👋 Good Friday 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 Met Gala and the far-left vs. the far-right; How Ayanna Pressley shifted her stance on Israel; An interview with Michael Herzog, Israel’s incoming ambassador to the U.S.; Little Sesame offers an education in hummus for the Washington set; Matt Dolan walks an uncharted path in Ohio’s Republican Senate primary; Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan donate $1.3 million to Jewish groups; and Jon Lovett live — finally! Print the latest edition here.
House leadership postponed a planned vote last night on the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal. The development is a blow to Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), a lead negotiator for a group of Democratic centrists, who said on Thursday afternoon that he was “1,000 percent” confident the bill would pass the House last night.
Gottheimer tweeted after the postponement, “It ain’t over yet,” saying that “negotiations are ongoing” and emphasizing that the House is not formally adjourned. The House will be back today to continue work on the bill.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurated the Israeli embassy in Manama, Bahrain, yesterday, in a ceremony attended by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al Zayani, a year after the two countries signed a normalization agreement. Lapid and Zayani also signed bilateral agreements relating to water, the environment and sports, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Jewish Insider.
Earlier Thursday, Lapid became the first Israeli senior official to meet with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which he described as “a historic, warm, and hopeful meeting.”
Vice President Kamala Harris’s office addressed concerns by Jewish leaders and legislators critical of her response to a comment from a George Mason University student earlier this week that Israel is committing “ethnic genocide.”
Symone Sanders, a senior advisor to the vice president and Harris’s chief spokesperson, told JI on Friday morning, “Throughout her career, the Vice President has been unwavering in her commitment to Israel and to Israel’s security. While visiting George Mason University to discuss voting rights, a student voiced a personal opinion during a political science class. The Vice President strongly disagrees with the student’s characterization of Israel.”
Jon Lovett live — finally!
Jon Lovett, the former Obama speechwriter, progressive podcast host and stand-up comedian, seemed eager to hone his act in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel last week before returning to a live stage for the first time in 18 months. “I’m really excited to go back to it because if I don’t get applause, my doctor says I could get very sick,” the Crooked Media co-founder deadpanned, testing out a gag over the phone.
Zoom gloom: Before the pandemic, Lovett, 39, hosted a raucous weekly podcast, “Lovett or Leave It,” in front of a live audience, often in his home city of Los Angeles. For the past year-and-half, he kept his show going remotely, as best he could, on Zoom, recording interviews with a wide assortment of comedians, journalists, politicos and other guests “in front of a needy golden-doodle,” as a facetiously updated tag line informed viewers tuning in from home — an allusion to Lovett’s beloved dog, Pundit.
Back to basics: Now, Lovett is stepping back onto the stage as he embarks on a series of weekly outdoor shows, “Lovett or Leave It: Live or Else,” which began last Thursday at the Cinelounge in Hollywood and will culminate in a performance at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan on Nov. 12. Lovett’s panelists have so far included Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and B.J. Novak, the actor and comedian, with future guests yet to be confirmed. “Doing jokes over Zoom, you know, we made it work,” Lovett said. “I’ll be glad to not do it for a while.”
‘Not married yet’: Still, Lovett had more company than just Pundit and his remote audience during the pandemic. He is engaged to investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, who proposed two years ago in a draft of his book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators. Asked if they were married yet, Lovett guffawed. “Do you know what would happen if I told you that we were married and my mother saw a link to this piece that said we were married already?” he said. “I would hear the shouting from Boynton Beach, Florida. We are not married yet.”
Borscht Belt charm: Lovett, who is Jewish, has been regaling listeners with his charmingly anachronistic brand of Borscht Belt-inflected political commentary for years. Though Lovett admits that he is “super rusty” after months of video interviews, he is looking forward to perfecting his on-stage approach after months of video interviews. “There’s going to be a lot of experimentation and trial and error,” he said.
show and tell
At World Expo in Dubai, Israel embraces its burgeoning ties to the region
The World Expo, set to open its doors to the public in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Friday, will mark a series of firsts — the first time the global event has ever been hosted by an Arab country, the first time it has ever been held in the Middle East and the first time every participating country will have its own pavilion. Until recently, it may have seemed far-fetched that Israel, which until last year had no official ties with any country in the Gulf, would be a participant in this event. Israel, however, received an invitation to join the fair 18 months before it normalized relations with the UAE, Elazar Cohen, the commissioner-general of the Israeli pavilion, told Jewish Insider’s Tamara Zieve last week, ahead of his flight to Dubai where he will remain for the six-month duration of the Expo.
Warm reception: The invitation was part of a gradual and below-the-radar warming of relations between the two countries. “We appreciated and respected this invitation and it was a courageous step before the announcement of the bilateral relations,” said Cohen, a career diplomat who has worked for the Israeli Foreign Ministry for 30 years. He was referring to the Abraham Accords, the path-breaking agreement signed between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Israel accepted the invitation and Cohen and his team have since been traveling between Israel and the UAE in preparation for the event. “We were accepted warmly, with open arms and open hearts,” he said.
A soft-power opportunity: For Israel, the Expo provides an historic opportunity to build on its relations with the UAE, as well as others from the region and around the world. Cohen sees the fair as his team’s contribution to the Abraham Accords, signed on the White House lawn on Sept. 15, 2020. The pavilion’s activities will cover a span of fields including the economy, culture, science, medicine, technology and engineering, via events, meetings, think-tanks, concerts, press conferences and Ted Talks. Israel also plans to hold at least three separate events with the UAE and the U.S. to explore trilateral collaborations in energy, clean-tech and medicine, with the participation of companies and ministers from the three countries.
Diversity and inclusion: Each of the 192 countries participating in the Expo will hold its own national day celebrations, and Israel will use its day, on Nov. 9, which is expected to be attended by high-level Israeli officials, to present examples of diversity and inclusivity in its society. The day’s events will include performances by: the Shalva Band, made up of musicians with various disabilities; the Jerusalem East and West Orchestra, a multicultural orchestra consisting of Christian, Muslim and Jewish musicians from all over the country and from all sectors that make up Israeli society; and Firqat Alnoor, an orchestra comprised of Israeli Jewish, Arab, Christian, Muslim and Druze musicians who play classical Middle Eastern music.
on the hill
House Foreign Affairs committee approves Israel Relations Normalization Act
The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted yesterday to advance the Israel Relations Normalization Act to the full House, as Republicans and Democrats offered divergent reasons for why they are backing the legislation, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The bill, which seeks to strengthen and expand last year’s Abraham Accords normalizing relations between Israel and four Muslim-majority states, has broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, including 220 cosponsors in the House.
High praise: “I personally think that the Israel Normalization Act is significant and could be the game-changer that we’ve been waiting for,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said during Thursday’s meeting. “To have individuals talking, other Gulf countries, other Islamic countries [about] how they can work together with Israel, reducing conflicts and creating opportunity and talking about how we can do trade and cross-relationships — it’s significant. A major breakthrough.”
Current events: Several members pointed to a recent conference in Erbil, Iraq, during which an estimated 300 Iraqis called for normalization between Israel and Iraq, as evidence of the necessity of the legislation. Some of the Iraqis who participated have faced death threats, and Iraqi security forces are seeking to arrest some participants. “This bill is critical to breaking stereotypes that have long existed, particularly through the provision requiring reporting on the criminalization of civil society contacts between Israelis and certain Arab citizens,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) said. “Look at what’s happening in Iraq, in Erbil, where activists championing normalization with Israel are now being arrested and threatened.”
Forcing hands: Republicans on the committee offered similar arguments, but some also said that the legislation was necessary to force the Biden administration — which they claim has not been sufficiently engaged in advancing the Abraham Accords — to champion the issue. “I am deeply disappointed that the Biden administration does not seem to recognize the value of this agreement,” Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), the bill’s lead Republican sponsor, said. “This legislation will force the administration to prioritize the Abraham Accords by requiring coordination across federal agencies to deepen and expand these agreements.”
Making tweaks: Four amendments to the bill were introduced during the meeting, two of which were approved. The first, from Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), added language specifying that, within its support for a two-state solution, the U.S. supports a Palestinian state “that rejects the use of terrorism.” The second, from Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA), also received bipartisan support. That amendment requires a report from the secretary of state on the effect of policy changes, agreements and commitments by the U.S. on the peoples of countries that have normalized relations.
Menendez to bring Iron Dome request to the Senate floor on Monday
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will bring the $1 billion Iron Dome replenishment bill to the Senate floor on Monday, the senator said Thursday night, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Menendez said that he had planned to bring a unanimous consent request on the Iron Dome funding bill, which passed the House last week, to the Senate floor on Thursday night but ultimately delayed until Monday “as a courtesy” to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who is currently blocking the request and asking that it be amended.
Back and forth: Menendez criticized Paul for blocking unanimous consent on the funding request. “I think it’s a shame that he can’t allow it to move forward,” Menendez told JI. “There is broad bipartisan support for that, to stand by Israel and have them have the wherewithal to defend themselves.” Paul’s amendment, obtained by Jewish Insider on Thursday morning, would rescind all unobligated reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, including aid to non-governmental organizations, and reallocate it to fund the Iron Dome missile-defense system.
Read more here.
Bonus: In an op-ed in The Hill, Daniel Silverberg, who served as national security advisor to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) from 2014-2021, wrote that hyperpartisanship in Washington doomed the Iron Dome funding’s chances of being passed without a standalone vote. “In truth, last Tuesday’s events have little to do with a narrow group of members commanding more influence, but rather the extraordinarily thin margins of any legislation moving through the House these days.”
10 new books to read in October
In the second installment of a new series exploring new and upcoming books, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss previews some of the top and relevant titles coming out in October:
Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood by Mark Oppenheimer (Oct. 5): In the year following the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in October 2018, Tablet senior editor Mark Oppenheimer made more than 30 trips to Pittsburgh, where his ancestors had settled over a century earlier, to chronicle the resilience of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where much of the city’s Jewish population lives.
Come and Hear: What I Saw in My Seven-and-a-Half-Year Journey through the Talmud, by Adam Kirsch (Oct. 8): For nearly eight years, poet and literary critic Adam Kirsch wrote about his experience with Daf Yomi, the daily reading of a page of Talmud. The secular Kirsch writes about his journey through the text through observations that range from the mundane to serious, taking readers along for a ride few non-religious Jews ever experience.
The Lost Café Schindler: One Family, Two Wars, and the Search for Truth, by Meriel Schindler (Oct. 12): Following her father’s death in 2017, attorney Meriel Schindler began to research her family history dating back more than a century to Innsbruck, Austria, to learn how generations survived and thrived — and eventually had their dreams destroyed by the Holocaust. Schindler explores her complicated relationship with her late father, who fled the Nazis as a teenager, and the timeline of ownership of her family’s famed restaurant, Café Schindler.
It’s Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness, by Seth Wickersham (Oct. 12): Seth Wickersham, a senior writer at ESPN, takes a detailed look at the New England Patriots franchise, including emails, game plans and text messages, to better understand the team’s top names: owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, who left the team in 2020.
🗺️ New Approach: The New York Times’s Patrick Kingsley explores the concept of “shrinking the conflict,” the approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict coined by author and philosopher Micah Goodman and said to have been adopted by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “The idea is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be solved in the near future, since the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships are both too divided to restart peace negotiations, let alone reach a peace deal. But Israel can work to reduce the impact of the century-long conflict on Palestinians, thus making peace more likely. If the conflict cannot be solved, the argument goes, it can at least be shrunk.” [NYTimes]
🪧 Bold Behavior: In Foreign Policy, former U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross lauds Iraqi civil society leaders who took great personal risk when they gathered for a conference in Erbil last week and demanded that their country join the Abraham Accords, an event led by the Center for Peace Communications, whose board Ross chairs. “On the eve of World War II, Jews made up about one-third of Baghdad’s population and were leaders in science, finance, and culture. In reconnecting with the Jews who were forced to leave Iraq at the time of Israel’s founding, [Sunni Sheikh Wisam al-] Hardan, Maj. Gen. Amer al-Juburi (a prominent member of the Shiite wing of the Juburi clan), the culture official Sahar Karim al-Tai, and the other participants proclaimed their hope, as Tai said in her speech, of ‘laying the cornerstone for the future of a new Iraq — one where people of all sects, faiths, and creeds will enjoy the blessings of justice and equality.’ They see peace and the Abraham Accords — the declared policy of the Biden administration in the United States — as creating a pathway for the future they want to build.” [FP]
📱 Social Media Lubricant: The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson addresses the problematic effects of social media, likening them to the effects of drinking alcohol. “Digital sabbaths are currently the subject of columns and confessionals. That’s a good start, but this stuff should be sewn into our everyday language: ‘No apps this weekend’; ‘I need to be cut off’; ‘I love you, but I think you need to take a break’; ‘Can you help me stay offline?’ These reforms should begin with Facebook. But with social media, as with every other legal, compulsive product, the responsibility of moderation ends with the users.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🏃♂️ Race to Watch: Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who is up for reelection next year after filling the seat left vacant by former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), holds a slight lead in match-ups against all potential Republican opponents, according to new polling.
👓 Clear Success: The hip eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, founded by Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, closed at $54.49 on Wednesday, the company’s first day on the New York Stock Exchange.
🎁 Generous Gift: Hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman donated $100 million to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., reportedly the largest gift ever given to a hospital in the state. The hospital will be renamed the Cooper Barnabas Medical Center.
⚖️ Day in Court: A leader of a neo-Nazi group in Washington State was convicted on federal charges after threatening journalists, activists and members of the Anti-Defamation League.
🍛 Good Taste: Architectural Digest highlights dishes popular among India’s Bene Israel community, which adapted traditional foods with local ingredients.
🚨 Captured: Police in Germany apprehended a 96-year-old woman who fled before she was set to stand trial on charges relating to her involvement in the Holocaust while she was a secretary at a concentration camp near Gdansk.
👮♂️ Messy Diplomacy: A conference in Erbil whose attendees pushed for Iraqi recognition of Israel provoked a standoff between Iraqi officers seeking the individuals involved and Kurdish officials, who are protecting conference participants.
🔍 On the Case: Israel is looking into claims by Hezbollah that it shot down an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon.
📘 Coming Soon: Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working on his fourth book, which will be published in English and intended for an American audience.
🕯 Remembering: Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a vocal advocate for organ donation and the former dean of Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school, died at 95.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Gito Whole Cluster Petite Syrah 2019:
“Last night was a night full of new sensations. With my dear friend Yoram, who I had not seen in two years, I dined at a new restaurant in Tel Aviv, Darya, where I experienced remarkable foods and a panoply of spices. After the meal I spent most of the night trying to make sure that I secured all the new flavors in my long-term memory. The wine we ordered with our amazing meal was from Israel’s Gito Winery. It proved to be a match made in culinary heaven. I will have the opportunity to visit the winery, which is located in Kfar Pines near Hadera, this coming week, which may yield additional great wine reviews to share.
“The 2019 Gito Whole Cluster Petite Syrah takes the oenophile for a wild ride. On the front palate, you are given a hint of tartness and sour cherry balls. The imaginary whole clusters tear through your mid-palate with a vengeance and make you want to not let the liquid escape your throat. The finish is pepper mixed with raisin and plum and is as elegant as the mid-palate is rough. Drink this over the next five years. It will change substantially. Pair it with whatever spicy foods you can find.”
Purchase a bottle here.
Pic of the Day
On his trip to Manama, Bahrain, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al Zayani visited the USS Pearl Harbor, a Harpers Ferry-class naval ship stationed in Bahrain. Lapid (second from left) was hosted by Vice Admiral Brad Cooper (left), commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and Margaret Nardi (third from left), U.S. chargé d’affaires in Manama.
“What you are doing here is protecting the values of freedom and the idea of a free world. When we talk about peace, we must remember that this peace must be protected from anyone who seeks to harm it,” Lapid told Cooper.
Former MLB left-handed pitcher with more MLB appearances than any other Jewish pitcher, Scott David Schoeneweis turns 48…
FRIDAY: MLB Hall of Fame second baseman who appeared in 18 straight All-Star Games, he is immortalized as Jewish in Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song,” Rod Carew turns 76… Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Andrew David Hurwitz turns 74… Haifa-born biologist and physician, professor at the Technion, he won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Aaron Ciechanover turns 74… Copy editor at Politico, Andrew Goodwin turns 67… Actress and ordained Jewish cantor, Lorna Patterson turns 65… The first ever Jewish chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, Steven C. González turns 58… Reality television personality, model and actress, Cynthia Dawn “Cindy” Margolis turns 56… Director of philanthropic partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert A. Rosen turns 53… Film director, screenwriter and producer, Stacie Passon turns 52… SVP at Finsbury Glover Hering, Robert Bennett Seidman turns 48… Senior manager of special projects at the Foundation For Defense of Democracies, Samantha J. Greenberg turns 33… Consultant at Deloitte, Samuel Koralnik turns 26… Vice president of business development at Itur Intelligence Ltd., Yossi Raskas… Scott Rosenthal… Rachelli Levitt Friedman…
SATURDAY: Partner in Baltimore’s Workshop Development and a top commercial real estate broker, Richard Manekin turns 76… Co-chair of external relations at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, Diana Ely Epstein… Bethesda, Maryland resident, Samuel G. Kaplan turns 75… Fashion designer Donna Karan turns 73… Portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz turns 72… Former long-time member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Rabbi Yitzhak Cohen turns 70… Member of Knesset for the Labor party and Minister of Public Security, Omer Bar-Lev turns 68… Former member of the Texas House of Representatives, Scott Hochberg turns 68… Israeli businessman Idan Ofer turns 66… Venture capitalist and former chairman of Baltimore’s federation The Associated, Bruce Sholk turns 64… Former chief program officer of the Union for Reform Judaism, Mark J. Pelavin turns 60… Managing partner of the Fort Lauderdale-based Weinstein Law Firm, Andrew Weinstein turns 52… Insurance agent at Herman E. Wealcatch Inc., Michael Mordechai Gottlieb turns 47… U.S. government official at the International Trade Administration, Michelle Sara King turns 45… Zionist educator at Hadassah, Diana Diner turns 38… Associate attorney at Cooley LLP, Alexander B. Fullman turns 31…
SUNDAY: Radio show host Michael Medved turns 73… Senior advisor at FTI Consulting and a former member of Congress (D-PA-13), Allyson Young Schwartz turns 73… Theoretical physicist, professor at Rutgers and a MacArthur Genius Fellow in 1987, Daniel Friedan turns 73… Co-founder and owner of Covenant Wines, Jeff Morgan turns 68… Westport, Connecticut based holistic health coach, Orna Stern turns 66… Lisa Gordon Leff turns 64… Global head of music for YouTube, Lyor Cohen turns 62… President of The Ferber Company, P. Shields Ferber, Jr. turns 58… Real estate professional in NYC, Daniel Marks Cohen turns 51… Art collector and dealer, David Mugrabi turns 50… Manager of Madonna and U2, venture capitalist and author of “Jews Who Rock,” Guy Oseary turns 49… Member of the Knesset, he was previously Israel’s Minister of Intelligence, Eli Cohen turns 49… Rabbi of Congregation Ohr Torah in North Woodmere, N.Y., and author of We’re Almost There, Dovid M. Cohen turns 49… Venture capitalist and political strategist, Bradley Tusk turns 48… Executive director at the Jewish Book Council, Naomi Firestone-Teeter turns 38… Assistant rabbi at Park East Synagogue in Manhattan, Benjamin Goldschmidt turns 34… Manager of Israel and global Jewish citizenship at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, Juan Gilces Coronel turns 27…