👋 Good Tuesday morning!
Happy new year! Welcome back and we hope you enjoy the first 2023 edition of the Daily Kickoff. In today’s edition, we talk to hip-hop artist Mahogany Jones about her recent trip to Israel with the State Department, and look at joint Israeli-Jordanian efforts to address climate change. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff, outgoing Rep. Elaine Luria, Art Spiegelman and former Rep. Steve Israel.
The new Congress will convene at noon today in Washington, ushering in a slate of 74 newly elected House members and seven new senators. The two big items on our radar this week: the election for House speaker, and how the new Congress will address lingering allegations that Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) fabricated extensive portions of his biography. The two are intrinsically connected, at least for the first few days of the new Congress, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) works to shore up support from the handful of Republican legislators critical to his bid for the speakership.
McCarthy spent the holidays trying to secure the necessary votes among GOP legislators, including granting some concessions to the conservative faction of the party. He met with several dozen congressional Republicans last night in Washington, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who had previously said he would not back McCarthy for speaker. As he walked into the speaker’s office last night, Gaetz was accompanied by Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Scott Perry (R-PA) — both of whom are opposing McCarthy’s bid — and teased, “We may be on the verge of a New Year’s miracle.”
If McCarthy does not win the speakership outright, House members will move to a second ballot — the first time in a century that has happened. It’s also unclear who might emerge as the speaker if McCarthy is unable to muster the necessary 218 votes. Republican Majority Leader-designate Steve Scalise (R-LA) is one potential fallback, but Republican moderates have floated the idea of working with Democrats to elect retiring Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Santos, for his part, has pledged to back McCarthy for speaker.
While House GOP leadership — including McCarthy — has remained muted on the Santos allegations, the heightened scrutiny of the New York Republican’s business dealings and background has drawn criticism from some members of the state’s congressional delegation. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) said Santos deployed “a colossal lack of judgment that has now put the conference in a very difficult position.” Rep.-elect Nick LaLota (R-NY), who won Long Island’s other congressional race, said that “New Yorkers deserve the truth and House Republicans deserve an opportunity to govern without distraction.” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) went further, calling for Santos’ resignation in an appearance on CNN over the weekend. “As far as I’m concerned,” Torres said, “he’s a sociopath who has essentially defrauded the voters of New York State.”
Santos, meanwhile, spent the holidays attempting damage control in a series of interviews, including one with Fox News in which he again said that his “heritage is Jewish” — despite having no familial links to the community. The heightened scrutiny isn’t limited to the U.S. — Brazilian officials are planning to revive fraud charges against Santos, who in 2008 was accused of using checks stolen from his mother’s employer.
In Israel on Thursday, the Knesset ratified the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier, bringing Netanyahu to power for an unprecedented third time. Sixteen of the 30 ministers in the new government are from Netanyahu’s Likud party, including Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Education Minister Yoav Kisch. Likud MK Amir Ohana became Israel’s first openly gay Knesset speaker.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer is also joining Netanyahu’s government, where he will helm the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which had been dissolved by the previous government. Under Dermer, who served in Washington from 2013-2021, the ministry will shift its focus to working with the White House and expanding the Abraham Accords, a departure from its previous iteration, which was led by now-U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who focused his efforts on combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. That mantle will be taken up by Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli, who announced yesterday that the ministry will change its name to the Diaspora Affairs and Combat Antisemitism Ministry.
The transitions come weeks after a meeting between U.S. Jewish leaders and Shuli Davidovich, who heads the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s diaspora bureau, at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Jewish leaders, according to Axios, raised concerns about some of the floated policies of the incoming Israeli government.
Finance Minister and minister in the Defense Ministry Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionist Party, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week in a bid to allay fears about the new government, while National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Jewish Power) stoked tensions with a visit to the Temple Mount this morning, after Palestinian Authority officials warned that the trip could lead to an escalation in the area. Shortly after the visit, Ben-Gvir called the area “the most important site for the Jewish people” and said Israel will preserve “freedom of movement” at the site. Jordanian King Abdullah II told CNN last week that he is prepared for conflict should the status of Jerusalem’s holy sites change.
Despite the holiday season, top Israeli and U.S. officials connected to discuss a range of issues. Cohen called Secretary of State Tony Blinken yesterday, the Israeli foreign minister’s second day on the job. Blinken congratulated Cohen on his appointment and underscored the United States’ abiding commitment to the U.S.-Israel partnership and to Israel’s security, according to statements released by both offices. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to travel to Israel in mid-January for meetings with members of the new government.
In his first speech to Foreign Ministry staff, Cohen stressed that Israel’s relationship with its closest ally, the U.S., is a priority, while saying that the new Israeli government will be more muted about Ukraine issues, though it will continue humanitarian aid to the country. Cohen is scheduled to speak today to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Cohen’s comments were met with criticism from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who tweeted that the “idea that Israel should speak less about Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine is a bit unnerving. I hope Mr. Cohen understands that when he speaks to Russia’s Lavrov, he’s speaking to a representative of a war criminal regime that commits war crimes on an industrial scale every day.”
Elaine Luria looks back
In two terms in Congress, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) established herself as one of the House’s most prominent defenders of the U.S.-Israel relationship, as well as a vocal opponent of antisemitism, including among members of her own party. Luria, who lost reelection in November, spoke to Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod midway through one of her final days of House votes about her tenure in Congress.
Positive outlook: Luria’s departure from Congress is set to deprive the House Democratic caucus of another of its most consistent pro-Israel voices. Luria emphasized that the vast majority of the Democratic Party continues to be supportive of Israel, except for “a very small number of people who happen to be very loud and who have had contrary voices.” She added she has been encouraged by her conversations about the issue with incoming Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), emphasizing his “very strong support” for the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Antisemitism angle: Luria voiced frustration that Congress has sometimes struggled to produce condemnations of antisemitism that do not also include other forms of hate and bigotry, citing a 2019 vote to condemn antisemitism whose language was broadened to include “Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry.” “My level of concern [about antisemitism] has continued to grow over the course of my time in Congress,” she continued, pointing to issues among both House caucuses, as well as on college campuses and elsewhere.
Election postmortem: Despite an overall better election cycle for Democratic candidates than most prognosticators had anticipated, Luria lost her election in southern Virginia by 3.4 percentage points. The Cook Political Report rated the district as R+3, a rating Luria claimed understated the actual Republican advantage in the district. “The biggest factor was the redistricting,” she argued. “Looking back, I just think that the district [leaned] heavily to the other party. It’s a red district under the new lines.” Luria said she has “no regrets about the way I ran the campaign,” including her emphasis on her service on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
What’s next: As for her next steps, Luria is “leaving all doors open… [There are] a lot of possibilities out there. I’ve talked to quite a few folks about different opportunities,” she said, “but I’m going to take some time to make a decision.”
A hip-hop artist in the Holy Land
Over the years, eager diplomats from around the world have come to the Holy Land, hoping to be the ones to finally make peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Last month, a very different kind of ambassador landed on the shores of the Mediterranean: Mahogany Jones, a hip-hop artist who for the past decade has served as an American music ambassador, traveling to some of the world’s conflict zones to teach lessons on hip-hop, art and activism on behalf of the United States, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Share the stage: She toured in Israel for a week, leading workshops and playing in concerts that brought together hundreds of Jews, Muslims and Christians — both on the stage and in the audience. She played shows in Nazareth and Jerusalem with System Ali, a Jaffa-based band consisting of Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel. “I was trying to teach, ‘How do we use art to unravel uncomfortable conversations?’” she told JI.
Art-ivism: Jones, 44, first gained attention for her music more than two decades ago, when she won BET’s “Freestyle Friday” program four times in a row. Her newest album, “Better,” came out last month. But throughout her career, Jones became best known for her activism (what she calls “artivism”) around the world and in Detroit, her adopted hometown. She has been to 16 countries with the State Department, including Bosnia, Uzbekistan, Iraq and Finland. She works with local populations that are experiencing tensions or distrust, like in Israel; she also arrives in these countries as an American goodwill ambassador, to help people trust the embassy and the U.S. government personnel who are there to offer services to them.
Safe spaces: “You do programs like this with artists like Mahogany Jones, who has done this in so many different difficult spaces, because they’re able to bridge those divides and create that safe space in which different actors can share their culture, can share who they are,” said Paul Rockower, who used to lead Next Level, the State Department program that uses hip-hop to foster cross-cultural connection, and is now executive director at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix.
Inside Israel and Jordan’s new bid to rehabilitate the Jordan River
In the Bible, the Jordan River is described as a gushing body of water, risky for the high priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to cross. Today, if the people of Israel reached these reedy banks, they would have no problem skipping over the almost dried-up stream; their only hesitation might be the pollution. Over the last 50 years, the river’s annual flow has dropped drastically — from more than 1.3 billion cubic meters per year to less than 30 million cubic meters. The climate crisis, coupled with regional conflicts and the practical needs of people in the surrounding countries, have turned the Jordan’s waters into a pitiful trickle, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Conflicted priorities: At the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Israeli and Jordanian officials appeared to recognize the need for action. Ministers from both countries signed what was touted as a historic “Declaration of Intent” to rehabilitate the once-flowing river and ensure it is sustainable for future generations. But such efforts by Israel and Jordan to safeguard and revive the shared stream have been discussed before. Nearly 30 years ago, when the two countries signed their peace agreement, provisions were laid out for rehabilitating the river, including environmental protection, agricultural pollution control, liquid waste restrictions and pest control. As relations between the countries deteriorated, however, little changed in the status of the iconic waterway. Israel and Jordan, along with Syria and Lebanon, continued to siphon off much of the clean water, and conflicts – old and new – kept cooperation and conservation from becoming priorities.
Renewed hope: In his recent New York Times column, Thomas Friedman, who has long touted the environmental crisis as a factor that could ultimately force peace on the region, referred to the declaration between Israel and Jordan and expressed hope that it would now nudge the countries in a new direction. Environmental activists are hopeful too. “In Israel, what’s happening now is a bit like a dream come true,” Nadav Tal, water officer for the Israel office of EcoPeace, a regional environmental nonprofit that has long been pushing for cleanup of the river, told JIrecently. “If you came here 10 years ago, nobody would have thought that such a thing could happen.”
Water works: Tal took JI to Yardenit, a tourism site just south of the Sea of Galilee where some Christians believe John first baptized Jesus. Decades ago, Tal explained, Israel rerouted most of the water that flows to the area from the Kinneret, first to an electrical plant further south and then via its national water carrier to the center of the country and beyond. Human engineering currently allows for only a small amount of freshwater and a mix of high-quality wastewater and saline water to reach the Jordan River, which flows south to the Dead Sea. Located here now, however, is a newly built wastewater treatment center, and land has been set aside for a water desalination plant. The renewed plan between Israel and Jordan is to clean up the river’s water supplies, boost the flow of cubic meters and divert a significant amount from here to Jordan, one of the world’s driest countries. Tal, who is also EcoPeace’s field coordinator for the Jordan Valley, calls the rehabilitation project “urgent.”
Read the full story here.
fight to survive
Robotic hives keep bees working hard for the honey
Beekeepers around the world are engaged in a desperate battle for survival. Devastated by rising temperatures, pesticides and mite infestations, honeybee colonies are collapsing in record numbers. More than 35% of the world’s bees die each year due to “colony collapse disorder,” in which entire hives perish at once. An Israeli startup aims to help commercial beekeepers deal with the phenomenon through the use of robotic hives that employ artificial intelligence to maintain optimal conditions, in hopes of helping bees survive the modern world, Melanie Lidman reports for The Circuit.
Round the clock: “If every hive would have its own beekeeper 24/7, you wouldn’t see colony collapse at all,” Saar Safra, the CEO and co-founder of Beewise, told The Circuit. “This is what the robot does.” The beehive disorder derives from several interconnected issues: global warming, lack of biodiversity, pesticides, pests and diseases that developed in the past 50 years against which bees have no natural defenses. Beewise has developed a self-contained colony of hives, powered by solar panels and connected with Bluetooth, that enables a small robotic arm, equipped with cameras and precision sensors, to monitor a group of hives for common problems. The “BeeHome” can also harvest the honey automatically and collect it in a dedicated container.
Not a chance: “Imagine a bee leaves the hive and goes foraging. Then she’s poisoned by pesticides. Then it gets really warm, so she’s boiling. And then she gets back home, and there’s not enough food because there’s a lack of biodiversity. She doesn’t have a chance,” Safra said. Since its founding in 2018, Beewise has raised about $120 million from venture capital firms including New York-based Insight Partners, Corner Ventures, based in Palo Alto, Calif., and Tel Aviv’s Fortissimo Capital and Lool Ventures. One of the investors is Sanad AD, a VC based in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, where the climate is especially challenging. Sanad AD, which launched in 2015, has investments in health care, real estate, automobiles, emerging technologies and security.
Scorched in Gulf: Bees can’t survive in the UAE during the summer. Many Gulf states practice seasonal beekeeping, purchasing bees in the fall for their winter crops and then letting them die in the summer. In the BeeHome, the bees can “oversummer” inside the hive, receiving sugar water rather than going out and foraging, with the thermostat keeping the hive at a survivable temperature, so they can reemerge once the weather cools. Bees in colder climates in Europe and North America are used to “overwintering,” when they stay inside their hives and maintain the temperature at 35 C (95 F) by beating their wings.
⛪ Sacred Space: The Wall Street Journal’s Kris Maher visits Pittsburgh’s Calvary Episcopal Church, which has shared its space with the Tree of Life congregation since the 2018 attack that killed 11 Jewish congregants. “Both groups had to learn each other’s customs and even words, such as ‘nave’ and ‘kippah.’ Some Tree of Life members were surprised by the number of crosses in the church, as [Rev. Jonathon] Jensen recalls. He said he told them: ‘If you want to get freaked out further, the building is in the shape of a cross.’ Mr. Jensen decided to veil a cross above an ark the Jewish congregation brought to hold its Torah scrolls. When people outside the church suggested it was denying its heritage, he reminded them that there are still 10,000 square feet of stained glass depicting the life of Jesus. ‘Where I come from, you practice good hospitality,’ Mr. Jensen said. ‘If they’ve been attacked in their house and killed, I want to make sure most of all, they feel safe, and second of all, that they feel comfortable and welcomed.’” [WSJ]
✡️ Staying Safe: In Morning Call, Ari Mittleman discusses the urgent need for a whole-of-society approach to combat antisemitism and hate crimes. “Addressing hate in society begins with youth. In the final days of the 117th Congress, the bipartisan Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons Act was introduced by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent who represents Bucks County, and his colleagues. It will require the Department of Education to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public elementary and secondary schools. With the meteoric rise in hate, the Department of Homeland Security will have additional resources. U.S. Rep. Susan Wild deserves credit for championing the new federal omnibus bill and the provision that will include $305 million for the Non-Profit Security Grant Program. Houses of worship and other nonprofits can use grants for fences, cameras and other security enhancements.” [MorningCall]
🚴♀️ The Wheel Thing: The New Yorker‘s Patricia Marx breaks into the world of e-bikes, getting advice from the pros and test-driving a fleet of them. “[K.C.] Cohen opened Joulvert in 2016, about fifteen years after he emigrated from Israel. ‘It was the first serious e-bike shop in the city,’ he told me over beverages at 19 Cleveland, a Mediterranean café he owns near Joulvert. At the time, e-bikes were not technically legal in New York, but, he said, ‘the law was inconsistently enforced.’ Cohen started dabbling in the business in Israel in 2004, having enlisted his father to install cheap Chinese motors on standard bicycles. The business took off; he sold his share to his brother in 2012. Cohen went to Burning Man for the next few years, each time bringing more e-bikes, which he distributed with the instruction ‘Go demolish them.’ He explained, ‘I wanted a report on everything that could go wrong, so I could fix it.’ The main problem was dust, so Cohen created a silicon-sealed electric system that was waterproof and dustproof. In the years since, his Burning Man clients have included Puff Daddy, Gerard Butler, and Paris Hilton. The bikes survived Burning Man, and their reputation was made.” [NewYorker]
🎤 Remembering Barbara: In Slate, Michael J. Socolow pays tribute to the late Barbara Walters’ prowess at interviewing and the power she wielded with that skill. “But to only consider Walters in the role of celebrity interrogator obscures the singular position in American politics she occupied in the 1970s and 1980s. Moving from ‘Today’ to the anchor desk at ‘ABC News’ made her a dynamic player in national and global politics. She became widely recognized as the most important female journalist U.S. broadcasting had produced up to that time. She interviewed everyone who mattered during those Cold War years, pushing Fidel Castro to admit ways his regime repressed human rights in 1977, and inciting the empress of Iran to cry on camera when her husband, the Shah, refused to allow the possibility that equality might exist between women and men.” [Slate]
🤔 Successor Saga: In The Atlantic, former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) attributes complacency, extremism and media decline for Rep.-elect George Santos’ (R-NY) victory in winning Israel’s former Long Island congressional district with a largely deceptive curriculum vitae. “The media’s failure to dig into Santos shows the predicament that local newsrooms face in 2022. Newsday dominates the media landscape on Long Island. And its reporters do quality work — they turned out an important investigation just a few years ago that exposed racism in the local real-estate industry. But they don’t have the resources to cover everything — not even everything in their political backyard — and they appear to have written off NY-3 as low priority given the district’s Democratic tilt. So did all the other once-mighty New York–area media operations. Some observers have also criticized [Robert] Zimmerman’s campaign for not fully investing in opposition research based on the initial DCCC project. Perhaps that criticism is justified, but we shouldn’t let the Republican Party off the hook. Republicans accepted Santos’s narrative without due diligence because they prioritized extreme ideology over actual qualifications. Santos was at the Ellipse on January 6, 2021, and has even claimed that he helped arrested insurrectionists with their legal fees.” [TheAtlantic]
📚 Book Talk: The New York Times‘ Alexandra Alter sits down with Art Spiegelman, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust graphic novel Maus, which was banned by a Tennessee school district last year. “To Spiegelman, the decision to remove ‘Maus’ from schools reflects a more insidious campaign to sanitize disturbing chapters of history, under the guise of ‘protecting’ children. ‘They want a kinder, gentler, fuzzier Holocaust,’ he said. Ironically, the ban has brought droves of new readers to his work and underscored its ongoing relevance, at a moment of heightened fear over a resurgence of antisemitism, fascism and white nationalist movements. ‘Maus’ shot to the top of the best-seller list and sold 665,000 copies this year, more than triple its 2021 sales. But the renewed attention has also been exhausting, and left him with little time or energy for his art, said Spiegelman, who never wanted to be a spokesman for Holocaust remembrance, and would rather be sketching in his notebook. ‘It’s been a wild year,’ he said, adding, ‘I’m done.’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🪑 Empty Posts: The Wall Street Journal looks into why more than two dozen U.S. ambassador slots — including postings in India and Saudi Arabia — have yet to be filled, and what this means for the Biden administration’s foreign policy.
🏈 Tackling Antisemitism: An ad by Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism ran during NFL games on Jan. 1, targeting areas that have recently experienced hate-based incidents.
🇬🇧 Paper Trail: Recent paperwork filed by Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder indicated that he “usually” resides in England, a potential signal that he intends to sell the football team.
😬 Whoops, I Did It Again: Whoopi Goldberg doubled down on comments made last year, in which the talk show host said the Holocaust was not about race.
🎙️ Shabbat Slowdown: Writer Judith Shulevitz joined “The Ezra Klein Show” for an in-depth conversation about the Sabbath.
♞ Across the Pond: U.K. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was knighted by King Charles III for his interfaith efforts and work within the British Jewish community.
🇺🇦 Building Back: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink agreed to coordinate investment efforts to reconstruct Ukraine.
🚅 Train Talk: The Wall Street Journal spotlights the efforts of two U.S. diplomats — including Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel — to promote high-speed rail.
⚽ Saudi Goal: Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo signed with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr after leaving Manchester United in November.
☝️ U.N. Vote: The U.N. passed a resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Following a conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s representative did not attend the vote.
🛰️ Israeli Strike: The Damascus airport was briefly put out of service following an Israeli strike on Sunday night.
🏥 Nasrallah Ailing: Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah reportedly suffered a stroke and is hospitalized in Beirut.
🇮🇷 Warning Shot: Iranian state media reported that Iran’s military warned off a plane conducting a reconnaissance mission in the Persian Gulf.
🕯 Remembering: Journalist Barbara Walters, who spent more than five decades as a TV newswoman, died at 93. Rabbi Abraham Levy, who helmed the U.K.’s Sephardic community, died at 83. New York art gallerist Howard Feldman died at 84. Writer Edith Pearlman died at 86. Rabbi Haim Druckman, an Israel Prize winner who was a leader in Israel’s Religious Zionism movement, died at 90. Billionaire real estate developer Albert Reichmann, who together with his brothers built the World Financial Center in New York, died at 93. Journalist Cara De Siva, who edited a collection of recipes from prisoners of a Nazi concentration camp, died at 83.
Song of the Day
Israeli singer Ofra Haza was named to Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 best singers of all time.
CNN legal analyst, he was formerly a Watergate prosecutor and later a member of the 9/11 Commission, Richard Ben-Veniste turns 80…
Former Treasury secretary under President Carter, CEO of Burroughs Corporation and Unisys, followed by 17 years as director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, W. Michael Blumenthal turns 97… Computer scientist and computational theorist, Richard Manning Karp turns 88… Professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, Kenneth Prager, M.D. turns 80… Former legal affairs reporter at The New York Times and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, David Margolick turns 71… Professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, Ralph R. Isberg turns 68… Justice of the Ontario Superior Court and former national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Edward M. Morgan turns 68… Russian businessman Boris Rotenberg turns 66… Director of the Year-in-Israel Program at HUC-JIR, Reuven Greenvald… Investor and former U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, S. Fitzgerald Haney turns 54… Managing director and senior partner in the NYC office of the Boston Consulting Group, Neal Zuckerman… Senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News after 17 years at The Los Angeles Times, Noam Naftali Levey… Attorney in Minneapolis and former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Jeremy N. Kalin turns 48… President at Kiosite, LLC, Michael Novack… Founder and president of Golden Strategies, Jenna Golden… Executive director at Guns Down America, Igor Volsky… Former child actor who starred in “Home Alone 3,” he is now a planning assistant for the City of Los Angeles, Alexander David Linz turns 34… Israeli basketball player on the Washington Wizards, he was a first-round pick in the 2020 NBA draft, Deni Avdija turns 22… Risk analyst at Tel Aviv-based EverC, Alana Aliza Herbst…