👋 Good Thursday morning!
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett landed in the United Arab Emirates earlier today to meet with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. The previously unannounced trip marks the third time in recent months that the two leaders have met in person.
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. watchdog group tasked with monitoring nuclear behavior, called on Iran to cooperate with its nuclear investigators, the first time in two years the board has issued such a statement.
The vote came hoursafter Iranian officials disconnected surveillance cameras at some of its nuclear sites, and a day after Germany’s domestic intelligence agency released a report indicating that Iran has stepped up its efforts to obtain nuclear technology.
Iran blamed the U.N. vote “on false and fabricated information from the Zionist regime.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) warned that “Iran now has enough uranium to produce a nuclear weapon” in a statement praising the IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan said that the IAEA’s move “reveals the true face of the rogue Iranian regime and its intention to acquire nuclear weapons.”
Boston BDS map of Jewish groups has ‘potential to incite violence,’ Auchincloss says
Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) said on Wednesday that a report released last week by a Boston-area Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement group plays on millennia-old antisemitic tropes and could inflame violence against the Jewish community, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: The group, calling itself the “Mapping Project,” alleges sinister connections between Jewish and pro-Israel groups across Massachusetts and government, politicians, the police and the media, and blames these groups for a range of nefarious activities. The group plotted the locations of the organizations on an interactive state map — drawing lines between the Jewish groups and institutions the project claims they influence — and released the addresses and names of some of the groups’ staffers.
Red alert: “This is just chilling to me. It is tapping into millennia-old antisemitic tropes about nefarious Jewish wealth, control, conspiracy, media connections and political string pulling,” Auchincloss, who represents a heavily Jewish area in the Boston suburbs, told Jewish Insider. “To name names and keep lists, which has a very sinister history in Judaism, in terms of how we are targeted, is very irresponsible. BDS needs to take this down and apologize.”
Community threat: Auchincloss tied the release of this project to current debates in the House over gun violence, explaining that he believes history shows that previous efforts to “keep lists” of Jews “can incite violence” and “inflame the deranged among us to take the next step from contemplating to acting upon violence.” The Mapping Project’s organizers did not respond to a request for comment.
Calling out: “[The organizers] need to recognize actions that have the potential to incite violence, especially in a moment of heightened antisemitism and gun violence,” Auchincloss continued. Auchincloss said he plans to raise the issue with his colleagues and with groups in the area that have promoted the Mapping Project, and will urge his colleagues to do the same. “I will give direct and stark feedback about how inappropriate and unacceptable this is,” he said.
Around the state: Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), tweeted on Wednesday that “Targeting the Jewish community like this is wrong and it is dangerous. It is irresponsible. This project is an anti-Semitic enemies list with a map attached.” The other members of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation — including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) who are named in the Mapping Project — did not respond to requests for comment.
race to watch
Las Vegas congressional candidate endorsed BDS movement in DSA questionnaire
Amy Vilela, a primary challenger to Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) in Las Vegas, has notched support from the Democratic Socialists of America and Jewish Voice for Peace, both of which are fiercely dedicated to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In a candidate questionnaire solicited by the DSA’s Las Vegas chapter and reviewed by Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, Vilela confirmed her support for BDS — endorsing a call “to pressure Israel until it complies with international law by ending the occupation, instituting equal rights for its Palestinian citizens and respecting Palestinian refugees’ right to return.”
‘Repeal’ BDS laws: Her response — limited to just a “Y,” meaning “yes” — appears at the end of the survey, in a section on “human rights and internationalism” that is limited to a pair of yes-or-no questions related to BDS. In the other, Vilela expressed opposition to laws “that would penalize companies” or “even individuals” for boycotting Israel, while vowing — in the DSA’s words — to “repeal” such legislation “in jurisdictions where it already exists.”
‘End’ police exchanges: Elsewhere, in a section on public safety, Vilela also said she is in favor of “ending” police exchanges where U.S. law enforcement officers “participate in training with Israeli military” — contributing to “practices of surveillance, militarization and racist violence,” as the DSA’s question alleges. Vilela’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from JI.
Change to nonprofit security grant application weighing ‘social vulnerability’ raises questions
A change to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program application, which will measure “social vulnerability” of the communities in which nonprofits are located, is raising questions from both lawmakers and members of the Jewish community, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
By the numbers: The 2022 NSGP application provides bonus points to nonprofits with a high score on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index. Previously, SVI had not been taken into consideration in the grant process. The NSGP provides grants to religious groups, houses of worship and other nonprofits to upgrade their security. A CDC fact sheet for the SVI explains, “A number of factors, including poverty, lack of access to transportation, and crowded housing may weaken a community’s ability to prevent human suffering and financial loss in a disaster. These factors are known as social vulnerability.”
On the Hill: A letter from House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell highlights questions about the new application parameter. “It is our strong view that, with the $70 million funding increase Congress approved for FY 2022, FEMA should be able to bring at-risk nonprofits located in underserved and underrepresented communities into the program, while ensuring availability of funding to at-risk nonprofits not located in underserved or underrepresented communities,” they wrote. In his own letter, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) urged FEMA to revert to the prior application.
Opening up: FEMA spokesperson Jaclyn Rothenberg told JI that the agency is “expanding the program to attract more communities that have high SVI… to be able to reach communities that don’t have the funds to protect themselves.” She added, “However, we still remain dedicated to making sure that communities that did receive the funding are still able to apply… And the bonus points are not enough to [receive] the funding unless there’s a clear security need.”
Questionable connection: Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s vice president for government affairs, questioned the relevance of SVI — which he described as tailored to natural disasters and other incidents “of a different nature” — to NSGP. “The concern is that if you include more than that which is applicable, then we might be moving away from the original intent and purpose of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which is to guard against terrorist attacks directed to at-risk nonprofits,” he said.
Israel’s tourism minister is looking to jump-start a battered industry
As Israel gears up for what could be its biggest summer ever for incoming tourism – rebooting an industry shattered by two years of COVID-19 restrictions and closures – Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov says the country is now ready and eager to welcome back international visitors, particularly Diaspora Jews. “Our industry has really missed its tourists, especially the Jews from Diaspora communities in the United States, France, Britain and elsewhere – we know how much people want to come now and see the relatives they’ve not seen for two years,” Razvozov told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash.
Long-term strategy: Razvozov, who spoke to JI last week on the sidelines of the Israel-Greece Conference, a one-day confab in Athens sponsored by the Brown Hotels Group, Israeli financial news outlet Calcalist, and Israeli airline Israir focusing on mutual travel, real estate, energy and innovation between the countries, said Israel was now completely open to tourists. Last month, Israel scrapped its COVID-19 testing policy at Ben Gurion International Airport. The minister said that since entering office a year ago, he has been working to develop a long-term strategy to tackle soaring hotel rates and improve services and conditions across the hospitality sector.
Vision for the future: “We need a vision for where we are heading,” Razvozov stated. “If we want to aim for 10 million tourists, then we will need to build another 40,000 hotel rooms, and we must also improve the services we provide and the value for money.” A leading minister in an increasingly unstable government coalition – with most political pundits betting its days are already numbered – Razvozov is aware he will probably not be around in 2030 to see the fruits of these efforts, but, he said, that a solid plan was more important than receiving praise for the outcome. “We need to build more hotels and we need more alternatives,” he opined. “We also need to think about the airport, the security and the services tourists receive – I know my plans are grandiose, but I came to serve the country and improve it.”
👨 Checked Out: The New York Times’ Peter Baker spotlights Jared Kushner’s moves in the weeks after the 2020 election, as he sought to bring additional countries into the Abraham Accords and distance himself from Trump associates who were denying the election results. “In what remaining time he had in the White House, Mr. Kushner wanted to focus on expanding the Abraham Accords, the agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab states, an achievement that he felt validated his whole time in Washington. Two other countries, Morocco and Sudan, signed on to the accords during the period between the election and Mr. Biden’s inauguration…. While still in the White House, he began writing a memoir focused on Middle East peacemaking. In the weeks to come, as Mr. Trump would continue to insist that he would remain for a second term, Mr. Kushner set about chronicling the first. He even took an online MasterClass on how to write a book, taught by the prolific best-selling novelist James Patterson. In the course of a two-week stretch after the election, he secretly batted out 40,000 words of a first draft. The final version is set to be published in August.” [NYTimes]
🗣️ Schmidt Speaks: New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi interviews Republican strategist and Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt, who served as a top advisor on the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and is now engaged in a prolonged online brawl with McCain’s daughter. “Schmidt and I went hiking on Tuesday, May 17, and by then, he had been fighting for 11 consecutive days. Which were five more than he had planned for in the weeks that followed his equine epiphany, when he devised the plot for a publicity blitz and a string of legal threats that would go off, pyrotechnics style, from a Saturday to a Thursday (the best days to generate sustained attention, in his professional opinion). He would harness his experience from his second act — post–McCain campaign — as a corporate-crisis communications specialist to create a crisis for those he felt deserved one most. He called it his ‘Six-Day War’ (he had recently converted to Judaism, he said).” [NYMag]
🇮🇱 Playing Politics: The New York Times’ Patrick Kingsley looks at former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to destabilize the current government, which is already on shaky ground, citing a vote earlier this week in which Netanyahu’s coalition voted against legislation applying the country’s laws to Israelis living in the West Bank. “Mr. Netanyahu hasn’t suddenly changed his political stripes, however; he still supports the law and the settler movement. But for the moment, he cares more about bringing down the current government and making himself prime minister again. To do that, his party, Likud, is refusing to vote for any of the government’s proposed legislation, even if it agrees with it. Mr. Netanyahu’s aim is to widen the divisions within the government, a fragile and diverse alliance of parties across Israel’s political spectrum.” [NYTimes]
🏙️ Back to the Boroughs: Bloomberg’s Sarah Holder spotlights the influx of people moving into New York City, from which hundreds of thousands of residents left when the city was the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. “In that first pandemic year, New York City saw more outbound migration than any other metro area in the US, with at least 160,000 households fleeing between March 2020 and February 2021, according to the data provided by Melissa, which is sourced from US Postal Service change-of-address records. The borough of Manhattan lost people at the highest rates during that period. Many of those Manhattan households found new homes in nearby suburban locales like Rockland County, Suffolk County and Westchester County. Some also moved farther afield — at least temporarily — to destinations like Miami and Los Angeles in search of more space for work-from-home setups and out-of-school kids.” [Bloomberg]
Around the Web
⏸️ On Hold: The Brookings Institution put retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who has served as the organization’s head since 2017, on leave amid an FBI investigation into Allen’s role in a scheme to illegally lobby on behalf of Qatar.
👎 No Thanks: Israel reportedly rejected a White House proposal for a high-level meeting with the Palestinian Authority, along with representatives from Egypt and Jordan.
🔍 Prime Time: The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol will begin its first public hearings tonight.
⚖️ Green Light: A federal judge in Manhattan ruled that a former Planned Parenthood employee can continue with her lawsuit against the organization, in which she alleged she was fired for raising concerns about antisemitism in the workplace.
🪧 Middle Ground: The New York Times looks at the newly created Moderate Party, a group of centrist New Jersey politicos looking to push candidates and legislators to the political center.
🎞️ Lights, Camera, Action: Actress Sarah Silverman has reportedly been cast to play Leonard Bernstein’s sister in “Maestro,” Steven Spielberg’s upcoming biopic about the famous composer and conductor.
📹 Recorded Rant: A video of the antisemitic harassment of a mixed-race couple — neither of whom is Jewish — in Texas has gone viral on Reddit, receiving 71,000 upvotes.
🎓 Veritas Vacancy: Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow announced he will step down next year, after five years leading the school.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: British prosecutors authorized police to charge media mogul Harvey Weinstein with two counts of indecent assault, stemming from a 1996 incident.
🌾 Jews Who Farm: The Guardian spotlights Sadeh Farm in the U.K., the only currently operating Jewish farming community in Europe.
🪖 War Want: Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, called for Israel to supply Ukraine with the Iron Dome missile-defense system to use in its fight against Russia, despite U.S. regulations limiting the sharing of the technology.
🗳️ Battlefield to Ballot: Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot is reportedly considering entering politics and joining forces with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
Pic of the Day
Simon Clarke of Team Israel rides yesterday during stage four of the 74th Criterium du Dauphine in southeast France.
Ice hockey player for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and best-selling author of children’s books, Zachary Martin Hyman turns 30…
Journalist for 30 years at CBS who then became the founding director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, Marvin Kalb turns 92… Retired Israeli diplomat who served as ambassador to Italy and France and world chairman of Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal, Aviezer “Avi” Pazner turns 85… Writer and social activist, founding editor of Ms. Magazine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin turns 83… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Maurice of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Charles Saatchi turns 79… Diplomat and Shakespeare historian, he was national editor of Washingtonian magazine for more than 17 years, Kenneth Adelman turns 76… Founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network (a broker/dealer network) and chairman of Southworth Development (a golf and leisure business), Joseph Deitch turns 72… Professional mediator, Wendy J. Belzberg… Israel’s minister of defense and deputy prime minister, Benny Gantz turns 63… Canadian journalist, author, documentary film producer and television personality, Steven Hillel Paikin turns 62…
Producer, playwright and screenwriter, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin turns 61… Former lead singer of the Israeli pop rock band Mashina, Yuval Banay turns 60… CEO of Jewish Women’s International, Meredith Jacobs… VP of legal solutions at Guidepoint, Craig Appelbaum… EVP of Jewish Funders Network, Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu… Screenwriter, director and producer, Hayden Schlossberg turns 44… Founder and CEO of Delve LLC, Jeff Berkowitz… Co-founder of Swish Beverages, David Oliver Cohen turns 42… Jerusalem-born actress, producer and director, Natalie Portman turns 41… Online producer, writer and director, who together with his brother Benny, are best known for their “React” video series on YouTube, Rafi Fine turns 39… Multimedia artist known for her work in photography, makeup, hairstyling and textile crafts, Anna Marie Tendler turns 37… Israeli tech entrepreneur, Raphael Ouzan turns 35… Independent writer, Haley Cohen Gilliland… SVP at DC-based Precision Strategies, Jeff Solnet… Serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies, Daniel Fine… Emilia Levy…