor turns 47… Scottsdale, Ariz.-based director of community engagement at BBYO, Jayme David turns 44… Director of the Straus Center at Yeshiva University, he is also the Rabbi of NYC’s Congregation Shearith Israel (often called The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue), Rabbi Meir Soloveichik turns 44…
Investigative journalist at Bloomberg Industry Group, Aaron Kessler turns 42… Former member of the Canadian Parliament, David de Burgh Graham turns 40… Iraq war veteran, political and communications strategist, now serving as an adjunct professor at Duke University, Allison Jaslow turns 39… Rabbi, writer, educator and physician assistant, Rabbi Levi Welton turns 38… Deputy communications director for VPOTUS Kamala Harris, Herbie Ziskend turns 36… Volunteer manager at the Maryland SPCA, Adrienne Potter Yoe… and her twin sister, Moira Yoe Bauer, who works on corporate responsibility, governance and sustainability at Cigna, both turn 34… VP of crisis and risk management in the Los Angeles office of Edelman, Jason Levin turns 33… Graduate in the 2021 class at Georgetown Law, Danny Vinik turns 31… Tony Award-winning actor, Ari’el Stachel turns 30… Uriel Wassner turns 27… Assistant director for communications and broadcasting at Chicago State University, Sam Brief turns 24…