👋 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: Nides to JI: People-to-people relations will build the Abraham Accords; In a first, an official Holocaust Remembrance Day event in Egypt; The ‘Seder Guy’ attempting a leap to the LG’s office; She could be the first Jew of color in Congress; Nina Turner’s uphill challenge in Cleveland rematch; Meet the Israeli diplomat at the forefront of the Abraham Accords; Breyer retirement leaves open the Court’s ‘Jewish seat’; The many names, and lives, of a child hidden in the Holocaust; The secret Nazi POW camp and the Jewish soldiers who guarded it; and How soap is changing women’s lives around the world. Print the latest edition here.
President Joe Biden hosted Holocaust survivor Bronia Brandman at the White House yesterday, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “A survivor of Auschwitz who lost her parents and four of five siblings, she could not speak of her experiences for half-a-century. Today, she shared her story — and spoke for millions who never got the chance,” Biden tweeted after the meeting, which lasted more than an hour in the Oval Office.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoffmet with survivor Ruth Cohen, as well as Cohen’s husband, daughter and granddaughter. The vice president tweeted, “As we reflect on the resilience of the Jewish people, we must continue to combat antisemitism and hate wherever it exists—and in so doing, we give meaning to that timeless pledge: ‘never again.’”
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer apologized to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for the murder of his grandfather Bela Lampel at the Mauthausen concentration camp, during a ceremony at the site yesterday.
“Dear Yair, I apologize on behalf of the Republic of Austria for the crimes committed here. I apologize that your grandfather was murdered here,” Nehammer said.
“I came here today to remind the world that Bela Lampel was not a number,” Lapid said. “He sent me here today to say on his behalf, that the Jews have not surrendered. They’ve established a strong, free, and proud Jewish state, and they sent his grandson to represent them here today.”
“The Nazis thought they were the future, and that Jews would be something you only find in a museum. Instead, the Jewish State is the future, and Mauthausen is a museum. Rest in peace, grandfather, you won,” he added.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali BennetttoldThe Jerusalem Post that his government will not be able to implement the plan to formally establish an egalitarian section at the Western Wall. “We knew in advance that we cannot advance everything,” he said, in one of a series of interviews he gave to the Israeli press this week. “We will only act with consensus…This government is meant to save the country and bring it back to function. It cannot fulfill everyone’s wishes,” he said.
Bennett also revealed, in his interview with Haaretz, that then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened him during coalition talks following the last elections. “When he realized that I didn’t intend to let him drag Israel into a fifth election, he really threatened me. ‘Listen,’ he said to me, ‘if I understand correctly what you’re going to do, you should know that I am going to turn my whole machine on you, the army,’” said Bennett.
Knesset member Zvi Hauser called on the Israeli government yesterday to declare the Houthis a terrorist organization in solidarity with the United Arab Emirates, following recent attacks on the country by rebels in Yemen.
The New York Times’s Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti are out this morning with an in-depth look at the NSO Group, its Pegasus spyware and how the FBI and CIA used the software before the U.S. ultimately blacklisted the Israeli firm.
Tennessee’s McMinn County Board of Education, which earlier this month voted to ban Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus about the Holocaust from its eighth-grade curriculum, issued a statement on Thursday defending the decision, citing that the “Board felt this work was simply too adult-oriented for use in our schools.” The statement also noted that the board had asked administrators to “find other works that accomplish the same educational goals in a more age-appropriate fashion.”
Nina Turner’s uphill challenge in Cleveland rematch
The sun had barely risen on Wednesday, but Pinchas Landis, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in suburban Cleveland, was fielding a cascade of text messages amid news of a rematch between Nina Turner and Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH). The announcement arrived five months after Landis helped unite large segments of the Orthodox community against Turner, largely over views she expressed last year that Jewish voters saw as hostile to Israel. Landis told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kasselthat he was already “springing to action,” but he was also optimistic that Brown, who received widespread Jewish support, would have no trouble defending the seat in the May primary.
New dynamics: Such confidence was harder to find a year ago. In her upset over Turner last August, Brown overcame a polling deficit of more than 30 points in the special election for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. The race was widely viewed as Turner’s to lose thanks in part to her national profile as a campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). But some political observers in Cleveland believe the reverse dynamic is more likely as Turner mounts her campaign at a time when Democrats will be defending their tenuous majority in the House. “This is a very steep uphill battle for her,” said David Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. “I just don’t see how she’s going to make it to the summit.”
Concession speech: “Nina Turner deciding to run against Shontel demonstrates how out of touch she is with the district’s constituents, especially after blaming ‘dark money’ for her last loss,” said Jessica Cohen, an Orthodox resident of Cleveland Heights who campaigned for Brown. Turner spoke out against political action committees that poured money into the race, including Democratic Majority for Israel. In conceding, Turner alleged that “evil money” had “manipulated and maligned” the election, drawing scrutiny from critics who charged that she had promoted an antisemitic trope. Her campaign later clarified that she had been referring to “corporate” and “Republican money.”
Further clarification: “Nina Turner continues to oppose the money that came into her special election race from Republican and Trump-aligned sources,” Kara Turrentine, Turner’s campaign manager, said in an email to JI on Wednesday. Turner “will continue to fight against the rising tide of hate, division and racism fueling the growing number of antisemitic attacks across this nation.”
Jewish support: Meshulam Ungar, a student at Brandeis University who is originally from Maryland and helped canvass for Brown last summer in Orthodox communities throughout the suburbs of Cleveland, said he expected “that the Jewish community that came out for” Brown “in 2021 will come out in 2022” as well.
eye on vienna
Biden admin hedges bets on likelihood of return to 2015 Iran deal
Brett McGurk, the White House Middle East and North Africa coordinator on the National Security Council, said that talks with Iran on a nuclear deal are nearing their endpoint. “These talks will have a culmination point and we’re actually reaching that culmination point,” McGurk said Thursday in a virtual conversation with Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The talks in Vienna, aimed at renegotiating the 2015 deal constraining Iran’s nuclear program, have recently stalled as Iran and world powers struggle to move past disagreements regarding the order of lifting international sanctions and nuclear disarmament.
State of the talks: McGurk sounded a note of cautious optimism about the prospects for reentering the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018. “We’re basically now in the negotiations back to where we were at the end of last summer, which means there’s a chance for a deal and there’s also a pretty good chance there’s not going to be a deal.”
Hedged bets: “We’re in the ballpark of a possible deal. But, again, I’m not going to put odds on this,” explained McGurk. “There’s a good chance these talks collapse very soon, and then we’re going to shift to something else.” Regardless of the eventual outcome, McGurk said American contingency plans are in place to deal with Iran, which is considered the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism: “If there’s no deal, we’re prepared for that scenario,” he affirmed.
Denying discord: McGurk played down reports about internal divisions within the American negotiating team over the correct approach to deal with Iran, saying that the departure of Richard Nephew, who favored a more hardline approach, was not due to policy differences, and that Nephew is headed to a new position at the State Department. The United States is “very much focused on a return to full compliance with the JCPOA,” said McGurk, and will not opt to entertain a “less for less” negotiating approach with Iran.
Show of support: McGurk called Israel’s security a “first principle” and said that strategic consultations with Jerusalem are a “daily endeavor.” He also reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to “support Israel’s freedom of action in Syria,” where Israeli forces have recently conducted airstrikes to curb Iran’s presence in the civil war-ravaged country.
Watch the full conversation here.
Jewish disability advocates reflect on two years of changes during the pandemic
Ahead of Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month in February, Jewish disability inclusion advocates, including actress Marlee Matlin, say the pandemic has brought both hardships and benefits to people with disabilities, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales reports.
Access and difficulties: “Things like Zoom and virtual meetings have provided opportunities for those of us who may not necessarily be able to, because of mobility issues, get out or be able to travel,” Matlin told eJP through an interpreter, explaining that captions have also made online programming accessible. But there are difficulties as well. “It’s hard for me to go to a grocery store and read someone’s lips with a mask on,” she said. “I just ask them to lower it for a second so I know what they’re saying. Other times, some people don’t have patience, but it’s all a process.”
A fifth of the community: Experts estimate that about 20% of the Jewish community has a disability. While data on inclusion in Jewish spaces is often difficult to find, opportunities for Jews with disabilities appear to have gradually increased in recent years. Most day and overnight camps have programs for campers with disabilities, according to the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and the percentage of day campers with disabilities increased from 5% in 2016 to 6.7% in 2020.
Surveying the field: A recent survey on disability in the Jewish community, conducted by RespectAbility, an organization that promotes inclusion in the Jewish community and, more broadly, shows pluses and minuses. In a survey of nearly 3,000 Jewish respondents (contacted largely through paid email blasts, through which recipients could opt in), just 31% said the Jewish community is doing “extremely well” or “very well” in including people with disabilities. The number was lower among self-identified respondents with disabilities. But the survey also found that majorities of both groups said the community is doing better on the issue than it was five years ago.
How things have changed: “Many synagogues, day schools, JCCs, camps, etc. have a disability inclusion initiative and they have identified an individual or group of individuals who are responsible for moving that forward,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who founded RespectAbility more than eight years ago. “What is still to me, frankly shocking, is that some of the inclusion that’s free and instant to do is still not being done,” such as captioning Zoom programs.
Today’s SAPIR releases consider how Jews and Judaism might revitalize connections with other communities.
True antiracism: Chloe Valdary reflects on how Jews and Black people could work together toward an authentic form of antiracism she calls “enchantment.” “Enchantment is a form of antiracism that entails mindfulness, requiring regular repetition and application if we want it to become part of a new way of life. It’s a way of discovering how to be in better relationships. And it’s something that Black and Jewish communities can find ways to practice together. All of this might sound like proverbial psychobabble. But the direct, concrete challenge we face in improving race relations in this country, including between Black people and Jews, has its roots in psychology. To wit: How do we go from being threatened by each other’s diversity to delighting in that diversity, knowing that it is nothing more than a reflection of our own?” Read here.
Tough relationships: Yossi Klein Halevi argues for the necessity of transforming our relationship with the Islamic world. “At this time of radical uncertainty in the Muslim-Jewish relationship, strengthening Muslim goodwill is a core Jewish interest. As Israel becomes home to the majority of world Jewry, the locus of Jewish history has shifted back to the Muslim world. The growing Muslim communities in the West are an additional incentive for positioning Muslim-Jewish relations close to the top of the Jewish communal agenda. The French experience is a sober warning of what can happen when Muslim-Jewish relations reach the breaking point.” Read here.
Torah for Christians: Jeff Jacoby proposes “the Jethro Project, a national initiative designed to provide promising non-Jewish clergy members with the opportunity to devote a significant period of time to traditional Jewish religious study. Jethro Fellows would fortify their own religious commitments and expand their spiritual horizons through meaningful exposure to Jewish texts, culture, and thought, guided by qualified Jewish instructors who are respectful of non-Jewish faiths.” Read here.
Join us for a conversation with Yossi Klein Halevi, Chloe Valdary and Blake Flayton (whose piece debuts Feb. 2) on March 14 at 12 noon ET. Register here.
🚆 War Hero: The Washington Post’s Gillian Brockell spotlights the story of Manfred Gans, who as a Dutch teenager was sent to the U.K. via the Kindertransport before joining a special division of commandos, which brought him back to mainland Europe, and ultimately to the Theresienstadt camp in the Czech Republic, where he reunited with his parents. “Once there, Gans asked another prisoner to go in and tell his parents the news. He was afraid that if he surprised them, the shock might be too much for their weakened bodies. Then he went in. He described it this way in his war diary: ‘The next minutes are indescribable. I suddenly find myself in their arms. They are both crying wildly … I look at Father and in spite of having prepared myself for a lot, I have to bite my teeth together not to show my shock. He is hardly recognizable. Completely starved and wrecked.’” [WashPost]
🏫 Holocaust Literacy: In The Atlantic’s “Deep Shtetl,” Yair Rosenberg looks at recent studies that show significant rates of Holocaust illiteracy among young people, and compares those numbers to general knowledge of other basic topics. “Americans demonstrate greater literacy about the Holocaust — an event that happened to a tiny fraction of the world’s population on a completely different continent — than they do about their own country’s institutions and history. More Americans can identify Auschwitz than their own branches of government. Tellingly, Americans across the ideological spectrum regularly make and debate Holocaust analogies, because its story is one of the few touchstones they all share. Far from a failure, Holocaust education in America has been a triumph, piercing the veil of civic ignorance that obscures so many other subjects in the popular consciousness.” [DeepShtetl]
🔍 Spy Games: In The New York Times, Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti dive deep into the NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus software, looking at its uses around the globe — and in the U.S., where FBI and CIA officials purchased the software. “Israel has used Pegasus as a diplomatic sweetener. It gave the U.A.E. and Bahrain access to it, which helped lead to the Abraham Accords, the 2020 pact in which the Arab countries normalized relations with Israel. At one point, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, threatened to block a crucial part of the deal unless Israel renewed Saudi Arabia’s license to use Pegasus.” [NYTimes]
📰 Risky Reporting: In Politico, Joanne Kenen examines the conversation surrounding the influential New York Times writer David Leonhardt, and the impact he has made with his unique take on the COVID-19 pandemic. “He has positioned himself as the pundit who punches holes in public health orthodoxy, who shuns the ‘bad news bias’ of journalism, who offers soothing rationality — grounded in his years of Pulitzer-winning reporting on economics — in the face of what he calls ‘Covid alarmism.’ Over the last few months, a long-simmering critical conversation among public health experts about Leonhardt’s take and his outsize influence has become more audible. And we don’t just mean on Twitter. Notable doctors and scientists have written to the Times, individually or in groups, to poke holes in Leonhardt’s coverage of the pandemic…One letter to the Times from a group of prominent pandemic experts, obtained by Nightly (though with the full list of signatures withheld), called his reporting ‘irresponsible and dangerous.’ ‘It’s head-exploding,’ one exhausted emergency physician told Nightly. ‘Bonkers.’” [Politico]
Around the Web
⚖️ Behind Bars: Stewart Rhodes, leader of the far-right Oath Keepers group, was deemed a flight risk and denied bail on charges for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
🚓 Across the Pond: London police arrested a suspect for assaulting two Jewish shopkeepers in north London, in what is being treated as a hate crime.
📽️ New Release: A new film, “My Best Friend Anne Frank,” set to be released on Feb. 1, follows the friendship between Frank and Hannah Pick-Goslar from Nazi-occupied Amsterdam to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
💻 Newsletter Nuisance: Substack is increasingly becoming a platform for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus, as its co-founders defend the company’s free-speech approach, The Washington Post reports.
📚RBG’s Books: Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal library sold for $2.35 million at an auction yesterday.
💰 Costly Cable: The EU will provide $736 million to link Cyprus’ and Israel’s energy grids to mainland Europe.
🛑 Never Again: On the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was marked yesterday, the Israeli government warned that recent anti-vaccine movements that compare vaccine mandates to the Holocaust are enabling a rise in antisemitism.
💉 Pandemic Politics: The Trump administration had reportedly planned to allocate doses of the first COVID-19 vaccines based on political preferences, prioritizing countries like Israel and Taiwan.
🏦 Banking Bonanza: Israel’s Bank Hapoalim said it reached a $140 million settlement with the insurers of former bank employees involved in a multi-billion-dollar American tax evasion crime.
💰Pay Problems: SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure is stepping down from the company over a dispute regarding roughly $2 billion in compensation.
👩 Gam Ani: The New York Times‘ Isabel Kershner explores the fallout in Bnei Brak of sexual assault and abuse allegations against the Haredi children’s books author Chaim Walder, who killed himself last month.
❄️ Snow Falling on Cedars: Snow fell in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Thursday, the second year in a row that the area has experienced snow.
👩⚕️ Vaccination Nation: Israel expanded eligibility for a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to all adults with underlying health conditions and those who have significant exposure to the virus.
➡️ Transition: New York Times reporter Marc Tracy, who previously covered business, will move to the culture desk. Democratic strategist Ray Zaccaro is joining the Klein/Johnson Group.
🕯️ Remembering: Attorney Edgar Cahn, who with his wife founded the predecessor to the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia, died at 86.
Pic of the Day
A former prisoner of the Auschwitz concentration camp wears his prisoner armband during the celebrations yesterday at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum of the 77th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Robert B. Satloff (pictured recently presenting the Scholar-Statesman Award to Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan) turns 60 today…
FRIDAY: Baltimore area dentist now living in Jupiter, Fla., Joel I. Goldberg, DDS turns 77… Former chair of the political science department of the Hebrew University, Avraham Diskin turns 75… 26th national president of Hadassah, Ellen Hershkin turns 75… U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) turns 75… Attorney and lobbyist, Kenneth Levine turns 74… Rabbi emeritus of Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Steven Carr Reuben turns 73… Chairman and founder of London-based Stellar Group Limited, Jonathan Ian Barnett turns 70… Model, actress and singer, Barbi Benton turns 72… Elayne Z. Wolf turns 72… Senior U.S. district court judge for the Central District of California, Judge Dean Douglas Pregerson turns 71… Freelance writer Rabbi Reba Carmel turns 69…
NYC-based investor, Donna Redel turns 69… Director at UCLA Center for Community Engagement, Shalom David Staub turns 66… Angel investor and mentor, Mark N. Schwartz turns 66… Member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 2006 until last year, Amy H. Handlin turns 64… Chairman of Genesis Philanthropy Group, Gennady Gazin turns 57… Founder and CEO of Boca Raton-based Lyons Capital LLC, Jason Lyons turns 53… Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Amy Coney Barrett turns 50… VP of content and strategy at Zeno Group, Ariel Bashi turns 40… Israeli theatre and movie actress, Adi Bielski turns 40… Principal at Aermont Capital, he is also chair of TAMID Israel Investment Group, Max Heller turns 31… Financial analyst for Goldman Sachs, Perry Bloch turns 27… Actress and singer, Julia Lester turns 22…
SATURDAY: Author, mohel and public speaker, Rabbi Paysach Krohn turns 77… President of Libitzky Property Companies, Moses S. Libitzky turns 75… Singer and songwriter, he is a two-time gold medal winner in the Maccabiah Games in fastpitch softball, Steve March-Tormé turns 69… Regional director in the Houston office of the American Jewish Committee, Randall Czarlinsky turns 68… Louisiana resident, Jerry Keller turns 63… Executive director of the Westchester Jewish Council, Elliot Forchheimer turns 60… Senior writer for JCCs of North America, a.k.a. Jane the Writer, Jane E. Herman turns 59… Actress known for her role as Amy MacDougall-Barone on the TV sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Monica Horan turns 59… Physician and an author of three New York Times best-selling books, Dr. David Agus turns 57… Former speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan turns 52…
Founder of multiple tech firms, Sam Lawrence turns 52… VP of government relations and public policy operations at the American Hospital Association, Robyn Cooke Bash turns 50… Writer and occasional Bollywood film actor, author of the comic book series Mendy and the Golem, Matt Brandstein turns 50… Senior director and global head of the NYC-based Tembo Group, Denielle Sachs turns 45… Former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Kari Dunn Saratovsky turns 43… Israeli actress, model and television host, Yael Bar Zohar turns 42… Special assistant to the president and senior director for China and Taiwan on the National Security Council, Laura Rosenberger turns 42, Laura Rosenberger turns 42… Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, Yasha Moz turns 37… Congressman from Massachusetts (D-MA-4), Jake Auchincloss turns 34… Swimmer for Israel at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics, Andrea “Andi” Murez turns 30… MCIT candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, Martha Baumgarten…
SUNDAY: Chairman of The Cordish Companies, David S. Cordish turns 82… Artist, she paints brightly colored Biblical narratives, Barbara “Willy” Mendes turns 74… Teacher and Ph.D. in modern Jewish history from NYU, Judith Friedman Rosen turns 70… Upton, Wyoming, resident, Heather Graf turns 68… VP of corporate engagement at the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, Linda Scacco turns 68… CEO of the Jewish National Fund, Russell F. Robinson turns 66… Former member of the California State Senate, Jeffrey Earle Stone turns 66… Philadelphia area psychologist, Dr. Rachel Ginzberg turns 64… Managing partner of lobbying and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Richard B. Benenson turns 54… Director of public relations for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Zalman Shmotkin turns 53… Associate professor in the electrical engineering department at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Guy Gilboa turns 51… Founder of an eponymous NYC PR and management firm, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Grubman turns 51… Special projects editor at The Week Junior, Bari Nan Cohen Rothchild turns 49… Elected in 2018 as council member at-large for Montgomery County, Md., Evan M. Glass turns 45…
Dallas resident, Gisele Rogers turns 44… Executive director of Middle East affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Joshua M. Kram turns 43… Congressman from New York (R-NY-1), he is a candidate for governor of New York, Lee Zeldin turns 42… White House correspondent for CBS Radio News, Steven Portnoy turns 41… Israeli actor known for starring in “Shtisel, Out in the Dark” and as the host of the “The Voice Israel,” Michael Aloni turns 38… CEO at Harvesting Media, Eli Langer turns 36… Media professional and communications strategist, Alyona Minkovski turns 36… Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Matthew S. Blumenthal turns 36… Consultant in the education field, Eric Scott Lavin turns 35… Project leader at Boston Consulting Group, Max Delahanty turns 33… Professional ice hockey defenseman, he played on Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics and is currently playing with EHC Red Bull München, Jonathon Blum turns 33… VP at Blue Wolf Capital Partners, Jared Isenstein turns 30… Professional ice hockey forward, Chelsey Goldberg turns 29… Marketing coordinator at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Alexa Smith…