👋 Good Friday morning!
Ed note: In celebration of the Shavuot holiday, the next Daily Kickoff will arrive on Tuesday morning. Chag Sameach!
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: In Egypt, an effort to restore the country’s historic synagogues; New yeshiva aims to put South Florida on the map for Torah learning; In a first, Israel participates in Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi; Saudis positioning for next move as Israel, UAE sign free-trade pact, Emirati VC chief says; Arizona Senate GOP frontrunner lays out foreign policy views; DMFI PAC announces new slate of primary endorsements; Former ADL Florida director looks to replace Ted Deutch; General Mills says departing Israel was a business decision, not a boycott; and Why two federations 500 miles apart spent $3 million on a Jewish Eventbrite. Print the latest edition here.
The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, arrived in Israel on Thursday night, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett early on Friday morning. In an official statement, Bennett said he had expressed Israel’s deep concern to Grossi regarding Iran’s continued progress toward achieving nuclear weapons while deceiving the international community by using false information and lies.
A source familiar with the meeting told Jewish Insider that it was “a significant visit,” with the prime minister making efforts to ensure that the “correct” decisions are made regarding Iran. Grossi’s snap visit comes ahead of a crucial IAEA Board of Governors meeting next week where the international body is likely to decide whether to take action against Iran. Earlier this week, Bennett posted documents he said had been taken from Iran and proved that Tehran had sought to evade international inspectors as far back as 2004.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) called the CEO of Lufthansa airlines after the German carrier denied a group of Haredi Jews boarding on a flight to Hungary. “During our meeting, I told him that Lufthansa should be fully transparent once their internal investigation is complete, and they should share the results publicly,” Deutch told JI on Thursday.
Deutch also pressed for Lufthansa to reflect on what they could learn from the May 4 incident and to speak with Jewish community leaders moving forward.
garcia vs. garcia
In South L.A. race, same last name but different political styles — and approaches on Israel
In southern Los Angeles County, the retirement of two octogenarian members of Congress — Democratic Reps. Alan Lowenthal and Lucille Roybal-Allard — has created an opening for candidates from a new generation of party leaders to represent a newly drawn congressional district. But despite similarities in the two top candidates’ backgrounds, they differ in their approaches to governing, as well as their views on the U.S.-Israel relationship, according to interviews Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch conducted with both candidates and with California political observers.
Who’s running: Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and California Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (who are not related), both self-described progressive Latinos in their 40s who worked as teachers before entering politics, are the leading candidates to represent the 42nd District, which stretches from Long Beach to working-class communities in Southeast L.A. like Bell Gardens, where Cristina Garcia grew up. The deep blue, majority Latino district could see both candidates advance in Tuesday’s so-called “jungle primaries,” in which candidates from all parties compete for one of two slots on the November ballot.
Endorsement alert: “Robert Garcia is a little more of a calculated politician. [Cristina Garcia is] more of, like, the on-the-streets activist,” said a California political professional who has worked in Sacramento. Robert Garcia has won the endorsement of major advocacy organizations and Democratic leaders across California, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Alex Padilla, and members of Congress from elsewhere including Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). Most of Cristina Garcia’s endorsements come from local officials, but she has also earned support from a handful of nationally known progressive leaders, including the labor leader Dolores Huerta and Nina Turner, the former Ohio state senator who recently lost a high-profile congressional race in Cleveland.
Outside support: Robert Garcia has also attracted the support of pro-Israel donors, including Democratic Majority For Israel, which has spent $65,000 on digital advertising targeting Cristina Garcia. AIPAC’s PAC also endorsed Robert Garcia, and AIPAC-affiliated activists in L.A. have hosted fundraisers for him. The more liberal J Street has not endorsed in the race, but a spokesperson said the group has met with some of the candidates and is considering getting involved in the general election. (Most of the $1.7 million of outside spending in the race — all of it supporting Robert Garcia or opposing Cristina Garcia — has come from PACs tied to crypto entrepreneurs.)
Current position: Cristina Garcia did not give a straightforward answer when asked whether she personally supports the BDS movement. “I haven’t been confronted with that. I support in general — it’s different, I think, a movement, versus, like, are you going to use boycotts and divestment and towards what goal,” she said. “Who owns the BDS movement, and how do they define their end goal? That’s actually a question, a real question I have for you.” Robert Garcia said he would oppose any congressional measure that supports the movement. “Obviously, I don’t support BDS,” he said.
General Mills says departing Israel was a business decision, not a boycott
Days after General Mills announced it had sold its stake in a joint operation in Israel that operated a plant in East Jerusalem, the company emphasized that its decision was unconnected to a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement advocacy campaign that has targeted its operations for several years, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Making moves: “We have made clear the global business strategy that drove this decision. Any claims by others taking credit for this decision are false,” a new statement obtained by JI on Thursday reads. “We continue to sell our products in Israel and look forward to continuing to serve Israeli consumers with our other brands.”
History: The food manufacturing giant had been the subject of a long-running activist campaign urging the company to divest from a factory manufacturing Pillsbury products in the Atarot Industrial Zone in the West Bank. BDS activists claimed victory following the company’s Tuesday announcement it was selling off its stake in its Israeli enterprise to its business partner, Bodan Holdings.
Previously: The company previously sold off its European dough business in November 2021, and characterized both moves as part of a new business strategy “to reshape the company’s portfolio for sustainable, profitable growth by increasing its focus on advantaged global platforms.”
Bonus: Financial services firm Morningstar announced a completed review of its internal processes and the discontinuation of a product it said “exhibited bias in its outcomes by overrepresenting firms linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” while stating the company’s opposition to the BDS movement.
House letter calls for ‘independent investigation’ of Abu Akleh death
A group of House lawmakers is set to send a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Friday calling for an “independent investigation” into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and urging the Palestinian Authority to turn over evidence to assist the inquiry, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Twenty-four House members — 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans — have signed onto the letter, organized by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and obtained by Jewish Insider, encouraging Blinken to take steps to facilitate an independent inquiry into the Al Jazeera reporter’s death.
Fact-finding: “The Palestinian Authority was quick to ‘reject and refuse the participation of any Israelis in this kind of investigation,’” the letter reads, citing an Al Jazeera report. “Without access to the bullet that the Israelis have requested as part of an independent investigation, it is impossible to determine all the facts. This obstinate position serves no one, and will preclude any final determination of responsibility. One-sided releases of information will not get us closer to the truth.” The letter adds, “Recent sensationalist media accounts of the incident have not served the cause of truth. Only an independent investigation can resolve this situation, and provide solace to the families and all parties.”
Background: Abu Akleh was killed in the West Bank town of Jenin during a raid by Israeli Defense Forces. The PA has accused Israel of intentionally killing Abu Akleh. Her employer, Al Jazeera, blamed Israel and has urged the International Criminal Court to investigate. Israel has said Abu Akleh’s death occurred during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants and that it cannot conclusively determine who the shooter was without the provision of the bullet that killed the reporter, which the PA has withheld. “We urge you to ask the Palestinian Authority to provide access to the forensic evidence in Abu Akleh’s death for an independent investigation, so that all parties can reach a definitive conclusion about the events leading to her death, and hold all parties accountable,” the letter reads.
On board: Signatories to the letter include Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Darren Soto (D-FL), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Juan Vargas (D-CA), David Joyce (R-OH), Jared Golden (D-ME), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), David Valadao (R-CA), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).
☢️ Nuclear Know-how: The Atlantic’s Tom Nichols explores the history of nuclear threats and the global readiness to address them today, as he observes a scenario in Ukraine in which four nuclear powers could operate on the same battlefield. “Our collective amnesia — our nuclear Great Forgetting — undermines American national security. American political leaders have a responsibility to educate the public about how, and how much, the United States relies on nuclear weapons for its security. If we mean to reduce U.S. conventional forces and go back to relying on nuclear weapons as a battlefield equalizer, then the public should know it and think about it. If the U.S. nuclear arsenal exists solely to deter the use of enemy nuclear weapons, then it is time to say so and spell out the consequences.” [TheAtlantic]
🐙 Octopus Strategy: In The Daily Beast, Neri Zilber looks at the growing tensions between Israel and Iran, which have escalated in recent weeks, as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pushes his “octopus strategy,” whereby Israel eliminates threats from Iran — the octopus “head” — in addition to its proxies. “‘[The Iranians] have had their military equation for a long time,’ the senior Israeli official said, whereby Tehran helped establish a panoply of allied militias and terror groups around Israel equipped with vast rocket and missile arsenals, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, the Houthis in Yemen, or various Shiite proxies in Syria and Iraq. According to Israeli defense officials who spoke to The Daily Beast, there is also the growing threat of Iranian UAVs that could potentially penetrate the intricate web of Israel’s air defenses. ‘We need to turn the tables on them, and dry out the head’ of the octopus, the official added.” [DailyBeast]
👩 Meta-morphosis: The Wall Street Journal’s Salvador Rodriguez, Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and Jeff Horwitz examine Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg’s decision to leave the company after 14 years, a move attributed in part to burnout as Sandberg focuses on philanthropy and family. “A long-planned sabbatical, as part of the company’s program to offer 30 days of paid leave every five years, was postponed multiple times this year, first when her fiancé came down with Covid and then, a few months later, when she and her children did. At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ms. Sandberg was notably absent among the confab of global business leaders. Instead, Meta’s chief product officer Chris Cox and head of global affairs Nick Clegg, who was elevated to president in February, were the top executives present. Ms. Sandberg, 52 years old, stayed in the U.S. to attend the bat mitzvah of her daughter, according to people familiar with the matter. She told people close to her that she was relieved not to have to go to Davos, an event that for years was a highlight of her annual calendar, the people said.” [WSJ]
🗣️ Problematic Positions: In The Atlantic’s “Deep Shtetl” newsletter, Yair Rosenberg looks at the extremist nationalism on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following the Jerusalem Day march held in the city earlier this week. “The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is full of two-faced actors who preach unity between the two communities while doing whatever they can to undermine it in practice. The most mendacious members of the Jerusalem march purported to be celebrating the “unification” of the city, even as their abusive actions did everything possible to drive its Jews and Arabs apart. The leaders of the boycott movement against Israel reject a two-state solution in favor of turning the entire land into a binational state for Arabs and Jews, yet simultaneously advocate boycotting Jewish-Arab shared society groups as well as Israeli universities — the very institutions that have been at the progressive forefront of integrating Israel’s Arab citizens. The conflict is likewise full of individuals who claim to serve a merciful God, yet wrap themselves in the robes of religion to justify their violent acts.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
✈️ Flying Down to Riyadh: President Joe Biden will reportedly add a visit to Saudi Arabia to his upcoming Middle East trip, which is expected to take place later this month.
📄 Paper Trail: The House Oversight Committee requested documents relating to a $2 billion investment from a Saudi Arabian wealth fund into Jared Kushner’s new Middle East investment firm.
🔍 Border Breach: A new report from Freedom House details 85 instances of foreign governments — including Iran — targeting dissident voices in the United States.
❌ Unboarded: The World Jewish Congress announced the removal of Vice President God Nisanov from its leadership after the Treasury Department announced sanctions on the Russian billionaire for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
🌆 Penthouse With a Past: An Upper East Side penthouse apartment that was the longtime residence of Bernie Madoff went on the market for $15 million, the third time the apartment has been put up for sale since Madoff’s 2008 arrest.
🕵️♂️ Never Again: The NYPD said its Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a Tuesday fire in Brooklyn, after swastikas were discovered on one of the building’s interior walls.
⚖️ Court Case: A New York appeals court unanimously upheld media mogul Harvey Weinstein’s conviction for felony sex crimes.
🇦🇺 Down Under Damage: A group of Jewish alumni from a high school in Melbourne, Australia, are suing the school, alleging a culture of antisemitic bullying encouraged and sustained by its principal.
🌈 Rainbow Display: Israeli police arrested three people at Jerusalem’s annual Pride Parade, where up to 7,000 marched yesterday.
🏦 Money Matters: The Bank of Israel will further diversify its assets by shifting to more equities and riskier assets, following last month’s decision to reduce dollar and euro holdings while investing in the yuan.
💻 Hack Work: A group of Iranian dissidents claimed to have hacked into thousands of government surveillance cameras across Tehran ahead of the anniversary of the death of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
🇮🇷 Suspicious Death: A colonel from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force died after reportedly falling from a roof, the second death of a top IRGC official in two weeks.
💉 Drug Charge: Yemen’s minister of information accused Iran of “deliberately flooding” the country with drugs, following the arrest of six Iranians accused of bringing crystal meth into Yemen.
💼 Transition: Harry Siegel, formerly of The Daily Beast, will move to The City, where he will be a senior editor.
🕯️ Remembering: Talent manager George Shapiro, whose clients included Jerry Seinfeld and Andy Kaufman, died at 91.
Pic of the Day
The Israeli national soccer team poses before the start of a match against Iceland yesterday during the UEFA Nations League in Haifa, Israel.
Survivor of the Holocaust via the Kindertransport, sniper for the Haganah and renowned sex therapist, Ruth Westheimer (“Dr. Ruth”) turns 94 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Richard J. Munitz… Alice Heyman… Candidate in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, Jan Schneider turns 75… Tel Aviv-based attorney who serves as an overseas representative to the French parliament representing the southern Mediterranean region, Daphna Poznanski-Benhamou turns 72… First lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden turns 71… Retired director for legislative strategy, policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Ester Kurz… Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, David Monson Bunis turns 70… Recently retired president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Eric S. Rosengren turns 65… Chief cantor of Vienna, Austria’s Israelitische Kultusgemeinde, Shmuel Barzilai turns 65… Partner at Rosen Neuberger Lehmann LLP, Richard S. Lehmann… Rabbi at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, Steve Leder turns 62… Member of the British Parliament for the Conservative Party, Jonathan Djanogly turns 57… U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York, Judge Ronnie Abrams turns 54… CEO of Ridgeback Communications, Andrew Samuel Weinstein… Executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, Jason Moss… Actress known for her role as Nicole Walker on the NBC’s daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” Arianne Zucker turns 48… Los Angeles-based PR consultant at Winning Progressive, Eric M. Schmeltzer… Senior advancement manager at the Drew School in San Francisco, Lauren Becker… Senior director of experiential marketing at the International Rescue Committee, Sophie Oreck… Chief political officer at Israel on Campus Coalition, Brandon Beigler… D.C.-based reporter at The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman…
SATURDAY: Co-founder of Boston Properties and owner of U.S. News & World Report, Mort Zuckerman turns 85… Emeritus professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, David Kristol turns 84… Professor of organic chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science and winner of the 2012 Israel Prize, David Milstein turns 75… Retired chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Stephen J. Markman turns 73… Judge on the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia since 2018, he was the longest-tenured member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives with 42 years from 1974 to 2016, Mark B. Cohen turns 73… Former lineman for the Miami Dolphins (1973-1984), which included 3 Super Bowl appearances and 4 Pro Bowls, he is now a judge on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, Ed Newman turns 71… British journalist, author of 11 books and columnist for The Times of London, The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Chronicle, Melanie Phillips turns 71… First-ever Jewish governor of Hawaii and then chief operating officer of Illinois, Linda Lingle turns 69… President and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Daniel H. Weiss turns 65… Co-founder of Ripco Real Estate and a partner in Sagamore Hill, Todd Cooper… U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) turns 51… French-Israeli entrepreneur and angel investor, Jeremie Berrebi… D.C.-based photographer and founder of Revamped Media, Daniel Swartz… Reporter for the Washington Post covering Congress, campaigns, health policy and Pennsylvania politics, Colby Itkowitz… Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli turns 37… Senior planning analyst at Con Edison, Adam E. Soclof… Communications manager at GoPuff, Jason Hillel Attermann… Military correspondent for The Times of Israel, Judah Ari Gross… Gena Wolfson… Mid-term elections coordinating producer for NBC, Emily Gold… Ken Moss…
SUNDAY: Lithuanian-born Holocaust survivor, co-founder of the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Va., known for his ever-present cowboy hat, Jay M. Ipson turns 87… Actress and sales consultant for Chubb’s Combined Insurance, Barbara Pergament… Training director and broker associate of the Santa Monica, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services branch, Saul Bubis… Owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots, Robert Kraft turns 81… Former project manager at CSA Group, now an ESG consultant, Dan Yurman… VP of new business development at Maresco & Partners, Linda Greenfield… Author of eleven personal finance books, motivational speaker and television host, Susan Lynn “Suze” Orman turns 71… Audrey Freedman-Habush… Portrait photographer and visual anthropologist, she is the author of The Jews of Wyoming: Fringe of the Diaspora, Penny Diane Wolin turns 69… Former commissioner on the U.S. International Trade Commission, Dean A. Pinkert turns 66… Best-selling instrumental musician, the saxophonist “Kenny G,” Kenneth Bruce Gorelick turns 66… Columnist for the New York Post, Andrea Peyser turns 63… Counsel for Alan Taylor Real Estate, Sam Kraemer… EVP and managing director at D.C.’s Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), Michael Heimowitz… Optometrist, she was a member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament for eight years until last month, Gila Deborah Martow turns 61… Partner in the government, law and policy practice of Greenberg Traurig, Mark S. Weprin turns 61… First ever Jewish speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Eileen R. Filler-Corn turns 58… Beth A. Freeman 58… Member of Congress (D-PA), her father is a Jewish Holocaust survivor from Poland, Christina Jampoler Houlahan turns 55… Former member of the British Parliament, he also served as minister of culture under PM David Cameron, Baron Ed Vaizey turns 54… Entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author, he holds more than 100 granted and pending patents, Nova Spivack turns 53… Professor of Israel Studies at UCLA, Dov Morris Waxman turns 48… Co-founder of BlueLabs and director of analytics for the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012, his father and grandfather were rabbis, Elan Alter Kriegel… Research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, he was previously a member of the New Hampshire state legislature, Jason Bedrick turns 39… Women’s philanthropy and missions director at Shalom Austin, Arielle Levy… Account director at M Booth, Maya Bronstein… Clara Moskowitz… Susan Stein…