👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) last night stressed the need for a new Iran strategy and an end to negotiations with Iran in Vienna. “It is time to tell the Europeans, who[m] we have shown good faith with, that we were willing to enter into what was hopefully a stronger and longer deal, that the Iranians are not there,” the senator said in front of 150 attendees at the AIPAC New Jersey Spring Leadership Dinner on Tuesday evening.
“We need a plan moving forward,” emphasized Menendez. The senator revealed he requested another classified briefing on the administration’s plans, and promised “in the absence of hearing a plan in a classified setting, then I intend to create the structure of legislation that will ultimately dictate what a plan should be.” Read more here.
Menendez’s comments come a day after the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog warned that Iran has enriched enough uranium to produce a nuclear weapon and is weeks away from nuclear breakout.
Second Gentlemen Doug Emhoff appeared yesterday at a White House event about Jewish servicemembers moderated by Chanan Weissman, the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community. “We as Jews, and we as Americans, we all need to stand up and speak up, and that’s why it’s an honor to be with distinguished veterans and rabbis on this call,” said Emhoff. “We’re all Americans, and we as Jews have died for this country as well. And we will fight for this country, we will fight for the ideals of this country.”
DMFI PAC announces new slate of primary endorsements
The political action committee of Democratic Majority for Israel will announce seven new House endorsements on Wednesday, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
New slate: The new batch of candidates includes such incumbents as Reps. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Mike Levin (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), as well as two candidates in open-seat races: Michigan state Sen. Adam Hollier, who is running in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, and Cora Neumann, a nonprofit executive seeking the Democratic nomination in Montana’s 1st District. DMFI PAC is also backing Christy Smith, a former California state assemblywoman challenging Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) in California’s 27th District.
Mellman’s view: “Each of these distinguished leaders has demonstrated their willingness to fight for the Biden-Harris agenda, including a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” Mark Mellman, the president of DMFI PAC, explained to Jewish Insider on Tuesday.
DMFI vs. AIPAC: A spokesperson for DMFI PAC said the group will be launching independent expenditures in some of the races but declined to elaborate further. Smith’s race is rated a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Garcia — who has fended off two previous challenges from Smith — is backed by AIPAC’s new PAC. The Smith-Garcia showdown sets up a possible clash between two powerful pro-Israel groups, even as DMFI and AIPAC have, so far, been aligned in several high-profile primaries where each group has invested significant resources.
Mitten State matchup: In Michigan, Hollier is seeking to fill the seat to be vacated by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who is running in the neighboring 12th District. Hollier is jockeying for the nomination in a crowded field, including entrepreneur and state Rep. Shri Thanedar. Last May, Thanedar — who has loaned his campaign more than $5 million — co-sponsored a resolution in the Michigan Statehouse urging Congress “to enact policies that halt United States funding of the Israeli military and encourage the end of the longest military occupation in the world.” For his part, Hollier has raised just over $500,000.
New yeshiva aims to put South Florida on the map for Torah learning
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, an exodus from New York to the Sunshine State was national news, with emigres ranging from investment bankers to crypto entrepreneurs to ocean enthusiasts. For those in South Florida’s Jewish community, the arrival of newcomers from New York was nothing new. But as South Florida’s Orthodox community has ballooned, locals have acknowledged that the area’s educational institutions are not yet a match for the scale and breadth on offer in New York and New Jersey. That is starting to change, beginning with the opening this fall of a new residential yeshiva in Boca Raton that will offer intensive Torah study as well as the option to earn a bachelor’s degree, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
On campus: While the Yeshiva of South Florida (YOSF) is located in South Florida, it aims to be a top-tier institution that will draw in men from around the country. YOSF is the creation of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, the senior rabbi at nearby Boca Raton Synagogue, the hub of the local Orthodox community. But most of YOSF’s students will not be from Florida.
Well-rounded: The yeshiva is offering something akin to a liberal arts college, but instead of courses in Western civilization’s Great Books and philosophical discussions on John Locke, the curriculum, like those at yeshivas worldwide, features the Talmud and debates that were started by Torah sages of past generations.
Joyful atmosphere: Rather than a tree-lined quad in New England, YOSF offers palm trees and year-round warmth — perfect, perhaps, for walking to synagogue. “South Florida, I just think, is a comfortable, joyful, happy existence for most people,” said Rabbi Simcha Shabtai, who oversees learning initiatives at YOSF, “and for that to be the backdrop of this intensive pursuit really complements it very nicely.”
On the map: Roughly a dozen college-aged students will start at YOSF in August. What Boca has to offer them, said Goldberg, is its “unique brand of Orthodoxy,” which he described as “much less judgmental [and] divided, much less interested in being critical of others.” And the yeshiva has something to offer Boca, too: “When cities make football stadiums, they’re like, ‘We’ve made it,’” said Shayna Weiss, associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. “I feel like this is the same, like South Florida’s on the map in a serious Torah way.”
Saudis positioning for next move as Israel, UAE sign free-trade pact, Emirati VC chief says
The free-trade agreement signed yesterday between the United Arab Emirates and Israel is generating interest among investors in Saudi Arabia who are patiently making plans for the possibility their own government may soon normalize relations with the Israelis, an Emirati venture capitalist told reporters on Tuesday, The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger reports.
Making predictions: “I would expect that Saudi businessmen are just going to watch, learn and try to position themselves for if and when anything opens up” with Israel, said Sabah al-Binali, executive chairman of OurCrowd Arabia, a UAE-based unit of Israel’s OurCrowd venture capital platform. Al-Binali spoke to reporters following a ceremony yesterday in Dubai in which Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbivai and Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi signed the agreement. Some 96 percent of goods traded between the two countries, including food, agricultural products, cosmetics, medications and medical equipment, will be exempt from customs duty under the pact.
Comfort level: As Arabs and Israelis grow more comfortable with each other, Al-Binali said it’s time to start work on a more comprehensive regional framework for the holdouts to the Abraham Accords: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. The pact signed in Dubai covers regulatory enforcement, customs regulations, government procurement, protection of intellectual property rights and e-commerce. “It’s one thing to go do six bilateral free-trade agreements,” Al-Binali said. “The interesting question is can Israel end up at some point in the future doing a single, bilateral, free-trade agreement with the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] itself? Let’s not forget that the GCC is its own economic and political bloc.”
🗺️ Mideast Map: In The Hill, Mark Roth looks at the Tiran and Sanafir islands, which are reportedly a trading token in Washington’s efforts to broker relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. “Washington must aggressively seize upon this opening. Yes, it will mean painfully looking the other way when it comes to Saudi Arabia and its misdeeds. However, breakthrough opportunities for peace rarely present themselves in the Mideast. One is now and it is within reach. In 1977, when I first gazed upon the Tiran and Sanafir Islands, they were hazy and forbidding. Now, they are clear and inviting — and instead of being a cause of war, they can and must be a path for peace. The Biden administration must be quick about it. The kaleidoscope that is the Mideast is already starting to twist and what is, soon no longer will be.” [TheHill]
🤝 Back Channel: In an excerpt from his upcoming book The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler published in The Atlantic, David Kertzer provides the first account of secret meetings between the wartime pope and Nazi top brass. “Few topics in Church history, or the history of the Second World War, are as hotly contested as Pius XII’s decision to avoid direct public criticism of Hitler or his regime, and to remain publicly silent in the face of the Holocaust. Many Church conservatives portray Pius as nonetheless a steadfast, courageous foe of Hitler and fascism. Others have harshly criticized him for failing to denounce the Nazi war of aggression and Hitler’s effort to exterminate all of Europe’s Jews. Even when the Nazi SS rounded up more than 1,000 Jews in Rome itself, on October 16, 1943, the pope refused to make his voice heard. Held for two days in a complex near the walls of the Vatican, the Jews were then placed on a train bound for Auschwitz.” [TheAtlantic]
🇱🇧 The Hezbollah Opposition: In Foreign Policy, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Hussain Abdul-Hussain suggests a potential strategy for anti-Hezbollah Lebanese officials to diminish the terror group’s hold on Beirut. “In his post-election speech, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that no party or coalition won a majority. But with its ability to intimidate rivals, Hezbollah has the advantage. At the very least, the party (and its militia) can throw a tantrum and paralyze the state until it gets what it wants. Even an outright anti-Hezbollah parliamentary majority in 2005 and 2009 did not manage to oust the party from power. Forcefully disarming Hezbollah is a bloody endeavor no one is willing to undertake. But the group has an Achilles’ heel: It pretends that its extralegal armed forces have the approval of the elected cabinet. Yet the cabinet is dominated by Hezbollah loyalists.” [ForeignPolicy]
💎 Divas of Dubai: The Associated Press’ Isabel Debre spotlights “The Real Housewives of Dubai,” the latest reality TV offering from Bravo’s popular franchise, and the first “Real Housewives” series set abroad and produced by the network. “Cast members say showing off their extravagant, party-hard lives on screen debunks stereotypes about the United Arab Emirates, a Gulf Arab federation where Islam is the official religion. ‘This is an opportunity for me to show the Western world, or the world in general, how a modern Arab woman can be,’ Sara Al Madani, a serial entrepreneur and single mom, told The Associated Press from her quirky villa adorned with portraits of her favorite non-fungible tokens and a room full of trophies commemorating her career. Instead of the traditional black abaya, Al Madani sported a wide-brimmed suede hat. With a nose ring, tongue piercing and arm tattoo that reads ‘Rebel,’ she was the first to admit: ‘I’m not your typical Arab or Emirati.’ Al Madani is the only Emirati cast member — a ratio that comes as no surprise in a country where expatriates outnumber locals nearly nine to one.” [AP]
Around the Web
✍️ Letter Writing: Fifteen House Democrats, led by Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), signed a letter calling on the State Department to “exert all available diplomatic pressure” to halt evictions in the West Bank region of Masafer Yatta, characterizing the evictions as a “war crime.”
🗳️ On Hold: Congressional candidate Rana Abdelhamid, who was challenging Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in New York’s 12th Congressional District, suspended her campaign following the redrawing of the state’s congressional map, which now pits Maloney against fellow Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). Former Obama administration staffer Suraj Patel remains in the race.
🏃♂️ Still Running: Former Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) said he would remain in the race in New York’s 11th Congressional District, despite a new state congressional map that favors Republicans in the district.
🏇 In the Race: Attorney Dan Goldman, who served as lead counsel to House Democrats in the first effort to impeach former President Donald Trump, announced he will join the crowded Democratic primary in New York’s newly drawn 10th Congressional District, where former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and others are battling for the new seat.
⚖️ Not Guilty: Michael Sussmann, the first person charged in Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into the 2016 investigation of the Trump presidential campaign, was acquitted by a federal jury on charges that he lied to the FBI.
💰 Board Game: Nelson Peltz, whose Trian Fund Management LP owns 37.4 million ordinary shares of Unilever, will join the conglomerate’s board this summer.
🇨🇴 Bogota Bluster: Colombian businessman Rodolfo Hernández, who once called himself a follower of Adolf Hitler, advanced to the country’s presidential runoff amid growing support from the Colombian conservative political establishment.
🚓 Across the Pond: London authorities arrested four protesters who spray-painted a commercial building that houses Israeli defense company Elbit Systems.
📈 By the Numbers: Israeli shopping mall operator Azrieli reported a rise in Q1 profits, largely attributed to property investment appreciation caused by inflation.
☢️ Nuclear Option: Iran said that a U.N. report criticizing Tehran for not providing sufficient answers to questions about its nuclear program was “unfair” and blamed the report’s purported bias on influence by “Zionists and other actors.”
🚢 Tanker Trouble: Iran called on Greece to cooperate directly in a conflict over Iran’s seizure of two Greek tankers.
😡 Mad Masses: The Financial Times spotlights frustration in Iran over perceived corruption by government officials, which has been exacerbated by the collapse of a poorly constructed apartment building that killed 32 people.
🏺 What Lies Beneath: Egyptian archeologists discovered hundreds of sarcophagi, some dating back 2,500 years, outside of Cairo.
💼 Transition: Josh Cohen, chief of staff to Rep. Lois Frankel (D-NY), will join Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland’s team as speechwriter and senior advisor.
Pic of the Day
Edmonton Oilers’ right wing and Jewish day school graduate Zach Hyman scores a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the third period of Game 1 of their Stanley Cup semifinals matchup. Despite eventually losing 8-6, it was the seventh scored goal since the start of the second round by Hyman, who is also an award-winning children’s book author.
NYC-born Israeli pairs skater, she competed for Israel at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Hailey Esther Kops turns 20…
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, pianist and conductor, Yehudi Wyner turns 93… Holocaust survivor as a child, he served as the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel and twice as chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau turns 85… Founder and dean of Beth Jacob Jerusalem (BJJ), a women’s seminary located in Jerusalem, Rebbetzin Bruria David turns 84… NYC-based attorney, author of two books regarding the history and operations of El Al, Marvin G. Goldman turns 83… Grammy Award-winning classical pianist, Richard Goode turns 79… Former member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Shimon Ohayon turns 77… Retired attorney in Berkeley, Calif., Thom Seaton… Pediatrician in the San Francisco Bay area, Elliot Charles Lepler, MD… Former member of the Knesset for the Shinui and the Hilonit Tzionit parties, Eti Livni turns 74… Founding editor of The American Interest, Adam M. Garfinkle turns 71… Former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News and co-author with Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg by Bloomberg, Matthew Winkler turns 67… Former IDF officer and now a London-based political scientist and journalist, Ahron “Ronnie” Bregman turns 64…
Former member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Amnon Cohen turns 62… Majority owner of MLB’s Oakland Athletics, his parents were the co-founders of Gap, Inc., he is the chair of Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Foundation, John J. Fisher turns 61… Poet, performance artist and essayist, Adeena Karasick, Ph.D…. Founding editor and publisher of the Dayton Jewish Observer, Marshall J. Weiss… Television personality and matchmaker, Sigalit “Siggy” Flicker turns 55… Actress and film director, Danielle Harris turns 45… Contributing editor at The Daily Beast, Spencer J. Ackerman… Comedian, writer, actress and producer, Amy Schumer turns 41… Partner at management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, Daniel Tannebaum… Musician, songwriter and author, Ari Seth Herstand turns 37… Executive director of MoveOn Political Action, Ilya Sheyman turns 36… Political reporter for NBC News and MSNBC, Alex Seitz-Wald… Senior reporter at CNN Business, Nicole Goodkind… Privacy and civil liberties engineer at Palantir Technologies, Naomi S. Kadish… Isabel Keller…