👋 Good Thursday morning!
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are slated to be in Israel next week for the Monday launch of the Abraham Accords Caucus in the Knesset, a spokesperson for Knesset member Ruth Wasserman Lande told Jewish Insider.
The caucus, chaired by Lande and MK Ofir Akunis, will focus on the economic and tourism potential created by Israel’s normalization agreements with four Muslim-majority countries, as well as deepening the relations with each country and exploring the possibility of new agreements with additional states in the region.
The Kushners will also likely attend the opening of former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s new institute, The Friedman Center for Peace through Strength, to take place at the as-yet-unopened Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on Monday evening. Friedman’s nonprofit also aims to work on strengthening the Accords and getting other Arab countries to join.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr is wrapping up a four-day visit to Israel and the West Bank today. “The Oct. 4-7 visit is an important trip for DAS Amr to touch base with Israeli and Palestinian leaderships on key issues of security, prosperity and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians,” a spokesperson for the Palestinian Affairs Unit told JI.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $25 million grant on Wednesday aimed at boosting security for nonprofits threatened by hate crimes. Hochul also launched a new system for reporting online hate crimes. The funds are in addition to $43 million previously earmarked for nonprofit organizations to improve security at facilities.
Speaking at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan, Hochul said, “No New Yorker should have fear going to their homes, going to their work, going to their places of worship or just taking the subway or going out to dinner,” Hochul said, tipping her hat to former President (and former New York governor) Franklin D. Roosevelt and his “four freedoms.” “We have to eradicate that fear once and for all.”
Newsom launches Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the launch of the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education on Wednesday in Los Angeles, citing “xenophobia, the antisemitism on the rise, the hate [and] the bigotry” as the impetus for its “long overdue” creation. “The purpose of this council on the Holocaust and genocide [is] more broadly around education, more sustainable investments, more peer-to-peer, more professional development, more of a systemic investment that will transcend jurisdictions and boundaries — that is where we need to do more,” Newsom told Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weissshortly after the announcement.
What it is: The council will include state legislators, civic leaders and representatives from minority communities, Anita Friedman, a Jewish community leader and longtime friend of the governor, told JI. Rabbi Meyer May, the executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said the council would be a “major game-changer” for the state. “I don’t see this as one of those cases where it becomes polarized. It shouldn’t become polarized,” he said, “If you’re in Poland, that becomes polarized, because Poland has trouble with its Holocaust memory, as do some of the Eastern European countries. But here, we don’t have that. We’re all rowing in the same direction.”
‘This is ominous’: As part of the state’s $196 billion 2021 budget, more than $13 million was allocated to Holocaust education institutions around the state, including $10 million to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, which will fund a new exhibition on antisemitism. Newsom announced the council’s launch at an event hosted by the museum on Wednesday morning. “The fundamental fear of the Holocaust is pretty pronounced when you look at the number of young people that don’t know, never heard of Auschwitz, don’t know what the Holocaust is, don’t sometimes believe it,” Newsom told JI. “I mean, they’re getting their history from Instagram. This is ominous. And so we have to make up for that.”
Campus beat: The governor’s announcement comes amid rising concerns in the state over the inclusion of anti-Israel lessons in educational materials, as well as efforts by local teachers’ unions to adopt anti-Israel measures. Last month, a union representing San Diego community college educators passed a resolution condemning Israel. Weeks later, an effort by United Teachers Los Angeles to pass a resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel was tabled indefinitely after an uproar from the local Jewish community. Newsom recalled his time on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, when he encountered anti-Israel sentiment on campus. “I remember at [San Francisco] State [University] being at a number of rallies, and [there being] just sort of a rank anti-Israel sentiment that was coming out, the antisemitism that was bleeding over, only to be formalized [into] the BDS movement,” he recalled.
Auchincloss: Any Iran deal should be sent to Congress as a ‘treaty’
Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) called for any nuclear deal with Iran to be submitted to the Senate as a treaty, during an interview on Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” with co-host Rich Goldberg. “I may be old-fashioned, but I would expect the White House to get the approval of the Senate for a treaty, which is what it says in the Constitution,” the freshman representative from Massachusetts said. On the podcast, Auchincloss, who represents the state’s 4th Congressional District, covered a range of policy topics, including the withdrawal from Afghanistan, applying a “nuanced approach” to dealing with Iran.
No retrenchment: Auchincloss, 33, rejected any premise that the withdrawal from Afghanistan served as a retrenchment to a 1990s approach towards combating terrorism. “I do not think that the United States should retain the war footing that it had for the last 20 years vis-a-vis the Middle East and Central Asia. I don’t think that those regions’ strategic and economic importance on the world stage justify the amount of bandwidth, time, troops, [and] material that were invested in them over the last 20 years,” the congressman said. “The United States should be focusing its international relations on the great race with the Chinese Communist Party, and its strategic economic diplomatic dimensions. We should be focused on leadership for transnational challenges, like climate change and public health and yes, terrorism.
Investigation: While hesitant to offer any criticism of the withdrawal, the Afghanistan War veteran did call for a more open investigation. “I have been hesitant to be critical because you can’t armchair-quarterback a 20-year war without all the information. And for that reason, I added an amendment to the NDAA — to the defense authorization — that gives the Afghanistan commission subpoena power to declassify and access decision-making documents from the last 20 years — from 9/11 to today — because we’ve got to understand better over the course of four administrations why we were doing what we did,” Auchincloss said.
Top of mind: “We’ve had classified discussions with the White House on their approach to Iran. I’m confident they are being thoughtful, deliberative [and] substantive in their approach to Iran. Obviously, I can’t share all the details of those conversations, but I know that the president and his closest advisors have Israel’s security top of mind when they’re thinking about this issue.
Local government: Auchincloss, who toured Newton (Mass.) Housing Authority’s Norumbega Gardens with Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) on Wednesday, spoke about how their shared local government background gave them a different perspective of how government works. “Both of us come from city council backgrounds, where, at the local level, and for all the friction of local governance, it’s solutions-oriented. At the end of the day, you got to take the trash out, you got to pave the roads, you got to build the schools, you got to make sure the dog parks are getting the investments that they need. And we want to bring that solutions-oriented approach to Washington as well,” Auchincloss said.
Campus watch: “Support for Israel right now is a bipartisan issue. I think the Iron Dome vote underscores that more than 450 representatives and the vast majorities of the respective parties voted in favor of Iron Dome support. I do think that’s shifting. I think that on college campuses across the country, and in high schools across the country, being anti-Zionist is increasingly being conflated with being progressive. And those of us who care deeply about Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israel relationship need to be watchful and need to be responsive to this current [situation] because I think we can appreciate that what’s being discussed in the college debating rooms of 2021 is going to be discussed in the halls of Congress in 2035.”
Bonus: Favorite Yiddish word? “Chutzpah.” Favorite Jewish food? “My grandmother’s matzo ball soup. I mean, my grandmother used to make it all the time.” Recent book recommendation? A Short History of Europe by Simon Jenkins. Dunkin’ Donuts or Sam Adams? “Dunks for sure.”
word on the street
Reading the room at Planet Word
Last Thursday, just before lunchtime, it was time for karaoke. A woman belted out Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” trying in vain to get her embarrassed daughter, maybe 10 years old, to join in. Instead, she got Ann B. Friedman, 67, who sidled up beside her and started singing: Jolene, Jolene, Jolene Joleeeene. The two women do not know each other, though this was not the raucous brand of karaoke that follows too many sake bombs or mixed drinks. They were in an exhibit at Planet Word, an interactive museum devoted to words, language and literacy that opened in Washington, D.C., last year. Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch recently went on a tour of the museum with Friedman, its founder and CEO.
Use your words: This room is meant to teach visitors about songwriting, one of several exhibits that are “devoted to what we do with words,” said Friedman. People can choose from a couple of dozen songs that the museum has acquired the rights to, with Disney hits “Let It Go” and “Moana,” among the most popular. The lyrics are projected on a wall, while certain elements of songwriting — like metaphors, alliteration and repetition — are highlighted and explained next to the text.
Celebrating language: Spread over the five stories of the historic Franklin School, a century-and-a-half-old red-brick building across from Franklin Square in downtown Washington, the museum is the embodiment of Friedman’s love of language and reading. “One of the big questions I got a lot of time from people when I told them about the museum was, ‘Oh, are you going to have an exhibit on diagramming sentences?’ I was like, ‘No. This is not a right or wrong museum. This is where we celebrate language like we use it,’” Friedman recalled.
Stops and starts: After a late-October opening last year — delayed from a planned May 2020 opening — the museum operated for just five weeks before a pandemic-mandated shutdown that lasted until April of this year. Now, only 100 people are allowed in the museum at a time.
Hebrew lesson: One exhibit allows visitors to “practice” their foreign language skills with speakers of 28 different languages. Friedman walks up to a tablet and begins the brief Hebrew lesson, which include an explanation of how Eliezer Ben-Yehuda modernized Hebrew in the late-19th century, along with some of the words he created — like tapuz, orange, created from a mishmash of the words for “apple” and “gold.”
Ulpan interrupted: Friedman, who described her Jewish upbringing as “very Reform,” spent several years in Israel in the 1980s when her husband, The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, served as the paper’s Jerusalem bureau chief. “I went to ulpan, and then I kept getting pregnant,” Friedman recalled, laughing. “I had enough [fluency] to do grocery shopping and things like that. But never an advanced level with Hebrew.”
📽️ Disney Drama: The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters looks at the occasionally choppy transition to new leadership under Bob Chapek as Disney chairman as former CEO Bob Iger gradually withdraws from the company’s day-to-day operations. “Transitions are almost always messy. Just ask the ghost of Sumner Redstone, whose refusal to loosen his grip on his empire steered it into a ditch. Michael Eisner, Iger’s predecessor, didn’t handle leaving well; he ultimately was pushed out after a shareholder revolt. Iger was hazed when he took over in 2005. But as it turned out, Iger would become an especially hard act to follow, not only hugely successful in building the business but the very embodiment of a polished entertainment executive: immaculate in his presentation, friends with Oprah and Lin-Manuel. Almost anyone seems earthbound in comparison.” [HollywoodReporter]
🧑🤝🧑 Overcoming Odds: Omar Sharif Jr., writes in Tablet about his childhood experiences with bullying, and how a trip to Israel and Poland combined with stories of perseverance of his grandparents — who were Holocaust survivors — helped him to get through challenging times. “We went to the Old City of Jerusalem, where I saw the four sections, the Christian Quarter, Jewish Quarter, Muslim Quarter, and Armenian Quarter, each of which celebrated their differences and uniqueness while united by circumstance and geography. It was a beautiful mosaic of how the world could be and of how I saw myself. That trip left me hopeful that I would see rebirth after devastation. Despite challenges and political upheaval, spring always follows winter, the light comes after the darkness, and hate can turn to hope. It was clear to me that people can overcome anything.” [Tablet]
Around the Web
💵 Crackdown: Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) introduced a bill intended to crack down on money laundering in the U.S. by foreign leaders, which they framed partly as a response to the Pandora Papers.
😠 Hill Holdup: Sen. Ron Paul’s block of the $1 billion Iron Dome replenishment is frustrating fellow Senate Republicans, some of whom have said that Paul’s objection is “making it more difficult” to advocate for normally uncontroversial aid to Israel.
🇴🇲 Eye on Oman: Eliav Benjamin, head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and Peace Process Division, suggested Wednesday that Oman could be the next country to normalize relations with Israel.
📱 Bad Reception: The estranged wife of UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and her aides were among the individuals whose phones were hacked using technology from Israel’s NSO Group.
🤝 PR Purchase: International public affairs consultancy Finsbury Glover Hering has acquired Washington, D.C.-based PR firm The Harbour Group, a long-time representative of the United Arab Emirates.
📄 Consulate Controversy: Israeli Likud lawmaker Nir Barkat introduced legislation in the Knesset seeking to block the U.S. plan to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which was closed during the Trump administration and merged with the U.S. Embassy when it moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
💉 Making the List: Moderna co-founder Robert Langer was added to Forbes’s list of the wealthiest 400 Americans, following his company’s success developing and manufacturing a vaccine for COVID-19.
✉️ Never Forget: Germany earmarked $767 million additional dollars in reparations for Holocaust survivors, much of which will be sent to survivors of the Nazi’s siege on Leningrad.
🇺🇦 Historical Dispute: A Ukrainian Holocaust memorial marking the site of the Babyn Yar massacre has come under criticism from Ukrainians who claim that the site — which is being financed by Russian billionaires — seeks to spread an inaccurate, revisionist, pro-Russian narrative about the Holocaust, despite the role Holocaust experts and prominent international figures played in designing the site.
🟢 Green Scene: Israeli Minister of Environment Protection Tamar Zandberg and Minister of Energy and Water Resources Karine Elharrer met with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry in the United Arab Emirates.
✍️ Bringing It In: Barry Diller’s IAC will acquire Meredith Corp. in a $2.7 billion deal.
💲 Big Earnings: Gigi Levy-Weiss’s venture firm NFX announced Wednesday that it raised $450 million for its third fund — its largest to date.
🏢 Hiring Frenzy: Microsoft plans to hire 2,500 employees in Israel over the next four years, more than doubling the current number of staff while expanding the number of campuses around the country.
🛵 App Acquisition: Israeli mobility company GoTo Global Mobility Ltd, backed by WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, has acquired German electric scooter-sharing startup Emmy, advancing its mission to expand to every major European city.
🏦 Big Bank: Israel’s Central Bank will reportedly hold interest rates constant at 0.1% for the 12th consecutive meeting.
🇮🇷 Hostage Diplomacy: An American father and son being held hostage by Iran are unlikely to be allowed to leave the country, despite the father’s ailing health and repeated pleas from the hostages’ family to American and international leaders calling for foreign intervention.
📡 Drone Dilemma: The accessibility and popularity of drone technology has allowed Iran to conduct bolder attacks on U.S. allies and interests, raising concerns over Tehran’s power in the region.
☢️ Vienna Talks: Iran said it will resume talks over its nuclear program soon, following a months-long breakdown in diplomatic discussions.
🕯️ Remembering: Longtime “Late Night with David Letterman” announcer Alan Kalter, known for his comic relief as a participant in the show’s stunts and bits, died at 78. Lawyer Neal Sher, a former executive director of AIPAC who is also remembered for his work as the Justice Department’s chief Nazi hunter, died at 74.
Pic of the Day
“His Death,” a new Yiddish short film about a secular man visiting his Hasidic family in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood for the first time in years, will be screened next week at the Chelsea Film Festival.
Co-founder and chief growth officer at Riseup Israel, Tamara Harel-Cohen…
Atlanta-area resident, Allan Nelkin turns 72… Margery Nyberg of Highland Park, Ill… President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin turns 69… Senior advisor to the chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Jill Smith… Director of security at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Ron Vosatka turns 67… Founder and chair of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, Kenneth L. Marcus turns 55… President of Detroit’s Imperial Management and a board member of the William Davidson Foundation, Eli Saulson turns 54… Creator, host and producer of “Extra Virgin” on the Cooking Channel, Gabriele Corcos turns 49… Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, N.J., Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner turns 48… Political fundraiser and strategist, Arie Lipnick turns 40… Member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Michael Malchieli turns 39… Director of the leadership institute at AIPAC, Natalie Lascar Lefkowitz turns 38… Executive director at the Israel Action Network and AVP for public affairs at The Jewish Federations of North America, Adam Teitelbaum turns 34… CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based MW Impressions, Daniel Mael turns 29… Executive assistant and event planner at itrek, Tayla Harris turns 29… Senior editor for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Magazine, Barbara E. Martinez… Director of strategic initiatives and partnerships at Charidy, Samuel Schear…