👋 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 Nigerian startup hoping to solve Israel’s tech-worker shortage; Chuck Edwards walks a fine line in challenge to Cawthorn; Jared Moskowitz wants to succeed Ted Deutch in South Florida; Shift in early primary states could amplify ‘Jewish voice’ in electoral process; Meet the UAE’s unofficial business ambassador; The secret chords that sounded in the Sinai; Sanctions alone won’t stop Iran, Israeli strike may be necessary, Graham says; eBay ‘reviewing’ policy on selling property belonging to Holocaust victims; and Dan Shapiro departs State Dept.’s Iran team for Atlantic Council. Print the latest edition here.
Tensions continued to rise in Israel and the West Bank following a series of deadly attacks in recent weeks. An Israeli was stabbed by a Palestinian on a bus outside of Jerusalem, while two Palestinians were killed in a gunfight that erupted during an Israeli arrest raid in Jenin.
A Republican lower court judge in New York rejected as unconstitutional the newly drawn congressional, state Senate and Assembly maps that were adopted last month. No word yet on what this could mean for former Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), who announced he would run to reclaim his purple Staten Island seat, which was merged with the blue Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope in the redistricting process.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken reportedly asked Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, for suggested alternatives to a nuclear deal that would still limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Thursday that the only remaining disagreements between the U.S. and Iran are “tactical,” not strategic, and that Iran’s decisions on how to move forward on those issues would determine the future of any agreement.
Amnesty’s O’Brien responds to Jewish Dems: ‘I regret representing the views of the Jewish people’
In a letter to Jewish House Democrats, Amnesty International USA Executive Director Paul O’Brien apologized for “representing the views of the Jewish people,” responding to the members’ unanimous condemnation of his recent remarks that his “gut” tells him American Jews want “a safe Jewish space” rather than a Jewish state, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Walkback: In his response letter, dated March 25 and obtained by Jewish Insider on Thursday, O’Brien wrote, “I regret representing the views of the Jewish people. What I should have said is that my understanding from having visited Israel often and listened to many Jewish American and Israeli human rights activists is that I share a commitment to human rights and social justice for all with Jewish Americans and Israelis.”
Going further: In the letter, O’Brien says he wants to “provide context” to comments he made to a JI reporter after the event. In those comments, O’Brien said Israel “shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state.” He claims his comments were in reference to Amnesty’s concerns about Israel’s 2018 Nation-State Law. O’Brien made no reference to the Nation-State Law in the conversation with the reporter, but had mentioned it in an earlier part of the event. “During the course of the event, and at a number of times during the presentation, I stated that Amnesty takes no position on the legitimacy or existence of any state, including Israel,” O’Brien wrote.
On the attack: O’Brien also defends Amnesty International’s report accusing Israel of apartheid, to which several of the lawmakers had objected. “We recognize apartheid is a powerful word for a serious crime and we don’t use it lightly,” he said. “In recent months, the Israeli government has intensified its efforts to censor and discredit anyone who uses the word ‘apartheid,’ instead of engaging with the substance of our findings, and the findings of a number of Israeli and Palestinian groups.”
Follow-up: O’Brien’s response was accompanied on March 25 by a separate letter, also obtained by JI, from Amnesty International Secretary General Agnés Callamard to 11 Jewish House Democrats who wrote separately to Callamard to express further concerns about O’Brien’s remarks. “I write to reaffirm that Amnesty International recognises the right of Jewish people to self-determination. We do not take a position on the international political or legal arrangements that might be adopted to implement this right,” she wrote. “We have reaffirmed, including in the context of the launch of our report on Apartheid, that there is nothing under international law to prevent the state of Israel identifying itself as Jewish, as long as the government does not discriminate between its citizens on the grounds of religion or race.”
New special rapporteur for Palestinian issues advocates ‘de facto destruction of Israel,’ says Israel U.N. envoy in Geneva
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on Thursday slammed the appointment of a new U.N. special rapporteur to handle Palestinian affairs, saying “we don’t expect to receive from her any fair and objective treatment.” The U.N. Human Rights Council is expected to officially approve Italian human rights lawyer Francesca Albanese as its new “special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” this afternoon in the body’s last session before it adjourns until June, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Fantasy world: “We cannot expect any objectivity or professional treatment from such an activist,” Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. and International Organizations in Geneva, told JIon Thursday. She called Geneva, a hub for international human rights organizations, a “fantasy world where it’s really, really detached” from reality. Israel is the only country that has a dedicated special rapporteur investigating it, and the position, which is unpaid, has existed since 1993.
State Department says: Israel is not a member of the council, and Eilon Shahar will not be able to speak at the meeting in which the council’s members are expected to approve Albanese’s appointment. A State Department spokesperson did not say if Washington’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva will speak at the meeting. “We will continue to defend Israel against unfair, one-sided actions across the U.N. system,” the spokesperson told JI. “Rather than unfairly singling out Israel, U.N. member states should play a constructive role in advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
No prejudice: Albanese has worked on the Israeli-Palestinian issue for much of her career. On her application for the special rapporteur position, she answered “no” when asked whether she holds “any views or opinions that could prejudice the manner in which the candidate discharges the mandate.”
Critical opinions: But Albanese has a history of deep criticism of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In a tweet last year, she criticized the Oslo peace process that yielded the framework for a two-state solution. She appeared on a panel in December with Omar Barghouti, the founder of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and she has accused Israel of committing “crimes against humanity.” A report published by the NGO UN Watch found that Albanese compared the Nakba — what Palestinians refer to as the “catastrophe” of the founding of the State of Israel — to the Holocaust in an Italian-language interview. Such a comparison “advocates, really, de facto destruction of Israel, so we don’t expect to be treated very fairly by her,” noted Eilon Shahar.
On the ground: “The Human Rights Council doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground. It doesn’t reflect the summit of the Negev,” added Eilon Shahar, referring to this week’s historic “Negev Summit” with foreign ministers from Israel, the U.S., Bahrain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. “Progress will be done on the ground, not here.”
Haley Stevens: U.N. is seeking to delegitimize, withdraw recognition of Israel
Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) argued on Thursday that the United Nations’ repeated investigations of Israel may be part of a campaign to delegitimize and potentially withdraw recognition of the Jewish state in the body’s General Assembly, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Called out: Speaking during a virtual AIPAC event, the sophomore congresswoman condemned the U.N.’s “wild targeting of the State of Israel, over and over and over again to the tune of it almost [feeling] like a conspiracy theory.” She continued, “Saying and declaring Israel to be an apartheid state, which is wholly outrageous and wrong, will be the delegitimization of the state because as you go up through the U.N. and the General Assembly, the General Assembly doesn’t recognize apartheid states. So is that the end goal of this? Where are we actually going?”
Being heard: The Michigan congresswoman, who is locked in a heated member-on-member primary with Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) following the state’s redistricting, added that silence in the face of terrorist attacks against Israel “is violence, silence is being complicit,” and “we don’t need to be sympathizing with terrorist organizations or egging them on or engaging in activities that might embolden Iran.”
Taking a trip: She said her trip to Israel in 2019 with the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation enhanced her “tug” to support Israel. “When you physically witness a space and when you see a place, when you have Shabbat dinner at the home of a family that my mom and I were able to join alongside my colleagues, when you stand in front of the Iron Dome [missile-defense battery]… standing there on behalf of this country in that moment, it’s so resounding, it was just magnificent,” she said.
Bonus: Some of Levin’s fellow House Democrats are “privately livid” that Levin chose to run against Stevens in the 11th District, rather than in the new 10th District, “likely handing [the 10th] to Republicans,” according to a Politico report yesterday. Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) told Politico, “He’s got a well-known name, he has most of the constituents in that district, and all he had to do was work hard, roll up your sleeves. Why work hard against a colleague?” Levin and his allies have argued that his roots are in the 11th District and that he almost certainly would have lost in the 10th.
Leader of Lev Tahor sect sentenced to 12 years in prison for kidnapping children
Nachman Helbrans, the leader of Lev Tahor, the Hasidic sect often described as a cult, was sentenced in federal district court in White Plains, N.Y., on Thursday to 12 years in prison after being convicted of kidnapping two children with the intent of returning one of them to an adult man for the purpose of a sexual relationship, Ben Sales reports in Jewish Insider.
Background: Lev Tahor was founded in 1988 by Helbrans’ father, Shlomo, and has repeatedly moved across borders in a bid to evade prosecution for crimes such as child abuse and abduction. The group has operated in the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and countries in the Balkans. At one point Lev Tahor unsuccessfully attempted to enter Iran. Helbrans and one of his deputies, Mayer Rosner, abducted Helbrans’ nephew and niece, ages 12 and 14, respectively, from New York, and took them to Mexico with the aim of marrying the 14-year-old girl to an adult man. Three weeks later, the children were recovered by law enforcement and returned to their mother, Helbrans’ sister Sara, and Helbrans and several of his supporters were arrested.
Unexpected supporter: During the sentencing hearing, which JI listened to via conference call, Judge Nelson S. Roman accused supporters of Helbrans of illegally practicing law without a license by attempting to send the court legal documents. The hearing also included a tearful speech by the mother of the abducted children — pleading for mercy for the man who kidnapped them.
In court: In arguing for the minimum sentence, Koffsky referenced one of the most well-known songs in the Haggadah, the liturgy read at the Passover Seder. “The refrain is ‘Dayenu” … in Hebrew, and it talks about something being enough,” Koffsky said. “I want to ask the question in this case: What is enough for the defendant? Where can the court say ‘dayenu?’” In his own remarks, Helbrans did not express regret for his actions. Rather, he claimed that he was being “persecuted and… punished only because I am a loyal Jew and I go with the word of God.”
🇮🇱 Changing Tides: The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg explores the contradictory reactions of Israeli officials — some of whom have warmly embraced greater Arab participation in Israeli society, and others who warn against it — amid an uptick in violence ahead of the holiday season. “These two trends — greater integration and surging intolerance — might seem at odds, but they are intrinsically linked. Progress provokes backlash. As Jewish-Arab collaboration has grown both within Israel and without in recent years — the week’s attacks coincided with an unprecedented diplomatic summit between Israeli and Arab foreign ministers — extremists have mobilized to sabotage it. The skyrocketing attacks by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank; the shrill, racist incitement in the Knesset by far-right opposition figures such as [Bezalel] Smotrich and [Itamar] Ben-Gvir; and now this string of violent murders by Arab extremists in Israel are all part of the same reactionary reflex.” [TheAtlantic]
✡️ Community Ties: In the Wall Street Journal, Chabad’s Dovid Margolin reflects on the Chabad-Lubavich’s origins in modern-day Ukraine and reestablishment following the fall of the USSR. “Even with the Soviets gone, it wasn’t easy to be a proud and visible Jew in Ukraine. But this changed over the ensuing decades: 192 Chabad husband-and-wife teams put down roots in 32 cities throughout the country, building synagogues, schools and social-service centers. Giant Hanukkah menorahs illuminating public squares signaled that the days of hiding one’s Jewishness were over. While the Schneerson name had been reviled, the new Ukraine embraced it. In 2016, Mykolaiv and Dnipro renamed streets for the [late Lubavitcher] Rebbe. Since the Russian invasion, this flourishing Jewish community has been upended, but it hasn’t disappeared. The communal structure built to nurture Jewish life in Ukraine pivoted into an effort to save its Jews, together with other innocent civilians, from the destruction wreaked by the war.” [WSJ]
☢️ On the Table: In The Dispatch, Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the Biden administration’s options should Iran obtain a nuclear weapon. “Nuclear diplomacy should have meant, by definition, that the United States was gearing up for at least an expanded military containment of the Islamic Republic. The nuclear negotiations in Vienna are quite close to achieving their end if Washington can find work-arounds for Russia’s contributions and sanctions-avoiding trade with the Islamic Republic (certainly doable) and diplomatic legerdemain that neutralizes the Trump administration’s foreign-terrorist designation of the Revolutionary Guards (trickier but surmountable). A new deal will undoubtedly leave the Iranian theocracy with the means to produce the bomb and a lot of cash to buy conventional weapons. The clerical regime has, however, survived American collisions before (see Operation Praying Mantis that left much of Iranian navy in flames in 1988). Outside of Syria, American hard power, if Washington can muster it, isn’t likely to add the kind of pressure that could fray Iran’s writ anywhere in the region.” [TheDispatch]
⛳ Putt-ing Down Roots:In The New York Times, Debra Kamin spotlights the surge in property purchases in Caesarea, which has Israel’s only golf course — even though most of the new buyers have no interest in the game. “But while the story of city millennials fleeing to greener pastures has played out across the globe throughout the pandemic, Caesarea’s story is a bit different, Ms. Roberman said. That’s because Caesarea’s golf course is more than a stretch of manicured grass in the middle of a city. In Israel, a nation whose population is growing at four times the average rate of other developed nations, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Caesarea is an oasis of green that doesn’t require moving to a kibbutz or cooperative farm. For homeowners looking for an option that’s more pastoral and still allows them to commute to Tel Aviv, the golf course can become a backdrop for any number of lifestyles.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🙏 Chabad on the Hill: Thursday’s Capitol Hill guest chaplain was Alaska’s Rabbi Menachem Greenberg, who was in town for the Chabad-Lubavitch Living Legacy conference. His appearance marked the first time in 28 years that the Senate hosted two Chabad-affiliated rabbis in the same year. (h/t C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman)
🎤 Jan. 6 Testimony: Jared Kushner testified before the Jan. 6 House select committee on Thursday for more than six hours, during which time one lawmaker said the former White House senior advisor provided the panel with “valuable” information.
👩 Book Shelf: Nikki Haley’s upcoming book, If You Want Something Done: Leadership Lessons from Bold Women, set for release in October, examines the lives of women whom the former U.N. ambassador says influenced her life, including Margaret Thatcher, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Golda Meir.
💰 Hollywood’s Top Gun: Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel pulled in $308 million, including equity awards, last year, making him Hollywood’s highest-paid executive.
🎞️ Silver Screen: The New York Times reviews Sergei Loznitsa’s new documentary, “Babi Yar: Context,” which draws on archival footage to explain the massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Ukraine during the Holocaust.
🐝 Sweetening the Pot: The Israel-based robotic beehive developer Beewise raised $80 million in its latest round of funding, led by Insight Partners.
🌾 Wheat Worries: Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned that the Arab world’s food security was at risk due to the war between Russia and Ukraine — both major suppliers of wheat.
⛔ Deal Watch: Politico’s Andrew Desiderio writes that the Senate will be hard-pressed to block a renewed Iran nuclear deal if the Biden administration succeeds in negotiations aiming to revive the 2015 agreement, but notes that a Senate vote could embarrass the administration if many Democrats oppose the deal.
⚖️ About-Face: A prosecutor in Turkey asked that the trial of suspects tied to the killing of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi be moved to Saudi Arabia — where the suspects, who were to be tried in absentia, are believed to be hiding — amid efforts by Ankara to restore relations with the Gulf nation.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the St-Emilion Château Fombrauge 2015:
“For Purim this year, I almost ended up reading the Megillah in a hotel room in Amman, Jordan. Luckily, as the cast-lots would have it, I ended up in Paris for a rather late, very crowded reading of the Book of Esther. Though a fortuitous reading, I found myself starving and in despair that I would not find a bottle of wine on which to break my fast. Dejected, I wandered alone down the street from Chabad, when I found a charming kosher restaurant called Fume. This turned out to be an appropriate name as I proceeded to smoke a cigar accompanied by a great bottle of St-Emilion Château Fombrauge 2015. My spirits were restored! The St-Emilion Château Fombrauge 2015 is a passionate wine. The medium tannins on the front of your palate melt away into a mulberry tartness, and the finish is of a silky rose, sweet-like plum juice. The color is bright and shiny, and this wine should not be opened for another two years. When opened, drink with pate and let the flavors linger on your tongue for as long as you can.”
Song of the Day
Israeli singer Hanan Ben Ari released a new single this week, “At the End is the Melody.”
Former national security advisor under President Clinton, later executive director of UNICEF, he converted to Judaism in 2005, William Anthony Kirsopp Lake, best known as Tony Lake turns 83 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Claude Cohen-Tannoudji turns 89… Psychotherapist in South Florida, Annie Schlachet Garfield, LCSW turns 75… Former member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Uzi Dayan turns 74… Research associate and lecturer at Harvard University, Irene Maxine Pepperberg, Ph.D. turns 73… Former CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, Gilda Z. Jacobs turns 73… Singer-songwriter, Henry Gross turns 71… Producer and director, Barry Sonnenfeld turns 69… Retired NYC-based attorney, Freddie Berg turns 67… Lecturer at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism, Jonathan P. Friedman turns 67… Former member of Congress from Florida (1993-2005), he is the founder of the Ben Gamla Charter School network in Florida and now lives in Ra’anana, Israel, Peter Deutsch turns 65… President of Baltimore-based HealthSource Distributors, Jerry L. Wolasky turns 64… Author of over 150 children’s books, Mark Shulman turns 60… Former member of the Knesset for the Kadima party, Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich turns 58… VP of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and a leader of the Jewish community of Kyiv, Alexander Aaron Levin turns 54… Lawyer turned political thriller novelist, Brad Meltzer turns 52… Principal deputy director in HHS’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Jessica Smith turns 45… Four-year star basketball player at the University of Maryland, she was drafted into the WNBA but played mostly in Israel, Shay Doron turns 37… Associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, Noah L. Schwartz turns 35… Former deputy White House communications director in the Trump administration, now on the staff of Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Julia Aviva Hahn turns 31… Ronald Lippman…
SATURDAY: Olympian, holder of the world record in the 50-mile walk which stood since 1972, he is a concentration camp survivor via the Kastner train and a professor emeritus at Ben Gurion University, Shaul Paul Ladany turns 86… Israeli businessman, with a portfolio in diamond-mining and real estate, Beny Steinmetz turns 66… Former deputy U.S. attorney general and later acting AG, now a nonresident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Jeffrey A. Rosen turns 64… Academy Award-winning film director, screenwriter and producer, David Frankel turns 63… Criminal court judge in Brooklyn, she is the founder of Ezras Nashim, the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in NYC, Rachel “Ruchie” Freier turns 57… On-air ice hockey analyst for NESN during pre-game, post-game and intermissions of the Boston Bruins, Billy Jaffe turns 53… Singer-songwriter, guitarist and composer, Duvid Swirsky turns 46… Producer and screenwriter, Adam F. Goldberg turns 46… Actress, producer and singer, she and her husband, Guy Nattiv, won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2019, Jaime Ray Newman turns 44… NYT’s metro reporter, Dana Rubinstein turns 42… Director for international economics at the White House’s National Security Council, Brian Janovitz turns 41… Ph.D. candidate at NYU, Isaac Roszler turns 31… Deputy national field director at the Israel on Campus Coalition, Elisabeth Rosenfeld turns 29… Rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Evan Lerner Traylor turns 28… Officer of both the annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival and the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival, Magda Strehlau… Attorney and strategic counsel at Medtronic, Rhona Shwaid… Miriam Rosen… Judith Berman…
SUNDAY: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Max Frankel turns 92… Democratic political strategist, founder of GenderAvenger, Gina Glantz turns 79… Member of the Los Angeles City Council since 2009, Paul Koretz turns 67… Dean at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, Eliot A. Cohen turns 66… Singer, songwriter and music producer, Craig Reid Taubman turns 64… Jazz pianist, arranger and composer, James Gelfand turns 63… Rabbi, author and dean at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Bradley Shavit Artson turns 63… CEO of Phase 2 Media, Sandy Grushow turns 62… Member of the Knesset for New Hope, Ze’ev Elkin turns 51… Executive director of public affairs at Jewish United Fund – Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Daniel Goldwin turns 51… Award-winning Israeli classical pianist who currently lives in NYC, Ran Dank turns 40… NYC-based independent filmmaker, Joshua Safdie turns 38… Television and film actress, Amanda Bynes turns 36… Actress, comedian, singer-songwriter, Rachel Bloom turns 35… Professional tennis player currently on the WTA Tour, she defeated Serena Williams at the Auckland Classic in 2017, Madison Brengle turns 32… Marketing advisor at Argyle, Eva Sasson turns 30… Harry Zieve Cohen turns 29… Freelance director and journalist, Daniel Lombroso turns 29… JI Ambassador and sophomore at Emory, Zach Pearlstone turns 20… Washington correspondent for Israel’s public broadcasting corporation, Nathan Guttman…