👋 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: Conor Lamb calls for ‘delicate balance’ on U.S.-Israel relations in Pa. Senate bid; Nassau Republicans are all in on Anthony D’Esposito; Sydney Kamlager wants to speak ‘truth to toxicity’ in Washington; MEPPA board member: Peace act signals shift in U.S. policy on Israeli-Palestinian conflict; A White House speechwriter chronicles major speeches never delivered; and Brown win sets off race for Cleveland-area Democratic Party boss. Print the latest edition here.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Twitter this morning that his senior foreign policy advisor, Shimrit Meir, has resigned. Meir joined Bennett’s government as a political neophyte, but was often credited with helping turn the Yamina party leader into a world-class statesman. Read our profile of Meir from earlier this month here.
UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died today at 73, according to reports from local media. He will be succeeded by his younger brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
President Joe Biden will meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Hussein this morning at the White House.
Lebanese voters will cast their ballots on Sunday in parliamentary elections, the first since widespread anti-government protests in 2019. The country’s economy has collapsed, and 98% of Lebanese voters disapprove of the ruling elite’s performance, according to a survey conducted by Oxfam last month.
But experts caution that the results probably won’t lead to significant changes, with the terrorist group Hezbollah maintaining its stronghold on the country’s military and politics — and keeping its thousands of rockets trained on Israel.
“The opposition, there’s a lot of it. But it hasn’t unified. It hasn’t coalesced. There’s something like 100 parties running in the elections,” said David Schenker, who directs the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “I think the concern is that these parties, even if there’s some residual support for them, they’ll end up eating their own.”
The emir of Qatar met yesterday in Tehran with top Iranian officials. “We believe that negotiation is the solution of the problem,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said of a nuclear deal, according to Iran’s IRNA news agency.
Washington is “supportive of regional efforts to deescalate and reduce tensions,” a State Department spokesperson told Jewish Insider on Thursday. “We are grateful for the constructive role Qatar has played in our efforts to achieve diplomatic resolutions of important and difficult issues between the United States and Iran.”
President Joe Biden designated Qatar a major non-NATO ally of the United States during the emir’s visit to Washington in March.
abraham accords 2.0
Could Biden’s pick for envoy to Saudi Arabia facilitate normalization with Israel?
Could President Joe Biden’s nominee to be America’s next ambassador to Saudi Arabia – a career diplomat who most recently served overseas as the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem – be the key to bringing the kingdom into the Abraham Accords, or, barring that, help take the country one step closer to normalization with Israel? While Jerusalem and Riyadh are known to have long-standing, under-the-radar ties, at least on a security level, the nomination of Michael Ratney, a fluent Arabic speaker who is well-versed in Israel affairs, could certainly help to firm up that covert relationship and even encourage formal ties, experts and analysts interviewed this week told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash.
Great choice: David Makovsky, director of the Koret Project on Arab-Israel Relations at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued that Ratney’s nomination was a “great choice.” “He is very bright and one of America’s veteran Middle East hands,” Makovsky noted. “Sending him now to Riyadh is a signal by the Biden administration. In a previous time, having served in Israel was even considered a taboo for being ambassador in Saudi Arabia, but that was then and this is now.”
Tense ties: While Ratney’s nomination, which has yet to be approved by the Senate, ends a 15-month diplomatic snub of Saudi Arabia by the United States, he will be the first U.S. ambassador in many years not to be a political appointee. That fact has led some to speculate that the move might not be viewed as favorably in Saudi Arabia, where only the highest-ranking officials are sent to represent the country in Washington.
Pariah policy: “[Ratney] certainly knows Israel and the Palestinian issue and he might be able to help promote formal relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” said David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington. “But I don’t think Ratney has an inside track to Biden, and the Saudis always want someone who has a pipeline right into the White House.” Calling Biden’s approach to Saudi Arabia a “pariah policy,” Ottaway, a former Washington Post Middle East correspondent, added that the key question “is whether this guy has a special mission ordered by the White House to promote special recognition between Saudi Arabia and Israel.”
Kentucky campaign mailer accuses Jewish candidate of trying to ‘buy’ election for ‘his own interests’
A Jewish candidate for the Kentucky state legislature is alleging his opponent invoked antisemitic tropes in a campaign mailer that accused him of attempting to “buy” the district for his own “interests,” Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
In the text: The mailer, distributed by longtime state Rep. Tom Burch, targets Democratic primary challenger Daniel Grossberg, a Jewish political activist who also ran for the state House in the 2020 election. The campaign material, first shared by a Louisville Courier-Journal reporter on Wednesday, is headlined “VOTER ALERT” and “DON’T LET THEM BUY OUR DISTRICT.” It goes on to allege “Daniel Grossberg is trying to buy our House seat for his own interests with $100,000 of his own money.”
Mail man: The mailer does not specify to whom “them” refers, nor what personal “interests” Grossberg is pursuing. In a brief call with Jewish Insider on Thursday, Burch — the longest-serving lawmaker in Kentucky history — said he did not see “anything derogatory” in the mailer, and requested that specific questions be sent to him by email. He did not respond to those questions.
Reaction: “I was completely shocked by it,” Grossberg told JI. “We were expecting an attack, but I wasn’t expecting him to go so low as to lean into one of the most famous of the antisemitic tropes, the whole concept of replacement theory, the theory that the Jews are taking over, that we’re buying away the power and influence of the White Anglo Saxon Protestants.”
Joining forces: The American Jewish Committee’s U.S. director for combating antisemitism, Holly Huffnagle, said in a tweet, “This type of language, blaming Jews for grabbing power through money, is dangerous. Rep. Burch should know better than to wade into these troublesome waters.”
Lipstadt makes first public appearance as antisemitism envoy
In her first public address since being sworn in as the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt on Thursday noted the connection between antisemitic sentiments expressed by individuals who commit attacks in the U.S. and those employed abroad, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.
Both foreign and domestic: “The actual accusation by the Charlottesville [‘Unite the Right’ march] organizers that Jews were and are behind an attempt to destroy white, Christian America has been adopted and adapted by racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists in Europe and beyond,” Lipstadt, previously the Dorot Professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, said at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., adding that the January hostage situation in a Texas synagogue was carried out by an individual who was radicalized abroad. “It’s increasingly hard to differentiate between antisemitism that’s foreign and that which is domestic.”
About time: Lipstadt was greeted by applause when she stepped onstage, quipping, “It’s been a long time coming,” a reference to the numerous delays she faced as a nominee while Republican senators held up her nomination for eight months over concerns regarding past social media posts. The Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism was established in 2004; Lipstadt is the first special envoy at the ambassador level, following the passage of legislation elevating the role to a Senate-confirmed posting.
🇮🇱 New Player: The New York Times’ Dana Rubinstein spotlights the newly created New York Solidarity Network. The group, which aims to support pro-Israel candidates on the local level in the state, is believed to be the first of its kind to target non-federal races. “The creation of the network highlights the growing fissure between the left-leaning and younger flank of the Democratic Party, which often aligns with the policies of the Democratic Socialists of America, and the party’s more traditional, centrist flank, which has long considered support for Israel an inviolable foreign policy plank. Its rise also points to the growing role that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays in state and local elections in the United States, where pro-boycott activists increasingly tussle with politicians who implement anti-boycott laws.” [NYTimes]
🇮🇷 ‘Triumphal’ Tehran: In the Wall Street Journal, Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh look at the “triumphal” mood in Tehran amid stalled negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program. “The Islamic Republic has survived severe sanctions, widespread and violent antiregime demonstrations, the targeted killing of its officials and scientists, nuclear sabotage, a costly war in Syria, anti-Iranian unrest in Iraq, and a grossly mismanaged pandemic that broke the country’s healthcare system. The supreme leader and his minions love repeating the sentiments of Democratic Party luminaries about the failure of Donald Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign. The early revolutionary slogan ‘America can’t do a damn thing’ once more echoes in Friday prayers.” [WSJ]
💸 New Approach: In the New York Sun, Jason Greenblatt argues for the U.S. government to enforce the Taylor Force Act to stop terror attacks in Israel. Greenblatt, who served as Middle East envoy under President Donald Trump, criticized the Biden administration’s attempts to “deepen ties” with the Palestinian Authority, writing, “these measures entrench the conflict and drive the prospects for peace in the opposite direction. Looking the other way from the ‘pay to slay’ program falls into the same trap of the past and allows the PA and Hamas, a puppet of Iran, to leave Palestinians in limbo, without a positive future. A more far-sighted policy would be to shelve the idea of an American consulate for the Palestinians and instead focus on vigorously enforcing the Taylor Force Act so that the PA is presented with a stark choice between rewarding terrorism and obtaining badly needed economic support funds. Similarly, the Biden administration should throw its support behind the Taylor Force Martyr Payments Prevention…It would block financial institutions from doing business in America if they process pay-for-slay payments to terrorist prisoners or family members. The Taylor Force Act was a critical piece of legislation. The Taylor Force Martyr Payments Prevention Act is a next step.” [NYSun]
Around the Web
👨 Border Bluster: Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) suggested the U.S. suspend all foreign aid until a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is completed.
🏠 Housing Post: The Senate approved Julia Gordon to serve as commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration in a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
⏸️ Hitting Pause: Elon Musk announced on Twitter that his bid to purchase the social media platform for $44 billion is on hold as he awaits details regarding the number of spam and otherwise fake accounts on the site.
📱 Spy Saga: The FBI told Israel in a 2018 letter that it wanted to use the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware in ongoing investigations, according to emails reviewed by The New York Times, despite claims from FBI officials that they wanted the technology for testing and evaluation.
🏪 Coming Soon: The kosher supermarket Bingo Wholesale, which has locations in Brooklyn, Monsey, N.Y., and Lakewood, N.J., is opening a fourth store in Inwood, Long Island.
💰 Money Trail: Ehud Sheleg, a British-Israeli businessman and donor to the U.K.’s Conservative Party, is suspected of funneling money from his Ukrainian father-in-law, who served in a pro-Russia government in Crimea until 2014, to the party.
🕵️ Foiled Plots: The Mossad announced it recently foiled several Iranian assassination plots, including one plan to kill a U.S. general in Germany.
⚠️ Inside Jobs: Hamas is reportedly pushing for terror attacks to be carried out from within Israel’s border in an effort to shift the battleground away from Gaza, from which militants have carried out thousands of rocket attacks against Israel in recent years.
🍭 Not So Sweet: The Israel-based Strauss Group said that its 2022 financials would be affected by the recent product recall and closure of one of its factories following the discovery of salmonella in the candy-making facility.
🛢️ Oil Woes: Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Colin Allred (D-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Susan Wild (D-PA) introduced a resolution urging the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to increase oil production.
💼 Transition: Matt Berger, Hillel International’s vice president for external affairs and campus preparedness, will join Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism as executive director in June.
🕯️ Remembering: Philanthropist and former head of the World Sephardi Federation, Nessim Gaon, who was instrumental in behind-the-scenes negotiations between Egypt and Israel in the 1970s, died at 100.
Pic of the Day
The Israeli Embassy’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration — which had been held annually until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — returned last night with a new venue and new faces. More than 1,200 guests mingled at the National Building Museum in Washington’s Penn Quarter, a shift in location from previous years’ events further down Constitution Avenue. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas spoke on behalf of the Biden administration, and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog addressed the crowd in between musical interludes and a performance of the U.S. and Israeli national anthems by students from the Hebrew-immersion Sela Public Charter School.
The theme of the evening was celebrating Israel’s diversity, reflected in everything from the food served to the music played. “In Israel, diversity is a day-to-day reality,” Herzog said during the evening’s program. “Our society represents a colorful mosaic of diverse human, religious, ethnic and cultural elements.”
Owner/president of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, Mark Wilf turns 60 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: Attorney based in London, Sir Sydney Lipworth QC turns 91… Actress Zohra Lampert turns 85… Actor and producer, Harvey Keitel turns 83… Ophthalmologist in South Florida, Dr. Joel Sandberg turns 79… Chief scientific officer for COVID-19 response in the Biden administration, David A. Kessler turns 71… Founder and former CEO of LRN legal research, ethics and compliance management firm, Dov Seidman turns 58… Chair of JFNA’s National Women’s Philanthropy Board and chair of the Hartford (CT) Federation, Carolyn Gitlin… Retired NFL defensive lineman who played for the Raiders and Panthers, Josh Heinrich Taves turns 50… Ice hockey player, she won a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics and a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, Sara Ann DeCosta turns 45… U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) turns 45… Chief community and Jewish life officer at The Jewish Federations of North America, Sarah Eisenman… Managing director of public affairs and advocacy at Edelman UK, Luciana Berger turns 41… Co-founder of Asana, Justin Rosenstein turns 39… Retired NFL offensive lineman, Brian de la Puente turns 37… Creator, writer and star of the HBO series “Girls,” Lena Dunham turns 36… Hannah Sirdofsky… Co-founder of Manna Tree Partners, a private equity firm focused on healthy food, Gabrielle “Ellie” Rubenstein… Product marketing manager at Dive, Bela Galit Krifcher turns 29… Program officer at a private foundation in NYC, Dore Lev Feith turns 26… Director of external affairs at the Manhattan Institute, Jesse Martin Arm… Gold medalist for Israel in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Linoy Ashram turns 23… Program manager at Jigsaw, Raquel Saxe… Senior diplomatic advisor to Israel’s minister for regional cooperation, Yael Patir…
SATURDAY: Born in Casablanca and raised in Paris, Midtown NYC hair stylist and owner of La Boîte a Coupe salon, Elie Laurent Delouya turns 74… The Green Party’s nominee for president of the United States in the 2012 and 2016 elections, Jill Stein turns 72… Professor of computer science at Technion, Orna Grumberg turns 70… Dean of UC Berkeley Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky turns 69… Los Angeles city attorney, Mike Feuer turns 64… Author of six international bestsellers, Robert Greene turns 63… Head Of school at the Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, Daniel L. Lehmann turns 60… ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor and football sideline reporter, Suzanne Lisa “Suzy” Kolber turns 58… Masters candidate at Johns Hopkins SAIS, Robert Levinson turns 57… Chief compliance and integrity officer at Yale New Haven Health, Gayle Slossberg… Education program lead of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Howard Wolfson… Managing partner of Alexandria, VA-based MVAR Media, Jon Vogel… Emmy Award-winning executive producer of CNN’s political and special events programming, David Philip Gelles turns 45… Director of media relations at Chabad Lubavitch, Rabbi Mordechai “Motti” Seligson… Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Meta / Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg turns 38… Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek reporter, Josh Eidelson… Actress Sasha Rebecca Spielberg turns 32… Managing director of government relations at The Blackstone Group, Alex I. Katz… J.D. candidate in the 2022 class at Stanford Law School, Andrew Ezekoye… Forward for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, he was the first pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and is the son of hockey star Ellen Weinberg-Hughes, Jack Hughes turns 21…
SUNDAY: Principal of Queens-based Muss Development, Joshua Lawrence Muss turns 81… Chairman emeritus of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States, Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim turns 79… VP of the American Zionist Movement and chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Martin Oliner turns 75… Retired major general in the IDF, he served as Israel’s national security advisor and is now a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, Yaakov Amidror turns 74… CEO of Emigrant Bank, real estate developer, financier and philanthropist, Howard Philip Milstein turns 71… Owner of Midnight Music Management, Stuart Wax… Deputy editorial page editor at the Washington Post, Ruth Allyn Marcus turns… Five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, producer, and filmmaker, Giselle Fernandez turns 61… Former member of the Nevada Assembly, she served as secretary of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Ellen Barre Spiegel turns 60… Founder of Reeves Advisory, she is a senior fellow at Brown University, Pamela R. Reeves… Actor David Krumholtz turns 44… Noam Finger… Grants administrator in the Office of Crime Victim Services at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Shira Rosenthal Phelps… Executive director at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Daniel M. Rothschild… Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler turns 41… Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author, Eli Eric Saslow turns 40… Rochelle Wilner… Ofir Richman…