👋 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: The Czech ambassador’s simple influence-winning motto: ‘Be interesting’; Blake Masters wants to take back Arizona; The ‘many worlds’ of Huma Abedin; How Call Your Mother helped end DC’s ‘bagel desert’; Young leaders’ summit builds on seeds of Israeli-Moroccan normalization; and New Bowman challenger says congressman is a no-show in the district. Print the latest edition here.
Negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear programbroke off on Friday, with Russia demanding sanctions protection from future business dealings with Tehran. European Union foreign policy head Josep Borrell attributed the pause “to external factors,” adding that a “final text is essentially ready and on the table.”
The much-delayed 2022 federal spending bill, totaling $1.5 trillion, is on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk, after being passed by the Senate last night.
The bill includes the previously stalled $1 billion in supplemental Iron Dome funding, $250 million for nonprofit security assistance and legislation seeking to strengthen and expand the Abraham Accords, among other provisions.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennettcalled Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Thursday afternoon, several hours before the omnibus spending package passed, to thank him for the Iron Dome funding and congratulate him on its anticipated passage.
Schumer told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod by phone, “It was held up by one Republican senator for too long, but we knew this was the way we could get it done,” adding, “Congress doesn’t work as quickly as people might want to think, but now that it’s done, it is a great thing for Israel, its defense and for the security of the region.” Read more here.
French ambassador to the U.S. on a repaired U.S.-French alliance
French Ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Ètienne weighed in on antisemitism in France and the Franco-American relationship following the AUKUS agreement last year during an appearance on Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast.” Etienne, who previously served as an advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron, was recalled by the French government last year in the fallout over a canceled contract for the French to sell submarines to the Australian Navy.
Oldest allies: While Ètienne returned to Washington in September, the incident was seen as a fracture in one of Washington’s oldest alliances. “We have indeed worked very hard on both sides to rebuild the trust. And I think we have succeeded, to a large extent. And considering what’s happening now in the world, it’s really important that we have, again, rebuilt the trust between important allies,” Ètienne said.
Mutual security: The French and American efforts to repair relations culminated in a declaration jointly released by Macron and President Joe Biden following a meeting in October on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Rome. “We have worked a lot on both sides between the middle of September and the end of October,” Ètienne said, referencing the date of the declaration. “If you read this declaration, you will see that one of the main topics which were discussed during the six weeks of intense consultations between the middle of September and the end of October was the theme of European defense, the fact that the U.S. welcomes stronger, more capable European defense complementary to NATO,” Ètienne continued, which “takes quite a lot of importance or relevance with what is happening now [in Ukraine].”
Fighting hate: Ètienne also spoke on the importance of combating rising antisemitism in France and United States, pointing specifically to the recent attack in Colleyville, Texas. “The first priority is the protection of these compatriots, and the places where they go to school or to worship. But the second priority is very much about prosecution. Of course, the third part is education. It’s absolutely essential. We have developed a lot of new programs, both at the level of the government, but also in the civil society, which we support. Every year we monitor this,” Ètienne said. “We have been fighting and will continue to fight without any hesitation against [antisemitism]. Any form of antisemitism. The Jewish community in France is not only an integral part of our identity, of the French identity, but it’s also the most important Jewish community in Europe,” he concluded.
Click here to read more and full episode will be available here later this morning.
war of words
Israel ‘shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state,’ Amnesty USA director tells Democratic group
Following Amnesty International’s recent report that accused Israel of “apartheid” in its treatment of Palestinians, the group’s USA director appeared to go a step further on Wednesday, suggesting to a Woman’s National Democratic Club audience that the bulk of American Jews do not want Israel to be a Jewish state, but rather “a safe Jewish space” based on “core Jewish values,” Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Changing minds: Paul O’Brien said one of Amnesty’s goals in publishing the report, which was roundly criticized by Israeli and American officials, is to “collectively change the conversation” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It needs to start first and foremost with the Jewish community,” O’Brien, who is not Jewish, said.
Gut feeling: The Amnesty official rejected a 2020 survey conducted by the Ruderman Family Foundation that found that eight in 10 Jewish Americans identify as “pro-Israel,” and two-thirds feel emotionally “attached” or “very attached” to the Jewish state. “I actually don’t believe that to be true,” O’Brien said regarding those figures. “I believe my gut tells me that what Jewish people in this country want is to know that there’s a sanctuary that is a safe and sustainable place that the Jews, the Jewish people, can call home.”
Safe space: Rather than a Jewish state, American Jews want “a safe Jewish space,” O’Brien continued. “I think they can be convinced over time that the key to sustainability is to adhere to what I see as core Jewish values, which are to be principled and fair and just in creating that space.” (The pro-Israel community rejects this “one-state solution” argument as a cover for the dissolution of a Jewish state.) On the question of Israel’s right to exist, O’Brien seemed to be splitting hairs. Israel “shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state,” O’Brien told some 20 in-person and 30 virtual attendees at the Wednesday lunch event, before adding “Amnesty takes no political views on any question, including the right of the State of Israel to survive.”
Counter voice: “It is disturbing that Amnesty, which ostensibly exists to advance global human rights, could so casually deny the inalienable human rights of safety and sovereignty to a nation as persecuted as the Jewish people,” Amanda Berman, executive director of the progressive pro-Israel group Zioness, told JIafter the event.
Alserkal Avenue, the Dubai arts district with a multicultural vision
Imagine New York’s City’s Soho or Miami’s Wynwood, once-neglected manufacturing districts dotted with warehouses repurposed as artists’ lofts and sleek art galleries offering cutting-edge work. Now imagine these two arts districts on overdrive — art galleries, restaurants, performance spaces, artists studios, a yoga studio, a jewelry workshop, a photography center, an independent vinyl record shop, a hip clothing boutique housed within a design gallery, even an Italian bespoke shoe shop — spread across 500,000 square feet and 90 low-slung warehouses. That’s Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates. For The Circuit, Rebecca Anne Proctor visited the center during its 2022 Art Week.
Paving the way: In recent years, Alserkal Avenue, which was home to only a handful of art galleries and hardly known when it was established more than a decade ago — not even by the city’s taxi drivers — has expanded into a community including over 70 contemporary art galleries, visual and performing arts organizations, designers, homegrown and entrepreneur-led businesses. “It is never easy to be the ‘first’ or a pioneer, because there is no model or playbook you can follow,” Vilma Jurkute, executive director of Alserkal and its various initiatives, told The Circuit. “I take comfort in advice someone once gave me — ‘don’t be afraid of uncertainty, it means you are innovating,’” she added. “To be honest, when we started, I feel like the West didn’t know what to do with us because we didn’t fit any of their ‘boxes,’ in terms of art paradigms.”
Catalyst for connectivity: “Alserkal Avenue is a vibrant space and a catalyst to build cultural connectivity between East, West and the Far East with a forward-thinking outlook,” Durjoy Rahman, a Bangladeshi entrepreneur and art philanthropist told The Circuit. Alserkal Avenue’s cosmopolitan makeup is drawing art professionals from all over the world. Prominent Indian contemporary art gallery Volte Art Projects opened in September 2021. After running the gallery for 14 years in Mumbai, Tushar Jiwarajka, a former financier, decided to open in the city. “Dubai is moving from being more region-focused to more international,” Jiwarajka said. “As more and more people move here from around the world, the arts scene here is finding itself moving alongside the trajectory of major art cities around the world.”
Pence cancels Morocco trip after high-profile visit to Ukrainian border
Former Vice President Mike Pence had been expected to arrive in Morocco this week following a widely publicized multi-day jaunt through Israel. The trip, according to a Pence confidante, was to be part of an effort to “buttress his faith” in the Abraham Accords. But as his visit to Israel concluded on Thursday, Pence diverted course and instead took a surprise detour to the Ukrainian border in Poland, where he met with refugees displaced by the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
‘Stand together’: The trip was organized by Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical humanitarian aid organization for which Pence has volunteered a number of times. “The impact of the Russian invasion on these families is heartbreaking and the need for support is great,” Pence wrote on Thursday morning, encouraging his social media followers “to pray and contribute to” Samaritan’s Purse as well as other relief groups. “Let’s stand together as one with the people of Ukraine.”
So much for Morocco: Late Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for Pence’s recently launched political advocacy group, Advancing American Freedom, told JI via email that the former vice president was “on his way home from the Ukrainian border.” The spokesperson, Devin O’Malley, said Pence would no longer be going to Morocco. On Tuesday, while Pence was in Israel, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in Rabat.
Presidential ambitions: Pence is said to have played a behind-the-scenes role in negotiating the Abraham Accords, which many view as the signature foreign policy achievement of the Trump administration. The series of historic agreements established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab nations, including Morocco. Pence’s first visit to the North African country would likely have represented something of a victory lap amid mounting speculation that he will run for president in 2024.
Trashing Trump: His excursion to Poland overlapped on Thursday with Vice President Kamala Harris’ meeting in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda. But while Pence’s trip set up a potential clash with the vice president, he has more notably framed his approach to the war as a rebuke of Trump, who recently described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “very savvy.” Last week, Pence emphasized that “there is no room in this party for apologists for Putin.”
✍️ Map Match: The New York Times’ Nate Cohn looks at how the 2022 congressional redistricting defied predictions, leaving Republicans and Democrats largely evenly matched. “The relatively fair map is something of an accident. Democrats and Republicans again drew extreme gerrymanders with twisting and turning district lines, denying many communities representation in Congress. Dozens of incumbents were shielded from serious challenges. The number of competitive districts declined. But, unlike in previous cycles, both parties’ extreme gerrymanders have effectively canceled each other out — in no small part because Democratic lawmakers went to greater lengths to maximize their advantage. And more states are having maps drawn by courts or by nonpartisan and bipartisan commissions than in previous decades, reducing the number of districts drawn to intentionally advantage one party.” [NYTimes]
🕍 Lost Community: The Washington Post’s Miriam Berger examines the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the county’s Jewish community, which has been experiencing a period of significant growth over the last three decades. “Amid the general devastation, many of the pillars of Jewish communities have left or are under threat. Rabbis have fled with their congregants, and synagogues, community centers and schools are closed. Some Ukrainians are relocating to Israel, which offers many Jews the chance to immigrate, and under revised rules will allow temporary residence for others. Many fear that much of what once was will be lost in the war. ‘Over 30 years we built an amazing community,’ said Avraham Wolff, 52, a rabbi who moved from Israel to Odessa, Ukraine, in 1992, as an emissary of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which is known for global outreach. ‘And it’s a shame that it has come to this.’” [WashPost]
🇸🇾 Split on Syria: The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner interviewed fellow New Yorker writer Anand Gopal, who has covered the more than decade-long war in Syria, about the power dynamics at play in the region between Russia, Iran and Syria. Gopal explained, “Russia is in competition with Iran throughout the Middle East — even in Syria, for example. They’re nominally on the same side in supporting [Syrian President Hafez] Assad, but there are actually deep rivalries that sometimes broke into open hostilities between the Russians and the Iranians. They support different factions within the Syrian government. And there’s actually, within Russia, in Moscow, in regime-linked newspapers, open denunciation of Assad. So there’s a sense in which Iran has gained a lot after 2011, to the detriment of Russia. So in these countries such as Syria, where Russia previously had hegemony, it’s now a more crowded field. And Russian-Iranian rivalry is increasing, because there’s a kind of scramble for the spoils after the war in terms of postwar reconstruction, in terms of contracts to exploit mineral resources, et cetera.” [NewYorker]
💻 Facebook’s Policy Guru: Wired’s Benjamin Wofford spotlights Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy, who has guided many of the company’s policy decisions over the last decade and oversees its Washington office. “In Silicon Valley, Joel Kaplan is regarded as one of Facebook’s most curious enigmas. Hired in 2011 after eight years in the Bush White House, his tenure has coincided with Facebook’s rise to global dominance — and its ascendance to the throne of permanent controversy. Formally, Kaplan’s role is to forecast and manage policy risk. Functionally, his authority is as sprawling as the company’s reach. The 52-year-old has not only assembled one of history’s most prolific lobbies in Washington, where he manages relations across the federal government as well as with state capitals and their increasingly avid attorneys general. He also leads a team of a thousand Policy staff worldwide, assessing, shaping, and often thwarting the boundless constellation of international laws and policies that graze Facebook’s business and its 2.9 billion users across the globe, from German privacy rules to Iowa firearm laws to Indian political parties. For a company whose power has no equivalent, Kaplan’s is a job without precedent.” [Wired]
🗣️ Bennett the Broker: The Washington Post’s David Ignatius weighs in on Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s offer to mediate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. “Putin’s disgraceful behavior in Ukraine will define him in history. Perhaps the only decent off-ramp for him is defeat. But as we learned in the Cuban missile crisis, prudent compromise is necessary to resolve disputes in the nuclear era. If an Israeli prime minister can draw Putin back from the brink of this catastrophe, the world will be grateful.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
🗳️ Endorsement Alert: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul was endorsed by a number of Orthodox Jewish leaders from Far Rockaway, Queens, and the Five Towns area of Long Island on Thursday in her bid for her first full term in Albany.
🎤Mishpoocha Message: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak to Knesset members over Zoom in the coming days, after a request to address the body while it was out of session was turned down. Ukrainian officials have also submitted a request to speak to Yad Vashem’s chair and experts.
⏸️ On Hold: Yad Vashem will suspend its strategic partnership with Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, who was added to the U.K.’s list of sanctioned individuals on Thursday.
🛢️ Over a Barrel: Nine Senate Republicans introduced a bill barring imports of Iranian and Venezuelan oil and other energy products. A similar bill has also been introduced in the House.
📈 Oil Toil: The UAE plans to push OPEC members to produce more oil amid skyrocketing prices, a reversal from its previous position, which one individual with knowledge of the decision said came as a result of pressure from Washington.
🖥️ Tech Trouble: Bloomberg looks at the challenges facing Amazon CEO Andy Jassy as he takes the reins of the company helmed for decades by founder Jeff Bezos.
🎥 Silver Screen: A new partially animated documentary “I Am Here” tells the story of Ella Blumenthal, who lost nearly her entire family in the Holocaust and built a new life in South Africa after the war.
🇶🇦 Foreign Friend: The White House announced the designation of Qatar as a major Non-NATO ally.
🤝 Heading Off: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to discuss calming tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank ahead of Ramadan, which begins in early April.
🏺 Lost and Found: A 5,000-year-old pottery jug was discovered by an American tourist visiting the site of an archeological dig where he had volunteered years earlier.
🪙 Old Find: Authorities in Israel recovered old artifacts, including coins, glassware, weapons, rare bones, ivory and “magic bowls” used superstitiously in ancient Mesopotamia, that were being held illegally at an auction house.
🕯️ Remembering: Charles Entenmann, whose Long Island-based family bakery produced a wide array of popular kosher snacks, died at 92.
Pic of the Day
Israel’s Sheina Vaspi celebrates today after completing her run in the women’s standing giant slalom at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics. Vaspi made history as the first Israeli athlete to compete in the Winter Paralympics.
Member of Congress (D-NY), Ritchie Torres turns 34 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Professor emeritus at Princeton University whose research focuses upon the Cairo Geniza and Jewish life in Muslim countries, Mark R. Cohen turns 79… Doctor of nursing practice, Hermine Warren turns 77… Office administrator at Creative Wealth Management in Islandia, N.Y., Glenda Kresh turns 70… Culinary writer, television host and novelist, Steven Raichlen turns 69… Suzanne Dreyfus turns 69… Composer and conductor, David Louis Newman turns 68… Co-owner of One Oak Vineyard in Sonoma, Laura Zimmerman turns 66… Retired CBS president of business affairs and past board chair of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, Deborah Barak turns 65… Chairman of Lions Gate Entertainment and head of MHR Fund Management, Mark Rachesky turns 63… College physician at Stony Brook University, internal medicine specialist, Richard E. Tuckman, MD turns 57… CEO of Weiss Public Affairs, Amy Weiss turns 57… Singer-songwriter with an eponymous line of eyeglasses, Lisa Loeb turns 54… Chief research officer and SVP of strategic partnerships at Momentive dot AI (formerly Survey Monkey), Jon Cohen turns 51… Northeast regional deputy synagogue initiative director at AIPAC, Daniel Kochavi turns 49… Israeli singer-songwriter and pianist, Keren Peles turns 43… Managing director at energy-focused private equity firm Ridgewood Energy, Samuel J. Lissner turns 36… Co-founder and CEO of Flow Carbon, Dana Stern Gibber turns 36… Financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual, Lev Beltser turns 32… Assistant director of Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia, Ayala Wasser turns 31… Director of the Israel office at Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, Richard Pater… President of JCS International, Michal Grayevsky… Principal and chief strategist at MCS Group, Sharon Polansky…
SATURDAY: Venezuela-born rabbi now residing in Lakewood, N.J., Rabbi Yitzchak Abadi turns 89… Photographer, musician and author of 15 children’s books, Arlene Weiss Alda turns 89… Longtime attorney and now a retired judge in Chicago, Roger Fein turns 82… Carol Margolis turns 77… U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) turns 75… Director, producer and screenwriter, Rob Cohen turns 73… Born in Mumbai, British sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor turns 68… MLB pitching coach who has worked for the Yankees, Reds, Braves, Marlins, Cubs and Padres, Larry Rothschild turns 68… Founder and CEO of R.A. Cohen & Associates, and a past president of AIPAC, Robert A. Cohen turns 67… Former member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Ayoob Kara turns 67… Founder of hedge fund Lone Pine Capital and a national board member of Teach for America, Stephen Mandel turns 66… Sales representative at Paychex, Lynne Blumenthal turns 64… Senior official at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Diane Saltzman turns 59… Senior attorney in the D.C. office of Squire Patton Boggs, Stacey Grundman turns 59… Sportscaster for ESPN and a host of “SportsCenter,” Steve Levy turns 57…
Born in Haifa, Israel, he served as president of the Central Bank of Brazil, now an official at the IMF, Ilan Goldfajn turns 56… U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) turns 54… Chief Washington correspondent for CNN and host of the Sunday morning program “State of the Union,” Jacob Paul “Jake” Tapper turns 53… Founder and CEO at Miller Strategies, LLC, Jeff Miller turns 48… VP for communication and media affairs at USTelecom – The Broadband Association, Brian T. Weiss turns 46… Founder and publisher of Fleishigs kosher food magazine, Shlomo Klein turns 42… Writer and communications specialist at the American Hospital Association, Talia Schmidt turns 35… Senior Middle East specialist at Leidos, Aaron Magid turns 33… Co-founder and CEO of Serotonin, Amanda Gutterman Cassatt turns 31… CEO and co-founder of Wonder Media Network, Jenny Kaplan turns 30… Israeli figure skater who won the 2016 World Junior championship, he competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Daniel Samohin turns 24… Israeli Internet personality with five million followers on TikTok, Anna Zak turns 21…
SUNDAY: Pop singer, pianist, composer of over 500 songs and record producer, his family name derives from the Hebrew word for charity, Neil Sedaka turns 83… Israeli singer who won the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest, Izhar Cohen turns 71… Robert Smith turns 70… Psychotherapist in private practice in Manhattan and Teaneck, N.J., Shana Yocheved Schacter turns 70… U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) turns 65… Founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann turns 65… Former Florida congressman, Alan Grayson turns 64… Adjunct lecturer in rabbinics and biblical commentaries at Hebrew Union College–Los Angeles, Rabbi Neal S. Scheindlin turns 62… Managing director of Supernode Ventures, Laurel Touby turns 59… Heavy metal songwriter, vocalist for the band Disturbed as well as for the band Device, David Draiman turns 49… Member of the California State Senate since 2014, Benjamin Allen turns 44… Former member of Knesset for the Jewish Home party, Yonatan “Yoni” Chetboun turns 43… Legislative director for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ari Rabin-Havt turns 43… Television and film actor, Emile Hirsch turns 37… EVP of Nefco, Matthew Gelles turns 34… Television and film actor, Emory Isaac Cohen turns 32… Senior manager of social marketing at NBC Universal, Jessie Hannah Rubin turns 31… Gabriel Romano…
BIRTHWEEK: Executive director of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Ellen Wolintz-Fields turned 50 on Monday…