👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Ed note: We hope you had a joyous and meaningful Purim holiday. On Monday, we revealed a few personnel updates to our growing team. We’re thrilled that Josh Kraushaar is joining our team as editor in chief of Jewish Insider; Melissa Weiss is being promoted to executive editor of Jewish Insider and today is Judah Gross’ first day as news editor of eJP. Our team is the backbone of everything we do and we encourage you to reach out to get to know us.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on an upcoming Jewish women’s summit at the White House and presidential primaries currently scheduled to be on Passover. We also talk to Israeli MK Yitzhak Pindrus about his proposed legislation that mirrors the U.S.’ Taylor Force Act. Others in today’s Daily Kickoff include: Ned Price, Dalya Attar and Matti Friedman.
After Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reported earlier this week from the Arab Conference at Harvard, where speakers including former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) urged students to protest “apartheid” Israel, the consulting giant McKinsey & Company, which was listed as a high-level sponsor of the event, released a statement on Monday distancing itself from the event.
“When we learned late last week that a speaker at an event our recruiting team was sponsoring at Harvard University had a history of anti-Semitic comments, we immediately stepped away from the conference, canceled our in-person recruiting meeting and withdrew two speakers from the program,” the statement said. “We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and stand for inclusion and tolerance everywhere.”
As of Tuesday evening, McKinsey isstill listed as a “close circle sponsor” of the conference — the highest level of sponsorship — on the conference website. The recruiting session still appears on the schedule, and a page listing the time and place of the McKinsey recruiting session, which was set to take place on Sunday, is still active. (A revised schedule sent to attendees on Sunday morning did not list the McKinsey session. JI reached out to conference organizers to ask whether the session took place, but they did not respond.)
McKinsey’s statement did not specify which speaker the company was referencing, and a spokesperson declined to comment further. DJ Carella, the firm’s global director of media relations and corporate communications, did not respond to questions about whom the statement was referring to or why the organization was still listed as a sponsor on the conference website.
In a Tuesday night email to students and donors, Harvard Hillel’s executive director, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, lamented comments by Sarsour in which the outspoken activist said she was “not afraid of Zionists in America. I’m not afraid of people trying to silence me.” Jewish students at Harvard, Steinberg wrote, experience such accusations “as painful and prejudiced.”
Today on Capitol Hill, the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing with officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and FBI on worldwide threats.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote today on Michael Ratney and Eric Garcetti’s nominations to be the U.S. ambassadors to Saudi Arabia and India, respectively, although those votes may be delayed by senators’ objections. The committee will also vote on repealing the authorizations for use of military force in Iraq and promoting cooperative projects to protect civilians in Iraq and on the Arabian Peninsula from Iranian drones.
Elsewhere on the Hill, House Democrats announced that pro-Israel stalwart Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) received a waiver to rejoin the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He had served on the committee in the previous Congress — at one point seeking to lead the Middle East subcommittee — but was not initially reappointed this year. Additionally, newly sworn-in Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA) will be joining the House Armed Services Committee.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price will step down from the job — which he’s had since the start of the Biden administration — later this month and will transition to a role working directly with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Read our recent profile of Price here.
White House to host inaugural Jewish Women’s Forum this week
The White House will convene its first-ever Jewish Women’s Forum on Thursday, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch has learned. The three-and-a-half-hour event, which is by invitation only, is set for this week to mark Women’s History Month and Purim, according to an invitation viewed by JI.
Community builders: The invitation was sent by the White House’s Jewish liaison, Shelley Greenspan, to Jewish female leaders “who are working to improve the lives of people in their communities,” according to the invitation. More than 70 women are expected to attend the meeting, which will highlight topics including antisemitism, leadership and gender equity, the White House confirmed Tuesday.
Shine a light: “Jewish women have long been involved in both public service and communal work, contributing in innumerable ways to American society,” Greenspan told JI on Tuesday night. “The Jewish Women’s Forum at the White House is an opportunity to shine a light on women who have turned Jewish values into action.”
Who’s who: Thursday’s gathering will kick off with a fireside chat with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and feature briefings from senior White House officials. Among those expected to address the group of 70 women are Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism; Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology; Latifa Lyles, special assistant to the president for gender policy; and Rosie Hidalgo, senior advisor on gender-based violence and special assistant to the president.
israel’s taylor force bill
MK Pindrus pushing legislation to ensure Palestinian Authority compensates Israeli terror victims
Following a spate of deadly Palestinian terror attacks that has left 14 Israelis dead since the start of the year, a member of Israel’s Knesset is preparing legislation that would enable victims or their families to seek direct financial compensation for damages from the Palestinian Authority (PA), Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
American inspiration: Based in part on the U.S.’ Taylor Force Act, which was passed into law in 2018 in an attempt to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority until it ends its “pay for slay” practice of paying stipends to terror convicts and families of slain attackers, the Israeli legislation would allow victims of terror or their families to tap into the tax payments that Israel already withholds from the PA. The bill, which appears to have overwhelming support from both coalition and opposition lawmakers, could be passed into law in the next few months. “It is built on the Taylor Force Act,” Knesset Member Yitzhak Pindrus, who drafted and is pushing the legislation, told JI in an interview on Monday. “We took our basic ideas for this law from there, but it has been adapted to Israeli laws and Israeli regulations.”
Seeking accountability: Pindrus, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition from the Haredi United Torah Judaism Party, continued: “Right now, Israel is, unfortunately, under increased terrorist attacks, and the Palestinians are not taking any responsibility… not only are they not taking responsibility, but they’re also actually pushing for [more terror] and they’re continuing to pay terrorists for every year they sit in jail and for every death of an Israeli.”
Money in limbo: The law builds on existing Israeli legislation that enables the government to withhold millions of shekels in tax payments collected on behalf of the Palestinians from commerce and income tax. Currently, under the law passed in 2018, Israel calculates how much it believes the PA pays in stipends to Palestinian terrorists or their families and deducts that amount from the revenues. According to Pindrus, however, while those funds do not reach the Palestinian Authority’s coffers, they are also not getting to the victims of terror acts, in part because of Israel’s own compensation laws – there is no direct mechanism for Israelis to sue the PA and receive a payout – and also due to the fact that Israel’s National Insurance system automatically grants financial support and services to any recognized terror victim.
Added element: The potential law, he added, would also ensure that the funds withheld from the PA are not returned to them at any point in the future, either due to international pressure or as part of a goodwill gesture to kick-start peace negotiations, which has happened in the past. “Right now, because the money is just sitting in a bank account, when there comes international pressure or [President Joe] Biden comes to visit Israel or the Palestinians try to get a loan or any other international trick, the funds can just be returned to them,” Pindrus explained. “But the minute the money’s going to be in the private accounts of the people that were attacked or damaged, that will force the PA to take more responsibility, and we will be able to tell the international community, ‘What do you want? The money’s gone to the families who were hurt.’”
Read the full interview here.
2024 presidential primaries conflict with Passover in Pennsylvania and Maryland
Presidential primaries are voters’ first real chance to cast ballots and influence their party’s nominee. But Jewish voters in four states were recently alarmed to discover that, in 2024, the date for presidential primaries conflicts with a major Jewish holiday, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Count-off: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island and Delaware plan to hold their presidential primary elections on April 23, 2024. It’s the first day of Passover, meaning that it would be difficult for any Jews who celebrate the holiday to vote, and impossible for observant Jews who do not work, drive, use electronics or write in observance of the holiday.
Population centers: Pennsylvania and Maryland are home to two of the largest Jewish populations in the nation, and Maryland Del. Dalya Attar, the state’s first Orthodox Jewish legislator, introduced legislation to change the date of next year’s primary, which is set by Maryland law.
Moving forward: “Having the primary is great and having those early voting dates are very helpful,” Attar, a Baltimore City Democrat, told JI. “But the reality is, many people go out and vote on Election Day.” The Maryland House speaker and Senate president both came out in favor of changing the date for next year’s primary. A spokesperson for Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, told JI on Tuesday that he “supports moving next year’s primary Election Day so it does not fall on Passover.”
Pennsylvania policies: In Pennsylvania, no such effort is yet underway. “I was not aware of it,” said Robin Schatz, director of government affairs at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. She pledged to look into the issue. “However, because of other options, it may not be viewed as being so critical,” added Schatz, noting that Pennsylvania law allows anyone in the state to request a mail-in ballot. Pennsylvania Democrats have proposed moving the primary up a month to give the state a bigger say in the party’s nominating contest, but even if approved, other primaries would still take place on April 23.
Wait and see: A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, declined to comment. JI did not receive responses to inquiries sent to Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee and Delaware Gov. John Carney, both Democrats, asking whether they were aware of the issue and if they planned to pursue any changes to next year’s primary date.
Jewish groups urge Supreme Court to change religious workplace accommodation standards
More than a dozen Jewish groups filed or joined briefs last week urging the Supreme Court to reevaluate its past precedent on religious accommodations in the workplace and make it more difficult for employers to deny accommodations. The organizations are weighing in on the Groff v. DeJoy case set to be argued later this term, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: The groups are supporting Gerald Groff, a former mailman and evangelical Christian who refused to work on Sundays in observance of his Sabbath. The U.S. Postal Service disciplined Groff and threatened to terminate him, as his supervisors were unable to fill all of his weekend shifts, and Groff quit his job. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the USPS, finding that Groff’s requested accommodations had strained resources, burdened his co-workers and detrimentally impacted morale.
Protections: Many of the Jewish groups that have weighed in on the Groff case urge the court to raise the standard for rejecting religious accommodations to bring it in line with its interpretation in other legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, which contains similar language. They say that doing so is especially important for protecting minority religious rights. Nathan Diament, the executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told JI that Orthodox Jews in particular have struggled to obtain accommodations in the workplace. “Under the current legal standard, which is basically that an employer can pretty much decide for any reason not to provide an accommodation, which is not [a] standard that allows Orthodox Jews to have the full range of opportunities in the workplace,” Diament said.
Giving cover: Some of the briefs also say that the 1977 Trans World Airlines v. Hardison ruling makes it so difficult for Jews to challenge decisions denying them accommodations in the workplace that it facilitates and provides cover for workplace antisemitism. Kenneth Marcus, founder of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, said that, under the current standard, it is “extremely hard to prove” that an employer is “negatively disposed to Jewish people or specifically Orthodox Jews” when they are denied accommodations. “Whether they are merely being unreasonable or whether they’re actually anti-Jewish, we would never be able to prove,” Marcus said. “This gives them an opportunity to say no to their Jewish employees, and sometimes drive Jewish employees out. And we would never be able to prove what their motivation was.”
🇮🇱 Push Comes To Shove: In his latest New York Times column, Tom Friedman writes that American Jews are feeling pressure to take sides in Israel’s domestic political issues. “Ever since Israel’s founding in 1948, supporting the country’s security and its economic development and cementing its diplomatic ties to the U.S. have been the ‘religion’ of many nonobservant American Jews — rather than studying Torah or keeping kosher. That mission drove fund-raising and forged solidarity among Jewish communities across America… Alas, though, most American Jewish organizations and lay leaders — particularly the leadership of the powerful right-leaning Jewish lobbying organization AIPAC — are not built for this kind of existential fight inside Israel. For 75 years, they’ve been built to rub elbows with Israeli dignitaries, pose with Israeli fighter pilots, visit Israel’s tech scene and do whatever [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu tells them. They have never been asked to choose BETWEEN Israel’s prime minister and its fighter pilots. Now they have no choice.” [NYTimes]
📚 How Extremism Endures: The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance looks at the history of modern political violence in an attempt to better understand extremist elements of American society. “For the past three years, I’ve been preoccupied with a question: How can America survive a period of mass delusion, deep division, and political violence without seeing the permanent dissolution of the ties that bind us? I went looking for moments in history, in the United States and elsewhere, when society has found itself on the brink — or already in the abyss. I learned how cultures have managed to endure sustained political violence, and how they ultimately emerged with democracy still intact. Some lessons are unhappy ones. Societies tend to ignore the obvious warning signs of endemic political violence until the situation is beyond containment, and violence takes on a life of its own. Government can respond to political violence in brutal ways that undermine democratic values. Worst of all: National leaders, as we see today in an entire political party, can become complicit in political violence and seek to harness it for their own ends.” [TheAtlantic]
🪧 Taking It to the Streets: In the Free Press, Matti Friedman explains his participation in the weekly protests against governmental reforms that have swept major Israeli population centers. “Many Israelis have spent their lives serving the country in the military or the civil service, or simply by being good citizens who pay high taxes and live with the punches this place delivers daily. Many have sent their kids to the army, often in the service of governments and policies they didn’t like; some never got those kids back. Some spent years fighting the libel campaign waged by our enemies to demonize this country and make it easier to abandon and destroy. It’s these Israelis who are now watching their government treat them as traitors. Anyone looking on from the outside, especially those tempted to apply American lenses and judgment, must understand the kind of anguish that is bringing masses of normal people into the streets every week. The protests are an inspiration — a reminder of the unique Israeli energies that become apparent here in moments of crisis.” [FreePress]
🎉 Nouveau Navan: The Information’s Cory Weinberg spotlights efforts by Navan CEO Ariel Cohen to rebrand the company — formerly known as TripActions — ahead of a potential initial public offering. “Navan executives are gearing up. The rebrand was done in part to show Navan is branching out from its core corporate travel software business. Ilan Twig, the company’s chief technology officer and Cohen’s co-founder, alluded to the implications of the branding change for a public listing: ‘If I’m a banker or a customer and I look at this rebrand, I get it — and everything that comes with it. “Holy sh*t! These guys are serious,”’ Twig said at the companywide meeting. While Cohen and Twig aren’t famous, they have attracted a number of Silicon Valley-famous investors since Navan’s 2015 founding, including Ben Horowitz, Elad Gil and Adam Bain. ‘I’ve never seen someone so successful at raising money in business travel,’ said Norm Rose, who runs Travel Tech Consulting and has followed Navan’s rise. Cohen used classic Silicon Valley ‘software eats the world’ tactics to grab market share in a staid industry. Corporate travel is dominated by larger, more traditional firms like American Express Global Business Travel and Concur, owned by SAP. Navan’s booking tool for business travelers is designed to be easier to use than older rivals’, and the firm recently launched a corporate credit card to capture more customer spending.” [TheInformation]
👑 Esther’s Example: In the New York Daily News, Scott Shay looks to Purim for a strategy to address modern antisemitism. “The best way to reduce antisemitism is to convince the powers that be that antisemitism is bad for everyone. Esther’s point to the king was that Haman’s plan was an affront to his power. Likewise, antisemitism is an affront to the moral and legal order that protects the power of both elected officials and citizens. Unfortunately, historical examples of this link abound. As the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said, ‘what begins with the Jews, never ends with the Jews.’ To put this strategy into action we need both individuals and groups outside of the organized Jewish community to get this message across. In particular, we need people from industries like the media, universities, law, high tech, and government across the political spectrum, to use their skills. They are the best placed to show those in power that antisemitism leads to the breakdown of the political and legal order.” [NYDN]
Around the Web
🇮🇱🇺🇸 Strategic Discussions: Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and National Security Council chair Tzachi Hanegbi met with Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in separate meetings in Washington this week.
❓ Hogan’s Holding Out: Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who earlier this week ruled out a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, said he would not rule out a potential independent bid.
🗳️ Back Home Again in Indiana: Indiana Democrats are pushing former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, an Indianapolis native, to mount a Senate bid in 2024; Klain, for his part, has said he is not interested in running for office.
📸 Bad Look: Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) said that he unwittingly took a photo with two neo-Nazi leaders in front of the Capitol, and “was not aware of the individuals’ identity or affiliation with these hate groups that stand in stark contrast to my personal beliefs.”
🛡️ Staffing Shock: Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) is reportedly employing as a private security guard a former member of the New Black Panther Party who has espoused antisemitic sentiments.
✋ Santos Saga: Politicolooks at the efforts by members of New York’s Republican congressional delegation to distance themselves from Rep. George Santos (R-NY), including calls for his resignation and introducing legislation to keep the freshman representative from profiting off of any potential book or TV deals.
🛏️ On the Mend: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced that she was discharged from the hospital, where she had been receiving treatment for shingles.
🏃♂️ Boy Meets Ballot: Actor Ben Savage formally announced his intent to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is mounting a Senate bid.
👨 Mastriano’s Move: Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who last year mounted an unsuccessful bid for the commonwealth’s governorship, is weighing a 2024 Senate bid.
👩 Bowing Out: Former Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, the first Jewish woman to hold the role, announced she will not seek election to the state House next year.
👟 He’s Running: Ibraheem Samirah, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates who faced allegations of antisemitism for his social media activity, including one in which he shared a post comparing Israel to the Ku Klux Klan, announced a bid for the state Senate.
🦅 Flighty Excuse: The San Francisco man accused of firing blanks in a local synagogue told police he was doing so in an act of prayer for a neighbor’s bird.
🏈 Snyder Selling? A two-day meeting of NFL team owners ended without decisions being made on Dan Snyder’s potential sale of the Washington Commanders, or what the league would do if Snyder, whose team office is under investigation following complaints of a toxic workplace culture, refuses to sell the team.
✡️ Focus Group Fears: The New York Times convened a focus group of 13 Jewish Americans to discuss their concerns about antisemitism in the U.S.
✍️ Now Online: A newly published digital archive of Chaim Grade’s letters provides an intimate look into the Yiddish novelist’s personal life.
🏦 Follow the Money: Local Israeli banks are being asked by the Bank of Israel to report more frequently on money coming in and out of the country’s financial institutions.
💻 Hack Work: Israel’s National Cyber Directorate said that Iran was behind a hack of the Technion’s computer system last month.
🇷🇴 Extradition Request: U.S. officials are pushing Romania to extradite a former Lebanese diplomat accused of attempting to funnel $800,000 from the U.S. to Hezbollah.
⚖️ Behind the Scenes:The New York Timesreports on an effort by a group of legal experts and Israeli lawmakers to reach a compromise over the government’s proposed reforms.
🔥 West Bank Violence: At least six Palestinian gunmen were killed — including the militant responsible for the deaths of two Israeli brothers last month — and 11 injured in an IDF raid in the West Bank town of Jenin on Tuesday. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed support for Israel’s right to conduct the manhunt. On Monday night, Israeli settlers rioted in the Palestinian town of Huwara and clashed with residents, the second time in two weeks that settlers have attacked the town.
📊 Safe For Now: Moody’s kept Israel’s A1 credit rating, but warned that the country’s credit profile could be affected by proposed judicial reforms.
➡️ Transition: Shoshana Leviton, previously a staff assistant and correspondence aide for Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), is joining Israel Policy Forum as a government relations associate.
Pic of the Day
Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal (right), chairman of Berlin’s Jewish Education Center Chabad, and Israeli Ambassador to Germany Ron Prosor dance at a Purim party in Berlin last night.
Former chairman of the BBC, member of the House of Lords, Baron Michael Grade turns 80…
Jazz pianist and composer, Dick Hyman turns 96… Longtime member of Congress (D-CA) until earlier this year, Alan Stuart Lowenthal turns 82… Judaism and science blogger, Roger Price turns 79… Lyricist, singer songwriter and New York Times best-selling author, Carole Bayer Sager turns 76… Licensed clinical psychologist and director of couple therapy training at the Chicago Center for Family Health, Dr. Mona Fishbane… Senior fellow on national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, Alan Makovsky turns 73… Brenda Krantz… Former chair and CEO of MGM, he is now vice-chair of DraftKings, Harry Evans Sloan turns 73… Public affairs producer and weekend assignment editor at KDKA News in Pittsburgh, Aviva Jayne Radbord… Former governor of Virginia and later U.S. senator, his mother was from a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia, George Allen turns 71… Retired in 2016 after 29 years as the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester N.Y., Larry Fine… Host and managing editor of the WNYC radio program “On the Media,” Brooke Gladstone turns 68… Director of training and operations at Consilium Services, Bunny Silverman Fisher… President of the World Bank Group, he will be retiring in a few months, David Malpass turns 67… D.C.-based labor and employment attorney at Bredhoff & Kaiser, Bruce R. Lerner… Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress, Camryn Manheim turns 62… Founder and CEO of 32 Advisors, LLC., Robert Wolf turns 61… VP of talent acquisition at Sageview Consulting, Carin Maher…
VP for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Evan A. Feigenbaum turns 54… Albany reporter for New York’s news channel NY1, Zack Fink… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017 (D-NJ), Joshua S. Gottheimer turns 48… Marketing and communications director at the Center for Open Science, Alexis C. Rice… Executive director of Masbia soup kitchen that serves over two million meals per year, Alexander Rapaport turns 45… Executive advisor of social networking site Raya, Jared Morgenstern turns 42… Director at PJT CamberView, Eric Louis Sumberg… Founder and CEO of Delta Flow Solutions, Jeff Sonderman… Actress best known as store manager Lily Adams in AT&T commercials, she starred in the 2019 film short “The Shabbos Goy,” Milana Vayntrub turns 36… Manager of health policy at the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare, David Streeter… Five-time BMI Songwriter of the Year award winner, known professionally as Benny Blanco, Benjamin Joseph Levin turns 35… Law clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Nathaniel Jacob Sobel… Program analyst at Mathematica Policy Research, Karen Katz… Director of public policy and strategic partnerships in the Washington office of PepsiCo, Taylor Jaye Lustig… Ghostwriter, Amanda Helen Botfeld… Tennis player, she has won nine singles and nine doubles titles on the ITF Women’s Circuit, Jamie Loeb turns 28… Director of product marketing and brand operations at DirecTV, Alexa Chavin… Senior analyst on the partnerships team at Optum Ventures, Miriam Applbaum…