👋 Good Wednesday morning!
The Senate will vote today to pass the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, after approving a procedural vote yesterday by a vote of 86 to 13.
The 13 senators who voted against the measure were Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The House approved a bill, along party lines, that would create a special envoy to monitor and combat Islamophobia.
Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said Wednesday that he doesn’t accept any stalling on advancing a deal for a state-recognized egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall, following a report that Israel has frozen its implementation — news that has troubled some religious leaders in the U.S. “I don’t accept it and I will do my best to advance the cabinet resolution about the Kotel — I see no reason to wait,” Shai told Jewish Insider’s Tamara Zieve.
A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told JI that “no decision was made of the sort described in that report.” When pressed on whether the deal is still going ahead as planned, the spokesperson said that “it’s being discussed.”
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan told JI he was “disappointed” but not surprised by the report, particularly coming just days after positive discussions he and others had with Shai on the subject in New York.
Milwaukee’s son makes a Senate run
JI’s Matthew Kassel sat down with Barnes, the Wisconsin lieutenant governor and Senate hopeful, twice and interviewed nearly 30 of his acquaintances, strategists, pundits and state officials in recent weeks to find out how Barnes would approach the Senate… if he makes it there. Read the start of the full story below:
On a brisk evening in late November, Mandela Barnes, the Democratic lieutenant governor of Wisconsin who is now emerging as a high-profile Senate candidate in one of the most consequential races of the upcoming midterm elections, was celebrating his birthday at a post-industrial community center on the east side of Madison.
Despite the festive occasion, the fundraising event was, at points, relatively subdued, perhaps in part because the gathering had been scheduled on the Monday after Thanksgiving, two days before Barnes would officially turn 35. But it was also hard not to feel as if the tumultuous events of the past week or so had contributed to a lingering sense of unease in this liberal redoubt of south-central Wisconsin.
As the governor’s gregarious sidekick, Barnes is something of a ubiquitous presence at public events throughout the Badger State, and so it was hardly unusual that he had been planning to attend the holiday parade in Waukesha at which a driver had careened his maroon SUV into the crowd and killed six bystanders. Instead, Barnes was in Kenosha that day, an hour’s drive south, where protesters were objecting to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who, armed with a semiautomatic rifle, had killed two people and injured a third amid widespread demonstrations following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in the summer of 2020.
The last-minute schedule change had clearly shaken Barnes, who described “a bitter irony that encapsulates all the stress and pain of this past week” in social media comments the day after the car attack in suburban Milwaukee. “The only reason I wasn’t at the parade in Waukesha yesterday is because I needed to be in Kenosha.”
Read the full profile here, including Barnes’s views on the Middle East and how Jewish leaders in Wisconsin feel about his campaign.
Seeking Germany ambassadorship, Gutmann reflects on father’s flight from Nazis
A generation after her father fled the Nazi regime, Amy Gutmann, the University of Pennsylvania president, hopes to head to Germany to represent the U.S. as its ambassador, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Gutmann testified on Tuesday at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing, alongside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and career foreign service officer Donald Blome, who have been nominated to be the U.S. ambassadors to India and Pakistan, respectively.
Looking back: “My father’s journey to the United States made the most profound impression on me. After fleeing Hitler’s Germany and saving the lives of his parents and siblings, Kurt Gutmann found a home in the United States,” Gutmann said in her opening statement. “He instilled in me what it means to lead as an American: never forget and always stand up against antisemitism, racism, and all forms of hatred, bigotry and discrimination.”
Campus concerns: The most salient concern about Gutmann’s nomination raised during the hearing related to Chinese donations to the University of Pennsylvania, which she has led for 17 years. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the committee’s ranking member, said he was “shocked” that the school had received $86 million from Chinese donors and that Gutmann said she was not aware of the specifics of those donations. “What I do know and what I make sure of is that no gifts, no contracts to the University of Pennsylvania, are allowed to threaten academic freedom, are allowed to threaten national security,” Gutmann said.
day in court
ADL joins with District of Columbia to sue Proud Boys, Oath Keepers
The Anti-Defamation League, along with the District of Columbia, has filed a civil lawsuit against the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers organizations for their roles in the violent riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Extremism expertise: “ADL’s experts tracked the planning for the January 6 attack on the Capitol. We helped to identify the perpetrators and any connections that they had to groups like the Proud Boys and the Oathkeepers,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said at a press conference outside the Capitol on Tuesday. “We are deeply honored now, to be putting that expertise at the service of the District of Columbia and the brave officers who were injured or killed as a result of that day.”
Repairing harms: The goal of the lawsuit, according to the plaintiffs, is accountability and serving as a deterrent to future would-be insurrectionists. But it is also to secure damages for Washington, D.C., municipal employees, police officers in particular, who suffered physical and psychological harm on Jan. 6. The defendants “caused actual physical and financial harm to our city employees and our residents,” said D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.
Antisemitism on display: Greenblatt decried the events of Jan. 6 and spoke of their particular resonance for members of the Jewish community. “For the Jewish community, seeing individuals wearing antisemitic T-shirts with images like ‘Camp Auschwitz’ on them while storming the Capitol building was particularly searing and traumatic,” said Greenblatt.
After Charlottesville: The lawsuit relies on the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, a federal statute intended to protect against violent conspiracies. The statute was recently used in the federal civil lawsuit against the organizers of the violent Charlottesville Unite the Right protests in 2017. Unlike in the Charlottesville case, the District of Columbia suit does not refer specifically to antisemitism. But, Greenblatt added, “make no mistake that the people engaged in this activity — we’ve seen the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, many of these organizations, engage in the kind of antisemitic rhetoric [and] engage in the kind of anti-Jewish hate.”
Read the full story here.
Bonus: Members of the Proud Boys are becoming increasingly visible at school board meetings, town council hearings and other small gatherings across the country, as part of a new strategy to get civically involved at the local level, reports The New York Times’s Sheera Frenkel.
👪 Family History: The Washington Post‘s Sydney Page spotlights the story of a family torn apart during the Holocaust. Dena Morris and Jean Gearhart, knowing of the existence of an older sister born in a concentration camp, used DNA testing to track down her daughter, living an ocean away in the U.K. “’The Holocaust is considered a black hole for many when it comes to researching their family history,’ said Nitay Elboym, a researcher at MyHeritage, who was involved in cracking the case. ‘Stories like these are why we do what we do.'” [WashPost]
🇮🇷 Shot Heard Around the World: In an excerpt from her recent book, Titan of Tehran: From Jewish Ghetto to Corporate Colossus to Firing Squad — My Grandfather’s Life, Shahrzad Elghanayan details the execution of her grandfather, Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian, who was killed during the 1979 Iranian Revolution after being convicted of associating with Israel. “What the initial reports did not immediately presage, however, was that the execution would be a watershed for both Iran’s economy and the future of the nation’s Jewish community. That evening’s news also couldn’t foretell how the U.S. Congress’ reaction to my grandfather’s execution would become Khomeini’s excuse for cutting diplomatic relations with the United States — with repercussions still felt today.” [NBCNews]
Around the Web
🗳️ Early Indicator: A poll conducted by Glenn Ivey’s campaign shows the former Prince George’s County prosecutor with an early lead in the race for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. Nearly a third of likely Democratic primary voters (31%) said they supported Ivey, compared to 8% who supported former state Del. Angela Angel and 5% who supported current Del. Jazz Lewis, with 56% of voters remaining undecided.
👨 Stepping Down: New York State Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, the longest-serving state lawmaker in New York’s history, announced he will not seek another term, after first being elected to the Assembly in 1970.
🌃 Mensch Move: New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams will delay his inauguration until the evening of Jan. 1, so as not to conflict with Shabbat.
⚖️ Behind Bars: A Brooklyn man was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the 2018 assault of a Jewish man in the borough’s East Flatbush neighborhood.
🕎 Getting Off Light?: A former Dartmouth student who vandalized a menorah on the campus last year was charged with criminal mischief but will not face hate crime charges.
🕍 Rabbanit Rising: The Associated Press and Religion News Service explore the small but growing number of women who are becoming ordained as Orthodox rabbanit.
🎓 Campus Beat: More than 60 faculty members at the University of Southern California signed a letter calling on the administration to “publicly and explicitly rebuke” a graduate student association leader who made antisemitic comments on social media.
⛔ Not Happening: CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodríguez rejected the CUNY Law Student Government Association’s recent vote in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, saying he is “focused on elevating dialogue and building bridges between people and groups of different backgrounds whose beliefs and divergent experiences and histories sometimes place them at odds.”
✍🏻 Uyghur Warning: Hundreds of Jewish organizations, synagogues and communal leaders signed onto a letter led by Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., calling on the Biden administration to prioritize Uyghur rights in its relations with China.
⚖️ Shaky Ground: The prosecution of Rochester real estate developer Robert Morgan on mortgage fraud charges appears near collapse after a federal judge questioned prosecutors’ handling of evidence.
🎙️ Psyched Out: Journalist Joe Nocera, the creative force behind “The Shrink Next Door” podcast that was subsequently turned into a TV series, is caught in a legal battle with his former employer, Bloomberg, over proceeds from the show that Nocera says he is owed.
🗣️ Wild Words: Evangelical leader Mike Evans said he was “horrified” by recently reported expletive-laced comments made by former President Donald Trump about former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Israeli premier’s congratulatory message to then-President-elect Joe Biden.
✈️ Up in the Air: The United Arab Emirates is threatening to pull out of a multibillion-dollar deal to buy American-made F-35 aircraft, Reaper drones and other advanced munitions due to differences over delivery times and how to keep the technology away from the Chinese.
👔 Dubai Dealings: Israeli tech firm Rapyd, which has twice raised $300 million in funding rounds in 2021, is opening an office in Dubai to work around the industry’s labor shortage in Israel.
🤝 Building Bridges: American and Palestinian offcials met virtually on Tuesday for the first U.S.-Palestinian Economic Dialogue in five years.
💼 Transitions: NBCUniversal announced that Blackstone’s Jen Friedman will join the company as executive vice president of communications effective Jan. 10. Matea Gold has been named interim deputy national editor of The Washington Post.
🌎 New World Order: Polish political scientist Roman Kuźniar explores Poland’s relations with the U.S. and Israel over the 30-year period since the fall of communism.
🕯️ Remembering: Oscar-nominated actress Cara Williams, born Bernice Kamiat, died at 96. Real estate investor Leonard Sherman, a major donor to the Technion who fought in Israel’s War of Independence, died at 97.
Pic of the Day
Archeologists from the Kaiserpfalz Ingelheim research center work on excavating the ruins of a medieval mikvah in Worms, Germany. The upper Rhine cities of Worms, Mainz and Speyer were considered the heart of Jewish medieval life in Germany, even garnering the nickname “Jerusalem on the Rhine.”
Musician and actress, her first major film, “Licorice Pizza,” will have its nationwide release on December 25, Alana Mychal Haim turns 30…
Former New York State assemblyman, attorney general of New York and later member of the New York City Council, Oliver Koppell turns 81… Senior rabbi at Congregation Mt. Sinai in Brooklyn Heights for 42 years (now emeritus) and EVP of the New York Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik turns 75… Actress and voice artist, best known for her role in the 1990s Fox sitcom “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose,” Melanie Chartoff turns 71… Russian oligarch Arkady Rotenberg turns 70… Associate lecturer in religious studies at the University of Wyoming, Seth Ward turns 69… President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, Dr. Helene Lotman turns 69… Chairman and founder of BizBash, David Adler turns 68… Sportscaster, best known as the radio voice for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team, Eli Gold turns 68… U.S. senator (D-VA), Mark Warner turns 67…
Executive chairman of South Africa’s Resolve Communications, he was the leader of the opposition in the South African National Assembly, later South African ambassador to Argentina, Tony Leon turns 65… Executive director at Silicon Couloir in Wyoming, Gary S. Trauner turns 63… Actress and singer-songwriter, Helen Slater turns 58… Producer of the first eight seasons of the “Pokémon” TV series and writer of most of the “Pokémon” films, Norman J. Grossfeld turns 58… Rabbi serving communities in California’s Central Valley, Paul Gordon turns 51… Chicago-born stand-up comedian and author, Joel Chasnoff turns 48… Director of community relations and Israel affairs at the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, Tal Selinger Stein turns 47… Actor, writer and musician, Adam Brody turns 42… Mayor of Bal Harbour, Fla., Gabriel Groisman turns 41… Israeli singer-songwriter and actress, Marina Maximilian Blumin turns 34… Lead account manager at GumGum, Julie Winkelman Lazar turns 31… Senior associate at Activate Consulting, Lily Silva… and her twin brother, a graduate student at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, Nicholas Silva, both turn 27…