👋 Good Thursday morning!
Today is the one-year anniversary of the riot at the Capitol.
JI Capitol Hill reporter, Marc Rod, was in the Capitol building last Jan. 6. You can read his first-hand account, published the following morning, of the scene inside the Capitol one year ago today.
To commemorate the anniversary, the Anti-Defamation League is hosting a virtual event this afternoon with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. The Jewish Democratic Council of America is hosting eight Jewish Democratic lawmakers at another virtual gathering.
On Capitol Hill, House Democratic leaders organized a series of events, including speeches by members sharing their accounts of the riot and a prayer vigil on the steps of Congress. Congressional Republican leaders are not expected to attend.
Former President Donald Trump canceled a news conference scheduled for today at Mar-a-Lago, citing the media and the bipartisan group investigating the events of Jan. 6. Trump is scheduled to speak at a rally in Arizona on Jan. 15.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) announced yesterday that she will seek re-election in Michigan’s newly redrawn 12th Congressional District rather than the 13th District, where she currently lives, and where she may have faced some potential election hurdles.
Tlaib made her announcement after Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) revealed on Tuesday night that she would not seek re-election. Lawrence lived in the new 13th District and had been expected to run for that seat.
Adrian Hemond, a Michigan political strategist, told JI that Tlaib will have a strong base in the Dearborn area, which has the U.S.’s largest Arab-American population, but that he expects a “crowded primary” with potential challengers coming from the Black community in Detroit and from white working-class communities in the Detroit suburbs.
Eric Adams taps Orthodox Jews for top posts
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced members of his senior staff on Wednesday, appointing several Jewish officials who will assume a variety of high-ranking roles within the administration. Notably, the mayor named two Orthodox Jewish officials, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, including Menashe Shapiro, a consultant on the Adams campaign, and Fred Kreizman, who served as deputy commissioner for community outreach under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Shapiro will serve as deputy chief of staff, while Kreizman will oversee the mayor’s community affairs unit as commissioner.
‘Warm relationship’: “I can’t remember a time in recent history when there have been two Orthodox Jews at senior levels in an administration,” Former City Councilmember David Greenfield, the CEO of the anti-poverty group Met Council who is co-chairing Adams’s health and human services transition, told JI. Both appointments “signify the warm relationship” that Adams has developed with Jewish community members in New York, said Greenfield.
Jewish ties: Throughout his career as an elected official, Adams has built a strong rapport with the Orthodox Jewish community, particularly in Brooklyn, where he most recently served for eight years as borough president. Previously, he was a state senator representing Crown Heights and other neighborhoods in Kings County. Adams earned endorsements from several prominent Orthodox leaders during the mayoral primaries.
High praise: Jewish community leaders praised the mayor’s new team. “These appointments are the latest selections which demonstrate a mayor dedicated to inclusivity and a diverse administration,” said Maury Litwack, the executive director of Teach Coalition, a nonprofit educational advocacy group affiliated with the Orthodox Union. “Menashe and Fred are well-respected, talented and hard-working people with a long history of public service.”
More appointments: The mayor also named Edward Mermelstein, a Soviet-born Jewish attorney and investor who is well-known within New York City’s Russian Jewish community, as commissioner of international affairs. Andrea Shapiro Davis, CUNY’s interim vice chancellor for university advancement, is another high-level Jewish staffer who will serve as senior advisor and director of public service engagement in the mayor’s office.
Track record: David Pollock, director of public policy and security at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, said that “Adams is successfully putting together a mature and diverse team.” According to Pollock, whose organization represents the Jewish community to New York government officials and counts more than 50 local Jewish groups as members, “many of the appointments have a long track record of working with the JCRC-NY and Jewish communities in past public and private roles.”
GOP senators urge SEC to investigate Unilever
Three Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee are urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Unilever, alleging that the company deliberately misled investors about the pullout by its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s from what the ice cream maker referred to in July as “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Trick or treat: The letter from Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Tim Scott (R-SC), sent to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler in mid-December but not made public until Jan. 5, alleges that Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever intentionally made misleading comments when they said that the dessert company planned to continue sales within Israel.
Quotable: “Based on a history of comments from Ben & Jerry’s, there is strong reason to believe that these July 19 statements were knowingly and recklessly false,” the letter reads. “Israeli law bars boycotts of Israeli citizens of all backgrounds based on their location. Effectively, that means Ben & Jerry’s can stay and sell in all of Israel, including the [Occupied Palestinian Territories] referenced in the firm’s July 19 statement, or it can leave Israel entirely, but it cannot remain in the country in the way it publicly said it would: partially-in, partially-out.”
Home front: The senators also argue that the statements from Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s over the summer were an attempt to sidestep state-level anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions laws, which would have triggered several states to divest their state pension funds in the event of an Israel boycott.
for those in denial
Erdan seeks to pass resolution against Holocaust denial at the U.N.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan will put forward a resolution opposing Holocaust denial and Holocaust distortion later this month at the U.N. General Assembly. The resolution will be brought to a vote at the General Assembly on Jan. 20, Erdan told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday, a symbolic date marking 80 years since Nazi officials gathered in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to discuss the Final Solution, Jewish Insider’sTamara Zieve reports.
Content: The resolution includes an adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of Holocaust denial, sets requirements for combating Holocaust denial and places responsibility on social media companies to take active measures to fight Holocaust denial, including removing such content from their platforms.
Uptick: Erdan said that the issue was increasingly pressing given a recent uptick in “the dangerous phenomenon of Holocaust denial” exacerbated both by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the conflict between Israel and Hamas last May. He said “not just individuals but also countries” are responsible for this, specifically mentioning Iran as a country that “formally denies the Holocaust.”
Tough talks: While noting that the back-channel negotiations surrounding the resolution have been “complex — no different than the Knesset,” Erdan expressed confidence that the resolution has a “very high chance of passing.” Issues raised by other countries during the negotiations, Erdan said, have included demands to include anti-Islamophobia wording in the text, as well as concerns about freedom of speech.
Next stage: According to Erdan’s office, the U.S. and Germany back the resolution and are working with Israel to advance it. Following months of talks between U.N. member countries about the resolution, it will move into the public phase this week, with the participation of dozens of countries.
list in translation
Ben Smith shares how China views Jewish journalists
Outgoing New York Times media writer Ben Smith appeared on this week’s episode of “Ink Stained Wretches,” a podcast hosted by Washington Free Beacon Editor in Chief Eliana Johnson and The Dispatch’s Chris Stirewalt. Kicking off the interview, Smith recalled meeting a Chinese diplomat recently along with other journalists.
Smith: To digress a little bit, I met not that long ago with a Chinese diplomat who’s very, as many Chinese diplomats are, very sophisticated about American media, and it was a meeting with a bunch of journalists. And at some point, as meetings with journalists often do, it devolved into us making Jewish jokes to each other, because many of us were Jewish. And at some point, this Chinese diplomat says, ‘You know, I, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of Jews in American journalism. Do you all ever like meet up and coordinate?’ It was in pure total innocence. I was like, ‘Ah, I need to explain to you some things about, you know.’”
Stirewalt: ‘We only need to control the weather,’ you told him. We can control the weather and the space lasers.
Johnson: The Chinese are like what I think of as like the good kind of antisemites, where they believe all of the tropes about the Jews, but they think they’re wonderful.
Smith: Yeah, they have no Jews, but there are shelves of business books that’s ‘Business Secrets of the Jews’ in Chinese bookstores.
🏠 Hot Housing: In The New York Times, Michael Kaminer looks at Israel’s hot housing market and supply shortages. “Foreigners have historically played an outsize role in Israel’s high-end property market, so the country’s on-and-off pandemic border closures have profoundly impacted sales. ‘There’s huge demand from abroad, but the execution of deals is almost impossible when people can’t fly in and out,’ [real estate partner Noam] Dzialdow said. Locals, however, have picked up the slack, Mr. Dzialdow said. ‘After the summer of 2020, locals started buying like crazy, including properties that foreigners would have bought,’ he said. ‘That change is major.’” [NYTimes]
🥩 Kosher Cut: Bloomberg’s Bruce Einhorn, Harry Suhartono and Faseeh Mangi explore how the emerging field of agribusiness can operate in concert with Jewish and Muslim dietary laws, which require animals be slaughtered according to specific rituals in order to be deemed permissible to eat — a step absent from the production of cell-cultured meat. “But that lack of bloodshed creates all sorts of questions for religious Muslims and Jews who only eat such meats as beef, chicken, or lamb from animals slaughtered according to long-established rules. For instance, can meat be halal or kosher if it’s grown in a lab and doesn’t come from a killed animal? Is it really even meat? These are no small questions given that billions of people globally subscribe to faiths or traditions that have strict guidelines about meat preparation.” [Businessweek]
🖊️ Concerning Charges: In Common Sense, Douglas Murray raises concerns that some right-wing commentators have employed antisemitic tropes in their writings and social media use, citing a recent incident in which a Claremont Institute staffer, Pedro L. Gonzalez, repeatedly commented on the physical attributes of Jewish thinkers with whom he disagreed politically. “I think we can safely say that in these recent communiques, Mr. Gonzalez is sincerely enjoying playing with antisemitism. He is treating himself to some of it. Indulging in it. Enjoying it. Specifically thrilled at the opportunity to revive execrable motifs and notions that recall Nazi eugenicists and their obsession with uber and untermenschen. All the while believing that while his foes all happen to have Jewish features, he — Gonzalez! — is in the position of an Aryan. His odious game-playing — which is now everywhere in our culture — is not violence, but it is a kind of proto-violence. It is playing at violence. It is threatening to go there.” [CommonSense]
📆 After the Riot: Tess Owen presents a year of Vice‘s findings after closely tracking the Proud Boys following the riot at the Capitol. “After the deadly Capitol riot, the Proud Boys appeared to retreat from the national stage amid intense scrutiny, a flurry of serious federal charges (nearly 50 members have been charged so far), and rumored infighting… But around the spring of 2021, VICE News noticed a trend that hinted at a different and potentially quite troubling story about the Proud Boys’ reach, resilience, and ground-level support. It seemed that they were flying under the national radar, and eschewing large-scale, high-profile appearances in favor of quietly solidifying alliances around hot-button political issues and community activism.'” [Vice]
🎨 A New Generation of Artists: The Washington Post‘s Shira Rubin describes a “quiet revolution” by Orthodox Jewish women in Israel as they immerse themselves in the worlds of art, architecture and graphic design while studying at a Haredi branch of the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, breaking into a secular-dominated Israeli culture scene. “Through their painting, drawing, photography and sculpture, these ultra-Orthodox women are revealing the interiors of their homes and communities to a new audience of secular teachers, while engaging in a form of creativity that has long had a controversial status in some Jewish traditions… Some students paint abstract self-portraits, construct mazelike installations to simulate the frequently cramped homes of the ultra-Orthodox, or use their art to address topics such as mental health, considered taboo in much of their community. Many of the architecture students are drafting blueprints aimed at upgrading Israel’s growing ultra-Orthodox districts, where large families cram into small apartments and often lack access to public parks.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
➡️ Stepping Down: U.S. envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman, who is traveling to Ethiopia this week, will step down from his position and is expected to be succeeded by career diplomat David Satterfield.
🤷 Just Kidding: Comedian Jon Stewart said that recent comments he made on a podcast discussing author J.K. Rowling’s portrayal of goblins using antisemitic tropes were taken out of context.
🏃 New Teammates: Casey Wasserman’s sports talent agency is acquiring The Montag Group, with Sandy Montag joining the combined team.
🇯🇴🇮🇱 Tête-à-Tête: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman to discuss the region and ties between the two countries.
🕊️ Next in Line: The Maldives and Comoros are rumored to be the next two countries expected to normalize relations with Israel, according to Israeli diplomatic sources.
💭 Power Struggle: Fifty-seven percent of Israelis want “a strong leader who will not consider the Knesset, the press or public opinion” when making decisions, according to a study by the Israel Democracy Institute.
⏲️ Ticking Clock: Germany’s new foreign minister said that time is running out to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal because Iran has forfeited much of the trust it had previously built up, while the head of Israel’s military intelligence reportedly told cabinet members this week that reaching an agreement with Iran would be better than not.
🚽 Dirty Dig: An archeological study from Tel Aviv University found parasite eggs in samples collected underneath a 2,700-year-old toilet believed to belong to an elite family in Jerusalem.
🗞️ Transition: Shayndi Raice was named deputy bureau chief for the Middle East and North Africa at the Wall Street Journal and will be based in Tel Aviv.
Gif of the Day
While taking InStyle’s “Badass Questionnaire,” actress Gal Gadot revealed her favorite Hebrew word (“sababa”), what she learned in the Israeli Army (“I’m not the center of the world”) and her favorite American fast food (“mac and cheese”).
Attorney general of Oregon, previously a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals, Ellen Rosenblum turns 71…
Former advisor on “The Apprentice,” George H. Ross turns 94… Professor emeritus of chemistry at The University of Chicago and member of the Board of Governors at Tel Aviv University, Stuart A. Rice turns 90… Canadian businessman and philanthropist, Seymour Schulich turns 82… Co-founder of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Henry R. Kravis turns 78… Chairman and CEO of Phibro Animal Health Corporation, Jack C. Bendheim turns 75… Yiddish-language author and journalist, Boris Sandler turns 72… Interim provost and dean at Tennessee State University, a retired major in the IDF, Michael Harris turns 66… Retired television executive and political commentator, Mark E. Hyman turns 64… Former president and editor-in-chief of Rewire, Jodi Lynn Jacobson… Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Oleksandr Feldman turns 62…
Daniel G. Slatopolsky turns 58… VP of worldwide sales and marketing at Living Popups Augmented Reality, Sarah Beth Rena Conner turns 55… Member of Knesset for the Religious Zionist Party, Michal Miriam Waldiger turns 53… Actor, painter and fashion designer, Greg Lauren turns 52… Serial entrepreneur Eli Ostreicher turns 38… Reporter at WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham, both his parents are rabbis, Jonah P. Kaplan turns 36… International campus director at CAMERA, Aviva Slomich Rosenschein turns 36… Philanthropic advisor at the Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond, Sarah Arenstein Levy… Retired professional soccer player, now an associate at Brightstar Capital Partners, Zachary “Zach” Pfeffer turns 27… Head of business development at Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Anna Phillips… Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Aiden Pink… Co-founder of Regrello, Bernie Susskind…