👋 Good Tuesday morning!
Condolences poured in from around the world over the death of Colin Powell, the barrier-breaking former U.S. secretary of state, who died on Monday at 84 from complications from COVID-19. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid both grieved Powell’s passing.
Powell, a South Bronx native — who learned Yiddish working in a Jewish-owned store — was remembered for his remarkable rise to the top of the U.S. military and government, becoming one of the most respected leaders in the world.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote today on advancing a raft of nominees, including Tom Nides, the nominee for ambassador to Israel, and Barbara Leaf, the nominee for assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.
Alta Fixsler, a 2-year-old Hasidic girl at the center of a protracted legal battle with the British government, died Monday after being taken off life support.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who encouraged U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to allow Fixsler to leave the country for treatment, told Jewish Insider, “I extend my prayers and support for the Fixsler family during this very difficult time. May Alta’s memory be a blessing. I continue to believe the policy followed here was wrong on many levels and regret that our multiple, and legally and morally, well-grounded pleas were unheeded by the British authorities.”
The appointment of the next head of the Jewish Agency for Israel has been postponed by a month, following a request by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid after his candidate for the job, Elazar Stern, dropped out of the race last week.
Dale Holness vows to continue Hastings’s legacy in Congress
Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness touts a number of advantages that should strongly position him in the crowded special House primary in Florida’s 20th congressional district to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) in Florida’s 20th Congressional District, including what he claims is a posthumous endorsement from Hastings himself. Though Hastings never publicized his support, nor does he appear to have put it in writing, Holness, 64, says the congressman, whom he described as a mentor, “was ready to get his voice out there” before he died in April. “I certainly have great shoes to fill,” Holness said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “Not saying that I’ll fill them, but I’ll do everything I can.”
Eye on Israel: For Holness, that means upholding the congressman’s commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship. If elected, “I will continue his leadership and follow in his footsteps,” Holness writes in an Israel position paper, explaining his support for the country through the prism of advancing Black-Jewish relations — a cause to which Hastings was also dedicated. “Jewish Americans and African Americans share histories of slavery and emancipation,” says Holness, a Jamaican-born real estate broker and longtime county commissioner. “Similarly, the United States and Israel have shared histories of being places of refuge.”
Trade mission: Holness visited Israel in 2019 on a trade mission during his tenure as vice mayor of Broward County, noting that he read Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle in preparation for the trip. “Folks might not realize how Jews and Muslims and Arabs live side by side in Israel unless you go and see that,” he told JI. “Not saying that the Palestinians don’t have some serious issues in terms of the difficult conditions in which they live. But part of that, I believe, goes through leadership.”
On the issues: Holness rejected the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, and supports public efforts to divest from companies that engage in the practice, such as Florida’s recent decision to enforce anti-BDS legislation by placing Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, on a list of “scrutinized companies that boycott Israel.” He also supports the continuation of U.S. military assistance to Israel, and supports legislation giving Israel $1 billion in supplemental aid to replenish its Iron Dome missile-defense system.
Voter outreach: Holness leads the 11-way field in outside campaign contributions, so far pulling in $575,000, according to a campaign spokesperson, and he argues that his on-the-ground voter-engagement strategy remains unmatched in the 20th Congressional District, which includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. “I believe that’s how the race will be won,” he said. “It will be won with who has the most outreach directly to the people, and we’re there. I mean, I’m in church every Sunday. I’ve been to the Chabad. I’m reaching out across all lines.”
Israeli ambassador’s residence to return to the District
When Israel’s new ambassador to the United States lands in Washington early next month, he will be greeted by a vacant lot where the official Israeli residence once stood. Incoming Ambassador Michael Herzog will move into a rental property in Washington, D.C., close to the Israeli embassy, a source with knowledge of the arrangement told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch and Ruth Eglash.
More than a house: The official residence on Chesapeake Street Northwest, in the Forest Hills neighborhood, owned by the Israeli government, is in a prime location near the residences of ambassadors from countries including Kuwait, Iraq and Italy. It was also a historic building that housed every Israeli ambassador since the 1960s, including Yitzhak Rabin. The house was abandoned in 2013, when former Ambassador Michael Oren returned to Israel, and in recent years was torn down. “The ambassador’s residence is not a house, it is a facility. It is a crucial facility that is in constant use to host attaches, diplomats, members of the administration and the press,” Oren told JI on Tuesday.
Termites in the walls: But Oren described the house as being “in decrepit condition.” “There were termites and mold,” he said, recalling waking up one morning to an entire floor covered in termite larvae. “Walls would crack and a terrible smell would emanate from inside, part of the roof caved in.” According to Ynet, Oren’s replacement, the Sabbath-observant Ron Dermer, requested not to live in the residence, partly because it was too small to house his five children and also because he wanted a place closer to an Orthodox synagogue in Maryland. Oren said it was also because of the state of the house. “He was afraid for his kids’ health.”
Rotten structure: Asked why the process of repairing or rebuilding the residence has taken so long, Oren said it was a symbol of how the Israeli Foreign Ministry operates. “The rot in the walls of the residence mirrors the rot in the structure of the Foreign Ministry.” A 2017 Haaretz report said Israeli government officials eventually concurred with Oren, deeming the house uninhabitable, but it took three years after he left for the Israeli government to file a request for demolition with the Washington, D.C., government, and the process remains incomplete. The house has now been demolished, and a new one is expected to be constructed within the year. “It’s not good to have a razed building,” said Aviva Kempner, a Jewish film producer who lives a few blocks from the official residence. “But more importantly, it’s good for the status of Israel to be there with all the countries that are in that area.”
Senate Dems move to include Iron Dome in 2022 defense funding bill
Senate Democrats have included $1 billion in supplemental aid to Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system in their proposed 2022 defense appropriations bill released on Monday afternoon, an alternative path to passing the Iron Dome funding amid stalled efforts to pass it independently, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Backup plan: A source close to the Senate Appropriations Committee members told Jewish Insider that the appropriations process is a “backup plan” to efforts to pass the funding on the floor, and does not foreclose the possibility of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filing cloture on the bill — a process to limit debate and move toward a vote on a measure — to push past Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) objection and hold a floor vote. But, the individual said, Democrats believe the appropriations legislation will put further pressure on Republicans to push Paul to lift his hold and allow the funding to pass more quickly. A Senate floor source told JI that Democrats will be “taking the [Republicans’] temperature this week” following this announcement.
Alternatives: “If Senator Paul continues blocking swift passage of the Iron Dome supplemental, we will pursue other means, including the appropriations process to get it done,” Schumer explained to JI.
On the clock: Neither the cloture path nor the appropriations path would be speedy. Cloture consumes floor time, and Democrats are facing looming deadlines on several high-priority measures including infrastructure, social spending, government funding and the debt ceiling. It’s unclear when or if the defense appropriations bill will come to a vote, given the Senate’s packed schedule for the remainder of the year and Republican opposition to the Democrats’ government funding plans.
Crackdown: Like the House, the Senate proposal places a raft of new conditions on U.S. aid to Egypt, tying $300 million of the more than $1.4 billion in proposed aid to steps to improve human rights in the country. While the secretary of state can waive the conditions on most of this aid, $75 million is tied to conditions related to curtailing arbitrary detentions and prisoner mistreatment that the secretary cannot waive.
Senate Dems propose holding nonprofit security funding steady, boosting Palestinian aid
Senate Democratic leaders followed the House’s lead in holding Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) funding steady at its 2021 level and increasing Palestinian aid by $150 million in 2022 budget proposals released Monday afternoon, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Holding: The NSGP — which provides nonprofits and religious groups with funding to enhance their security — received $180 million in 2021. The decision to maintain the current level comes even though the program was able to fund less than half of the grant applications received in 2021, and amid a spike in hate crimes over the last year.
Not giving up: Advocates for increased funding — who had largely coalesced around $360 million as the appropriate funding level for 2022 — say they’ll keep pushing for more. “I will continue to work with Senate leadership to ensure that Congress allocates increased and robust resources for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program this year,” Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) told Jewish Insider. “As made clear by the alarming uptick in antisemitic incidents in recent months, there is an urgent need to provide vulnerable Jewish institutions with physical security enhancements.”
Not over yet: A source close to the appropriations process told JI that the funding level could be increased in final negotiations between the House and Senate, but that ensuring the NSGP received funding in both the House and Senate bills was a critical first step.
Looking abroad: The Palestinian aid proposal is $40 million more than President Joe Biden’s budget request, but well short of the $1 billion for Gaza alone that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) requested in a recent letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Also included: The Senate also included a new oversight provision, supported by J Street, requiring that the secretary of state meet with countries receiving U.S. military aid to ensure compliance with U.S. law and national security policy. The provision has been framed by some proponents as an initial step toward limiting the ways in which Israel uses U.S. aid, although opponents of conditioning aid dispute that premise.
🚫 Double Standard: In an opinion piece headlined “The BDS movement shows its hypocrisy by boycotting Israel but not China,” the Washington Post’s Max Boot suggests that “while the Arab world is increasingly welcoming Israel, more Western progressives shun it,” despite the implementation of normalization agreements and warming of ties between nations. “Yet there is no BDS movement targeting China. Sally Rooney doesn’t want her new novel published in Israel, but her bestseller ‘Normal People’ was published in China by a publishing house with close links to the tyrannical Communist regime. That bespeaks an inexcusable double standard. I hesitate to hurl accusations of ‘antisemitism,’ and I freely admit that it is fair to criticize Israeli actions (I do so myself). But there is no denying that BDS supporters display a strange, selective animus against the Jewish state. They should do some soul-searching about why they are more anti-Israel than many Arab states.” [WashPost]
🐇 Family History: In TheNew York Times, Celia McGee interviews the architect of the forthcoming exhibition “The Hare With Amber Eyes,” based on Edmund de Waal’s best-selling family memoir, which will open on Nov. 19 at The Jewish Museum in Manhattan. “To evoke the book as it traces the fortunes and fate of the influential Ephrussis — de Waal’s ancestors on his father’s side and one of the great Jewish banking families of Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries — the museum has turned to the architect Elizabeth Diller,” McGee writes. Diller, a descendant of Holcaust survivors, said that while she had previously avoided digging into her own family history, working on this exhibition changed that. “Seeing the world of his family through Edmund’s eyes,” she said, “I saw my family history also.” [NYT]
💳 Slick Spending: In Wired, Arielle Pardes takes a look at the new X1 credit card, designed to be used digitally and aimed at spenders who are young, high-earning, and live on their phones.“ [T]he X1 has become something of a Silicon Valley darling, with a waitlist of more than 350,000 people, the startup says. Its investors include Affirm CEO Max Levchin, Box CEO Aaron Levie, and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. ‘I think of it as Silicon Valley’s answer to American Express, which is really for the old guard at this point,’ says David Sacks, the venture capitalist and PayPal alumnus, who sits on the X1’s board and uses the card himself.” [Wired]
Around the Web
🚩 Red Flag: In an event yesterday with the Milken Institute,Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) said that former President Donald Trump’s request for options to strike Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz “felt to others like a ‘wag the dog’ situation.”
👨🏫 Pushback: House Antisemitism Task Force Co-Chairs Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) said in a statement, “When it comes to learning the lessons of the Holocaust, there is no room for ‘opposing views’ that advance exactly the type of hate that Holocaust education is meant to combat,” pushing back on reported comments from a Texas school administrator last week that teachers should have books with opposing views on the Holocaust.
🙏 Prayers Up: First Lady Jill Biden, who stopped praying for four years after the death of her son, surprised her “prayer partner” at a South Carolina church, a woman with whom she has mostly communicated by text message since meeting in 2019.
🏫 Stepping Up: Barbra Streisand will fund a “forward-looking” institute at UCLA, focused on solving societal challenges.
🎭 Brooks is Back: Hulu TV network has ordered a follow-up to Mel Brooks’s comedy film “History of the World, Part I.”
🍰 Let Them Eat Cake: Jewish prisoners in Michigan won a lawsuit claiming that the Michigan Department of Corrections deprived them of their right to practice their religion by not supplying kosher meat and dairy during certain holidays.
📚 Campus Beat: A course on the Israel-Palestinian conflict taught by a University of North Carolina Ph.D. student who has been accused of anti-Israel bias has sparked debate over academic freedom, social media and professors’ rights and responsibilities, The Daily Tar reports.
📹 Candid Camera: Recently emerged CCTV footage is casting doubt on a German Jewish singer’s claim that he was instructed to cover up his Star of David necklace when checking in to a Leipzig hotel.
🕵️ Whodunnit: London Metropolitan Police and the Transport for London are investigating an anti-Israel poster that reads “Normal people boycott Israel,” in a reference to a book by author Sally Rooney, who this month announced she would not allow her newest novel to be translated into Hebrew by an Israeli company.
👨👩👧👧 Lost Brothers?: The BBC spotlights the Igbo people in Nigeria, who purport to be descendants of the lost Jewish tribes and hope to be accepted by Israel as legitimate Jews.
📸 Naked Art: New York artist Spencer Tunick returned to the Dead Sea to shoot group nude photos in an effort to highlight the ecological disaster occurring at the site.
👨💻 Cyber Cost: Israeli billionaire Gil Shwed, CEO of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., said his company will not acquire any more cyber technology startups, fearing that overvalued cyber startups are driving a dangerous bubble.
🔫 One Shot: The Israeli Smart Shooter company is traveling to France and Spain to pitch its electro-optical fire control system at defense shows.
❤️ Heart Healthy: Israeli start-up Hello Heart — which tracks blood pressure and comes with a linked app — showed that regular users experience a significant drop in high blood pressure.
🇮🇱🇮🇳 Trade Talk: India and Israel announced on Monday that they have decided to renew negotiations on a free trade agreement between the countries in November, with the aspiration that the agreement will be ready to sign by the middle of 2022.
😞 Dangerous Dispute: Already-tense relations between Algeria and Morocco have significantly deteriorated in recent weeks, with experts attributing the fallout in part to Morocco’s normalizing of relations with Israel.
🪖 Bad Guys: Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah announced that the terror group has grown to 100,000 trained fighters.
Pic of the Day
A 900-year-old Crusader sword was discovered off Israel’s Carmel coast by scuba diver Shlomi Katzin.
Long-time former CEO of Aramark Corporation, he presently serves as chairman of the University of Chicago’s Board of Trustees, Joseph Neubauer turns 80…
Founder and former ringmaster of the Big Apple Circus, Paul Binder turns 79… Pulmonologist in Plano, Texas, he is also the author of five mystery novels, Dr. Kenneth L. Toppell turns 79… Writer, scholar and former Israeli ambassador, Yoram Ettinger turns 76… Obstetrician and gynecologist at the Center for Fetal Medicine in Los Angeles, Lawrence David Platt, MD turns 74… Retired hospitality executive, Michelle Fischler turns 73… Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, she directs the journalism program at MIT, Deborah Blum turns 67… Founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist turns 65… Retired supervisor for Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency, David Alan Cera turns 65… Member of the Knesset and former mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat turns 62… Co-owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and English soccer club Manchester United, Avram A. “Avie” Glazer turns 61…
Social psychologist and professor at New York University focused on the psychology of morality and moral emotions, Jonathan David Haidt turns 58… Chief rabbi of Ukraine, he also serves as vice-president of the European Jewish Congress, Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich turns 57… Founder of Global Policy Associates, former White House Jewish liaison in the Clinton administration, Jay Footlik turns 56… Ritual coordinator at Congregation Emanu El in Houston, Shira Kosoy Moses turns 55… Actor, director, producer and screenwriter, Jon Favreau turns 55… Recent mayor of Portland, Maine, now a non-profit executive, Ethan King Strimling turns 54… Editor-in-chief of Input, Joshua Ryan Topolsky turns 44… Film director, screenwriter and producer, Jason R. Reitman turns 44… VP of development and strategic Initiatives at itrek, Evan Majzner turns 39… David Ochs turns 38… Pittsburgh-based founder and CEO of Mamalux, Lindsay Applebaum Stuart turns 36… Founder of iTrade[dot]TV, equities trader and financial marketer, Elie Litvin turns 29…