👋 Good Thursday morning!
The Senate confirmed Tom Nides as U.S. ambassador to Israel on Wednesday, a day after Republican objections blocked the move, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Nides, the Morgan Stanley vice chairman and former deputy secretary of state for management and resources, is now the sixth Senate-confirmed ambassador nominated by President Joe Biden.
His confirmation is a rare exception to blanket objections on national security and foreign policy nominees being employed by multiple Republican senators, most notably Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), who are attempting to extract other foreign policy concessions from the administration.
“I am glad the Republican hold on Mr. Nides has been lifted, and that we will have an ambassador in Israel to help maintain and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told JI on Wednesday evening. “He is exceptionally qualified and will make a fine ambassador.” Read the full story here.
Israel’s Knesset approved the 2021 state budget on Thursday, in a vote of 61-59, averting another general election and giving Israel its first national budget in more than three years.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed the passing of the $194 billion plan in a tweet in Hebrew, calling it a “holiday for the State of Israel! After years of chaos — we have formed a government, we have overcome the Delta [variant], and now, God willing, we have passed a budget for Israel!” Israel’s diverse coalition must now pass the accompanying Economic Arrangement Bill, detailing how the financial plan will be put into practice, plus a state budget for 2022.
The retirement community that was a microcosm of the Florida special election
The special election to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) — which is likely headed for a recount after Tuesday’s results showed a virtual tie between Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and healthcare executive Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick — presented candidates with an opportunity to shore up pivotal support from the Kings Point retirement community in Tamarac, Fla. The predominantly Jewish condominium complex, situated in deep-blue Broward County, is home to some 9,000 residents who represent a coveted swing vote, not least because, for decades, they have turned out in dependably large numbers, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Candidate pilgrimage: The sprawling complex, about 15 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale, has long been viewed as something of a campaign pilgrimage site for aspiring Democratic presidential candidates. In 2000, Al Gore made overtures to the Jewish community at Kings Point alongside former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), his Orthodox Jewish running mate. The following cycle, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other high-profile Democratic surrogates were on the ground in Tamarac, stumping for John Kerry. In 2008, Barack Obama courted the Kings Point community when his pro-Israel bona fides were in question among some Jewish voters in South Florida, and as a vice-presidential candidate in 2012, Joe Biden made sure he had paid a visit to the gated retirement complex, which is so vast it covers three voting precincts.
At your peril: “Not courting the vote in Kings Point in a special election occurs at your own peril,” Mitch Ceasar, the former longtime chairman of the Broward Democratic Party who founded the first Democratic club in Tamarac more than 40 years ago, said in an interview with Jewish Insider last week at his office in Plantation, just a few days before the primary. “Kings Point, historically, has a clear pattern of turning out.” Florida’s 20th Congressional District, which encompasses a number of African-American and Caribbean enclaves in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, is predominantly Black, and each of the candidates largely relied on a strategy of engaging their respective bases. But as in past elections, the sizable and politically active Jewish voting bloc in Kings Point was in some ways uniquely, if precariously, positioned to push one candidate into first place.
Deep divides: This cycle, the community fell short of exerting its political muscle as Jewish voters in Kings Point splintered, somewhat predictably, among several of the leading candidates in the deeply divided field. Despite outreach from candidates throughout the election, some Kings Point residents said they felt as if the engagement was largely superficial. “Kings Point is an afterthought,” said Stern, the retired civil servant from Brooklyn, who also voted for DuBose. He speculated, for instance, that state Sen. Perry Thurston, the only candidate in the race who represents the retirement complex, was “not relying on the Kings Point vote” as he built his coalition, though he did campaign in the community.
trick or tweet
GOP delays Lipstadt confirmation hearing over past tweets
Senate Republicans are delaying the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from scheduling a confirmation hearing for Deborah Lipstadt, the administration’s nominee for special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, over past tweets authored by the Holocaust historian that were critical of some committee members, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Tweet troubles: “She has said enough things on Twitter that it needs to be reviewed carefully — particularly about members of the committee, which is always quite sensitive,” Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) told JI on Wednesday. “So we’ll get through that… You’re going to see them all, I suspect, before it’s over with.”
Pushback: Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) dismissed the GOP concerns in comments during a committee meeting on Wednesday. “The minority has refused to grant her a hearing, apparently because there is some concern about her tweets calling out the use of anitsemitic tropes,” Menendez said. “Let’s think about that [for] a minute. We don’t want the person nominated to advance our global efforts against antisemitism to call out antisemitism? I sincerely hope that’s not the position of the minority and that we can move these nominees forward expeditiously.”
The issue: While Menendez has the authority to unilaterally schedule a hearing, past committee chairs have typically prioritized bipartisan comity in committee business and have avoided such unilateral actions.
On the offensive: In March, Lipstadt criticized Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, on Twitter after the Wisconsin senator said that he “wasn’t concerned” during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but would have been concerned if the participants were “Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters.” Lipstadt tweeted, “This is white supremacy/nationalism. Pure and simple,” linking to an article about Johnson’s comments. Lipstadt also posted numerous tweets critical of now-Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), another committee member, during his 2012 presidential run about issues unrelated to antisemitism.
on the hill
Foreign Relations Committee approves Emanuel, Leaf in heated meeting
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the nominations of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan and Barbara Leaf to be assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs to full Senate consideration on Wednesday, in a tense meeting marked by arguments over the delays faced by a number of foreign policy nominees, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Breaking ranks: Two Democrats, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ed Markey (D-MA), broke with the party and voted against Emanuel, who has faced scrutiny from progressives over his handling of the 2014 shooting of Black teenager Laquan McDonald during his term as mayor. “Black Lives Matter,” Merkley said in a statement. “I have carefully considered Mayor Emanuel’s record — and the input of civil rights leaders, criminal justice experts, and local elected officials who have reached out to the Senate to weigh in — and I have reached the decision that I cannot support his nomination.”
Life raft: Despite the two Democratic defections, Emanuel’s approval appears to be safe for the moment, thanks to the support of Republican Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). During the meeting, Risch, the committee’s ranking member, spoke out in defense of Emanuel. “Mayor Emanuel and I disagree about most of our politics,” Risch said. “But we agree that Japan is the cornerstone of our Indo-Pacific strategy, and it is our greatest asset in the strategic competition with China.”
Contentious: The committee’s advancement of Leaf’s nomination to the full Senate was followed by a heated discussion between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) about Leaf’s responses to written questions. Risch, Hagerty as well as Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against Leaf.
Shouting match: Despite his “no,” vote, Risch called Leaf “a qualified career diplomat… well-suited to lead this bureau” but added that he had “major concerns [with] where the administration seems to be going with this Middle East policy.” Cruz delayed the first scheduled committee vote on Leaf in late October, claiming she had failed to adequately answer or falsely answered several of his written questions. During the meeting, he reiterated those objections in a discussion that devolved at one point into a shouting match between Cruz and Menendez.
Rep. Elaine Luria: Iron Dome opponents think ‘Israel doesn’t have a right to exist’
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) questioned on Wednesday morning whether House colleagues who voted against $1 billion in additional aid for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system believe that Israel should exist, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Quotable: “There were some on the left who I think truly would prefer to say that Israel doesn’t have the right to exist,” Luria said at a Jewish Institute for National Security of America conference. The House voted overwhelmingly to support the supplemental aid — one Republican joined the eight Democrats, while 420 members voted in support of the measure. The appropriation is currently stalled in the Senate.
On the upswing: Luria, a former Navy commander, lamented what she sees as a significant rise in left-wing anti-Israel sentiment linked to the May 2021 conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza. “After this conflict, those on the political left — not just in the U.S., but around the world — the amount that people have villainized Israel for Israel’s right to defend themselves, has gone up precipitously,” Luria said, describing it as “a really dangerous trend.”
Inside the House: Luria also said that she has found that antisemitism and opposition to Israel has been more pervasive inside Congress than she expected. “Since I’ve served in Congress, it’s been quite surprising the amount of times that I’ve needed to stand up on the House floor and [defend Israel’s right to defend itself],” Luria said, noting that her first speech on the House floor was a response to “dual loyalty” claims from other Democrats.
Presented by Sapir
British novelist Howard Jacobson — whose 2010 book, The Finkler Question, won the Man Booker Prize — offers his trademark wit and wisdom in SAPIR today.
Sage Advice: Jacobson brings a light touch to a very serious subject: how to respond to contemporary antisemitism, including attacks on Zionism and Israel. In his imaginary Q&A with a Jewish undergraduate, he counsels reason, courage, and confidence, as other authors in this volume do. “Willy-nilly you will be drawn into the politics and find yourself justifying actions which in other circumstances you would view with more circumspection. Or you will be tempted to do the opposite and wash your hands of the whole damned business. It is natural to vacillate between the two. But if there is one position, above all, that I entreat you not to adopt, it is that of a supine, conciliatory Jew who believes he can remain outside the fray.” Read here.
🍽️ Complex Cuisine: The New York Times’s Melissa Clark visits Egyptian-born cookbook author Claudia Roden, whose first cookbook focused on Middle Eastern flavors, in her London home ahead of the release of Roden’s newest cookbook. “It’s hard to imagine, in the midst of Britain’s current love affair with Middle Eastern flavors, that the cuisine was considered outlandish and unappealing in the 1960s. Ms. Roden’s book was all but ignored when it came out, on the heels of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, in which Britain supported Israel. ‘At that moment, no one was interested in the food of the enemy culture,’ said Ms. Roden, who identifies as a Sephardi/Mizrahi Jew (Mizrahi is the Israeli term for Jews from the Middle East and North Africa). ‘When the book came out, people would always ask me if all the recipes were for testicles and eyeballs.’” [NYTimes]
🥇 Victory Lap: Bloomberg’s Amanda Gordon follows New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams around the city as he party-hopped after declaring victory on Tuesday night. “Outside, bouncers behind velvet ropes had already let in Eric Schmidt, Wendi Deng and Ja Rule as dozens of people waited Tuesday night to get into a separate party for Sandbox, the metaverse startup backed by SoftBank… Eventually, Adams sat down in a booth and sipped water, next to his son Jordan Coleman and public relations executive Ronn Torossian, getting up when waiters brought out sparklers to celebrate the birthday of socialite Camilla Olsson.” [Bloomberg]
✡️ ‘Nanny’ As Icon: Teen Vogue’s Yulia Khabinsky explores how Fran Drescher’s barrier-breaking Jewish character Fran Fine on the ‘90s sitcom “The Nanny” provided a kind of representation for Jewish women on television that until that point had not existed. “Here was the main character of a popular sitcom, at temple, listening to a type of prayer I’ve rarely seen on-screen, and she wasn’t there to ‘face’ her religiosity in any way, to question it or find fault with it or examine it. She wasn’t there to interact with it at all. She was at temple because Jews sometimes go to temple, the way Christians can be shown having Easter brunch without discussing the symbolism behind the resurrection of Christ. It was mere background for the comedic plot — a quite ordinary occurrence in this universe. The Fines going to temple felt akin to them going to Loehmann’s. And that made it feel, dare I say, revelatory.” [TeenVogue]
Around the Web
📺 Streaming Secrets: A new Netflix semi-animated documentary short spotlights the Virginia camp guarded by Jewish WWII refugees that housed Nazi prisoners of war.
⭕ Full Circle: A recently released documentary by Australian artist Ella Dreyfus connects the history of her family from the Holocaust to their resettlement across the world and eventual return to Germany.
🗞️ Extra, Extra: Seth Lipsky, the former owner of the New York Sun, sold the now-defunct newspaper to former Algemeiner editor-in-chief Dovid Efune in a mixed cash and stock deal.
👑 Beautiful But Evil: Gal Gadot is in talks to play the Evil Queen in an upcoming live-action version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
✋ Going, Gone: An Israeli court stopped the auction of a partial tattoo kit that was used in Auschwitz, following an outcry over its potential sale.
🛑 Blacklisted: The U.S. Department of Commerce put Israel’s NSO Group on its trade blacklist as part of an effort to crack down on hacking companies. Days earlier, Mercury Public Affairs dropped NSO Group’s majority stakeholder, Q Cyber Technologies.
🚢 No Take Backs: A U.S. military official confirmed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a Vietnamese-flagged vessel carrying Iranian oil in the Gulf of Oman that had been confiscated by U.S. forces.
☢️ Back to the Table: Talks between Iran and world powers about reviving a nuclear deal are set to resume on Nov. 29 in Vienna, after a five-month hiatus.
🖥️ Ransom Rejected: The Iran-linked Black Shadow hacker group leaked Israeli databases of personal information, including medical data and information from an LGBT+ dating site, after its request for ransom was not met.
🛫 Direct to Dubai: Emirates airline announced today that it will launch a daily non-stop flight between Dubai and Tel Aviv, starting Dec. 6.
📰 Closing Time: The Lebanon Daily Star, the Mediterranean nation’s oldest English-language newspaper, has laid off all its staff and shut down.
↗️ Transition: Raja Abdulrahim is joining The New York Times as a Jerusalem-based correspondent after previously working at the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. Tom Kahn and Nina Jacobson are joining the board of trustees at Freedom House.
Pic of the Day
The gala banquet of the 38th annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, Kinus Hashluchim, was held at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison, N.J., from Oct. 28-31. Rabbis and guests from 100 countries joined online and in-person in the annual event — after last year’s Kinus was forced entirely online by the coronavirus pandemic.
Spotted: Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Dnepro, Ukraine Shmuel Kamenetsky, Chief Rabbi of Iran Rabbi Yehuda Garami, Rabbi Tzvi Grunblatt of Argentina, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor of Thailand, keynote speaker David Lichtenstein, Rabbi Shneur Zalman Zaklos of Novosibirsk, Michael Mower, Senior Advisor to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Rabbi Benny Zippel of Utah, Rabbi Eitan Webb of Chabad at Princeton, Rabbi Menachem Schmidt of Chabad on Campus and Philadelphia.
Former CEO and current distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute, Ken Weinstein turns 60…
Former Israeli film director, actor and comedian who left the entertainment world to become a rabbi, Uri Zohar turns 86… Political scientist and consultant, Edward Luttwak turns 79… Chair of the House Budget Committee (D-Kentucky-3), he is Kentucky’s first Jewish congressman, John Yarmuth turns 74… Former IDF paratrooper, he served as the IDF’s chief of the general staff, minister of defense and member of Knesset for Kadima, Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz turns 73… Uruguayan biologist, he served as mayor of Montevideo and then as a national cabinet minister, Ricardo Ehrlich turns 73… Professor of medicine at England’s University of Birmingham and a leading British authority on organ donation and transplantation, James M. Neuberger turns 72… Board member of Jewish Funders Network and a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, Dorothy Tananbaum turns 70… Marketing and communications consultant, Robert L. Kern turns 69… Professor at the University of California San Francisco and winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Medicine, David Jay Julius turns 66… U.K. politician who served as a Conservative party MP and cabinet minister, Richard Irwin Harrington turns 64…
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2013, Kenneth I. Gordon turns 62… Author, actress and television host, Annabelle Gurwitch turns 60… Professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, Claire Elise Katz turns 57… Israeli screenwriter and film director, Eran Kolirin turns 48… Partner at Paragon Strategic Insights, Jeremy Chwat turns 47… Media columnist for The New York Times, Ben Smith turns 45… Director of reputation risk at McKinsey & Company, Max Gleischman turns 40… Opinion columnist at The Washington Post, Catherine Rampell turns 37… Founder and CEO at Denver-based Fresh Tape Media, Jared Kleinstein turns 34… Founder and CEO of a health organization working for early detection and prevention of cancer, Yael Cohen Braun turns 35… Deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Addar Weintraub Levi turns 34… Former White House special representative for international negotiations, Avi Berkowitz turns 33… Recording artist, songwriter and entertainer known as Yoni Z, Yoni Zigelboum turns 30… Israeli professional stock car racing driver, he is the first Israeli to compete in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series, Alon Day turns 30… Health care reporter for Politico New York, Amanda Eisenberg turns 28…