👋 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: Could Biden’s pick for envoy to Saudi Arabia facilitate normalization with Israel?; The first UAE minister to visit Israel got her start on climate change while scuba diving; Speaking at Warsaw Jewish museum, Yellen urges ‘fierce resistance’ to Putin; Rob Bassin on the impact of the United Democracy Project; Kosher poké and poker amid dealmaking at ICSC real estate conference in Vegas; and Amar’e Stoudemire clarifies he quit his job due to Shabbat observance challenges. Print the latest edition here.
Israel’s coalition in crisis? Possibly, following the decision by Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi to leave Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition, giving the opposition a two-vote majority — enough to vote to dissolve the government and send Israel to its fifth election in three years.
Today is the deadline for a judge in upstate New York to approve — or reject — the new congressional map drawn by a court-appointed special master, after the prior map, which favored Democrats, was ruled unconstitutional. The new map has drawn criticism from Black and Jewish lawmakers in the state who allege that their communities are disenfranchised by the new district boundaries.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), speaking Thursday night on an Instagram Live, appeared to call for changes to U.S. aid to Israel in response to the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, which she blamed on Israeli forces. “We can’t even get healthcare in the United States. And we’re funding this. There has to be some sort of line that we draw, it has to stop at some point,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
She accused critics of claiming that “believing that Palestinians… deserve human rights is somehow inherently antisemitic,” calling that idea, “insulting to the actual profound amount of antisemitism that our Jewish brothers and sisters are confronting right now.”
“It’s always been this political no-go zone for all parties for so long, that you’re not allowed to talk about it,” she continued.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), the only member of the House of Representatives who voted against a resolution condemning antisemitism, said he did so because “government can’t legislate thought,” claiming the legislation “promoted internet censorship and violations of the 1st amendment.”
Jake Sherman on why ‘PunchBavli’ never became a thing
Could the Washington elite wake up to Talmud in their inboxes? “I tried to do Daf Yomi a few years ago,” Jake Sherman, co-founder of Punchbowl News, revealed on Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast.” But ultimately, the D.C. insider could not fit the seven-year commitment to daily Talmud reading into his work schedule, already packed with briefing the nation’s politicos on the comings and goings in the capital in the form of a daily newsletter and podcast.
From day school to DC: But the Jewish day school graduate has always kept his Judaism front and center. “I grew up both in a Conservative and Orthodox synagogue,” Sherman, 36, who describes himself as a “modestly observant Jew,” told co-hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein. “I went to Jewish summer camp. I went to Camp Laurelwood in Madison, Conn.” Sherman boasts two rabbis as brothers-in-law, including one in yeshiva in Israel, granting his family a reason to make frequent visits to the Holy Land.
Big deal: While Sherman backed away from describing the growing internal strife within the Democratic Party — with the moderate and progressive wings battling over everything from social welfare to climate change — as a “civil war,” he was quick to call the split “an actual big deal.” “The progressive wing of the party believes that… their mandate is to be as aggressive as possible, and the Josh Gottheimers of the world, and people of that nature, believe that it’s not the way to go, and they’re gonna lose their majority,” Sherman said. “It’s the kind of age-old question: Do we maintain a majority or spend a majority?”
In the dark: “[President Joe Biden] will face bipartisan opposition if there’s an Iran deal,” Sherman said of the administration’s chances of receiving Congress’ endorsement of a potential nuclear agreement with Iran. The most concrete sign yet of disapproval came in a non-binding resolution in the Senate opposing the deal. The measure, which was introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), passed the Senate with 62 votes, including 16 Democrats. “The Hill has been in the dark, which is not something they really like to be in,” Sherman added of the vote. “It is kind of a siren that the administration has problems when it comes to Iran.”
Dignitaries visit UAE diplomats to express condolences for Sheikh Khalifa
The death of United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan last Friday sent shockwaves through a region that looks markedly different today than when he assumed power in 2004. Khalifa’s death, on May 13, began the 40-day mourning period that is traditional to the Muslim faith. He was 73.
Under Khalifa’s leadership, the UAE normalized relations with Israel in September 2020, altering the Middle East landscape. Among those who paid condolence calls to Emirati leaders and embassies — in the U.S., Europe and throughout the Middle East — were a number of Jewish and Israeli officials.
sin city scene
Kosher poké and poker amid dealmaking at ICSC real estate conference in Vegas
With more than 22,000 people expected to attend this weekend’s ICSC confab in Las Vegas, the event is a mainstay on the conference circuit — and one of the largest to relaunch, in splashy Sin City fashion, after the pandemic. This year, all the networking and hobnobbing is set against the backdrop of great uncertainty for commercial real estate and retail. The conference, which is the largest retail real estate convention in the world, turns Vegas — briefly — into a hub for the Jewish community, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Bring it back: The annual real estate gathering organized by the International Council of Shopping Centers offers some of everything, from dealmaking to dance parties, for the industry leaders who convene in 100-degree temperatures in the desert.
Kosher community: Kosher food is available through the three days of the festival, which runs from Sunday to Tuesday. Multiple hotels offer morning minyans for the Shacharit prayer service, and they don’t need to worry about hitting the 10-person prayer quorum; more than enough people show up.
When low, go high: “We do believe that the lower the place is spiritually, the higher the potential,” said Rabbi Levi Harlig, a born-and-bred Las Vegan and Chabad emissary who is running Shabbat programming at the conference. “There’s no lower place in Las Vegas than the Strip, so to be able to transform that, to have a Torah reading and keep Shabbos properly is pretty powerful.”
Tradition: Chabad’s daily minyans are sponsored by Meridian Capital Group, whose founder and CEO, Ralph Herzka, is a major donor to religious institutions in the U.S. and Israel. Each year at ICSC, Meridian Capital sponsors a high-end kosher lunch in a custom event space designed by a New York event management company. Last year’s offerings included a salad bar, a poké station and a smoothie bar.
Carson, Correa letter calls for U.S. investigation into death of Palestinian-American journalist
Reps. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Lou Correa (D-CA) are collecting signatures from their colleagues on a letter calling for a U.S. investigation into the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American reporter who was shot during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin last week, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Digging in: “As Members of Congress, we are deeply concerned by the death of Ms. Abu Akleh. Journalists worldwide must be protected at all costs,” the letter, the text of which was shared by Americans for Peace Now, reads. “Given the tenuous situation in the region and the conflicting reports surrounding the death of Ms. Abu Akleh, we request the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) launch an investigation into Ms. Abu Akleh’s death. We also request the U.S. Department of State determines whether any U.S. laws protecting Ms. Abu Akleh, an American citizen, were violated.”
Coming together: Carson and Correa are unusual allies on an issue related to Israel. Carson has been one of the most frequent critics of Israel in Congress, and voted against supplemental Iron Dome funding last year. Correa has sponsored legislation opposing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, supporting joint missile defense and economic cooperation and supporting a resolution condemning U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which characterized Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation of international law.” Correa returned from a trip to Israel sponsored by the U.S.-Israel Education Association days before Abu Akleh’s killing. Correa has been endorsed by AIPAC and Pro-Israel America. AIPAC declined to comment.
on the hill
GOP co-sponsors explain votes against Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act
Two Republicans who were original co-sponsors of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act but voted against it on Wednesday told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod on Thursday that they voted against the legislation in response to “literally hundreds” of objections from constituents and amendments made to “appease the far left.”
Last-minute: “Unfortunately, tonight, Democratic leadership made changes to the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act — a bill that I originally co-sponsored and previously voted for,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) said in a statement on Thursday. “The changes, which were made in order to accommodate [a] small far-left group… would give DOJ too much leeway in picking and choosing what it considers to constitute domestic terrorism.”
Amendments: The final changes to the legislation, approved in the Rules Committee earlier this week, added language to specify that the legislation does not “authorize the infringement or violation of any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States or an applicable provision of Federal law,” added a requirement that the DOJ, FBI and DHS jointly certify to Congress that the activities of the offices comply with civil rights and civil liberties, and removed language in the original bill that clarified that individuals linked to foreign or state sponsors of terrorism were not defined as domestic terrorists.
Changing minds: Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) echoed the objections expressed by other Republicans in a statement to JI. “I had originally sponsored this bill in hopes it would target anti-Semites, Antifa, and other hate groups who commit violence, but after hearing information from the Intelligence Committee, I have grave concerns with the use of funds from the National Intelligence Program to ‘monitor’ and surveil American citizens, including our police, servicemembers, and parents,” he said in the statement, adding that he had heard from “literally hundreds of constituents who fear the Biden Administration would abuse this bill.”
🪧 BDS Bust: Foreign Policy’s Steven Cook suggests that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel has already failed in its key goals, and gained traction only on college campuses. “Beyond all the heat and navel-gazing about BDS on college campuses, though, the movement has mostly failed. This is not an argument that “it’s complicated,” or that BDS is antisemitic, or that Israel has nothing to answer for in its treatment of the Palestinians and stealth annexation of territory. It’s merely an acknowledgment that where it counts—in the halls of government and boardrooms—BDS does not even register. There are a few cases of corporate and government action, such as the decision of the foundation that runs Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to no longer sell its products in West Bank settlements, though you can still get it in Israel. A number of years ago there was also a controversy over SodaStream, which had a factory in the occupied territories that employed Palestinians. And the European Union requires that products made in Israeli settlements be labeled as products of the West Bank, not Israel. But these are exceptions to the fact that by all measures, Israel’s normalization in the world is complete.” [FP]
🧑🎤 Rock On: In Politico, Ben Jacobs profiles rock musician-turned-politician Cherielynn Westrich, a member of Iowa’s state legislature who is making a bid for the state’s Senate. “The first term Iowa Republican was a Zelig-like figure in ‘90s pop culture. She worked for Flea, played with Spike Jonze in her first band and turned down the opportunity to appear on ‘Jackass.’ But she’s perhaps best known for playing keyboard with the Rentals, a ‘90s band that scored a single hit with the song “Friends of P.” while touring the world with performers like Blur and Alanis Morissette. Now, 20 years later, after getting inspired to enter politics by former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, Westrich is a solidly conservative state representative from blue-collar southeast Iowa who is pro-gun and anti-vaccine mandate. It may be an unusual trajectory for someone who played [Moog] synthesizer in a popular alternative rock band, but, given the politics of people in her generation, it actually might not be unusual at all.” [Politico]
Around the Web
🛢️ Not Happening: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholmaffirmed during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday that the U.S. would not import any oil from Iran.
🇸🇦 Bilateral Business: President Joe Biden could meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the first time the two will have met — as early as next month.
🤝 On the Hill: The bipartisan pro-Israel group NORPAC has held meetings with more than 300 lawmakers, including 67 senators, in recent weeks.
❌ Squeezing Hezbollah: The Treasury Department announced sanctions against Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah, described as a “key Hizballah businessman and financial facilitator.”
📣 Texas Touch: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will appear at a rally for Texas congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros today, ahead of Tuesday’s runoffs in the state, in which Cisneros is challenging Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX).
🏛️ Jewish Sole: The Weitzman Museum of American Jewish History reopened under its new name and with an endowment of $20 million from shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, two years after the pandemic shuttered the museum, which had filed for bankruptcy in March 2020.
💼 Transition: Campbell Brown, Meta’s vice president of news partnerships, will transition into a new role overseeing the company’s newly created global partnerships team.
📈 Taking Stock: Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX expanded to allow customers to trade stocks on its app, in addition to cryptocurrency.
🏺 Grecian Roots: A new exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Greece presents artifacts that show a Jewish presence in the country dating back to the fourth century BCE.
🇹🇳 Tunisian Tour: Jewish worshippers resumed their annual pilgrimage to the oldest synagogue in Africa, located in Tunisia, to celebrate Lag B’Omer, after a two-year hiatus resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
🇹🇩 Back in Chad: Israeli Ambassador to Senegal Ben Bourgel presented his credentials as a non-resident ambassador to Chad to the country’s president, three years after the countries resumed relations, and 50 years since Israel last had a diplomatic presence in the country.
🤭 Wrong Call: Israel mistakenly activated its missile-defense system after incorrectly perceiving a rocket threat near its Lebanon border.
👮 Mystical Mountain: Jewish worshippers clashed with Israeli police on Thursday at Mt. Meron on the holiday of Lag B’Omer as they broke through barriers, one year after a deadly stampede at the site cost 45 people their lives.
💰 Money Matters: Israeli tech company Buildots, which boosts accuracy in monitoring construction projects using AI and computer vision, announced it raised $60 million in a Series C round of fundraising co-led by Viola Growth and O.G. Tech.
🤴 Family Feud: King Abdullah II of Jordan placed his half-brother, Prince Hamzah, under house arrest, citing what he described as Hamzah’s “erratic behavior and aspirations.”
🇮🇷 Execution Delay: Iran said it is reviewing a request to delay the execution, scheduled for Saturday, of a Swedish-Iranian doctor accused of spying for Israel.
💥 Street Fights: Iranian troops clashed with anti-government protestors across the country yesterday.
Pic of the Day
Author and professor at Tulane U, he retired as president of the Aspen Institute in 2017, Walter Isaacson turns 70…
FRIDAY: CEO at Kings’ Care – A Safe Place, operator of multiple drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment centers, Ilene Leiter… Canadian businesswoman and former elected official, Elinor Caplan turns 78… Former member of the New York State Assembly, Ellen Jaffee turns 78… Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Connecticut’s 2nd district, he was born in a DP camp in Germany after WW2, Sam Gejdenson turns 74… Chagrin Falls, Ohio, attorney, Robert Charles Rosenfeld… CEO emeritus of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Michael S. Miller… Seamstress and weaver, Bernice Ann Penn Venable… Producer and writer who has worked on “Saturday Night Live,” PBS’ “Great Performances,” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” Alan Zweibel turns 72… U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) turns 71… Former director of international affairs, policy and planning at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Michael Alan Salberg… Born in upstate N.Y. as Michael Scott Bornstein, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren turns 67…
Chief legal analyst for ABC News and founder of Mediaite, Dan Abrams turns 56… NYC location scout and unit production manager for feature films and television commercials, David Brotsky… EVP of Resolute Consulting, Ami Copeland… Emmy Award-winning singer and songwriter, Rachel Platten turns 41… Manager of privacy issues for Amazon’s state and local public policy team, Philip Justin (PJ) Hoffman… Program officer at the Michigan-based William Davidson Foundation, Vadim Avshalumov… Founder and CEO of Berkeley, California-based Caribou Biosciences, a genome engineering company, Rachel Haurwitz, Ph.D…. Floor director and legislative director for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Lauren D. Wolman… Senior communications advisor at the U.S. Department of State, Susan Sloan… SVP at Austin-based digital agency Harris Media, Josh Canter… Miss Israel 2014, she is now legal counsel for Safe School Analytics, Doron Matalon turns 29… American University student, Aylon Berger turns 22… Conservative political activist, he is a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Kyle Kashuv turns 21…
SATURDAY: U.S. postmaster general under Presidents Reagan and Bush 41, Anthony Melchior Frank turns 91… Former U.S. senator from Minnesota, Al Franken turns 71… Guitarist and composer, Marc Ribot turns 68… EVP of American Friends of Bar-Ilan University, Ron Solomon… Chief rabbi of Mitzpe Yericho and dean of Hara’ayon Hayehudi yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer turns 67… CEO of the Boston-based hedge fund Baupost Group, Seth Klarman turns 65… Legal analyst at CNN, Jeffrey Toobin turns 62… Founder of City & State NY, Thomas Allon turns 60… Director of antisemitism education and associate director of the Israel Action Program, both at Hillel International, Tina Malka… Actress and playwright, Lisa Edelstein turns 56… Former head of Dewey Square’s sports business practice, now a freelance writer, Frederic J. Frommer… President and CEO of the Michigan-based William Davidson Foundation, Darin McKeever… University Chaplain for NYU and chief rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna turns 44… Senior principal at Cityfi, Brandon Pollak… Professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, Scott Joel Aaronson, Ph.D. turns 41… SVP and general counsel at Sinclair Broadcast Group, David Gibber… President of Mo Digital, Mosheh Oinounou… Los Angeles-born, raised in Israel, international fashion model for Versace, Sharon Ganish turns 39… Chief brand strategist at Kivvit, Steve Miller… Windsurfer who represented Israel in the Olympics (Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016), she is now a project manager at SolarEdge, Maayan Davidovich turns 34… Player on the USC team that won the 2016 NCAA National Soccer Championship, she is now in the 2022 class of UC Irvine law school, Savannah Levin turns 27…
SUNDAY: Senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Irwin M. Stelzer turns 90… Award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker since 1989, Connie Bruck… Former Skadden partner and then vice-chair at Citibank, J. Michael Schell turns 75… Cognitive scientist and CEO emeritus of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Philip E. Rubin turns 73… Director emeritus of policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Ambassador Bradley Gordon turns 73… Gloria Woodlock… Charles Scott… Former member of Knesset from the Zionist Union party, Eyal Ben-Reuven turns 68… Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Dianne F. Lob… Former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona’s 1st district (1993-1995), now a business and transactional attorney in Phoenix, Sam Coppersmith turns 67… CEO of Our Common Destiny and a senior consultant as to philanthropy at private equity firm Cresset Capital, Sandy Cardin… U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) turns 65… General partner of Google Ventures where he co-leads the life science investment team, David Schenkein turns 65…
Former head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, David Blatt turns 63… British writer, philanthropist and documentary filmmaker, Hannah Mary Rothschild turns 60… Partner at Sidley & Austin, David H. Hoffman turns 55… Former Major League Baseball relief pitcher, Alan Brian “Al” Levine turns 54… Harvard Law School professor since 2007, Noah Feldman turns 52… Israeli cookbook author and TV cookery show host, Shaily Lipa turns 48… Israel’s minister of communications, Yoaz Hendel turns 47… Israel’s first special envoy for combating antisemitism and delegitimization, actress, producer, model and singer, Noa Tishby… Executive director of American Compass, Oren Cass… Co-founder of Facebook, Dustin Aaron Moskovitz turns 38… Retired slot receiver and kick returner for the NFL’s New England Patriots, member of three Super Bowl-winning teams, Julian Edelman turns 36… White House correspondent for McClatchy, Michael Wilner… Former youth advisor to the mayor of Baltimore, Alex Friedman… JD candidate in the class of 2022 at the University of Virginia School of Law, Peter Walker Kaplan… Emma Kaplan… Aryeh Jacobson… Rebecca Weiss… Benjamin Weiss…