👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at how last month’s CUNY Law School commencement speech will test the Biden administration’s recently released strategy to combat antisemitism, and report on new bipartisan legislation that calls for additional penalties on those who assist Iran in evading existing U.S. sanctions. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Shai Gal, Mark Esper, Evelyn Farkas and Dr. Ruth.
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: Neera Tanden’s past clashes with left over Israel shape her tenure as domestic policy advisor; ‘Jewish culture, cuisine, peoplehood’: Inside Lehrhaus, Boston’s new ‘tavern and house of learning’; and Barbara Leaf downplays reports of imminent Saudi-Israeli normalization. Print the latest edition here.
Just over a month ago, Americans descended on Israel for the country’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations and a bevy of conferences. Now, the Israelis are paying back the favor ahead of the upcoming Celebrate Israel Parade this Sunday and next week’s Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva conferences in New York. Some 18 Israeli Knesset members and ministers are expected to attend the parade, though their appearances could not be confirmed.
The Jewish Agency and the Jewish Federations of North America are bringing a delegation of eight Knesset members for meetings with Jewish community leaders, Jewish Agency emissaries and Jewish college students, among others. The delegation is also expected to visit the United Nations. The delegation includes Deputy Minister of Finance Michal Woldiger, MK Evgeny Sova, the co-chair of the Knesset Caucus for the Jewish People; and MKs Yitzhak Pindrus, Ohad Tal, Orit Farkash-HaCohen, Sharon Nir, Shalom Danino and Vladimir Beliak.
Other officials who have already arrived in the States — or are currently en route — include Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman; Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli; Immigration and Absorption Minister Ofir Sofer; Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat; Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Heritage Minister Meir Porush; Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel and Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan; Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, Jerusalem Minister Meir Porush; Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur of Shas and Likud MK Shalom Danino.
Some of the Israeli officials arrived ahead of the parade and conferences for smaller events in Florida, New Jersey, California and New York. Chikli was in Canada this week for events in Ottawa and Toronto, and is headed to New York ahead of the parade on Sunday. Read more about the parade in eJewishPhilanthropy.
And in Ohio on Monday, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff is slated to discuss antisemitism at a roundtable at the annual convening of the United States Conference of Mayors in Columbus.
Biden’s antisemitism strategy faces early test amid CUNY controversy
Just a week after the Biden administration unveiled a sweeping national strategy for combating antisemitism, its proposed plan for handling alleged incidents of anti-Jewish prejudice on college campuses is facing a key early test. The City University of New York drew an outcry this week when its law school released video of an incendiary address in which a student-selected speaker, Fatima Mohammed, accused Israel of “indiscriminate” killings and called for a “fight against capitalism, racism, imperialism and Zionism around the world.” Mohammed also claimed that CUNY was “committed to its donors, not to its students,” among other statements echoing anti-Jewish tropes. In recent interviews with a range of Jewish leaders, elected officials, academics and other experts, one major refrain was that the CUNY incident presents a timely opportunity for the Biden administration to put its new White House strategy to work, even if it remains unclear how it would translate words into action, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Perfect place to start: The policies laid out in the strategy are “directly relevant here,” William Daroff, the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JI on Wednesday, citing language from the plan stating that “too many” Jewish students and educators feel insecure “because of their actual or perceived views on Israel. CUNY Law’s graduation created just the sense of insecurity that the Biden plan seeks to address,” Daroff said. The Biden administration “is serious about tackling antisemitism,” he added. “The CUNY situation is a perfect place for his administration to make a difference.”
Urgent need to act: Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, echoed that view, noting that “the situation at CUNY Law” is just the latest example of “why the commitment to protect Jewish students is such a critical part of” the White House strategy. “We shouldn’t need to file a complaint to show that Jewish students are under attack at CUNY Law,” he argued in a statement to JI. “CUNY, New York City and the U.S. Department of Education need to act, and act now.”
From the Hill: Greenblatt pushed back on a tweet from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in which the legislator criticized CUNY’s apology. “Saying this loud and clear: slandering so-called ‘Zionists’ in a climate of surging antisemitism *is* hate speech,” Greenblatt tweeted. “Attempts to excuse those who incite hatred allows the antisemitism, oppression and violence to grow.”
Lawler, Moskowitz introduce sanctions targeting Iranian oil exports
Amid concerns about Iran’s increasing sales of oil abroad, Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) introduced legislation on Wednesday to impose new sanctions targeting those who assist the Iranian regime in ducking U.S. sanctions, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
In the text: The Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum Act (SHIP Act) would direct the president to impose sanctions on a range of foreign individuals knowingly involved in assisting Iranian oil exports, including operators of ports that accept sanctioned vessels; anyone who offloads, transports, transfers or sells Iranian petroleum products; and refinery owners who process Iranian petroleum products. Adult family members and anyone who engages in a “significant transaction” with or provides material support for sanctioned individuals would also be subject to sanctions.
Taking aim: Lawler said in a statement that the bill would serve as a “warning shot” to Iran and China, describing the two U.S. adversaries as part of a “new axis of evil” with Russia and North Korea. “The SHIP Act is an important step in preventing Iran from using that partnership, especially in maritime trading with China, to benefit themselves financially,” Lawler said. “The SHIP Act will unequivocally sink Iran’s aspirations of regional dominance and poke holes in their trade relationships.”
Senate leadership floats potential supplemental defense funding amid GOP debt limit concerns
The debt ceiling deal between House Republicans and President Joe Biden passed the Senate late Thursday evening by a 63-36 vote, after Senate Republican defense hawks secured an agreement from Senate leaders to consider pursuing a supplemental appropriations bill to increase defense funding, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Red flag: The GOP hawks had taken to the Senate floor on Thursday afternoon to lambast the debt ceiling deal, arguing that it did not provide a sufficient funding increase for the Pentagon. The deal sets 2024 defense spending at $886 billion, 3% more than the 2023 funding level and in line with the administration’s funding request. But critics noted that Congress voted in the past two years, on a bipartisan basis, to increase defense spending above the Biden requests, and that the proposed increase would fall short of inflation.
No deal: “This bill poses a mortal risk to our national security, by cutting our defense budget, which I cannot support, as grave dangers gather on the horizon,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said earlier Thursday, during a set of floor speeches by half a dozen Republicans. “The result is that a Congress with a Republican House and a Democratic Senate has now produced a defense budget worse, in real terms, than either defense budget produced by a unified Democratic Congress.”
Open door: In a joint statement Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that “this debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental funds to ensure our military capabilities are sufficient” to address threats including Russia, China and “Iranian threats to American interests and those of our partners in the Middle East.”
Read the full story here.
a family take
Israeli filmmaker takes a plunge into the ‘toxic family pool’
There are not too many people who talk openly about the flaws in their parents’ relationship, and there are even fewer who would actually go out and capture that dysfunction on film to share with the world. Yet that is exactly what Israeli filmmaker Shai Gal, a well-known journalist and soon-to-be reality TV star himself, has done in his recently debuted documentary, “End of Love Season,” an intimate look at the breakdown of his parents’ marriage after four children and more than five decades together. “It’s funny because a lot of people are telling me that I’m brave,” Gal, who has spent years as a TV journalist working for top Israeli news shows such as “Uvda” (Fact), and Channel 12 News, told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash. “Of course, it’s risky when it comes to family stories, but at a certain point, I just looked at this great story happening in my house and thought, how can I not tell it?”
Personal plunge: Gal’s very personal “toxic dive into the family pool,” as he calls it, begins in 2017 when his parents, Geula and Arik, then in their 70s, declared they could no longer live together. From behind the camera, their filmmaker son captures the grumpy break-up, including most poignantly the construction of a physical wall dividing his childhood home into two separate abodes. He then works expertly back through the years, using family photos, video footage and revealing interviews with his parents and two of his three siblings to investigate what went wrong and why his parents had not reached this conclusion sooner.
A universal story: While “End of Love Season,” which premiered last week at the annual DocAviv Film Festival in Tel Aviv, has a distinctly Israeli flavor to it – both Geula and Arik were raised on kibbutzim during the heyday of the communal lifestyle – in many ways, it is also a universal story about life, love and the sadness of staying together out of misguided hopes or fears.
🥕 Carrots and Sticks: In The Wall Street Journal, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Evelyn Farkas call on Turkey and Hungary to allow Sweden into NATO, and suggest that the U.S. do what it can to exert pressure on Ankara and Budapest. “The U.S. must press Turkey and Hungary to approve Sweden’s membership immediately and get other allies to apply the same pressure. Stockholm has done everything it can to meet Mr. Erdoğan’s demands. He should be out of excuses. Meanwhile, Washington and other key capitals, such as Berlin and Madrid, should offer the appropriate carrots (and privately threaten the right sticks) to ensure accession happens. President Biden could offer to approve sales of F-16 aircraft to Turkey or a White House visit for Mr. Erdoğan, for example. Other allies could offer to support Turkey’s reconstruction following the massive earthquake earlier this year and provide incentives to help its beleaguered economy. At the same time, NATO members should make clear that Mr. Erdoğan and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán won’t be welcome in Vilnius if Sweden isn’t a member by the summit’s start.” [WSJ]
⚽ The Beautiful Game: In The Guardian, Daniel Harris suggests how the U.K.’s soccer teams can address antisemitism in their fan bases. “Football is rooted in love. As kids, we love the simple joy of the game, and as we grow alongside it we love how it melds with what we love – community, family and friends. Football is who we are. But where there are in-groups there are out-groups, and while as fans our antipathy to everyone who is not ‘us’ mainly constitutes harmless fun … sometimes it doesn’t. The WhatsApp conversations of the Ashburton Army, a prominent Arsenal supporter group, were riddled with antisemitism that included references to Israel, the Holocaust and circumcision. Though I wasn’t surprised when I heard about them because to a Jew, antisemitism is never surprising, when I saw them I was staggered by their harrowing specificity, blase ferocity and mind-boggling abundance – likewise the apparent failure of any of the chat’s administrators to intervene. It is partially because of that omission that police are now investigating the matter.” [TheGuardian]
Around the Web
🚫 Sanctioned: The Treasury Department leveled sanctions against members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps accused of plotting assassinations of Iranian dissidents and non-Iranians, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
🗳️ First State Politics: Advisors for Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) said the Delaware legislator will launch a campaign for Senate this month, following the announcement from Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) that he will not seek reelection.
❓ Senate Race Spotlight: Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) toldPolitico that he is still thinking “about throwing my bandana in the ring” for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) endorsed Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks yesterday.
👨 Wisconsin Wild Card:Republican officials are pressing Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), a top GOP foreign policy voice who leads the House China Select Committee, to run against Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
➡️ House Rules: Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Investment is reshuffling its top executives, with the company’s chief investment officer stepping down and Josh Frank and Matt Peltz ascending to the position of co-CIOs.
🥯 Paging the Bagel Caucus: H&H Bagels plans to open 10 stores in Washington, D.C., and Virginia as part of a nationwide expansion. (Don’t worry, the bagels will still be made in Queens.)
👨🎤 Midtown Man: Billy Joel’s monthly concerts at Madison Square Garden will end in July, marking the singer-songwriter’s 150th performance at the venue.
🎓 Campus Beat: Stony Brook University will receive a $500 million gift from the Simons Foundation; Jim Simons is a former math professor at the college who went on to found Renaissance Technologies, while his wife, Marilyn, is a graduate of the school.
🇪🇸 Losing Position: Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who earlier this year cut the Spanish city’s ties with Tel Aviv, lost her reelection bid.
⛵ Spies at Sea: The New York Timesspotlights the intrigue around the recent capsizing of a boat in Italy whose passengers included a number of current and former members of both the Mossad and Italy’s intelligence branch.
🛫 Shin Bet Sojourn: Shin Bet head Ronen Bar is in Washington for meetings with senior officials from the White House and CIA.
🏥 In the Hospital: A 3-year-old Palestinian boy is in critical condition after he and a Palestinian man were shot by Israel soldiers in the West Bank last night following what the army said was a response to Palestinian fire toward the Neve Tzuf settlement.
🪖 Military Matters: Washington and Jerusalem are working to integrate the U.S.’ two Iron Dome batteries into the broader American military apparatus.
☢️ Nuke News: Israel criticized the decision by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog to close two of its probes into Iranian nuclear work.
🕯️ Remembering: Sociologist Amitai Etzioni, who served as an advisor to U.S. presidents and world leaders, died at 94.
Pic of the Day
Bahraini Ambassador to Israel Khaled Al Jalahma, Israeli Ambassador to Bahrain Eitan Na’eh, Bahraini Minister of Industry and Commerce Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro and Bahraini Foreign Minister Chief of Strategic Affairs Ambassador Nancy Jamal cut the cake at a reception on Wednesday hosted by the Israeli Embassy in Bahrain at the Wyndham Grand Manama hotel to celebrate Israel’s 75th Independence Day.
Survivor of the Holocaust via the Kindertransport, sniper for the Haganah and renowned sex therapist, Ruth Westheimer (“Dr. Ruth”) turns 95 on Sunday…
FRIDAY: Former member of the British Parliament from Manchester and then a member of European Parliament, David Anthony Gerald Sumberg turns 82… Co-founder of ReelAbilities, a film festival by, or about, people with disabilities, Anita Altman turns 78… Israeli entrepreneur and inventor, founder of Indigo Digital Press and known as the father of commercial digital printing, Benny Landa turns 77… Johns Hopkins University professor and a pioneer in the field of cancer genomics, Dr. Bert Vogelstein turns 74… Writer-at-large for New York magazine since 2011, following a 31-year career at The New York Times, Frank Rich turns 74… Chief development officer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jordan E. Tannenbaum… Commissioner of the National Hockey League since 1993, Gary Bettman turns 71… Carla Beth Sanchez… Holiday and weekend cantor at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for The Aged, Ben Zion Kogen… Former board chair of Sapir Academic College in the western Negev, he was one of Israel’s senior peace negotiators at the Camp David summit in 2000, Gilead Sher turns 70… Founder of Newark-based IDT Corp and numerous affiliates and spinoffs including an energy exploration company, Genie Energy, Howard S. Jonas turns 67…
Aerospace engineer and a former NASA astronaut, he flew on three shuttle missions, Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour and took along a memento from the U.S. Holocaust Museum into space, Mark L. Polansky turns 67… Dinorah Cecilia Baroody… General manager of Harmonie Club, Davina Weinstein… Radio and television talk show host, Andy Cohen turns 55… President of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer for Marvel Comics, Marvel Television and Marvel Animation, Kevin Feige turns 50… Special counsel focused on land use and zoning at NYC-based law firm Goldstein Hall, Jessica Ashenberg Loeser… SVP of EnTrust Global, Jordan David Kaplan… Director of technology at Santa Monica-based Action Network, Jason S. Rosenbaum… Grandmaster chess player, she won the 2004 Israel Women’s Chess Championship, Bella Igla Gesser turns 38… Equestrian show jumper, she represented Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Danielle “Dani” Goldstein Waldman turns 38… Owner of The Six Bells in Brooklyn, Audrey H. Gelman turns 36… Director of growth at Phantom Auto, Jared R. Fleitman… Deputy director for policy implementation in the New York State Office of cannabis management, Benjamin G. Sheridan… Theatre, television and film actor best known for his lead role in “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,” Ethan Slater turns 31… Israeli K-Pop singer, Ella-Lee Lahav turns 20… Peter S. Levi…
SATURDAY: Richard J. Munitz… Alice Heyman… Attorney and author, Jan Schneider turns 76… Tel Aviv-based attorney who serves as an overseas representative to the French parliament representing the southern Mediterranean region, Daphna Poznanski-Benhamou turns 73… First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden turns 72… Retired director for legislative strategy, policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Ester Kurz… Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he heads its program in Judezmo (or Ladino) studies, David Monson Bunis turns 71… Former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Eric S. Rosengren turns 66… Chief cantor of Vienna, Austria’s Israelitische Kultusgemeinde since 1992, Shmuel Barzilai turns 66… Senior rabbi at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, Steve Leder turns 63… Member of the British Parliament for the Conservative Party since 2001, Jonathan Djanogly turns 58… U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York, Judge Ronnie Abrams turns 55… CEO of Ridgeback Communications, Andrew Samuel Weinstein… Executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, Jason Moss… Actress and model, Arianne Zucker turns 49… Los Angeles-based PR consultant at Winning Progressive, Eric M. Schmeltzer… Assistant director of development at San Francisco Friends School, Lauren Becker… Senior director of experiential marketing at the International Rescue Committee, Sophie Oreck… Chief political officer at the Israel on Campus Coalition, Brandon Beigler… D.C.-based reporter at The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman…
SUNDAY: Co-founder of Boston Properties and owner of U.S. News & World Report, Mort Zuckerman turns 86… Emeritus professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, David Kristol turns 85… Professor of organic chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science and winner of the 2012 Israel Prize, David Milstein turns 76… Retired chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Stephen J. Markman turns 74… Judge on the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia since 2018, he was the longest tenured member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Mark B. Cohen turns 74… Lineman for the Miami Dolphins for 11 seasons, which included 3 Super Bowl appearances and 4 Pro Bowls, then a judge on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida (Miami-Dade County), Ed Newman turns 72… British journalist and author, Melanie Phillips turns 72… First-ever Jewish governor of Hawaii for 8 years and then chief operating officer of Illinois, Linda Lingle turns 70… President and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC until he retires later this month, Daniel H. Weiss turns 66… Co-founder of Ripco Real Estate and a partner in Sagamore Hill, Todd Cooper… Chair in Human Cancer Genetics at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Matthew Langer Meyerson, MD turns 60… U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) turns 52… French-Israeli entrepreneur, angel investor in over 360 start-ups, Jeremie Berrebi… D.C.-based photographer and founder of Revamped Media, Daniel Swartz… Reporter for the Washington Post covering Congress, campaigns, health policy and Pennsylvania politics, Colby Itkowitz… Israeli supermodel, Bar Refaeli turns 38… Senior planning analyst at Con Edison, Adam E. Soclof… Director at Dentons Global Advisors, Jason Hillel Attermann… News editor at eJewishPhilanthropy, Judah Ari Gross… Gena Wolfson… Political coordinating producer for NBC, Emily Gold… Ken Moss…