👋 Good Monday morning!
Check out the debut edition of The Weekly Circuit, our newsletter from The Circuit covering the Middle East and North Africa through a business and cultural lens, published earlier this morning. Subscribe here.
LeBron James was the star of the simcha on Sunday night in New York City, when he attended the wedding of Ariella Boker and Jeffrey Schottenstein, the founder of TACKMA clothing and son of Columbus, Ohio-based philanthropist and American Eagle chairman and CEO Jay Schottenstein.
A judge in New York signed off on the state’s new congressional map late Friday night, setting up a flurry of weekend announcements from politicians in the state vying for newly drawn congressional seats.
In New York’s new 10th Congressional District, which includes parts of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, candidates ranging from former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou to Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) announced their intent to run for the seat. Under the new map, Jones was facing a scenario that would have seen him square off against either Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) or the DCCC chair, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), for one of the state’s newly configured Lower Hudson Valley seats.
Knesset crisis averted: Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi agreed to rejoin Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition on Sunday, ending — for now — concerns that the government would be dissolved, sending the country to new elections.
But is a new crisis looming for Bennett? His chief of staff, Tal Gan-Zvi, stepped down on Monday, a week and a half after the resignation of the prime minister’s senior foreign policy advisor, Shimrit Meir.
Bipartisan Senate letter backs full funding for 2023 Israel missile-defense aid
Forty-four senators voiced support on Friday for providing full funding — $500 million — to Israel in 2023 for the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow 3 cooperative missile-defense programs as laid out in the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
All aboard: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) led a letter, obtained by Jewish Insider, to Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who chairs the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking member of the full Appropriations Committee. The signatories to the letter include 34 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Gillibrand and Rounds, both of whom serve on the Armed Services Committee, have paired on similar letters in past years. A similar letter sent last year garnered 38 signatories.
Gantz in New York calls for calm amid spike in violence, clashes
Israelis and Palestinians “have to figure out a way to coexist with one another,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in New York on Sunday, amid an uptick in violence that has left 20 Israeli civilians dead in recent weeks, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.
Security concerns: Gantz told reporters that the government was looking to stem the tide of deadly attacks that have targeted Israeli civilians across the country. “We lost 20 people in the last five to six weeks. We must stop this wave,” he said. “I think we need to insist on security,” he added, noting that he has met twice in recent months with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “We do need to increase the governance of the Palestinians, because we want to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and weaken Hamas; this is what we are dealing with. So first and foremost, we need to continue this policy. We don’t give up on security, wherever it is. And we are connecting with them [on] different levels. And I think we should continue to do that. While doing so, we need to explain our position to our American friends and to see the reality as it is on the ground.”
On the border: Gantz also said that the Palestinian Authority could be involved in administration at the Allenby Bridge, weeks after U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides suggested that the PA should be given more control at Israel’s border crossing with Jordan. “I can think of involvement, I cannot think of responsibility,” Gantz said. The defense minister cited the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, where he said Hamas has been “equipped” with “operational capabilities.”
eye on illinois
Delia Ramirez hopes Springfield will be her springboard to Congress
As the Latino population of Chicago continues to grow, two Latino Democrats, representing opposing poles of the party, are facing off in a new congressional district. And warring pro-Israel factions are staking their claims in the race, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Gathering support: Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas is a former union leader who is running on a moderate plank and emphasizing support for law enforcement. State Rep. Delia Ramirez, the assistant majority leader in the Statehouse, is campaigning as a progressive with the backing of national figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and organizations such as Emily’s List, the Working Families Party and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC. The 3rd District, which is centered around the city’s Southwest Side, was created as a “Latino-influenced” open seat in the 2020 redistricting cycle.
Who’s with whom: Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) endorsed Villegas in the race, and J Street recently got behind Ramirez. But unlike some of last week’s high-profile primaries, where significant outside capital was spent on Democratic candidates, the groups have had minimal financial involvement in Illinois’ new 3rd Congressional District. And AIPAC’s new PAC — which has publicly sparred with J Street on social media about other races in which they’ve gone head-to-head — has not gotten behind a candidate in this race.
On the record: Ramirez outlined her views on Israel in an email to JI. “I recognize the strong bond between the U.S and Israel and believe their relationship should remain strong,” she said. Ramirez, who declined an interview, does not appear to have commented publicly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the past. Ramirez said she supports continued U.S. military aid to Israel and said she “would have supported” legislation passed by the House last year authorizing $1 billion in supplemental assistance to Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.
🍽️ The Ties that Biden: The New York Times’ Tom Friedman reflects on a recent lunch with President Joe Biden as the president struggles with concurrent challenges of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine alongside growing domestic tensions. “Biden didn’t say it in so many words, but he didn’t have to. I could hear it between the lines: He’s worried that while he has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America. It’s clearly his priority, above any Build Back Better provision. And he knows that’s why he was elected — a majority of Americans worried that the country was coming apart at the seams and that this old war horse called Biden, with his bipartisan instincts, was the best person to knit us back together. It’s the reason he decided to run in the first place, because he knows that without some basic unity of purpose and willingness to compromise, nothing else is possible. But with every passing day, every mass shooting, every racist dog whistle, every defund-the-police initiative, every nation-sundering Supreme Court ruling, every speaker run off a campus, every bogus claim of election fraud, I wonder if he can bring us back together.” [NYTimes]
🤼 Strong Man: Sports Illustrated’s L. Jon Wertheim spotlights the improbable story of Frank Simmons Leavitt — known as “Man Mountain Dean” — the pro wrestler who helped to train a group of mostly Jewish, European-born U.S. soldiers known as the Ritchie Boys before their deployments across the Atlantic. “When World War II broke out, Man Mountain had been coming off the height of his popularity. Not much earlier, he was pinballing around the country — and then the world — as a bearded babyface, theatrically tossing opponents out of the ring, flattening them on the canvas. For this he could command upward of $1,500 a night, which was more than the annual per capita income in the U.S. at the time. And when Leavitt wasn’t inside the squared circle, he was on the silver screen, starring in movies and working as a stuntman. For all of these surface differences, though, Leavitt was, by all accounts, beloved by the Ritchie Boys. He had charisma to burn, and the kind that rarely intimidated. Soldiers listened raptly to his stories about wrestling romps through venues familiar to them across Europe. They gawked as he put on heroic eating displays. Here was an American celebrity dispensing Americanized nicknames — every Gustav became a Gus — and teaching them slang.” [SI]
🎓 War of Words: The Atlantic’s David Frum looks at the current debate at Georgetown University over free speech — and policing such speech — amid recent incidents involving faculty and guest speakers on the campus. “There’s a lesson here. Punishing people for their words does not make the words vanish from memory. The unsayable is not unthinkable. Indeed, the punishment of the word may actually magnify the impact of the thought. Never mind abstract free-speech principles: Purely on pragmatic grounds, when a member of a community says something that bitterly divides the community, the way to a resolution is not to suppress the thought, but to argue it out. If we all spoke circumspectly and wisely all the time, who would even need institutional free-speech policies? The point of speech rules is to allow space for the unguarded and the ill-tempered, for the provocative and prickly person as well as the smooth and sinuous. The smooth and sinuous will seldom say anything worth hearing in the first place.” [TheAtlantic]
🕍 Mounting Costs: In the Wall Street Journal, American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Howard Husock raises concerns about the growing cost of security at Jewish institutions, which poses a major challenge to synagogues already facing funding struggles. “More than 5% of our budget is now devoted to security to protect the congregation. That’s more than $150,000 a year to prevent tragedies like the deadly attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 or the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, in January. We had long used funds to hire off-duty cops for the High Holidays to direct traffic, but this is much more serious. Every Jewish congregation is, as they say in accounting, a tub on its own bottom. There’s no diocese or sanhedrin to provide financial support. Membership dues keep the lights on. Security spending comes at the expense of other budget items: building repairs, new books for the library, or lower tuition for preschool parents, a key source of the new members we need to thrive as a community of believers. Ours is a reasonably well-off congregation, but those that aren’t face hard choices.” [WSJ]
☪️ A Chaplain’s Calling: The Wall Street Journal’s Emily Brobow talks to Col. Khallid Shabazz, the highest-ranking Muslim chaplain in the U.S. military. “After studying the Quran he felt moved to convert. Like Malcolm X, he took the name Shabazz. ‘I wanted to change my life,’ he says. But his transformation drew harsh reactions from friends and family, many of whom stopped talking to him. He says that some superior officers accused him of siding with the enemy, and he was often left hungry because he could no longer eat the pork in many mess-hall meals. Col. Shabazz recalls an afternoon in the field when his sense of isolation reduced him to tears. When a Christian chaplain approached him, Col. Shabazz assumed he would ‘beat me up like everyone else,’ he says. Instead, the chaplain praised his strength and intelligence and suggested that he help others by becoming a chaplain himself. ‘That resonated in my soul,’ he says. ‘At that moment I knew what I was going to do with the rest of my life.’” [WSJ]
Around the Web
🇨🇭 Global Gathering: The World Economic Forum kicked off its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, yesterday, after the previous two forums were held online due to the pandemic.
🗣️ Party Politics: The New York Times looks at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)’s attacks on AIPAC and its super PAC.
⚖️ Fighting Hate: Attorney General Merrick Garland met with civil rights leaders including Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt on Friday to discuss the May 14 mass shooting in a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket that left 10 people dead, the same day the Justice Department announced new guidelines and $10 million in funding to help states and localities address hate crimes.
🎭 Washington Happenings: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) participated in a Q-and-A with actor David Strathairn and Joel S. Hellman, dean of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, following a performance in Washington, D.C., on Sunday of “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski,” which starred Strathairn as a diplomat and a fighter in the Polish resistance who reported on the atrocities of the Holocaust to Allied leaders in Washington and London.
🕵️ Investigation Concerns: A congressional letter led by Reps. Andre Carson (D-IN), Lou Correa (D-CA) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), which called for an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian-American journalist, garnered 57 signatures. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog said in a statement that the letter “does not offer a fair representation of the case, ignores important context of the events… and reaches the wrong conclusion.”
⏸️ Stalled Nomination: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to India remains stalled as six Democrats say they cannot commit to voting for his confirmation; meanwhile, Garcetti’s parents have tapped a lobbying firm to aid in their son’s efforts to be the envoy to Delhi.
💰Launchpad: The New York Times delves into the quick launches of private investment funds by Jared Kushner and former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, whose respective funds, Affinity Partners and Liberty Strategic Capital, involved Middle East investors with whom the two met in the final months of the Trump administration.
🏇 What’s in a Name? Billionaire hedge fund manager and Baltimore native Seth Klarman’s horse, Early Voting, won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday in Baltimore. The major campaign donor gave the colt his name in advance of the 2020 presidential election.
🍨 Branding Bluster: The Wall Street Journal spotlights a push by Unilever CEO Alan Jope to have the company’s brands promote environmental or social change. The effort comes less than a year after subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s announced it would no longer sell its products in what it’s referred to as “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” despite Jope’s insistence that Unilever was “fully committed” to staying in Israel.
☎️ Election Intrigue: Larry Ellison was a participant on a call shortly after the 2020 election in which participants, including Sean Hannity and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), discussed strategies for contesting the election results.
🦠 Case Confirmed: Israel reported its first case of monkeypox on Friday, becoming the 13th country to observe the disease in a rare global flare-up.
🎯 Tehran Target: Col. Sayad Khodayee, a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps official who was reportedly behind attempts to target Israelis, was shot and killed by two motorcyclists outside his home in Tehran on Sunday.
🎬 Film Fears: The New York Times documents Iran’s recent attempts to intimidate and persecute Iranian filmmakers, including the recent arrests of documentary makers Firouzeh Khosrovani and Mina Keshavarz.
🕯️ Remembering: Preservationist Frank Gilbert, who worked to save such landmarks as Manhattan’s Grand Central Station, died at 91.
Pic of the Day
New York City Mayor Eric Adams leads the Celebrate Israel Parade up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday.
Emeritus professor of physics and the history of science at Harvard, Gerald James Holton turns 100…
Businessman who acquired and rebuilt The Forge in Miami Beach, Alvin Malnik turns 89… Businessman, optometrist, inventor and philanthropist, Dr. Herbert A. Wertheim turns 83… Former dean of the Yale School of Architecture and founder of an eponymous architecture firm, Robert A. M. Stern turns 83… Founder and chairman of law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a leading D.C. lobbying firm headquartered in Denver, and a long-time proponent of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Norman Brownstein turns 79… British fashion retailer and promoter of tennis in Israel, he is the founder, chairman and CEO of the French Connection, Great Plains and Toast brands, Stephen Marks turns 76… Special counsel in the NYC office of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan focused on election law, he was in the inaugural class of Yeshiva University’s Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, Jerry H. Goldfeder turns 75… Award-winning television writer and playwright, Stephanie Liss… Israeli diplomat, he previously served as Israel’s ambassador to Nigeria and consul general of Israel to Philadelphia, Uriel Palti turns 68… Editor-in-chief of a book on end-of-life stories, Catherine Zacks Gildenhorn… Israeli businessman Ofer Nimrodi turns 65…
President of Newton, Mass.-based Liberty Companies, Andrew M. Cable turns 65… Best-selling author and journalist, whose works include Tuesdays with Morrie, he has sold over 40 million books, Mitch Albom turns 64… Senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Reuel Marc Gerecht… Chairman of the board of the Irvine, California-based Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook turns 61… Former ski instructor, ordained by HUC-JIR in 1998, now rabbi of the Community Synagogue of Rye (NY), Daniel B. Gropper… Film and television director, Nanette Burstein turns 52… NYC matrimonial law attorney, Casey Greenfield turns 49… Israel’s minister of education, Yifat Shasha-Biton turns 49… Retired attorney, now a YouTuber with 540,000 followers, David Freiheit turns 43… President of the Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust, Dylan Tatz… Tech reporter and editor for Haaretz in English, Omer Benjakob… Professional golfer on the LPGA Tour, she turned pro at age 17 and is the youngest-ever winner of a modern LPGA major championship, Morgan Pressel turns 34… Senior manager of brand and product strategy at GLG, Andrea M. Hiller…