👋 Good Tuesday morning!
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, is speaking at a “Shine a Light on Antisemitism” event later this morning.
Kenney appeared yesterday at a “Palestine Solidarity Day” rally in the city, days after Israeli Consul General in New York Asaf Zamir, whose region encompasses Pennsylvania, sent a letter to the mayor’s office imploring him not to speak at the event.
The Capitol Jewish Forum — organized by American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) — will host a menorah-lighting ceremony outside the Capitol this evening, with several members of Congress, including members of leadership, expected to appear.
The Democratic Socialists of America’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and Palestine Solidarity working group recommended on Monday that Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) be expelled from the organization.
The group said it had demanded that Bowman drop out of a J Street U event held last night and end his relationship with the organization, express clear support for a resolution objecting to Israel’s classification of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist groups and commit to opposing “any future funding” for Israel to maintain his membership.
The Senate failed again Monday night to pass a procedural motion limiting debate on the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, as Republicans demanded votes on additional amendments.
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) announced his campaign for New York governor on Monday, joining an already crowded field of Democrats. The departure of Suozzi from New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes most of Long Island’s North Shore, leaves an open seat in a toss-up district.
Melanie D’Arrigo, who mounted a failed primary challenge against Suozzi in the 2020 Democratic primary, announced Monday that she will enter the race to succeed the congressman, who has represented the district since 2017.
Israeli ambassador hosts first Washington event: Lesson of Hanukkah alive today
In his first public event as Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog framed the conflict between Israel and its regional foes as a “struggle between light and darkness” and a fight against “radical forces who resist any progress,” reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. Hosting the Israeli Embassy in Washington’s annual Hanukkah party on Monday evening, Herzog said, “When I light this candle, I dedicate it to our effort to spread hope as well as to our unbreakable bond with the United States, our best friend and ally, which is a force multiplier in this quest for light.”
Then and now: Herzog compared the Hanukkah story of the Maccabees to that of the modern State of Israel, reaffirming Israel’s duty and ability to protect itself. The new ambassador’s comments came against the backdrop of renewed nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, and a statement earlier Monday from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett opposing the negotiations. “If our core identity and the values that define us are ever in danger, we as a nation must fight to maintain them and be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices, as our ancestors did,” he said. “The lesson of Hanukkah is as alive today as it was over 2,000 years ago. Today, we have a state that is thriving and strong, capable of defending itself against aggressors and ill-wishers.”
The gentleman from New York: “It is such an honor to be here at your first official appearance as ambassador to the United States,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said to Herzog. “I know the relationship between the United States and Israel will grow even stronger with you here in Washington and with recently confirmed Ambassador [Tom] Nides in Yerushalayim. It’s a great team.” Schumer, who sat shiva on Sunday night for his father, who died last week, noted that the Mi Chamochaprayer he recited at the shiva relates to the name of the Maccabees. “The first four words of the prayer – Mi Chamocha – start with the letters Mem-Khaf-Bet-Yod, which spells Maccabee,” the majority leader explained.
‘Small but mighty’: “The Maccabees rescued Jerusalem, built the Second Temple. It shows that a small but mighty people can do wondrous things,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said at the event. “That’s the State of Israel. That’s what the State of Israel has been able to do in a part of the world where it’s a small nation, but a mighty nation. And it’s guided by its values. And that’s why this special relationship between the United States and Israel has only grown stronger over time.”
Fun fact: The hanukkiah used at the event was one of three created for the Clinton White House by Maryland-based sculptor Zachary Oxman and lent to the embassy by Kira Epstein-Begal and William Begal.
Spotted: Shirin Herzog, IDF Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, Israeli Agriculture Minister Oded Forer, Department of Homeland Security’s Rob Silvers, Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith, William Daroff, Nathan Diament, Liz Diament, Leonard Attman, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Ken Weinstein, Ambassador Norm Eisen, Elliot Brandt, Aaron Keyak, Einat Wilf, Jeff Mendelsohn, Rob Satloff, Gal Levakov, Adam Lehman, Rabbi Hyim Shafner, Sara Winkelman, Dan Mariaschin, Halie Soifer, Sheila Katz, David Makovsky, Joel Rubin, Jason Isaacson, David Bernstein, Dan Arbell, Ellie Cohanim, Steve Rabinowitz, Benjamin Krasna, Roee Snir, Karen Barall, William Begal, Elad Strohmayer, Mark Dubowitz, Herbert Block, Mira Resnick, Daniel Benaim, David Schenker, Tammy Ben-Haim, Michael Lipin, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Dana Gershon, Robert Greenway, Dan Pollak, Elliot Miller.
View from vienna
Nuclear talks resume in Vienna
Nuclear talks between the remaining parties to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action resumed in Vienna on Monday, the first time in more than five months that the officials have met — and the first time since the hardline government of President Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in.
Tough timing: The meetings began hours before the release of a report that Israeli officials had warned the Biden administration in recent weeks that Iran is preparing to enrich uranium to 90% — giving Tehran enough material for nuclear-grade weapons.
Sanctions stalemate: Iran has refused to restart talks unless the U.S. lifts the sanctions put in place during the Trump administration. Officials in the sanctions working group were set to resume discussions on Tuesday; the other two working groups — on the nuclear issue and on how each country will proceed in the event of a new agreement — will not meet.
Everything open? Ali Bagheri, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, said today that the previous talks were a draft. “Drafts are subject to negotiation. Therefore nothing is agreed on unless everything has been agreed on,” he said on Iranian state television. Enrique Mora, the European Union’s chief negotiator in the nuclear talks, said yesterday that the Iranians “have accepted that the work done over the six first rounds is a good basis to build our work ahead, so no point in going back.”
Not at the table: The U.S., which withdrew from the agreement in 2018, did not participate in direct talks, but met with officials from France, Britain, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union following the working groups’ meetings with Iranian negotiators. Iranian officials have refused to meet with the U.S. envoy for Iran, Rob Malley.
View from Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a video message as the talks began, urging allies around the world not to “give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail.” “Despite Iran’s violations and undermining of the nuclear inspections, Iran will be arriving at the negotiation table in Vienna, and there are those who think they deserve to have their sanctions removed and hundreds of billions of dollars poured right into their rotten regime,” he said. “They’re wrong. Iran deserves no rewards, no bargain deals and no sanctions relief in return for their brutality.” Meanwhile in London, at an event with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “Our friendship will be reflected in the coming months in our shared determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, at all costs. Israel will always protect itself, but we know we are not alone. And our hand is outstretched for peace.”
In new Pentagon review, China looms large
The Pentagon released a review of its global military resources on Monday, which “aims to sharpen the link between [the] U.S.’s vast military capabilities and the Biden administration’s strategic priorities,” the Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold reports.
Countering China: The assessment includes limited troop movement in Asia and the Middle East, an indication of the administration’s concerns over the geopolitical and economic influence of China and Russia. The American Enterprise Institute’s Mackenzie Eaglen suggested to the WSJ that the limited movement was a result of the administration’s heavily criticized pullout from Afghanistan. “That’s part of the reason you can’t significantly change force posture in the Middle East and Europe, because we lost our eyes in Afghanistan,” she said.
Pacific plans: The U.S. plans to make a number of infrastructure improvements to its bases in Australia and Guam. The army announced in October that it will temporarily send one of its two Iron Dome missile-defense batteries to the island territory for testing purposes. The improvements the military is making to those bases will, planners expect, ease efforts to move troops throughout the Pacific.
🕍 Tradition, Tradition: More than 350 years after the death of Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, feelings about his writings remain raw. According to the Jewish Chronicle, a recent request by Johns Hopkins philosophy professor Yitzhak Melamed to film inside Amsterdam’s Portuguese Jewish Synagogue was not only denied, but met with excommunication. The synagogue’s rabbi argued that a ban on Spinoza was still in effect, explaining in a letter, “The chachamim [scholars] and parnassim [officers] excommunicated Spinoza and his writings with the severest possible ban, a ban that remains in force for all time and cannot be rescinded… You have devoted your life to the study of Spinoza’s banned works and the development of his ideas… Your request to visit our complex and create a film about this Epicouros [heretic] is incompatible with our centuries-old halachic, historic and ethical tradition and an unacceptable assault on our identity and heritage… I thereby deny your request and declare you persona non grata in the Synagogue complex.” [JewishChronicle]
💉 Pfizer Power: The Financial Times explores the newfound power held by the Pfizer pharmaceutical company during the pandemic as it dominates the COVID-19 vaccine market. “Since the vaccine’s approval at the end of last year, Pfizer’s decisions have helped shape the course of the pandemic. It has the power to set prices and to choose which country comes first in an opaque queueing system, including for the booster programmes that rich countries are now scrambling to accelerate… The number of people in high income countries who have had booster shots is almost double the number in low income countries who have received first and second doses. The danger of such an unequal rollout has been underlined by the emergence of the new and potentially dangerous Omicron variant. Although its origins are still unclear, scientists have long warned that new variants are more likely if large parts of the world remain unvaccinated. ‘No one is safe until everyone is safe,’ says Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the UN-backed vaccines alliance.” [FT]
Around the Web
🗳️ Eye on 2022: The Jewish Democratic Council of America will roll out its first endorsements of the 2022 cycle, which include all incumbent Democratic senators seeking reelection in next November’s midterms.
🕎 Darkness to Light: Journalist Danny Fenster, released weeks ago from Myanmar prison after six months, participated in a menorah-lighting ceremony Sunday in Detroit to mark the first night of Hanukkah.
🍩 A Celebration of Oil: The New York Times suggests three desserts that can be enjoyed on Hanukkah that give oil its prime place but skip the frying.
👮 Beverly Hills Cops: Police are investigating an incident in which antisemitic flyers containing hate speech related to the COVID-19 pandemic were distributed to homes in Beverly Hills on the eve of Hanukkah.
🏫 Campus Beat: Duke University administrators intervened following the student body president’s decision to deny recognition to a pro-Israel student group, promising that the Students Supporting Israel chapter would receive “financial and programmatic support.”
📜 Clash of Narratives: Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan and the World Jewish Congress protested a U.N. commemoration event of the 1947 partition plan, accusing the international body of attempting to erase Jewish history.
🎤 Friends Forever: Singer and frontman for the band Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am, criticized political pressure to cancel a performance in Israel.
🇺🇸 Slam Dunk: Swiss-born, Turkish-raised NBA player Enes Kanter, who legally changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, became a U.S. citizen yesterday.
💰 SPAC Spec: Bloomberg looks at hedge funder Bill Ackman’s proposed idea for trading special purpose acquisition rights companies (SPARCs).
🖼️ When I Paint My Masterpiece: An art show opening this week in Miami will feature dozens of visual works of art by Bob Dylan dating back to the 1960s.
🔨 Custody Case: The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that an Israeli boy, who was the sole survivor of a cable car crash earlier this year and whose custody became a protracted international legal battle, will be returned to Italy to live with family within two weeks.
📱 In the Courts: Human rights groups in Israel filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court over the country’s reimposition of data-tracking measures in light of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
👸 Pageant Plague: A Miss Universe contestant tested positive for COVID-19 upon her arrival in Israel, as the country restricts entry to pageant contestants due to the Omicron strain of COVID-19.
💉 Doses Donation: Israel is set to donate a million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to African countries as part of the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative.
🕯️ Remembering: Former Hall of Fame pro bowler Mark Roth died at 70.
Pic of the Day
A menorah is lit in Times Square as part of the “Shine A Light” campaign to combat antisemitism on Monday night. Attendees included New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams. The event included performances from Matisyahu, The Maccabeats, Christian Cultural Center Choir and David Broza.
CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, William C. Daroff, pictured with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at the Israeli Embassy’s Hanukkah party last night, turns 53…
D.C.-based real estate developer, Douglas Jemal turns 79… Film producer, Ellen Letty Konigsberg Aronson turns 78… Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter and film director, David Mamet turns 74… Tony Award and Emmy Award-winning actor, tenor and comedian, Mandel Bruce “Mandy” Patinkin turns 69… Former U.S. Treasury secretary and then president of Harvard University, Larry Summers turns 67… Historian and author of nine books, Michael Beschloss turns 66… National security correspondent for Thomson Reuters, Jonathan S. Landay turns 66… U.S. senator (R-NC), Richard Burr turns 66… Award-winning author, journalist, and co-founder of Berkeleyside, Frances Dinkelspiel turns 62… Film and television producer, Stacey Sher turns 59… Rabbi of Congregation Netivot Shalom of Teaneck, N.J., and chair of the department of Talmud and Rabbinics at SAR High School, Nathaniel Helfgot turns 58… Actor, comedian and filmmaker, Ben Stiller turns 56… Editor-in-chief at The Forward, Jodi Rudoren… Member of the Knesset for the Labor Party, he is also the executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, Gilad Kariv turns 48… Former actress, Tziporah Atarah Malkah turns 48… Screenwriter, director and producer, Jeremy Garelick turns 46… CNN reporter covering federal law enforcement and courts in New York, Erica Orden turns 41… Retired basketball player, he won two NBA championships with the Lakers and played for two seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Jordan Farmar turns 35… Israeli tennis player, Evgenia Linetskaya turns 35… Student activist against gun violence, Ryan Deitsch turns 22… Steve Albert…