👋 Good Thursday morning!
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host their first official White House movie screening this evening, when they will show the new HBO film “The Survivor,” a biopic about Polish Jewish boxer and Holocaust survivor Harry Haft. According to the White House, “the director, producers, lead actor, and representatives of the American Jewish community will attend the screening.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) are co-chairing a bipartisan gala dinner in D.C. this evening benefiting American Friends of the Hebrew University. The dinner will honor Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks and his wife, Deborah, and Democratic Majority for Israel President and CEO Mark Mellman and his wife, Dr. Mindy Horowitz, at the group’s 2022 Scopus Award Gala.
The event will also feature a discussion between UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Mike Herzog.
The Republican Jewish Coalition is holding its annual spring leadership meeting today in Washington. In addition Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tim Scott (R-SC) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Herzog and NRCC Chair Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) will address the group.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy will announce the state’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, bringing to 25 the number of states that have adopted the measure.
“The fact that 25 states and the District of Columbia, and other major cities, over 30 countries, hundreds of universities, sports teams and governmental bodies have adopted the IHRA Working Definition as a tool identifying antisemitism reflects the broad support that exists for the most authoritative and internationally accepted definition of antisemitism, as well as the widespread view that it is critically important to recognize antisemitism in order to combat it successfully,” the leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement.
“As we commemorate Yom Hazikaron lashoah v’ lagevurah, literally, The Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and Heroism, which marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising,” they added. “Almost eight decades have passed since the concentration camps were liberated, but the scourge of antisemitism remains with us. Yom Hashoah is therefore not just about the horrors of that genocide. It is also a testament to our commitment to the pledge ‘Never Again.’”
In a major blow to Democrats, New York’s highest court overturned the state’s redistricting map, which had been drawn by state Democrats, appointing an outside expert to redraw it. The decision could cost Democrats three House seats and makes the midterm outlook “potentially horrific” for Democrats, Cook Political Report House Editor Dave Wasserman suggested. The decision also delayed congressional primaries from June to August.
Budget hearings continue on Capitol Hill today: Secretary of State Tony Blinken will testify before a House Appropriations subcommittee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Attorney General Merrick Garland will testify before a House Appropriations subcommittee.
Jennifer Strahan, who is challenging Greene in the GOP primary, told JI, “I would have voted in favor of preventing the Iranian regime from acquiring drones that make Iran-sponsored atrocities more deadly and frequent. This vote cements the fact that Marjorie Taylor Greene is among the very top antisemitic, anti-Israel members of Congress of either party — and even anti-American.”
The bill, backed by AIPAC, would clarify that the creation and proliferation of weaponized drones and drone technology is covered under U.S. sanctions on Iran.
UN brings greater scrutiny to countries with veto powers
The U.N. General Assembly moved on Tuesday to provide greater scrutiny of the five Security Council members who have veto power, a change that could further isolate Israel at the world body, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. The resolution followed weeks of criticism directed at Russia for blocking any Security Council resolution condemning its invasion of Ukraine.
Rare consensus: The change, which was co-sponsored by the United States, was adopted by the General Assembly without a vote, meaning no countries lodged official objections. It will require the 193-member assembly to “hold a debate on the situation” within 10 days of any country exercising its veto power at the Security Council. The move does not get rid of or otherwise change the power of the veto for the five permanent members of the Security Council.
Voting record: Since 2000, the U.S. has exercised its veto power 14 times, 12 of which had to do with resolutions that targeted Israel. Under the new rule, an American representative would be required to explain to the General Assembly the reason for vetoing a resolution it believed was anti-Israel — a practice that the U.S. generally sticks to, with statements released or speeches delivered upon any such action taken by Washington.
View from Turtle Bay: Israel supports reform efforts that would “amplify the responsibility and transparency of member states,” Israel’s deputy permanent representative to the U.N., Noa Furman, said in a Tuesday speech to the assembly. She urged the General Assembly not to abuse the policy change to undermine the appropriate use of the veto, “as has been done in the past with other U.N. procedures with regard to my country.”
Unfair scrutiny: Despite Israel’s expression of support for the change, Elliott Abrams, who has served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, argued that it would lead to additional unfair scrutiny of Israel. “Every time the U.S. exercises a veto to protect Israel, you’re going to have an additional debate about beating up Israel in the General Assembly,” said Abrams. “It just seems to me to be clearly against the interests of the United States, and that of Israel.”
Minimal impact: Dan Shapiro, who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration, pointed out that the U.S. and Israel are often already isolated on the same side when it comes to Israel, a fact that wouldn’t change. “The United States is used to standing alone to defend its veto, frequently on matters related to Israel,” said Shapiro, who is now a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. “The U.S. and Israel often stand together on the losing side of lopsided votes criticizing Israel in the General Assembly. So I see minimal impact on the United States’ readiness to use its veto as it has in the past.”
Read the full story here.
Blake Masters’ provocations reach back to his college days
Blake Masters, a leading candidate in Arizona’s Republican Senate primary, has gained national prominence thanks in part to a series of defiantly controversial ads in which he has argued that “psychopaths are running the country” and pushed the false election narrative that former President Donald Trump “won in 2020.” The self-proclaimed “anti-progressive” seems to revel in such provocations. More recently, he expressed admiration for the Unabomber’s anti-tech manifesto. Since launching his campaign last July, Masters — a 35-year-old venture capitalist and Peter Thiel protégé — has quickly emerged as one of the most high-profile figures in a growing coalition of populist right-wing ideologues affiliated with the so-called “national conservative” movement, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Unearthed essay: Masters has long espoused divisive views that, however authentic, seem designed to stir outrage. In fact, a tendentious essay written when Masters was a 19-year-old undergraduate student at Stanford University — recently unearthed by JI — may provide insight into his thinking as well as a possible throughline from his college years to today. In 2006, Masters penned an article for an obscure libertarian publication in which he referenced a “poignant quotation” from Nazi leader Hermann Goering, while citing a noted conspiracy theorist who has suggested that an infamous antisemitic tract “accurately” describes “much of what is happening in our world.”
Libertarian leanings: Masters now describes himself as a former libertarian who is fully supportive of Trump’s agenda. But at the time of the essay — published on the eponymous website of a controversial libertarian author and think tank leader named Lew Rockwell — he appears to have been deeply embroiled in libertarian thought. Titled “The Lusitania Is Down! (or How to Sell a War),” the article examines the U.S. entry into World War I to illustrate Masters’ argument that “government creates war for no good reason.” Among his main “sources” is G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island, which calls for the abolishment of the Federal Reserve. Now 90, Griffin is known for espousing a wide range of conspiracy theories, including the suggestion that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion “accurately describe much of what is happening in our world today.”
Griffin and Goering: Masters relies heavily on Griffin’s work to support his suppositions — most notably, that the sinking of the R.M.S. Lusitania by a German U-boat in 1915 was used as a pretext for America’s entry into World War I the following year. The U.S. government deliberately misrepresented the attack, Masters contends, through a “massive” propaganda campaign “designed to demonize Germany and drum up support for American involvement in ‘protecting democracy.’” He adds: “Unjust wars (and the U.S. hasn’t been involved in a just war in over 140 years) always benefit certain groups and ultimately serve the aspirations of the political class.” Unexpectedly, Masters concludes his article with what he describes as a “particularly representative and poignant quotation” from Goering, a high-ranking Nazi official who was known as Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man.
Masters’ response: “Guilt by association is a cheap journalist tactic and I reject it. If an essay I wrote in 2006 cites an author, that doesn’t mean I endorse all of his views,” Masters said in a statement to JI. “As for the anti-war statement, I was 19, writing in opposition to the Iraq War — a stance that turned out to be prescient. I went too far and stated that no recent American wars have been just. In this race, I have been called sexist for saying you should be able to raise a family on one income, racist for taking a stance against crime and believing we should fund our police, and xenophobic for arguing a real country must have real borders. Looks like the journalist class is running out of content… I suppose it was only a matter of time before I got called anti-semitic for criticizing wartime propaganda in an essay I wrote as a teenager.”
on the hill
Blinken pushes for U.S. reentry into UNESCO, says Israel supports move
Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on Wednesday that the U.S. should reenter UNESCO and claimed Israel would support such a move, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Blinken was testifying at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee meeting on the State Department’s 2023 budget request.
Pullout: The U.S. pulled out of UNESCO, the United Nations’ educational, scientific and cultural agency, alongside Israel in 2019 over concerns that the agency fosters anti-Israel bias, following a process initiated by the Trump administration in October 2017. The U.N. agency has taken controversial steps relating to the Palestinians, including criticizing Israel’s presence in East Jerusalem, naming historical Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting Palestine full membership in the body.
Unpaid dues: The U.S. withdrawal came after it stopped paying dues in 2011 after UNESCO granted membership to the Palestinians, in accordance with U.S. laws passed in the early 1990s barring the U.S. from funding U.N. agencies that recognize a Palestinian state. The U.S. accrued hundreds of millions in unpaid dues, which would likely have to be paid back to reenter.
Quotable: “There was a very understandable concern expressed in the past because of the Palestinians seeking admission… Congress chose to act and make it difficult for us to continue our participation,” Blinken said. “We believe that having the waiver authority [to the 1990s provisions] would be important and necessary. And I can say with authority that our partners in Israel feel the same way — they would support our rejoining UNESCO.”
China concerns: The secretary of state said that rejoining UNESCO would be an important step in countering China. “This is a perfect example of a situation where our absence is clearly to our detriment because, among other things, UNESCO is in the business of setting standards, norms around the world, for education, for the way new emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, are used,” he said. “When we’re not at the table, shaping that conversation, and so actually helping to shape those norms and standards — well, someone else is, and that someone else is probably China.”
Hochul urges legislators to pass Holocaust education bill
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will work with the state legislature to pass the “important” Holocaust education legislation that is currently stalled in the Assembly, she told Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss on Wednesday afternoon. The bill would survey schools to see which are providing Holocaust education, and ensure that all students in the state receive it.
Important lessons: “There are lessons to be learned [from Holocaust education],” the governor said after an event at the Boro Park YM-YWHA, with survivors in attendance. “And many of these 40,000 survivors in the city of New York right now, they have powerful stories of resilience… We can never forget the atrocities that people — because of their faith, who they were — were subjected to, in the last century.” She added, “I personally believe that this education needs to be part of the curriculum, and people need to talk about these experiences. So we’ll work with the legislature. I hope they do get this done.”
Survivor support: The governor was in Brooklyn to announce $2.6 million in funding for the state’s Holocaust Survivors Initiative to boost survivors’ access to health care services. “We are here to recommit ourselves to supporting the survivors,” she said. “And it is our duty, not just as New Yorkers, but as citizens of the world. And it’s something I take very seriously. But while I’m governor — and I hope to be your governor a long time, God willing — I want to make sure we have the resources to take care of you. So I can say we should take care of people and help them thrive and do well. But we need to put money behind it.”
🌇 Real Estate Row:Bloomberg’s Peter Waldman looks at controversial efforts by Israeli-American developer Shaul Kuba to buy up property in central Los Angeles, at times putting him at odds with local businesses and residents. “In 1986, after returning from the Israel-Lebanon War, he and a childhood friend and fellow paratrooper, Avi Shemesh, embarked on a road trip across the U.S. — the first time Kuba left Israel ‘not on a military airplane,’ he says. They ended up in Southern California, and joined a sprawling network of young Israelis working in the building trades there. They renovated and flipped houses, landscaped rich people’s gardens, and got their first big break redeveloping the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. In 1994, they pitched gardening work to Richard Ressler, and within months had founded CIM with him. Ressler, also founder and president of Orchard Capital, is deeply connected in finance: He worked at Drexel Burnham Lambert; his brother, Antony Ressler, co-founded private equity firms Apollo Global Management Inc. and Ares Management Corp.; and his brother-in-law is Leon Black, who co-founded Apollo Global and was its chairman and chief executive officer until he resigned last summer.” [Bloomberg]
🏍️ Fonz’s Full Circle: In The New York Times Magazine, Matthew Klam profiles actor Henry Winkler, the son of Holocaust survivors who became a household name in the ‘70s and now stars in the HBO hit “Barry.” “Winkler suffers from severe dyslexia, which was undiagnosed until his early 30s, and he talks openly about his lifelong struggles with reading and math. He even co-wrote a popular series of books for middle-school kids about a plucky little boy named Hank Zipzer, who lives on this very corner [on Manhattan’s Upper West Side] and whose days are filled with comical disasters caused by his differently functioning brain. Winkler is the son of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, and in his talks in schools and bookstores, he always mentions them. ‘The kindergartners like when I do their German accents, and the older kids like hearing how mean they were,’ he said. The combination of his dyslexia and family history make for an interesting pathology, marked at once by shame and determination. One way he copes is to stay busy, to make himself useful, to work.” [NYTimes]
🇳🇬 African Diaspora: For The Guardian, Samanth Subramanian visits the Jewish communities that have popped up across Nigeria in recent decades, populated by mostly ethnic Igbos who believe they are descended from one of the 12 tribes of Jacob. “There is no old text laying down a Jewish lineage for Nigerians, the way the Kebra Nagast, the 14th-century epic, purported to do for the kings of Ethiopia. No Sephardic Jews migrated here from Spain and Portugal, as they did to territories in northern Africa in the 15th century. No Jewish communities arrived as part of the colonial project and stayed after its end, as they did in South Africa. Beginning in the 1990s, though, a number of people in southern and eastern Nigeria have become practising Jews, importing wholesale the rites of this unfamiliar faith and its foreign tongue. Seemingly, this turn has been spontaneous – which is to say, there have been no local rabbis at hand to pilot these Jews through their incipient religion, and there has certainly been no formal guidance from Israel, which refuses to recognise this as a Jewish population.” [TheGuardian]
🖼️ Art of Repatriation: The New York Times’ Ted Loos spotlights the effort undertaken in recent years to repatriate stolen or looted artwork and artifacts in major museums to their rightful owners. “Last fall, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston reached an agreement to return ‘View of Beverwijk’ (1646) by Salomon van Ruysdael, a Dutch painting stolen during World War II, to the heirs of Ferenc Chorin, a Jewish Hungarian collector who deposited it in a Budapest bank before fleeing the country in 1944. The bank reported that Mr. Chorin’s vault had been emptied in January 1945 during the siege of Budapest. His heirs plan to sell the work at Christie’s New York in June… The moral choices underlying such stories are what motivate [Victoria Reed, the curator for provenance at the Boston museum]. ‘We can’t be public institutions and displaying stolen artwork,’ she said.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🗳️ Extremes United: The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation yesterday 417-8 that would authorize President Joe Biden to seize assets from foreign individuals who derive their wealth through ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The legislators who voted against the bill were Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Chip Roy (R-TX), Cori Bush (D-MO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
⛪ Church Talk: The funeral of late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was born to European Jewish parents who converted during the Holocaust, began with a prayer at the Washington National Cathedral: “With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our sister Madeleine Korbel Albright for burial.”
🪧 Primary Push: Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) will travel to Ohio this weekend for a GOTV rally with Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH), who is facing a primary challenge from Nina Turner in the state’s 11th Congressional District.
💰 Bluegrass State Bucks: Cryptocurrency entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried’s Protect Our Future PAC spent nearly $1 million on ads backing Kentucky Senate Democratic Leader Morgan McGarvey in his congressional bid, bringing the PAC’s total spending to approximately $14 million in six races.
📅 Just a Minute: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced the postponement of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act “as we work to achieve clarity around specific definitions within the bill, & need technical assistance from the Department of Justice.”
🗣️ Musk’s Mission: The New York Times’ Ezra Klein considers what Twitter under new owner Elon Musk could look like, and the ways it will change and shape public discourse, much in the way the platform’s initial creation already has.
🎭 Funny Girl: The New York Times profiles Sarah Silverman ahead of the Off-Broadway premiere of her musical comedy “The Bedwetter.”
🏇 Back on Track: Thoroughbred Daily News spotlights the return to racing of 81-year-old Orthodox Jewish horse trainer Gedaliah Goodman, an anomaly in the horse-racing community.
🤝 Temple Mount Summit: Israeli and Jordanian officials will reportedly meet after the end of Ramadan to discuss how to prevent future tensions in Jerusalem, following an escalation in violence in recent weeks around the confluence of Easter, Passover and Ramadan.
🍽️ Add it to the Tab: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he will start paying for his family’s food out of pocket after coming under criticism for what some called lavish personal spending.
⚖️ Court Case: An Israeli court found seven men guilty of inciting violence and other offenses for their participation in a 2015 wedding celebration in which they were recorded celebrating the death of a Palestinian child.
🍬 Salmonella Situation: Israeli food maker Strauss expanded the list of products it was recalling to include gum and candies, days after recalling chocolate products over salmonella concerns.
🕌 Coming Soon: Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, chief rabbi of the Emirates Jewish Council, said he expects the long-awaited Abrahamic Family House to open in Abu Dhabi by the end of the year.
☢️ Nuclear Option: The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board warns against continued negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, citing Tehran’s untrustworthiness as a negotiating partner and unwillingness to provide a full accounting of its activities.
🕯️ Remembering: Geraldine Weiss, who masked her gender as she grew and distributed an investment-focused newsletter in the 1960s and 70s, died at 96.
Pic of the Day
Israeli soldiers tour the Hall of Names on Wednesday during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Elena Kagan turns 62…
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and former member of Knesset, Zalman Shoval turns 92… White House chief of staff for Presidents Reagan and Bush 41, former secretary of the Treasury and secretary of state, James Baker turns 92… Retired judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, Judge Irma Steinberg Raker turns 84… Co-founder of Mirage Resorts and Wynn Resorts, Elaine Wynn turns 80… Retired four-star United States Marine Corps general, Robert Magnus turns 75… SVP and COO of IPRO and former president of the Bronx/Riverdale YM-YWHA and the Riverdale Jewish Center, Harry M. Feder turns 72… Cantor who has served congregations in Galveston, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., Sharon Colbert turns 70… Criminal defense attorney Abbe David Lowell turns 70… Director of congregational engagement at Temple Beth Sholom of Miami Beach, Mark Baranek turns 64… American-born Israeli writer and translator, David Hazony turns 53… Director of criminal justice innovation, development and engagement at USDOJ, Karen Chaya Friedman turns 51… Retired soccer player, she played for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team from 1997 to 2000, Sara Whalen Hess turns 46… Executive editor and senior director of content at The Points Guy, Scott Mayerowitz turns 44… Actress and film critic, she is the writer and star of the CBC comedy series “Workin’ Moms,” Catherine Reitman turns 41… Co-founder and managing partner of the Arena, Ravi Gupta turns 39… Senior editor of investigations and enterprise at Sports Illustrated, Jason Schwartz turns 37… Senior editor at Politico Magazine, Benjamin Isaac Weyl turns 37… President of Saratoga Strategies, Joshua Schwerin turns 36… Israeli artist and photographer, Neta Cones turns 34… Director of communications and marketing at Jewish World Watch, Jeffrey Hensiek turns 34… Associate in the corporate department of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, Robert S. Murstein turns 33… Cybersecurity reporter at Politico, Eric J. Geller turns 31… Ahron Fragin turns 24…