👋 Good Friday morning!
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: The best friends introducing Middle Eastern date syrup to the wider world; Accounting for childhood hunger in Baltimore; The Israeli startup CEO who wants to make American government work; Deborah Copaken uses her ‘Ladyparts’ to talk gender, money and Judaism; and Ashlee Bond is show-jumping for joy. Print the latest edition here.
At least 19 rockets were launched into Israel from Southern Lebanon overnight, with Hezbollah saying the rockets were in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that was responding to an earlier barrage of rockets from Lebanon.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) said at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on domestic terrorism and violent extremism on Thursday that the FBI data on domestic terrorism has been “late and woefully inadequate,” and urged better data-sharing efforts from federal agencies.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, echoed Peters’s call for greater federal transparency, as well as cooperation with outside groups like ADL, and urged more transparency from social media companies about hate content.
Regarding social media, Greenblatt said, “The failure of the companies… particularly Facebook, to provide any transparency into their data is unconscionable. No other industry, literally no other industry, behaves this way. We don’t even know about the content that gets taken down. There is no independent verification of their data.”
Expert witnesses also debated the necessity of new domestic terrorism statutes and counter-extremisim efforts, in addition to the history of counterterrorism programs of targeting minority communities in a discriminatory manner.
White House taps Chanan Weissman to serve as Jewish liaison
The White House announced on Thursday that it has appointed Chanan Weissman, director of technology and democracy at the National Security Council, to serve as the Biden administration’s liaison to the Jewish community, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. The move came a week after President Joe Biden made several high-level nominations to positions related to religious communities, including the selection of Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt as the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.
White House weighs in: “We are thrilled to have Chanan Weissman serve as the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community,” a White House official told JI. “Chanan will provide strong leadership in the administration’s efforts to partner with Jewish leaders, organizations, and community members to combat antisemitism and hate; serve people in need; support the US-Israel relationship; and promote dignity, equality, and opportunity for all.”
Repeat performance: Weissman also served as Jewish liaison during the final year of former President Barack Obama’s administration, which coincided with two major events: the death of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres, in September 2016, and the Obama administration’s decision to abstain from a December 2016 United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. During the Trump administration, Weissman continued to work at the State Department, serving as section lead for internet freedom and business and human rights until April 2021.
Very Joe Biden: The pick is “very Joe Biden in that Chanan is very even-keeled, eyes-on-the-prize, not going to get rattled, not going to take the bait, and has very established chops in the community because he’s done it once before,” said Jarrod Bernstein, who served as White House liaison earlier in the Obama administration. (Bernstein is the co-host of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast.”)
Two-way street: In a 2016 interview with Hillel International, Weissman explained what serving as a liaison to the Jewish community entails. “I liken the position to a bridge with lanes operating in both directions,” said Weissman. “I need to, at once, convey the president’s policies and positions to the Jewish community but also need to fully capture and convey the wide (and growing) range of perspectives from the Jewish community back to the decision-makers at the White House.” A highlight for Weissman when he held the position five years ago, he recalled, was “briefing the president in the Oval Office moments before his pre-Rosh Hashanah phone call with hundreds of rabbis nationwide.”
Read more here.
All thing local
The Israeli startup CEO who wants to make American government work
When ZenCity co-founder and CEO Eyal Feder-Levy was in his early 20s, a friend invited him to attend a local governance meeting. “She said, ‘Do you want to come with me to a meeting about the future of the city?’” Feder-Levy recounted to Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, sounds interesting. Let’s do it.’ I fell in love.” That engagement with the inner workings of government on a hyperlocal level paved the way for him to create ZenCity.
Condensing the data: The company, which sits in the growing field of govtech, or government technology, collects millions of public data points for local governments to show them what people in their cities are talking about: angry Facebook and Twitter posts, emails to public comment accounts, Reddit questions. It then uses machine learning to provide analysis that governments can act on. “The problem we’re actually trying to solve is that today in government, there is no way of knowing if you’re doing a good job or not on a routine basis,” Feder-Levy explained. “In the private sector, it’s very easy. You measure everything on revenue: Are we making more money or making less money?”
Getting started: After Feder-Levy launched the company in 2015 with Chief Tech Officer Ido Ivri — the pair served together in the IDF — ZenCity began approaching municipalities, well before they had any functioning technology, or a beta version of the software they hoped to create. At first, ZenCity signed a number of cities in Israel, including Tel Aviv, Beersheva and Eilat. But the company now does most of its sales in the U.S. “Israel has 257 municipalities and the U.S. has 20,000. It’s a different scale of market,” he noted. “Also, I think that the separation of powers in the U.S. between federal and local allows more impact to be made by local governments than it is in Israel, which is a little bit more [centralized].”
New horizons: ZenCity is not just Feder-Levy’s first startup. It is his first job in the private sector. “After service in the Israeli intelligence, I went as far away as possible from that and led an NGO for three years,” he said. The nonprofit he ran, Garden Library, was located in South Tel Aviv and provided access to education, arts and culture in one of the poorest areas of the city. He then worked as an urban planner, first with cities in Israel, before logging a brief stint in academia, teaching urbanism at Tel Aviv University.
Keeping it local: Americans’ trust in the federal government in the U.S. remains low, at just 24%, according to a Pew Research Center poll from April. But at the local level, governments still get things done. They have to. “If you’re a Republican mayor of a city on a coastline, you better have a plan for rising sea levels,” Feder-Levy said. “If you’re a Democratic mayor on the border, you can be pro-immigration 100%, but you need to have a plan for how to take care of the people crossing the border, and the people that need your services.”
Empire State of exchange
Mondaire Jones challenges Hakeem Jeffries’s critique of ‘extreme left’
Taking on one of the leaders of the Democratic Party, freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) dismissed criticisms of progressive Democrats and policies in the wake of Nina Turner’s loss in an Ohio congressional special election primary earlier this week to moderate Democrat Shontel Brown. Jones, a first-term congressman who represents parts of two suburban counties just north of New York City, defended the progressive movement’s electability on an episode of “Pod Save America” released on Thursday in response to comments by House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
I don’t know her: Addressing Jeffries’s remarks in a Wednesday New York Times article condemning the “extreme left” for falling to “recognize that Trumpism and the radical right is the real enemy, not [mainstream Democrats],” Jones shot back that he does not “know who the extreme left is.” He continued, “I do not believe that the loss of Nina Turner in Ohio’s 11th was due to her being progressive. I think there was a lot of money being spent, a lot of stuff that was said previously that was characterized in a certain way, but we are seeing progressives win campaigns all over this country.”
Worth noting: While Turner led Brown in combined candidate spending and independent expenditures, pro-Israel groups, particularly Democratic Majority For Israel, did support Brown. Turner referred to such spending as “evil money” in the wake of her loss on Tuesday.
Standing strong: Jones, who beat a large field of other candidates to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) last year, went on to emphasize that both he and fellow first-term progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) won on progressive platforms in their races last fall. “In the affluent, majority-white suburbs of New York City known as Westchester and Rockland counties, I crushed my opponents in the Democratic primary… running very clearly as the most progressive candidate in that race,” Jones said. “Jamaal Bowman won his race as the most progressive candidate, also in a district that includes a significant portion of Westchester County.”
Shift in tactics: Jones’s comments also appear to be part of a recent shift toward more open criticism of party leaders. The New York congressman accused President Joe Biden of having an “empathy deficit” in remarks Wednesday about Biden’s comments skeptical of the constitutionality of unilaterally extending the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium. “That is not the commentary of someone who’s actually trying to help people, and it’s really frustrating to hear that kind of language come from the president of the United States,” Jones said.
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🇮🇷 Keeping the Peace: Foreign Policy’s Michael Hirsch explores the challenges facing the Biden administration, which has sought to lessen America’s presence in the Middle East, following the installation of hardliner cleric Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president. “Many Middle East experts are in agreement that despite Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s desire to escape U.S. and international sanctions by returning to some version of the 2015 nuclear deal, his greater need is to strengthen the regime. And for Tehran, anti-U.S. hostility has always worked as the best ideological glue. Khamenei has installed a brutal protégé in Raisi who, as a judge, presided over the executions of thousands of dissidents in the late 1980s and was raised to the presidency in a rigged election. The 60-year-old Raisi is seen as the optimal enforcer who will seek to crush dissent at home with more aggression over the border.” [ForeignPolicy]
🗳️ Week in Review: Washington Post columnist James Hohmann reflects on the lessons the Democratic Party — and specifically the Biden administration — should take from this week’s Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. “Biden may not be as beholden to the left as he thinks. And that may be the real significance of the Ohio results. They show the leader of the Democratic Party is not [Vermont Sen. Bernie] Sanders or AOC [New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez]. It’s Biden. And he should start acting like it. At least he can count on Shontel Brown’s vote.” [WashPost]
🕍 If You Build It: In the Wall Street Journal, letters editor Elliot Kaufman dissects the recently released Pew poll on American Jewry, and concludes that efforts by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement to engage young and often unaffiliated Jews has found significant success. “Thirty-seven percent of U.S. Jews say they’ve participated in Chabad activities or services, including 21% who do so ‘often’ or ‘sometimes.’ The latter includes 25% of Conservative Jews, 12% of Reform Jews, 8% of the unaffiliated and 6% of Jews of no religion. Considering that only 10% of unaffiliated Jews and 8% of Jews of no religion say they attend a synagogue of any kind even a few times a year, Chabad’s numbers are large.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
⚖️ Second Opinion: President Joe Biden reportedly asked White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to consult Harvard Law professor emeritus Laurence Tribe on finding a legal means to extend the eviction moratorium after White House lawyers determined the president lacked the power.
📚 Book Bind: Walter Isaacson is in the beginning stages of penning a biography of Elon Musk.
📈 Crypto Craze: Steve Cohen’s Point72 Ventures made its first entry into cryptocurrency with an investment in the analytics firm Messari.
🏗️ Building Up: Tel Aviv and London-based startup Buildots has raised $30 million in series B funding to create construction AI technology that can analyze design differences or flaws.
💻 Tech Hub: Google subsidiary Verily Life Sciences plans to set up an R&D center in Israel.
📷 Across the Pond: The Duchess of Cambridge’s photography will be included in a British exhibition featuring images of Holocaust survivors.
🎥 Silver Screen: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s new film, “The Viewing Booth,” depicts a Jewish girl’s reaction to footage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
🍿 New Hit: “Fauda” creators Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz’s latest thriller, “Hit and Run,” which takes place in New York City and Tel Aviv, will arrive on Netflix today.
☢️ Breakout Bomb: Israeli Defense Secretary Benny Gantz warned U.N. diplomats that Iran has narrowed its breakout time to 10 weeks.
🗣️ Narrowing Window: State Department spokesperson Ned Price urged Iran to “to return to the [nuclear] negotiations soon so that we can seek to conclude our work” before the window for reaching an agreement closes.
🛑 Stay Out: Israel’s New Hope Party introduced a bill that would bar those indicted in a judicial inquiry from becoming prime minister, a move intended to prevent former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from retaking office.
🩺 Medical Triumph: A team of researchers, led by Tel Aviv University, identified a new indicator of metastatic breast cancer, contributing to a preventive treatment that potentially could save millions of lives.
🎻 Restoring: A new exhibit and concert series in Virginia, “Violins of Hope,” restored violins formerly played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.
Pic of the Day
Attendees gathered for a memorial hosted by OneFamily in Jerusalem on the 20th anniversary of the Sbarro bombing that left 15 dead and 130 injured.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the 2020 Mayacamas Vineyards Grenache Rosé:
“The now-common COVID-inspired ‘second wedding’ is a bizarre celebration; but when done properly, it is a great opportunity to try new wines. I attended one such party last week and our great sommelier indeed showed some remarkable wines. The winner of the night was the Mayacamas Vineyards (Napa, Calif.) 2020 Grenache Rosé, poured from a beautifully labeled magnum.
“This Grenache Rosé can take you from a Siberian winter and make you feel like you are basking in the sun on a beautiful beach in Cabo. It is refreshing, sumptuous and memorable. The front palate is dry, the mid-palate is full of clean citrus flavors and the finish is surprisingly long and luscious. Drink this wine within the next two summer seasons. Pair with any cheese you can find, no wrong choices.”
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain turns 60 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: Century City-based partner at the Jaffe Family Law Group, Daniel J. Jaffe turns 84… E-sports executive and casino owner, he is a three time winner of the World Series of Poker, former executive of Wilsons Leather and Rainforest Cafe, Lyle Berman turns 80… Founder and spiritual leader of The Elijah Minyan in San Diego, Wayne Dosick turns 74… Professor emerita and former dean at Bar Ilan University, Malka Elisheva Schaps turns 73… Austrian businessman and investor, Martin Schlaff turns 68… Former state treasurer of Virginia and then Virginia secretary of finance, Jody Moses Wagner turns 66… Senior career coach at George Washington University’s School of International Affairs, she was formerly under secretary of state for public diplomacy, Tara D. Sonenshine turns 62… Professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, Alan J. Lipman, Ph.D. turns 61… Israeli diplomat, he previously served as Israel’s consul general in NYC, Alon Pinkas turns 60… NASA astronaut who spent 198 days on the International Space Station in 2008, Gregory Chamitoff turns 59… Famed computer hacker, now a computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick turns 58… VP of public affairs and strategic communications at the American Council on Education, Jonathan Riskind turns 58…
SVP of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, Melanie Roth Gorelick turns 57… Vice chair of the board of directors at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Susie Sorkin turns 56… Television and radio sports anchor on ESPN and ABC, Mike Greenberg turns 54… VP for labor markets at The Conference Board, Gad Levanon Ph.D. turns 50… Boxing commentator and co-host of ESPN’s “First Take,” Yiddish-speaking Max Kellerman turns 48… Co-founder and former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick turns 45… CEO at workforce cooperative Climb Hire, Nitzan Pelman turns 45… Actress, director and screenwriter, Soleil Moon Frye turns 45… PR consultant, Jeffrey Lerner turns 44… Chief creative and culture officer at The Design Culturalist, Rachel Gogel… Winner of two gold medals in swimming at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Garrett Weber-Gale turns 36… Legislative director for Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA), Corey A. Jacobson turns 32… Senior producer at 10% Happier, Jessica I. Goldberg turns 30… Reporter at the Ouray County Plaindealer in Ridgway, Colo., Elizabeth Teitz turns 27… School safety activist and former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Hunter Pollack turns 24… Chair of Gibson Dunn’s White Collar practice group, Joel M. Cohen…
SATURDAY: Rabbi in Monsey, N.Y., he is both a senior rosh yeshiva and professor of biology at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Moshe David Tendler turns 95… Brooklyn resident, Esther Holler turns 84… Counsel in the Los Angeles office of Mayer Brown, he was previously the U.S. trade representative and later U.S. secretary of commerce, Michael “Mickey” Kantor turns 82… Co-founder of the world-wide chain of Hard Rock Café, his father founded the Morton’s Steakhouse chain, Peter Morton turns 74… Retired lieutenant general in the Israeli Air Force, he also served as chief of staff of the IDF, Dan Halutz turns 73… Former PR director for the New York Yankees, television executive producer, and author of more than 20 books, Marty Appel turns 73… President of private equity firm Palisades Associates, former chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council and CEO of Empire Kosher Poultry, Greg Rosenbaum turns 69… Former U.S. intelligence analyst, he pled guilty to espionage in 1987, was released from prison in 2015 and moved to Israel in 2020, Jonathan Pollard turns 67…
Spiritual leader of Agudas Israel of St. Louis since 1986, Rabbi Menachem Greenblatt turns 66… Founder and CEO of the Cayton Children’s Museum in Santa Monica, Esther Netter turns 63… Interim CEO at Capital Camps & Retreat Center, Havi Arbeter Goldscher turns 42… Australian born journalist, he is a national political reporter at Axios and covers both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Jonathan Swan turns 36… Public address announcer for MLB’s Oakland Athletics, Amelia Schimmel turns 35… MLB catcher since 2011, he batted .350 with two home runs for Team Israel at the recently concluded 2020 Olympics, Ryan Lavarnway turns 34… Co-founder and CEO of ShopDrop and product manager at Cerebral, Estee Goldschmidt… Goalkeeper for Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer, he played for the U.S. in the 2009 Maccabiah Games in Israel, Zac MacMath turns 30… Founder of Love for the Elderly, Jacob Cramer turns 21… Scott Harrison…
SUNDAY: Chair emerita of the Drug Free America Foundation, Betty Sembler turns 90… Actor and director, Dustin Hoffman turns 84… Arlington Heights, Illinois resident, Elizabeth Gordon turns 78… Dutch diplomat and politician, Frans Weisglas turns 75… Greenwood Village, Colo., resident, Robert M. Schwartz turns 72… Tampa, Fla., resident, Roy D. Pulliam turns 68… Vancouver, Wash., resident, Juliana E. Miles Bagherpour turns 64… Former U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Melech Friedman turns 63… Former CEO of BusinessGhost, he has completed more than a dozen triathlons since 2002, Michael Graubart Levin turns 63… Film director whose works include nine Disney films, Jon Turteltaub turns 58… Founder and former CEO of D.C.-based Connections Media, Jonah Seiger turns 50… Blogger and book editor of the Jewish Action magazine, Rabbi Gil Ofer Student turns 49… Former MLB pitcher, now assistant general manager for the Chicago Cubs, Craig Breslow turns 41… Director at Fundamental Advisors, Bara Lane… Senior director at West End Strategy Team, Sarah Garfinkel turns 32… Founder and managing partner at Avid Ventures, Addie Lerner turns 32… Development director for the JNF’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel, Zachary Pellish turns 31… Senior manager of content development at Omaze, Morgan Furlong turns 29… Internet celebrity and fitness model, Jen Selter turns 28… Jack Baum… Rob Schwartz…