👋 Good Friday morning!
Tomorrow marks 20 years since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. President Joe Biden will travel to New York this evening ahead of commemorative events on Saturday at the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Lahav Harkov recounts her commute to school in Manhattan from Deal, N.J. on September 11, 2001. “I had never taken the subway on my own before, and I apologetically told my mother I was still nervous…. When I asked my mom to ride the subway with me, she called her first meeting of the day and said she’d be late. It was supposed to be in the World Trade Center.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog recalled in a Facebook post where he was when he first heard about the attacks. “I was at work at a Tel Aviv law firm at the time,” he wrote, “I remember watching the news with horror. Coming from a country where for the past few years, buses, cafés, and restaurants had been blown up by suicide bombers with a murderous ideology, claiming the lives of so many Israelis, the scenes looked familiar — yet the scale and magnitude were unprecedented.”
He added, “Tomorrow marks twenty years since the terrible 9/11 attacks. Israel will stand forever with the United States, our greatest ally. We remember the thousands of victims, we embrace the orphans and widows, the bereaved parents, friends, and families, and also the survivors, and we salute the brave men and women who ran into the flames and rubble in the hope of saving human lives.”
Israel security forces are on high alert today after Palestinians called for a “day of rage“ in a show of solidarity with six security prisoners who escaped from an Israeli jail earlier this week and who are still on the loose. Demonstrators are also protesting measures taken by Israeli authorities in other jails affecting thousands of Palestinian security prisoners. A Palestine Liberation Organization official said various Palestinian factions would confront IDF troops at friction points throughout the territory, Haaretz reported.
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with military commanders on Friday morning and assessed that everything was being done to find the six prisoners. “We will eventually lay our hands on them,” he said in a statement.
Jewish vote could prove decisive in California recall election
With just four days remaining until California’s high-stakes gubernatorial recall election on Tuesday, Jewish activists on both sides of the aisle are ramping up voter outreach initiatives as the race enters its final stretch, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Details: Jewish Democrats at the state and national levels, including local lawmakers, community organizers and pro-Israel advocates, are particularly engaged in efforts to ensure that the majority of Californians vote against removing Gov. Gavin Newsom from office. Competing to replace the 53-year-old Democrat are no fewer than 46 challengers — most notably the Republican frontrunner, Larry Elder, a conservative talk radio host who has vowed to rescind statewide mask and vaccine mandates.
Critical vote: The Jewish vote, Democratic activists and political experts say, could prove decisive for Newsom in what is expected to be a low-turnout special election that some polls have indicated may be competitive — even as Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by a significant margin in California. “Jews vote, they largely vote for Democrats, and they strongly oppose right-wing extremists,” Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in a statement to Jewish Insider on Thursday. “There are hundreds of thousands of Jewish voters in California, and they are absolutely critical to defeating this recall.”
Drumming up support: The Jewish caucus — members of which have, along with the Anti-Defamation League, raised concerns over the rhetoric of recall leaders who have compared Newsom’s pandemic mandates to Nazi Germany — is also rallying behind the governor. Last week, it participated in a joint phone bank with a group of ethnic caucuses in the state legislature who support Newsom, and individual members have engaged in their own personal outreach efforts ahead of the recall.
Community outreach: “The governor has been a strong ally to the Jewish community,” said Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, citing Newsom’s efforts to procure funding for nonprofit security grants as well as his opposition to the initial draft of a controversial ethnic studies curriculum that excluded lesson plans about antisemitism, among other things. For his part, Elder has actively engaged in Jewish outreach efforts. Earlier this week, he toured a Jewish deli in Northridge and, last month, spoke at a campaign event hosted by the political advocacy arm of the Jewish Republican Alliance, JRA Nation, which has endorsed him.
Rare election: Newsom, who was elected to his first term in 2018, is facing only the second recall in state history. In 2003, the Democratic incumbent, former Gov. Gray Davis, was ousted by Republican challenger Arnold Schwarzenegger. Until not too long ago, it looked as if Newsom — who fought back an avalanche of bad press last November when he was photographed dining at a swanky French restaurant in Napa Valley in defiance of his own pandemic protocols — might suffer the same fate, as polling suggested he was at risk of losing his seat. But the recall effort appears to have lost some momentum, and surveys now largely show that voters are in favor of keeping Newsom in office — particularly as Elder has come under scrutiny in recent weeks thanks to a litany of past public statements in which he made offensive comments about women, as well as an allegation that he once brandished a gun at his ex-fiancée while under the influence of marijuana.
Ambassadors to mark first anniversary of Abraham Accords
A year after the signing of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House, the ambassadors from the three signatory nations are slated to appear together at an anniversary celebration next week in Washington, D.C., Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. Robert Greenway, who served as senior director for the Middle East at the National Security Council under former President Donald Trump, will moderate a panel with the Israeli, Bahraini and Emirati ambassadors, following an address by Jared Kushner, the former senior advisor to the president.
New group: The event, scheduled for next Tuesday, was organized by the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, a nonpartisan organization created by Kushner earlier this year to increase trade and tourism between Israel and the Middle Eastern and North African countries with which it normalized ties last year.
Growing the Accords: There are two goals for the event, which will take place at Georgetown’s Four Seasons Hotel: “The first is to discuss the progress made in the Accords,” Greenway, who serves as AAPI’s executive director, told Jewish Insider. “Number two is to discuss the potential — what is really possible going forward,” including Greenway’s hope that additional countries will enter into their own agreements with the Jewish state. Ambassadors to two countries widely viewed as countries to target — Oman and Saudi Arabia — were invited, but Greenway was unsure whether they would attend.
In attendance: Greenway expects around 100 people to attend the event, including a number of senior State Department officials. He declined to offer specifics about those officials, and a State Department spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry from JI. Most members of Congress will not attend the celebrations because of scheduling conflicts, and due to the event’s timing a day before the start of Yom Kippur, no members of the Knesset are expected to be present.
Outside support: Some conservatives have accused President Joe Biden of moving too slowly to expand the Abraham Accords, but Greenway said he views the administration as a partner. “I think they appreciate the fact that we’re working to continue the work to expand economic and cultural ties,” Greenway said. “My goal is to keep the Institute nonpartisan, to make sure politics don’t emerge [and] to be as helpful as we can to support the administration.”
Michael Eisenberg is applying the lessons of the Torah to technology and business
In the beginning, there was economic theory. In the story of Abraham, from Genesis, the Hebrew word for property, a stand-in for wealth and how to use it, is mentioned no less than seven times. The story of Noah and the Flood is a lesson in the pitfalls of economic abundance. And the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden — despite having all their needs taken care of — seems to argue against the very modern notion of a universal basic income. These nuggets of economic and ethical wisdom gleaned from the first book of the Torah form the spine of Israeli-American venture capitalist Michael Eisenberg’s The Tree of Life and Prosperity: 21st Century Business Principles from the Book of Genesis, which was recently released in English. Eisenberg readily admits that he views most things through an economic lens. But what drives him, he said in conversation with Judith Sudilovsky for Jewish Insider, are the core values and morals he finds in Biblical teachings — what he has come to call “the wisdom of the ancients for the moderns.”
Worldview: “My wife thinks I look at everything through an economic lens, and I am guilty as charged,” Eisenberg, 50, told Jewish Insider at a café in his Jerusalem neighborhood. The New Jersey native has made Israel his home since 1993. “Anybody who goes to a text of any kind, but certainly a Biblical text, brings their own baggage with them, their own perspective which is borne of their life…so my lens is my daily life and my daily life is a venture capitalist investor, it is economics, macro and micro, and it is technology. I don’t think I read that into the Bible. I think you illuminate areas of the Bible because of your unique perspective.”
A guide through the chaos: “We live in a time of a lot of uncertainty, and it feels like there is a lot of chaos in the world. I think in times of chaos and storms we need timeless wisdom. The Torah’s timeless wisdom has lasted 4,000 years, and I guess it will last another 4,000 years,” Eisenberg said, noting that in today’s terminology, the Torah “has the largest number of unique users in history—more than Google, more than Facebook… That is not an accident. It has had more commentary written on it than anything, and that is not an accident either.”
Cautionary tale: “We are not the first society to have abundance. The generation of Noah had relative abundance and they destroyed themselves, so there is a cautionary tale there about the challenges of abundance and we can take from this timeless wisdom. I hope people will apply it,” said Eisenberg. The “relativist mumbo-jumbo” he sees so much of today “drives me nuts,” he said, referring for example to the recent decision by ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s to not renew the license selling rights of their product in the West Bank. “I think Ben & Jerry’s are political relativists. Just the fact that they decided to single out Israel with what is going on in China, Afghanistan, Syria is beyond absurd. It is to scratch a political relativist itch rather than some fundamental principle that is time-honored,” he said. As for himself, said Eisenberg, he does not invest in China — a decision based on the Torah-based principles he writes about in his book, though financially it may not be the best decision.
Bonus: Eisenberg appeared this week on “Post Corona,” the podcast hosted by Dan Senor, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the small businesses and start-ups his venture-capital firm has invested in.
🪢 Unity: Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) writes in the Wall Street Journal’s Houses of Worship column about the lessons all Americans can learn from the High Holy Days. “The U.S. today is less unified and secure, less law-abiding, less respectful of government, and less confident in the future than at any point in my life. It needs to be jolted from its current course by the sound of the ram’s horn to find a better way forward.” [WSJ]
🏗️ Building Back: In Architectural Digest, Anne Quito interviews Michael Arad, the Israeli-American architect who designed the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan. “Today, more new structures are rising in the World Trade Center complex — notably Santiago Calatrava’s reincarnation of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center — and Arad hopes that the Memorial plaza offers a meaningful counterpoint, in the same way Central Park serves as a respite from the grid of apartment buildings and super-tall skyscrapers along its perimeter. ‘I actually think it provides an almost binary relationship between the city and the Memorial. As more buildings are completed, hopefully that distinction becomes even sharper.’” [ArchitecturalDigest]
🎙️ Music Man: In Rolling Stone, Amy X. Wang profiles nonagenarian music producer Clive Davis. “Over the years, Clive has been an executive in the top echelons of music, a record-label founder several times over, an A&R monarch, a CEO, a five-time Grammy winner, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, an ‘American Idol’ guest judge, a documentary subject, a Manhattan penthouse owner, an honorary citizen of the Italian city of Capri, a namesake for a graduate school at New York University — and this is without tacking on the columns of artists he has signed and brought into the fore, obscenely long lists that stretch from Aretha and Alicia and Bruce to Usher and, of course, Whitney. Clive Davis is the only music executive of his era who is still waking up every day and working.” [RollingStone]
🧠 Game Plan: In The Atlantic, Jonah Blank, who served as a foreign policy advisor to President Joe Biden during his time in the Senate, explains the president’s foreign policy mindset amid the Afghanistan pullout. “Regimes ruthless enough to oppress their own citizens aren’t typically swayed by a disapproving United Nations resolution. How effective are the tools of diplomacy without the implicit threat of military force? Do sanctions inflict pain on governing elites or only on ordinary people? For better or worse, we’re likely to find out. This should, however, come as no surprise to anyone who’s watched Biden over the years: His foreign-policy instincts are miles away from Dick Cheney’s — but neither are they aligned with Jimmy Carter’s.” [TheAtlantic]
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Around the Web
👩 Golden State Update: Former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) gave a wide-ranging interview to the Los Angeles Times about term limits, abortion legislation, life after Congress and encouraging Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to retire.
🍴 On the Menu: JPMorgan Chase struck a deal to acquire The Infatuation, the restaurant-recommendation website founded in 2009 by Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal.
🏆 Mazel Tov: Bob Iger and wife Willow Bay were announced as honorees at the upcoming YES gala in Los Angeles for their contributions to the organization, which supports students in low-income communities.
👨 Business Beat: NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry was named chairman of OZY Media.
🖼️ Art Attack: Sotheby’s will sell the art collection of divorcing couple Harry and Linda Macklowe, with the 65 pieces up for auction expected to fetch upwards of $600 million.
📧 Reply All: Top Brandy Melville executives participated in a private group chat where they circulated antisemitic, racist and otherwise offensive content, including memes of Hitler.
🕵️♂️ Torah Hunt: Police in Long Island are searching for a number of religious items, including two Torahs, that were stolen from a Long Beach synagogue.
🗿 Access Denied: A judge in New York rejected an attempt by Turkey to retrieve a 6,000-year-old figurine owned by Michael Steinhardt and on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
⚖️ Behind Bars: Nancy Salzman was sentenced to 42 months in prison for her involvement in the NXIVM sex cult.
📱 Spy Saga: A phone belonging to a prominent critic of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was reportedly being tracked using the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.
🛫 Clear Skies: Gulf Air will launch twice-weekly flights between Israel and Bahrain beginning October 4.
🧪 Forged Tests: Dozens of Israelis who had traveled to Uman, Ukraine, over Rosh Hashanah entered Ben Gurion Airport with forged COVID-19 test results after having contracted the virus.
💃 Party Time: Tel Aviv was named the “most fun” city in the world by Time Out magazine for the second year in a row.
🇸🇰 Never Forget: The government of Slovakia apologized for Holocaust-era antisemitic legislation passed in the country that curtailed Jewish civil rights.
⛔ No Go: New Zealand and Cyprus will join 14 other countries including the U.S., Israel and the U.K. in boycotting an event scheduled for later this month marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban conference, which singled out Israel as a racist country.
🧳 Reopened for Business: Israel will reopen to vaccinated tourists traveling in small organized groups after the High Holy Days, resuming an industry devastated by the pandemic.
🕯️Remembering: Dr. Joseph Kramer, who ran a pay-what-you-can solo medical practice on New York’s Lower East Side, died at 96.
Pic of the Day
The annual “Tribute in Light” installation marking the location of the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan.
Writer and rebbitzen, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt turns 30 on Saturday…
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