👋 Good Wednesday morning!
A day after drawing condemnation from German and Israeli officials for claiming Israel had committed “50 holocausts,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas walked back his comments, saying that he was referring to “crimes” committed by Israel against the Palestinians.
Abbas made the comments at a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who grimaced, but did not respond to Abbas’ remarks, drawing criticism for ignoring the comments. Abbas had been asked whether the PA would apologize for the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. In a tweet this morning, Scholz said he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” made by Abbas.
A statement by the Palestinian Authority said Abbas was “stressing that his answer was not intended to deny the singularity of the Holocaust that occurred in the last century.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that Abbas’ claims were “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie.”
“History will never forgive him,” Lapid said of the Palestinian leader.
In Wyoming, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) lost her primary to former gubernatorial candidate Harriet Hageman, who was backed by former President Donald Trump, 66-29%. Hours after conceding the race, the three-term congresswoman filed with the FEC to change her campaign account to a leadership PAC called “The Great Task,” Punchbowl reports this morning.
“In coming weeks, Liz will be launching an organization to educate the American people about the ongoing threat to our republic, and to mobilize a unified effort to oppose any Donald Trump campaign for president,” a Cheney spokesperson told Politico Playbook.
race to watch
In NY10, Dan Goldman receives both NYTimes and Hasidic backing
In what might be described as a delayed reversal of fortune, Dan Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who served as the Democrats’ lead counsel in the first Trump impeachment trial, is now riding a wave of momentum as a frontrunner in the highly competitive race for an open House seat in Lower Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump — who, despite Goldman’s best efforts, was ultimately acquitted of two impeachment charges in February 2020 — is facing a mounting list of criminal inquiries, culminating last week in a high-profile FBI raid at his Palm Beach residence. “Republicans are descending into an unforeseen and unpredicted place of complete anti-democratic demagoguery,” Goldman said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel at an outdoor café in Tribeca, the Manhattan neighborhood where he lives with his wife and five children. “Where we are today is far worse than where we were two years ago, and that genuinely scares me for our country and for our democratic institutions and the rule of law.”
NYT nod: With less than a week remaining until next Tuesday’s primary, Goldman has recently emerged as the frontrunner in the race, where he is among a dozen Democrats jockeying to represent the newly drawn 10th Congressional District. On Saturday, he snagged a coveted endorsement from The New York Times — a major coup for the neophyte candidate, who had been polling neck-and-neck with two local elected officials running to his left. The newspaper’s imprimatur may resonate with conventionally liberal Times readers in Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, among other neighborhoods in the district.
Borough Park boost: Political observers had speculated at the beginning of the race that Goldman’s high-profile role as a Trump prosecutor — coupled with his gig as a legal commentator for MSNBC — might be a liability in Borough Park rather than a selling point. But Goldman, who is himself Jewish, persisted in courting the Orthodox community, retaining local operatives and meeting for discussions with Jewish community leaders earlier than most candidates in the race, according to Ezra Friedlander, a Democratic consultant who lives in the neighborhood. Goldman’s efforts paid off on Tuesday, when he notched a big endorsement from a coalition of 25 Hasidic leaders in the district, effectively consolidating support within the sizable Orthodox community, which could prove decisive. Turnout is predicted to be lower than usual in the late-summer primary, for which early voting began on Saturday.
What they’re saying: Mordy Getz, a Hasidic businessman in Borough Park whose Judaica store, Eichler’s, is a well-trodden campaign stop for political candidates on the stump, met Goldman in July, and found he was attuned to “the needs of mom-and-pop stores and small businesses that comprise the majority of Boro Park businesses,” he wrote in a recent WhatsApp exchange. “He seems like a real mensch and a candidate who understands the needs of the community,” Getz said. “Although it may seem challenging to overcome his role in Trump’s impeachment in a community with a majority of Trump supporters, I think the recent news about Trump helps leadership realize that working with Trump opponents is inevitable.” Alexander Rapaport, who lives in Borough Park and is the founder of Masbia, a network of local soup kitchens, has found Goldman’s amiable if somewhat improbable alliance with Orthodox leadership “amusing,” he said bluntly in an interview with JI. “They’re going to wind up voting for the person who was in charge of Trump’s first impeachment.”
A ‘huge reckoning’ for America in Ken Burns’ new documentary about the Holocaust
In his deeply researched and lyrically paced documentaries about the Civil War, jazz, baseball, Thomas Jefferson and the national parks, among others, filmmaker Ken Burns has gone in search of the American character — what makes us Americans. Now that search has taken him to the Holocaust — not what happened in the killing fields of Europe but what happened on these shores as those fleeing Hitler’s noose sought sanctuary in America. “This is a huge reckoning that we have to understand,” Burns told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch in a recent interview. “The U.S. brought in more people than any other sovereign nation. But if we had done 20 times that amount, we would have failed.”
America’s problem: “This is not another film ‘about the Holocaust,’” said Lynn Novick, a frequent Burns collaborator who co-directed this film, along with Sarah Botstein. “This is about America’s response, America’s obligations, responsibilities, failures. What did the American people do and not do about this crisis as it unfolded?” The six-hour film premieres on PBS on Sept. 18.
History rhymes: The idea for the project came from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which was in the process of creating an exhibition — open now — called “Americans and the Holocaust.” The museum approached Burns in 2015, a time when the political tides in the U.S. had begun to shift toward xenophobia and away from tolerance. “It was a really different world, in which the rhymes, if you will, the echoes of the story that we’re going to try to tell, seemed present but not overwhelming,” said Burns, referring to an oft-cited quote from Mark Twain that “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Now, Burns continued, “almost every sentence of the film rhymes with the present in terrifying ways.”
Lessons learned: The documentary’s goal is not to chastise Americans, but to urge viewers to consider how to learn from America’s inaction. “It is probably not so productive to just judge and say, ‘I know I would have done something different,’” said Novick. She hopes viewers come away from the film with a more charitable understanding of who could be American, and what obligation we have to people who are different from us. “We’re living in a time where we hear a lot about us and them. You know, ‘The other people, we can’t let them in, they’re not like us,’” she explained. “That was true then, it’s true in the 1850s, it’s going to be true 100 years from now. So I really hope we can get to a time when we aren’t so focused on us and them.”
Peace through medicine as Peres Center prepares to launch U.S.-funded program
Walk into any Israeli hospital and one might be forgiven for thinking peace between Israelis and Palestinians has already broken out. Arabic and Hebrew are heard in equal measure from both practitioners and patients, and any nationalistic or religious differences are set aside. While the healthcare system is a unique bubble of coexistence amid an intractable conflict, it is also a powerful reminder that peace between the two peoples might one day be possible – a small ray of hope that the Biden administration is choosing to build upon, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Medical community: During his visit to the region last month, President Joe Biden announced that a $2.21 million United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant was being awarded to the Jaffa-based Peres Center for Peace to create a three-year program to build a cross-border medical community. The grant is part of the Nita Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA) Partnership for Peace Fund, which was enacted in late 2020.
Sustainable impact: The Peres Center, which was founded by Shimon Peres, the late Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is using the grant to lay the foundation for an assortment of initiatives ranging from peer-to-peer training, shared workshops and specialized conferences it hopes to launch later this year. “Medicine is a really good field to focus on because when a program is developed well, you can really see the sustainable impact,” Yarden Leal-Yablonka, the center’s deputy director general, told JI in a recent interview.
Peacebuilding: John Lyndon, executive director for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, welcomed the MEPPA grant, saying the Peres Center program working with healthcare professionals will have a very positive impact on grassroots peacebuilding efforts elsewhere. “We’re very pleased that USAID and MEPPA are prioritizing the health sector in this way,” he said, adding, “We’ve found that work focused on health can be especially effective.”
💥 Pattern of Attacks: The Washington Post’s Editorial Board writes that Friday’s attack on author Salman Rushdie should be seen as a wake-up call to the transgressions of the Iranian government — which has long placed a target on the novelist’s back in retaliation for his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. “The attack might be part of a wider pattern of Iranian-organized or -inspired terrorism on U.S. soil. The FBI recently broke up an assassination-for-hire plot aimed at former national security adviser John Bolton. In 2021, U.S. officials foiled a kidnapping plot against Masih Alinejad, a dissident Iranian journalist living in New York. This month, police arrested a man with a loaded automatic weapon near her house. Mark T. Esper and Mike Pompeo — the Trump administration’s secretaries of defense and state, respectively — are under full-time protection because of Iranian threats against their lives.” [WashPost]
📱 When Schumer Talks…: The Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski spotlights Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) efforts to lock in Democratic legislative victories ahead of the November midterms. “Brandishing a cellphone that looked a bit like a relic from the original ‘Star Trek,’ Schumer said: ‘Here’s my secret weapon. It’s my flip phone. I talk to every member of my caucus: They all have my direct number. You don’t have to go through staff; they can just talk to me … Name me a Democratic senator, I know their phone number.’ Schumer has been wearing out the buttons on that flip phone in recent weeks, cajoling his colleagues through a legislative agenda that left Republicans stunned, Democrats thrilled and independent observers impressed.” [BuffaloNews]
💻 Cyber Cash: The Information’s Aaron Holmes looks at the influence of investor Gili Raanan, whose Cyberstarts venture fund has backed a number of top security software startups. “‘In cybersecurity, every good idea has five startups and three of them are from Israel,’ [security software firm co-founder Shlomo ] Kramer, who is now founder and CEO of Cato Networks, said. If Raanan isn’t an investor in one of them, he probably ‘already has a startup like that’ — and that startup holds an advantage, said Kramer, who is an investor in Cyberstarts, Raanan’s cybersecurity fund. Since founding Cyberstarts in 2018, Raanan has rapidly become a force. His broad connections with cybersecurity investors and potential customers propelled his portfolio companies, including cloud security firm Wiz and crypto-wallet security developer Fireblocks, to eye-popping valuations during the recent startup boom. The 53-year-old Raanan has effectively dominated the market for companies founded by vets of an elite military hacking unit in Israel, which despite its tiny population captured more than a third of the $18 billion security startups raised globally last year.” [TheInformation]
🚀 Warning Shot: In Breaking Defense, Arie Egozi analyzes Israel’s latest interception of Iranian-made missiles near the Russia-held Tartus port in Syria, calling it a warning to Russia against recent cooperations with the Gulf country. “In recent weeks, Iran and [sic] the Russia have increasingly found common ground, with officials from both nations expressing a willingness to deepen their political and economic ties. Israeli officials have been mum on the record about the new cooperation, but the strike, members of the defense community here privately say, seems crafted to send a message that Iran cannot count on Russia to protect its assets in Syria moving forward.” [BreakingDefense]
Around the Web
🏌️♂️ In the Rough: Jared Kushner reportedly reached out to a Paramount executive in an unsuccessful effort to secure media coverage for LIV, the Saudi-financed golf tour that will play at a Trump-owned golf course in October.
📺 Gab-fest: New ads from Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, highlight Republican candidate Doug Mastriano’s ties to the far-right site Gab, which Shapiro called a site for “antisemitic, alt-right extremists.”
💰 Israeli Investing: Alex Sapir’s Sapir Corp. received an $88.6 million loan from Israeli backers for his NoMo SoHo hotel in New York.
🕵️ Rushdie’s Attacker: A New York Police Department intelligence assessment found that the New Jersey man accused of attacking author Salman Rushdie sympathized with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
📘 Coming Soon: A new memoir from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bibi: My Story, will hit bookshelves Nov. 22, weeks after Israel’s next elections.
👮 Crypto Bust: Israeli authorities arrested three individuals tied to alleged money-laundering efforts and moves to commit ”large-scale fraud” against the French treasury.
☢️ Nuke Talks Demand: Iran responded to what E.U. officials called the “final text” of the nuclear deal, saying the country wants guaranteed compensation should a future U.S. administration pull out of the agreement.
🛢️ Cargo Unhold: Iran regained control over an oil cargo that had been held by the U.S. off the coast of Greece since April.
💼 Transitions: Eliav Benjamin, formerly the head of Middle East Bureau at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will begin a posting as deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Victoria Coates, who served as deputy national security advisor under former President Donald Trump, is now a senior fellow in international relations and national security at the Heritage Foundation. The American Jewish Committee hired Aaron Bregman as its first director of high school affairs.
Pic of the Day
A child and mother play next to the statue “Kindertransport – Channel Crossing to Life” designed by Israeli architect and sculptor Frank Meisler, a Kindertransport participant, this week in Hoek van Holland, Netherlands.
Former U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania and CEO of Bridgewater Associates until earlier this year, David Harold “Dave” McCormick turns 57…
Former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, David B. Cornstein turns 84… Co-founder of Oracle Corporation, Larry Ellison turns 78… Head of Drexler Ventures and longtime board member of Apple, Millard “Mickey” S. Drexler turns 78… Former U.S. senator from Minnesota and senior counsel at Hogan Lovells, Norm Coleman turns 73… Partner in Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle, Eliot Lauer… Audiologist in the Boston area, Louise Citron… Senior U.S. District court judge for the Southern district of California, Barry Ted Moskowitz turns 72… Sharon Taksler… Former chairman, president and CEO of Continental Airlines and then United Airlines, Jeffery Alan “Jeff” Smisek turns 68… Founder and managing partner of SBNY, past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, Jordan Levy… Co-owner and founding partner of The Jackal Group, a television and film production firm, Gail Berman turns 66… Communications coordinator at Temple Beth El in Longmeadow, Mass., Deborah Kessner Peskin… Former member of Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Revital Swid turns 55…
Former MLB baseball player, now an insurance advisor in Baltimore, Brian Kowitz turns 53… Israeli journalist who serves as the Arab affairs correspondent and head of the Arab desk at Israeli News Channel 13, Zvi Yehezkeli turns 52… Documentary film director and producer, Judd Milo Ehrlich turns 51… Special assistant for baseball operations at Major League Baseball, Glen Caplin… Partner in the white collar and securities litigation groups at Proskauer Rose, Hadassa Robyn Waxman… Former Obama White House staffer, now a podcaster and comedian, Jon Lovett turns 40… VP of social impact and inclusion at Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez, Elyse Cohen… Comedian, writer, producer and actor, Raphael Bob-Waksberg turns 38… Senior reporter at Protocol, Ben Brody… One of the Sprout Brothers from Great Barrington, Mass., Ari Meyerowitz… Project manager of real estate at MSD Partners, Amanda Horwitz… Israeli marathon and half marathon runner who represented Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Marhu Teferi turns 30… Government and public affairs director at BOMA of Greater Los Angeles, Aaron Taxy… Eli Diamond… Gabriel Berger… John Kohan…