👋 Good Monday morning!
The Milken Institute Global Conference kicked off yesterday at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, ushering in several days of conversations on topics ranging from impact investing to national security to the future of aging. More than 3,000 leaders and 700 speakers are gathering to schmooze, network and learn — sometimes poolside — at the 25th anniversary of this hot-ticket event.
The theme of this year’s confab is “Celebrating the Power of Connection,” a nod to the difficulty of connecting over the past two years. Milken hosted its last Global Conference in October, but this year’s May gathering marks a return to its usual occurrence as a rite of spring.
Monday’s sessions include solutions-oriented conversations about strengthening democracy in the 21st century, renewing social cohesion and the philanthropic endeavors of tech “disruptors.” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican and potential 2024 presidential candidate, will be interviewed in the afternoon. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt will speak about his new book.
Jewish Insider will be at Milken until it wraps up on Wednesday with a performance by the Beach Boys and John Stamos. We’ll bring you highlights from Milken’s programming and exclusive conversations with some of the leaders, experts and influencers on the ground. If you’re here in Beverly Hills, come say hi.
Before heading to Milken, Greenblatt said on Sunday that the anti-Israel groups Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) “epitomize the radical left,” describing the groups as “the photo inverse of the extreme right that ADL long has tracked.” Greenblatt made the remarks to a virtual gathering of the organization’s National Leadership Council.
“Unlike their right-wing analogs, these organizations might not have armed themselves or engaged in an insurrection designed to topple our government, but these radical actors indisputably and unapologetically regularly denigrate and dehumanize Jews,” he continued.
Greenblatt pledged to go after anti-Zionist organizations with “our litigation skills to hold them accountable for their harm,” “our advocacy muscles to push policymakers to take action” and “our analytic capabilities to expose their ideas and ideology.”
A group of prominent pro-Israel Republicans is hosting a virtual fundraiser tomorrow for Nevada congressional candidate David Brog, the former executive director of Christians United for Israel. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will headline the event alongside Jay Sekulow, who was one of the lead attorneys during former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine to “denazify” the country in an interview on Sunday. “So what if Zelensky is Jewish. The fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov said.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett shot back hours later, calling Lavrov’s comments “untrue and their intentions are wrong. The goal of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of the most awful crimes in history, which were perpetrated against them, and thereby absolve Israel’s enemies of responsibility.”
Jim Clyburn rouses troops for Shontel Brown in Cleveland primary rematch
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the powerful House majority whip, was back in Cleveland this weekend to gin up support for freshman Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) as she seeks her first full term, just under nine months after the closely watched special congressional primary in Ohio’s 11th District. “She has acquitted herself very well as a member of Congress,” Clyburn said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kasselon Friday before leaving for Ohio. “She told everybody when she campaigned that she was going to go to Washington and be supportive of the Biden administration and its agenda, that she would represent the people of the 11th Congressional District in a way that would make them proud, and I think she’s done that.”
Democratic divides: Last cycle, the primary between Brown and former Ohio Sen. Nina Turner took special prominence on the national stage as a fierce proxy battle featuring what many viewed as opposing moderate, progressive and even generational forces within the Democratic Party. Brown, with strong ties to the local Democratic establishment, drew a contrast with Turner, a Squad-aligned former Ohio state senator, backed by Justice Democrats, who had served as an outspoken presidential campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). But Clyburn dismissed such characterizations, noting that Brown, 46, had in many ways bridged such divides over the course of her first months in Congress. “She’s from a bit of a different generation than mine, and I think that she demonstrates to people that this whole notion about there being this generational divide is not quite the case,” Clyburn, 81, argued. “She’s certainly been a big support to the Biden administration. I think that Biden would tell you that.”
Truman ties: Elaborating on his affinity with the congresswoman, Clyburn described himself as a longstanding admirer of Harry S. Truman, in part because of his appreciation for the former president’s decision to officially recognize the State of Israel just minutes after its creation in 1948. “Jim Clyburn, as everybody in the Congress will tell you, is a Truman Democrat,” he told JI, “and Shontel is of that same notion. She doesn’t care how new it is. She wants to be fair.”
Broader than broadband: For his part, Clyburn said Brown had offered crucial assistance as he sought to usher the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package through the House last November, pointing in particular to her support for legislation that would include more than $65 billion for broadband investments. “Shontel was one of my lieutenants when I was working to get people understanding why broadband was so important, not just” in “rural but also urban” areas, Clyburn said. By contrast, Turner opposed immediately approving the infrastructure package at the time, aligning herself with a vocal coalition of far-left House members who voted against the funding while protesting the Senate’s delay in passing a broader social safety net and climate package. Clyburn expressed frustration with such efforts in conversation with JI. “That vote was huge,” he said bluntly. “It goes to the notion that I often say to especially young people: You’ve got to make up your mind,” he explained. “Are you interested in public service in order to make headway, or is your interest to make a headline? Lots of people got some headlines saying uncomplimentary things about that infrastructure bill.”
Hakeem Jeffries, stumping for Shontel Brown, highlights Jewish community support
Standing before a modestly sized audience at an Orthodox synagogue in Cleveland on Sunday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the influential chairman of the House Democratic caucus, voiced his enthusiastic appreciation for the sizable number of Jewish voters who turned out for Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) last summer in a hotly contested special House election, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports. “I’m thankful for the work that all of you did in electing Shontel Brown in what was a high-profile, difficult and, in the view of many, uphill struggle, certainly a David-versus-Goliath struggle,” Jeffries said of Brown’s come-from-behind victory over Nina Turner, a former state senator and prominent progressive leader, in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. “With your support, and with this tremendous candidate, we’re thankful that David prevailed.”
From Ohio to DC: “She’s come to Washington and been such a force for good, both in terms of domestic policy and in terms of standing on the side of this special relationship that the United States has with Israel, a relationship that I’ve been proud to try to uplift and undergird during my time in Washington,” Jeffries told the crowd of Jewish community activists and local elected officials at Green Road Synagogue in the heavily Jewish suburb of Beachwood, which saw some of the highest turnout in the race last year. The Democratic leader was joined by another recently elected congresswoman, Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA), the chairwoman of Georgia’s Democratic Party. “I didn’t wear heels today,” Williams said to laughter, “because I came to knock on doors.”
Community ally: Jeffries emphasized that Brown had swiftly established herself as an “outspoken voice” against rising “antisemitism and hate crimes” that have been directed at the Jewish community. “We’re going to do everything we can to stamp it out,” he said, describing recent violence as “shocking, appalling and unacceptable.” Opposing such incidents, Jeffries suggested, includes standing “firmly with” Israel to support its “right to exist” as a Jewish state in what he characterized as increasingly inhospitable territory. “As I often say, one of the toughest neighborhoods in the world,” Jeffries noted. “Hamas in Gaza, a dangerous situation in the Sinai, Hezbollah to the north, chaos in Syria, a mess in Iraq,” he elaborated, “and Iran, with nuclear aspirations, threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.”
Common-sense congresswoman: In a brief interview with JI after he had stepped away from the lectern, Jeffries praised the Cleveland Democrat — a former Cuyahoga County councilwoman and current party chair — as “a unifying voice” as well as “a common-sense, pragmatic, get-stuff-done representative,” adding, “Shontel Brown has hit the ground running and has been a tremendous supporter of lifting up the special relationship between the United States and Israel. We expect great things from her both in terms of domestic policy and international policy moving forward.”
Joaquin Castro letter critical of Israel gets Republican signatories
An unlikely coalition of lawmakers, including progressive Democrats critical of Israel and typically pro-Israel Republicans, came together on Friday to charge that Israeli perpetrators of attacks on Christians and Christian sites in Jerusalem are “able to act with impunity,” Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Letter writing: The letter — addressed to Secretary of State Tony Blinken — was led by Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and points to a series of incidents, the majority of which took place in 2020 and 2021, in which Christians and Christian institutions were attacked by Israelis in Jerusalem. The most recent incidents cited in the letter date back several months. “We write today as a bipartisan group of Members of Congress deeply concerned by the rise in attacks against the Christian community in Jerusalem,” the letter reads. “Despite general protections afforded to minority religious communities by the Israeli government, the actions of radical groups pose a grave threat to the long-term viability of the Christian presence in Jerusalem.”
Onboard: The other signatories to the letter included Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), French Hill (R-AR), Andy Harris (R-MD), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) and Jackie Speier (D-CA).
Tick-tock: A spokesperson for Castro told JI that the Texas congressman “has been tracking the issues the letter touches on for some time,” and attributed the letter’s timing to difficulties coordinating with other congressional offices, and an upcoming visit by Jerusalem church leaders to Washington in May. “Reps. Castro and Bilirakis refrained from sending the letter earlier last week out of respect for Yom Hashoah observances,” she added. The spokesperson said the letter had been written primarily in cooperation with Churches for Middle East Peace. It has also been promoted by J Street.
Call to action: The signatories call on the State Department “to work with the Israeli government to uphold its stated commitment to the freedom of religion and worship for all religions and to hold accountable the radical groups who are engaging in sustained attacks against Christian clergy and destruction of church properties.”
✍️ Warring Words: The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanigan dissects the recent New Yorker profile of Alice Walker, which downplayed the writer’s praise for Holocaust deniers and allegations of antisemitism, even as other writers who’ve expressed racist ideologies have faced repercussions for their beliefs. “Of all the forms of hatred in the world, why is anti-Semitism so often presented as somehow less evil than the others? Alice Walker’s beliefs are every bit as repugnant as Flannery O’Connor’s. Yet even The New Yorker is willing to dismiss them as the consequence of boomerism, of the sorrow and oppression of her youth, of YouTube — as a late-in-life aberration. It is willing to print an assessment of And the Truth Shall Set You Free that describes it as promoting “anti-Semitic crackpottery.” Crackpottery? That’s one way of putting it. I realize now that this phrase includes the only appearance of the term anti-Semitic in the essay. If you didn’t come to this essay with a preexisting understanding of Walker’s hateful ideas, I expect it would be very easy to read these sentences about her beliefs and not really know what they are.” [TheAtlantic]
🗞️ A Times Man: In the latest installation of The Fine Print’s series on newly named New York Times Executive Editor Joe Kahn, Andrew Fedorov chronicles Kahn’s path through some of the country’s most elite educational institutions to China, where he covered Beijing’s rise to global prominence. “Throughout Kahn’s career, he would find his greatest successes in elite enclaves, even in the most far-off locales. Along the way, he found himself surrounded by others who were following neatly proscribed paths to America’s most powerful media institutions. It wasn’t that he was always a ruthless careerist — even when passion caused him to aim lower than the top of a hierarchy, people in power recognized him as one of their own and elevated him beyond his more modest ambitions. Ultimately, his trajectory landed him at the top of American journalism, on the brink of taking over the newsroom of The New York Times from Dean Baquet when his appointment takes effect on June 14. ‘To make it in America, to rise, there has to be some sort of propellant,’ Halberstam wrote. ‘Sheer talent helps, but except in very rare instances, talent is not enough. Money helps, family ties, and connections help.’ And Kahn had plenty of all of the above to ease his ascent.” [TheFinePrint]
🇺🇦 Center of the Storm: Time magazine’s Simon Shuster spent two weeks embedded with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, more than a month and a half into Russia’s invasion of the country. “Outside Ukraine, Zelensky told me, ‘People see this war on Instagram, on social media. When they get sick of it, they will scroll away.’ It’s human nature. Horrors have a way of making us close our eyes. ‘It’s a lot of blood,’ he explains. ‘It’s a lot of emotion.’ Zelensky senses the world’s attention flagging, and it troubles him nearly as much as the Russian bombs. Most nights, when he scans his agenda, his list of tasks has less to do with the war itself than with the way it is perceived. His mission is to make the free world experience this war the way Ukraine does: as a matter of its own survival.” [Time]
🍽️ The (Jewish) Breakfast Club: Over a lunch of bagels, smoked fish and latkes, the Financial Times’ Jemima Kelly meets with The Atlantic’s Jonathan Haidt after the publication of his recent essay over the ideological differences dividing the county. “This is just the kind of food that Haidt would have every Sunday for breakfast as a child growing up in the well-to-do town of Scarsdale, New York, though the fish would have been lox (smoked salmon). It’s a tradition that Haidt, who became an atheist not long after his bar mitzvah, also continues with his 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, feeling that it’s important for them to have a sense of their Jewish identity, as well as their Korean one — his wife, an artist, is Korean-American. Haidt says he had a conventional Jewish-American upbringing — his parents were both the first generation born in the US; all four of his grandparents were born in Russia and eastern Europe — and felt ‘completely assimilated’ into American culture.” [FT]
Around the Web
🕍 Ohio Memorial: Members of Ohio’s congressional delegation, led by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH), introduced legislation to designate the Kol Israel Foundation Holocaust Memorial in Ohio as a national memorial.
🎓 Campus Beat: The editorial board of the Harvard Crimson voiced its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, saying that board members “regret and reject” the decision taken by previous editorial boards to oppose the movement.
🥯 Lox of Bagels: Connecticut bakery Popupbagels is enjoying success at its pop-up locations in Manhattan, which offer a lighter and fluffier bagel than traditional New York bagels.
📺 Small Screen: The BBC’s new miniseries “Ridley Road” tells the fictitious story of a Jewish woman who infiltrated Britain’s neo-Nazi movement in the ’60s.
🏖️ Trouble in Paradise: The premier of the British Virgin Islands and the its ports director were arrested in Florida as part of a drug trafficking scheme, which reportedly began when the ports director connected self-proclaimed Hezbollah operatives with an undercover DEA agent.
🤐On the Border: The New York Times spotlights the covert smuggling networks assisting Palestinians banned from entering Israel from crossing from the West Bank to attend Ramadan prayers in Jerusalem.
☢️ Nuke Talks: The EU’s coordinator of the negotiations offered to go to Tehran as European nations attempt to salvage a nuclear agreement with Iran amid frozen negotiations.
💰 Bank Block: In the Wall Street Journal, Richard Goldberg, co-host of JI’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” argues against lifting sanctions against Iranian banks that subversively fund the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
💼 Transition: Sari Bashi will take over as Human Rights Watch’s new program director, days after Ken Roth announced he was leaving the organization.
🕯️ Remembering: Former Meretz party MK Ilan Gilon, who served in the Knesset from 1999-2003 and 2009-2021, died at 65. Régine, who survived the Holocaust as a child and would become the founder of a $500 million discotheque empire, died at 92. Sid Mark, a Pennsylvania radio show host whose programs focused on Frank Sinatra, died at 88. Dr. Morton M. Mower, a cardiologist who pioneered the use of the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator, died at 89.
Pic of the Day
Israeli judoka Raz Hersko (right) competes against France’s Romane Dicko yesterday during the European Judo Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Former U.S. secretary of commerce, now chair of PSP Capital Partners, Penny Sue Pritzker turns 63…
Former lord chief justice and president of the Courts of England and Wales, Baron Harry Kenneth Woolf turns 89… Retired professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir turns 85… President of four radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, Alan Merril Gottlieb turns 75… Former member of the Texas Senate, Florence Shapiro turns 74… Former USAID contractor imprisoned by Cuba from 2009 to 2014, Alan Phillip Gross turns 73… Co-founder and president of NCH Capital, he has funded the establishment of hundreds of Chabad Houses at universities throughout the world, George Rohr turns 68… Analyst at MSNBC, previously undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and managing editor of Time magazine, Richard Allen “Rick” Stengel turns 67… Member of the New York State Assembly, David Weprin turns 66… Partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, she is active on many nonprofit boards including Penn Law School and the Jewish Federations of North America, Jodi J. Schwartz turns 62… Admiral in the IDF, he served as the Commander of the Israeli Navy, Ram Rothberg turns 58… Director of the Chabad Center in Bratislava, Slovakia, Rabbi Baruch Myers turns 58… Founder and CEO of Shutterstock, Jonathan E. Oringer turns 48… Deputy chief of staff to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Stephen Schatz turns 42… D.C.-based CBS News correspondent, Julianna Goldman turns 41… Founder and president of ETS Advisory, Emily Tisch Sussman turns 40… Judicial law clerk at the USDC in Brooklyn, Gabe Cahn turns 32… Director of development at Cornell Hillel, Susanna K. Cohen turns 32…