👋 Good Thursday morning!
The funeral of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran reporter for the Al Jazeera network, began in Ramallah on Thursday and included a ceremony at the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority president. Akleh, 51, who was killed on Wednesday during clashes between Israeli army forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Jenin, will be buried in a Roman Catholic cemetery in East Jerusalem on Friday.
The Palestinian Authority said on Thursday that it would not cooperate with Israel on a joint investigation into the journalist’s death, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas saying that he will go to the International Criminal Court to “punish the criminals.” Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs head Hussein al-Sheikh wrote on Twitter: “Israel requested a joint investigation and asked us to hand over of the bullet that assassinated the journalist Shireen. We refused that, and we affirmed that our investigation would be completed independently, and we will inform her family, America, Qatar and all official authorities of the results of the investigation.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday that the U.S. is “absolutely heartbroken to learn of the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and injuries to her producer Ali Samoudi” and called for “an immediate and thorough investigation and full accountability” into the incident in the West Bank.
“The Israelis have the wherewithal and the capabilities to conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation,” Price told reporters when asked whether he trusts the IDF to investigate the attack. Israel called on the Palestinians to participate in a joint investigation.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the shooting occurred after “armed Palestinians shot in an inaccurate, indiscriminate and uncontrolled manner” during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin. Eyewitnesses told The Washington Post that the gunfire between the IDF and Palestinians occurred hundreds of yards away from the journalist.
Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) announced yesterday that he is donating the funds he has received from corporate and industry PACs that have also donated to Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election results to an abortion rights group, framing the move as a rejection of corporate PAC funding, a day after Jewish Insider revealed he had taken $55,000 from PACs that had also donated to Republicans who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s election.
Levin had criticized AIPAC, which is backing his primary opponent Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI), and its super PAC for their involvement in Democratic primary races in light of AIPAC’s endorsement of Republicans who voted against election certification. AIPAC accused Levin of “hypocrisy and double standards” for “uniquely singl[ing] out America’s pro-Israel PAC for criticism.” Levin also called on Stevens to reject money from corporate PACs and AIPAC’s PAC.
Stevens campaign spokesperson Larkin Parker responded, “Let’s be very clear, this swift departure on the part of Mr. Levin is solely because his hypocrisy was called out,” and went on to criticize Levin for not running in the neighboring 10th Congressional District “[w]ith Roe on the chopping block.” Parker added, “The congresswoman’s votes aren’t for sale to anyone — her voting record shows that. She’s absolutely clear about who she fights for and why she ran for Congress.”
USAID Administrator Samantha Power defended the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East on Wednesday at a budget hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee.
Power argued that, despite antisemitic content found in its textbooks and UNRWA facilities being used in “deeply problematic” ways during conflicts, the schools have done a “core good” for Palestinian children and ”to deprive kids of education as the closure of those schools would do surely is going to be something only the most extreme elements will take advantage of.”
Keeping up with the Zabars, the family behind the store
The frenetic pace of New York City provides ample opportunity for mini-empires to rise and fall. But on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, one iconic mainstay has managed to weather it all. Since 1934, Zabar’s has been a focal point for the city’s food culture, helping usher in such groundbreaking revolutions as drip coffee. On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” co-hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein were joined by David and Willie Zabar, a father-son duo who represent the third and fourth generations of proprietors.
New release: A new book, Zabar’s: A Family Story with Recipes, chronicles the history of the store and the family behind it. The book is a product of the research and writing done by Lori Zabar, David’s sister, who died in February after a five-year battle with cancer. With the release of Zabar’s, the story of the family behind the famous store is gaining new attention.“I think it is going to make customers feel just much closer to the store and the family knowing more about it,” David said, concluding, “It’s a great way to honor my sister.”
Backstory: The original Zabars, Lillian and Louis, came from families in Ukraine with extensive retail experience. Like many Jews, they fled during the pogroms of the 1920s. While much of that story was known to the family, Lori, who spent much of her final years researching the family’s history, uncovered new details. “A lot of that information, which I really read about for the first time, is family members that were killed in pogroms, and why my grandfather really had to leave town — because he was being pursued because he had fought back,” David explained on the podcast.
Family business: “There’s always been family members involved. All of my children, and my niece and nephews have worked in the store at one point,” David said, adding that, while some have gone on to other careers, “the experience of working here is part of their growing up and livelihood.” In the Zabar family, exposure to the family business begins as early as high school. “There was this idea that at any given summer, you have to be doing something. If you got a job or an internship; you’re doing a program somewhere else, that’s fine. But if you’re not, you’ve got to be working at the store.” Willie recalled. “At the time, I felt like that was kind of a drag. But looking back, I’m actually really glad to have had that experience.”
Deutch: Israel opponents are ignoring ‘changing nature of the Middle East’
Activists who are hostile to Israel “don’t want to talk about” the “changing nature of the Middle East,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) said on Wednesday, pointing to the Abraham Accords as a “perfect example” of Israel forming alliances in the region, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.
Regional shift: “It’s no longer a question of being critical. It is an outright hostility to Israel… They don’t want to talk about the fact that more and more countries want to align themselves with Israel and everything Israel has to offer,” Deutch said at a conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by The Jewish Federations of North America. “The Abraham Accords will grow. I have no doubt there will be more countries to join there, as people look at what we know as the modern miracle, the modern State of Israel.”
Doubling down: Last June, the Florida congressman decried comments from far-left House members, linking domestic antisemitism to the previous month’s conflict between Israel and Hamas. On Wednesday, Deutch doubled down on the comments he made on the House floor last year, during which he accused some legislators of making antisemitic comments. “When your position is that the only state in the world that shouldn’t exist is the one Jewish state, we have an obligation to make sure that people understand that that’s antisemitism,” he told Jewish communal leaders on Wednesday. “We need other people to understand that as well.”
Going global: Deutch was asked about the recent decision by a Lufthansa crew to bar a group of Jewish travelers in Frankfurt, Germany, from continuing on to their destination, after some in the group had not worn masks on the prior leg of their flight. The congressman, who co-chairs the Congressional Study Group on Germany, called for “accountability” over Lufthansa’s actions. “I reached out and will engage more directly with them to understand. I don’t want to rely just on what I’ve read. But what I read is terrible… the singling out of people because they appear to be Jews. And I think we need to get to the bottom of it.”
Bonus: In a prerecorded video message to conference attendees, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) doubled down on his call to fund the Nonprofit Security Grant Program at $360 million.
Greenblatt debates issue of anti-Zionism in The New Yorker
In The New Yorker, staff writer Isaac Chotiner and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt debate whether anti-Zionism is antisemitism, an argument Greenblatt made in an address to the organization’s National Leadership Summit earlier this month.
Chotiner: Many Jews in America have been saying something for a long time, which is do not treat us as Israelis. Do not commit hate crimes against Jews in America because you don’t like the policies of the Israeli state. Do not accuse us of having dual loyalty and looking out for the interests of Israel. Is there any danger in equating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism so strongly that in some ways it’s doing the work of the people who want to equate those two things: Jews as a whole with Israel and Zionism?
Greenblatt: I wish I didn’t have to have this conversation with you or with anyone… Anti-Zionism is a new hue of a very old color. Jews have been delegitimized for centuries. For thousands of years. Judaism isn’t a real religion. The Jews aren’t a real people. The Jews don’t really deserve rights. We have heard this throughout time. Today, the subject of derision is the Jewish state, not the Jewish people. But it is an old practice. It’s like old wine in a new bottle.
To answer your question, we have fought against dual loyalty, against that canard. There’s nothing wrong with having a passion for your homeland. Italian Americans have that, Irish Americans have that, Chinese American people have that. There’s nothing wrong with having a strong identification, but Zionism, a desire to go back to Jerusalem, the longing for Zion, isn’t something that David Ben-Gurion came up with. It isn’t something that Theodor Herzl came up with. It has been embedded in the faith and the traditions of Judaism for thousands of years. You can’t open a Torah on a Saturday morning for your daily prayer, you can’t go through a holiday, without seeing these references.
So you’re right, there are maybe more young Jewish people today who identify as progressive and think anti-Zionism is part of their progressive identity, but if you peel back the layers in anti-Zionism, it is a historic form of delegitimization targeting Jews. It may have a different veneer today, a different façade, but it’s the same architecture of intolerance that’s been there for centuries.
Chotiner: But you would also agree that the debate over Zionism has not necessarily had this “anti-Semitic veneer” for centuries, right? There are a lot of Jews who were anti-Zionists before—
Greenblatt: Give me a—Isaac. Sure, there were Jews who were worried that it would create more anti-Semitism directed against them in America. When you ask me these questions, it suggests to me that you’re coming at this from a particular editorial perspective. To compare the fear that existed in the Jewish community in the nineteen-thirties — that wasn’t anti-Zionism in the way that we have it today. The Jewish people in America or in Europe who were concerned about the prospect of creating a state of their own were terrified of the literal annihilation of their people that was taking place around them. Don’t liken the American Jewish leaders from the nineteen-thirties who had deep questions about what Zionism would mean to the people writing the charter for Hamas today.
👩 New Concerns: The Washington Post’s James McAuley sat down with Deborah Lipstadt, who was sworn in last week as the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. “Holocaust memory in public debates, Lipstadt told me on Tuesday during her first interview in her new capacity, ‘used to be about speaking truth to power. And now we have power using the Holocaust to speak lies to justify war crimes.’… Speaking in her new office at the State Department, Lipstadt said that recent events — in Ukraine and elsewhere — have altered her views about which forms of denial are the most pervasive and dangerous. Decades ago, what seemed most threatening were outright deniers such as [British Holocaust denier David Irving] Irving or his French counterpart, Robert Faurisson. But today, what she has long called ‘soft-core denial’ seems the more urgent problem: It does not so much deny well-established facts as blur them, allowing any number of bad-faith comparisons that are meant to chip away at the truth.” [WashPost]
🕍 Gulf Gripe: The Associated Press’ Isabel Debre looks at the challenges faced by the Jewish community in Dubai as it grows and seeks to create a central gathering place for community members. “Every Saturday, in secluded beach villas, hotel banquet halls and luxury apartment towers across Dubai, Jews arrive to worship at some of the world’s most hidden synagogues even as the United Arab Emirates encourages the dramatic growth and openness of its Jewish community. Plans to build a permanent sanctuary for Dubai’s fast-expanding congregation have sputtered to a standstill, Jewish leaders say. The new community is running up against hurdles that religious groups long have grappled with in this federation, where the state’s official religion of Islam is closely monitored, non-Muslim practice is controlled and religious buildings are limited.” [AP]
Around the Web
🇪🇬 Cairo Calling: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and top Egyptian officials in Cairo earlier this week.
🏅 High Honors: Last night the Atlantic Council honored Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, Ukrainian singer Jamala and Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova, who accepted an award on behalf of the people of Ukraine, and paid tribute to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the think tank’s gala in Washington, D.C.
💰 Surfside Settlement: Families of the victims of last June’s condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla., reached a $997 million settlement with a group that includes the building’s insurers, the developers of a neighboring building and an engineering firm that had sounded the alarm over concerns about the building’s structural integrity.
☎️ Problematic Prank: Police in Washington, D.C., arrested a 17-year-old girl who was charged with calling in a bomb threat to a local high school during a visit by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.
👨 Uphill Battle: The New York Times looks at the challenges facing Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was nominated to be ambassador to India nearly a year ago, following a Senate report that found that he did not address harassment issues regarding a top aide.
🎓 Cambridge-bound: The new class of fellows at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard includes Israeli television and radio journalist Romy Neumark and Danny Fenster, who was imprisoned in Myanmar for six months.
📺 Blossom’s Back: Mayim Bialik will take over as host of “Jeopardy!” for the next several months following an announcement by co-host Ken Jennings — that was met with mixed reactions — that he’d be stepping away from the quiz show for “a few months.”
📰 Back-and-Forth: Elliott Abrams and Eric Cohen responded to the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal,disputing the museum’s accounting of a spat over the attendance of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a private event.
🤝 Reunited: The Islamist Ra’am party agreed to rejoin Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition, dealing a blow to opposition parties hoping for Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas to force the country into new elections.
🛴 On the Go: Scooter company Gogoro will launch its products in Israel, a month after the Taiwan-based company went public.
Pic of the Day
The Jewish quarter in Cordoba during the “Fiesta de Los Patios,” which runs until May 15, the biggest annual event in the Spanish city, in which the city’s private patios are opened to visitors.
Founder of strategic communications and consulting firm Hiltzik Strategies, Matthew Hiltzik turns 50…
One of the earliest women in the comic-book industry, she escaped Nazi-occupied Austria on the Kindertransport, Lily Renée Willheim Phillips turns 101… Composer, singer-songwriter and producer, Burt Bacharach turns 94… Philanthropist, co-founder and the first CEO of Home Depot, Bernie Marcus turns 93… Israeli agribusiness entrepreneur and real estate investor, he was chairman and owner of Carmel Agrexco, Gideon Bickel turns 78… World-renowned architect and master planner for the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, Daniel Libeskind turns 76… Former member of the California State Senate and California State Assembly, Lois Wolk turns 76… Chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff turns 70… Former Washington correspondent for the Miami Herald covering the Pentagon, James Martin Rosen turns 67… Professor at Emory University School of Law, Michael Jay Broyde turns 58… Actress known for her role as Lexi Sterling on “Melrose Place,” Jamie Michelle Luner turns 51… Communications officer in the D.C. office of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Jonathan E. Kaplan… First-ever Jewish governor of Colorado, previously a member of Congress, Jared Polis turns 47… Principal at New Heights Communications, Joshua Cohen… Senior writer covering the intersection of technology and society at Forbes, Alexandra S. Levine… Senior director of member relations at the National Association of Manufacturers, Amanda Schechter… Civics outreach manager at Google, Erica Arbetter… Haifa-born actress known for her lead roles in “The Giver,” “Goosebumps” and “Dumplin’,” Odeya Rush turns 25…