👋 Good Thursday morning!
Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg announced on Wednesday that she plans to leave the company, which she joined 14 years ago, this fall as she looks to focus on family and philanthropy.
Sandberg’s departure from the Facebook parent company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, comes as the executive has lowered her public profile as Facebook transitioned to Meta, and as her senior reports took on greater responsibilities.
In a reply to Sandberg’s announcement — which was made on Facebook — Mark Zuckerberg called her departure “the end of an era,” adding that Sandberg “architected our ads business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a company.”
Sandberg has used her platform to advocate for Jewish causes. Last fall, she participated in Hillel International’s #OwnYourStar campaign, which encouraged college students to use social media to publicly embrace their Judaism. “Antisemitism is on the rise around the world,” Sandberg wrote in an Instagram post to her 864,000 Instagram followers, which accompanied a photograph of a blue sweater adorned with a Star of David necklace. “Many Jews live and worship in fear every day. Fear of threats and abuse. Fear of violence. The subtle, nagging fear that we’re not welcome. I’m proud to be Jewish.”
In December, she donated $5 million to United Hatzalah at the group’s Miami gala. Her parents, Dr. Joel and Adele Sandberg, are backers of the group, and her father is a board member.
on the hill
Senators call for 50% funding increase for antisemitism envoy
Citing rising levels of global antisemitism, 28 senators joined a new letter calling for a 50% increase in the budget for the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism as part of the 2023 appropriations process, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Bump up: The lawmakers — 27 Democrats and one Republican, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) — signed a letter, led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on state, foreign operations and related programs last month, calling for $1.5 million in funding for the office, up from the $1 million it currently receives.
On trend: The letter, obtained by JI, highlights spiking rates of antisemitism globally and argues that the additional funding would “support the Special Envoy’s efforts to improve the safety and security of at-risk Jewish communities, combat online radicalization, ensure public officials and faith leaders condemn antisemitic discourse and strengthen judicial systems in their prosecution of antisemitic incidents.”
Quotable: “The State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism is critical for our fight against antisemitism worldwide, which is why I helped elevate the special envoy position to the rank of ambassador,” Rosen told JI. “By increasing funding for this critical position, newly confirmed Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt can have all of the resources her office needs to succeed in the mission to protect Jewish communities around the world.”
Bonus: On May 17, Rosen led a separate bipartisan letter to the leaders of the Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, urging them to provide $2 million for a joint U.S.-Israel homeland security program and $6 million for a joint cybersecurity program, matching current funding levels. That letter was signed by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Rick Scott (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE).
Blinken: Saudi Arabia a ‘critical partner’ for U.S. in expanding Abraham Accords
Secretary of State Tony Blinken highlighted Riyadh’s potential role in expanding the Abraham Accords on Wednesday, ahead of an expected visit to the region by President Joe Biden later this month, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Expanding Accords: “Saudi Arabia is a critical partner to us in dealing with extremism in the region, in dealing with the challenges posed by Iran, and also I hope in continuing the process of building relationships between Israel and its neighbors both near and further away through the continuation, the expansion of the Abraham Accords,” Blinken said at a virtual event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Foreign Affairs magazine.
Palestinian progress: Saudi officials have recently spoken about potentially normalizing ties with Israel, but insist the country will not move forward until progress has been made on addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I think we have always seen normalization as the end result, but the end result of a path,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud said last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We always envisioned that there will be full normalization with Israel, and I’ve said before that a full normalization between us and Israel, between the region and Israel, will bring immense benefits — we won’t be able to reap those benefits unless we address the issue of Palestine.”
Values and interests: Blinken’s comments came in response to a question from Dan Kurtz-Phelan, the editor of Foreign Affairs, who asked whether Biden will emphasize human rights on a visit to Riyadh. (Blinken did not confirm the reports of Biden’s planned visit.) “When we came in, President Biden was determined that we recalibrate the relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to make sure that it – that relationship was serving our own interests, as well as our values,” said Blinken, “but also preserving it, because it also helps us accomplish many important things.”
the ballot in boca
Former ADL Florida director looks to replace Ted Deutch
Hava Holzhauer, the former Florida regional director for the Anti-Defamation League and a former assistant state attorney, is hoping to bring the tools she learned at the state and local levels to Congress, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Holzhauer announced in April that she was entering the race to succeed Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who is leaving Congress to helm the American Jewish Committee.
Top of the list: “A pillar of Jewish practice is working to make the world a better place — tikkun olam,” Holzhauer said. “I’m running for Congress to make the world a better place.” She listed drug pricing, affordable housing, voting rights, abortion rights and protecting democracy as among the top issues in Florida and in her South Florida district. Holzhauer announced on May 5 that she had raised more than $100,000 during her first week in the race, but declined to provide updated totals.
Hard times: Holzhauer told JI that she prosecuted numerous hate crimes during her time as a state attorney, detailing one antisemitic incident in which a student was assaulted by a group of his classmates. “They had developed a strong hatred or dislike for Jewish people in particular over time and they directed their anger at him,” she said. “I’ve seen painful moments for people in the community. I know that Floridians, Americans are looking for something else. And they’re looking for people to not be distracted but to really help with issues that are important to them.”
Leaning in: Holzhauer pledged to carry on Deutch’s legacy as an outspoken member of Congress on issues related to Israel, saying she is “close personal friends” with the congressman and has “had a lot of conversations” with him about Israel, on which they “line up extremely closely.” Deutch did not respond to a request for comment. “Israel is incredibly important to me personally,” Holzhauer, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors said, noting that some of her relatives were murdered in the Holocaust, while others found safe haven in Israel. “Israel’s existence is fundamental. To me there’s no question — I am a Zionist, and I support the safety and security and continued existence of the State of Israel.”
what’s old is new
In Egypt, an effort to restore the country’s historic synagogues
Since mid-April, Cairo’s 1,140-year-old Ben Ezra Synagogue has been under renovation as part of the Egyptian government’s efforts to resurrect the slumbering Jewish heritage in Egypt that resonates around the world. According to popular folklore, the synagogue is situated on the site where baby Moses was discovered. It is by far the oldest Jewish temple in Cairo. Rebecca Anne Proctor reports for Jewish Insider from Cairo on the restoration work underway.
Built by history: Located amid some of the oldest Coptic churches in the country as well as the oldest mosque in Egypt, the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the synagogue, which dates to circa 882 CE, is sometimes referred to as the El-Geniza Synagogue or the Synagogue of the Levantines. The area where it is situated, formerly the center of El Fustat, the first Islamic capital of Egypt built by Amr Ibn El Aas in 642 CE, presents a unique cluster of ancient religious buildings spanning all monotheistic religions. “The building serves as witness to the freedom of religious belief Egypt had,” Femony Anwar Okasha, an Egyptian researcher in heritage who guides tours through Old Cairo, told JI.
Government support: The renovations are funded by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. The head of the committee supervising the restoration process, Mustafa Abdel-Fattah, told El Watan News that the renovation work includes insulating surfaces to protect against moisture, treating cracks, cleaning the walls and protecting color layers from the ravages of weather.
New friends: Analysts say that the project is part of the Egyptian government’s aim to attract more tourists to the country. It is also, says Yoram Meital, a professor in Ben-Gurion University’s Middle East studies department and Egypt specialist, indicative of a growing Egyptian interest in its Jewish heritage dating back to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which has increased since normalization between Israel and several Gulf Arab nations. “The Jewish past in Arab countries, not only in Egypt, has gained widespread public recognition and respect in recent years, and this is a new development,” explained Meital.
🤝 MBS Embrace: The Washington Post’s David Ignatius explores relations between Riyadh and Washington ahead of President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East later this month, which will reportedly include a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “This embrace of the Saudi leader has been coming toward us for many months. The reasons include the pragmatic concerns you would expect: MBS will probably rule Saudi Arabia for decades; the United States has security and financial interests in maintaining its long partnership with the kingdom; Saudi Arabia is an ally in a common effort to contain Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region. Two new factors proved decisive for the Biden White House: The first was the war in Ukraine, and Biden’s need for Saudi help in buffering the oil market; the second was Israel’s strong desire that Biden normalize relations with MBS and the kingdom as part of a broad realignment whose shorthand is the Abraham Accords.” [WashPost]
🎓 BDS Blitz: In the New York Daily News, Israel on Campus Coalition CEO Jacob Baime reflects on the recent decision by the editors of the Harvard Crimson to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, and broader efforts on campus to isolate Jewish students. “Even worse than the lies, BDS activists are not content boycotting Israel; they are now attempting to boycott and exclude Jews, particularly on college campuses. For example, the BDS group at Brown University forced the cancellation of a speech by transgender activist Janet Mock since it was co-sponsored by the Jewish student organization, Hillel, because it claimed that ‘Hillel [supports] the Israeli state’s policies of occupation and racial apartheid.’ In Canada, a University of Toronto campus voted to ban kosher food, claiming that providers ‘normalize Israeli apartheid.’ When hostilities erupted between Palestinians and Israel last May, a Stanford University Jewish student was told, ‘I’m not going to talk to you, Nazi,’ when merely asking a question about a class assignment; another Stanford student was told, ‘Don’t talk to me if you’re Jewish.’” [NYDN]
🇮🇱🇺🇸 Deep Divisions: In the Wall Street Journal, William Galston compares the political discourse and deadlock happening in both Washington and Jerusalem. “In Israel as in the U.S., the contending forces are deeply divided, and the current government’s majority hangs by a thread. In both countries, diverse coalitions are held together by mistrust and loathing of the other side. Right-leaning forces campaign relentlessly against the threat of an undifferentiated ‘Left’ while the center and far-left fear the return to power of a charismatic populist conservative leader. Both sides believe that the future — and the soul — of the nation are at stake, and they may be right.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
✈️ Sky Saga: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to Lufthansa looking for answers regarding an incident last month in which Jewish passengers were denied boarding at the Frankfurt airport.
🔽 System of a Down: Pentagon officials are reportedly considering downgrading the posting of the liaison in charge of coordinating security with the Palestinian Authority, as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which calls for lowering the number of generals and admirals with international postings.
🏥 Hospital Hack: FBI Director Chris Wray said Iranian government hackers were behind a thwarted attempt to break into the computer system of the Boston Children’s Hospital last year.
🗳️ Tight Race: The U.S. Supreme Court granted an “administrative stay,” blocking officials in Lehigh County, Pa., from counting undated mail-in ballots in a local judicial race, a decision that could affect the state’s GOP Senate primary, in which David McCormick’s campaign has filed a suit requesting that undated ballots be counted.
🏃♀️ Just Announced: New York City Council member Carlina Rivera, a former dues-paying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, announced she will run for New York’s newly created 10th Congressional District seat.
🧑🏫 Campus to Community: The New York City Council’s Higher Education Committee will hold a hearing about antisemitism on campuses across the city, following a faculty vote at the CUNY School of Law to endorse the BDS movement.
💸 Giving It All Away: Zynga founder Mark Pincus quietly signed onto the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give away the majority of one’s wealth.
👋 Sold: General Mills announced that it sold its stake in its joint venture in Israel, six months after the food manufacturer sold its European dough businesses. Both moves were part of what the company described as its increased “focus on advantaged global platforms, which include Mexican food, super-premium ice cream and snack bars.”
🩸 Blood Building: Israel plans to move the nation’s blood supply to a new, $135 million underground facility in Ramla, which will be built to withstand chemical, biological and conventional attacks.
😠 Ring Ring: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly complained to Secretary of State Tony Blinken about the Biden administration’s perceived “silence” over recent Israeli actions, and warned that the PA may take retaliatory measures against Israel.
🛩️ Strike Simulation: Dozens of Israeli aircraft participated in a drill designed to simulate long-range attacks, as the country improves its readiness to counter Iran.
📱New Tech: A new app available in the Gaza Strip gives women the ability to anonymously report instances of domestic violence.
🖥️ Net Loss: Iran is disrupting internet access in the country, amid protests over a recent building collapse that killed dozens of people.
✍️ Rebuke Request: A draft resolution authored by the U.S., U.K., France and Germany calls on U.N.’s nuclear watchdog to rebuke Iran for evading questions about its nuclear program.
💡 Blackout: Iraq is anticipating power shortages due to a lapse in Iranian electricity provisions, which Iran is denying over nonpayment.
🛢️ Oil Diplomacy: Saudi Arabia is open to increasing its oil production to make up for shortfalls tied to decreasing reliance on Russian supplies, following outreach from Biden administration officials, including a visit from a high-level delegation, to soothe tensions between Washington and Riyadh.
🇸🇦 Quitting Time: Expat employees at Saudi company Neom, which aims to bring smart-city technology to the Kingdom, are departing amid workplace culture clashes between foreign staffers and Saudi executives.
🕯️ Remembering: Rabbi Uri Zohar, who rose to fame as a secular comedian and director in the 1960s and ‘70s before becoming religious and leaving the entertainment industry, died at 86.
Pic of the Day
A member of the Khadosh family, a noted cheese-making family in Safed, Israel, prepares cheese ahead of the Jewish holiday Shavuot. The family has been making cheeses in their small dairy for more than 100 years, using the same methods of cheese-making as their ancestors did several generations ago.
Commissioner of the National Hockey League since 1993, Gary Bettman turns 70…
Former member of the British Parliament from Manchester and later a member of European Parliament from Northwest England, David Anthony Gerald Sumberg turns 81… Co-founder of ReelAbilities film festival, Anita Altman turns 77… Founder of Indigo Digital Press and The Landa Group, known as the father of commercial digital printing, Benny Landa turns 76… Johns Hopkins University professor and a pioneer in the field of cancer genomics, Dr. Bert Vogelstein turns 73… Writer-at-large for New York magazine, Frank Rich turns 73… Chief development officer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jordan E. Tannenbaum… Carla Beth Sanchez… Holiday and weekend cantor at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for The Aged, Ben Zion Kogen… Former board chair of Sapir Academic College in the western Negev, he was one of Israel’s senior peace negotiators at the Camp David summit in 2000, Gilead Sher turns 69… Founder of Newark-based IDT Corp and numerous affiliates and spinoffs including an energy exploration company, Genie Energy, Howard S. Jonas turns 66… Aerospace engineer and a former NASA astronaut, he flew on three shuttle missions, Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour and took along a memento from the U.S. Holocaust Museum into space, Mark L. Polansky turns 66…
Dinorah Cecilia Baroody… General manager of Harmonie Club, Davina Weinstein… Radio and television talk show host, Andy Cohen turns 54… President of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer for Marvel Comics, Marvel Television and Marvel Animation, Kevin Feige turns 49… Special counsel focused on land use and zoning at NYC-based law firm Goldstein Hall, Jessica Ashenberg Loeser… SVP of EnTrust Global, Jordan David Kaplan… Director of technology at Santa Monica-based Action Network, Jason S. Rosenbaum… Grandmaster chess player, she won the 2004 Israel Women’s Chess Championship, Bella Igla Gesser turns 37… Equestrian show jumper, she represented Israel at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Danielle “Dani” Goldstein Waldman turns 37… Co-founder and of The Wing and owner of Six Bells, Audrey H. Gelman turns 35… Director of growth at Phantom Auto, Jared R. Fleitman… Manager for policy implementation in the New York State Office of cannabis management, Benjamin G. Sheridan… Theatre, television and film actor best known for his lead role in “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,” Ethan Slater turns 30… Israeli K-Pop-style singer, whose first two songs at 17 years old both topped Israeli airplay charts, she is now in the IDF, Ella-Lee Lahav turns 19…