👋 Good Friday morning!
Ed. note: In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the next Daily Kickoff will be on Tuesday.
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: Pocan pokes Israel — but where are his constituents? ; In Jerusalem, an ancient site undergoes renovations with modern technology; Joshua Malina speaks out; Nicaragua slammed for hosting Iranian official wanted in Argentina Jewish center bombing; Biden administration takes Trump admin to task on Iran; In suburban Detroit, Stevens-Levin matchup suggests a test of candidates’ Israel policies; and Michigan redistricting sets up close races across the state.Print the latest edition here.
Earlier this week, we launched The Circuit, a new publication which covers the Middle East and beyond through a business and cultural lens.
So today we’re issuing a special edition of The Weekly Print showcasing stories recently published in The Circuit including The general who coined the Abraham Accords; For Israeli high-tech, 2021 was a ‘bumper’ year says head of Innovation Authority; and Strauss Zelnick’s Take-Two buys Mark Pincus’s Zynga in $12.7 billion deal. Print The Circuit edition of the Weekly Print here.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) will have a primary challenger in former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson, Jewish Insider has learned. We spoke to Jackson last night — read the interview below.
Sirhan Sirhan’s bid for parole was rejected by California Gov. Gavin Newsom after a parole board recommended release for Sirhan, who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
race to watch
Former Michigan state legislator to mount challenge to Rashida Tlaib
Shanelle Jackson, a former Michigan state legislator in Detroit who now works in the private sector, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Thursday that she intends to challenge Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in the open-seat Democratic House primary for the newly drawn 12th Congressional District. “I’ve been rallying the troops,” Jackson, who said she is planning to formally launch her campaign in mid-February, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “I think there’s a great opportunity there.”
Race to watch: The face-off sets up what will likely be a closely watched primary battle as Tlaib, the well-known lawmaker and prominent member of the Squad, seeks a third term in a district she has not previously represented. Tlaib, 45, announced last week that she would run for reelection in the 12th District after longtime Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) said she would retire at the end of her term. Tlaib has represented Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Detroit and its surrounding suburbs, since 2019.
‘Now is the moment’: Jackson, 41, previously ran against Tlaib in the six-way primary to represent the 13th District in 2018. She came in last with 5% of the vote but believes the updated House map presents a new opportunity in the neighboring 12th District, which favors Democrats. The primary will be held on Aug. 2. “I think right now is the moment,” Jackson, who is Black, told JI. “It’s almost palpable in the city of Detroit and in this region: Black women are stepping up in leadership. We’re hungry to have our voice in the room and at the table.”
Drawing contrasts: Jackson, who presents herself as a centrist Democrat, drew a sharp contrast with Tlaib, emphasizing that she is a supporter of Israel, which she visited in 2010 as a state representative. “When she gets that mic in front of her, she goes crazy and goes to many extremes,” Jackson said. “I really feel like it’s now or never as it pertains to being able to sort of shut her down and calm down some of the antisemitic rhetoric.”
Community outreach: Jackson said she is planning to engage with Jewish voters in the Detroit-area district, which takes in Southfield, a majority-Black city that is also home to a robust Jewish community. “I want to convey to the Jewish community that, as an African-American woman, to me, our stories are extremely similar,” she told JI. “I think that we have sort of a natural bond, and obviously that’s not there with her,” Jackson said of Tlaib. “So where I don’t have the answers, or the things that I don’t know, I’m open to learning because of this natural bond and kinship and love that I have for the Jewish community.”
Jewish voters in Detroit gear up for Stevens vs. Levin
The debate within the Democratic Party over the future of its support of the U.S.-Israel relationship and what it means to be pro-Israel is set to play out in stark fashion in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District this year, with current Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Andy Levin (D-MI) facing off in a primary in the newly drawn district, where Jewish voters are poised to have significant influence, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. JI’s conversations with nearly a dozen local leaders and members of the area’s 70,000-strong Jewish community this week revealed a split between moderate and progressive Jews in the district, with moderates coalescing around Stevens and progressives siding with Levin.
Flashpoint: The two candidates’ differing views on Israel and Levin’s close relationships with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) are key wedge issues among Jewish voters — although supporters on both sides emphasized that they were also attracted to the candidates’ broader platforms.
Dug in: Richard Lenter, who collected donations to run ads for Stevens in the local Jewish press during her first campaign in 2018, told JI about a recent Zoom conversation with prominent members of the local Jewish community. “Every one of them strongly supported Haley and every one of them strongly were opposed to Levin” — because of Levin’s Israel policies, Lenter recounted.
Loggerheads: “I have been in small group conversations with him, and he does not acknowledge any of the culpabilities from the the Palestinian side of the issues,” Stevens supporter Michael Horowitz said of Levin. “He comes from a perspective that — while he professes to be pro-Israel — his rhetoric is always one of blaming Israel without similar culpability on the other side.”
Flip side: “Congressman Levin has a deep love for Israel in his trips there and his upbringing,” Alicia Chandler, the former interim executive director of Detroit’s combined Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee organization, told JI. “He, I think, feels his Zionism in his kishkes. His Zionism is a nuanced one… Congressman Levin has continually pushed forward that idea of a two-state solution and wants the conversation of how we accomplish that in our lifetimes.”
Red flags: Stevens supporters also highlighted Levin’s close relationships with progressive members of Congress — particularly Omar and Tlaib — who have made statements that some see as antisemitic, as a cause for concern. “I’m very concerned about his friendship with people like Rashida and Omar; he’s not willing to stand up and really address Rashida’s words and actions,” said Hannan Lis, a former leader in the local federation, Jewish Community Centers of Metropolitan Detroit and other local Jewish and pro-Israel organizations.
What’s next: Lenter predicted that some Jewish Stevens supporters, through outside PACs, may go on the offensive against Levin. The split has also already gone national: the bipartisan Pro-Israel America endorsed Stevens in mid-2021, long before the state’s congressional map had been redrawn, and left-leaning J Street endorsed Levin in early January after they both declared their candidacy in the 11th.
Now is the time to fix Israel-Diaspora ties, says JFNA’s Fingerhut
As Israel’s border reopens following the latest COVID-19-related closures, the president and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Eric Fingerhut, told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash on Thursday that it is critical for Israel and Jewish communities in North America to now begin fixing what has been lost due to the travel disruptions and “to develop a set of protocols and approaches that can be utilized in the future.”
New protocols: “We would be crazy to think this could not happen again,” said Fingerhut, who was in Israel this week to attend the funeral and shiva of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s mother, Aura Herzog, who died on Monday. “This may not have been in our imagination two years ago, but now is the time for us to put arrangements and protocols in place.”
Jewish identity: “I cannot overestimate that Israel travel is a cornerstone of our Jewish and Zionist education and identity,” he continued. “It is the most effective educational tool we have, and we have to invest in it.” Fingerhut, who leads the umbrella organization of some 146 federations across the U.S., said that despite the pandemic disruptions to Israel travel, including the cancellation of short-term group programs, community missions and independent personal trips, the pandemic had actually brought American supporters of Israel closer together.
Working together: “There is a sense of collaboration between Jewish organizations that did not exist before,” he said, explaining that while in the past the various programs competed and operated separately, “they now understand that we have to work together.” “We are looking at how to help the industry and the sector as a whole to quickly rebound and get back to full strength,” said Fingerhut. “This is not like a light switch; you can’t just turn it off and turn it back on. We can’t just go back to the way it was.”
♾️ Staying Power: John Harris, the founding editor of Politico, looks at the key factors behind U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel’s political longevity. “Emanuel’s survival is more than good luck. It comes from more than good connections, even as those obviously help. It flows from some distinctive factors that illuminate important dynamics about contemporary politics — why many politicians see their careers shredded by controversy, while a much smaller number manage to transcend efforts to destroy them and prosper across long years… The Democratic debate on the right balance of pragmatism and ideology will likely grow more intense in coming years. It seems probable that Emanuel’s attraction to the tactile work of government, and the relationships he established in that work, is one reason he’s still on the stage when so many people wanted to chase him off it.” [Politico]
🏀 Blessed Ballers: In The Wall Street Journal, Yeshiva University President Rabbi Ari Berman reflects on the YU Maccabee basketball team’s improbable 50-game winning streak, which ended with a loss to Wesleyan last month. “It’s not only that they win but how they win. They play with sportsmanship and selflessness. They rise early in the morning and practice late at night, fitting basketball into a daily regimen that includes a dual curriculum of academic and Torah studies. Against seemingly all odds, they set as their goal to win the National College Athletic Association championship. And they know that by playing for Yeshiva University, they represent not just a school but a people.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
↪️ U-Turn: Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) apologized for comparing D.C.’s vaccination rules to the Nazi regime, writing, “I appreciate my Jewish friends who have explained their perspectives and feel horrible that I have offended anyone.”
✡️ Antisemitism Pandemic: Antisemitic fliers related to the COVID-19 pandemic were found at several elementary and middle schools in Santa Monica, Calif., on Thursday morning.
📴 Across the Pond: The vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has resigned after social media posts viewed as anti-Muslim surfaced.
🏙️ Movin’ Out: Dan Och sold his Manhattan apartment for $190 million, twice what he paid for it in 2019.
🚕 Small Screen: Joseph Gordon-Levitt will portray former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in “Super Pumped,” Showtime’s new anthology about the ride-sharing app, which premieres in February.
📃 Solidarity with Solidarity: Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Capaldi and Charles Dance are among actors who issued a statement of support for actress Emma Watson after a post of solidarity with the Palestinians was shared on her Instagram account last week.
🇪🇹 Repelling Rebels: Ethiopian forces around Addis Ababa have pushed back rebel forces that had been poised to take control of the capital city.
🌳 Fateful Forest: Israel agreed to begin negotiations with the country’s Bedouin community after days of protests opposing a forestation project in the Negev.
⚖️ Case Closing? State prosecutors are reportedly willing to reduce charges against former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including that of bribery, as part of a possible plea deal that would see him leaving politics for several years.
💱 Cashing In: The Bank of Israel is researching central bank digital currencies and has already begun running tests using Ethereum.
💻 Hack Job: NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus software was reportedly used to track dozens of human rights activists and journalists in El Salvador.
🔍 No More Silence: AFP spotlights the growing effort to uncover sexual abuse within Israel’s most religious communities.
🪖 Freeze Frame: More than 1,000 veterans and relatives of fallen servicemembers wrote a letter to President Joe Biden imploring the administration not to release frozen funds to Iran until American victims of terror attacks backed by Iran are compensated.
👨 On Board: Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is joining the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
💍 Mazal Tov: New York socialite Lauren Silverman and media mogul and reality TV judge Simon Cowell confirmed their engagement.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Allegory 2017 Cabernet:
“It is always delightful to find new wineries to review. I have a feeling that in the coming years there will be a plethora of varied new wines to add to our collections. Every month, I am getting introductions to new winemakers and excited young entrepreneurs giving it a go at one of the oldest professions in the Bible.
“My newest find is from my old friend, Ari, who is producing wine from grapes grown in Grimm’s Bluff near Santa Barbara, Calif. This cabernet sat in oak barrels for 22 months. The deep red color had me floating about large, open vats of newly pressed grapes. The front palate has hints of tobacco leaf, and the finish is a myriad of stone fruit delights. Enjoy this wine in the coming year and complement it with varied smoked fish.”
Prime Minister of Belgium since October, she is the first female head of government of Belgium, Sophie Wilmès turns 45 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Chairman emeritus of Empire State Realty Trust, Peter L. Malkin turns 88… Retired travel counselor, Barbara Singer-Meis turns 88… Washington Nationals baseball fan known as Rubber Chicken Man, Hugh Kaufman turns 79… Award-winning legal affairs correspondent for NPR since 1975, primarily focused on the U.S. Supreme Court, Nina Totenberg turns 78… Screenwriter, director and producer, best known for “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi,” Lawrence Kasdan turns 73… Orthopedic surgeon, inventor and philanthropist, Gary K. Michelson, M.D. turns 73… Painter, writer and book artist, Susan Bee turns 70… Co-founder and chairman of the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, Bryan Traubert turns 67… Shaul Saulisbury turns 64… President of the Sprint Foundation and Sprint’s 1Million Project Foundation, Doug Michelman turns 63… Former member of the Knesset for the Likud party, she holds a Ph.D. in criminology, Anat Berko turns 62… Founding member of L.A.-based law firm, Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, Michael L. Tuchin turns 57… Actress, later a film producer, Kerri Lee Green turns 55… Staff writer at The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser turns 53… Venture capitalist and Goldman Sachs partner, Adam R. Dell turns 52… Producer and co-founder of Electric City Entertainment, Jamie Patricof turns 46… Sales associate in the Montclair, NJ office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, David Frey turns 43… Associate attorney in the Toronto law firm of Zarek Taylor Grossman Hanrahan, Aryeh Samuel…
SATURDAY: Senior counsel at Covington & Burling, last month he was named as Secretary of State Blinken’s special adviser on Holocaust issues, Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat turns 79… Partner at BECO Management LLC, Michael David Epstein turns 77… University professor at Columbia University, he won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Martin Chalfie turns 75… Santa Barbara’s Madelyn Silver Palley turns 73… Founder of Prospect Global, Toni G. Verstandig turns 69… President and managing partner of The Stagwell Group, Mark Penn turns 68… Football head coach and general manager, Marc Trestman turns 66… President and CEO of Discovery Inc., David M. Zaslav turns 62… Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Rumson, N.J., Douglas Sagal turns 60… Fellow and lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Bruce Schneier turns 59… CEO of Words Matter Media, Adam L. Levine turns 53… Filmmaker and educator, Tali Avrahami turns 53… Basketball analyst for Fox Sports, Doug Gottlieb turns 46… Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Judge Steven Menashi turns 43… Nationally syndicated columnist and talk show host, Ben Shapiro turns 38… Investigative reporter at The New York Times focused on health care, Sarah Kliff turns 37… Real estate investor, Hershy Tannenbaum turns 36… Actress, singer and writer, she starred as Hodel in Bartlett Sher’s acclaimed revival of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Samantha Massell turns 32… CNN’s White House correspondent, Jeremy Diamond turns 32…
SUNDAY: Physicist Sir Peter Bernhard Hirsch turns 97… Founder of Jones Apparel Group and film producer, in 2001 he donated $150 million to Johns Hopkins University, Sidney J. Kimmel turns 94… Former editor of Commentary magazine, author of the 2009 book Why Are Jews Liberals?Norman Podhoretz turns 92… Author of 12 novels for young adults and former ombudsman and journalist for ESPN, Robert Lipsyte turns 84… Talk radio host and author, Dr. Laura Schlessinger turns 75… Staff writer for the Atlanta Jewish Times, Suzi Brozman turns 75… Chef and culinary editor for the Modern Library, host of PBS’s “Gourmet’s Adventures With Ruth,” recipient of four James Beard Awards, Ruth Reichl turns 74… Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel and dean of Yeshivat Hazon Ovadia, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef turns 70… Uzbekistan-born Israeli industrialist, Michael Cherney turns 70… VP for government affairs and director of the Washington, D.C., office of Agudath Israel of America, Abba Cohen turns 66…
CEO of Belfor Property Restoration with more than 450 offices spanning 55 countries, Sheldon Yellen turns 64… Founder, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks, Rob Glaser turns 60… First president of eBay, Jeffrey Skoll turns 57… Founder and CEO of Cognition Builders, Ilana Kukoff turns 57… Editorial producer at CNN, Debbie Berger Fox turns 49… Leader of the Los Angeles chapter of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, Amy Graiwer turns 49… Acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Yael Lempert turns 48… San Francisco-based technology reporter for The New York Times, Sheera Frenkel turns 39… Assistant professor at Toronto’s Ryerson University, Rob Goodman turns 38… Attorney working in South Florida real estate development, David Ptalis turns 32… Left wing for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, he won the NHL’s 2019 award for leadership based upon his philanthropic efforts, Jason Zucker turns 30… Joseph Bornstein…
MONDAY: Majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans and investor in dozens of companies, Dan Gilbert turns 60… President of the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute, he was previously a member of the Knesset for the Kadima party, Yohanan Plesner turns 50…