👋 Good Tuesday morning!
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost more than $6 billion in a few hours, pushing him down to fifth place on the list of the world’s richest people, behind Bill Gates on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The Facebook engineering team apologized in a blog post for the inconvenience caused by the outage, which also halted WhatsApp and Instagram activity. “Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication,” the post said. “This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”
As Facebook begins to recuperate from the massive blow caused by the blackout, Haugen, a former product manager for civic misinformation at Facebook, is set to testify before the Senate on Tuesday that the social media giant puts profits over public safety.
J Street PAC is set to hold a fundraiser today for Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL), one of nine House members who voted against supplemental Iron Dome funding last month. The organization’s spokesperson, Logan Bayroff, said that J Street, which supported the funding, is “proud to endorse Rep. Newman, who throughout her time in Congress has been a vocal and principled advocate for diplomacy-first American leadership and Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived in Kyiv this morning for his first international state visit. At the invitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Herzog will participate in an official ceremony marking 80 years since the Babyn Yar massacre and will inaugurate a new memorial center, together with Zelensky, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and other leaders. Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction and Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin and Knesset members Moshe Arbel, Michael Michaeli and Evgeny Sova joined the president on the trip.
Ahead of his departure, Herzog lauded Israel-Ukrainian relations and thanked the Ukrainian government for recently passing a law against antisemitism that adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. “The only way to build a present and future in which atrocities and crimes against humanity find no foothold is only to study the past, including the Holocaust of the Jewish people and their persecution, in the sense of ‘and you shall tell your sons and daughters,’” Herzog said.
Pompeo weighs in on Afghanistan and Milley’s China back channel
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” co-hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein to discuss the state of U.S foreign policy, including the withdrawal from Afghanistan, negotiations with Iran and the Biden administration’s plans to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem to handle Palestinian affairs.
Defending Taliban negotiations: Pompeo, who served as the country’s top diplomat from 2018-2021, defended the Trump administration’s Afghanistan policy, arguing that negotiations with the Taliban were aimed at forming a common understanding, not signing a binding document. “We did that all the time, knowing that a piece of paper mattered as a guidepost, but not as an operational document,” Pompeo said, “As we began to deliver on President [Donald] Trump’s commitment to draw down our uniformed military personnel there in Afghanistan, we were always mindful we had multiple objectives, not the least of which was to ensure that the United States wasn’t attacked from that place again.”
Religious organization: Asked if the Iranian regime is a “rational actor,” Pompeo pointed to the fundamentalist rhetoric employed by the government. “This is a religious organization. They are on a religious jihad for the destruction of the State of Israel and the big devil [the U.S.] as well. The leaders are evil. This is ideological,” he responded.
Appeasement: “It is difficult to discern precisely what their [Middle East] policy is,” Pompeo said of the Biden administration. “You have to default to the idea that this administration, just like the Obama administration, actually believes that they can convince Iran to be a stabilizing influence in the Middle East. I think that’s crazy….Their policy looks to be that same one of appeasement, we can just buy them off, we’ll send them money and they’ll slow their nuclear program down. That is very dangerous for the State of Israel and is a danger for the Gulf state coalition that we built alongside of Israel to isolate Iran in a way that [it] had never been isolated before.”
Abraham Accords: Pompeo, who helped oversee the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020, said the Trump administration was close to convincing more countries to join before leaving office. “What will it take for the next nation to make that decision? For a capable leader to make the right choice for his country. They have to know that America is going to be supportive of that effort. And I don’t see the conditions for that today. We just talked about this administration’s Iran policy. It would be increasingly difficult for another country to sign onto the Abraham Accords, conceptually, when the United States is playing footsie with Israel’s archenemy.”
Palace intrigue: Asked about reported calls between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley and a top Chinese military official in the closing weeks of the Trump administration, Pompeo described the calls as “nothing, per se, troubling.” But the former secretary of state characterized Milley’s admission that he would warn Beijing if the Trump administration decided to launch an attack as “mind-boggling,” adding, “If he undermined the president of the United States that way, he’s got to be fired, he should certainly resign himself. We need more clarity about what’s actually said.
Bonus: Favorite Yiddish word? “I think my son would tell you, it is kvetch.” How many bottles of ‘Pompeo’ wine [created for him by an Israeli winemaker] has he consumed? “I can’t tell you how much it meant to me. Because the State of Israel is such an important part of my life as a Christian evangelical. To think that someone would honor me in this way is just, you know, for me, that’s really something.”
meet the candidates
The battle for Jewish Agency head heats up
October could be a fateful month for the organized Jewish community as the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the quasi-governmental organization with a budget of nearly $400 million that makes funding decisions on some of the thorniest issues in Jewish life, is slated to select its next executive chairperson. The politically charged race for the sensitive post of bridge-builder between Judaism’s often warring religious and political factions is already heating up, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Fierce competition: The previous head, Isaac Herzog, stepped down last July to become Israel’s 11th president, and the battle for his replacement is fierce, with a crowded and competitive field of nine candidates currently in the running. Jewish Insider spoke to each candidate about their vision and why they want to head the 91-year-old agency.
Prime minister of the Jewish world: “The head of the Jewish Agency for Israel is basically the prime minister of the Jewish world,” Michael Jankelowitz, a commentator on world Jewish affairs and JAFI’s former international media spokesman, told JI. “It is the most prestigious position after being president or prime minister of the State of Israel.”
Who decides? Deciding who will lead the agency, which was founded in 1929 with the aim of assisting and encouraging Jews worldwide to help develop and settle Israel, and take on the biggest challenges facing world Jewry today, is a 10-member selection committee representing the three factions that make up JAFI – the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Keren Heyesod.
Jewish politics: “This is Jewish politics of the highest order,” observed Jankelowitz. “The Jewish Agency has changed a lot since its inception. It is no longer just about aliyah, but about recognition and acceptance of all the streams of Judaism, as well as unity of the Jewish people in every corner of the globe.” The post is also about being an effective fundraiser and manager of an often bureaucratic and bloated organization as it addresses the most potent challenges facing world Jewry. Whoever becomes the chairperson will be responsible for a core budget of some $365 million, including vast assets in Israel and abroad, as well as additional sums from the Israeli government for various targeted projects run jointly.
Senate remains at a standstill on Iron Dome after Menendez, Paul face-off
A bill providing $1 billion in supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome failed to progress in the Senate on Monday afternoon, after an extended exchange between Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) over Paul’s proposed amendment that would fund the replenishment with aid that had been originally designated for Afghanistan, Jewish Insider‘s Marc Rod reports.
Clash: On the Senate floor on Monday, Menendez requested unanimous consent on the bill — a procedure that would have fast-tracked the legislation, which passed the House on Sept. 23 by a vote of 420-9, with two “present” votes. Paul blocked the effort, which requires the unanimous support of the full Senate, insisting on an amendment to the bill that would see the funding come out of the $6 billion originally intended for Afghanistan. “There is no conceivable reason why anyone in this chamber, on either side of the aisle, should stand in the way of U.S. support for this life-saving defense to be fully ready for the next attack,” Menendez said, introducing the measure.
Flip side: “I think the American taxpayer dollars that pay for it should come from money that could go to the Taliban,” Paul said. “Only an economically strong United States can be a militarily strong ally of Israel.” Menendez objected to Paul’s amendment, arguing that U.S. aid would not go to a Taliban-controlled government and that the support would instead be provided through “highly vetted” non-governmental partners, among other programs.
Backlash: A range of pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC, Christians United for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) criticized the Kentucky Republican’s move. “Senator Paul, who is a friend of Israel, is objecting not because he doesn’t support the critical work of Iron Dome but because he wants to see additional budget cuts to offset the cost,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks told Jewish Insider. “We have communicated to the senator that we recognize his concerns, but no roadblocks should be put up to slow this critical funding for the life-saving Iron Dome.”
Gridlock: With neither resolution receiving unanimous consent, Senate Democratic leadership will now have to schedule floor time and a final vote on the bill, a move that could be delayed by the Senate’s ongoing standoff over the federal debt ceiling and scheduled recess next week. Senate Republicans are attempting to force Democrats to employ reconciliation — a procedure to circumvent the filibuster that requires significant debate time — to raise the debt limit. The government is expected to hit the debt ceiling on Oct. 18.
Read more here.
Bonus: Asked about her “present” vote on Iron Dome funding, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said the Democratic leadership’s messaging on the issue “sent many, many, many of our constituents into a panic” and that the quick process “created a very volatile environment back in the district.” She added that she felt her present vote “created a window of opportunity” in her district to discuss the issue. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), the only “Squad” member who voted in favor of Iron Dome funding, reportedly told a Jewish community leader that “in addition to it being a defensive system, he was concerned that a vote against the Iron Dome could be interpreted as license to kill Jews.”
👪 One Family: In The Jerusalem Post, William Daroff, the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, details the American Jewish community’s obligation to advance antisemitism awareness and education across the diaspora. “Commemorating the terrors of Europe’s past – as [we] will be again this week in Kyiv – is important because in recent years European antisemitism, which never completely disappeared, has returned with a vengeance. The murders of elderly Jewish women in France. Attacks on our houses of worship in Germany. Neo-Nazi marches in the streets of Poland unabated. The longtime hold of antisemitic ideas on a whole mainstream political faction, in the form of Jeremy Corbyn’s wing of the British Labour Party – or among the rising tide of neo-fascist political parties across the continent.” [JPost]
✂️ Gentile Region: Author Gary Shteyngart describes in a lengthy New Yorker piece the botched circumcision that led to ongoing excruciating genital pain and explores the pros and cons of ritual circumcision carried out in the Jewish faith, particularly among those such as himself who were circumcised at a later age. “My penis was shaped by the Cold War and God’s covenant with Abraham. My father, born in a small village outside Leningrad in 1938, had been circumcised. By the time of my birth, in 1972, Jewish children were generally not circumcised in the Soviet Union, part of a long-standing campaign against religion.” [NewYorker]
🤝 Changing ties: Writing in Haaretz, Yossi Melman theorizes that the retirement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel after 16 years could mark the start of a shift in relations between Germany and Israel. “The outgoing chancellor leaves behind a political vacuum: The two large parties that dominated her country’s politics since World War II have shrunk significantly. Now there is a multiplicity of parties, and the country’s agenda is changing. Germany, which will apparently now have a “traffic light coalition” (i.e., made up of the Social Democratic Party, the Free Democratic Party and the Greens), is prioritizing issues like climate change, social justice and reduction of economic disparities… These issues are not and never have been of real interest to Israel’s governments. At most, the latter pay lip service to them and only act as if they care seriously about them.” [Haaretz]
Around the Web
😳 Très Awkward: Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who lived for a decade in Paris, may face an uncomfortable reception when he arrives in France this week for an economic conference, owing to the recent diplomatic spat between France and the U.S. over a scuttled submarine deal between Paris and Canberra.
➡️ Next Step: The White House submitted to the Senate the nomination of Michael Adler to be U.S. ambassador to Belgium. A hearing has yet to be scheduled.
📚 Rhyme and Reason: Steven Pinker’s new book, Rationality: What it is, Why it Seems Scarce, and Why it Matters, provides a tutorial on rational thinking and avoiding the pitfalls of logical fallacies, while advocating for a rationalist approach to the world.
🎙️ Podcast Playback: Actress Fran Drescher talked to Jay Ruderman about her role in the ‘90s hit sitcom “The Nanny” and her fight against uterine cancer, which she chronicled in her best-selling memoir Cancer Shmancer.
🧑✈️ No Man Left Behind: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett disclosed the existence of a Mossad mission to recover the remains of Ron Arad, an Israeli airman who was captured by Lebanese Amal guerrillas during the First Lebanon War in 1986.
✈️ Plane Project: Avolon Holdings Ltd., a jet-leasing company, will help Israel retrofit 30 Airbus SE wide-bodies to become freighters over the next several years.
🛬 Visa-free: Israelis and Emiratis will no longer be required to obtain visas to travel to each other’s countries.
💪 Fighting Antisemitism: Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were among 43 countries that have pledged to combat antisemitism, according to a special statement issued at the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.
🇮🇱🇨🇿 Defense Deal: Israel and the Czech Republic signed a government-to-government agreement in Prague today, to deliver four RAFAEL-produced air-defense systems to the Czech Ministry of Defense, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced. The deal amounts to approximately NIS 2 billion ($520 million).
🌍 Green Scene: Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg warned on a visit to Expo 2020 Dubai that a deal between Emirati and Israeli companies to transport oil through Israel could pose ecological problems.
🎶 Sweet Song: The Counting Crows are scheduled to perform in Israel in April 2022 as part of the band’s “Butter Miracle Tour.”
🏈 Top Honor: NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson has been named co-chair of the Anti-Defamation League’s Sports Leadership Council.
➡️ Transition: Shir Cohen, a past spokesperson for former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will take over as spokesperson of Israel’s Maccabi Health HMO.
🗳️ Elected: The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) announced Monday that it had elected David Schoen, the attorney who defended former President Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial, as its national chairman.
⛔ No Props: Security personnel at the U.N.’s General Assembly on Monday prevented Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and the U.N. Gilad Erdan from bringing in a graphic displaying antisemitic quotes by teachers employed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Pic of the Day
Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai meets with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York on Monday.
Investor and board member of many companies, he was the owner of the Baltimore Orioles from 1989 to 1993, Eli S. Jacobs turns 84…
Psychiatrist in Cameron, North Carolina, affiliated with WakeMed Health and Hospitals, Morton Meltzer, M.D. turns 82… Fairfax, Calif., resident, Theodore Steiner turns 82… Long Beach, Calif., resident, Robert Winer turns 80… U.S. Senator (D-MD) Ben Cardin turns 78… Author, lecturer and journalist, Jonathan Dobrer turns 77… Talk show host on New York City’s public radio station WNYC, Brian Lehrer turns 69… Founder of several pharmaceutical companies, he was the owner of the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Alan Phillip Cohen turns 67… EVP of donor relations at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Andrew Cushnir turns 58… Former editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Michael Jacobs turns 52… Co-president of the Congressional Jewish Staff Association and staff member on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Charlotte Kaye… Actor, producer and playwright, Jesse Adam Eisenberg turns 38… Actress known for her role as Agent Olive on the TVOKids/PBS series “Odd Squad,” Dalila Bela turns 20… Canary Islands native and former coordinator at Israel’s Mission to the United Nations, Gladys Bendahan… Israeli tour guide and educator, Daniel Paul Rubenstein…