👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Nina Turner, who lost a heated Democratic primary to now-Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District last summer, is launching a second bid for Congress. While the state’s redistricting map has not been finalized, it is expected that she’ll challenge Brown, who discussed the possibility of a rematch with Turner on JI’s “Limited Liability Podcast” last week.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to speak later this morning alongside religious leaders in New York about the need to double federal funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to $360 million. In 2021, Schumer helped double the program’s funding from $90 million to $180 million. According to a preview of his remarks shared with JI, Schumer plans to share that over 2,000 religious or nonprofit sites are still requesting help with security, particularly in the aftermath of the Colleyville synagogue hostage situation.
A multifaith coalition of religious groups, including The Jewish Federations of North America, Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel, sent a letter to President Joe Biden yesterday urging him to support doubling funding for the 2022 Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog is set to make the country’s first-ever presidential visit to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, his office announced yesterday.
The president, together with First Lady Michal Herzog, will visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai at the invitation of UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with whom he will meet in addition to Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed; Vice President, Prime Minister, Defense Minister and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; and representatives of the Jewish community.
During the two-day trip, Herzog will also open Israel’s national day celebrations at Dubai Expo 2020 on Monday, which will include an official ceremony at the Al Wasl Dome, located at the heart of the Expo, and a public event at the Israeli pavilion. Read more here.
Congressional Democrats are escalating their response to Egypt failure to meet human rights conditions for U.S. security assistance. Last year, President Joe Biden waived some conditions and sent a portion of the military aid.
Six Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) wrote to Secretary of State Tony Blinken that they expect the administration to “reprogram the portion of military aid withheld last year if Egypt fails to comply with the full set of specific human rights benchmarks communicated by the State Department to the Egyptian government.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) released a statement yesterday urging similar action. “The Biden administration still has an opportunity to correct course here. Egypt looks unlikely and unwilling to meet the narrow conditions on the remaining $130 million in military aid by the deadline, while the human rights situation more broadly has only deteriorated over the last few months,” he said. “If Egypt doesn’t meet the conditions in full, the administration has to stand firm and show the world that our actions live up to our stated commitment to democracy and human rights.”
meet the candidate
She could be the first Jew of color in Congress
It seems almost comically overdetermined that Kesha Ram Hinsdale, a progressive state senator and former assemblywoman in Vermont, is now mounting a bid for Congress that in many ways embodies the worst fears of her old high school classmate, the former Trump administration advisor Stephen Miller. “I hope to be able to advance the experience of immigrants in the United States, of Black and brown people in the United States,” Ram Hinsdale, 35, said in a recent interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, “but first we have to undo a lot of the damage that people like Stephen Miller have caused.”
‘HinJew’: The 35-year-old state lawmaker of Jewish and Indian descent — and who describes herself as a “HinJew” — wants to upend the status quo in historic fashion as she seeks to dismantle what for generations has been an unbroken chain of congressmen who have exerted their dominance over federal politics in the Green Mountain State. Should Ram Hinsdale prevail in the upcoming general election, the Chittenden County legislator would not only become Vermont’s first congresswoman but also the first member of a racial minority ever to hold the state’s lone House seat.
Hat trick: Rounding out the list is another unprecedented achievement that, in something of an unexpected inversion, would represent what no other state in the country seems to have done before at the congressional level, according to a variety of Jewish leaders, professors and activists who were consulted by JI. If elected, Ram Hinsdale would enter the House as the first Jew of color, a possibility that has so far flown under the radar. For her part, Ram Hinsdale said she only recently made the discovery herself, and while she is still actively mulling what it means for her personally, not to mention the state and the country, the Vermont lawmaker suggested that the insight has helped underscore what she regards as a key tenet of her campaign.
‘Critical moment’: “This is a critical moment in our nation’s history,” Ram Hinsdale told JI. “I believe we need to truly meet the moment and think about how, particularly the Democratic Party, works to align around the most marginalized and unheard voices.” Ram Hinsdale occupies somewhat rarefied political territory in Vermont, which has long been defined by a lack of diversity. She believes her background speaks to a pressing need. “Even though it’s a truly unique story, it’s also a very American story,” she said, “and one that Vermonters really resonate with as they think about the complicated backstories they may have.”
Motivational mittens: Jen Ellis, a Vermont public school teacher better known as the woman who crafted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) mittens, told JI that Ram Hinsdale is the kind of legislator who “shows up for people.” Last April, Ellis recalled, Ram Hinsdale was “the only senator” to appear alongside public school teachers who were rallying against proposed pension cuts in the state capital of Montpelier. “She brought letters that her constituents had sent to her and she read them out loud,” said Ellis. “I was so moved by her speech that I actually gave her the mittens I was wearing.”
Eye on Israel: On Middle East foreign policy matters, Ram Hinsdale largely aligns with J Street’s approach to the region. By way of example, she expressed support for Rep. Andy Levin’s (D-MI) Two-State Solution Act, which, among other things, would bar Israel from using U.S. military assistance to annex the West Bank, while also endorsing legislation sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that would place additional restrictions on American aid to Israel.
The secret Nazi POW camp and the Jewish soldiers who guarded it
It sounds like the plot of a farfetched war film: A group of young, mostly German-Jewish refugees who became U.S. soldiers and served in military intelligence toward the end of World War II were taken to a top-secret location near Washington, D.C., known as P.O. Box 1142. It was not a prison camp, but something like a bungalow colony, complete with a swimming pool, tennis courts and Ping-Pong tables. The soldiers were soon shocked to learn that they were to interrogate high-ranking Nazi POWs there. The story of P.O. Box 1142 is laid out in “Camp Confidential,” a 36-minute film by Israeli directors Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan — now shortlisted for an Oscar for best short documentary subject — that mixes interviews, archival footage and animated sequences to reveal a strange incident in American history that was classified until about a decade ago, reports Hannah Brown for Jewish Insider.
Haunting topic: When Loushy and Sivan first heard about the story, they were incredulous. The duo, who have been a pair personally and professionally for 17 years, are two of Israel’s most acclaimed documentary filmmakers, the directors behind “The Oslo Diaries,” a behind-the-scenes look at the Oslo peace negotiations and an examination of the agreement’s legacy. Loushy and Sivan were surprised when Austrian filmmakers Jono and Benjamin Bergmann, who were working on a scripted series, told them about the strange goings-on at P.O. Box 1142 during and after the war. “I was finishing up ‘The Devil Next Door’ and our first reaction was, ‘We don’t want to hear anything about it, we are done doing films about the Holocaust.’ We had nightmares, it haunted us,” Sivan told JI. But the Bergmanns — who produced “Camp Confidential” with Loushy and Sivan — persisted.
Uncovered: The more Sivan and Loushy heard, the more intrigued the Israeli filmmakers became. They learned the camp itself (formerly part of Fort Hunt in Alexandria, Va.) was bulldozed in 1946 and everything to do with its existence was classified. But the National Parks Service had done extensive interviews with veterans of the unit in 2006, as well as with some of the German prisoners. When they listened, they were blown away. “We realized it’s quite a big, important story, so we are glad we had the opportunity to tell this story that was censored for so many years.” They were saddened to learn, however, that since the interviews had been done, all but two of the veterans had died. “It’s heartbreaking, you feel like you know the person, you’ve been listening to their voice and their stories,” said Sivan. But they were able to use the tapes of their interviews in the film, and extensive new interviews with Arno Mayer and Peter Weiss, the two surviving veterans, whose evocative, honest and no-nonsense testimonies color the film.
Recreating history: Few photos of the compound could be unearthed, so the directors decided to use animation when recreating the soldiers’ memories, which they mixed with archival footage. “We like working with recreations and archives. But when it comes to the Holocaust, we know it has to be very, very clear and accurate because Holocaust deniers are everywhere, fake news is everywhere,” Sivan said. “Anything to do with the story of the Holocaust, you can’t tweak it at all. We need to be very honest with the viewers and say, ‘This is us recreating the memories and these are the real images.’ So animation was a very good path to show we are narrating the memories.’”
DC’s HaMakom kosher restaurant delays opening until the fall
Washington, D.C., residents excited about the rare arrival of a new kosher restaurant in the District will have to wait a little bit longer. After originally planning to open late last year, HaMakom — a new all-day restaurant with meat and vegan options in George Washington University’s new Hillel building — will not open until at least the fall semester, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Tough month: The delay follows the closure earlier this month of Schmaltz Brothers, a popular kosher food truck and catering company operated by the same owner as HaMakom. Schmaltz Bros. was launched in June 2020; throughout the pandemic the truck made stops at synagogues, JCCs and bars around the region.
Pandemic problems: “Unfortunately, COVID has taken a rough toll on many businesses. The restaurant industry in particular has felt some of the worst effects,” Yehuda Malka, co-owner of HaMakom and Schmaltz Bros., told Jewish Insider on Tuesday. “We hope to have the cafe at the GW Hillel open, G-d willing, before the start of the fall semester.”
Friendly competition: Washington’s only other kosher meat restaurant, CharBar, is located less than half a mile from HaMakom’s planned location. Local Jewish community members believe the addition of a second kosher meat restaurant will promote competition and raise the quality of both establishments. Located in Foggy Bottom, HaMakom will cater both to GWU students and to people who are not affiliated with the university.
on the trail
Dave McCormick debuts Pennsylvania Senate campaign with Lehigh rally
Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dave McCormick appeared yesterday before 300 attendees at Lehigh Sporting Clays, a gun-shooting range in Coplay, Pa., alongside Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Quotable: “I’ll fight to bring back manufacturing to the Commonwealth. I’ll fight to push back on China and return supply chains to the United States,” McCormick pledged. “I’ll fight to keep our borders secure, and I’ll fight for Pennsylvanian parents and kids dealing with school-enforced mandates. That’s what I’ll fight for if I’m your senator.”
On foreign policy: “As a combat veteran, when I saw what happened in Afghanistan under Joe Biden that really made me think, ‘What can I do,’” McCormick, a West Point graduate who served in Iraq during the first Gulf War, told the crowd. “Because it’s not just Afghanistan, there is weakness showing up in a lot of different ways that is undermining America.”
State of play: McCormick, former CEO of the Bridgewater Associates hedge fund, is facing off against Dr. Mehmet Oz, Kathy Barnette and Jeff Bartos in the GOP primary. State Republicans have been fielding straw polls in recent days. In straw polls in Harrisburg, Allentown and Northeastern Pennsylvania, Oz received one vote out of 100, finished third in one and forth in another, according to Politico. Bartos, a real estate developer active in the Jewish community, finished first in each of the straw polls.
Elsewhere: Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokeswoman in the Trump administration, posted a statement from former President Donald Trump last night touting her possible candidacy for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. Trump vowed to endorse Ortagus if she enters the race. Ortagus was the subject of a Jewish Insider profile in 2020 headlined, “For the State Dept’s top spokeswoman, her journey to Judaism began in Baghdad.”
Today’s SAPIR contributions propose moonshot ideas for Jewish education and Israeli engagement with the world.
Birthright Judaism: Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, imagines what it would take to achieve universal Jewish literacy. “I propose that a majority of adult Jews experience at least a hundred hours of Jewish studies, covering the basic building blocks of Jewish cultural literacy. This needs to be normative and transformative – a ‘Birthright Judaism’ in its scale and some of its features. Just as Jews have a ‘birthright’ to the Land of Israel, they also have a birthright to their culture and their multifaceted heritage. There will be a variety of different formats. Immersive trips and retreats. Months- or year-long courses, virtual and physical.” Read here.
Israel Abroad: SAPIR’s Editor-in-Chief Bret Stephens offers a new way for Israel to win friends in the world. “Israel needs to win the battle of ideas in places, and among people, where it can do more than just maintain an intellectual stalemate. It needs to do so not through mainstream or social media, where Israel’s enemies have the advantages of scale and moral fervor, but in small-group settings among thoughtful people who exert a quiet but powerful influence in their respective countries and communities.” Read here.
📚 Bad Books: In The Daily Beast, Spencer Sunshine shines a light on Amazon’s continuing sale of neo-Nazi and white supremacist literature and failure to block books that contain hate speech. “The global giant has taken some steps after years of criticism. You can no longer buy William Pierce’s bloody race war fantasy The Turner Diaries, which inspired the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168, or James Mason’s Siege. Famous racists like David Duke and the classics of Holocaust denial are gone, too. But what remains available, in print and on Kindle, is overwhelming to sort through. Some of the books are for sale by Amazon, while others come from third-party sellers — including dedicated providers of white supremacist materials along with used booksellers.” [DailyBeast]
📺 On the Air: The Washington Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker looks at how former White House senior advisor Steve Bannon found a new platform on Real America’s Voice, a media platform backed by media mogul and felon Robert Sigg. “The network, Real America’s Voice, helped sustain Bannon despite his removal from YouTube, Spotify and other mainstream platforms. It brings his show into as many as 8 million homes hooked up to Dish satellite television, many in rural, conservative areas without reliable cable coverage. The rise of Real America’s Voice, built around Bannon and distant from the traditional power structures of cable television and talk radio, reveals how the country’s fractured media landscape has empowered unconventional actors following market incentives toward more and more extreme content.” [WashPost]
🇮🇱🇵🇸 Unauthorized:The Associated Press’s Joseph Krauss visits the formerly dismantled but still active outpost of Homesh in the West Bank and sees it as as an indicator of the wider reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “That Israeli authorities have not cleared Homesh — which under Israeli law is blatantly illegal — makes it nearly impossible to imagine the removal of any of Israel’s 130 officially authorized settlements as part of any future peace deal. Nearly 500,000 settlers now live in those settlements, as well as dozens of unauthorized outposts like Homesh…Israel’s parliament is dominated by parties that support the settlers. The current government, a fragile coalition reliant on factions from across the political spectrum, knows that any major confrontation with the settlers could spell its demise. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is a former settler leader and is opposed to Palestinian statehood. The consequences are felt by Palestinians in Burqa and surrounding villages.” [AP]
Around the Web
👮 Ongoing Investigation: British police said today they arrested two suspects in connection with the hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, earlier this month.
✉️ Pipeline Pullout: Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) sent a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken condemning the Biden administration’s withdrawal of support for the EastMed gas pipeline, which would have connected Israel and Cyprus to Greece.
🤔 New Vision: In Foreign Policy, Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) present their vision behind a resolution to adapt U.S. foreign policy to the 21st century.
💻 Tech Talk: Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) had a virtual meeting with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll to discuss technology cooperation among signatories to the Abraham Accords.
🚓 Bad News From Brooklyn: The NYPD took into custody a man with a machete-style knife who was reportedly “chasing Jews” in Brooklyn’s Borough Park on Monday night.
🍨 Melting Structure: Unilever plans to restructure its entire organization, moving Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which announced in July it would not sell its products in what it called “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” under an umbrella with other Unilever-owned ice cream companies.
📸 Never Again: A Dutch tourist was fined after posing for a picture at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp while making the Nazi salute.
📘 Botched Blurb: Leading U.K. book store Blackwell’s advertised The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an “interesting” book that could possibly be “genuine.”
👎 Jeremy Jilted: The ruling body of the U.K.’s Labour party voted down a motion to restore former opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn as a party member of Parliament.
🙏 Honoring History: Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yad Vashem and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany are partnering to honor the “Righteous Among the Nations” — non-Jews who helped to save Jews during WWII.
🎵 Locked Lyrics: Acclaimed lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who died in November, left the rights to all of his works to a trust whose beneficiaries include Sondheim’s personal friends and organizations such as the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library.
📽️ Coming Soon: Bradley Cooper will star in and direct “Maestro,” a biopic about the life of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein.
📖 Book Shelf: Polish literature Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk’s new book, The Books of Jacob, follows the story of a self-proclaimed Jewish messiah who converts to Islam, then Catholicism, and then becomes a proto-Zionist.
🪖 Stuck in Abu Dhabi: Hundreds of CIA-trained Afghan commandos and their families are stranded in the United Arab Emirates as they await relocation in the U.S.
🚑 Blast Victim: The UAE’s The National interviews the brother of Mamoor Khan, one of three men who were killed by a Yemeni Houthi attack in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 17.
👋 Stepping Down: NSO Group chair Asher Levi announced his departure from the embattled company, which has faced heavy criticism in recent months over its Pegasus spyware, but told the Associated Press that his leaving the company was unrelated to recent events.
🕵️ Continued Controversy: Human Rights Watch said today that one of its senior staff members was targeted last year with spyware designed by the NSO Group.
⬇️ Low Grade: Israel continues to fall in the annual Corruption Perceptions Index by the Transparency International watchdog, given its lowest score since 2012.
⬆️ Transition: Wall Street Journal reporter Dov Lieber was promoted to correspondent for Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
🕯️ Remembering: Acclaimed photojournalist and social activist Steve Schapiro, who covered everything from Hollywood to the civil rights movement, died at 87.
Pic of the Day
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), left, enjoying breakfast with Israel’s Consul General in New York Asaf Zamir, center, and New York power broker Alex Levy, right, at Balthazar in Soho yesterday morning.
President of HSK Consulting focused on strategic planning and fundraising services, Hilary Smith Kapner (second from right) turns 60…
Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Jules Feiffer turns 93… Actor, film director and playwright, Henry Jaglom turns 84… Pioneering computer scientist, Barbara Bluestein Simons, Ph.D. turns 81… Singer-songwriter and political fundraiser, Denise Eisenberg Rich turns 78… Economic and social theorist, author of 21 books, Jeremy Rifkin turns 77… New Haven, Conn.-based personal injury attorney, Herbert Ira Mendelsohn turns 73… Publishing professional, Agnes F. Holland turns 72… Professor of modern Judaic studies at the University of Virginia, Peter W. Ochs turns 72… Emmy Award-winning film and television director, her 2018 film is a biographical legal drama based on the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mimi Leder turns 70… President of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Rabbi Marc Schneier turns 63… Argentinian real-estate developer and president of Chabad Argentina, Hillel Argentina and Taglit Birthright Argentina, Eduardo Elsztain turns 62… Co-founder of the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund, Laura Heller Lauder… Co-founder of Boardroom One, Brent Cohen turns 59…
Former CNN anchor, author of two books and founder of an uplifting and positive news website, Daryn Kagan turns 59… Actress, comedian and television screenwriter, Claudia Lonow turns 59… Development director at Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach, Jill Weinstock Deutch turns 55… Oakland County (Michigan) clerk and register of deeds, Lisa Brown turns 55… Head of school at Manhattan Day School, Raizi Gruenebaum Chechik turns 50… Retired middleweight boxing champion, now a mortgage broker, Dana Rosenblatt turns 50… Retired professional tennis player, Justin Gimelstob turns 45… Actress, she hosted The CW reality series “Shedding for the Wedding,” Sara Rue (Schlackman) turns 43… Co-host of Jewish Insider‘s “Limited Liability Podcast” and an executive at Bloomberg LP, formerly an Obama White House Jewish Liaison, Jarrod Neal Bernstein turns 42… Chief partnerships officer at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Tamar Remz… Former Olympic figure skater, now on Meta/Facebook’s sports league partnership team, Emily Hughes turns 33… Blues and jazz musician, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton turns 33… Director of marketing and communications at Entrée Capital, Fay Goldstein…