👋 Good Monday morning!
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) died on Dec. 28. We talked to politicians and political observers who knew and worked with him over the years. More below.
Talks to renew a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers are set to restart in Vienna today, after a brief pause for the New Year.
France on Friday condemned an Iranian satellite rocket launch, which took place at the same time as talks were being held. The space launch violated a U.N. Security Council resolution, France’s Foreign Ministry said, adding that it was “all the more regrettable as [the activities] come at a time when we are making progress in the nuclear negotiations in Vienna.”
Pro-Iranians hackers reportedly shut down The Jerusalem Post’s website, as well as the website of its Hebrew-language sister publication Maariv, on the second anniversary of the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. On the JPost homepage, the hackers placed an illustration of a ballistic missile dropping from what appears to be a representation of Soleimani’s hand onto Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona.
CES, the Consumer Technology Association’s annual trade show, begins in person on Wednesday in Las Vegas. The gathering occurred virtually last year due to the pandemic.
Harry Reid remembered by colleagues following death at 82
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) died on Dec. 28 at age 82, following a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. The longtime Nevada political leader will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington on Jan. 12.
Big imprint: “I’ve been a part of the U.S.-Israel relationship for 40 years,” Norm Brownstein, a Denver-based super lobbyist and longtime AIPAC board member who was close with Reid, told JI. “Nobody has had an imprint on the U.S.-Israel relationship as Harry Reid did. Never did he go against what was in the best interests of Israel, because he knew it was in the best interests of the United States.” Brownstein was on hand at a 2014 meeting held in Reid’s office to discuss a rise in antisemitism. At the meeting, the Senate majority leader proposed expanding the adoption of the State Department’s definition of antisemitism. After a multi-year effort, the Trump administration in 2019 issued an executive order codifying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism.
All in the family: Reid’s wife, Landra Gould, was Jewish, and her family initially objected to the marriage due to Reid’s faith — he had converted to Mormonism as a young adult. In a floor speech in June 2007, Reid paid tribute to his wife’s father. “My father-in-law, Earl Gould, came to America from Russia… his name was Israel Goldfarb,” Reid said. “My five children are eligible for Israeli citizenship because, with the Jewish tradition, lineage is with the mother, not father.”
‘Ally to the Jewish people’: Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who had Reid’s backing in her successful runs for both the House and Senate, told JI, “I knew Senator Reid to be a committed ally to the Jewish people — in Nevada, across the United States and around the world. During his decades of public service, he developed deep ties to our state’s Jewish community. As a senator and as majority leader, he helped strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and consistently spoke out against antisemitism, even after leaving public office. Harry Reid was a dear friend and a true mensch.”
Lifelong friend: Former Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) had known the future majority leader since she was a teenager. “I was a high school senior at Valley High School, and was getting politically involved,” she recalled to JI on Sunday evening. “There were two young guys running for the Nevada State Assembly. One of them eventually became Sen. Richard Bryan, and the other one became Sen. Harry Reid. So I knew Harry since I was a 17-year-old kid.” At the time, she said, Reid was “focused, quiet. He just kept his head down and kept moving forward. Quite extraordinary.” Berkley would go on to build a relationship with Reid, whom she supported in his 1968 Assembly bid. Reid would, three decades later, back her 1998 run for Congress.
Dinner dates: Berkley and Reid stayed close throughout the years. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Reid attended several dinners at Berkley’s home — including one where he recreated a photo taken decades earlier, in which Reid had balanced Berkley’s then-toddler son on his lap. Earlier this year, he took a new photo — with Berkley’s grandson. “We went through a lot together. He was a mentor and a friend — more friend than mentor. I never hesitated to pick up the phone and talk to him. And he never hesitated to take the call,” Berkley said, noting that Reid’s last text message to her was dated Dec. 24, wishing her a happy new year.
Wisconsin treasurer forges middle path in Senate bid
Sarah Godlewski has enjoyed a charmed political trajectory since 2018, when she helped beat back a state constitutional amendment that would have eliminated Wisconsin’s treasurer’s office. Later that year, Godlewski ran for the position herself, prevailing in a tight race. “I flipped more Trump counties and took more of the vote there than the governor and lieutenant governor in a down-ballot race,” Godlewski, a 40-year-old Democrat, said in a recent interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. That showing, she argues, will serve her well now that she is running for Senate.
‘Moderate alternative’: Godlewski believes she is best equipped to go up against a Republican in what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested races of the midterm elections. She describes herself as a champion of “working families” who supports addressing climate change, raising the federal minimum wage and improving access to affordable childcare. Experts describe Godlewski as a centrist whose even-keeled policy goals position her as a “moderate alternative,” in the words of one Democratic consultant who is not involved in the primaries, to progressives like Tom Nelson and Mandela Barnes.
National support: Godlewski, who has invested $1 million of her own money in the race, is backed by EMILY’s List and is also one of four candidates to earn support from J Street. Laura Birnbaum, J Street’s national political director, said Godlewski “is a rare example” of a statewide official “who is extremely knowledgeable about foreign policy.” Godlewski studied peace and conflict resolution at George Mason University and worked for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton before founding an investment firm with her husband, whom she met as a UNICEF volunteer board member.
Policy polish: Linda Frank, a co-chair of Wisconsin Jewish Democrats, said Godlewski sought feedback from Jewish leaders at the state and national levels as she was crafting her Israel position paper. Frank said Godlewski was told she had to “retool” some parts, including instances in which she had conflated Jews with Israelis. “She listened and took it to heart,” said Frank, who is personally supporting Godlewski’s Senate bid.
Iron Lady: Godlewski favors continued U.S. security assistance for Israel and rejects the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as antisemitic. “I think, honestly, it creates instability for the region,” she said of the movement. Godlewski supports supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system that passed the House last September and is now stalled in the Senate. More broadly, she expressed a strong affinity for Israel, not least, she said, because Golda Meir, the first female prime minister of the Jewish state, was raised in Milwaukee.
the other voa
Visions of Abraham group offers Jewish tourists to UAE an interfaith experience
Tens of thousands of Israelis and Jews from around the world have visited the United Arab Emirates following last year’s historic signing of the Abraham Accords, many of them coming with a desire to learn about the intersection between the two cultures. Visions of Abraham, a new U.S.-based nonprofit, is spearheading the effort to create and promote educational initiatives relating to interfaith programming between Muslims and Jews, Rebecca Anne Proctor reports for Jewish Insider.
What it does: Visions of Abraham (VOA) seeks to provide an experience that looks at the impact of the landmark agreement through the creation of bespoke and immersive tours of the UAE and its Jewish community. “Visions of Abraham encourages all levels of Jewish travel to the UAE,” Eli Epstein, the organization’s co-founder, told JI. “We believe that experiencing the UAE allows for discovery of the people and the UAE and their values as well as the many amazing activities.”
On the ground: Most recently, the UJA-Federation of New York and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee collaborated with VOA to offer customized tours of the Gulf nation for their delegations. During their stays, individuals from both delegations met with notable UAE personalities from the nonprofit, business and education sectors, including Sarah Al Amiri, minister of state for science and technology; Israeli Ambassador to the UAE Amir Hayek; Ambassador Marcy Grossman, Canada’s envoy to the Gulf nation; Ali Al Nuaimi, chairman of anti-extremism organization Hedayah; Mohammed Alabbar, founder and chairman of Emaar Properties; and Tahnoon Saif, CEO of Dubai South, among others. The delegations also toured the Abrahamic Family House, the interfaith complex on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, scheduled to open in 2022.
Breaking stereotypes: “Most on the trip were seeing the miracle called the UAE for the first time, with most preconceived notions shattered by the reality of what they experienced,” Jeff Schoenfeld, a delegation member, told JI. “I have been traveling to the UAE for over 30 years, and I found myself elated by the consistency and intentionality of the pro-women, pro-equality, pro-pluralism, pro-growth narrative that guides the country today. The pace of change is exponential now, with the Abraham Accords just the latest manifestation of the leadership that the UAE is bringing to the entire Gulf region.”
📸 Say Cheese: The New York Times’s Dan Bilefsky profiles Braulio Rocha, a Portuguese janitor-turned-photographer, dubbed the “bar mitzvah photography king of Montreal,” whose career change was spurred by a chance cancelation by a photographer scheduled to cover a bris at Montreal’s Shaar Hashomayim synagogue. “Gideon Zelermyer, the Shaar’s cantor, who hired Mr. Rocha to shoot his son Max’s bar mitzvah, observed that a janitor reinventing himself as a bar mitzvah photography maven in a foreign country is a quintessentially Jewish story. ‘There is a virtue in our community of welcoming strangers as we, too, were strangers in a strange land,’ he said. ‘That is the story of Passover. There are times when you have to dust yourself off and move forward with life with a lot of uncertainty, and Braulio embodies that.’” [NYTimes]
🇮🇱🇺🇸 Adelson’s Access:In Politico, the Washington Free Beacon’s Eliana Johnson spotlights the impact of billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s giving on the Republican Party’s support for Israel. “Adelson’s wealth got him access to the halls of power…. He cared about few political issues save the U.S.-Israel relationship, using his money and influence to prod for the changes he wanted to see, almost all of them aimed at strengthening the alliance and protecting the Jewish people… ‘There are many people who are big donors, and what they seek is access. What Sheldon was actually seeking was to make a difference. What he was seeking was change,’ says Ron Dermer, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States. ‘Access was a means to an end, and the end was to do things that were critical to Israel and the U.S.’” [Politico]
☢️ Impending Crisis: The New Yorker’s Robin Wright looks at the current state of play between Iran and the global powers negotiating a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, as Tehran inches closer to having nuclear capabilities. “The [Biden] Administration does not want to reward Iran without proof that it is reversing its nuclear advances, reverting to older centrifuges, reducing its uranium stockpile, and allowing full inspections. Working with five world powers, the U.S. may somehow manage to restore the nuclear deal. Iran does face unprecedented challenges at home and from the outside world. The original revolutionaries are dying out, and their grandchildren are more into social media than ideology. In 2021, sporadic protests erupted as more than three hundred cities dealt with shortages of water and electricity; demonstrators also took to the streets to complain about low or unpaid wages. But if diplomacy stalls and Iran continues to accelerate its nuclear program, the senior Administration official warned, the U.S. could face a nuclear crisis in the first quarter of 2022.” [NewYorker]
🤯Forgotten Focus: In the Guardian, Johann Hari takes a deep dive into the phenomenon of drastically shorter attention spans, brought about by social media and other facets of modern life. “Just as the feminist movement reclaimed women’s right to their own bodies (and still has to fight for it today), I believe we now need an attention movement to reclaim our minds. I believe we need to act urgently, because this may be like the climate crisis, or the obesity crisis – the longer we wait, the harder it will get. The more our attention degrades, the harder it will be to summon the personal and political energy to take on the forces stealing our focus. The first step it requires is a shift in our consciousness. We need to stop blaming ourselves, or making only demands for tiny tweaks from our employers and from tech companies. We own our own minds – and together, we can take them back from the forces that are stealing them.” [Guardian]
⚽ Manchester Un-United: In Bloomberg, David Yaffe-Bellany and David Hellier explore how the debacle surrounding the proposed sale of elite Super League forced the American Glazer family, which owns the U.K.’s Manchester United soccer club, to listen to the team’s fans. “After staving off the Super League, English fans are now trying to wrest back some of the influence they’ve lost to overseas investors. They argue that sports teams are fundamentally different from ordinary businesses — that they should operate as something akin to a public trust, with input from the local community. The pitch invasion at Old Trafford, which led to a series of arrests and forced the Premier League to reschedule a high-profile match between United and Liverpool, has helped spur a push for reform…Over the summer, Joel Glazer, United’s co-chairman, met with fans over Zoom, the first time he’d spoken directly with them. The club has also been locked in negotiations with a leading fan coalition, the Manchester United Supporters Trust, over a new corporate structure that would allow fans to claim a financial stake in the club.” [Bloomberg]
Around the Web
📴 Tweet No More: Twitter permanently suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) Twitter account after the freshman lawmaker posted misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, her fifth “strike” on the social media platform.
😔 Squad Blues: A legislative assistant in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) office called Israel a “racist European ethnostate” in a post on Instagram.
💬 Missed Advice: Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly advised Ocasio- Cortez to improve relations with the city’s Jewish community, with whom she rarely engaged, in her first term in office.
🪑 Fed Seat: The Biden administration is considering nominating Sarah Bloom Raskin for one of three board seats at the Federal Reserve.
🗳️ Betting on Pennsylvania: Hedge fund executive David McCormick, who last month filed paperwork to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), released an ad highlighting his ties to the Keystone State and his military service.
⚖️ Behind Bars: John T. Earnest, who pleaded guilty to killing one person and injuring three in a shooting at the Chabad of Poway, Calif., in 2019, was sentenced to life in federal prison.
🍕 Pepperoni Penalty: A Jewish high school athlete in Ohio is suing his former coaches for allegedly forcing him to eat a pepperoni pizza as punishment for missing a workout.
🍽️ Hummus Beat: Eater LA spotlights the top restaurants for Israeli cuisine in California’s San Fernando Valley.
🎉 Birthday Blessings: A 98-year-old Holocaust survivor received thousands of cards celebrating her birthday after her great-grandson appealed to his TikTok followers to send her cards and well wishes.
🚌 Biased Broadcast: A professional linguist examined footage from an antisemitic attack during Hanukkah and found that, contrary to a BBC report, the victims did not voice anti-Muslim epithets prior to being attacked.
👩⚖️ In the Courts: A New York jury found Israeli company Teva Pharmaceuticals liable for fueling the country’s opioid crisis, a result the drugmaker vowed to appeal.
🎧 Safe Space: Forbes‘s David Bloom speaks to comedian and actress Leah Lamarr about her online comedy club success in the safe confines of the Clubhouse audio app during the COVID-19 pandemic.
💣 Strip Strike: The IDF conducted airstrikes Saturday night against several Hamas locations in Gaza, in response to two rockets that were launched from the strip and landed in the Mediterranean Sea.
🚁 Military Watch: The IDF will purchase 12 Lockheed Martin helicopters and two Boeing refueling planes, for a total of $3.1 billion.
💉 Fourth Jab: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced yesterday that the Health Ministry had approved a fourth jab against COVID-19 for individuals over 60 and medical workers.
🛫 Closed Skies: Israel will provide its national airline, El Al, with tens of millions of dollars in aid following increased border restrictions as a result of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
👪 Family First: Knesset member Gilad Kariv confronted Population and Immigration Authority officials yesterday over unimplemented decisions to ease travel restrictions for family members to attend life-cycle events.
📉 Record Rates: Israel’s Central Bank is expected to keep interest rates at a record low for the 14th consecutive month.
👩⚕️ Twin Epidemics: Israel reported the world’s first case of an individual simultaneously infected with the flu and COVID-19 in a woman who was not vaccinated against either virus.
🔥 Burning Bush: Hundreds of Israelis visited Mount Karkom in the Negev last week during the winter solstice to observe a strange natural phenomenon in which light reflects off a cave, creating a flickering light, which some argue is the burning bush Moses famously encountered in the book of Exodus.
🇸🇩 Stepping Down: Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned yesterday as thousands protested against the country’s military, which seized power in October.
⬆️ Upgrade: UAE Ambassador to the U.N. Lana Nusseibeh was appointed to the rank of minister in the Gulf nation as the UAE begins a term on the U.N. Security Council.
🎙️ Media Watch: Laila Fadel will become the newest host of NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
🕯️ Remembering: Lee Kaufmann, who gained later-in-life fame in a series of Swiffer commercials, died at 99. Sandra Jaffe, who founded the Preservation Hall jazz club in New Orleans, died at 83. Allan Larson, who worked to preserve the memory of his son Jonathan, the creator of “Rent,” died. Journalist Suzanne Singer, the force behind the Alex Singer Project, named for her son who was killed during his IDF service in 1987, died at age 86.
Pic of the Day
A clock belonging to a Dutch Jewish family whose story was immortalized in the recent novel The Sisters of Auschwitz will be displayed at the Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam.
Israeli-born basketball player now on the Washington Wizards, he was a first-round pick in the 2020 NBA draft, Deni Avdija turns 21…
Former Treasury secretary under President Carter, followed by 17 years as director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, W. Michael Blumenthal turns 96… Computer scientist and computational theorist, Richard Manning Karp turns 87… Professor of medicine and chairman of the medical ethics committee at Columbia University Medical Center, Kenneth Prager, M.D. turns 79… CNN legal analyst, formerly a Watergate prosecutor and later a member of the 9/11 Commission, Richard Ben-Veniste turns 79… Former legal affairs reporter at The New York Times, David Margolick turns 70… Professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, Ralph R. Isberg turns 67… Justice of the Ontario Superior Court and former national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Edward M. Morgan turns 67… Director of the Year-in-Israel program at HUC-JIR, Reuven Greenvald turns 63…
Investor and former U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, S. Fitzgerald Haney turns 53… Graduate of West Point and a senior partner in the NYC office of the Boston Consulting Group, Neal Zuckerman turns 51… Senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News after 17 years at The Los Angeles Times, Noam Naftali Levey turns 51… Attorney in Minneapolis and former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Jeremy N. Kalin turns 47… President at Kiosite, LLC, Michael Novack turns 41… Founder and president of Golden Strategies, Jenna Golden turns 38… Executive director at Guns Down America, Igor Volsky turns 36… Former child actor who starred in “Home Alone 3,” he is now a planning assistant for the City of Los Angeles, Alexander David Linz turns 33… Senior intelligence analyst at Argyle Consulting Group, Alana Aliza Herbst…