👋 Good Friday morning!
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: Israeli ambassador’s residence to return to the District; A sprawling Reboot project creates new music for a classic horror film; Wes Moore bets on Maryland; Dale Holness vows to continue Alcee Hastings’s legacy in Congress; Bobby DuBose wants to bring his Tallahassee experience to D.C.; Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick hopes the third time’s a charm in FL20; Sunrise Movement’s DC chapter boycotts event due to ‘participation of Zionist organizations’; and L.A.’s Wende Museum opens a new center for Russian-speaking Jewry. Print the latest edition here.
The fallout over the decision by the Sunrise Movement’s Washington, D.C., chapter to boycott Zionist organizations continued into a second day. The national Sunrise Movement released a statement condemning antisemitism and “anti-Palestinian racism” but did not condemn the Washington chapter’s decision, drawing ire from Jewish leaders.
Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), the movement’s political and legislative arm, told JI, “Many allies, Jewish leaders and climate activists reached out and gave the Sunrise Movement every opportunity to clean this up. And they made it worse.”
His tone marks a sharp departure from the RAC’s original posture toward Sunrise DC, when Pesner issued a statement that did not mention Sunrise DC by name.
Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), told JI yesterday that she has set up a time to discuss the matter with the national staff of the Sunrise Movement. “We were disappointed that the national office of Sunrise Movement did not condemn the actions that the D.C. chapter took and the harm that it caused,” Katz said.
The RAC and NCJW were two of three Jewish groups — in addition to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) — named in the Tuesday statement by Sunrise DC as organizations with which it would no longer work.
Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), two progressive members of Congress who were endorsed in 2020 by the environmental group, told JI that they oppose Sunrise DC’s actions. See their statements and read the full story here.
An annual survey of Arab youth found that respondents ranked Israel as the fourth most influential country in the region, behind the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Read more here.
Nine Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), John Katko (R-NY), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Bryan Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Fred Upton (R-MI) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) — voted with House Democrats Thursday in favor of recommending that former Trump advisor Steve Bannon be held in criminal contempt of Congress.
Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Cheney got into an argument on the House floor ahead of the vote. Cheney reportedly brought up Greene’s past comments accusing the Rothschild family of starting California forest fires with space-based lasers.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made his first diplomatic visit to Russia today, meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. At a joint press conference, Bennett said the two leaders would discuss strengthening economic relations and planned to “significantly increase the trade between us.” He also said they would talk about the situation in Syria and efforts to stop Iran’s military nuclear program.
The inside story of how a group of Israelis rescued Afghans fleeing the Taliban
There is no perfect science to rescuing desperate people fleeing a band of theocratic terrorists. That is at least one of the lessons learned from an operation last month to extract 167 Afghan nationals from the Taliban takeover of their country. Another is that trust can be built among strangers, even with people whose governments are sworn enemies and whose religious beliefs are supposedly at odds. Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports on the rescue operation.
Dreams of freedom: This is a story of an international consortium of diplomats, Jewish philanthropists, an Israeli aid organization and a random set of individual Israelis, who suddenly found themselves working feverishly together to help an eclectic mix of progressive, educated and once hope-filled Afghanis escape the clutches of a repressive and murderous regime. To tell this dramatic tale, which spans dinner parties in Manhattan to safe houses in the Afghan province of Kunduz and features dispossessed ambassadors printing fake passports and former high school buddies-turned-gun-toting fanatics, as well as two special groups of young Muslim women refusing to give up on their dreams of freedom, I will begin on a private jet making its way from Tel Aviv to the Albanian capital, Tirana, last Thursday. (JI was a guest of Israeli-Canadian businessman and philanthropist Sylvan Adams.)
Lost everything: There is something very humbling about meeting refugees, people who have been forced to flee their homes, due to circumstances beyond their control. Most often, they must make the decision to leave at a moment’s notice, because staying could mean the difference between freedom and imprisonment — or even life and death. Without a thought, those fleeing their homes up and leave behind them the fullness of a life built and invested in over many years. “Moving to another country is hard, it is not home,” Mohammed Javed Khan, 27, told JI. “If I was single, I would have let the Taliban kill me, but I have a daughter and I didn’t want her to grow up without a father, so we left…. Thirty years of life and we lost everything in one day,” he sighed. “We had to leave everything behind.”
Waiting for the world: For now, the refugees remain in the Albanian resort, waiting for the world to decide their fate. Some would like to resettle in Europe, others have their sights set on Canada. One group of young men told me gleefully that their dream is to play for Canada’s national cricket team. “I think they could be with us for many years,” said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who met with Adams during our whirlwind visit to the country. “I don’t think we have done anything tremendous,” said Rama. “I know there aren’t too many countries in the world that have been willing to take in these people, but I think it should be the most natural thing in the world, especially for the countries who worked in Afghanistan. This is about human morality.”
Pelosi airs frustrations with Israelis over Iran deal
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Thursday that she and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid clashed during their meeting in Washington last week about the value of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Consequences: “I have a good rapport with our ally. Israel is a close friend of ours, but they were still talking about, ‘What are we going to do? [Iran is] so far down the line,’” Pelosi said, recounting her conversation with Lapid. “We’re like, ‘Well, yeah, that’s why we had the agreement.’ But they just don’t seem to see that walking away from the agreement enabled the Iranians to be farther down the line.” Pelosi’s comments came during a virtual event on Thursday organized by the Ploughshares Fund regarding U.S. nuclear policy and nuclear security. Ploughshares raised, and paid out, significant sums to activists and news organizations to support the deal in 2015, and reportedly requested $750,000 from George Soros’s Open Societies Foundation for their efforts.
Rallying support: Other top House Democrats also spoke out in support of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action during the Ploughshares event. Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-WA) called the agreement “very effective.” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a top member of the Progressive Caucus and a member of Democratic Caucus leadership, said he felt the administration hasn’t been aggressive enough in pursuing reentry, and should have been more willing to roll back sanctions to facilitate such a move. Rob Malley, the administration’s special envoy for Iran, was “kept off the field” for too long, Khanna added.
A former Florida House minority leader has his eye on Washington
The crowded special House election to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) next month in South Florida remains difficult to read. But state Sen. Perry Thurston, who previously served as House minority leader, is the only candidate in the race to have served in both legislative bodies — and he argues that years in public office have strongly positioned him for success. “Quite frankly, I’m the most qualified candidate if you look at relevant past service and leadership,” Thurston, 60, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “I served in a [divided] body similar to what we’re looking at in D.C. But not only have I served in that capacity, I’ve led in that capacity.”
Ace up his sleeve: Thurston may also be better situated than the rest of the field because he is the sole candidate in the race who represents Tamarac, home to the massive Kings Point condominium complex whose approximately 9,000 residents have historically played a consequential role in determining election outcomes. The complex, whose residents include a sizable and politically active Jewish community, sits in the 20th District. “I think that they’re receptive,” Thurston said, who is Black, assessing his standing among Jewish voters in Kings Point and elsewhere in the district.
Eye on Israel: “I am committed to Israeli security and believe that Israelis should live in safety and peace,” Thurston writes in an Israel position paper provided to JI by his campaign. “As an American, I am proud our government invested in Israel’s Iron Dome system, which has saved countless Israeli lives and is now deployed to protect our own U.S. service members. I believe Israel has a right to defend itself and that the United States must continue to help Israel retain its qualitative military edge.”
Hastings’s legacy: Thurston said he would seek to uphold Hastings’s pro-Israel legacy if he is elected. “He’s been the number one advocate of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, and I would hope to continue that,” Thurston, who has never been to Israel but said he intends to go at some point, told JI. “Certainly, I would do everything I can to continue it.”
‘Divided’ politics: Thurston has served in the Senate since 2016, a period he described as particularly treacherous for Democrats as they have battled with Republicans over issues like health care and voting rights. “Our politics are divided like they are on a national level, and quite frankly, I think that I’ve been able to get a lot accomplished notwithstanding being in the minority party in the House and the Senate,” he said. “I think that type of leadership is missing when I see people like my good friend Congressman Hastings passing away.”
Bonus: Eight Democratic candidates competing in South Florida’s upcoming special House primary — including state Sen. Perry Thurston, state Rep. Bobby DuBose, former state legislator Priscilla Taylor, author Elvin Dowling, retired Naval officer Phil Jackson, healthcare executive Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Broward County Commissioners Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief — filled out questionnaires solicited by JI ahead of the start of early voting this Saturday. The election is scheduled for Nov. 2.
In the U.S. and Israel, urgency mounts in battle against cyberattacks
When an Israeli hospital was thrown offline last week, sending it back to the pre-digital age of pen and paper, the country was forced to grapple with what its National Cyber Directorate described as a major ransomware attack — a challenge that many countries have had to tackle in recent years. At the same time as Israeli doctors were contending with the ramifications of the significant blow to their health system, the White House National Security Council was convening a virtual conference on the topic of countering ransomware. Over 30 countries, including Israel and the United Arab Emirates, participated, Jewish Insider’s Tamara Zieve reports.
Growing risk: As the world has become ever more dependent on the internet since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic a year and a half ago, the threat of cyberattacks is higher than ever. “We’re all very vulnerable, and especially as our dependence on cyberspace and our digital identities becomes greater and greater, our vulnerability to cyberattacks is liable to increase,” Deborah Housen-Couriel, the chief legal officer for Konfidas, a cybersecurity company based in Tel Aviv, told JI. A joint statement released at the NSC conference’s conclusion said the participants recognized that ransomware is “an escalating global security threat with serious economic and security consequences.”
Breaking barriers: Amit Ashkenazi, legal advisor of the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD), was part of the Israeli contingent that participated in the conference. “The fact that we have like-minded countries around the table helps us talk about something that we at the INCD have been talking about over the last few years, more openly,” he told JI. He said the effort can help reduce barriers between countries when it comes to information sharing and recovery techniques, and can create technical, legal and policy vehicles to enable swift cooperation.
Digital drawbacks: Israel’s digitized health system, which was touted during the coronavirus pandemic for enabling a speedy and efficient vaccination campaign, is also somewhat of an Achilles heel when it comes to vulnerability in the face of cyberattacks. Doctors at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, where the ransomware attack took place, have been forced to piece together patients’ medical histories, which are usually readily available online. They asked patients to bring in any records they have at home, and are now building up physical folders from scratch. Full communication among staff has been key to enabling the current manual work system to function well, Internal Medicine Department Director Nina Avshovich told JI. “They promise us that in a few weeks we will partially be able to see lab results, X-rays and imaging digitally,” Avshovich said. When hospital staff will return to work as normal is not yet clear.
🎓 Diversity Dispute: The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf explores the inner workings of Yale University’s diversity office and its handling of a recent incident at Yale Law School involving what some deemed was culturally offensive wording on an invitation by one of the university’s more conservative societies. “A dispute over a party invitation — even an arguably offensive one — may sound more like a matter for a high-school vice principal than one for Ivy League deans. Nevertheless, the diversity administrators spent many hours on this low-stakes drama among high-IQ adults, affording outsiders an unusual peek at their methods and a related series of crucial mistakes, most stemming from an inability or unwillingness to see how the interests of students diverge from the interests and incentives of their office. Irrespective of whether the invitation was racially offensive, the behavior of Yale Law’s diversity bureaucrats was unethical, discreditable, and clearly incompatible with key values that the elite law school purports to uphold.” [Atlantic]
🇫🇷 French Trump: Writing in Tablet, Mitchell Abidor and Miguel Lago explore the growing popularity of right-wing Jewish author Eric Zemmour as a candidate in next year’s presidential elections in France. “Zemmour is in some ways France’s Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro, an outsider who claims to say what everyone else merely thinks. He wants to ban all immigration; he claims Muslims have ‘colonized’ entire swaths of French cities; he considers France to be in a state of civil war with its Muslim population. Islam, for Zemmour, is by its nature a religion of terror…. But in saying these things out loud, Zemmour maintains important differences from the Le Pen dynasty: He has long positioned himself as the thinker of the right, producing bestsellers that delve into French history with a classically far-right slant, presenting a France facing decline, degeneration, and even national suicide by way of leftist ideology and the presence of large immigrant communities.” [Tablet]
🛐 Interfaith Fight: In a story for Haaretz, David Stavrou, reporting from Malmo, Sweden, looks at the impact of last week’s International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism on the city and the country and interfaith efforts in the fight against antisemitism. “In the eyes of some, this southern Swedish city has become part of the problem rather than part of the solution in recent years, with numerous instances of harassment and antisemitic attacks. These problems were not ignored at the forum, though local Jewish activists know that a one-day conference featuring world leaders and Swedish dignitaries won’t bring change on the ground when it comes to hate crimes against the community. [Haaretz]
Around the Web
🧳 Opening Up: Vaccinated tourists will tentatively be allowed to travel to Israel starting Nov. 1, according to a plan that is likely to be approved by the Israeli cabinet.
🍲 Kosher Concerns: The Economist points out that the European Commission’s plan to combat antisemitism does not secure the right to slaughter animals in accordance with Jewish law, despite several member states prohibiting Jewish ritual slaughter.
🇪🇸 Righteous Gentile: Spain is searching for the thousands of Hungarian Jews saved by Angel Sanz Briz, the diplomat dubbed the “Spanish Schindler,” who issued Spanish passports to Jews fleeing for their lives during the Holocaust.
📚 Author’s Stance: Four authors announced they will no longer attend the Frankfurt Book Fair over concerns about the presence of far-right groups at the annual event in Germany.
🏆 Gold Medal: Iran awarded a science prize to two American physicists.
✍️ Religious Affairs: Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 30 cosponsors introduced a bill to create a State Department special envoy to monitor and combat Islamophobia, modeled after the department’s antisemitism envoy.
⚔️ Campaign Showdown: Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) clashed on Twitter with GOP Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s campaign, having accused Youngkin of antisemitism for claiming philanthropist George Soros is planting operatives on local school boards.
💰 NFT Craze: Candy Digital, the non-fungible token subsidiary of Michael Rubin’s Fanatics, raised $100 million in series A funding, including from Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.
📈 Billion-Dollar Baby: The debut of WeWork on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday valued founder Adam Neumann’s stake in the company at $1 billion.
💎 Lost Treasure: An amethyst ring discovered in an ancient Jerusalem sewer may be the first known depiction of persimmon, the Biblical plant used as an ingredient in Temple incense.
⛽ Fuel Friends: Israel and Egypt are in talks to build a gas pipeline that could provide energy to Europe.
👮 Mossad Spies: One of the people Turkey arrested for allegedly spying for Israel met twice with Mossad agents in Zurich, Turkish news website Sabah reported Friday.
🔥 Fire Trial: The Syrian government has executed 24 people and sentenced 11 others to life in prison for lighting wildfires that burned across the country last year.
👨 Transitions: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joined Avi Ifergan’s Israeli crypto firm International Bitcoin Advisory Corporation as an advisor. Tzvika Fayirizen was appointed as director general of Yad Vashem. Former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Sarah Bloom Raskin has been named a distinguished professor at Duke Law.
Pic of the Day
Fifteen thousand memorial candles in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square were lit earlier this week as part of the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination.
Rapper, singer-songwriter, Aubrey Drake Graham, now known as Drake, turns 35 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: Australian philanthropist and long-time chairman of Westfield Corporation, Frank Lowy turns 91… Founder and national director of the Orthodox Union’s NCSY, later EVP of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Pinchas Stolper turns 90… Venture capital and private equity pioneer, Alan Patricof turns 87… Retired EVP of the Orthodox Union, previously chairman of NYC-based law firm Proskauer Rose, Allen Fagin turns 72… Actor Jeff Goldblum turns 69… Agent for painters, sculptors and photographers, David Hochberg turns 65… Vice-chair of SKDK and an on-air CNN political analyst, Hilary Rosen turns 63… Composer and lyricist, Marc Shaiman turns 62… Author Susan Jane Gilman turns 57… Bethesda, Maryland, resident Eric Matthew Fingerhut turns 51… Chief of staff of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Michelle Gordon… Actor Michael Fishman turns 40… VP of West End Strategy Team, Samantha Friedman Kupferman… Dana Tarley Sicherman… Psychotherapist with a private practice in White Plains, Maayan Tregerman, LCSW-R… Journalist and author, Ross Barkan turns 32… Actor and producer, Jonathan Lipnicki turns 31… Israeli singer, Omer Adam turns 28… Los Angeles journalist Ryan Torok…
SATURDAY: Chairman emeritus of the shopping mall developer Simon Property Group and the principal owner of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, Herbert “Herb” Simon turns 87… Distinguished professor of American and Jewish Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz, Gerald Sorin turns 81… Attorney known for his role as special master for the 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund and for similar roles in a number of mass torts, Kenneth Feinberg turns 76… Filmmaker and producer, directed the original “Spider-Man” trilogy, Sam Raimi turns 62… Founder and CEO of TeleTech, Kenneth D. Tuchman turns 62… Founder of the New Democrat Network and the New Policy Institute, Simon Rosenberg turns 58… Former editor-in-chief of The New York Observer, Kenneth Kurson turns 53… Film director and talent agent, Trevor Engelson turns 45… Vice president of communal relations at J Street, Shaina Wasserman… Director of development at Ein Prat The Midrasha, Ayelet Kahane… Associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Hogan Lovells, Annika Lichtenbaum… Special assistant at the U.S. Department of Labor, Rachel Shabad… Director of business strategy and corporate development at Barstool Sports, Allison Rachesky… Richard Rubenstein…
SUNDAY: Genealogist, author and lecturer, Miriam Weiner… Writer and adjunct instructor at Queensborough Community College, Ira Greenfest turns 78… Stock market analyst, Charles Biderman turns 75… Retired Pentagon official, Judy Gleklen Kopff… Financial planner and president of Laredo, Texas-based International Asset Management, Joseph Rothstein turns 69… Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Southern California since 1997, Brad Sherman turns 67… Retired executive editor of The Washington Post, Marty Baron turns 67… Chattanooga-based CEO of Mohawk Industries, the world’s largest flooring company, Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum turns 67… U.S. senator (R-SD), Mike Rounds turns 67… U.S. senator (D-OR), Jeff Merkley turns 65… Program director at the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Alan Divack turns 65… Co-founder and former CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio, now living in Israel, David Margolese turns 64… Producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes, Henry Schuster turns 64… Member of the Russian Jewish Congress and a co-founder of the Genesis Prize, German Khan turns 60… Professor of politics at the University of Hull in the U.K., Raphael Cohen-Almagor turns 60… Deputy Washington editor of The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman turns 56… Owner of the Premier League’s Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich turns 55… Co-founder of the Ira Sohn Conference Foundation, focused on pediatric cancer research and care, Evan Sohn turns 54… Political communications consultant, Tovah Ravitz Meehan… Founding partner of Be Clear Communications, Matt Lehrich turns 36… Executive director at Flatbush Community Fund, Yitzy Weinberg turns 35… Director of Community Engagement at FIDF, Yehuda Joel Friedman…