👋 Good Friday morning!
Ed. note: The Daily Kickoff will return Tuesday morning.
For less-distracted reading over the long weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: The latest challenge for SpaceIL co-founder — virtual biopsies; Reckoning with Judah Benjamin, the Jewish slave-holder and Confederate mastermind; The battle for Jewish Agency head heats up; Yair Lapid: ‘The most important relation we have is with American Jewry’; Young ‘mavericks’ envision new GOP; ‘My life is not in threat anymore,’ Afghanistan’s last Jew says after leaving country; and Reading the room at Planet Word. Print the latest edition here.
The Senate voted last night to raise the debt ceiling by $480 billion — an increase expected to carry the U.S. to early December — following days of intense partisan wrangling.
Following a deal between Republican and Democratic leadership, 11 Republicans voted with Senate Democrats to break a filibuster. Republicans say they still want to force Democrats to raise the debt ceiling in the long term through reconciliation, without Republican support, setting up a likely repeat of this saga in December.
U.S. Naval officials, led by Vice Admiral Brad Cooper of the 5th Fleet, concluded a visit to Israel on Thursday, including meetings with Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Commander in Chief of the Israeli Navy Vice Admiral David Saar Salama and head of the IDF’s International Cooperation Division, Brig. Gen. Effie Defrin. The meetings focused on a number of strategic issues, including “various threats in the region and the common way to maintain the security and stability of the maritime arena,” the Israeli army said in a statement on Friday.
Salama said the visit “led to significant progress in the common issues that concern the State of Israel and the United States alike.” Cooper said in a statement, “Our commitment to Israel is unwavering and this visit highlighted the importance of our decades-long strategic relationship. The recent alignment of Israel to U.S. Central Command opens new opportunities to deepen our naval ties and enhance regional maritime security and stability.” This is Cooper’s second visit to Israel since assuming his position last May.
Israel inaugurated its pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai on Thursday evening in a colorful ceremony boasting an illuminated Star of David flag and including several Israeli officials. Israel’s pavilion at the international fair touts the country’s historical landmarks and technological leadership.
Thursday’s opening event began with a traditional mezuzah ceremony performed by Rabbi Levi Duchman, before Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov and Commissioner General of the Israel Pavilion Elazar Cohen cut the ribbon. The mezuzah case was made and designed exclusively for the Expo by Judaica artist David Roytman.
“For the first time in history, the Expo fair is being held in an Arab country,” Razvozov said. “It is also the first time there is an Israeli pavilion in a major fair on Arab soil. It is one of the most sound and robust steps toward cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and Israel in history.”
“Tonight, by placing the mezuzah at the entrance of our pavilion, we turned it into our home,” Cohen said. “I have been dreaming of this day for many years and at this historical moment, I wish to thank Israel and the UAE governments, for making this dream come true. Our pavilion is open to everyone, and while many things divide us, common challenges and the hope for ‘tomorrow’ unite us. Together we can and will make our future, our tomorrow, better.”
on the hill
Senate Dems give GOP more time to convince Rand Paul to back down on Iron Dome
Senate Democratic leadership wants to give Republicans more time to convince Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to drop his amendment to a bill for a $1 billion supplement to Iron Dome funding, a Senate source told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod, even as Paul blocked two additional attempts on Wednesday to schedule a vote on the funding.
Holding back: Democratic leadership is not yet ready to file cloture on the bill — a procedural tool to limit debate on a measure and start the process of bringing it to a vote on the Senate floor — because party leaders want to provide time to Republicans who “are trying to talk sense into Rand Paul,” the source said.
On the floor: Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) took to the Senate floor in succession on Wednesday to request unanimous consent to fast-track and schedule a vote on the Iron Dome funding, in an apparent effort to increase the pressure on Paul to allow it to proceed. Paul blocked both requests — the second and third time he has done so this week.
Scheduling issues: The Senate also faces a number of high-priority issues that will consume substantial time on the floor when it returns from its weeklong Columbus Day recess, including government funding, infrastructure, the Democratic social spending reconciliation bill and a long-term debt limit increase. Those would make it difficult for leadership to schedule time to pass the Iron Dome funding through regular order. The Senate could also fold the funding into the year-end defense appropriations package, but that would likely frustrate House Democrats who eschewed that approach last month. There is also no guarantee that the defense appropriations process will otherwise be completed by the end of the year.
Inside baseball: Also on Thursday, staffers for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) revealed that Sanders had secured a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for increased humanitarian aid to Gaza in 2022 in exchange for Sanders’s support for Iron Dome. In a letter to Schumer, Sanders requested that an equal amount, $1 billion, be provided for assistance to Gaza. A source close to the negotiations downplayed the significance of this agreement, telling JI that Schumer and Sanders have not reached a deal on a specific amount for Palestinian aid. Sanders’s request is an $850 million increase over the total $150 million the U.S. provided to Palestinians for 2021 and would almost certainly fail in the Senate.
bay state debate
Massachusetts Jewish groups raise concerns about state ethnic studies bill
After a prolonged and contentious debate over ethnic studies education in California, Massachusetts is taking steps to introduce its own legislation, raising concerns among Jewish community leaders over how such a curriculum will be created and eventually implemented, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
What it says: The bill, known as S.365, would create a Commission for Anti-Racism and Equity in Education that would be tasked with prioritizing equity in teaching certification, developing curricula “with a social justice perspective” and ensuring that “ethnic studies, racial justice, decolonizing history, and unlearning racism is taught at all grade levels,” according to the text of the bill. A spokesperson for the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jason Lewis, declined to comment.
Following the playbook: “It’s a bill that is touching on racial justice, something that we all view as a priority, [but it] provides very little guidance on how our schools are going to achieve that,” Rob Leikind, director of the American Jewish Committee’s New England office, told JI. “It’s not a lot to go on, but language that is used in the bill is straight out of the critical ethnic studies playbook, so it leads to a concern that we may be duplicating the experience that existed in California.”
Golden State strategy: The Massachusetts legislation comes on the heels of a lengthy legislative and pedagogical debate in California around a bill that would mandate the teaching of ethnic studies in Golden State schools. The bill — which passed the legislature and is currently awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature — sparked controversy in the state’s Jewish community when early drafts of a proposed ethnic studies curriculum did not teach about antisemitism and included praise of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Loudest voices: The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston would get a seat on the commission, along with a mix of grassroots organizations and more entrenched advocacy groups like the ACLU and the NAACP. The concern of JCRC and its partners is not that they are being left out, but that the process — with no clear oversight provisions — could lead to a curriculum that is more controversial than it is constructive, with the most extreme ideological voices winning out like they did at first in California. JCRC, like AJC, submitted public testimony expressing concerns about the bill.
💸 Fink or Swim: Financial Times’s Robin Wigglesworth chronicles the career of Larry Fink from the son of a shoe-store owner and English professor to the “undisputed king of Wall Street.” His profile traces Fink’s successful career through the bursting of the dot-com bubble to the financial crisis, and his subsequent rise as a key player in financial circles. Detailing the beginning of Fink’s career in finance, Wigglesworth writes, “Many of his team were Jewish, leading some at the firm to dub Fink’s desk ‘Little Israel’. In the 1970s and 1980s, Italians and Jews were still sometimes held at arm’s length at Waspier Wall Street firms like First Boston… Despite the awful, casual xenophobia of the era, Fink loved it at First Boston, which was at its core scrappy and meritocratic. The reality was that no one cared who you were, as long as you made money. And Fink made money.” [FT]
👈 Unsurprising Antisemitism: Writing in The Jerusalem Post Friday, Mark Regev, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom and former spokesman to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, uses the recent attempts by far-left members of Congress to halt the supplementary Iron Dome funding proposal to explore the historical roots of antisemitism on the left. “How can the Left, which proudly champions the equality of all, be bigoted against Jews? Hating Jews was often presumed to be the prerogative of the radical Right, while progressives were ostensibly committed to the fight against racism in all its forms…. Yet over the generations, antisemitism has existed and even flourished on the Left. Historic Christian teachings about Jewish money changers defiling the Temple and medieval myths about manipulative Shylock-type money lenders provide fertile soil for modern left-wing antisemitism. It was all too natural to portray the Jews as the evil capitalists living off the sweat and suffering of the poor.” [JPost]
👂 Deafening Silence: Author Gil Troy argues in the Wall Street Journal that Vice President Kamala Harris’s response to a George Mason University student’s claims last month that Israel was committing ‘ethnic genocide’ was most alarming because of her silence. “Kamala Harris’s inability to reject a student’s agitated slurs against America was disturbing. But Ms. Harris’s response was especially alarming because she wasn’t alarmed. Her answer proclaimed that, in her world, hearing someone falsely accuse Israel and America of genocide is unremarkable… What little reaction there was from the media quickly faded. Yawns are as revealing as shouts. What we don’t notice is as noteworthy as what we do. What doesn’t scandalize us is as scandalous as what does… Ms. Harris is not anti-Semitic. She is not anti-Zionist, anti-Israel or anti-American. Her reaction is a weather vane, indicating where the Democrats’ conversation might be heading.”[WSJ]
✍️ By the Numbers: The New York Times’s Ezra Klein does a deep dive into data scientist David Shor’s analysis of Democrats’ unlikely chances of keeping the majority in future elections. “This, to me, is the most important of Shor’s argument: He is right to insist that the Democratic Party is an institution that is composed, at the top, of a narrow group of people and that is afflicted by many of their blind spots. Whether he is right about what those blind spots are or his critics are right that he is adding some of his own is a secondary concern. For the Democratic Party to chart any course out of the peril it faces, it must first accept that in the minds of most Americans, it is a party, a singular entity. And before that party can shape what voters think, it must find a way to see itself clearly and act collectively.” [NYTimes]
🗳️ Lasting Leadership: The Atlantic‘s Ronald Brownstein examines a study by the Way to Win group, a leading Democratic Party fundraising organization, which analyzes the electoral landscape and how the Democrats can secure sustainable, long-term leadership. “The study, from the group Way to Win, provided exclusively to The Atlantic, argues that to solidify their position in Congress and the Electoral College, Democrats must increase their investment and focus on Sun Belt states that have become more politically competitive over recent years as they have grown more urbanized and racially diverse. ‘The majority of new, likely Democratic voters live in the South and Southwest, places the Democratic establishment have long ignored or are just waking up to now,’ the group argues in the report.” [Atlantic]
Around the Web
⚖️ Religious Freedom: A New York judge will issue a ruling within a week on a lawsuit brought by healthcare workers seeking religious exemptions from the state’s vaccine mandate.
🥇 High Honor: Scientist David Julius was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in studying how individuals respond to temperature.
👨🏻⚖️ In the Courts: Shareholders in medical startup Autonomous Medical Devices Inc. are suing the board and majority owner, Larry Ellison, over the terms of the firm’s Series B financing.
🌱 Vegan Food Wars:In the Washingtonian, Nancy Scola dives into D.C.’s vegan food scene, and the competing ideologies about who should be at its forefront.
🔨 Case Dismissed: A judge in Argentina dismissed charges against the country’s former president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, over her role in an alleged cover-up of Iran’s involvement in the attack on the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994.
🚢 Gulf Trouble: Iranian television reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps intercepted American vessels in the Persian Gulf.
🇺🇸 New Numbers: A new survey from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs finds that 53% of Americans would support U.S. intervention if Israel were attacked, consistent with numbers from 2015.
🙅♀️ Bombshell Allegation: Former Israeli ambassador and Labor Knesset member Colette Avital alleged that former President Shimon Peres sexually harassed her in the 1980s.
📽️ Silver Screen: Israeli filmmaker Evgeny Ruman’s new film “Golden Voices” tells the story of a Soviet Jewish couple who emigrate to Israel in 1990, where they work as voice actors.
✡️ Roots: In The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Porwancher writes that years of research has led him to believe that “Alexander Hamilton, a Caribbean orphan turned financial visionary,” was Jewish.
✉️ Fallout: Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) sent a letter to Vice President Kamala Harris criticizing her over an exchange with a student at George Mason University who accused Israel of “ethnic genocide.” They urged her to apologize and “pledge to fight antisemitism, and work strongly to support Israel.”
💰 Cited: Israeli-American Hollywood producer and billionaire Arnon Milchan, a witness for the prosecution against former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was named in the Pandora Papers.
➡️ Transitions: Fernando Lottenberg was named the Organization of American States’ commissioner to monitor and combat antisemitism. Marshall Project founder Neil Barsky is stepping down from his role as chairman of the board. Jordan Colvin has joined Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)’s office as legislative director. h/t Playbook
🕯️ Remembering: Neuroscientist Mortimer Mishkin, who received the National Medal of Science in 2010, died at 94.
Whiskey of the Week
Noam Neusner reviews the DS Tayman 12 Year Linkwood:
“DS Tayman is a fresh and independent brand from Danny Saltman, who works actively in the United Kingdom in the wine and spirits industry. He spent time traveling across Scotland looking for single-malt whiskeys that hit a certain flavor profile, and after finishing them in wine barrels from Flam, an Israeli boutique winery, has produced some interesting and flavorful offerings. I tried the 10 Year Caol Ila and the 12 Year Linkwood — both first editions and both carry kosher supervision — and was impressed with both. The Caol Ila really carries the earthy and rich fruitiness that you’d expect after being finished in wine barrels. For kosher whiskey drinkers normally closed out of sherry cask-finished whiskeys, this is a good approximation of what happens when a whiskey is rounded by a gentle grape but without the preening sweetness of the sherry.
“But it’s the 12 Year Linkwood that really stands out. As you’d expect from a mature 12-year-old whiskey, the Linkwood has a crisp and peppery profile that stands on its own. It hits the palate the way you’d expect a mature whiskey to, but it really distinguishes itself on the way it continues to open up once it gets past the roof of the mouth. I compared it to a Yamazaki 12 year, and it was definitely on par, at roughly a third the price.”
Gif of the Day
Appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” comedian and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Susie Essman name-checked famed Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan. “So few late-night shows make Moshe Dayan references these days,” Colbert joked in response. “I was doing my impression of David Ben-Gurion last night.”
Movie director, writer and filmmaker, Shira Piven turns 60…
FRIDAY: Leah Koenig turns 94… Founder and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Isadore “Issy” Sharp turns 90… General surgeon in Tempe, Arizona, Agustin Estrada, MD turns 90… Columnist and businesswoman, Rona Barrett turns 85… Author of more than 300 horror fiction novels that have sold over 400 million copies, R. L. Stine turns 78… Attorney general of Maryland, Brian E. Frosh turns 75… Academy Award-winning film producer and director, Edward Zwick turns 69… CEO of Heart of a Nation, Jonathan Kessler turns 65… One of two Jewish Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, he represents Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District, David Kustoff turns 55… Scholar-in-residence at UJA-Federation of New York, Rabbi Menachem Creditor turns 46… Entertainment reporter and sports commentator, Ben Lyons turns 40… Magazine editor and daughter of Wolf Blitzer, Ilana Michelle Blitzer Snider turns 40… Freelance communications specialist, Aliyana Traison turns 39… Founder of Knock Knock, Give a Sock, Adina Lichtman turns 29…
SATURDAY: Founder and executive chairman of C-SPAN, Brian Lamb turns 80… Retired federal government manager and analyst, Charles “Chuck” Miller turns 76… Burbank, California resident, Richard Marpet turns 74… Former U.S. ambassador to Canada in the Obama administration, he is now an executive at Bank of Montreal, Ambassador David Jacobson turns 70… Commissioner of Major League Soccer, Don Garber turns 64… VNOC engineer at Avaya, David Gerstman turns 61… Director of Jewish learning at the Brandeis School of San Francisco, Debby Arzt-Mor turns 59… Managing director and financial advisor at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management and co-chair of DMFI, Todd Richman turns 52… Best-selling author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant, Simon Sinek turns 48… Rabbi at Ohev Shalom Synagogue in Washington, D.C., Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld turns 47… Musician and singer, Neshama Carlebach turns 47… Israel’s minister of energy, Karin Elharar Hartstein turns 44… Executive coach and founding President of The Ringel Group, Rae Ringel… VP for Jewish Education at Hillel International, Rabbi Benjamin Berger turns 42… Partner at Left Hook Strategy, Justin Barasky turns 40… CEO at Denver-based energy firm Nexus BSP, he is the board chair of Moishe House, Ben Lusher turns 38… Associate director of legislative affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, David Meyerson turns 37… VP at JBG Smith Properties, Lily Goldstein turns 34… Associate at Brunswick Group in San Francisco, Julia Schechter turns 29… Instock manager at Amazon in NYC, Kayla Levinson Segal turns 28… CEO at Tel Aviv-based Keese, Daniel Rubin… SVP at SKDKnickerbocker, Jason Kaplan… Physical therapist in Montreal, Chaya Notik…
SUNDAY: Professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, he has argued 35 cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, Laurence Tribe turns 80… Past chairman and CEO of KB Home, Bruce Karatz turns 76… Physician, philanthropist and the majority owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Miriam Adelson turns 76… Long-time IDF Chaplain, Yedidya Atlas turns 68… Award-winning writer and photographer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Diane Joy Schmidt turns 68… Vocalist and songwriter best known as the lead singer of Van Halen, David Lee Roth turns 67… Co-chairman and chief investment officer of Oaktree Capital Management, Bruce Karsh turns 66… Former NASA astronaut who flew on five Space Shuttle missions, John M. Grunsfeld turns 63… Shareholder at the Bethesda, Md., law firm of Selzer Gurvitch, Neil Gurvitch turns 63… Founder and principal of Freeman Group and Metro Properties, Rodney Freeman turns 59… Governmental relations and strategic communications principal at BMWL & Partners, Sam Lauter turns 58… Israeli comedian and actor, Asi Cohen turns 47… Jerusalem-based author and writer, Matti Friedman turns 44… White House Jewish liaison, Chanan Weissman turns 38… President at the Alliance to Combat Extremism Fund, Ian Sugar turns 36… Director of government relations and public affairs at Equinor, Seth Levey turns 35… VP in the Chicago office of Goldman Sachs, Avi Davidoff turns 35… Director of campus programming and strategic relationships at CAMERA, Hali Haber Spiegel turns 29… Adviser for human rights at Israel’s Mission at the United Nations, Or Shaked…