👋 Good Monday morning!
A few hours after Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday for a historic visit, Houthis fired a ballistic missile towards the UAE capital, the third such attack in recent weeks. The missile was intercepted and caused no damage.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) told Jewish Insider on Sunday evening, “The Houthis’ attacks against our partners in the Middle East are terrorism – and the Biden administration must acknowledge that. Removing the Houthis from the list of designated terrorist groups only emboldened them and their Iranian backers and has resulted in attacks against civilian populations and the U.S. embassy in Yemen.”
The president and First Lady Michal Herzog opened Israel’s national day at Expo 2020 Dubai this morning. After visiting the Expo pavilions, Herzog met the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to discuss deepening collaboration in the fields of trade, innovation, tourism and investment.
On Sunday, the Herzogs landed in Abu Dhabi, marking the first Israeli presidential visit to the UAE, and were welcomed by the UAE’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Herzogs later took part in an official welcoming ceremony at the royal palace with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, where the national anthems of both countries were played.
“We are sending a message to the entire region that there is an alternative of peace and living together, and that the sons and daughters of Abraham can reside and dwell together in peaceful coexistence for the benefit of humanity,” Herzog said.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed thanked Herzog for his stance on the recent Houthi terror attacks on civilian facilities in the UAE. “It is a stance that demonstrates our common view of the threats to regional stability and peace,” he said.
Herzog later met with the Jewish community of the UAE. “It was very moving to see the president of Israel, who represents all Jews, in an Arab country for the first time,” Rabbi Elie Abadie, senior rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, told JI. Rabbi Levi Duchman, leader of Chabad in the UAE, described Herzog’s visit as special. “The UAE has been a beacon of light, tolerance and respect,” Duchman shared with JI. “I think the president was fascinated by it.”
Abadie said that Herzog was extremely moved during the visit, especially at hearing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem. “He had tears in his eyes,” Abadie said. “He felt very welcomed by the crown prince.” Abadie said he believed that a reciprocal visit would be forthcoming and that Herzog’s visit would help to encourage other countries to join the Abraham Accords and normalize ties with Israel.
“We are now raising the first generation of children after the Abraham Accords,” Duchman added. “To see the Israeli president in the UAE, to see him sitting with the leader of a Muslim country, sends a message of hope, caring and respect – and not only to young Israelis and Emirates but also to young people everywhere.”
Esther Pollard, the wife of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, died today at age 68 after COVID-19-related complications. Pollard, who had been fighting breast cancer for years, was rushed to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem suffering from septic shock. She was known for her devotion to her husband, having fought for years for his release from U.S. prison until his parole restrictions were lifted in 2020.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “I was saddened to hear of the passing of Esther Pollard, a woman whose devotion to, and love for, Jonathan Pollard became a symbol of strength, determination and faith. May her memory be a blessing.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)tweeted an image on Sunday with a quote from neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier Kevin Alfred Strom, “To learn who rules over you, simply find our who you are not allowed to criticize,” which the meme incorrectly attributed to French philosopher Voltaire. Massie captioned the image, “You mustn’t question Fauci, for he is science,” referring to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The Kentucky Jewish Council responded in a statement, “This is sadly not the first time that Thomas Mass[ie] has tweeted blatant antisemitism that originated with white supremacists. The quote… originates with a white supremacist who called for violence against the Jewish people. Unfortunately Representative Mass[ie] does not care.”
the comeback kid’s kid
The quarterback scion in Zion
To most Israelis, Nicky Montana appears to be just another ambitious American entrepreneur and investor curious about the start-up nation’s vibrant innovation scene and what it might contribute to our world in the future. For Americans and NFL-knowledgeable Israelis, however, he is sports royalty, as the son of iconic Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana. The younger Montana moved to Israel three months ago and takes all such labels — and his father’s legendary status — in stride. He remains singularly focused on learning as much as he can about what makes Israel’s high-tech sector tick, adding knowledge to his already successful foray into the industry, The Circuit’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Ingrained in tech: “There’s so much interesting stuff that has brought my attention here,” Montana, 29, told The Circuit in an interview at a Tel Aviv cafe last week. “I was here in the past – on a trip with [New England Patriots owner and sponsor of the Israel Football League] Robert Kraft – and that was very different. We went to Jerusalem, and we toured around, the schedule was very regimented. Now I am living here and meeting real people and just kind of getting ingrained in everything, and it’s really been incredible.”
Son of an icon: Born and raised in California, where his father won four Super Bowl championships with the San Francisco 49ers, Montana said his father tried to downplay his fame and “never really talked about any of it really.” He said he only learned the true extent of his father’s celebrity status more recently from the new six-part documentary series, “Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure,” produced by Peacock.
No pressure: Montana, who said as a baby he initially called his father ‘Hey Joe,’ mimicking the fans who would scream out to the legendary quarterback, also said that growing up, he and his older brother, Nate, were not pressured to pursue the game professionally. (Montana also has two older sisters.) “It was never like, ‘You have to play or we’re going out to the yard now for drills,’ he would never bring it up, really,” said Montana. “I would have to beg him to help with practices, but he was super sensitive because of the pressure that might be put on us from a young age.”
College football: In the end, both brothers went on to play college football. Nicky, a quarterback like his father, first played for the University of Washington from 2009 to 2012, and later for Mt. San Antonio College. After one season with the junior college, he transferred in 2013 to Tulane, where he was the starting quarterback. Eventually, however, he decided not to pursue a career in professional football. “It was always my dream, but towards the end, I kept getting hurt and taken out of the game,” Montana explained. “At a certain point, towards the end, I was just like, I’ve been doing this my whole life and I don’t know what it is, but the feeling is gone.”
Innovation success: Putting his football career behind him, Montana took the skills of leadership and endurance that he learned on the field and turned his attention to the world of high-tech. He began by dabbling in fantasy sports, and eventually sold his own startup, a Y Combinator-backed company called Balto, to FuboTV, the leading sports-first live TV streaming platform in the U.S., in December 2020. Montana then began investing as an angel investor in more than half a dozen companies across the globe. Last year, when Isaac “Yitz” Applbaum, co-founder and partner of Tel Aviv-based MizMaa Ventures, and a close friend of the Montana family (as well as a wine columnist at Jewish Insider), asked if he wanted to move to Tel Aviv and work for MizMaa, Montana hesitated only slightly.
Vision for the future: His friends, he said, thought he was crazy. “All they knew about Israel was camels and rockets,” he quipped. “But the opportunity to come to a place like Israel, given everything that’s going on here, was super enticing – everyone is an entrepreneur here.” Montana, whose focus at MizMaa is on Web3, cryptocurrencies and fintech, continued, “There’s so much ambition and it’s amazing being on the venture side and seeing how everyone thinks the world’s gonna look in the future.”
Bonus: U.S. financial firm Morgan Stanley Capital International, known as MSCI Inc., is surveying international investors to determine whether Israel will be added to the MSCI Europe Index, boosting investment into Israeli companies. Today is the last day of the survey.
DMFI PAC announces first slate of House endorsements
Democratic Majority for Israel’s political arm will announce on Monday that it is backing 15 House candidates in the primary elections as part of its first round of congressional endorsements. The list, which DMFI shared exclusively with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, includes 10 incumbents, four open-seat primary candidates and one Democratic challenger — all of whom the group described as “committed to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship” in their support for continued U.S. military assistance to Israel as well as their rejection of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Incumbent clash: Just two of the incumbents, Reps. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY), have yet to draw competition. The others are either facing Democratic challengers or defending their seats in member-on-member primary matchups, including Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI), Sean Casten (D-IL), John Larson (D-CT), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Dina Titus (D-NV), David Trone (D-MD) and Shontel Brown (D-OH). “We think all these people will be strong supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Mark Mellman, the president of DMFI PAC, told JI. “We have serious doubts about whether their opponents will be.”
Justice Dems redux: As with previous races where DMFI has devoted resources, the pro-Israel group is now endorsing in races where Israel is likely to emerge as a source of tension. In backing Maloney, a pro-Israel stalwart, DMFI is setting itself up for another head-to-head clash with Justice Democrats, which has endorsed one of her primary challengers. DMFI is also supporting Steve Irwin in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, where Justice Democrats is backing Summer Lee, a state legislator affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America, which formally endorsed the BDS movement in 2017.
DSA duel: DMFI is hoping to fend off at least one high-profile DSA member, Amy Vilela, who is running to unseat Titus in Nevada’s 1st Congressional District, which includes portions of North Las Vegas. DMFI is also backing former Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) as he competes against another DSA member, Brittany Ramos DeBarros, in the Democratic primary for New York’s 11th Congressional District. Rose is seeking to reclaim the Staten Island seat after losing to freshman Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) in 2020.
Broader ‘context’: “There’s a context here that I think we ought to take cognizance of, which is to say that we have had some organized groups out there that have said they are attempting to execute, in their words, a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party,” Mellman emphasized. “A number of those groups have moved anti-Israelism from a peripheral part of their issue agenda to a central part of their issue agenda.” Their strategy “is to go into deep-blue districts that the party doesn’t care about because it’s going to be a Democrat no matter who wins,” he added. “This is a real challenge that we’re facing.”
Stevens aims for $300,000 in fundraiser with Jewish supporters
Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and prominent supporters in the Jewish community are planning what they hope will be a major fundraiser to be held in late February, months after the Michigan legislator announced she would be running in a newly drawn congressional district against fellow Democrat Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), Jewish Insider‘s Marc Rod reports.
Big names: The hosts of the fundraiser include former AIPAC President David Victor; Robert Naftaly, who chairs the United Auto Workers’ retiree healthcare fund; University of Michigan Board of Regents member Mark Bernstein; several current and former members of leadership of the local Jewish federation; and other prominent business and philanthropic figures in the Detroit area. Co-hosts and the Stevens campaign are hoping to raise $300,000 through the event.
All aboard: “It has generated an interest in not only the Jewish community locally but also with Jews nationally,” David Kramer, one of the fundraiser’s hosts and a Stevens finance committee member, told JI. “It’s going to be important in a contested primary to be able to have sufficient funds. But also I think to raise money early shows strength, and to raise money early from the Jewish community shows unity and urgency among the Jewish community.”
Strong interest: Co-host Michael Horowitz noted that the response to the event has been especially strong for such an early stage of the campaign — the new district was only finalized in late December — and the organizers raised their fundraising goal in response to initial interest. Stevens’ campaign manager, Jeremy Levinson, told JI that support for Israel has been a primary concern for those joining the fundraiser. Stevens and her supporters align more closely with a traditional pro-Israel approach, while Levin is to the left and more outspoken on Israel issues.
Cash machine: Kramer said he’s confident that the fundraiser, which is currently set to be held with a mix of virtual and in-person attendees, will hit its goal, given the level of interest he’s seen so far. The fundraiser is already around halfway to its goal. “The fact that we’re raising as much money as we’re raising and getting the kind of support and sponsors — people willing to put their name on it and to give a pretty substantial sum — is amazing,” he said.
Senior White House officials share stories of family who survived the Holocaust
After fleeing a death march, Ann Gabor Arancio “spent a long, cold winter” with her mother in a wine cellar in the Budapest hills, relying on a righteous gentile to survive the Holocaust. Arancio eventually made her way to California, where she lived on welfare as a single mother before graduating from the University of California, Berkeley at age 40 and becoming a social worker. Her granddaughter Rebecca Lissner shared her story at a virtual “pre-Shabbat briefing” hosted by the White House on Friday, the day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Life lessons: Arancio “ultimately built a really lovely life for her family,” said Lissner, director for strategic planning at the National Security Council. She told the approximately 800 people who tuned in to watch the event that knowing her grandmother’s story “really ingrained in me an understanding that matters of war and peace are not just abstract questions. They’re not theoretical. These are actually forces that shape and in many cases actually do take individuals’ lives.”
Administration approach: “We want to share with you what we’re doing to address Holocaust issues,” explained Chanan Weissman, the White House liaison to the Jewish community. “We also wanted to showcase individuals who serve in the United States government because they were inspired in part by their parents or grandparents who survived the Holocaust.”
Not inevitable: Samantha Vinograd, acting assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention at the Department of Homeland Security, spoke about her father Serge, a Holocaust survivor who joined the call virtually from Paris. Many of his family members were killed at Auschwitz, including his father. “From a very early age, I was deeply aware of the legacy and the lessons of the Holocaust. My father taught me several things which continue to guide my work today,” she said. “My father taught me that the Holocaust did not happen overnight. There was not one big moment that led to the murder of 6 million Jews and millions of others. It unfolded over several years at several stages… The Holocaust was never inevitable.”
Greatest honor: Weissman concluded the event with a story from President Joe Biden’s 90-minute meeting on Thursday with Auschwitz survivor Bronia Brandman and her daughter. “As he escorted both of them out, Bronia looked up at him, and said, ‘Mr. President, to go from the gates of Auschwitz to being able to meet the president in the White House is the greatest honor,’” Weissman recalled. “He gently bent down to her and called her mom. He said, ‘Mom, actually, you’re wrong. For the president of the United States to meet a survivor of Auschwitz, that’s the greatest honor.’”
Today in SAPIR, Yehuda Kurtzer and Felicia Herman advocate for shared Jewish commitments in different spheres.
Invest in Democracy: Yehuda Kurtzer urges us to invest in the very systems in which Jews live, and upon whose success Jews depend: American and Israeli democracy. “What if we started asking whether the unique conditions of the present moment might enable Jews to change the very conditions of history in which we are living? What if, instead of figuring out ways to respond to forces beyond our control, we actually challenged those forces ourselves?” Read here.
Invest in Philanthropy: Felicia Herman proposes universal Jewish giving. “Tzedakah, giving, philanthropy – whatever you want to call it – needs to be embedded in all Jewish educational and engagement efforts. I’m not talking about fundraising. I’m talking about tzedakah both as a way into big Jewish questions and ideas, and as a practical, behavioral muscle that needs to be exercised. There’s nothing we’re doing in Jewish organizations and institutions that can’t be deepened, illuminated, and explored by integrating conversations about and experiences with tzedakah.” Read here.
🤑 Man with Money:The Washington Post’s Eli Saslow profiles Omega Advisors CEO Leon Cooperman, who, unlike many of his hedge fund manager peers, keeps a relatively low profile and continues to work despite a pledge to give away most of his wealth. “His father left behind an estate worth less than $100,000, but Cooperman also inherited his father’s belief that the economic ladder between poor and rich was short enough to climb with determination and hard work. More than 90 percent of children born in the United States during the 1940s would go on to out-earn their parents; two-thirds of those born into poverty would rise into at least the middle class. Cooperman waited tables during the summers, worked for Xerox while he went to business school at night and then started as an analyst at Goldman Sachs making $12,500 a year. ‘My PhD is for poor, hungry and driven,’ he liked to say. He told colleagues that capitalism was like a battle for survival in the African safari and that the key to success was to adopt the mind-set of a lion or a gazelle during a hunt. ‘When the sun comes up, you’d better be running,’ Cooperman told them. Within nine years, he’d been named a partner. Within a decade, he was a millionaire.” [WashPost]
🌎 World Order: In The Wall Street Journal, Bryan Clark and Michael Doran analyze the possibility of a changing world order, led by China, Russia and Iran, which will undermine the power of the U.S. and the West. “The Biden team isn’t listening. Last Friday Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who proposed an interim deal to break the deadlock in the Iranian nuclear negotiations. ‘Russia shares our sense of urgency,’ Mr. Blinken said, ‘and we hope that Russia will use the influence… it has with Iran to impress upon Iran that sense of urgency.’ As Mr. Blinken spoke, Russia was holding joint naval drills with China and Iran in the Indian Ocean. The day before, President Vladimir Putin hosted Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow. In a speech before the Duma, Mr. Raisi discussed ‘Resistance’ — the movement Iran leads to destroy the U.S.-led order in the Middle East. Resistance, he said, drove the Americans from Afghanistan and Iraq, and it also generated ‘the successful model of cooperation between Iran and Russia in Syria.'” [WSJ]
📃 Rewriting History: In The New York Times, historian Jan Grabowski warns against increasing Holocaust revisionism among European political leaders, as countries like Poland seek to change the narrative around WWII. “The assault on the value of Jewish survivor testimony and the legal attack on our knowledge of the past are signs that the memory of the Holocaust is under threat not only by the deaths of survivors, but also by the willful choices of the present generation. The more time distances us from the event, the more heated the exchanges become, and the more forceful the attacks on the memory of the Shoah.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
☮️ Studying Peace: The Hudson Institute is launching the Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East, which will operate under the leadership of Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the institute. The center’s experts include former adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu Jonathan Schachter; Ezra Cohen, a former acting undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security; and former NSC senior director and current head of the Abraham Accords Peace Institute Robert Greenway.
💰 Big Raise: Goldman Sachs raised the salary for CEO David Solomon from $27.5 million to $35 million, making him the top paid bank executive in the country, tied with Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman.
🏗️ Condo Collapse: In The New York Times Magazine, Matthew Shaer explores the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in the city of Surfside, Fla., and the danger posed to thousands of additional aging condo buildings in the area.
📗 Banned Book: Art Spiegelman, whose graphic novel about the Holocaust, Maus, was recently banned for classroom use by a Tennessee school board, called the decision a “harbinger of things to come.”
🕵️ Undercover Man: Rolling Stone spotlights the work of an undercover federal agent who spent 25 years infiltrating neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.
⛷️ Olympic Politics: The Wall Street Journal looks at the debate around participation in the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany, ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which is occurring against a backdrop of diplomatic boycotts and controversy over China’s treatment of the Uighur population.
👩 Hostage Case: Debra Tice, whose son Austin, a journalist, was kidnapped in Syria a decade ago, told Axiosshe hopes that her son’s case will be discussed during a White House meeting scheduled for today between President Biden and the emir of Qatar.
🔨 In the Courts: A federal court on Friday blocked Texas from implementing the state’s anti-BDS law against the Palestinian-American owner of an engineering company.
🇵🇱 Controversial Call: Polish officials are working to push through a controversial bill that would ban human rights groups, and antisemitism and Holocaust denial watchdogs from schools.
⚖️ Passing the Baton: Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar recommended Gali Baharav-Miara as the next attorney general to replace Avichai Mandelblit, who ends his six-year term tonight.
🇫🇷 Joining Forces: Right-wing French presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour are reportedly mulling uniting their campaigns in an effort to pose a stiffer challenge to incumbent President Emmanuel Macron.
☢️ Nuke Negotiations: Negotiations in Vienna to reinstate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are entering the final stage, according to a report from European officials.
🖊️ POV: Editor in chief of the Kuwaiti Arab Times, Ahmed Al-Jarallah, writes that all Gulf states should normalize relations with Israel and cease supporting the Palestinians.
📰 Israel Today: Editor in chief of Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, is stepping down after five years at its helm, the newspaper announced today. Israeli news site Walla reported that Bismuth was pushed out due to a change in direction at the newspaper, which used to support former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
👶 Mazal Tov! Former NBA basketball player Omri Casspi celebrated the brit milah of his son, Michael, yesterday.
🕯️ Remembering: Former Republican Jewish Coalition regional director Larry Greenfield died at 60.
Pic of the Day
Israeli President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog open Israel’s national day at Expo 2020 Dubai today.
Co-founder, chairman and CEO of Meridian Capital Group, Ralph Herzka turns 60…
Co-founder of the department of nuclear physics at the Weizmann Institute, Igal Talmi turns 97… Cardiologist and co-inventor of the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator, Morton M. Mower, M.D. turns 89… Scion of a leading rabbinic family in pre-WWII Poland, former assistant U.S. solicitor general, now a private attorney with an active Supreme Court practice focused on religious liberty issues, Nathan Lewin turns 86… Classical music and movie score composer, Philip Glass turns 85… Associate professor emeritus of Talmud and rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Mayer Elya Rabinowitz turns 83… Chairperson of Bain & Company, Orit Gadiesh turns 71… Former chief rabbi of Norway and member of Knesset, Michael Melchior turns 68… Founder and CEO of MikeWorldWide pr firm, Michael W. Kempner turns 64… CEO at Gracie Capital, Daniel L. Nir turns 61… Organization of American States commissioner to monitor and combat antisemitism, Fernando Lottenberg turns 60… Neurosurgeon and chairman of the Rockland County (N.Y.) Board of Health, Jeffrey Sable Oppenheim turns 60…
Fourth-generation real estate developer and founding partner of Redbrick LMD, Louis Myerberg Dubin turns 59… Classical cellist born in Hadera, Israel, Ofra Harnoy turns 57… Host of NPR’s news quiz “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!,” his older brother is a rabbi, Peter Sagal turns 57… Mayor of Efrat and former chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council, Oded Revivi turns 53… CEO of City Cast, he was previously CEO of Atlas Obscura and Slate, David Plotz turns 52… Security technology executive at Affiliated Monitoring, Daniel J. Oppenheim turns 46… Managing director of BerlinRosen’s New York office, Michael Rabinowitz-Gold turns 44… VP of insights, sports and Olympics at NBC Universal Media, Matthew Gottlieb turns 39… Film producer and founder of Annapurna Pictures, Megan Ellison turns 36… Singer, who won Israel’s Kokhav Nolad song contest in 2008, Israel Bar-On turns 33… Director at NYC’s 25madison and interim head of revenue and strategy at Limelight, Grant Silow turns 32… Israeli singer-songwriter and actor, Eliad Nachum turns 32… Director of programs and strategy at the Kraft Group and affiliates, Clara Scheinmann turns 31… J.D. candidate in the Harvard Law School class of 2022, Eli Nachmany turns 26…