👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we catch up with YU hoops star Ryan Turell on the eve of his history-making NBA G League debut, and lay out what will happen over the coming days and weeks as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to form a government following this week’s elections. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Rep. Susan Wild, Lisa Scheller, Jonathan Greenblatt and Rep. Ritchie Torres.
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 and eJewishPhilanthropy stories, including: YU hoops star Cruising into NBA history; Russian-Israeli race car driver makes F1 debut; An MTG ally takes on a moderate Jewish Democrat in FL-13; Elaine Luria’s tightrope walk down the center path; What does the botched Ukraine letter mean for congressional progressives’ foreign policy agenda?; Why environmental groups support the Israel-Lebanon gas deal; and Overworked, underpaid and loving it: What this year’s Leading Edge survey shows about the Jewish nonprofit sector. Print the latest edition here.
The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving last night, saying that the point guard is “currently unfit to be associated” with the team. The announcement came shortly after Irving was questioned by a reporter if he held antisemitic beliefs, days after Irving tweeted a link to an antisemitic film. Irving gave a rambling answer and acknowledged that the documentary he shared contained “some things that were questionable in there, untrue.” When pressed again, Irving responded, “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” a reference to the Black Hebrew Israelite conspiracy theory that Black individuals and other minorities descend from the 12 Tribes of Israel and that Jewish people are not “real Jews,” but are engaging in identity theft.
Irving had been scheduled to meet with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver next week to discuss the basketball player’s recent sharing of antisemitic content and refusal to give “an unqualified apology.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called Irving’s suspension “well-deserved.” A day earlier, Greenblatt had jointly released a statement with Irving and the Nets in which Irving stopped short of apologizing for his social media activity but pledged — along with the Nets — to donate $500,000 to antisemitism education and awareness efforts. Last night, Greenblatt said his organization planned to reject the donation from Irving based on his latest comments.
Hours after the suspension was announced, Irving posted an apology to his Instagram account. “To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,” Irving wrote. “I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti- semticism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with.”
Israel’s election: What happens next?
After Tuesday’s general election in Israel, former Prime Minister Leader Benjamin Netanyahu is poised for a comeback after more than a year leading the country’s opposition. While his path to the premiership seems close to assured, there are still a few stages, and some challenges, he must overcome in order to establish Israel’s 37th government, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Next steps: Israel’s election laws mandate that the vote counts must be completed within eight days of the election, including any recounts or discrepancies. On Nov. 9, after tallying up ballots, the chairman of the Central Election Committee, Justice Yitzhak Amit, will announce the final figures. Then all attention turns to Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who will invite the leaders of each party that will make up the 25th Knesset for consultations on who should be tasked with forming the next government. He will then have seven days to consider the candidates – historically, presidents have usually selected the head of the largest party or the party with most support from other factions. In this case, that person is likely to be Netanyahu.
Numbers game: With all the votes counted, the former leader’s Likud party has 32 seats in the Israeli parliament, out of a possible 120. The bloc of right-wing and religious parties that support Netanyahu collectively holds 65 seats – giving Netanyahu the majority he needs in parliament and he will need to decide if he wants to build a coalition with these factions. On the other side of the political map, outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party was at 24, Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity party received 12, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu party drew 6 seats, and Labor won 4. Only two of the Arab parties succeeded in passing the threshold: Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am party drew 5 seats and Ayman Odeh’s Hadash-Ta’al faction also won 5. Balad, the other Arab party, and the left-wing Meretz party did not pass the threshold.
Problematic partners: To form a coalition, Netanyahu will likely have to work with the far right-wing party, Religious Zionism, whose members have been celebrating their unprecedented win on election night. The party’s demands – as expressed during their weeks of campaigning – include appointing the controversial leaders, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, once considered fanatical and marginalized, as defense minister and public security minister, respectively.
Track record: “On both diplomatic and security matters, Netanyahu has proven to be a cautious leader, and this is not expected to change,” Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, told JI. “The question now is whether Ben-Gvir and other right-wing elements in his future government coalition moderate their behavior once they take up ministerial positions, or will they fan the flames of unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank – that Netanyahu will be forced to deal with.”
Read the full story here.
Bonus: Lapid conceded defeat yesterday and called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory. “The State of Israel is above any political considerations,” Lapid said in a statement. “I wish Netanyahu good luck for the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”
In Northeast Pennsylvania, two Jewish women face off for a congressional seat
For baby boomers and members of the Greatest Generation, Pennsylvania’s gritty Lehigh Valley is known as the home of the iconic Bethlehem Steel, the company that supplied much of the steel that powered America’s war effort during World War II. For their children, Lehigh Valley is the home of Billy Joel’s “Allentown,” a song about the shuttering of those same factories during the deindustrialization of the 1970s and 1980s. There aren’t too many people, besides those from the area, who think of the Lehigh Valley as home to a vibrant Jewish community. But Lehigh, which sits about 90 miles east of Manhattan and 70 miles north of Philadelphia, is currently host to the only congressional race in the country in which both the Republican and Democratic candidates are Jewish women, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. In fact, it may be the only place where that’s ever happened — besides two years ago, when the same two women also ran. Now, Republican Lisa Scheller hopes to beat incumbent Democrat Susan Wild in a rematch at a time when political trends favor Republicans.
Multicultural community: “We’re proud of the fact that they don’t have to hide their Jewish identity to be running in our community, and it talks about the multicultural acceptance in our community to be able to be the first one,” said Aaron Gorodzinsky, director of campaign and security planning at the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.
Shared connection: The candidates’ politics are entirely different — Scheller believes Wild has enabled overreach and excessive spending by President Joe Biden, and Wild insists Scheller’s opposition to abortion and support for a party that wants to slash social services puts her at odds with the constitutents of the 7th Congressional District — but they share a commitment to nurturing the Lehigh Valley’s small but close-knit Jewish community.
Family stories: Between the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, some 8,000 to 10,000 Jews live in the Lehigh Valley, according to a 2007 study. Wild, a lawyer by training, began the process of converting when her son was preparing for his bar mitzvah in 2006. Scheller runs Silberline Manufacturing, a company founded by her grandparents, who immigrated from Poland and Romania, in nearby Tamaqua, where she grew up in one of the town’s two Jewish families.
Close call: Wild was elected to Congress in 2018 in a year that saw Democrats sweep into red and purple districts around the country; before she took office, the seat had been represented by Republicans for 20 years. In 2020, Wild defeated Scheller by 14,000 votes, or roughly two percentage points. A late October poll shows Wild and Scheller statistically tied ahead of next week’s contest.
Read the full story here.
The YU hoops star Cruising into NBA history
Having just come from practice last Friday, Ryan Turell sat down for an interview over Zoom wearing a white, Motor City Cruise T-shirt emblazoned with a blue Nike swoosh. It was hard to tell that the former Yeshiva University basketball star was in the process of making history — late last month he became the first Orthodox Jewish player ever drafted to the NBA’s developmental league, the G League, when the Cruise, the Detroit Pistons affiliate, tapped him with the 27th pick, David Getter reports for Jewish Insider.
Connected to community: But the high-scoring 6-foot-7 shooting guard with the signature blonde curls, who led the Maccabees to a historic 50-game winning streak during his tenure at YU, knows he’s not just any old G League player, at least not in the Jewish community. Turell maintains a strong sense of Jewish pride and says he understands the importance of being a role model to young Jewish athletes struggling to balance their religious convictions and career aspirations. “I have a platform right now to help inspire Jewish youth and people all over the place that because of their beliefs or religion feel that it’s impossible to achieve their goals or dreams,” Turell, last year’s Division III player of the year, told JI ahead of tonight’s season opener.
Big move: Detroit is a different setting than Washington Heights, and Turell has made the social shift: Whereas he was previously learning, working and playing alongside Jewish peers, he is now in a professional locker room in which he is the first Orthodox Jew that many of his teammates have encountered. “I’ve been answering questions every day,” he said. “My teammates have been super into it and super curious and respectfully asking me questions. They’re like hoping they don’t offend me by it, and I’m like, ‘Guys, I’m always ears for questions.’ They’ve been very supportive of it and very welcoming.” In addition to finding a new community of teammates and coaches in Detroit, Turell still keeps a foot in Washington Heights, his home for the last four years, talking with YU coach Elliot Steinmetz on a weekly basis and keeping up to date on the latest developments with the Maccabees.
↪️ Right Turn: In CNN, Aaron David Miller considers the rightward shift taken by Israeli voters in this week’s election, and what the results portend for the U.S.-Israel relationship going forward. “For Netanyahu this election was truly existential. Had he failed to secure a governing majority – one that is likely to pass legislation to postpone or even cancel his trial – he may well have had to face the consequences of a guilty verdict or a plea bargain that would have driven him away from politics. But Netanyahu’s victory wasn’t just an “all about me” headline. It reflects and consolidates trend lines that have been in evidence for quite some time. Likud is the most stable and durable political party in Israel’s system. Netanyahu is its master and Israel is a nation now shaped more by the right wing – and perhaps its most extreme elements – than at any point in its history.” [CNN]
🎙️ Media Matters: In The Washington Post, Shira Rubin and Claire Parker explore the media’s impact on the election triumph of far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir. “‘He got media coverage with no comparison to any other politician or candidate in Israel,’ said Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler of the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank. Even former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will use Ben Gvir’s votes to return to power, said the media coverage of him was overblown. The day before the polls opened, Ben Gvir was interviewed on four consecutive talk shows on one Israeli channel alone. In total, Ben Gvir garnered 100 hours of airtime in 2021, far more than any other politician, according to Darkenu, an Israeli nongovernmental organization promoting political moderation. And with every TV appearance, radio spot and social media post, his formerly fringe positions — expel ‘disloyal’ Arab and Jewish citizens, allow Israeli soldiers to shoot to kill alleged Palestinian assailants, overhaul the country’s judicial system — became normalized, said Nadav Eyal, an Israeli columnist with the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.” [WashPost]
👨 Famous Amos: E&E News’ Robin Bravender and Timothy Cama spotlight Biden administration energy envoy Amos Hochstein, the key American official involved in the recently signed maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon. “Hochstein’s standing in the president’s orbit has garnered the attention of energy industry insiders. ‘He’s Biden’s favorite energy guy,’ said Stephen Brown, a consultant who represents clients in the energy industry. Brown sees Hochstein as a member of Biden’s team with a deep understanding of how the energy industry and markets work, and he thinks Hochstein’s expertise offers industry representatives a degree of comfort, even if they don’t view him as an ally. Brown encourages his clients to get on Hochstein’s radar. ‘If there’s one guy we all need to know, it’s him,’ he said.” [E&E]
✡️ Old/New News: In “Deep Shtetl,” The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg looks at the reactions to Kanye West’s antisemitic comments and the lack of content regulation on Twitter amid Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social media company. “The distinction between what is newsworthy and what is new matters a lot, for a very simple reason: If we can’t understand the roots of a problem, we can’t begin to solve it. If we can’t tell the difference between something that is new and something that isn’t, we will be unable to address the true causes for concern. Put more concretely: If anti-Semitism is characterized as a one-off aberration whenever it occurs, then society is effectively offloading the problem onto scapegoats like Ye, and avoiding reckoning with the underlying issues that lead to anti-Semitism like Ye’s. If Twitter’s morass of misinformation is conveniently blamed on Musk, we will never grapple with the site’s fundamental features that have long made it a breeding ground for hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and abuse.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🎤 Heard Yesterday: Speaking at an event in California, President Joe Biden responded to audience calls for him to address Iran: “Don’t worry we’re gonna free Iran, they’re gonna free themselves pretty soon.”
🕍 Shul Threat: The FBI warned New Jersey synagogues to take safety precautions after receiving “credible information” of a potential security threat.
🪧 On the Trail: Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will make campaign stops in Georgia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to boost GOP Senate candidates in the final days ahead of the midterms.
🗳️ Eye on 2024: Aides to former President Donald Trump indicate that he will announce another bid for the White House after the midterm elections.
🚫 Sanctioned: The Treasury Department issued new sanctions against a global oil smuggling network it alleges has ties to Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force.
🏈 Teaming Up: Jay-Z and Jeff Bezos are in talks to consider a joint bid to purchase the Washington Commanders from Dan Snyder, who is considering selling the team.
💵 Green Money: Private equity company the Carlyle Group has invested $350 million in clean energy developer Aspen Power Partners LLC.
👩🎤 (Not) All Too Well: Observant Jewish fans of Taylor Swift will be unable to attend any but one of the singer’s shows on her upcoming tour, all of which fall on Friday or Saturday evenings.
👩 Never Forget: Social media influencer Montana Tucker said that a recent visit to Poland, where she filmed a Holocaust education series for TikTok and Instagram, was “absolutely the hardest week of my life — absolutely the hardest — but the most important.”
🥯 Deli-cious: Forbeslooks at the growing popularity of Jewish-style eateries across the U.S.
🇬🇧 About-Face: A spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said there are “no plans” to move the British Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Sunak had suggested he was open to as recently as the summer.
🚀 Tensions Flare: The IDF struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to four rockets launched at Israel.
♞ Interfaith Honor: The American Jewish Committee’s Rabbi A. James Rudin will be named a Papal Knight of Saint Gregory for his interfaith work, one of only nine Jews to have been given the honor since its creation in 1831.
💼 Transition: Slate’s Jordan Weissman will join Semafor as the outlet’s Washington editor.
🕯️ Remembering: Groundbreaking restaurant critic Gael Greene died at 88. Interfaith bridge-builder Rabbi Philip Hiat died at 95. Holocaust survivor Hannah Pick-Goslar, who had been a close friend of Anne Frank, died at 93.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Shiran Limited Edition Carignan 2019:
“Recently, I have been spending quite a bit of time in Israel and the region. When on the record, I attribute this to a growing portfolio of venture investments, though in truth, I really visit to taste the ever-increasing number of new Israeli wines. Over Sukkot alone, I believe I tasted upwards of 20 new wines, several of which I will write up reviews of over the coming weeks. A trend I recognized amongst this new batch of wines is the predominance of single varietal expressions. These single varietal wines do a wonderful job of showcasing the depth of simplicity; sometimes less is truly more. The Shiran Limited Edition Carignan 2019 is 100 percent Carignan harvested from very old vines. The front palate is desert-sand dry, the mid-palate is pure plum jam and the finish of tobacco leaf and cedar wood lingers for an alarmingly long time. Enjoy this bottle with a large tomahawk steak.”
Pic of the Day
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who led a delegation of Bronx civic leaders to Israel this week, visits the Kotel in Jerusalem.
Belgian theoretical physicist, a Holocaust survivor and 2013 Nobel Prize laureate, François Englert turns 90 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: Political scientist and author Edward Luttwak turns 80… Chair of the House Budget Committee, he is Kentucky’s first Jewish congressman, John Yarmuth (D-KY) turns 75… Former chief of the general staff of the IDF, minister of defense and member of Knesset for Kadima, Shaul Mofaz turns 74… Uruguayan biologist, he served as mayor of Montevideo and then as a national cabinet minister, Ricardo Ehrlich turns 74… Professor of medicine at England’s University of Birmingham and a leading British authority on organ donation and transplantation, James Max Neuberger turns 73… Board member of Jewish Funders Network and a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, Dorothy Tananbaum… Marketing and communications consultant focused on Israel advocacy and the Jewish community, Robert L. Kern… Professor at UCSF and winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Medicine, David Jay Julius turns 67… U.K. politician who served as a Conservative Party MP and cabinet minister, he was chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, Baron Richard Irwin Harrington turns 65… Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Kenneth I. Gordon turns 63… Former CEO of the Hudson Institute where he is now a distinguished fellow, he is a senior advisor at the Brunswick Group, Kenneth R. “Ken” Weinstein turns 61…
Author of five books, comedic actress and television host, Annabelle Gurwitch turns 61… Professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, Claire Elise Katz turns 58… Israeli screenwriter and film director, Eran Kolirin turns 49… Partner at Paragon Strategic Insights, a consulting firm for nonprofits, Jeremy Chwat… Editor-in-chief at Semafor, Ben Smith turns 46… Director of reputation risk at McKinsey & Company, Max Gleischman… Opinion columnist at The Washington Post, Catherine Rampell turns 38… Founder and CEO at Denver-based Fresh Tape Media, Jared Kleinstein… Founder and CEO of a health organization working for early detection and prevention of cancer, Yael Cohen Braun turns 36… Deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Addar Weintraub Levi… Former White House special representative for international negotiations and now director at Affinity Partners, Avraham “Avi” Berkowitz turns 34… Recording artist, songwriter and entertainer known as Yoni Z, Yoni Zigelboum turns 31… Israeli professional stock car racing driver, he is the first Israeli to compete in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series, Alon Day turns 31… Founding editor of Healthcare Brew, Amanda E. Eisenberg… Elise Dolgow… Bob Rubin…
SATURDAY: Former hedge fund manager and Olympic fencer (Munich, 1972), he described both activities as requiring “Defend, Adjust and Attack,” James Laurence Melcher turns 83… Former governor, legislator and supreme court justice, all in the Oregon state government, Ted Kulongoski turns 82… Singer, poet and actor, best known as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, Art Garfunkel turns 81… Co-founder and chairman of Rexford Industrial Realty, Richard Ziman turns 80… Television and film critic, Jeffrey Lyons turns 78… French public intellectual, media personality and author, Bernard-Henri Lévy turns 74… Economist and former director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University where he remains a university professor, Jeffrey Sachs turns 68… Israeli ceramic artist and sculptor, Daniela Yaniv-Richter turns 66… Psychologist and wife of Benjamin Netanyahu, Sara Netanyahu turns 64… Director at The Gottesman Fund, Diane Bennett Eidman… Music producer and entertainment attorney, Kevon Glickman… Outgoing prime minister of Israel, Yair Lapid turns 59… CEO at Healthcare Foundation of NJ, Michael Schmidt… Senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, Benjamin Wittes turns 53… Host, anchor and correspondent for CBS News and CBS Sports, Dana Jacobson turns 51… General counsel of The Jewish Theological Seminary, Keath Blatt… Jerusalem-born pianist, Orli Shaham turns 47… Executive director of Chaya Community, a non-profit focused on the Jewish Iranian community, Tara Khoshbin… Senior reporter covering legal affairs at Business Insider, Jacob Shamsian… Private foundation project manager, Talia Katz…
SUNDAY: Former president and CEO of American Jewish World Service, prior to that she served as the Manhattan borough president, Ruth Wyler Messinger turns 82… Former commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul turns 76… Former aide to President Bill Clinton and advisor to Hillary Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal turns 74… Research scientist at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, Barbara Volsky turns 72… Senior chair of Sullivan & Cromwell, Joseph C. Shenker turns 66… Actress and cellist best known for her lead role in the 1984 film “Footloose” and the television series “Fame,” Lori Singer… and her twin brother, founder and music director of the Manhattan Symphonie, Gregory Singer, both turn 65… Managing director of the NFL Players Association, Ira Fishman turns 65… Founder of Nourish Snacks, she is the host of NBC’s “Health & Happiness” and author of 12 New York Times best-sellers, Joy Bauer turns 59… Principal in Douglass Winthrop Advisors, Andrew S. Weinberg… SVP of investments in the Beverly Hills office of Raymond James, Seth A. Radow… Chairman at IDTFS Bank in Gibraltar, he is a partner in Covenant Winery, Geoffrey Rochwarger turns 52… Executive at Elliott Management and author of Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, Dan Senor turns 51… Program director for Jewish life at the William Davidson Foundation, Kari Alterman… Film producer together with her husband Robert Downey Jr., Susan Nicole Levin Downey turns 49… South Florida entrepreneur, Earl J. Campos-Devine… Head cantor of Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City, Yaakov “Yanky” Lemmer turns 39…