👋 Good Tuesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we talk to Ambassador Tom Nides about plans to expand hours at the Allenby border crossing, and interview Daniel Gordis about his recent address to AIPAC. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Tali Friedman and Nazanin Boniadi.
A seven-member bipartisan Senate delegation representing the Abraham Accords Caucus is traveling around the Middle East this week. The group is currently in the United Arab Emirates after stops in Morocco and Bahrain earlier in the week. The group will continue on to Israel from Abu Dhabi.
The delegation, led by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK), attended a VIP reception in Abu Dhabi on Monday afternoon before meeting with senior Emirati leaders. More below.
Rosen reportedly told the Israeli government that she doesn’t want the delegation to meet with members of two far-right parties that are in the coalition, according to Axios.
Brett McGurk, the White House National Security Council’s Middle East policy coordinator, is also traveling in the Middle East this week. McGurk visited Iraq and Jordan along with Biden administration energy envoy Amos Hochstein, who was already in the region for the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi that ended on Sunday. Al Arabiya reported that McGurk is expected to travel to Israel later this week.
This afternoon at Davos, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani and International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva will speak on a panel titled “Keeping the Lights on amid Geo-political fracture.”
Today marks the one-year anniversary of dual drone attacks from Houthi rebels in Yemen targeting an oil storage facility in Abu Dhabi that killed three people and injured six others. The White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden in which he pledged to work “in close cooperation with my friend President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed” and said the U.S. will “remain steadfast in our pursuit of diplomacy to bring a peaceful end to the war in Yemen, and the United States will continue to support the security of the UAE and our other partners in the Middle East, including providing needed military assistance.”
After the attack last January, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told JI that he was planning to engage in discussions with the Biden administration about reinstating the Houthis’ designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which the administration had removed less than a year prior. The designation has not to date been reapplied.
Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro will be sworn in today at a ceremony in Harrisburg. Read our write-up of the meaning behind the Bibles Shapiro will use during the ceremony.
With Israel already committed to expanding hours at the Israel-Jordanian border crossing, an upgrade is next
It’s a weekday morning in early January and the Allenby Bridge Border Terminal is relatively quiet. A parade of heavily loaded trucks heads toward Jordan via the cargo side of the crossing, while a handful of buses and taxis ferry waiting travelers with oversized bags and suitcases to and from the dusty, antiquated arrivals and departures halls. Long ago, agreements forged between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and the Palestinian Authority, designated this border crossing primarily for Palestinians, though foreign tourists and diplomats may also pass through here. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides is hoping to improve the conditions through which thousands pass through each day, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Cramped conditions: In winter, there is less traffic, but in the summer months, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, the crossing, which is also referred to as the King Hussein Bridge, turns into a jostling, bustling and overcrowded nightmare for journey-makers. The outdated facilities and stifling heat of the Jordan Valley, mixed with political and cultural tensions, makes transiting through the terminal uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Nides’ starting goal: to see the crossing operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “It’s about decency, it’s about respect, it’s about doing something that makes people’s lives marginally a little bit better,” Nides told JI last week. “You know, you can do some things that have nothing to do with compromising security, that is why I’ve been pushing this so hard. No one wants to stand in line for so long,” he added. “Can you imagine being in a car or a bus and just waiting, waiting, waiting for hours when it can be solved so easily by expanding hours and improving the quality of the experience? And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
Opening hours: Last November, a year after his arrival and following months of pressure by both the ambassador and U.S. Special Envoy to the Palestinian Authority Hady Amr, Israel launched a weeklong pilot program to bring on more staff and keep the crossing open for 24 hours a day. While Israel is unlikely to keep the crossing open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, beginning on April 2 Allenby’s operating hours will greatly expand. The border will allow passage continually Sundays through Thursdays, with daytime hours on Fridays and Saturdays. (Today the crossing operates from 8 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.)
Post-pandemic influx: Following the easing of travel restrictions towards the end of 2021, the rush of returning travelers caught those manning the crossing off-guard, Alex Chen, director of the Allenby Border Crossing, explained to JI. “What happened here after [the height of the COVID-19 pandemic] was no different to what happened in other airports and border crossings all over the world, it was part of the same phenomenon,” Chen said, confirming that the crossing would soon begin operating 24 hours a day, five days a week. He added that he was already in the process of reassembling and rehiring staff.
Bigger picture: With his first goal achieved, Nides said he would now focus on finding funding for already-approved Israeli plans to renovate and upgrade the outdated transit facility, which were put on hold, with funds diverted, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chen shared with JI plans for the new terminal building – an expansive and modern facility that will allow for less-intrusive security arrangements, upgraded and fast-moving biometric passport checks and an overall more comfortable experience for passengers, including a duty-free store.
Read the full story here.
Daniel Gordis’ blunt message at AIPAC’s confab
Author Daniel Gordis, the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Jerusalem’s Shalem College, made waves in his closing address last week at AIPAC’s Political Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.. As the last speaker to address attendees at the two-day closed-press convening, Gordis spoke about the challenges facing Israelis and those abroad who support the U.S.-Israel relationship in light of Israel’s new right-wing government that, some argue, will change the fabric of Israeli society. Gordis, whose latest book, Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders’ Dreams?, comes out in April to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Israel’s founding, spoke to Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss about his speech to the AIPAC crowd and what he hoped attendees would walk away with.
JI: You closed out the conference. And it feels like it was almost a sort of departure from what you’ve said in the past, like it shifted the tone of the room. I wasn’t in the room. Most of our readers were also not in the room. For those of us who weren’t there, in sum, what did you convey or want to convey?
DG: OK, so first of all, what AIPAC has always been outstanding at is working on Capitol Hill’s support for Israel: legislatively, diplomatically, etc. I think that makes them an unbelievably important institution, and I’ve worked with them for years and I think that they’re still very important in that regard. When we began to talk about this speech, in the weeks running up to it — we being me and them — their concern was that this is a very tough time to be a kind of, I don’t mean liberal in the sense of left-wing, but liberal in the sense of somebody committed to liberal values: human rights, individual rights, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, religious equality, and all of that. It’s a tough time to be somebody who’s committed to all of that, and at the same time to go out there and do the ‘rah rah try to sell Israel on Capitol Hill thing’ because people are feeling very conflicted inside. It’s not that one undermines the other. I mean, Israel needs support no matter what. But at the same time, it’s just harder, it would be harder for you or for me to go to talk to our friends about why we’re in love with this place than it would have been a month ago. I mean, that’s just the reality of the world… My understanding from them explicitly was [that] what they wanted was for me to talk to people about how important their work is at this particular moment, even when things are tough for those of us who love Israel.
JI: How do you feel the reception went?
DG: My sense was that it was hard for them. But life is hard. It’s filled with moments where we are torn between two loves, and I think we’re torn between two loves right now: a love for the State of Israel and what it does for the Jewish people, and a love for the liberal democratic values that have made democracies great. And right now, if you love the latter, it’s a little bit harder to full-throatedly tell people why you love Israel so much. And my basic point was, ‘Yes, it’s hard and we have to go do it. All of us, every single one of us has to both worry about what’s happening inside Israel and try to change what’s happening inside Israel to whatever direction each of us wants.’… I think those of us who love this place wake up in the morning a little sadder than we did a couple of months ago, or even a month ago, and I wanted them to understand that that’s legitimate… I got a lot of lovely, lovely notes from people who were in the audience. And people — some people I know very well and some people I really don’t know very much… And people wrote something like, it was very sobering, and it was needed to be said; it was what had to be said.
Read the full interview here.
Bonus: In his latest Substack post, Gordis takes a closer look at the protests around Israel, and the debate around potential government measures.
A new day for kosher dining in the nation’s capital
Washington, D.C., has long been criticized by locals and visitors alike for a lack of kosher dining options. This month, two new kosher meat restaurants are expected to open after months of delays, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Coming to campus: A new kosher cafe at the George Washington University Hillel opened its doors for lunch starting this week, with plans to also serve dinner beginning next week. The restaurant will be operated in partnership with the university and will be open to everyone, not just GW students, and supervised by the Orthodox Union. The unnamed cafe — Hillel will gather input from students before choosing a name — will open to the public later this month.
Dream come true: “Opening a kosher cafe at GW Hillel has been a long-held dream for many associated with our organization,” said Adena Kirstein, executive director at GW Hillel. “We aim to build a space of warmth and belonging, where nuanced, thought-provoking, empathy-driven conversations can be held over a delicious meal.” The menu features Israeli-inspired bowls, sandwiches and salatim (Israeli salads).
Street sense: Oh Mama Grill, an Israeli street food restaurant with one location in Rockville, Md., announced in August its plans to open a location in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington. After several delays due to difficulty finding a mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, the new location is expected to open before the end of the month, an individual with knowledge of the restaurant’s plans told JI.
Bar-Ilan University moves to establish center to advance Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ teachings
At a time of increasing polarization among Jews in Israel and around the world, Israel’s Bar-Ilan University is seeking to establish an educational and research institute aimed at studying the teachings of the former British chief rabbi, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. “I think Rabbi Sacks was a unique religious leader, unique both as a rabbi and as a religious leader in general,” Jonathan Rynhold, head of the university’s political studies department, which has begun designing the institute’s infrastructure and study program, told Ruth Marks Eglash reporting for eJewishPhilanthropy on Monday.
Reaching beyond: “Some 250,000 people still receive his Parshat Hashavua [weekly Torah portion] and millions of people still visit his website regularly,” said Rynhold, adding, “Sacks has the ability to reach the parts of the Jewish community that other rabbis cannot reach and, in a world where we are being forced into false dichotomies that are either woke or religious fundamentalism, he stands out as a powerful, passionate, articulate voice for bridging these differences – religion and science, individual and community, universal and particular, tradition and modernity. He shows how they can all work together.”
Coming soon: Rynhold, who shared with eJP a detailed proposal for the new institute, said that plans for the new center’s research and study programs would be formally announced this week at a two-day conference dedicated to Sacks’ legacy, which is being held at the university starting on Tuesday evening. A similar institute — the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership — was founded at Yeshiva University in 2021. With one of the largest Jewish studies faculties in the world, Bar-Ilan University is a fitting venue for such an institute, Rynhold explained. “The center of the Jewish world is Israel and, as Rabbi Sacks himself wrote in his book Future Tense, Israel is the only place where you can fulfill a Jewish vision in full.”
Study program: One of the central elements of the new institute will be the creation of the Jonathan Sacks B.A. Political Studies program in Democracy, Citizenship & Leadership. Of the 20 students to be selected for the program, four spaces will be reserved for Haredi students and four for Arab students, said Rynhold. The proposal also includes M.A. and Ph.D. graduate degree programs, an advanced interdisciplinary seminar, a visiting lectureship and an annual “public intellectual” prize.
Israeli tech companies headed into another tough year
After a painful year for Israel’s startups, 2023 won’t bring much relief, and salvation is unlikely to come from Gulf investors, Israeli tech industry leader Avi Hasson told The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger. Israeli technology companies attracted $15.5 billion in investment last year, down 43% from a record $27 billion in 2021, according to a Jan. 10 report by Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit organization based in Tel Aviv that promotes the country’s tech industry.
Staying cautious: Even as the United Arab Emirates and Israel begin operating this year under a free-trade agreement that is projected to generate an annual $10 billion in economic activity by 2026, the relationship will be characterized by caution, Hasson, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central, said in an interview. Investors from Arab countries that normalized relations with Israel in 2020 under the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords are going to be “more cautious, more prudent,” and more demanding of “due diligence” before agreeing to commit funds, Hasson said. With the 43% drop in venture capital investment and cash-starved firms carrying out successive waves of layoffs, Hasson said the bad news isn’t over. “Expect more of that in 2023,” he said.
Inflated expectations: While the advent of normalization raised hopes in Israel that the UAE and Bahrain would be deep sources for investment, Hasson said expectations were inflated. “We did not see an avalanche of investors coming from the Gulf… with open checkbooks,” he said. “We are still in the [phase of] relationship-building and trust-building.” Much of the Emirati money in Israeli companies has come from Abu Dhabi-based sovereign wealth funds, including Mubadala Investment Co.’s $1.1 billion purchase of a 22% stake in Israel’s offshore Tamar natural gas field and its reported $100 million investment in six Israeli venture capital funds. Another sovereign fund, ADQ, offered last month to buy control of Phoenix Holdings, Israel’s biggest insurance company. Besides the inherent caution when it comes to Israel, Hasson said UAE investors are known for their thoroughness and patience in examining all potential deals.
🤝 Davos Dealings: Against the backdrop of the World Economic Forum in Davos, The New York Times’ David Kaufman spotlights joint efforts between Israel and its Gulf allies to address regional challenges. “Kelsey Goodman, associate director for the Middle East and North Africa for the World Economic Forum, said ‘the climate and energy nexus is top of mind at the annual meeting,’ particularly when it comes to the Mideast-North Africa region, known as MENA. Those nations are expected to turn out in record numbers at Davos, whose talks are being seen as a springboard for next year’s COP28 climate summit to be held in Dubai, Ms. Goodman said. The trend, she said, toward greater engagement on climate issues from MENA policymakers and business leaders is a reflection of momentum on climate solutions in the region…. But with their shared desert topography and collective climate crises, green partnerships like the Watergen agreement have become among the most vibrant arenas for cooperation. Israel provides decades of environmental research, technology and manufacturing, while the oil-rich gulf nations deliver funding and access to new markets. ‘This type of regional harmonization makes a lot of sense,’ Ms. Goodman said, ‘because the Middle East and gulf are far more suited to tech-based — rather than nature-based — environmental solutions’ to climate change.” [NYTimes]
🎓 Harvard Headache: In TheJerusalem Post, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt expresses concerns about antisemitic undertones in The Nation’s recent coverage of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, which decided against offering a fellowship to Israel critic Kenneth Roth. “It’s a textbook case of classic antisemitism: It’s not the leadership of the Kennedy School that made this decision, oh no. It’s the powerful and monied Jewish elite that really influences things behind the scenes. In short, the article plays into the classic antisemitic trope of Jewish power and control – without providing any evidence that any of these Jewish donors or groups played any role in influencing the decision to derail Ken Roth’s fellowship. At a time when more and more Americans are buying into antisemitic tropes, it’s deeply disturbing that The Nation is providing fodder for the antisemitic notion that Jews have too much power in the US. Yet, it is not unsurprising. As the leading journal of the far-left for decades, [The Nation] has a history of virulent opposition to Israel, publishing inflammatory rhetoric and prominent critics of the Jewish state, including the co-founder of the BDS movement Omar Barghouti, who has expressed his view there should be no Jewish state at all. And The Nation appointed Mohammed El-Kurd, who has compared Israelis to Nazis and given voice to the blood libel trope, as their ‘Palestine correspondent’ in 2021.” [JPost]
🔍 Dissecting DEI: In The New York Times, Jesse Singal looks into the impact of diversity, equity and inclusion training programs, highlighting a lack of evidence to show that they are effective and the possibility that in some cases they are actually damaging. “If diversity trainings have no impact whatsoever, that would mean that perhaps billions of dollars are being wasted annually in the United States on these efforts. But there’s a darker possibility: Some diversity initiatives might actually worsen the D.E.I. climates of the organizations that pay for them. That’s partly because any psychological intervention may turn out to do more harm than good. The late psychologist Scott Lilienfeld made this point in an influential 2007 article where he argued that certain interventions — including ones geared at fighting youth substance use, youth delinquency and PTSD — likely fell into that category. In the case of D.E.I., Dr. Dobbin and Dr. Kalev warn that diversity trainings that are mandatory, or that threaten dominant groups’ sense of belonging or make them feel blamed, may elicit negative backlash or exacerbate pre-existing biases. Many popular contemporary D.E.I. approaches meet these criteria.” [NYTimes]
🇵🇦 Panama Problem: In The Washington Post, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an advisory board member of United Against Nuclear Iran, calls on the U.S. to take action to stop Panama from helping Iran to circumvent oil sanctions. “Such pressure can be applied in a variety of ways. The new Congress should investigate Panama’s role in facilitating sanctions evasion, and the Biden administration should add every Panamanian-flagged vessel that has carried sanctioned cargoes, their owners and their operators to the U.S. list of ‘specially designated nationals.’ Doing so blocks entities’ assets, subjects them to seizure and freezes them out of doing business in the United States. President Biden should also punish all individuals and entities making up the universe of so-called maritime service providers participating in Iran’s sanctions evasion. They have avoided accountability for too long.” [WashPost]
📣 A Voice from the Iranian Diaspora: The Financial Times’ Andrew England interviews Iranian-British actress Nazanin Boniadi about the protests in her home country. “Boniadi has been among the most outspoken figures in the large Iranian diaspora, spread across the US, Canada, the UK and elsewhere, about the nation’s theocratic leadership. She has held talks with top US officials, spoken at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council and addressed a demonstration attended by thousands. Her role, she tells me, is on the world stage, using her Hollywood profile to relay the messages of the protesters. While the theocracy has been severely rattled by the resilience and scope of the unrest, experts inside and outside the country caution that it is not about to fall. But Boniadi, like others in an increasingly activist diaspora, has seized on it as a moment to intensify pressure on the regime, hoping it could ultimately usher in change. The dramatic nature of the protests, with many women braving bullets and batons to demonstrate, has bolstered those efforts as it has ensured greater global attention on Iran compared with previous bouts of unrest. Boniadi likens the moment to the anti-apartheid movement, and describes what’s taking place as the ‘first female-led revolution of our time.’” [FT]
Around the Web
🎭 Theater Tickets: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her husband, Paul, attended a weekend showing of Tom Stoppard’s Broadway show “Leopoldstadt,” about a Jewish family’s experiences with antisemitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
⚕️ Rep Recuperating: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) suffered minor injuries after being hit by a car while walking home from a Shabbat service at a local synagogue.
🗳️ He’s Running: Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) announced a bid for the Senate seat held by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), who is running for governor.
🤨 Suspicious Story:New York magazine notes that Rep. George Santos’ claims of Jewish ancestry began to surface during his second bid for Congress — when all three Democrats running for the seat were Jewish.
💸 Priced Out: Anti-Putin activist and Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder, who has attended the World Economic Forum in Davos for nearly three decades, is skipping this year’s gathering after he said organizers raised his ticket price from roughly $70,000 to $250,000.
🏙️ Rent Control: The Financial Timeslooks at the legal challenges facing Blackstone’s Jon Gray following the company’s $5.3 billion purchase of land in Manhattan and the subsequent changes to New York’s rental laws.
👨 Nelson’s Next Move: Puckreports on the ongoing battle between Nelson Peltz and Bob Iger, as Peltz maneuvers to win a spot on Disney’s board despite Iger’s efforts.
💰 Buying In: Investor Ryan Cohen has bought a stake in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and is pushing for it to boost its share-repurchase program.
⚖️ Day of Rest: The United States Supreme Court agreed to take up an appeal by an evangelical Christian mail carrier who claimed that the U.S. Postal Service should have done more to accommodate his religious objection to working on the Sabbath.
👩🍳 What’s Cooking: The New York Post spotlights entrepreneur Tali Friedman, whose kosher cooking business has attracted a range of famous clients, from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to Martha Stewart.
🏀 Hawk Eye: The Athleticlooks at the changes underway within the Atlanta Hawks franchise, including the moves of Nick Ressler, “the 27-year-old son of Hawks owner Tony Ressler who has had increased influence on roster and staffing decisions during his time as the team’s Director of Business and Basketball Operations.”
🪧 Campus Beat: Student protesters at the University of Michigan marched through campus waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans as they demonstrated against an on-campus event about climate change featuring Vice President Kamala Harris.
🤣 Funny Man: Varietyinterviewed Israeli-born comedian Mordechi “Moti” Rosenfeld about his act, which takes on a range of topics about Judaism and Israel.
🥘 Eating Tour: In The New York Times, a Jerusalem local provides a guide to Palestinian food spots in the Old City.
📹 Sign of Life: Hamas released a video purporting to show Avera Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli man who has been held captive by the group since 2014.
📈 Aliyah Surge?: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that Israel’s hypothetical membership in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program would lead to large numbers of Jewish Americans making aliyah.
🗣️ Presidential Moves: Israeli President Isaac Herzog said in a statement that he is seeking to create dialogue and avert a constitutional crisis as some members of the country’s newly formed government push for judicial reform. Some 80,000 Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest against the plan.
🇦🇲 History Lesson: The Mardigian Museum, which spotlights the history of the Armenian community in Israel, will reopen in Jerusalem’s Old City after a five-year renovation project.
🪑 Leadership Transition: Ronen Levy, who worked for two decades in the Shin Bet security service, most recently working with countries across the Middle East and North Africa without official relations with Israel, will replace Alon Ushpiz as director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, following Ushpiz’s resignation.
🇮🇱 Protest Politics: Authorities in Tel Aviv estimated that roughly 80,000 people gathered in the city’s Habima Square on Saturday night to protest the new government. Days later, Israeli defense leaders, including Defense Minister Yoav Galant and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, pledged to keep the military free from politics.
💵 Price Point: Inflation in Israel recorded a 5.3% increase in 2022, a level not seen since 2008.
🛬 Revitalization Project: A $100 million Jordanian project to upgrade the offerings around the area most commonly used for Christian baptisms aims to attract 1 million Christians to the site in 2030, considered to be the 2,000th anniversary of Jesus’ baptism.
😏 Mideast Morass: In Foreign Policy, the Carnegie Endowment’s Aaron David Miller and the Quincy Institute’s Steven Simon suggest that the Biden administration could find itself challenged by regional dynamics in the coming year.
🤐 In Protest: An American man detained for seven years in Iran launched a weeklong hunger strike to draw U.S. attention to his plight.
➡️ Transition: Sam Crystal, the Jewish Democratic Council for America’s director of communications, is now the group’s chief of staff.
🕯️ Remembering: Writer Paul Johnson, who authored a book on the founding of Israel, died at 94. Film producer Edie Landau, who was behind the theatrical and stage adaptations of The Chosen, died at 95. Modernist designer Ruth Adler Schnee, who as a teenager fled Nazi Germany with her family after her father’s brief imprisonment at Dachau, died at 99. Peter Grose, a former New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem who later worked at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Middle East Institute, died at 88. Martin Perlmutter, the longtime director of the Jewish studies program at the College of Charleston, died at 79.
Pic of the Day
Led by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK) of the Abraham Accords Caucus, a bipartisan delegation of seven U.S. senators attended a VIP reception at the Four Seasons at Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi on Monday afternoon. Notable attendees included Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Speaker of the Emirati Parliament Saqr Ghobash, UAE Federal National Council Secretary General Omar Alnuaimi, UAE Federal National Council Representative Meera Sultan Al Suwaidi, Israel’s Ambassador to the UAE Amir Hayek, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Abu Dhabi Sean Murphy, Rabbi Levi Duchman, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Ross Kriel, Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori and AJC’s Marc Severs.
Australia’s chief scientist until last year, he is an engineer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and former chancellor of Monash University, Alan Finkel turns 70…
Former two-term member of Congress from Iowa, he is the father-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, Edward Mezvinsky turns 86… Host of television’s tabloid talk show “Maury,” originally known as the “Maury Povich Show,” Maury Povich turns 84… Former reporter, columnist and editor covering religion, education and NYC neighborhoods for The New York Times, he is the author of four books, Joseph Berger turns 78… Retired president of the Supreme Court of Israel, now teaching at University of Haifa Law School, Asher Dan Grunis turns 78… Economist, professor, New York Times best-selling author and social entrepreneur, he has written eleven books and is the founder of six companies, Paul Zane Pilzer turns 69… President and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, Steve Rabinowitz turns 66… Journalist-in-residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Joanne Kenen… Chair of zoology at the University of Wyoming, she was the Democratic nominee in the 2020 U.S. Senate election in Wyoming, Merav Ben-David turns 64… Majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and dozens of other companies, Dan Gilbert turns 61… Professor of Law at Harvard University, Jesse M. Fried turns 60… Film and stage actor best known for his roles on “The West Wing” and “The Big Bang Theory,” Joshua Malina turns 57… Film director, television director, screenwriter and film producer, Bartholomew “Bart” Freundlich turns 53… President at NYC-based Rosewood Realty Group, Aaron Jungreis… President of the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute, previously a member of the Knesset for the Kadima party, Yohanan Plesner turns 51… D.C.-based partner at PR firm FGS Global, Jeremy Pelofsky… Professional dancer who has competed in 17 seasons of “Dancing with the Stars,” Maksim Chmerkovskiy turns 43… Film and television actor, Scott Mechlowicz turns 42… Director for foundation relations at J Street, Becca Freedman... CEO of Gather Inc., Rachel Gildiner… Impact finance attorney in the NYC office of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Perry Isaac Teicher… Film and television actor, Max Adler turns 37… Retired player for MLB’s San Diego Padres, he also played for Team Israel in 2013 and 2017, Cody Decker turns 36… Business administrator at the City of Hoboken, Jason Freeman… Senior director at Penta Group, Rebecca Berg Buck turns 33… Digital media director for U.S. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Alyssa Franke…