👋 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: Alserkal Avenue, the Dubai arts district with a multicultural vision; In Bay Area congressional race, parsing differences on Israel; Meet the Israeli working to revive and preserve Morocco’s Jewish past; Only one Jew remains in Yemen, U.N. says; Israel ‘shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state,’ Amnesty USA director tells Democratic group; 25 Jewish House Dems condemn Amnesty director’s ‘alarming’ and ‘antisemitic’ comments; Eleven Jewish House Dems: Amnesty director’s full remarks ‘even more troubling’; and Will the Biden administration allow Congress to review the new Iran deal? Print the latest edition here.
Negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program are in the final stages, Biden administration officials told lawmakers yesterday.
The National Security Council’s Brett McGurk and Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley gave a classified briefing to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, seeming optimistic that a deal could still come together.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Brian Mast (R-FL) are reintroducing their billto provide Israel with so-called “bunker busters” — the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal — Jewish Insider has learned. That weapon could allow Israel to independently strike at Iran’s best-protected nuclear facilities.
“We must prepare for the serious threat of a nuclear-armed Iran when key provisions of the deal expire. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to defend Israel from Iran and Hezbollah, and reinforce our ally’s qualitative military edge in the region with ‘bunker buster’ munitions,” Gottheimer said in a statement to JI.
Mast said, “Since the radical Islamists took over in 1979, the Iran regime’s goal has been destroying the Jewish homeland, Israel. We cannot sit silent while they continue trying to wipe Israel off the map… Israel must have the tools it needs to protect its people against Iranian aggression.”
CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told House lawmakers yesterday, “I don’t think [Iran has] made a decision to go forward” with creating a nuclear weapon, because “they want the sanctions relief” that would come with a deal. “I think the best solution would be to get an agreement where they’re not going to get a nuclear weapon,” he continued.
Following that hearing, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) said she is “even more convinced” that a new Iran deal will put Israel and Iran “on a collision course,” a warning she said Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog provided in a Wednesday meeting.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), who opposed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, signaled in a Wednesday statement that she intends to oppose the new agreement as it has been outlined publicly.
Meng said, “Any new agreement must address three core tenets — Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missile program and its funding of terrorism. It is simply not enough to return to the 2015 agreement while Iran’s oil continues to flow and its centrifuges continue to spin.” She also called for a new deal to address expiring restrictions and sunsets in the original deal.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill yesterday with a dozen other Senate Republicans seeking to block certain sanctions waivers for non-military Iranian nuclear projects.
And several former Trump administration officials expressed their support for a House resolution from 50 Republicans expressing opposition to the Vienna negotiations.
In letter to members, AIPAC defends recent endorsements
In a four-page letter sent to its membership on Friday morning, AIPAC defended its first round of more than 100 Congressional endorsements issued by its new PAC, in particular three dozen Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Quotable: “This is no moment for the pro-Israel movement to become selective about its friends,” the letter, authored by AIPAC President Betsy Berns Korn and CEO Howard Kohr and obtained by Jewish Insider, reads. “The one thing that guarantees Israel’s ability to defend itself is the enduring support of the United States. When we launched our political action committee last year, we decided that we would base decisions about political contributions on only one thing: whether a political candidate supports the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Background: Since the endorsements were announced in early March, the group has faced criticism from some liberals for endorsing 37 sitting Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying the election for President Joe Biden. Following AIPAC’s December announcement of the new PAC, J Street and the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) issued public calls for other pro-Israel PACs to pledge not to endorse any candidates who have promoted false claims around the 2020 election.
One of many: The letter sent by AIPAC on Friday acknowledges those criticisms, framing the 2020 election as one of many points of division — both political and demographic — among the “remarkably diverse” set of pro-Israel lawmakers. “We have friends in Congress who are skeptical of foreign aid for any nation — except for Israel,” the letter reads. “We have friends who are pro-choice and pro-life, those who are liberal on immigration and those who want to tighten our borders, and yes, those who disagree strongly on issues surrounding the 2020 presidential election.”
Pushback: Critics of the endorsements have argued that backing election deniers will undermine, rather than bolster, U.S. support for Israel. “The U.S.-Israel relationship cannot be strengthened at the cost of America’s democracy. Without democracy in the United States and Israel, our bilateral relationship will no doubt falter,” JDCA CEO Halie Soifer wrote in a recent op-ed. “Nothing will erode bipartisan support for Israel more than the perception that support of Israel equals tolerance for hatred and insurrection at home.”
Side issue: While Berns Korn and Kohr acknowledge that “these disagreements… are, in many respects, critical to the future of America,” they argue that “they do not determine the fate of America’s enduring commitment to the State of Israel.”
Bahrain is pushing a regional ‘security architecture’ that includes Israel
In the 18 months since the Abraham Accords were signed, people-to-people cultural exchanges and business ties have flourished between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Now, new defense cooperation appears to be emerging between Israel and Bahrain. During a recent visit to Washington, Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa promoted “a new security architecture for our region that will help guarantee the security of the region as a whole,” Bahrain’s Ambassador to the U.S. Abdulla Bin Rashid Al Khalifa told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch.
New ally: This vision includes Israel — a country with which Bahrain did not have an official relationship even two years ago. Speaking to JI, Khalifa expressed a desire to engage with the American Jewish community and to grow cultural ties between Israelis and Bahrainis, in addition to the countries’ burgeoning defense relationship.
Regional response: In February, the Israeli and Bahraini defense ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize the countries’ security ties. That agreement fits into the new regional defense posture that Bahrain is trying to promote. “How can countries in the region, in addition to the United States, come up with a way to deter attacks,” asked Khalifa, “and to ensure the safety and security of the transfer of goods and services to and from the region?”
Washington watch: The crown prince discussed this “architecture” at a meeting at the Washington office of AIPAC, “the first ever head of government from an Arab country to visit AIPAC headquarters,” the ambassador noted. After the crown prince met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a Pentagon spokesperson said the pair discussed “expanding regional cooperation to confront the full scope of threats from Iran, including strengthening air and missile defense and bolstering our maritime security.”
Cultural connections: While Israel and Bahrain have a strong working relationship on defense matters, the two countries have not yet experienced the same cultural connections that have flourished between Israel and Bahrain’s Gulf neighbor, the UAE. “Government-to-government relations have been established. We’ve signed 37 MOUs so far. But it’s important to cultivate the people-to-people ties,” Khalifa acknowledged.
Community engagement: The crown prince’s recent visit to AIPAC’s office represents a broader desire by senior Bahraini officials to engage with American Jewish communities. Earlier this week, Khalifa addressed via video a conference in Florida focused on fighting antisemitism. “The battle against antisemitism is a plight that His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has aggressively taken on,” the ambassador told attendees of the Palm Beach Summit Countering Antisemitism, which also hosted current and former State Department officials, Jewish community leaders and philanthropists.
on the hill
Ahead of 2022 NSGP deadline, DHS increasing outreach to ‘underserved’ communities
With the application period for the 2022 Nonprofit Security Grant Program expected to begin in the coming weeks, Department of Homeland Security officials told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Wednesday that they’re working to conduct greater outreach to “underserved and marginalized communities” that may lack awareness about the program, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Reaching out: “We know that there are parts of the country, there are particular communities that have not accessed this program, our analysis has shown that is not simply a matter of them being non-competitive, it’s that they’re not competing at all,” Christopher Logan, deputy assistant administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Grant Programs Directorate, said. “And we need to solve that problem.” The Jewish community has historically received the majority of NSGP grants.
The little guys: Several senators emphasized during the hearing that smaller congregations and nonprofits may struggle to submit applications due to limited staffing and a lack of expertise navigating the federal grant process. Prompted by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Logan told senators that the department is examining whether it is necessary to open a dedicated NSGP office within FEMA. The senators’ questioning indicates that there could be support for legislation creating a standalone NSGP office at FEMA.
Up next: Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) both highlighted the Pray Safe Act, legislation they introduced in 2021 that would create a centralized database of information for nonprofits to access information about federal programs and resources like NSGP. Marcus Coleman, director of the DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, told the panel he believes this legislation could be a promising resource. He said his division and the White House are already examining a similar approach.
Falling short: Rosen pressed the officials on what she described as shortcomings in a recent DHS internal review of potential domestic violent extremism threats within DHS itself. The Nevada senator said she was “really surprised and disappointed” that the review made no mention of antisemitism. “I’m also concerned by the finding in the report that DHS does not ‘track domestic violent extremism allegations as their own subcategory of misconduct,’” she added.
Likud’s Nir Barkat: Israel should be backing Ukraine, not mediating with Russia
Knesset member Nir Barkat, who has aspirations of succeeding former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the leader of Israel’s Likud party, told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod on Wednesday that he believes Israel should be taking a more defined stance in support of Ukraine and decried the current coalition government’s efforts to act as a mediator between Moscow and Kyiv.
Taking a stand: “I said from day one we should have taken sides with the United States and the Western world and be very, very clear which side we’re on,” Barkat told JIearlier this week, during his fourth visit to Washington, D.C. in eight months. “We belong to the Western world and if it was up to me, I would not play that mid[dle]-role, but take a side.” Barkat’s comments represent a criticism of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government, which has been walking a fine line in the conflict.
Getting ready: Should the U.S. reenter a nuclear agreement with Iran or should Iran take concrete steps toward creating a bomb, Barkat emphasized that Israel “will need those degrees of freedom…to act and be very aggressive against the Iranians.” He added that, in the case of a “significant…conventional attack” by Iranian proxies, Israel “probably will attack Iran in a conventional way.”
Flip side: The Israeli lawmaker called for the U.S. to help facilitate treaties among Israel and other regional states that face dangers from Iran and its proxies. Barkat argued it is “certainly possible” with “more support from the Americans [and] clear support against Iran” to foster cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia — a primary target of the Yemeni Houthi militia forces — on the basis of a shared threat.
Speaking up: Barkat also criticized the current Israeli government as not being outspoken enough on areas of disagreement with the U.S. government.“We’ve got to go back to Israel and push our government to voice out the threats that we see and to just say the threats as they are…and not be concerned to have a different opinion than the current administration,” he said. “I know that the American administration will respect very clear things that we put on the table.”
🤔 Words Matter: The New York Times’ Moscow bureau chief Anton Troianovski looks at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that his invasion of neighboring Ukraine was meant to “de-Nazify” the country. “The ‘Nazi’ slur’s sudden emergence shows how Mr. Putin is trying to use stereotypes, distorted reality and his country’s lingering World War II trauma to justify his invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin is casting the war as a continuation of Russia’s fight against evil in what is known in the country as the Great Patriotic War, apparently counting on lingering Russian pride in the victory over Nazi Germany to carry over into support for Mr. Putin’s attack.” [NYTimes]
👵 Generation to Generation: In The Hill, former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) reflects on a 2015 trip he made to Ukraine, nearly a century after his grandmother fled the country. “She was always reticent to talk about those days. She’d purse her lips as if chewing something distasteful, and her eyes would grow vacant. I once tried to interview her for a college project. She glossed over recollections of her childhood, as if to say, ‘let’s skip this part.’ But when she spoke of the day her ship crawled into New York Harbor and she caught first sight of the Statue of Liberty, her eyes beamed, she smiled softly and said, ‘That’s when I knew we were free.’ And so I arrived in Ukraine on that congressional delegation with some heavy baggage: anger that my grandmother and so many others had been hounded out of that place for the crime of being Jewish. I was there, I told myself, to settle a bit of a score.” [TheHill]
💵 Sanctions Struggle: Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, who has recently come under international sanctions due to his relationships with top Russian officials, talks to Bloomberg’s Stephanie Baker about the effects of the sanctions and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. “Fridman was worth about $14 billion before the war, according to Bloomberg. He’s now worth about $10 billion on paper and is in the strange position of being an oligarch with essentially no cash. When the U.K. followed the EU and sanctioned Fridman on March 15, his last working bank card in the U.K. was frozen. He tells me he now must apply for a license to spend money, and the British government will determine if any request is ‘reasonable.’ It appears that this will mean an allowance of roughly £2,500 a month. He’s exasperated, but careful not to compare his woes with those of Ukrainians suffering from the war. ‘My problems are really nothing compared with their problems,’ he says.” [Bloomberg]
📺 TV Trouble: In “Deep Shtetl,” The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg raises concerns about antisemitic comments made by retired U.S. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, a frequent guest on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s program and the Trump administration’s nominee to be ambassador to Germany. “One thing you discover when you study anti-Semitism is that anti-Semites are not very original thinkers. They constantly rehash the same stale accusations and conspiracies, believing they’ve uncovered something revelatory and new, rather than something nonsensical and decrepit. In this way, Douglas Macgregor is not an interesting person. But he is emblematic of the slow creep of ugly ideas into the center of our national discourse.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
⚠️ Alarm Bells: In a letter that will be sent to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken and obtained by JI, Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY) raise concerns about the risks to Jewish and LGBTQ Ukrainians from the Russian invasion.
⏸️ On Hold: Michael Gerald, who announced a primary challenge to Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) earlier this month, suspended his campaign.
🗣️Wrench in the Gears: CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said yesterday that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an “irritant” to Israel-Arab relations, and “anything we can do to reduce that… would contribute to not only Israeli security, not only to security across the region, but ultimately our own security.”
🇦🇷 Called Out: Led by Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), 102 members of the House — 70 Republicans and 32 Democrats — introduced a resolution calling for justice and accountability for the Iranian-linked perpetrators of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. The bombing occurred 30 years ago on Thursday.
👩 Staying Put: Jewish Democratic Council of America Vice Chair Barbara Goldberg Goldman will keep her position within the organization after resigning as the Maryland Democratic Party’s deputy treasure over email comments regarding the electability of Black gubernatorial candidates in the state.
🙅♂️ No. 2: In an interview with the Washington Examiner, former President Donald Trump signaled that he is unlikely to ask former Vice President Mike Pence to join his ticket should he run again in 2024.
👨 Moving On For Now: White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, who has overseen the Biden administration’s COVID response, will step down next month and will be succeeded by Dr. Ashish Jha.
🇵🇹 Citizenship Claim: Portugal plans to tighten a law offering citizenship to Jews whose ancestors were expelled from the region in the 15th century, and will now ask applicants to demonstrate an “effective connection” with the country in order to receive citizenship.
☕ Deja Venti: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will return to the company’s top job on an interim basis next month following the retirement of Kevin Johnson, who has served as Starbucks’ CEO and president for the last five years.
📰 New Era: Justin Smith and Ben Smith, who will soon launch a new media venture, told an audience convened by the Harvard Business Review Club this week that “the era of the foreign correspondent is over.”
🔍 Barstool Business: Gambling regulators in two states are investigating Barstool Sports, amid allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at Barstool founder Dave Portnoy by multiple women.
📜 Holocaust History: A new exhibition in Amsterdam showcases the efforts of a Dutch historian who tracked down the information of nearly 400 Jewish men who were rounded up in the country’s first pogroms of WWII.
🥐 Pastry Power: Miami restaurateur Zak Stern of “Zak the Baker” fame was named a finalist for the James Beard “outstanding baker” award.
📙 Book Shelf: The New York Times reviews Northwestern University historian Deborah Cohen’s new ensemble biography, Last Call at the Hotel Imperial, which tells the stories of four foreign correspondents covering Europe in the years leading up to World War II.
✈️ Open Skies: Israel and Egypt agreed to expand flights between the two countries, with a new route connecting Tel Aviv to Sharm El-Sheikh set to open in April.
💥 Punitive Purpose: An Iranian strike on Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq last weekend, was reportedly conducted in retaliation for an alleged clandestine Israeli attack on an Iranian drone factory last month.
🇮🇷 Home Free: Two British Iranians who were each held for years in Iranian prisons were released on Wednesday and will return to the U.K., while a third individual, who holds American citizenship in addition to British and Iranian, was released on furlough but must remain in Iran.
🕯️ Remembering: Alternative medicine specialist Barrie R. Cassileth, who founded the Integrative Medicine Service at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, died at 83.
Pic of the Day
Rabbi Levi Shemtov (left) and Rabbi Shua Hecht led White House staffers in a Purim celebration on Thursday afternoon in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Professor at Emory University, she is awaiting Senate confirmation to be the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Deborah Esther Lipstadt turns 75…
FRIDAY: Screenwriter, actor, best known for co-writing the screenplay for “Jaws” and its first two sequels, Carl Gottlieb turns 84… National columnist with Creators Syndicate and contributor to CNN Opinion, Froma Harrop turns 72… One-half of the eponymous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Ben Cohen turns 71… CEO and chairman of Électricité de France, Jean-Bernard Lévy turns 67… Former crisis response team manager for the City of Los Angeles, now a consultant for non-profit organizations, Jeffrey Zimerman, MSW turns 66… Head coach of the Auburn Tigers men’s basketball team, he also served as the gold medal-winning head coach for the USA men’s basketball team at the 2009 Maccabiah Games, Bruce Pearl turns 62… Head of school at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., Rabbi Daniel S. Nevins turns 56… Filmmaker, writer and stand-up comedian, Jake David Shapiro turns 53… Identical twin brothers and singer-songwriters who recorded as “Evan and Jaron,” Evan Lowenstein and Jaron Lowenstein, turn 48… Lead vocalist for the pop rock band Maroon 5, Adam Levine turns 43… Actor, comedian and writer, Adam Pally turns 40… COO at Roofmart, Ariel Koschitzky turns 33… MBA candidate at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Michael Schapiro turns 30… Actor and television producer, Alan Aisenberg turns 29…
SATURDAY: Philanthropist, art collector and chairman emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies, Leonard A. Lauder turns 89… Rabbi of Temple Hatikvah in Flanders, N.J., Dr. Daniel M. Zucker turns 73… Israeli politician, the daughter of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, she served as a member of the Knesset for three different political parties, Dalia Rabin turns 72… Senior lecturer in the Harvard English Department, the first woman to be executive editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson turns 68… NYC-based real estate investor and chairman of Turtle Pond Publications, one of three co-founders of the Tribeca Film Festival, Craig Hatkoff turns 68… Singer-songwriter, born in Buenos Aires and now living in Jerusalem, Yehuda Julio Glantz turns 64… EVP of merchandising at American Signature Furniture, Steve Rabe turns 62… Writer, critic, author, teacher, musician and radio commentator, Seth Rogovoy turns 62… Partner in the New York office of Latham & Watkins, Jonathan R. Rod turns 62… Neurologist in Naples, Fla., Brian D. Wolff, MD turns 60… Dean of students at Reichman University, she was previously a member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Dr. Adi Koll turns 46… Producer, writer and director, Benny Fine turns 41… Brazilian-born entrepreneur and co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Luiz Saverin turns 40… Former director of North American staff at Taglit-Birthright Israel, Aaron Bock turns 38… Founder of two lines of jewelry, the Brave Collection in 2012, and Zahava in 2018, Jessica Hendricks Yee turns 34… Line producer at NBCUniversal in NYC, Emma Gottlieb turns 28…
SUNDAY: Actor, television director and musician, Hal Linden turns 91… Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences as a geologist and oceanographer, but known popularly as poet and performer, Alexander Gorodnitsky turns 89… Australian award-winning writer of Portuguese Sephardi descent, David George Joseph Malouf turns 88… Senior advisor to the family office of Charles Bronfman, Dr. Jeffrey R. Solomon turns 77… Senior lecturer of Talmud at Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz turns 71… Award-winning author of 26 children’s books, Louis Sachar turns 68… Owner of Diamond Point Metals, Jack Zager turns 68… Jerusalem-based activist philanthropist, pioneer in corporate social responsibility, former CEO of Timberland, Jeff Swartz turns 62… Israel’s former chief of police, Roni Alsheikh turns 59… Host of PBS program “Time Team America,” Justine Shapiro turns 59… Chilean businessman, in 2014 he donated seven newly written Sefer Torah scrolls to synagogues on six different continents, Leonardo Farkas turns 55… Former member of the Knesset for the Israel Resilience Party, Avraham Daniel “Avi” Nissenkorn turns 55… Author and editor-at-large for Esquire, Arnold Stephen “A. J.” Jacobs turns 54… Actor, podcast host, director and comedian, has appeared in more than sixty films, Michael Rapaport turns 52… Senior director of global strategic alliances at ServiceNow, Daniel M. Eckstein turns 38… Senior speechwriter for Apple, Matt Finkelstein turns 37… Policy editor at NBC News, Benjamin “Benjy” Sarlin turns 37… VP for development at the CIM Group, Jason Lifton turns 33… Comedian, writer and actress who gained popularity through her comedy videos on YouTube, Joanna Hausmann turns 33… Rabbinical school student at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Max Buchdahl turns 26… Project coordinator at Bugcrowd, Tatiana Uklist turns 26… Ehud Lazar…