👋 Good Friday morning!
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: Milwaukee’s son makes a Senate run; Tom Friedman contrasts Middle East approaches: ‘Trump did crazy well, Biden doesn’t do crazy’; From start-up nation to foodtech destination; Spoon U founder Sarah Adler Hartman brings innovation to the Times; Still pressing the fight for press freedom; ‘No timelines’ on adding Israel to Visa Waiver Program, senior DHS official says; and In a first, AIPAC to enter campaign politics. Print the latest edition here.
Why is Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) getting involved in the race for speaker of the New York City Council? According to a New York Post report, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who represents Queens, is working alongside City Councilmember Tiffany Caban, a favorite of the Democratic Socialists of America, to install Councilmember Adrienne Adams as speaker over fellow Queens resident, Councilmember Francisco Moya.
Both Adams and Moya claimed earlier this week that they have the necessary votes to win the position, though some in the party have expressed skepticism that Moya, who has the backing of Mayor-elect Eric Adams (who is not related to the Queens councilwoman), has drummed up enough support ahead of the January vote.
The Post highlighted Caban’s views on Israel, noting that she is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and stating that Meeks “is joining forces with socialist, anti-Israel-leaning elected officials.”
However, Democrats in New York tell JI that the unlikely pairing between Meeks, who was elected as Queens County Democratic leader in 2019, and Caban is purely political. “The speaker’s race is one of the last places county leaders can really exert their influence,” a Democratic source told JI. “They all have their own preferred candidate and work to cut deals for chairmanships for their delegation.”
A 25-year-old Israeli man was killed in a shooting attack near the Homesh outpost in the West Bank on Thursday. The army said shots were fired at a car the victim was traveling in. Two other passengers sustained light injuries.
“We strongly condemn the terrorist attack today in the West Bank that killed an Israeli citizen and wounded two others,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price tweeted. “Our thoughts are with the victims of this attack and their families.”
“Last night’s murderous terrorist attack in the West Bank robbed a family of their father and husband. May his memory be a blessing. We pray for swift healing to the injured victims,” said U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “Together with all the people of Israel, I send heartfelt condolences to the family of the person killed in the horrific attack that took place tonight in Samaria, and a speedy recovery to the wounded. The security forces will get their hands on the terrorists very soon and we’ll ensure that justice is served.”
Physical attacks and acts of vandalism allegedly perpetrated by settlers against Palestinians have been reported since yesterday’s attack, which was the latest in a series of terrorist attacks in recent weeks.
Settlers erected a new West Bank outpost in the early hours of Friday morning, named Nofei Yehuda, in memory of the victim, Yehuda Dimentman.
Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison seven years ago today, after five years of incarceration. Read our interview with him from last year.
Gale Brewer returns to the City Council
With two-thirds of the New York City Council’s 51 members stepping down next month, the legislative body is poised for more diversity than it has ever seen. Gale Brewer, the outgoing two-term Manhattan borough president, is in many ways returning to a vastly different council than the one she occupied from 2002 to 2013 — though she doesn’t see it that way. “To be honest with you, the issues are the same,” she told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kasselrecently over breakfast at a retro-style diner on the Upper West Side, where she has lived for more than four decades. “I’m about the issues.”
Showing up: Brewer has built close relationships with Jewish community leaders in Manhattan throughout a decades-long career in public service that extends back to the late 1970s, when she began a 12-year stint as Ruth Messinger’s chief of staff in the City Council. “The thing that most comes to mind about Gale is that she shows up,” Gideon Taylor, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, told JI. “The big events she shows up for, and she shows up for the small events, too. She’s there for conversations one-on-one. That’s what’s needed,” adding, “She’s a mensch.”
Israel issues: Brewer has traveled to Israel a number of times, both as a private citizen and on sponsored trips with organizations like JCRC-NY. While she describes herself as a strong supporter of the Jewish state, however, Brewer said she anticipates that pro-Israel sentiment will likely face some resistance in the new Council. Though the Council wields no direct influence over foreign policy, Brewer believes that pro-Israel members will “have to be careful” given recent tensions in Congress that, she suggested, could trickle down to the local level.
Around town: During her time as borough president, Brewer maintained a constant, on-the-ground presence throughout Manhattan, earning a reputation for herself as an unusually attentive local elected official. The borough president opened a store-front office in Harlem, for instance, that she says allowed for a level of personal service her constituents have appreciated. “That helped for me to be considered [to be] what I think I am,” Brewer told JI, “which is very supportive and responsive.” “The joke among her colleagues is that she has impersonators that she sends out every morning to events and meetings,” Brad Hoylman, a New York state senator who ran unsuccessfully for Manhattan borough president in the Democratic primary last June, told JI. “Having a presence from Washington Heights down to the Battery and beyond is really part of the job, but she’s done it in an incredibly skillful and tireless way.”
In a first, AIPAC to enter campaign politics
AIPAC, the Washington-based pro-Israel lobbying group, will wade directly into campaign politics for the first time in its nearly 60-year history with the launch of a new political action committee (PAC) and super PAC, the organization announced Thursday morning, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Across the aisle: “The creation of a PAC and a Super PAC is an opportunity to significantly deepen and strengthen the involvement of the pro-Israel community in politics,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told Jewish Insider. “The PACs will work in a bipartisan way.”
Changing times: AIPAC President Betsy Berns Korn said in a statement that the move was prompted by “profound change” in “the D.C. political environment,” including “hyper-partisanship, high congressional turnover, and the exponential growth in cost of campaigns.” The group is set to support both incumbent members and candidates.
At the top: An AIPAC official told JI that the group’s national director for progressive engagement, Marilyn Rosenthal, will lead the new PAC and its political director, Rob Bassin, will lead the Super PAC. The official added that AIPAC’s membership has “significantly increased” to 1.5 million amid a recent push into the digital space. The PAC will be called AIPAC PAC (the PAC in AIPAC stands for Public Affairs Committee), and the super PAC’s name has not yet been announced.
walk the line
The delicate balance being struck in the Middle East
This week’s meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates marked the first visit by an Israeli prime minister to the Gulf nation, another defining step in a series of history-making moments since the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020. The meeting came a week after the UAE’s national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan traveled to Tehran for a meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. In the days following the Bennett-MBZ summit, Iran lashed out at the Emirates, warning that the UAE’s warm welcome of Bennett “will be recorded in the historical memory of the Palestinian people, the people of the region and all freedom fighters.”
Abu Dhabi is threading the needle, experts argue, as it attempts to ward off an increasingly volatile Iran — in the absence of a nuclear agreement that could constrain the Islamic republic, and with Washington’s efforts focused on China — while also continuing to build upon its new relationship with Israel.
The Washington Institute for Near-East Policy’s David Makovsky and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Aaron David Miller weighed in yesterday, in separate pieces, on the delicate balance being struck by Emirati and Israeli leaders — and by the Biden administration — as the UAE repairs long-strained relations with Tehran.
Makovsky says: “Regarding the Abraham Accords with Israel, the UAE has emphatically assured Tehran that the normalization agreement was in no way intended to flout Iran or place Abu Dhabi in a regional axis. According to some officials, Tehran does not oppose Emirati involvement in the accords but draws the line at Israel establishing any security-related installations in the UAE. In contrast, Morocco — another party to the accords — did not hesitate to sign a memorandum of understanding with Israel on security issues.
“Finding the right balance on security matters will not be simple. On one hand, Emirati air force commander Gen. Ibrahim Nasser al-Alawi visited Israel in October to observe his units participate in the country’s largest multilateral air exercise, which focused in part on countering drones. On the other hand, the joint public statement released by the official Emirates News Agency after Bennett’s visit did not mention Iran, despite his office indicating beforehand that the issue would be discussed.”
Miller writes: “Clearly, the Middle East is changing. As the Biden administration has made good on its promise to focus less on the historically troublesome region and more on China, Middle Eastern states are taking notice. Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are forging new relationships and hedging their bets, driven by a shared concern that a Washington, D.C. hyper-focused on China and domestic travails may not be there for them when it comes to dealing with Iran’s ambitions in the region, tensions with the Palestinians or other security threats.
“But although President Joe Biden wants to reduce U.S. involvement in the Middle East, it isn’t necessarily good news for him that the region is preparing for a future where America looms smaller. The rebalance he sought is happening — but not on his terms and not in a way he can easily control, especially given his faltering goal of inking a new nuclear deal with Iran. It’s certainly a welcome development that Middle Eastern states are casting aside their historic enmities. But the thaw between Israel and the UAE won’t make the Iran nuclear conundrum, or the Middle East in general, much more manageable. It’s a reminder that — as previous presidents have learned — the region will remain a serious headache for the United States despite its best efforts to move its priorities elsewhere.”
🇮🇷 Relentless Brutality: In New/Lines Magazine, David Patrikarakos traces the rise of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, from his childhood, in parallel with his own Jewish family’s movements as they fled from Iraq to Iran to the U.K. “Dressed in black, Ebrahim Raisi has a dark beard and a scowling expression. He’s a judicial prosecutor who sees enemies of the Islamic Republic everywhere, and he knows he must crush them for the sake of the nascent state,” Patrikarakos writes. “…But Raisi is more than just another hardliner we have to deal with. His election marked another nadir in the Islamic Republic’s descent into unrelenting brutality and autocratic control, which is fitting because, in many regards, the story of Raisi’s life is also the story of the Islamic Republic. Understand the former and you understand the latter. You understand why one man’s growth in power correlates almost exactly to the state’s moral degeneration, and why his rise through the establishment has meant the fall of so many around him.” [New/Lines Magazine]
📽️ Central Casting: Variety’s Malina Saval looks at the impact of the casting choices of Jewish actors Alana Haim and Andrew Garfield to play Jewish characters in upcoming films, following a debate over the number of non-Jewish actors who have been tapped for Jewish roles in recent years. “And this is why the true spirit of Jewish representation in Hollywood is not just about creating films chronicling Jewish characters — but about casting Jewish actors in these roles. Jews do not need a string of stories about Orthodox Jews leaving the fold or iconic Jewish figures if these characters are not — at least, some of the time — embodied by those who understand them on an intimate, cellular level. It doesn’t always need to be ‘Unorthodox.’ Sometimes, it’s almost better if it’s just a story about an Israeli-American Jewish girl running around the Valley, or a New York-based Jewish playwright pining away to produce a play.” [Variety]
🗳️ Chile Chooses: Haaretz’s Judy Maltz spotlights this weekend’s presidential election in Chile, where the Jewish community, wary that a progressive win would put the Jewish community at risk, is expected to turn out en masse for the conservative candidate, whose father was reportedly a member of the Nazi party. “As Chileans head to the polls Sunday to elect their new president, members of the Jewish community will be facing a tough choice: Do they vote for the right-wing populist who, despite family ties to the Pinochet regime and perhaps even the Nazi party, loves Israel? Or for the left-wing progressive who, despite having his heart in the right place on many other issues, has denounced Israel as a ‘genocidal’ state and is in cahoots with the communists? For many Jewish voters, it would seem, the question is not so much who they are for, but who they are against.” [Haaretz]
🗓️ Looking Back: In his year-end letter, LionTree Chairman and CEO Aryeh B. Bourkoff shares his reflections on the past 12 months. “For many of us, this has been a year of learning, questioning, and digging deep, and I keep coming back to a central metaphor. In the laws of Kashrut, fish have two distinct qualities — fins and scales — and according to the commentators, the fins represent motion and ambition, while the scales represent integrity. Each is valuable in its own right, but to be kosher, a fish must have both, for it is the combination — ambition tempered by integrity, motion guided by morals — that allows us to unlock potential and the greater good. Although there are many fish with fins but no scales, there are none with scales but no fins. Many ambitious people without integrity — sharks in the sea — but none with integrity who are not in movement toward some greater goal.” [LionTree]
Around the Web
👋 Last Hurrah: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), who has represented Long Beach, Calif., since 2013, announced he will not seek reelection at the conclusion of his current term.
📰 Outlandish Obit: An obituary written by a son for the “bawdy, fertile, redheaded matriarch of a sprawling Jewish-Mexican-Redneck American family” has gone viral for its outrageous eulogizing.
🥣 Soup Story: Mashed looks at what happened to Washington soup shop Soupergirl after its 2018 appearance on “Shark Tank.”
📱 Toxic Tweets: A judge in the Netherlands ordered Dutch lawmaker Thierry Baudet to delete four tweets in which he compared COVID-19 safety measures to Holocaust persecution.
👮♀️ Swastika Spree: Police in New York are looking for the vandal who spray-painted swastikas in several spots in Lower Manhattan, including on Wall Street’s famed Charging Bull statue.
👨⚖️ No Settlement: A federal judge rejected OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy settlement of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic Thursday in light of a provision that would protect Sackler family members from facing litigation of their own.
🔬 Going Forward: Sidewalk Labs’ Dan Doctoroff, who as deputy mayor for economic development in New York City under the Bloomberg administration was key in the building of public spaces like Hudson Yards and Brooklyn Bridge Park, announced that he likely has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and will be stepping down from his position at Sidewalk to focus on spending time with friends and family and fundraising to invest in research on the disease.
🖼️ Now Open: A new exhibit at The Jewish Museum in New York tells the story of the Ephrussi family, a Jewish family of business tycoons and art collectors who are the subject of Edmund de Waal’s best-selling book, The Hare With Amber Eyes.
🎧 The Producer Himself: The Washington Post calls Mel Brook’s self-narrated audiobook memoir an “ebullient book, filled with anecdotes, triumphant laughter and asides delivered with perfect timing and an air of festivity.”
🏡 Family Feud: The children of Holocaust survivor Roman Kent — who died earlier this year — are battling in court over his estate after his daughter removed her brother as a beneficiary entitled to $650,000.
💔 Trump-Bibi Breakup: Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly not reached out to former President Donald Trump following an Axios report that Trump disparaged Netanyahu in an April interview.
🔥 Mideast Ultimatum: An Iranian state-run newspaper threatened to launch airstrikes targeting Israel over “just one wrong move” from the Jewish state.
🇺🇦🇮🇱 Next Year in Jerusalem: Ukraine plans to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem next year, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said yesterday.
📦 Package Protocol: A new policy will streamline the process by which goods are exported from the Palestinian territories into Jordan, by scanning the goods as they are sent out, rather than unpacking and inspecting each container.
🎖️ Fallen Hero: Sgt. First Class Christopher Celiz, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2018, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the 18th Jewish service member in U.S. history to receive the honor.
➡️ Transition: Alan Katz was named the head of Bloomberg News’s Paris bureau.
🕯️ Remembering: Founder of The Jewish Federations of North America’s Lions of Judah women’s philanthropy group, Norma Kipnis Wilson, died at 93.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the 2016 Yarden Allone Habashan Cabernet:
“Like a gambler winning a trifecta at the track, this past Friday night, while enjoying bison stew with duck-filled kręplûch, lamb chops and barbecue ribs laid out in a feast befitting a sheikh, I was blessed to have three great wines: the Yarden 2016 Katzrin, the 2000 Leyoville and the winner of the evening, the 2016 Yarden Allone Habashan Cabernet. The cabernet was deep purple in both color and taste. The opening texture was like licking rose pedals, the taste in the mid-palate was inky and grapey, the finish was a splendid explosion of deep vanilla — no doubt stolen from the toasted barrels — and then came a late-onset secondary finish of sweet raisin. This wine has many great years left in it but enjoy now with the aforementioned meats and charcuterie.”
Pic of the Day
Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza released a new single, “April.”
Co-founder of DreamWorks Studios, Academy Award-winning director of “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” and other films like “E.T.” and “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg turns 75 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Advocate for the International Rescue Committee and KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), Sheppie Glass Abramowitz turns 85… and Sheppie’s son, president of Freedom House, Michael J. Abramowitz turns 58… Washington attorney and vice chair of The American Jewish International Relations Institute, Stuart Sloame turns 82… Former CEO of the San Francisco 49ers and FAO Schwarz, Peter L. Harris turns 78… VP of strategic planning and marketing at Queens, NY-based NewInteractions, Paulette Mandelbaum turns 74… Professor of Jewish history, culture and society at Columbia University, Elisheva Carlebach Jofen turns 67… Retired chair of the Physician Assistant studies program at Rutgers, Dr. Jill A. Reichman turns 66… Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Danny Ayalon turns 66… Former chairman and CEO of HBO for 28 years, he now heads Eden Productions, Richard Plepler turns 63… Founder and CEO of LionTree LLC, Aryeh B. Bourkoff turns 49… Israeli soccer coach and goalkeeper who played 386 matches for Maccabi Haifa and 51 matches or the Israeli national team, Nir Davidovich turns 45… CEO of the New Legacy Group of Companies and founder of Project Sunshine, Joseph Weilgus turns 44… Co-director of the Civic Signals project at the National Conference on Citizenship, Eli Pariser turns 41… Author and associate editor of Commentary, Noah C. Rothman turns 40… Program officer at the Rowan Family Foundation, Julia Sobel… Vanity Fair reporter and author of the 2018 book Born Trump: Inside America’s First Family, Emily Jane Fox turns 33… MBA candidate in the class of 2022 at The Wharton School, Daniel Ensign turns 31… Actor, singer-songwriter and musician, Nat Wolff turns 27…
SATURDAY: Founder of supply chain firm HAVI, in 2019 he and his wife Harriette pledged $25 million to BBYO, Theodore F. Perlman turns 85… Winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Medicine, former director of NIH and later the National Cancer Institute, Harold Eliot Varmus turns 82… Office manager in the D.C. office of Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, Ramona Cohen… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2009 (R-FL), William Joseph “Bill” Posey turns 74… Former CFO of the Pentagon and presently a senior fellow at CNA, Dov S. Zakheim turns 73… Film critic, historian and author of 14 books on cinema, Leonard Maltin turns 71… Winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics, professor at both Stanford and Harvard, Alvin Eliot Roth turns 70… Computer programmer and network engineer sometimes called “the mother of the Internet” for her inventions of the spanning-tree protocol (STP) and the TRILL protocol, Radia Joy Perlman turns 70… Television writer, producer and director, best known as the co-creator and executive producer of the award-winning series “24,” Joel Surnow turns 66… President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten turns 64…
Founder and chief executive of Third Point LLC., Daniel S. Loeb turns 60… Recently retired editor of The Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard turns 57… Member of the Board of Governors of the World Zionist Organization, Gael Grunewald turns 57… Planned giving officer at the UJA-Federation of New York, Erica Skolnick… Partner at the communications firm 30 Point Strategies, Noam Neusner turns 52… Motivational speaker and teacher, his book about his own coping with Tourette syndrome was made into a Hallmark movie, Brad Cohen turns 48… Former director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Jared Moskowitz turns 41… Director of policy for New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul, Micah Lasher turns 40… Manager of public policy and government relations for Wing Australia at Google, Jesse Suskin turns 39… Senior producer at CNN’s “State of the Union,” Rachel Streitfeld turns 39… Chicago-based, Midwest regional political director for AIPAC, Marc Ashed turns 34… 2021 Columbia Law School graduate, Eliezer H. “Elie” Peltz turns 31… Project manager at the Brussels-based Buildings Performance Institute Europe, Jessica Glicker turns 31… Global desk lead for the Middle East and North Africa at Dataminr, Emily Cooper turns 30…
SUNDAY: Co-chair of Democratic Majority for Israel and former communications director in the Clinton White House, Ann Frank Lewis turns 84… Journalist and playwright, Bernard Weinraub turns 84… NYC-based real estate investor, Douglas Durst turns 77… Ardsley, N.Y., resident, Ruth Wolff turns 75… Director of technology in the office of the CTO at Google Cloud, Orna Berry turns 72… Town justice in Ulster, N.Y., and a past president of Congregation Ahavath Israel, Marsha Weiss turns 68… Host of “RealTalk MS Podcast,” Jon Strum turns 67… SVP at the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, Eli Schaap turns 67… CFO at New York Wine Warehouse, Jane Hausman-Troy turns 67… U.S. senator (R-OH), Rob Portman turns 66… British cellist, distinguished for his diverse repertoire and distinctive sound, Steven Isserlis turns 63… Author of 24 best-selling thriller and espionage novels, Daniel Silva turns 61… Member of the Knesset for the Meretz party, he has served as secretary-general of Peace Now, Moshe “Mossi” Raz turns 56… President and chief creative officer of Rachel G Events, Rachel L. Glazer turns 49… VP and head of federal government relations at American Express, Amy Best Weiss turns 44… Acclaimed actor, on his 13th birthday he performed a “bar-mitzvah-like act without the typical trappings,” Jake Gyllenhaal turns 41… Washington correspondent and senior political reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tal Kopan turns 35… Global creator programs lead at LinkedIn, Callie Schweitzer turns 33… Partner in Tel Aviv-based venture capital firm Aleph, Aaron Rosenson turns 32… Deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Haim Engelman turns 29… Founding partner of media company Puck, Theodore Schleifer turns 29… Sarah Wagman turns 17… and her brother, exactly two years younger, Daniel Wagman turns 15… David Ginsberg…