👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the new ownership of the Washington Commanders, and interview Eli Lake on the podcast. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Judge Rachel Freier, Frank Luntz and Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger.
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: AIPAC steps up efforts to oust anti-Israel lawmakers; In Houston, a far-left insurgent challenges a Democratic incumbent on Israel; Nikki Haley tries to straddle the GOP’s establishment-MAGA divide on foreign policy. Print the latest edition here.
Earlier this week in New Hampshire, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley sat down with Jewish Insider’s Editor-in-Chief Josh Kraushaar during a campaign stop at a VFW hall in the town of Hudson and offered her perspective on Israel’s judicial reform efforts, the prospects of a Biden-led normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia and the rise of antisemitism in the United States. Below are excerpts of the conversation.
Haley, on her reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul: “It’s none of our business. It’s a domestic issue. I wouldn’t want Netanyahu inserting himself into American policies. We should not be so arrogant as to insert ourselves into Israeli policies. What I care about is that Israel is strong, that we are a strong ally with them. That we make sure that we can help them defend themselves because they are our best friend when it comes to taking on Iran. And we should be focusing on how we can make better relationships with our Arab allies. That’s what we should be focused on. Not on what they’re doing domestically.”
On Biden’s efforts to secure a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia: “There’s no way it’s going to happen in the Biden White House. You don’t go and call the head of Saudi Arabia a pariah and then suddenly think they’re going to want to work with you. That’s ludicrous. He killed every chance of us doing anything with Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia has shown that in the way they’ve acted back with us – doing deals with China, basically going against our currency. Will it happen in a Haley administration? Absolutely. Is it going to happen in a Biden administration? It will not. We do want it, and I think there’s an opportunity there and I think we should push hard.”
On how Haley would tackle rising antisemitism in the United States: “Start seriously punishing these elected officials who are spewing hate. It’s not OK for them to say the things they’re saying. Every time they say that, they put the Jewish community in danger. Every time they say that, they make a kid more scared on a college campus. Every time they say that, they encourage others to do it. It’s wrong. Congress needs to be bold enough to condemn those people and to censure them and to make sure they pay a price for it — not just go up and put up another resolution that says antisemitism is bad.”
Should Congress censure Republicans like Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, who has associated himself with antisemitic figures?: “Hate is hate. I don’t care whether you’re Republican or Democrat. If you say anything that is hateful to another group of people, stop. That’s the problem in America. When did we start saying we’re just going to tiptoe around it? Antisemitism is no different than racism. Treat it like that. I’ll call out anyone who spews hate or does anything to threaten another group of people.”
Haley, on former Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “I don’t think Tucker’s going anywhere. I think he’s going to continue to be a voice that’s prominent and do whatever he does.”
montgomery county moves
A new era for the Washington Commanders
Cities and their pro sports franchises are braided together in complex, often emotional ways. The special bond between city and team, however, can unravel as a result of questionable management, the love affair faded, as it has for the Washington Commanders. But the new ownership team — Josh Harris and his fellow Jewish investors Mitchell Rales and venture capitalist Mark Ein — can remember the franchise’s glory days of Sonny Jurgensen’s long bombs and John Riggins’ bruising runs. And the three — die-hard fans of the burgundy and gold who grew up in suburban Washington — are determined to bring back those winning seasons, and thereby transform a D.C. sorely in need of something to rally around, Frederic J. Frommer reports for Jewish Insider.
Uniting quality: “Sports teams are a means to unite communities and make an impact,” Harris said in a statement to JI. “That’s a value all of us in the Commanders ownership group share. We are excited to build a winning culture, and for the potential of this team to unite and rally fans to help make a positive impact in Washington and throughout the region.”
Trio forms: Harris and Ein, lifelong friends, grew up a few blocks away from each other as kids and were kindergarten classmates. They both attended the University of Pennsylvania and later Harvard Business School. According to the Washington Post, when Harris announced he was stepping down from his private equity firm, Apollo Global Management, he wanted to do more in sports and to expand his family’s charitable foundation, Harris Philanthropies. That led to Harris and Ein meeting with Rales, who grew up in Bethesda, Md.
Saul Stein, Rachel Freier tapped for New York Supreme Court
Two Orthodox judges were among the six individuals nominated last night to run on the Democratic Party line for open seats on the Kings County Supreme Court. Saul Stein and Rachel Freier, the latter of whom has been an acting Supreme Court judge since January, were tapped by the Kings County Democratic Party to appear on the ballot in November. Both Stein and Freier are expecting to win in the deep blue county, which encompasses all of Brooklyn, Jewish Insider’s Tori Bergel reports.
Finding the balance: “It was amazing to see how so many of the non-Jewish delegates embraced Judge Freier’s candidacy, and [that] her life story and her spirit and her compassion were universally accepted and appreciated,” Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, told JI on Thursday afternoon. “I think that she has shown to have the right temperament. She’s very careful to do things appropriately and correctly, [and] she has the right balance of understanding of the law and compassion for the people who come before.”
Breaking the glass ceiling: Freier, 58, is believed to have been the first female Hasidic judge in the U.S. when she was elected as a Civil Court judge in 2016. She graduated from college at 30, becoming a lawyer a decade later. In 2014, Freier founded the first all-female Orthodox ambulance corp, Ezras Nashim. When she was appointed acting New York State Supreme Court justice in January, she was believed to be the first Hasidic woman to hold the position.
Eli Lake dives deep into America
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s podcast, co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein are joined by columnist Eli Lake, formerly of Bloomberg, The Daily Beast and Newsweek and currently a contributing editor at Commentary Magazine and host of “The Re-education with Eli Lake” podcast, for a deep dive into America’s ever-changing political parties, where Republicans and Democrats stand on the FBI, Ukraine, former President Donald Trump’s latest indictment and Israel’s controversial judicial reforms.
Security skepticism: “I do think that there’s much more of a sense after 2016 that the Democrats blame Russia for losing that election, and that has sort of put them on a trajectory where they become, at times, the Baghdad Bobs of various scandals that have affected the FBI…That system seems to have broken down and it’s beyond just simply Russiagate. So, I think that’s where it comes from, which is that it looked like the FBI kind of had Trump in their crosshairs, and if you are a partisan, then, you know, you’re kind of applauding that, even though, on principle, I could see many liberals sort of saying, ‘Well, maybe these powers can be one day turned on our guy,’ but so far that that insight has not yet occurred.”
Oppositional outlook: “The reason that you’re seeing this, let’s call it isolationism [on Ukraine] kind of gain purchase at this point [in the Republican Party], is because a lot of people look at it like, they’re committing this mistake that Christopher Hitchens used to say, letting your adversaries do your thinking for you. So a lot of people deeply feel, they’re very upset and angry about banning true information on social media, about COVID, for example, or they’re very upset that the teachers unions or universities are kind of promoting a view of gender that is, in their view, just anathema to common sense and science. So those are issues that we all know people are very upset about, and then they notice that the same people who will hector them and support the censorship of anti-maskers or something, right, have Ukraine flags in their bios on social media, and they say to themselves, ‘OK, well, if the regime is for an independent Ukraine, then I’m against it.'”
Israel, Jewish Agency rescue Israelis, immigrants-to-be from war-torn region of Ethiopia
The Israeli government, working with the Jewish Agency for Israel, on Thursday rescued more than 200 Israeli citizens and members of the local Jewish community waiting to immigrate to Israel who were trapped in Ethiopia’s Amhara region due to ongoing clashes between a local militia and government forces. They were flown to the capital of Addis Ababa, where some will stay for the time being while others will continue on to Israel, officials told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.
Background: As battles between the government’s Ethiopian National Defence Force and the Fano militia group escalated in recent days in Amhara, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency, halting almost all travel into and out of the region, including from the city of Gondar, home to one of Ethiopia’s largest Jewish communities, which has seen some of the fiercest battles. In light of this, the Israeli government and Jewish Agency began preparing to extract the approximately 140 Israeli citizens in Amhara, most of them in and around Gondar and others in the city of Bahir Dar, as well as the approximately 60 people eligible for Israeli citizenship.
Evacuation route: On Wednesday, when it became clear that the rescue operation could go forward, the Israeli Embassy in Ethiopia and the Israeli Foreign Ministry began contacting the 204 citizens and would-be immigrants, instructing them to get to one of several collection points in Gondar and Bahir Dar. There they were taken by bus to the cities’ airports and flown on chartered flights to the capital city of Addis Ababa, the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office said in a joint statement.
🇨🇳 Containing China: In Bloomberg, Hal Brands looks at how China looms in the background of the Biden administration’s efforts to reach a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel. “Containing Chinese influence is an objective worth seeking. But any grand bargain with MBS will be only the beginning of a long, painful process of alliance management with an ambivalent, sometimes embarrassing friend. The Pentagon has another concern: It is hesitant to make new US commitments in the Middle East amid a raging war in Ukraine and a prospective war in the Western Pacific. It’s a fair point, given how overstretched the American military is — but one that simply underscores the impossibility of pivoting away from the Middle East. Whether as a source of vital energy or a theater of great-power rivalry, the Middle East keeps intruding on Washington’s agenda. A region the president, and many Americans, would prefer to escape still matters very much.” [Bloomberg]
🕊️ Price of Peace: In The Atlantic, Andrew Exum, the Obama administration’s deputy assistant secretary for defense for Middle East policy, examines what a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia could mean for U.S. security commitments in the region. “Nevertheless, rumors have circulated that the U.S. plans to increase its commitment to Saudi and Israeli security, and this prospect worries me. Peace between Israel and its neighbors should allow the United States to base fewer resources in the region, not more. But U.S. diplomats often underestimate the commitments they are making on behalf of the Pentagon….I worry that any formal security commitments made to either Saudi Arabia or Israel might similarly promise tens of thousands of U.S. troops to the Middle East for decades more. Moving U.S. forces into the Gulf in a conflict is harder than you might imagine, so to respond to contingencies, much of what you would need has to be deployed to the region in advance. (Approximately 35,000 U.S. troops were semipermanently garrisoned in the Gulf at the end of the Obama administration.) The U.S. should not make a new security commitment to the Middle East — the scene of yesterday’s wars — at the expense of prioritizing the Pacific theater.” [TheAtlantic]
✍️ Survival Guide: In The Wall Street Journal, Susan Pinker spotlights a new study that found that personal relationships between inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau were instrumental to survival. “The researchers found that 10% of the deportees arrived in Auschwitz knowing a fellow prisoner, whether as a prewar neighbor in Prague, a fellow community member in the Theresienstadt ghetto, as workers in the same labor camp prior to Auschwitz, or as inmates on the same transport to the concentration camp. Only 6% of Auschwitz-Birkenau inmates survived. But any one of these social ties increased an inmate’s odds of survival by a third. Social bonds were particularly favorable for women. Even inmates who had shared the same magazine in the ghetto had a greater chance of making it through Auschwitz, an indication of how important weak links can be in life-or-death situations. ‘It’s not just about “blood is thicker than water,”’ said [the study’s lead author Stepan] Jurajda. ‘The more people in the crowd you knew, the greater your chances.’” [WSJ]
Around the Web
🇪🇬 Cairo Concerns: Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken calling on the Biden administration to withhold $320 million in foreign aid to Egypt over Cairo’s human rights record.
🏃♂️ A Cohen Congress Run?: Michael Cohen, previously the attorney for former President Donald Trump, is mulling a congressional run as a Democrat, potentially against Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
🏃♀️ She’s Running: Montgomery County, Md., Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles announced her entry into the growing Democratic primary field in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.
👨 Luntz’s Look: Puckinterviewed veteran pollster Frank Luntz about the state of the GOP and evangelical Christian support for former President Donald Trump.
🏠 Sweet Home Alabama?: The Washington Postlooks at the residency of Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who has represented Alabama in the Senate since 2021 despite having sold his Alabama property and owning a home in Florida.
👋 Warm Welcome: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, said on Thursday it was “insane” that there are questions over whether he’d welcome President Joe Biden, a Democrat, to the state.
⛑️ Maui Relief Efforts: eJewishPhilanthropylooks at how the Jewish community in Maui is responding to wildfires that are devastating parts of the Hawaiian island.
🍽️ Kosher Case: The ACLU’s Washington chapter filed a lawsuit against the D.C. Department of Corrections, alleging that officials withheld kosher meals from Jewish inmates.
🚓 Detained: A West Virginia man was arrested by federal authorities for encouraging violence against individuals involved in the trial of the man convicted of killing 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.
👮 Danzinger Death Threat: Shlomo Danzinger, the mayor of Surfside, Fla., is under police protection after receiving a death threat by an individual believed to be a neo-Nazi.
🍚 Grainy Antisemitism: Police in central Massachusetts are investigating the distribution of baggies filled with rice and antisemitic messages, believed to have originated with a neo-Nazi extremist group.
↔️ Prisoner Swap: Iran will release five Americans detained in the Islamic republic in exchange for several U.S.-held Iranian prisoners and future access to roughly $6 billion in oil revenues. Iran envoy Rob Malley, on leave from the State Department, issued his first tweet in three months, calling the announcement “welcome news too long in coming.”
🇳🇿 Kiwi Concerns: New Zealand’s domestic intelligence agency accused Iran, China and Russia of engaging in foreign interference in the island nation.
✋ No Heed: Israeli officials brushed off warnings from Ukrainian officials that the number of Jewish pilgrims allowed into the Ukrainian city of Uman for an upcoming annual pilgrimage will be limited over security concerns.
🛫 Flyer Talk: El Al is in talks with Airbus regarding a potential purchase of up to 30 A321neo jets.
➡️ Transition: Major Gen. (Ret.) Amir Eshel, director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Defense from 2020-2023, joined the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as a senior fellow.
🕯️ Remembering: Former Chris-Craft Industries Chairman Herbert Siegel, who played a critical role in the 1989 merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications, died at 95.
Pic of the Day
Christina Aguilera performs last night at Live Park in Rishon Letzion, Israel.
NFL punter for seven seasons with the Jaguars and Bears, he is now a broker in the Jacksonville office of Merrill Lynch, Adam Podlesh turns 40…
FRIDAY: Longtime Democratic Party activist in NY’s Orange and Rockland Counties, Doris Feder turns 91… Architect best known for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Peter Eisenman turns 91… Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, she also served as Brooklyn DA and NYC comptroller, Elizabeth Holtzman turns 82… Principal of Investors Research Group based in Los Angeles, Jacob S. Segal… Former SVP for international affairs at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Lois Weinsaft… Philanthropist and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, he serves as chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, David Rubenstein turns 74… Former U.S. trade representative, she retired in 2021 as the chair of the international trade group at WilmerHale, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky turns 73… Senior counsel for benefits and employment at the D.C.-based law firm of Keightley & Ashner, Linda E. Rosenzweig… Lenore Solomon… Artistic director and choreographer of an eponymous dance company based in Union, N.J., Carolyn Dorfman… CEO, chairman and major shareholder of the Russian gas company Novatek, Leonid Mikhelson turns 68… Former member of the Massachusetts Senate, he is the founder of Cape Air, Daniel A. “Dan” Wolf turns 66… Publisher of Yated Ne’eman weekly English-language Haredi newspaper, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz turns 65… Member of Knesset for the Likud party, David “Dudi” Amsalem turns 63… Former chief of Israel’s Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman turns 63… Co-founder and partner of MizMaa Ventures and wine columnist for Jewish Insider, Isaac “Yitz” Applbaum… Chairman at Duty Free Americas, Simon Falic… Political, cultural and social science commentator for The New York Times, David Brooks turns 62… Director of strategic development at Javelin, Ilana Marcus Drimmer… MLB pitcher for seven teams, he has also been the pitching coach for Team Israel, Andrew Lorraine turns 51… NFL offensive lineman for four seasons, he is now the managing partner of Oakland-based North Venture Partners, Alex Bernstein turns 48… Co-founder and CEO of Israeli interactive video firm Eko, Yoni Bloch turns 42… Chief investment officer of Toronto-based investment firm Murchinson, Marc Bistricer… Ukrainian-born and San Francisco-raised journalist and copywriter, Yelena Shuster… General surgery resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Sara Ginzberg, M.D…. Daniel Weitz…
SATURDAY: Hungarian-American investor, philanthropist and political activist, George Soros (born György Schwartz) turns 93… Retired Beverly Hills attorney, Sheldon Stanford Ellis… Television writer, best known as the creator of the CBS primetime soap opera/drama series “Dallas” and “Knots Landing,” David Jacobs turns 84… Emmy Award-winning television screenwriter, television producer and author, Gail Parent turns 83… NYC-born historian and author, he held academic positions in the U.K. and Australia and served as president of the Jewish Historical Society of England, William Rubinstein turns 77… Attorney in Ontario, Canada, who served as president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Lester Scheininger turns 76… U.S. diplomat, Karyn Allison Posner-Mullen turns 72… Interim operations manager at Houston’s Congregation Emanu El, Fredi Bleeker Franks… Sales manager of Illi Commercial Real Estate in Encino, CA, Stuart Steinberg… Israel’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Albania, Noah Gal Gendler turns 66… Former member of Knesset from the Yesh Atid party, Haim Yellin turns 65… Founding editor of The Times of Israel, David Horovitz turns 61… Senior rabbi at Brookline’s Temple Beth Zion, Claudia Kreiman… Chief strategy officer at NYC’s Educational Alliance, Anya Hoerburger… Chief marketing officer at Cross Campus, Jay Chernikoff… Co-founder at Understory, David Fine… CEO and co-founder of Forsight, Ariel Applbaum…
SUNDAY: Former member of the New York State Assembly for 24 years, she is now the county clerk of Queens County, Audrey I. Pheffer turns 82… Retired CPA and senior executive in Los Angeles, Morton Algaze turns 80… Treasury secretary of the United States, Janet Yellen turns 77… Beverly Hills resident, Ruth Fay Kellerman… Documentary still photographer of the American and international Jewish communities since 1970, Robert Cumins turns 75… VP and chief of staff at the Aspen Institute, James M. Spiegelman turns 65… Film producer, writer and director, Susan Landau Finch turns 63… Founder of the Council of Orthodox Jewish Organizations of Manhattan, Michael Landau… Co-chairman of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group, Michael De Luca turns 58… Storyteller, producer and writer, Jeffrey Mark “Slash” Coleman turns 56… Former editor-in-chief at Los Angeles Magazine, Maer Roshan turns 56… Founder and managing director at Beacon Global Strategies, Jeremy B. Bash turns 52… President of Accessibility Partners and the founder of a non-profit Support the Girls, Dana Marlowe… Three-time Olympian water polo player, now associate head coach at Pepperdine, Merrill Moses turns 46… Professor of government at Harvard University, he was the director of the Harvard Center for Jewish Studies, Eric M. Nelson turns 46… Professor of law at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, Joshua Michael Blackman turns 39… Deputy counsel, global head contracts & litigation for Tower Research Capital, LLC, Matthew Weiss turns 37… London hub editor for the Washington Post, Sara Sorcher… Israeli Olympic long-distance runner, Maor Tiyouri turns 33… Associate at Fried Frank, Nathan Jablow… Account supervisor for crisis communications at Edelman, Jodie Michelle Singer… Corporate director of development and analytics at Azul Hospitality Group, Adam Dahan… Founder and managing partner of Israel-based AlignUp, David Angel… Elaine Hall… Jonathan Gerber…