👋 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: Meet Shimrit Meir, Naftali Bennett’s key advisor; Israel is building a wall of lasers to defend against rockets. Will it work?; Shontel Brown notches primary win: ‘This was a faith fight’; 62 senators, including 16 Democrats, vote to oppose nuclear-only Iran deal; At Milken conference, puppies and panel discussions draw crowds; Mnuchin: U.S. stance toward Ukraine could reverberate in Mideast, Iran; Top Israeli energy official describes role of investors in promoting sustainable energy; and On Roe, a potential split between Orthodox Jewish groups and conservatives. Print the latest edition here.
A terror attack in the central Israeli city of Elad on Thursday night left three men dead and eight injured, one critically, as many Israelis were winding down celebrations of the country’s 74th Independence Day. The three victims were named early Friday as Yonatan Havakuk, Boaz Gol and Oren Ben Yiftah, all young fathers who leave behind a total of 16 children.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted on Friday morning, “Our enemies have embarked on a murderous campaign against Jews wherever they are. Their purpose is to break our spirit; They will fail. We will lay our hands on the terrorists and their supporters, and they will pay the price.”
A massive manhunt for the terrorists continued Friday morning, with Israeli police identifying the suspects as As’ad Alrafa’ani, 19, and Sabhi abu Shakir, 20, both from the Palestinan village of Rumana, near the West Bank city of Jenin. One of the assailants was reported to have used an axe in the attack, which occurred in a city park. This is the seventh such terror attack in a month and a half, leaving 19 civilians and soldiers dead.
Is Ehud Olmert returning to politics? Not quite, but according to The New York Times’ Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin in their new book, This Shall Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for the America’s Future, in early 2019, upon a spontaneous encounter at a New York restaurant, the former Israeli prime minister, who did not realize he was speaking the presence of two journalists, offered himself up — ”half-jokingly” — to help then-Sen. Kamala Harris, who would soon enter the presidential race, reach out to Jewish voters.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides told an Atlantic Council forum that he seeks to “keep the vision of a two-state solution alive,” calling a one-state solution “a disaster for a democratic state,” but added, “I’m under no illusions here that I’m going to be getting to a moment in the Rose Garden where they present me with my Nobel Peace Prize.”
Nides also emphasized what he said was the close communication between the U.S. and Israeli officials, recounting that he had met “several” times yesterday — on a holiday, Yom Ha’atzmaut — with Israeli President Naftali Bennett, spoken with President Isaac Herzog three times and had a brief meeting with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
“I call myself a Jewtina,” Los Angeles city attorney candidate Hydee Feldstein Soto said at a recent candidate forum. “Jewish values include justice and doing good. Latina values include collaboration, getting the job done, solving the problem with transparency.”
figure to know
Meet Shimrit Meir, Naftali Bennett’s key advisor
Less than a year into office, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has already left an indelible mark on the world stage. Last December, he became the first Israeli leader to openly visit the United Arab Emirates; a few months later, he did the same in Bahrain. Then, in early March, he surprised the world by flying to Moscow, on Shabbat, to meet President Vladimir Putin – an attempt, he said, to mediate between Russia and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. As Bennett’s presence in the international arena grows, many believe the credit for turning a once-rowdy politician into a world-class statesman and viable alternative to long-serving former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should go to Shimrit Meir, Bennett’s savvy but sometimes contentious senior foreign policy advisor, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash writes in a profile of Meir.
Stream of criticism: After a series of diplomatic victories, Meir, the first woman to hold this pivotal role and a newcomer to such high-stakes international diplomacy, is now said to be Bennett’s closest and most trusted aide. An effective problem-solver and sharp strategic thinker with a powerful grasp on regional affairs, according to those who know and have worked with the former journalist, Meir has fast become one of the most influential people in Israel today. Yet, even as the 42-year-old helps Bennett to gain recognition around the world, at home she has faced a stream of criticism and controversies, being labeled a divisive force in Israel’s top office, and drawing no small amount of headlines in her own right.
Coalition politics: “Running a government is complicated. Running a government through a coalition that is hanging on by a thread is doubly complicated. Having someone in the fulcrum of power who has never served in a leadership position in the Israeli government is malpractice — and it shows,” a source who has worked closely with Meir told Jewish Insider. “Bennett desperately needs some seasoned hands to help keep the government afloat – and he needs to start by undoing the damage that has been done by standing by and relying on Meir,” continued the source, who, like many others interviewed for this article, asked to remain anonymous.
Elements of chauvinism: Another analyst added, however, that part of the backlash against Meir, who declined to be interviewed for this story, also stemmed from the fact that she is a woman in a senior and powerful role. “Shimrit is talented, smart and hard-working – she was a great journalist – but she is also the first woman appointed to this role,” theorized the analyst. “I’m not sure that a man would have faced such terrible rumors – guys get to be professional and assertive, but women have to be nice as well; they are judged differently.”
Using ‘chutzpah’ to defend Israel in the U.N.
Former President Barack Obama’s controversial decision to abstain from vetoing an anti-Israel resolution in the United Nations in December 2016 is considered by many to be the lowest point in Israel-U.S. relations in recent years. Now, a tell-all book by Danny Danon, Israel’s then-ambassador to the world body, goes behind the scenes, revealing how, during the fraught days leading up to the vote on Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements in “Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem,” American diplomats pressured other countries to back the motion. Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash spoke with the former ambassador to learn more.
Obama blocked Netanyahu: In his new book, In the Lion’s Den: Israel and the World, Danon, who served from 2015-2020 as Israel’s 17th permanent representative to the U.N., details how the American delegation stonewalled his team, claiming that Obama refused to take calls from then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Danon also recounts how he found himself going head-to-head in the U.S. media with then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Using chutzpah: A former Israeli government minister and longtime Likud politician, who is known for speaking out sharply on nationalist issues, Danon also shares his insights into how his Israeli chutzpah came in handy inside an institution known for its systematic bias against the Jewish state. “Many people think of diplomacy as something that is very cold, but I brought a lot of passion and action to my role at the U.N., and I think my experiences can serve readers from many fields,” Danon told JIahead of the book’s release on May 17. “When I first entered the U.N., critics were skeptical about my ability to succeed, but I brought a lot of passion, and it was very effective.”
The DC policy wonk whose numbers crunching can make or break a bill
In the summer of 2017, Republicans’ desire to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act died in a dramatic fashion when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) signaled his “no” vote with a thumbs down on the Senate floor. What led the independent-minded Republican to buck his Republican colleagues? It was, at least in part, the analysis from the Congressional Budget Office that found that 23 million Americans would lose health insurance if the plan passed. When that CBO report was released, Democrats reacted with fury and mounted a months-long grassroots campaign to defeat the effort. It worked. So what, exactly, is the CBO? Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch talked to CBO Director Phillip Swagel on the sidelines of the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.
Wonks at work: The CBO is one of the most wonky policy organizations in Washington — and that’s saying something. And yet despite its preference for operating under the radar, the CBO’s work is so influential that proposed legislation can live or die by its so-called “CBO score.” The nonpartisan federal agency conducts independent analyses of major legislation to tell legislators how much it will cost and what other economic effects it might have.
Just the facts: “We try to provide all that sort of information without saying that this is good, or this is bad,” Swagel said. “Ultimately, it’s up to the policymakers and up to members of Congress to decide, is it worth it? Something might cost money and be worth it. And that’s what’s up to them to decide.”
Conventional wisdom: Just under 300 people work at the agency, and most of them have master’s degrees or doctorates. The senior hires are vetted to ensure they don’t have a partisan bias that would compromise the agency’s work. “I’m a moderate and not an extremist, so the CBO is a good fit, for me at least, because we tend to be in a position that’s in the middle,” said Swagel. “We are the conventional wisdom where conventional wisdom is not a pejorative.”
A NYC councilmember wants public school students to spend a day learning Jewish history
When New York City was hit with a wave of antisemitic attacks in 2019, many of them carried out by young people, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio invested in a program that sent eighth and 10th grade public school students from heavily Orthodox neighborhoods to tour the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the city’s Holocaust museum. Now, one New York City councilmember told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales that Holocaust education isn’t enough to counter antisemitism, which is again on the rise in the five boroughs. Shaun Abreu, 31, a first-term member who represents the northern reaches of the heavily Jewish Upper West Side of Manhattan, along with neighborhoods further north, wants public school students to spend a day learning about American Jewish history — not just the genocide of the Jews.
‘Feel-good’ proposal: Abreu introduced a resolution to that effect on Thursday, calling on the city’s Department of Education to institute a Day of Jewish Heritage. “Focusing on Holocaust education is very critical,” Abreu, the child of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, who is not Jewish, told eJP. “At the same time… there are 350 years of Jewish history in America, and reducing bias is going to require that we explore and fully dive into the rich history of Jewish contributions.” He added, “There’s so much negativity, and this will feel good.”
Still in the planning process: Abreu has five co-sponsors for the resolution, including the chair of the council’s Jewish caucus, Eric Dinowitz, who said in a statement that “there is a lack of knowledge on Jewish history.” Abreu is not sure what the curriculum for the Day of Jewish Heritage will look like; he hopes its content will be determined in partnership with local Jewish nonprofits. The Department of Education, likewise, would be responsible for allocating the curriculum’s budget and setting a specific date for the daylong curriculum.
⛔ DeSantis Diss?: In a Wall Street Journal oped,the Tikvah Fund’s Elliott Abrams and Eric Cohen write that New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage refused to allow the group to host its annual Jewish Leadership Conference at the museum unless they disinvited Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was scheduled to speak at the gathering. “What drives our elite institutions — museums, universities, large corporations, the media — to shut down speakers and ideas that question progressive orthodoxy? In many cases, the explanation is sheer cowardice. A lot of people dislike Mr. DeSantis, and the museum staff must have asked: What if there are protests? What if our progressive donors complain? In the current environment, protecting free speech requires moral and political courage. Many administrators, corporate CEOs and college presidents have weak spines. Preserving a free society requires at least some ability to respect other viewpoints and other people. The new czars of cancel culture seem to have little such moral imagination or civic tolerance.” [WSJ]
👨 How He Lived, and Died: In The Atlantic, Mattie Kahn shares her efforts to research the life of her great-uncle Arthur Kahn, believed to be the first Jewish victim of the Holocaust when he was killed at Dachau in 1933. “I wanted to know where the police found Arthur in Nuremberg — had he known he was doomed? And then: Did he like music? Did he write in diaries? Did he have a favorite book? I wrote to archivists and historians, searching for answers with a determination that bordered on compulsion. I struggled to explain what I hoped to find. Closure wasn’t the right word. I felt too embarrassed to write closeness. Scholars invited me to tour their institutions. I scoured footnotes, submitting files concerning Arthur’s fate to a translator so that I could read them. I took notes on the names of his torturers. I ransacked libraries. I filed research requests. I read about how he bled.” [TheAtlantic]
👪 The Roots of Genealogy: The New Yorker’s Maya Jasanoff looks at the origins of the hobby of genealogy, which stretch back centuries and involve some of history’s darker periods. “The expansion of European empires in the early-modern era imposed the genealogical priorities of Western Europe on countless other populations. One especially consequential strand can be traced to fifteenth-century Spain, where, following the mass conversions of Jews and Muslims to Christianity, ‘purity of blood’ (limpieza de sangre) statutes were passed to ferret out ‘New Christians’ and keep them from holding public or religious offices. Transplanted to the Americas after 1492, the Iberian obsession with genealogical purity informed the development of a sistema de castas, as scholars have termed it, that stratified colonial populations according to their proportions of white, Black, and Indian ancestry. The Portuguese brought the freighted term casta to India, where it was picked up by English speakers to describe the descent-based groups they found there.” [NewYorker]
🇸🇦 Saudi Struggle: For CNN, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Aaron David Miller suggests how the Biden administration could approach efforts to reconcile with Saudi Arabia. “Finally, at a time when the Iranian nuclear negotiations are stalled, what better way to increase pressure on Tehran than to welcome Saudi (and MBS) back into the fold. Indeed, throw in a few security guarantees that would assuage both Saudi and Emirati worries about US complacency in the wake of attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis, and a dream reconciliation would be complete. Not so fast. The severe tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia didn’t happen overnight; nor will they be somehow magically addressed by the sugar high the Donald Trump administration created by coddling MBS and running interference for him on human rights violations, the Yemen war and the Khashoggi murder. If the Saudis are serious about reconciliation, they should be willing to accommodate US concerns, and it’s by no means certain that they are.” [CNN]
Around the Web
🇷🇺 Our Bad: Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over debunked comments made on Sunday by Russia’s foreign minister that Adolf Hitler was Jewish.
🎤 Press-edent: President Joe Biden announced that Karine Jean-Pierre will take over as White House press secretary on May 13 following the departure of Jen Psaki. Jean-Pierre will be the first Black and LGBTQ individual to hold the role.
📈 Team Musk: Binance, Larry Ellison and Saudi Prince Alwaleed are among the more than one dozen individuals and companies who are joining Elon Musk’s bid to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, making a cumulative equity commitment of $7.1 billion.
🗳️ Secret Ballot: A 92-year-old Holocaust survivor in Brooklyn was among more than a dozen individuals unknowingly listed as candidates for local Democratic Party positions, part of an alleged effort by some Democratic leaders in the borough to shore up control within the party.
✡️ Torah Tie: Israeli teenagers Dvir Merzbach and Hillel Cohen tied for first place in the annual International Bible Quiz for Youth, the first time a tie has happened since 2013.
⚖️ Court Case: Israel’s Supreme Court upheld expulsion orders of residents of eight Palestinian villages in the West Bank.
💼 Transition: The Washington Post announced the promotion of Istanbul bureau chief Kareem Fahim to Middle East bureau chief.
🕯️ Remembering: Environmental ethicist and professor at Tufts University Sheldon Krimsky died at 80.
Pic of the Day
New York City Mayor Eric Adams toured Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance on Wednesday following an appearance at the Milken Global Conference.
Canada’s special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism, Irwin Cotler turns 82 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) turns 88… Senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford U, Abraham David Sofaer turns 84… Long-time executive of Time Inc., Gerald M. “Jerry” Levin turns 83… Write and professor of Latin American studies at Duke University, Vladimiro Ariel Dorfman turns 80… Professor of law and philosophy at the University of Chicago, Martha Nussbaum turns 75… Israeli theoretical physicist and astrophysicist, Tsvi Piran turns 73… Partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, Jamie S. Gorelick turns 72… Former prime minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair turns 69… President emeritus of the Jerusalem College of Technology / Lev Academic Center, Noah Dana-Picard turns 68… Director of the Jewish studies program at Northeastern University, Lori Hope Lefkovitz turns 66… Vice chairman and co-founder of Boston-based HighVista Strategies, Daniel Jick turns 65… President and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America, Eric David Fingerhut turns 63… Member of the board of trustees of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, Sheri Goldberg turns 59… Los Angeles-based attorney, Daniel Todd Gryczman turns 47… Senior partner at McKinsey in New York and former head of its New York office, Jill S. Zucker turns 44… Los Angeles-based television personality, Shira Lazar turns 39… Chief communications officer and head of investor relations at aMoon Fund, Brachie Sprung turns 39… Conductor and composer, he is currently music director of The Louisville Orchestra and Britt Festival Orchestra, Edward “Teddy” Paul Maxwell Abrams turns 35… Founder at ALC Hospitality, Alyse Cohen turns 34… VP on BlackRock’s corporate executive team, Benjamin Levine turns 32… Associate at Courtside Ventures and advisor to the board of directors of the Atlanta Hawks, Oliver Ressler turns 30…
SATURDAY: Investor who converted Chris-Craft Industries from a small boat business into a large media holding company, Herbert J. Siegel turns 94… Member of the New York State Assembly since 1993, Sandra R. “Sandy” Galef turns 82… Senior member of the Mobile, Alabama law firm of Silver, Voit & Thompson, Irving Silver turns 82… Napa, California-based media executive and podcast host, Jeffrey Schechtman turns 72… Theatrical producer at Press the Button Productions in Monterey, California, Jane J. Press turns 72… Former member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Rabbi Meshulam Nahari turns 71… Former deputy secretary of state and currently dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS, James Braidy “Jim” Steinberg turns 69… Director of films including “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” “Look Who’s Talking” and “Clueless,” Amy Heckerling turns 68… Professional poker player and hedge fund manager, Daniel Shak turns 63… CEO of Rationalwave Capital Partners, Mark Rosenblatt turns 63… Emmy Award-winning film, television and music video director, Adam Bernstein turns 62… Founder of JewBelong, Archie Gottesman turns 59… Former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Mark H. Levine turns 56… Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2010, he is soon departing Congress to become CEO of the American Jewish Committee, Theodore Eliot “Ted” Deutch turns 56… Director of floor legislative operations for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Keith Stern turns 48… Member of the Knesset for the Yamina alliance now serving as Israel’s interior minister, Ayelet Shaked turns 46… Director of membership at Insider Access, Yana J. Lukeman turns 45… Head of platform sales at Stripe, Robert Warren Saliterman turns 40… Social entrepreneur, winemaker and CEO of Napa Valley’s OneHope, Jake Kloberdanz turns 39… Chief of intergovernmental and legislative affairs in the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, Arthur L. Mandel turns 37… CEO of Austin-based Harris Media, Vincent Robert Harris turns 34… Las Vegas-based fashion blogger, model and writer, Bebe Zeva (a pseudonym of Rebeccah Zeva Hershkovitz) turns 29…
SUNDAY: Retired senior British judge, Baron Leonard Hubert “Lennie” Hoffmann turns 88… Chairman of the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Stanley A. Rabin turns 84… MIT biologist and 2002 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, H. Robert Horvitz turns 75… Former MLB pitcher, Lloyd Allen turns 72… Former rabbi in Dusseldorf before moving to Israel, Rabbi Raphael Evers turns 68… Former director of the USDOJ’s Office of Special Investigations focused on deporting Nazi war criminals, he is now the director of human rights enforcement strategy at USDOJ, Eli M. Rosenbaum turns 67… CFO for The Manischewitz Company, Thomas E. Keogh turns 67… Past president of Congregation B’nai Torah in Sandy Springs, Georgia, Janice Perlis Ellin turns 66… Third-generation furniture retailer, Barry Seidman turns 63… President of Clayton, Missouri-based JurisTemps, Andrew J. Koshner, J.D., Ph.D. turns 62… CEO and founder of NSG/SWAT, Richard Kirshenbaum turns 61… Novelist, author of If I Could Tell You and movie critic for The Jerusalem Post, Hannah Brown turns 60… Co-founder and CEO of the disability advocacy nonprofit, RespectAbility, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi turns 58… Israeli journalist, anchorwoman and attorney, she is best known as host of the investigative program “Uvda” on Israeli television, Ilana Dayan-Orbach turns 58… Long-time litigator and political fundraiser in Florida, Benjamin W. Newman turns 55… Canadian social activist and documentary filmmaker, now teaching at the University of British Columbia, Naomi Klein turns 52… Chairman of the World Likud, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon turns 51… Comedian, actress and author, Jodi Miller turns 51… Managing partner at West End Strategy Team’s DC office, Ari Geller turns 49… Director of strategic initiatives at J Street, Josh Lockman turns 40… Founder and CEO at Axion, Daniel First turns 32… Chief of staff in the science and society division at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Amiel Fields-Meyer turns 28…