👋 Good Friday morning!
Despite recent hurdles — including multiple threats against American critics of the Iranian regime, and the attempted assassination of writer Salman Rushdie – Western powers and Iran are inching closer to rejoining a nuclear agreement, raising concerns among Israeli officials over the parameters of the draft proposal presented to the parties last week.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned on Thursday that the new agreement, which was presented by the E.U. to American and Iranian negotiators, went beyond the parameters of the 2015 agreement and offered too many concessions to Tehran.
“The time has come to walk away from the table,” Lapid told U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who is in Israel this week. “Anything else sends a message of weakness to Iran.”
Deutch confirmed to JI that his meeting with Lapid centered on “the ongoing JCPOA negotiations and the urgent need for a comprehensive and coordinated Iran strategy that addresses all aspects of Iran’s malign activities, including Iran’s dangerously advancing nuclear program and its support for terrorist organizations.” He argued that regional aggression, hostage-taking and Iran-Russia ties “must also be central to the U.S.’s Iran strategy.”
“My conversation with the prime minister highlighted the serious threat that Iran’s dangerous advance towards a nuclear weapon poses to global security and U.S. security, and the existential threat it poses to Israel,” Deutch continued.
The Florida congressman, who will take over as head of the American Jewish Committee this fall, also met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and said Iran was the main focus of that conversation as well, in addition to regional security cooperation.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price addressed the proposal at yesterday’s press briefing in Washington. The U.S. continues to review Iran’s comments on the E.U. proposal, and has been providing private feedback to the E.U., Price said. He said the E.U. proposal is “substantially based” on the draft agreement on the table since March, and that the U.S. has “studied [the E.U.] proposal very carefully.”
Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted that the Iranian demands, which he said included a guarantee from the Biden administration to end the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Iran probe and protections for Western companies operating in Iran, amounted to “blackmail.”
The National Security Council’s Twitter account shot back, saying “nothing here is true” and the administration “would never accept such terms.”
State Dept. stops short of condemning Israeli raids on Ramallah-based NGOs
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday that there is “no question” of “the terrorist threat that Israel faces,” following raids by Israeli security forces on the offices of six Palestinian NGOs that Jerusalem alleges have ties to terror groups, but said the U.S. was “concerned” about the military’s moves, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Quotable: “There is no question regarding the terrorist threat that Israel faces. We’ve all been reminded of that tragically and vividly, to include in recent days,” Price said in response to a question from JI. “Israel cites security concerns, Israel cites terrorist threats, we will be looking to the information that they provide to us, as we form our own judgment regarding these organizations and recent actions.”
No condemnation: Price stopped short of condemning the operation or rejecting Israel’s rationale for it. Israel designated the NGOs as terrorist organizations last year, accusing them as operating as a cover for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the NGOs have denied.
Information incoming: Price told reporters that Israel had pledged to provide further information to the U.S. supporting the raids. “We have conveyed the message that there must be a very high bar to take action against civil society organizations,” Price said. “Our Israeli partners, in turn, have conveyed back to us that they have met that high bar. That is why we are going to carefully review the information that they have pledged to provide. We will form a conclusion on the basis of that information.” Price declined to say what evidence the U.S. considers necessary to meet the “high bar” or what the timeline might be for the U.S. to review the information provided by Israel.
Rewind: Israel provided information about the groups to the U.S. following its initial designation last year. Price said that “we have not seen anything that has caused us to change our approach to or position on these organizations,” but repeatedly refused to say whether the U.S. accepted or rejected Israel’s conclusions based on the information it provided last year. He also dodged questions about whether the U.S. sees the Thursday raids and closures as justified based on the information currently in its possession.
Max Tuchman joins ‘Limited Liability Podcast’
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to reevaluate how we interact with each other. From work-from-home offices and Zoom schools, to virtual playdates and gatherings, finding new ways to stay connected has never been more important. In walks Maxeme “Max” Tuchman, CEO and co-founder of the educational platform Caribu, and this week’s guest on Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast.” Tuchman created Caribu six years ago as a way to make video calls more engaging for children who are separated from friends and family by distance. During recurring lockdowns at the height of the pandemic, the app surged in popularity. Tuchman drew inspiration for Caribu from her time working in the Miami-Dade County Public School system with Teach For America. Prior to that, she served in the administration of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg as manager of education projects and then became a White House fellow under former President Barack Obama. During her conversation with co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein, Tuchman spoke about her journey into becoming an entrepreneur and the challenges she’s faced along the way.
Pivoting from politics to tech: “I think honestly, being a high school teacher prepares you for anything. There’s nothing that has been hard after that — when an 18-year-old stares you in the face, there’s just nothing scarier than that…And then also when you are working for someone like Mike Bloomberg: So it’s him as a person, but then you’re also working for the people of New York City…Everyone in New York City’s problem is your problem, so you just become kind of a serial problem-solver.”
The origins of Caribu: “My co-founder saw a picture of a soldier sitting at a coffee shop, literally, with a laptop in front of him and this huge children’s book on his shoulder. And he saw this picture — my co-founder loves to look at problems and be like, ‘Oh my god, I can probably build something that would make that a lot better.’ So he sees this picture, this soldier is like, obviously, looking at the book, right? So he’s not looking at the laptop. The book is too far away from the little webcam on the laptop, so the child probably can’t really see the text or the pictures or anything. It’s like, what a horrible experience. And so we were inspired by the U.S. military to build Caribu. And because of that, we have a partnership with Blue Star Families, where we give free lifetime subscriptions to all currently serving U.S. military as our thank you for their service, but also as a thank you for the inspiration.”
what we’re reading
When the Bidens met the Blausteins
A new, detailed article by The New Yorker’s Adam Entous, headlined “The Untold History of the Biden Family,” chronicles the lives of Biden’s father, Joseph Robinette Biden Sr., and grandfather, Joseph Harry Biden. Entous looks at Joseph Harry’s professional career at Amoco, founded by Jewish businessman and philanthropist Louis Blaustein, and his relationship with Blaustein and his son Jacob.
How it began: “Joseph Harry worked at the American Oil Company, which later became known as Amoco. He was one of the first three employees hired by Amoco’s founder, Louis Blaustein. In its early days, the company delivered kerosene, transporting it in a steel tank that was mounted on a horse-drawn wagon. Joseph Harry was photographed next to the wagon, and Amoco used the image in its advertisements. Internally, employees would reference the ‘Joe Biden tank wagon,’ and Joseph Harry became Amoco’s poster child. After starting out as a low-paid plant clerk, he moved to a sales job, and in the nineteen-twenties he was tapped to manage a new branch in Wilmington. Amoco’s in-house magazine touted him as a model employee: ‘Mr. Biden’s record of seventeen years offers a perfect example of a man who has grown with his company.’”
How it ended: “In 1937, Louis Blaustein died. After that, Joseph Harry said, there was ‘no warmth in the organization.’ He later went with Biden, Sr., to the office of Louis’s son, Jacob, who had co-founded Amoco with his father. Jacob was away, but his secretary recorded a memorandum of what the Bidens said. Joseph Harry, she wrote, had ‘gotten to a point where he cannot stand it any longer.’ He wanted to leave his job in Scranton and go into business with his sons — Biden, Sr., and Frank — selling Amoco products on commission. The Bidens would still be tied to the company, but they would be their own bosses. ‘By having the boys with him, he can train them in the work and leave them a heritage,’ the secretary wrote. Joseph Harry wanted Jacob Blaustein’s blessing. He pleaded with the secretary to find time on her boss’s schedule — ’just for fifteen minutes to talk it over.’ But she was noncommittal, explaining that Jacob was ‘busier than ever these days.’”
🕍 Odesa’s Odyssey: Nearly six months into the conflict in Ukraine, The New York Times’ Roger Cohen travels to Odesa to better understand the city, once a hub for Jewish life, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s determination to capture it. “‘My grandfather left Nuremberg for Palestine to survive the Nazis,’ Rabbi Avraham Wolff said. ‘Now I bring Jewish children to Germany to save them from Russia! Can you believe it?’ Rabbi Wolff, then 22, came to Odesa from Israel in the early 1990s to revive Judaism in an independent post-Soviet Ukraine. As the chief rabbi of the city and of southern Ukraine, he has overseen the building of Jewish kindergartens, schools, orphanages and a university — until the unraveling of his work began this year. Over the past five months, more than 20,000 Jews, or at least half the community, have left, many of them to Germany, Austria, Romania and Moldova. The Holocaust Museum is closed. The Jewish Museum is closed. Buses took 120 children from an orphanage to a hotel in Berlin, along with 180 mothers and children whose husbands and fathers had gone to the front. The women and children are under Rabbi Wolff’s direct care. The rabbi is incandescent. Odesa has been the best place after Israel for a Jew to live for the past three decades! Then Mr. Putin comes along and says he wants to free me from the Nazis! He starts killing what we have accomplished! Please, Mr. Putin, don’t liberate me, just let me live!” [NYTimes]
✡️ Jewish Pride, Jewish Fear: Ahead of a CNN special report on antisemitism airing this Sunday, Dana Bash, the network’s chief political correspondent, reflects on her son’s Hanukkah wish last year: a Star of David necklace. “I immediately thought of my great grandparents and aunt — Hungarian Jews who were not particularly observant but were murdered by the Nazis during World War II anyway. I thought of my grandparents, who escaped the Nazis and miraculously made it to the US only two months before Pearl Harbor. They became patriotic Americans who never took for granted the ability to practice their Judaism freely. Without knowing enough to make those connections, my son was asking to take up that mantle because it is his blood and in his heart. So, I said yes. We got the Jewish star and a chain to go with it. What I did not say — what I was ashamed to even admit to myself — was that my young son showing the world that he is Jewish made me nervous.” [CNN]
🇪🇬 Tug of War on Egypt:Foreign Policy’s Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch look at President Joe Biden’s clash with Congress over whether or not to send military aid to Egypt — an allotment that has been given to the country for close to 35 years. “A growing chorus of human rights groups and lawmakers, particularly on the Democratic Party’s progressive flank, want Biden to send a message to Egypt that the United States won’t accept the status quo of sending the same amount of military assistance, in light of Egypt’s dismal record on human rights. They argue that by doing anything less, Biden is caving on an important human rights promise made during his presidential campaign…On the other side are hawkish lawmakers, along with a cohort of Middle East experts staffing key positions in the Biden administration, who believe that Egypt remains an important ally in the Middle East, even in light of Sisi’s increasingly autocratic rule and draconian crackdown on political dissent. Egypt, these officials argue, cooperates with Washington on counterterrorism and helps the region maintain a stable balance with Israel — most recently when Cairo helped broker a cease-fire this month between Israel and Palestinian militants after a flare-up of violence in Gaza.” [ForeignPolicy]
Around the Web
👈 Looking at Brookings: Four Republican senators accused the Brookings Institution of acting as a foreign agent for Qatar and pressed the Justice Department for information on whether it has examined the issue.
💰 Money, Money, Money: Super PACs have poured roughly $9 million into primary races in New York ahead of the state’s primary next week, much of it targeting races in the metropolitan New York area.
🎯 Legal Liability: The New York Times profiles Judge Bruce Reinhart, who greenlit the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago, and the onslaught of harassment — some antisemitic — that he has been targeted with following the signing of the warrant.
🪧 Rally Worries: Florida-based Jewish Democratic activists called on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to pull out of a rally, scheduled for this afternoon in Pittsburgh, with Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who has come under fire from Jewish groups over his ties to the far-right site Gab.
🔍 Spy Games: Iran reportedly conducted in-person and virtual surveillance on United Against Nuclear Iran CEO Mark Wallace and the nonprofit’s original funder, Thomas Kaplan, in addition to former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and former National Security Advisor and U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
⚖️ Day in Court: The New Jersey man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie last week was indicted by a grand jury in Western New York and denied bail by a county court judge.
🇩🇪 Abbas Investigation: Police in Berlin have reportedly launched an investigation, triggered by a complaint filed by the grandson of Holocaust survivors, against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over his claim this week that Israel has committed “50 holocausts” against the Palestinians, a potential violation of the country’s laws against Holocaust denial.
🚰 Sea Change: CNN spotlights Israel’s efforts to combat water scarcity by desalinizing water from the Mediterranean Sea and sending to the freshwater Sea of Galilee.
📺 Tube Time: Yes TV greenlit a second season of “Bloody Murray,” starring Naomi Levov and Rotem Sela.
📅 Mark Your Calendar: A hearing to determine the future of the Jewish Agency’s activities in Russia, scheduled for today, was postponed until Sept. 19.
Wine of the Week
Jewish Insider’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Barkan Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay:
“For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have high blood sugar. Luckily, my doctors continue to assure me it has nothing to do with the copious amount of wine I drink. In an effort to lower my sugar levels, I have been hibernating for the last few weeks at a health program in Phuket, Thailand. Much to my surprise, the Aman Hotel greeted me at check-in with a delightful bottle of kosher wine. An amazing twofer, as I have been using this wine to make Kiddush on Shabbat, and now it is also affording me a subject for this column. The Barkan Reserve Chardonnay is bright and fresh, bringing sunshine to one’s tongue. The mid-palate has a quick sweetness to it, and the finish opens with astringent pineapple and ends up like cane sugar. This 2019 vintage should be consumed now, and keep your eyes open for the next vintages too. Enjoy amongst the palm trees while gazing out onto the ocean waves.”
Former chairman of the FCC, now a managing director at the Carlyle Group, Julius Genachowski turns 60…
FRIDAY: One of the first venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, he was an early investor in Intel, Apple Computer, Scientific Data Systems and Teledyne, Arthur Rock turns 96… Ventura County, Calif., resident, Jerry Epstein… Past member of both houses of the South Dakota legislature, Stanford “Stan” M. Adelstein turns 91… Retired as president of Ono Academic College in Israel, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev turns 81… 42nd president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton turns 76… Retired reading teacher for the New York City Department of Education, Miriam Baum Benkoe… Actor and director, Adam Arkin turns 66… Gavriel Benavraham… Managing partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, Mark C. Rifkin… Co-founder of Apollo Global Management, Marc J. Rowan turns 60… Executive editor of The New York Times, Joseph Kahn turns 58… Partner and talent agent at William Morris Endeavor, Dan Aloni turns 58… Former member of Knesset, he is the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Omri Sharon turns 58… Executive administrator of Ventura, Calif., accounting firm, Morgan, Daggett & Wotman, Carolynn Wotman… Actress and producer, best known for her starring role as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on the TNT crime drama “The Closer,” Kyra Sedgwick turns 57… District attorney of Queens, Melinda R. Katz turns 57… Founder and CEO of NYC-based government advocacy firm The Friedlander Group, Ezra Friedlander… Private equity financier and a founding partner of Searchlight Capital Partners, Eric Louis Zinterhofer turns 51… Contributing editor for The Daily Beast and the author of three books, Molly Jong-Fast turns 44… Businessman and investor, Brett Icahn turns 43… Managing partner of Handmade Capital, Ross Hinkle… Rapper, singer and songwriter, Steven Adam Markowitz turns 34… Chair of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, Yehuda L. Neuberger… Digital marketing and PR consultant in Tel Aviv, Cassandra Federbusz…
SATURDAY: Laguna Hills, Calif., resident, Phoebe Bryan… Director of the National Economic Council during the Trump administration, Larry Kudlow turns 75… Former secretary of labor for the state of Kansas, Lana Goodman Gordon turns 72… Chair of the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., Steven H. Klinghoffer… Former mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the owner of minor league baseball’s Winnipeg Goldeyes, Samuel Michael “Sam” Katz turns 71… Managing director of equity derivatives at Rice Financial Products, Jay A. Knopf… U.S. representative (D-IL), Brad Schneider turns 61… Wilmington, Del., resident and former national campaign chair for the Jewish Federations of North America, Suzanne Barton Grant… Vice chairman and president of strategic growth at Mastercard, Amb. Michael Froman turns 60… U.S. senator (R-MT), Steve Daines turns 60… Moroccan-born billionaire, he is the founder and controlling shareholder of the Altice Group, he acquired Sotheby’s during 2019, Patrick Drahi turns 59… Executive director of A Wider Bridge, Ethan Felson… Israeli writer known for his short stories and graphic novels, Etgar Keret turns 55…
Film director and screenwriter, Mark Levin turns 54… Former British ambassador to Israel, now the CEO for NHSX, Matthew Gould turns 51… Ethiopian-born, former member of the Knesset for Kulanu, Asher Fentahun Seyoum turns 51… Director of communications at the Center for Democracy & Technology, Ari Goldberg… Executive director of Lisa Stone Pritzker’s LSP Family Foundation, Abigail Michelson Porth… Deputy director and one of the founders of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, Karen Brunwasser… Co-founder of Boundless Israel, Rachel Lea Fish, Ph.D…. Partner in the Iowa office of Cornerstone Government Affairs and foundation president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, David Ryan Adelman… Canadian television and film actress, Meghan Ory turns 40… Real estate agent, author and television personality, Josh Flagg turns 37… Triathlete and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Israel 2019, Sella Sharlin turns 26…
SUNDAY: Retired owner of Effective Strategy Consultants, Boynton Beach resident, Irwin Wecker… Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (with chambers in Chicago), Judge Ilana Kara Diamond Rovner turns 84… President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, L. Rafael Reif turns 72… Israeli-born pawnbroker and star of the reality television series Beverly Hills Pawn, Yossi Dina turns 68… Businessman and prominent collector of modern and contemporary art, Mitchell Rales turns 66… U.S. senator (D-MT), Jon Tester turns 66… Israeli physician who was a member of the Knesset, he now serves as mayor of Ashdod, Dr. Yehiel Lasri turns 65… Co-founder of BlueLine Grid, a former member of the Los Angeles City Council, Jack Weiss turns 58… Director of school strategy and policy for the UJA-Federation of New York, Chavie N. Kahn… Global head of public affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Ken Mehlman turns 56… Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin turns 49… MLB pitcher for 9 teams in a long career from 2000 to 2015, he was the winning starting pitcher in three of Team Israel’s first four games in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Jason Marquis turns 44… President at Bold Decision, Adam Rosenblatt… Missions manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Erica N. Miller… Assistant editor at Simon & Schuster, Tzippy Baitch… Lynn Sharon… James Barton…