👋 Good Wednesday morning!
With just six days remaining until the special House primary to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) in Florida’s 20th Congressional District, the race remains difficult to read as 11 candidates are vying for support in an off-year election where turnout is likely to be abysmal. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel is on the ground in the South Florida district this week, and found that the race may not be top of mind for many voters. Some residents were unaware of the election.
The same cannot be said, however, of the district’s sizable minority of Jewish voters, which represents a potential swing vote in a divided field. But rather than coalescing behind one candidate, Jewish community members seemed more broadly united in their opposition to state Rep. Omari Hardy, who recently came out in support of BDS. “That was the end of him,” Len Ronik, 89 and a longtime resident of the Kings Point retirement community in Tamarac, said of Hardy’s support for BDS. “It’s the kiss of death.”
On Tuesday, Hastings’s son, Alcee “Jody” Hastings II, came out against Hardy in an interview with JI, suggesting that the candidate’s foreign policy views were a rebuke of his father’s pro-Israel legacy. “Well out of his arena to understand the dynamic of what Congress is about and what the importance of Israel is to America as an ally,” Hastings II argued, adding of Hardy, “I don’t think he has the capability of handling his job.”
Hardy, for his part, rejected that argument in an interview with JI on Tuesday night. “Everyone in this race has a healthy respect for Rep. Hastings, but none of us are running to be his clone,” he countered.
Read the full dispatch here.
The Pittsburgh Jewish communitywill hold a commemoration ceremony this afternoon to remember those killed on Oct. 27, 2018, the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history.
Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) will hold a virtual press conference with the American Jewish Committee to discuss AJC’s annual report on antisemitism and honor the anniversary of the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
Some 39% of American Jews have changed their behavior out of fear of antisemitism in the last 12 months, the study found.
BASEBALL BARBECUE, BUT KEEP IT KOSHER
The Jewish day school grads covering the World Series
As high school seniors, Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman saw a funny video on the Internet — Yoenis Cespedes, then an outfielder for the Oakland Athletics, roasting a pig over a spit — and made a Twitter account parodying it, like so many others in their generation. @CespedesBBQ was born in Mintz’s parents’ living room, and soon became a hub for out-of-left-field takes on Major League Baseball’s most eccentric and interesting players. The Twitter account turned into a viral sensation in the baseball world (124,600 followers and counting) and led to full-time careers covering the sport. Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch caught up with Mintz, who is with Shusterman in Houston reporting on the World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros.
Day school roots: Their story begins years before they launched the account in December 2012 — as kids who grew up going to Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase, Md. “We didn’t particularly like each other,” Mintz told JI. The pair attended middle school at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville. They began to bond over a shared love of baseball, when most of the kids they knew preferred basketball or football. “We would post on Facebook about random baseball things,” Mintz recalled. “I was like, ‘Well, I could talk to him.’ It’s not like we actively hated each other or anything. It was just a middle school dislike.”
Finding a niche: The intent behind the account was both parody and serious baseball commentary — until they realized plenty of that already existed. “No one’s ever gonna care what two 17-year-olds think,” Mintz acknowledged. “So we just made jokes. We pivoted and just started tweeting things that we thought were entertaining. For a long time, no one really cared.”
Jewish humor: Jewish tweets are peppered throughout the account’s content; in 2017, an excited Mintz tweeted that he made the Jewish Division III All-American baseball team as an athlete at Washington University in St. Louis. “THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE,” he wrote. A 2017 tweet about Jewish players at that year’s World Series included the hashtag “#MOTsRepresent” — a reference to ”members of the tribe.”
Baseball BBQ: MLB reached out while they were in college, offering the pair an internship, which turned into a job offer. In 2017 they joined full-time, marking a new phase for the once-scrappy @CespedesBBQ account. “I never thought that would be my life,” Mintz said. At the start of this year’s baseball season, he and Shusterman moved to Fox Sports, where they write analysis and create digital videos. They also have a podcast,“Baseball BBQ,” with the sports media company The Ringer.
Passionate proselytizers: “We are obsessed [with baseball]. It is our lives. Any closer that I can bring anybody to me is a worthwhile experience,” Mintz said. “We are not a proselytizing people. Jews do not recruit well. I don’t think we’re preachy about it, necessarily. But it’s more just bringing energy and passion to the thing we love and hoping that people catch on to that.”
Bonus: Tonight, left-handed pitcher Max Fried starts on the mound for the Atlanta Braves in Game Two of the World Series. Fried will become the first Jewish pitcher to start a World Series game since Jason Marquis in 2004. With a win, the 27-year-old would become the first Jewish pitcher since Ken Holtzman in 1974 to win a World Series game.
on the hill
Senate GOP bill seeks to block Jerusalem consulate reopening
Thirty-five Republican senators introduced a bill on Tuesday aiming to block the Biden administration’s plans to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem that served the Palestinians, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The legislation, led by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), would make it U.S. policy not to open or reopen any diplomatic facility in Jerusalem other than the U.S. Embassy, and would prohibit U.S. funds from being used to open any such facility.
Quotable: “President Biden continues to push forward his inflammatory plan to establish a second mission in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem — one for the Israelis and a second one for the Palestinians,” Hagerty said in a statement. “It is regrettable that the Biden Administration insists on making moves that divide the United States and Israel… The Trump Administration kept its promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish State, and Congress must do everything in our power to strengthen our posture.”
Inside the bill: The bill, titled the “Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021,” is framed as protecting the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which directed the president to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Successive presidents waived the timetable set out in that law, until former President Donald Trump executed the move in 2019. Hagerty argued that the Biden administration’s plan “violates” the 1995 law. While the 1995 law sets U.S. policy that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city” and that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel,” it contains no specific provision barring the operation of any other diplomatic facility in Jerusalem.
Long shot: There has been no public opposition from Democratic senators to a potential reopening, seemingly dooming the legislation. Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggested it was “a stretch” to argue that reopening the consulate violates the 1995 law. Miller said “there may be a handful” of Democrats who ultimately support the legislation, but predicted most would not because, “This is clearly an effort to embarrass the administration.”
Joe Lieberman still walks the center path
For more than two decades, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) was among the most moderate of U.S. senators. This centrist streak brought him to the brink of the White House as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000, but he angered the party by running as an Independent in 2006 and later endorsing Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. Still, Lieberman stands by his centrist political decisions. Now, he wants to encourage more politicians to do the same. His latest book, The Centrist Solution: How We Made Government Work and Can Make It Work Again, serves as a call to action for politicians to seek a more collegial middle path towards governance. “I always try to distinguish between centrism as not the same as moderation,” Lieberman explained in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Sam Zieve Cohen. “Centrism is a strategy, moderation is an ideology.”
Jewish Insider: You credit your Judaism and your study of the Talmud as guiding your political beliefs. You write, “the Talmudic ethic is an ideal precondition for centrism and problem solving politics.” How important is religion in developing a centrist worldview?
Joe Lieberman: As I look back at my own personal history, about the various forces and ideas that were at work on me over my life, it did seem to me that my Jewish upbringing, and particularly the Talmud, was really an important part of how I became a centrist. I don’t think I felt that as I was getting into politics. I always say that my religious upbringing, the whole ethic of tikkun olam, or kiddush hashem, was part of what moved me into public service. But when I looked back at the whole development of Jewish law, of the Talmud, [it] resulted from spirited, respectful discussion and argument. And then, more often than not, agreement on a course to go forward, and rarely ended up in the kind of personal animosity.
JI: In your book, you argue that the majority of Americans still remain moderate in their tastes and in their political interests. Yet, clearly, there’s been a rise in the election of partisan politicians over the last decade. Why is that? If the voters want centrist problem-solvers, why are these partisan politicians winning instead?
JL: The reason is that the centrists, the independents, the moderates, are not as intensely involved in the selection of nominees for Democratic and Republican parties for Congress and other offices. And that allows the further left and further right of the two major parties to have disproportionate influence on who’s chosen.
JI: You write that in 2008, neither then-Senators Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama asked for your endorsement, whereas Sen. McCain, who you endorsed, obviously did. Had they asked, would you have considered giving your support?
JL: Yeah, I definitely would have. There was such a prevailing consensus in the Democratic Party, particularly among voters who voted in primaries, that the war was a terrible mistake. The fact that I had been unwilling to give up on it until I felt we had stabilized the country — which, in fact, by 2008 we had — made me persona non grata among a lot of Democratic primary voters. I assume that’s why Hillary and Barack didn’t ask for my support. But it would have been natural. It would have been a hard decision between them because, as I said, I had close relations with both of them. But it would have been more natural for me to support Clinton or Obama than for me to support McCain. But by the time John asked me, around November of 2007, it was clear to me that Obama and Clinton were not going to ask for my support. And also, I loved John, I believed in John, I trusted John. And I knew he was ready to be president of the United States on day one. So I also felt that I was making a statement about bipartisanship.
JI: Regarding President Biden, you write in the book, “the only way we will solve some of our serious national problems and seize some of our great national opportunities… will require Republican members of Congress to break away from Trump, and it will require Biden and Democratic members of Congress to declare their independence from far-left Democrats who won’t compromise.” Centrist Democrats have reportedly grown annoyed by President Biden’s refusal to take a hardline stance in negotiating with progressives on the infrastructure bill. How do you assess President Biden’s strategy?
JL: I mean, there has to be room and there is room in the Democratic Party for what I would call center-left Democrats like Joe Biden. That center-left group is probably the majority in the Democratic Party. I would never say to exclude the further-left Democrats who don’t want to compromise, but they can’t be allowed to think that they can control the party, or the president of the party. They don’t have the numbers to justify that. There have been times, I will say, in the months since President Biden was elected that I felt that the “Squad,” the so-called “Progressive Caucus” in the House, has had more influence in the party and in the Biden administration than they’re entitled to. Again, I would never exclude them, but they have to come to the center also and begin to negotiate.
Marc Stanley presses for AMIA bombing accountability during Senate hearing
Marc Stanley, the Biden administration’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina, said “there should be a demand” that the Argentinian government and judiciary fully investigate and prosecute the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Associación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. The attack, which was carried out by a Hezbollah-linked Lebanese suicide bomber and which investigators believe was directly organized by senior Iranian government officials, is still officially unsolved in Argentina.
Taking a stand: Stanley, speaking at his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, described the bombing as “a huge issue” and called on the Argentinian government to properly address the attack. “This is not a Jewish issue. This an affront on Argentina,” Stanley said. “Eighty-five people died and they weren’t all Jews… I think all Argentines should be upset about it, and I think there should be a demand of this government, the judiciary [to] prosecute and find out who’s responsible and get justice.”
Right direction: He praised Argentina for recent steps addressing some of the individuals and groups linked to the attack, including “finally” designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 2019, and said he was “pleased” that President Alberto Fernández was “outraged” that an official linked to the bombing was appointed to a leadership role in the new Iranian government.
Jewish values: “Throughout my life, public service, the pursuit of justice, the desire to give back and repair the world — what in Judaism we call tikkun olam — have always been a central part of my identity: as a young intern and staffer on Capitol Hill, as a lawyer, as a volunteer, as an activist in everything from the fight to rescue Soviet Jewry to the cause of a safer State of Israel to leadership roles in local and national nonprofits and serving in state and federal government,” Stanley said. “Now, if confirmed, I have the chance to continue forging that path on behalf of our nation.”
🇮🇷🇦🇫 Border Bungle: The New York Times’s Farnaz Fassihi explores the conundrum now facing Iran after decades of backing the Taliban and stoking unrest in Afghanistan, aimed at forcing out American troops. “Suddenly, Iran, a Shiite Muslim theocracy, had a militant Sunni theocracy on its border that is widely seen as anti-Shiite. The upheaval has also sent a flood of Afghan refugees into Iran, has led to fears that Afghanistan will again become an incubator for terrorism, and has trapped Iranian leaders in a diplomatic tangle in dealing with a Taliban government seen as both a potential enemy and partner. The episode has turned into a classic lesson in ‘be careful what you wish for.’” [NYTimes]
📰 New News: Washington Post columnist Perry Bacon, Jr., suggests that Twitter has filled a news-information void for the more liberal flank of the Democratic Party. “It is hard to imagine the recent ascendance of Black Lives Matter, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and ‘the Squad,’ or ideas such as reparations and wealth taxes, without Twitter. But AOC and BLM are still minority voices, not only in America but within the Democratic Party, too. The candidates who supported wealth taxes (Warren, Sanders) didn’t win in 2020. And that goes to the limits of Twitter for the left. It’s a medium that doesn’t reach many older Democrats.” [WashPost]
🧵 Sister, Sister: In Tablet, Jenna Weissman Joselit analyzes the decline of synagogue sisterhoods and the power of sewing circles as, through the decades, Jewish women’s groups have taken on different shapes. “When redefined as a duty, not just a hobby or a prerequisite of respectable womanhood, facility with a needle and thread not only brought Jewish women together to do good. It also affirmed their belief in the possibility of putting the House of Israel, along with their own, in order. As the Jewish Messenger noted in 1894, the needy were not the only ones to have benefited from “sisterly participation in good work… The ‘sisters’ themselves have felt the effect of doing good themselves. A win-win situation. Perhaps the time is right to revisit and reinstate the synagogue sisterhood?” [Tablet]
Podcast: Fauda co-creator Avi Issacharoff joins Israel Policy Pod host Neri Zilber for a conversation on the show’s origins, Israeli and Palestinian politics, and more. Listen here.
Apply! Know a talented news junkie?JI is looking for a social media coordinator. Apply here!
Be featured: Email us to inform the JI readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.
Around the Web
✍️ Called Out: Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and eight other bipartisan cosponsors introduced a resolution condemning Iran’s “state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation” of international human rights agreements and calling on the Biden administration to impose sanctions on individuals responsible for those abuses.
👩 Nomination: President Joe Biden announced the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel to serve as head of the Federal Communications Commission.
✔️ For the Record: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s attendance at the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) funeral was authorized, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, refuting Meghan McCain’s claim that the couple crashed the event.
🎓 Campus Beat: One-third of college students say they have personally experienced antisemitism, according to a new survey by the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International.
🔇 Can We (Not) Talk: Production will not move forward on a planned television series about comedian Joan Rivers, which attracted controversy over its casting of a non-Jewish woman in the lead role, because producers were unable to acquire the rights to Rivers’s jokes or quotes.
🍽️ Out to Lunch: New York Times food critic Pete Wells explores Midtown Manhattan’s offerings — stopping by the kosher Bukharian Taam-Tov restaurant in the city’s Diamond District.
👑 Pageant Time: The 70th Miss Universe competition will be aired live from the southern Israeli town of Eilat on Dec. 12, and will include a performance by Israeli singer Noa Kirel, the organization announced today. For the first time, a delegate from the United Arab Emirates will take part in the contest.
🎥 Silver Screen: The Academy of Motion Pictures announced the “Vienna in Hollywood” program, a six-week event that will celebrate the largely Jewish group of Austrian emigres who helped shape Hollywood and the film industry since the 1920s.
🧆 Shelf Shopping: The New York Times spotlights the New York Shuk’s latest product, a matbucha dip which can be used on a quick-fix basis for shakshuka or as a spread for sandwiches.
⚽ Foot in Mouth: Joey Barton, manager of British soccer team Bristol Rovers, came under fire for comparing his team’s poor performance to the Holocaust.
⚖️ Facing Charges: The trial of two men facing charges for a 2018 fatal stabbing of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor began in a Paris court yesterday, with the defendants each accusing the other of the murder and denying antisemitic motives behind the attack.
👦 Custodial Choice: An Israeli judge ruled that a 6-year-old boy who was the sole survivor of a gondola crash that killed his immediate family should live with his aunt in Italy, not with his grandfather in Israel.
🏗️ Consulate Saga: Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion denied speculation that the city would shun an American consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinians should the reopening plan go ahead, saying the municipality would provide the services it is legally obligated to provide.
🇺🇸 Visa-free Visits: The U.S. is considering adding Israel, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania to its visa waiver program that entitles citizens to stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa.
📜 First of its Kind: French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated on Tuesday what is thought to be the world’s first museum dedicated to the Dreyfus affair.
💉 Vaccinated Visitors: Israel announced Wednesday that it will allow tourists vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik V jab into the country from Nov. 15, on the condition that they present a serological test.
⛽ Gas Lines: Iranian gas stations were struck by a cyberattack on Tuesday, stranding motorists across the country.
🕯️ Remembering: Comic Mort Sahl, whose biting sets mixed humor and political commentary, died at 94.
Pic of the Day
Aircraft from multiple air forces participated in the “Blue Flag 21” exercises over Israel this week.
Producer and director, his films include”Animal House,” “Meatballs,” “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters” and “Twins,” Ivan Reitman turns 75…
Professor emeritus of preventive medicine at Northwestern University, Jeremiah Stamler turns 102… Pacific Palisades resident, Gordon Gerson turns 85… Rabbi emeritus at Miami Beach’s Temple Beth Sholom, Gary Glickstein turns 74… Author, actress and comedian, Fran Lebowitz turns 71… Senior vice president at MarketVision Research, Joel M. Schindler turns 71… CEO of Jewish Creativity International, Robert Goldfarb turns 70… Co-chair of a task force at the Bipartisan Policy Center, he is a former U.S. ambassador to Finland and Turkey, Eric Steven Edelman turns 70… Television writer, director and producer, Peter Marc Jacobson turns 64… Specialist in Middle Eastern affairs at the Congressional Research Service, Dr. Kenneth Katzman turns 62… Co-owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and English soccer club Manchester United, Bryan Glazer turns 57… New York state senator from Manhattan, Brad Hoylman turns 56… Creator and editor of the Drudge Report, Matt Drudge turns 55… Hasidic cantor and singer known by his first and middle names, Shlomo Simcha Sufrin turns 54… Managing partner of the Los Angeles office of HR&A Advisors, Andrea Batista Schlesinger turns 45… Television meteorologist at The Weather Channel, Stephanie Abrams turns 43… Deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, Alexander F. G. Soros turns 36… Israeli actress best known for playing Eve in the Netflix series “Lucifer,” Inbar Lavi turns 35… Senior advisor for policy and engagement for USAID’s COVID-19 Task Force, Elizabeth “Liz” Leibowitz turns 33… Executive producer of online content at WTSP in St. Petersburg, Fla., Theresa Collington turns 32… Senior strategist at Red Balloon Security, Andrew J. Taub turns 32… Senior manager at Keko Washington, Stephanie Arbetter turns 32… Co-founder of NYC-based Arch Labs, Ryan Eisenman turns 29…