👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we take a peek inside the World Economic Forum at Davos and look at the Republican Steering Committee assignments doled out this week. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff, Gov. Josh Shapiro, Annette Taddeo and Yossi Vardi.
When the World Economic Forum in Davos concludes on Friday, some 175 attendees will wrap the week in a time-honored, millennia-old tradition: Shabbat dinner.
The annual Shabbat dinner, held at the conclusion of the weeklong confab for the last 25 years, is sponsored by the World Economic Forum and hosted by WEF founder Klaus Schwab and his wife, Hilde. (Schwab, for his part, once said the dinner is his favorite part of the gathering.)
“When it comes to Shabbos, it’s at the end of a week of intense meetings and networking and business,” Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, who has traveled to Davos annually for two decades and is involved in the planning for the annual dinner, told Jewish Insider. “So then people come to the last important meal: It’s spiritual, it’s purposeful, it’s Yiddishkeit.”
Israeli entrepreneur Yossi Vardi is a driving force behind the event, Berkowitz said. Prior to his death, Israeli President Shimon Peres was an annual staple at the dinner. Former Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat gives the d’var Torah, a role he took on following the death of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.
“From heads of state to leaders of industry, emerging technology companies, Nobel laureates, academics, it’s an amazing amalgam of the amazing diversity of the Jewish people and friends of the Jewish people,” Berkowitz, who is also the president of AZ Advisors, explained.
While the guest list for the invite-only Shabbat dinner remains under wraps, Berkowitz noted that this year’s WEF boasts a host of high-profile Jewish figures, including Andy Jassy, Eduardo Elsztain, Orit Gadiesh, David Rubinstein, Steve Schwartzman, Jared Kushner, Marc Benioff, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Alex Soros, Rebecca Blumenstein, Adam Grant, Gary Cohn, Wired’s Gideon Lichfield, Israeli Chief Economist Shira Greenberg, Rabbi Yonatan Neril, Google’s Ruth Porat, OurCrowd’s Jonathan Medved, Edward Felsenthal and Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron.
While the Swiss Alps might not seem on its face to be a classic destination for observant Jewish travelers, the town boasts a long Jewish history, and has become a summer hotspot for Orthodox Jews looking for a getaway, with at least one fully kosher hotel, and a yeshiva that functions year-round for some 200 young men.
Today in Davos, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the gathering, in what is expected to be one of the most-anticipated speeches of the week. Immediately after Zelensky’s address, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. local time, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines will speak alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Svyrydenko on a session focused on “Restoring Security and Peace.” Earlier today, Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Princess Reema Bandar al-Saud spoke on a panel titled “Saudi Arabia’s Transformation in a Changing Global Context.”
Yesterday, Iranian-British actress Nazanin Boniadi, Iranian-American writer Masih Alinejad and Tirana Hassan, the acting executive director of Human Rights Watch, spoke about the ongoing protests in Iran in a conversation moderated by Rima Maktabi, U.S. bureau chief of Al Arabiya. Also yesterday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called for more sanctions on Iran over its recent drone exports to Moscow.
On the sidelines of the Swiss confab, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel Albares.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt is also in Davos this week, where he’ll be speaking on a Thursday panel titled “Keeping Faith.”
“We’re seeing more and more data points in the trendline of rising global extremism — from rising antisemitic attitudes and incidents in the U.S., to an authoritarian insurrection in Brazil, to violent crackdowns against peaceful protests in Iran,” Greenblatt told us. “I’m looking forward to joining diverse world leaders at Davos to connect the dots between individual countries’ issues and concerning global trends, and identify paths forward to collaboratively address these challenges.”
Back in New York City, Dan Senor and Campbell Brown hosted “Fauda” creators Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff last night for a conversation and private screening of the premiere episode of the show’s newest season — the fourth season will drop on Netflix on Friday. The intimate event was held at the Roxy Cinema in Tribeca’s Roxy Hotel.
During the panel discussion, Raz and Issacharoff also discussed a new four-episode series that will launch on Showtime later this year about a joint CIA-Mossad operation to track down the world’s most wanted terrorist.
Notable attendees included Blackstone’s Jon Gray, Joseph Baratta, David Kestenbaum, Peter Wallace, Paramount’s Shari Redstone, Bloomberg‘s Ethan Bronner, The Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto and Gregory Zuckerman; Pushkin’s Jacob Weisberg, Tribeca Enterprises’ Jane Rosenthal, New York Post’s Keith Poole, Instagram’s Charles Porch, Meta’s Naomi Gleit; Tablet‘s Alana Newhouse, Armin Rosen and Stephanie Butnik; Boykin Curry, Cyrus Vance Jr.; Emma Bloomberg, Gary Ginsberg, Mindy Gray, Endeavor’s Linda Rottenberg, Nir Hood, Post News‘ Noam Bardin, Steven Rattner and Maureen White; Richard Haass and Susan Mercandetti; Tali Farhadian Weinstein and Boaz Weinstein; Seth Siegel, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan and Daniel Bonner.
We heard from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) about her attendance at a weekend showing of Tom Stoppard’s semi-autobiographical play “Leopoldstadt” on Broadway. “‘Leopoldstadt’ was a profound example of how we can learn from the arts,” Pelosi told JI’s Marc Rod. “I told the cast that they were great teachers and that I’ll never forget the story they told. I also told them of my father being a champion of the Jewish community, calling upon the Roosevelt administration to be more concerned about the treatment of Jews in Europe and to move quicker in establishing a Jewish state. Bravo to Tom Stoppard!”
Qatari foreign minister urges global action on Israeli-Palestinian conflict at Davos
Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani urged global action regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations and in other international forums similar to the global response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Drawing comps: Al Thani, speaking at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday, said that he and others in the Middle East have been “struck” that the global community has been “mobilizing only for specific causes,” like that of Ukraine. “We’ve been in the Middle East suffering for decades from all violations of the U.N. charter, including from the Palestinian-Israeli issue, the Syrian issue,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “We would like to see the same world stand for these kinds of causes.”
On Israel’s new government: He specifically emphasized a “very big concern now among the region” for the Palestinians situation given “all these provocative policies” from the Israeli government. “We would like to see a real stand from our allies and partners also to stop the Israeli government from taking such actions,” al Thani said.
New path: Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, who also spoke on the panel, said Saudi Arabia is seeking a diplomatic pathway forward with Iran. “We have reached out, we are trying to find a path to dialogue with our neighbors, Iran, because we believe very strongly that dialogue is the best pathway to resolving differences,” Prince Faisal said. “We feel quite strongly that what we are doing in the kingdom, and what others in the region, especially the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries are doing, in addressing the challenges of their economy, in investing in their countries, in focusing on development rather than geopolitics, is a strong signal to Iran and others in the region that there is a pathway beyond the traditional arguments and the traditional disputes towards joint prosperity.”
Republicans hand down committee assignments
The Republican Steering Committee handed down committee assignments yesterday for new and returning GOP House members, including for the Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Armed Services and Judiciary Committees. While the assignments must still be ratified by the House GOP conference, they’re unlikely to see major changes, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. See a breakdown of the new additions to these key committees here.
Other notable assignments:
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) was reinstated to the Natural Resources and Oversight Committees, from which he was removed for tweeting a video showing him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Gosar has spoken at white nationalist Nick Fuentes’ conferences twice and promoted Fuentes as recently as last September, after attempting to distance himself from the provocateur. Gosar was also one of the Republican House members who opposed McCarthy’s speakership bid.
Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who had been seeking assignments on two high-profile committees, Foreign Affairs and Financial Services, received neither, landing on the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.
👴 Betting on Biden: The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman suggests how President Joe Biden could approach the new government in Israel. “The current crisis in Israel may be presented to Biden as an internal constitutional matter that he should stay out of. To the contrary. Biden should wade right in (just as Netanyahu did) because the outcome has direct implications for U.S. national security interests. I have no illusions that Biden can reverse the most extreme trends emerging in Israel today, but he can nudge things onto a healthier path, and maybe prevent the worst, with some tough love in a way that no other outsider can.” [NYTimes]
🇸🇦 Saudi Spotlight: In Newsweek, Dan Perry makes an argument for Saudi Arabia to lead a new Arab initiative, offering Israel peace with its neighbors in exchange for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Here’s something that would be spectacular: Saudi Arabia offers normalization to Israel on the condition that Israel accept the principle of Palestinian statehood in most of the West Bank, along with a complete freeze on Jewish settlement beyond the line of Israel’s existing security barrier. In effect, Israel would be asked to reaccept the parameters of the 2020 Trump peace plan that Netanyahu, who was in power in Israel then as well, accepted. The effect would be electric. The Israeli right’s ability to survive and appear plausible depends on the proposition that when Arab neighbors finally make overtures, the right is best placed to engage them. After all, it is the right where most opposition would be expected to come from…Netanyahu would face pressure from the security establishment, the business sector, the public at large and even, to a degree, his own Likud Party. But there would be no way to engage the Saudis on such terms with the existing coalition, which is at the mercy of extremist fundamentalists. Netanyahu would need to swap them for the current opposition — the liberal parties that led the previous government.” [Newsweek]
🇮🇱 Own Goal:Bloomberg’s editorial board writes that the actions of new far-right ministers in the Israeli government could damage efforts to confront the Iranian threat through a regional coalition. “Shortly after the new government assumed office, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir paid a highly publicized visit to the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary — causing an uproar among Arab governments, who accuse Israel of attempting to change the long-standing status quo at the site, where only Muslims are allowed to pray. Far from shrinking from controversy, Netanyahu’s partners have continued to court it. In retaliation for the Palestinian Authority’s bid to haul Israel before the International Court of Justice, the government has stripped top Palestinian officials of travel privileges, banned Palestinian construction in parts of the West Bank, and redirected roughly $40 million in Palestinian Authority tax revenues to the families of Jewish terrorism victims. For good measure, Ben-Gvir has ordered police to remove Palestinian flags from public places. Such moves would be provocative at any time. Now, they are especially shortsighted.” [Bloomberg]
🤔 Minority Musings: In The New York Times, Ross Barkan explores House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-NY) challenges in managing the Democratic caucus and how he can placate the party’s various Hill factions. “Unlike the young leftists who rose to power in 2019, Mr. Jeffries is a staunch supporter of Israel and privately run, publicly funded charter schools. He clashed with progressives who backed defunding the police in the wake of the George Floyd protests. “There will never be a moment where I bend the knee to hard-left democratic socialism,” Mr. Jeffries said as recently as 2021. An effective speaker should never ‘bend the knee’ to anyone, but if Mr. Jeffries is lucky enough to sit in the majority, he’ll have to start counting votes. One of the overlooked stories of the 2022 midterms was how many leftist or Squad-friendly candidates won elections. The old Justice Democrats strategy of contesting safe-blue seats is beginning to bear considerable fruit. Moderates are right that Democrats in the Bernie Sanders or Ilhan Omar vein have yet to prove they can win swing terrain — but they won’t have to to have tangible influence in Washington.” [NYTimes]
👀 Koch’s Conflicts: In Commentary, Tevi Troy looks back at Ed Koch’s most famous feuds, how they reflect on the evolution of U.S. politics since and what role his Jewishness played in the battles fought by the former New York City mayor ahead of the tenth anniversary of his death. “Looking back on Koch’s battles and the verve with which he conducted them is a rueful reminder of what New York politics was like before our current age of sensitivity and snowflakery set in. An inveterate feistiness led Koch to engage in tussles over ideas, made flesh in his conflicts with some very large personalities who stood in opposition to him. He was a dominating figure at a time when Democrats could more openly debate issues among themselves without seeking to shut down opponents who challenged progressive orthodoxy. And he was unapologetic about his defense of his own people, even as he was the mayor of America’s greatest city. When Koch died in February 2013, he asked that the words of the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl be put on his tombstone: ‘My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.’ This might have surprised many people who thought of him both as an entirely ethnic and an entirely unreligious figure, but Koch’s Jewishness was a key factor in determining many of his primary targets — people who did things or said things that were either offensive to Jews or damaging to Israel or both.” [Commentary]
Around the Web
👋 Meet-up: U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides met with the Senate delegation visiting Abraham Accords signatory countries in Israel today.
⚖️ Serving Justice:Politicoprofiles Jonathan Kanter, who heads the Department of Justice’s antitrust division as he begins his second year in the role.
🏃♀️ Cheered On: Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress last year, is considering a run to head the Florida Democratic Party, after two dozen Gen Z activists in the state penned a letter urging her to run for the position.
🗳️ Bid Against Brown: Republican businessman Matt Dolan, who fell short in his primary bid for Ohio’s open Senate seat last year, announced his entry into the 2024 Senate race, which will see Republicans attempt to oust Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
🐶 Doggy Dimes: A disabled New Jersey veteran accused Rep. George Santos (R-NY) of taking $3,000 raised in an online fundraiser that had been created to provide access to lifesaving veterinary treatment for the man’s dog.
➡️ Transition: American technology journalist Joshua Topolsky will lead Sherwood, a new media brand launched by financial services company Robinhood.
🦄 Israel’s Eurovision Entry: Israeli singer Noa Kirel will perform the song “UNICORN” at this year’s Eurovision competition.
🛫 Bruchim HaBaim: El Al CEO Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia said that the Israeli national airline intends to increase its flights to North America.
🇲🇦🇮🇱 Teaming Up: Morocco and Israel will strengthen military ties, following meetings between defense officials from both countries in Rabat this week.
🇯🇴 Return Trip: The Jordanian ambassador to Israel, Ghassan Majali, entered the Temple Mount following claims he made hours earlier that he was refused entry to the site by Israel Police.
🇹🇷 Talking (With) Turkey: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will visit Washington later this week in an attempt to smooth over ties between the two allied countries.
🚁 Deadly Crash: Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky was among 18 people killed in a helicopter crash beside a nursery in an eastern suburb of Kyiv.
🪖 Artillery Aid: The U.S. is tapping into one of its stockpile, based in Israel, to send hundreds of thousands of artillery shells to Ukraine to assist Kyiv in its military conflict with Russia.
✍️ Prisoner’s Plea: The White House called Iran’s use of detention for political leverage “outrageous” after President Joe Biden received a letter from Iranian-American prisoner Siamak Namazi.
🪧 Power Pyramid: The Financial Times looks at how Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has largely avoided scrutiny by the country’s protestors, with analysts observing the deflection as a referendum on how Iranians view the country’s power structure, atop of which sits Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Pic of the Day
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro sits with his wife, Lori, at his inauguration in Harrisburg, Pa., yesterday. Lori Shapiro is holding the three Bibles on which her husband took his oath — including one that was set to be used by the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh on the morning of a deadly terror attack in 2018.
“Consider this – our Commonwealth was founded on the promise of religious tolerance,” Shapiro said in his address. “Pennsylvania, a place where [William] Penn invited all to come and live and worship in peace and security. And now, in this place of tolerance, I stand before you, a proud American of Jewish faith who just took the oath of office to be the 48th governor of this great Commonwealth on a Bible from the Tree of Life synagogue, the scene just four years ago of the deadliest act of antisemitism in our nation’s history. Pennsylvanians can indeed find light in the midst of darkness and drown out the voices of hate and bigotry. You see, in every chapter of this Pennsylvania story, we got better. We got stronger. We got more tolerant.”
Shapiro, who often invoked Pirkei Avot on the campaign trail, did so again yesterday: “My own faith teaches me that no one is required to complete the task, but neither are we free to refrain from it.”
Israeli-born, best known for his web series “Jake and Amir,” Amir Shmuel Blumenfeld turns 40…
Israeli businessman and former member of Knesset, Shlomo Eliahu turns 87… Retired executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition of Greater Washington, Judy Novenstein… Publisher of a weekly community newspaper in Boston, David Jacobs… Senior editor at The 74 Media,JoAnne Wasserman… Microbiologist and professor of biology at Wichita State University, Mark A. Schneegurt, Ph.D. turns 61… Former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley turns 60… President of Aspen Square Management, Jeremy Pava turns 60… Executive director of Ohr Yisroel, Rabbi Yitz Greenman… Journalist and author of two New York Times bestsellers on personal finance, Beth Kobliner turns 58… Senior rabbi of Golders Green United Synagogue in London, Rabbi Dr. Harvey Belovski turns 55… Dean of the Jerusalem College of Technology (Machon Lev), Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon turns 55… NYC real estate entrepreneur, Andrew Heiberger turns 55… VP of government and airport affairs at JetBlue / Spirit Airways, Jeffrey Goodell… Former MLB All-Star and Gold Glove catcher, now a real estate investor, Mike Lieberthal turns 51… VP for communications and government affairs at Princeton University, Gadi Dechter… Samara Yudof Jones… Actor and screenwriter, best known for his role in the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” Jason Jordan Segel turns 43… Baltimore-born basketball player, dubbed by Sports Illustrated as the “Jewish Jordan” in a 1999 feature, Tamir Goodman turns 41… Chief development officer at the Cleveland-based The Centers, Stacey Rubenfeld… British actor, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd turns 35… Deputy political director of the Midwest region of AIPAC, Talia Alter… Cellist and music professor, he has performed as a soloist with more than 25 symphony orchestras, Julian Schwarz turns 32… All-Star pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, Max Fried turns 29… Linda Rubin…