👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met in Washington, D.C., yesterday with Vice President Kamala Harris, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Joe Wilson (R-SC).
Schneider told Jewish Insider, regarding the meeting with House legislators, “This was a small, bipartisan group that had a chance to talk about the priorities for Mr. Lapid on his visit,” including Iran’s nuclear program, Iron Dome funding and the two-state solution. “It’s a great honor to be with the foreign minister and reaffirm the bipartisan commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Lapid called Harris “one of the best friends Israel has in Washington,” despite recent criticisms of the vice president by some pro-Israel advocates over her handling of an exchange with a George Mason University student who accused Israel of “ethnic genocide.”
In remarks to reporters prior to a private meeting, Lapid praised Pelosi for “some sleepless nights” spent moving supplemental Iron Dome funding through the House over objections from some members of her party.
Lapid reportedly warned Sullivan that the U.S. needs an alternative plan to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions if it is unable to reenter the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Today, Lapid will participate in a trilateral meeting with Secretary of State Tony Blinken and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.
The three officials are expected to jointly announce working groups on religious coexistence and water and energy issues, which the officials described as an outgrowth of the Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and the UAE last year.
Tomorrow, Lapid will meet with Jewish leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, according to an invitation obtained by JI.
Government officials and Jewish leaders are in Malmö, Sweden, this week for the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism. Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai was set to meet with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to discuss the first-ever European Union Commission strategy on antisemitism and how best to serve the Swedish Jewish community. Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Blinken addressed the forum virtually.
“When criticism of a particular Israeli policy mutates into questioning Israel’s very right to exist — this is not diplomacy, this is demonization and antisemitism, because Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People,” Herzog said, calling for international cooperation to fight antisemitism and stressing the need to remove antisemitic content from social media.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called on participants to address three core issues surrounding antisemitism: violence, cyberhate and education. “If we can work together to tackle those three issues, Jewish communities around the world will live more confidently and more freely in a much better and safer world,” he said. American Jewish Committee President Harriet Schleifer also addressed the conference.
In the Florida 20 special election, one candidate declares opposition to Iron Dome funding
In the crowded special House primary to succeed Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), no fewer than 11 candidates are competing for the rare open seat that had long been occupied by the former dean of Florida’s congressional delegation, who died in April at 84. Even with just a few weeks remaining until voters cast their ballots on Nov. 2, the race remains somewhat in flux. But experts who spoke with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel identified a group of top-tier candidates who are likely to emerge from the crowded field, including such elected officials as state Sen. Perry Thurston, state Rep. Bobby DuBose and Broward County Commissioners Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief, the latter of whom earlier this week notched an endorsement from Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL).
Voting no: While the leading contenders all seem largely aligned in their support for Israel — a cause championed by Hastings during his time in Congress — one staunchly progressive wild-card candidate, first-term state Rep. Omari Hardy, is sharing more critical views of the U.S.-Israel relationship. In an interview with JI on Monday, Hardy, 31, expressed his firm opposition to legislation that would grant $1 billion in supplemental aid for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. The bill, which is currently stalled in the Senate, was overwhelmingly approved last month by both parties following an emotionally charged House vote in which just eight Democrats and one Republican voted against the measure. “I would have voted no,” Hardy said bluntly. “Some folks have argued that voting against the billion dollars is taking the position that Israel doesn’t have a right to defend itself or that America should not help Israel defend itself,” he added. “I think that’s disingenuous given that we’re still providing $3.8 billion of military aid to Israel this year.”
BDS and conditioning aid: Hardy supports conditioning aid to the Jewish state, arguing that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank amounts to a series of human rights violations that the U.S. is effectively funding by proxy. “I can’t vote to send military aid to Israel as long as the human rights abuses continue,” he said. “My conscience won’t let me support some of the very problematic practices there…The funding is leverage that we have to ensure that Palestinians are not mistreated,” Hardy elaborated, “and to the extent that we have leverage to generate an outcome that is in comportment with our values, we should use that leverage.” Though critics have argued that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement also unfairly targets Israel, Hardy said he supports the cause out of a conviction that non-violent resistance is the last avenue of legitimate recourse available to the Palestinians.
Outside the norm: While Hardy’s positions on Israel stand well outside the Democratic mainstream, they are even more striking because they go beyond what some of the most outspoken Israel critics in the House have been willing to say publicly. Even the leading far-left candidates across the country who are now mounting congressional primary challenges with backing from Justice Democrats, the feisty political group that had at one point labeled Israel a “human rights violator,” have balked at calls to boycott Israel, instead advocating for conditioning aid to the Jewish state.
Varying disapproval: Local Jewish leaders in and around South Florida’s 20th Congressional District, which includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, expressed varying levels of disapproval with regard to Hardy’s Middle East foreign policy views, despite his appeal to transparency. “On the BDS stuff, that’s obviously disappointing, and on the Iron Dome stuff that’s obviously disappointing,” said Mitchell Berger, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and prominent Hardy campaign donor. “On how much you fund Israel, that’s a legitimate topic for debate right now.” He said he would continue to support Hardy in spite of their disagreements on Israel. “I’ll certainly try and educate him as to why he is wrong on these things,” Berger told JI.
Change of tone: “We are concerned about him, there’s no question about it,” said Richard Stark, who chairs the Broward County Democratic Party Jewish Caucus and cohosted a candidate forum last month in which Hardy participated. During the forum, as Stark recalled, Hardy seemed significantly more sympathetic to Israel than his current views would suggest, even explicitly stating his opposition to BDS. “That doesn’t mean that he was not speaking the truth,” Stark told JI. “But what’s getting out is that he may not be so pro-Israel like he portrayed himself in our meeting.”
Fernando Lottenberg takes on antisemitism across the Western Hemisphere
For the first time in its more than 70-year history, the Organization of American States has designated a point person to tackle antisemitism in the Western Hemisphere. Fernando Lottenberg, a Brazilian constitutional attorney who previously served as the leader of the country’s Jewish community, began serving as the OAS commissioner to monitor and combat antisemitism last week. Lottenberg talked to Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutchin a phone interview from São Paulo yesterday about his priorities for the new position and why he’s thinking bigger than South America.
Regional approach: While he is not a well-known figure among Jewish leaders in North America, Lottenberg is committed to working with them in this new role. “It’s important for everybody to remember that [antisemitism] is not something that relates only to Latin America,” said Lottenberg, who added that it is a “common mistake” for people to think that OAS’s purview is only Latin America. In fact, “It includes the U.S. and it includes Canada,” he noted.
Brazil born and bred: Lottenberg comes to the role after serving for six years as the president of the Jewish Confederation of Brazil, the country’s leading Jewish communal group. With 120,000 Jews, Brazil has the second-largest Jewish population in Latin America, behind Argentina. Born and raised in São Paulo, Lottenberg, 59, has spent most of his life there. He earned his bachelor’s, law degree and doctorate at the University of São Paulo, with a brief stint at the University of Texas at Austin through the Fulbright Scholars Program.
Good for democracy: The countries in the Americas share core values, Lottenberg argued, and fighting antisemitism is in line with preserving their commitment to democracy. He pledged to work with antisemitism envoys in Canada and the U.S. to “keep our continent as it was promised, a land where people can come and settle and thrive by keeping their identities, and living together in a place where you’re not asked where you’ve come from, but what you do, what you can contribute to your society.”
Making connections: Lottenberg has reached out to Irwin Cotler, Canada’s former justice minister who currently serves as the country’s special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism, and to Deborah Lipstadt, a Holocaust historian who is awaiting Senate confirmation as the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. “This is an important regional and hemispheric appointment,” Cotler told JI. In an email, Lipstadt praised the selection of Lottenberg, whom she does not know personally. “I welcome this appointment and, should I be confirmed by the Senate, look forward to working with Commissioner Lottenberg,” she told JI.
Entrepreneur Eitan Neishlos wants to break the mold of philanthropy
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia, entrepreneur Eitan Neishlos and the payments provider company he cofounded repurposed their technology in order to help out with the crisis — a reflection of his philosophy that people’s skills and businesses can be drawn on to perform acts of philanthropy. Previously, people coming to be tested had to manually fill out paper forms and wait in long lines at drive-through testing stations. “That invites data corruption, that slows down processes, it’s arguably unhygienic as people are transferring documents amongst themselves and it’s very tedious and slow,” the Israeli-born, Australian corporate lawyer, businessman and philanthropist told Jewish Insider’s Tamara Zieve in a recent interview at his seaside apartment in Tel Aviv.
Out-of-the-box philanthropy: “[There’s] a way of looking to your own skill sets, your own resources, your own business, your own job, whatever it might be, and actually providing a conscientious service,” Neishlos told JI, part of a philosophy he is now loudly touting as he seeks to cultivate a new generation of philanthropists. “This for me is breaking the mold of philanthropy. My call to action to people is to do something, and if someone can’t write a check, if someone can’t give of their own personal time, maybe they can look to their business or maybe they can look to their skill set.” Philanthropy shouldn’t just refer to donations of grand sums of money reserved for the rich — such as himself — he argues, but a more accessible and sustainable approach to giving. Time, he suggests as an example, is a valuable resource that people can give in addition to or in place of money.
Business with a social conscience: Neishlos’s own experiences in fintech and the banking world — particularly working in developing countries — taught him that investment isn’t just about financial profit, but involves a social conscience. Spending time in developing countries such as Venezuela, Peru and Nepal, where he was heavily involved in projects surrounding the subject of financial inclusion, Neishlos said, exposed him to complex societal issues. He was forced to tackle the question of how to bring the unbanked into the banking world. “And so that was, in a way, a very important touchpoint into philanthropy,” Neishlos said.
The collective power of giving: The entrepreneur has long been involved with the Australian branch of the Jewish National Fund, and more specifically with JNF Future, which targets Jewish young adults in Australia. Neishlos and a group of Jewish young adults, who were perturbed by the ad hoc nature of donations they made at a gala dinner, created JNF Future’s Generation Chai project through which every participant donates $18 a month. The beneficiary of the project is Roim Rahok, or Looking Ahead, an Israeli organization that trains young adults on the autism spectrum in professions required by the IDF and the civilian market. The project was launched in the first quarter of 2021 and garnered hundreds of sign-ups. “And if we can export that model, which I hope we will be able to… then maybe even possibly millions of dollars will be raised.” Neishlos said.
⛪ Church and the Jewish State: In the Washington Post, Elisha Wiesel reflects on the honor bestowed this week upon his father, Elie Wiesel, by the Washington National Cathedral, and grapples with the disconnect of some Christians who reject Israel’s existence. “How do I get well-intentioned people to recognize that if they find themselves in any movement that tolerates lies and hatred toward the world’s only Jewish state, unless they can challenge and remove the antisemitic poison, that place is not their place? My father’s generation was blessed with Christian allies such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who rejected the anti-Israel sentiment that threatened to infect his movement. Perhaps our next generation of allies will come from those who walk through the doors of the Washington National Cathedral and are inspired to ask questions about my father’s presence there.” [WashPost]
🇦🇿 Grand Strategy: In the Wall Street Journal, Michael Doran examines the complex geopolitics surrounding Iran, Israel, Azerbaijan and the United States in the wake of recent provocative Iranian military exercises along Azerbaijan’s border that are likely a response to Azerbaijan’s alliance with Israel. “The Israelis clearly recognize that the rise of Azerbaijan is knocking the Islamic Republic off balance. When members of the Azerbaijani minority in Iran learned that Iran was helping Russia to resupply the Armenian army during the war, they sabotaged transport vehicles and launched public protests. Moreover, the subsequent victory of the Azerbaijani army has all but shut Tehran out of the postwar diplomacy in the South Caucasus. On none of Iran’s other borders does Tehran feel so exposed and powerless to shape events.” [WSJ]
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Around the Web
⚖️ In the Courts: Jury selection for the trial of Lev Parnas, an associate of former President Donald Trump who faces campaign finance charges, began yesterday.
👨⚖️ Second Chance: A judge in Texas recommended that a Jewish death row inmate be granted a new trial after the defendant alleged that the judge in his first trial had made antisemitic and racist comments.
💉 False Parallels: A Republican member of Connecticut’s state House of Representatives is refusing calls to apologize for a Facebook post in which she compared the state’s governor, Ned Lamont, to Hitler over the state’s vaccine mandates.
🏢 New Shop: Trump administration veterans, including former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, will open an international affairs consulting firm that will advise countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including Israel.
🥯 Dine Time: The New York Times’s 2021 Top 50 restaurant list includes Philadelphia hotspots Korshak Bagels and Laser Wolf, the latter of which is owned by Mike Solomonov.
👮 Police Blotter: A 23-year-old Jewish man was shot with a BB gun and lightly wounded in Brooklyn on Monday night.
🎓 Campus Beat: University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank was named the president of Northwestern University, effective next summer.
📺 Cutting Room Floor: HBO Max altered portions of an episode of its “Generation Hustle” series that spotlighted WeWork founder Adam Neumann after his lawyers alleged the series employed “false implications” of Neumann.
📽️ On Demand: The Jerusalem Cinematheque is launching an English-language streaming service of the Israeli Film Archive.
📡 Big Deal: Hungarian data firm 4iG will spend $68 million for a controlling share of Israeli satellite operator Spacecom.
💲 Raising Dough: Israeli cybersecurity startup Wiz announced it had raised $250 million in private funding, valuing the company at $6 billion.
💸 Booming Business: Israeli AI chipmaker Hailo raised $136 million, done at a valuation of $1 billion, making the startup a unicorn.
🛴 Business Watch: Russian firm Yandex announced it will acquire Israeli scooter company Wind.
👀 Traffic Camera: Cousin of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, Ali Makhlouf, whose father is on multiple U.S. sanctions lists, was spotted driving a $300,000 Ferrari in Beverly Hills.
🪦 Grave Mistake: Local leaders of the German Protestant Church condemned the decision to bury a neo-nazi in an empty plot formally holding Jewish remains.
☢️ Warning: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on the U.N. Security Council to hold Iran accountable for escalating its nuclear program.
✡️ Race to Watch: Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is reportedly considering running for the position of Jewish Agency chairperson, after Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern dropped out of the race following an outcry over his remark that as a commander in the IDF he had shredded anonymous complaints of sexual harassment.
🍨 Shots Fired: Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N. Gilad Erdan accused Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of “helping the antisemites,” following an interview in which the duo defended the ice cream company’s decision to end sales in the West Bank.
✋ Diplomatic Quagmire: Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar stated that Israel will block America’s push to reopen its mission to Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
👩 Departure: White House Staff Secretary Jessica Hertz is leaving her position after less than a year.
🕯️ Remembering: Emmy Award-winning television producer Arnie Reisman, who appeared on the NPR quiz show “Says You,” died at 79.
Pic of the Day
A bust of author, activist and Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel was unveiled yesterday on the National Cathedral’s Human Rights Porch.
Award-winning actor, comedian and screenwriter, Sacha Baron Cohen turns 50…
Retired nurse, health educator and mother of journalist Ethan Bronner, she is the youngest of 11 children, Leah Bronner turns 104… Encino, Calif., resident, Sonia Bordo turns 84… Former deputy assistant secretary at the United States Department of Agriculture, now an attorney working on organic food law, Richard D. Siegel turns 82… Singer-songwriter, best known for his lead role in the Simon & Garfunkel duo, Paul Simon turns 80… Chair of the Anti-Defamation League, Esta Gordon Epstein turns 78… Founder of PublicAffairs Books, an imprint of Perseus Books at Hachette Book Group, Peter L.W. Osnos turns 78… U.S. senator (D-WA), Maria Cantwell turns 63… Former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer turns 61… Partner at Finsbury Glover Hering, Jack Krumholtz turns 60… Former AP bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, now a home-builder in the Indian state of Goa, Steven Gutkin turns 57… Second gentleman of the United States, Douglas Emhoff turns 57… Chairwoman of Walt Disney Television and ABC Entertainment, Dana Freedman Walden turns 57… Richard Lamke turns 57… Emmy Award-winning film director, producer and screenwriter, Amy J. Berg turns 51… Israeli fashion model, Shiraz Tal turns 47… Executive director of Hillel at Ohio University, Sarah Livingston turns 40… Author, novelist and blogger, Emily Gould turns 40… Pentagon correspondent for CNN, Oren Liebermann turns 39… Land use attorney at Seattle-based firm of Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson, Joshua E. Friedmann turns 33… Congressional reporter for NBC News, Rebecca Shabad turns 32…