👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the status of Israel’s efforts to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and talk to Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt about online antisemitism. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Sen. Bob Menendez, Itai Anghel and Arleen Sorkin.
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: Israel on track to join U.S. Visa Waiver Program as deadline looms; Top Republican donors like Nikki Haley, but wary of financial commitment; ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ — Change my bat mitzvah date. Print the latest edition here.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time in nine months on Thursday night. The readouts from Jerusalem and Kyiv led with Israel’s aid to Ukrainians fleeing the war and ended with assurances that Hasidic pilgrims will be able to visit the Ukrainian site of Uman, the burial place of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, on Rosh Hashanah.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk had threatened in August that Kyiv would block the entry of some of the expected 50,000 Israeli pilgrims to Uman, a warning that came after Israel denied entry to growing numbers of Ukrainian citizens, despite a visa-free agreement between the countries.
Netanyahu initiated the call with Zelensky in light of concerns from his coalition partner United Torah Judaism that constituents will not be able to pray at Rabbi Nachman’s gravesite on the Jewish new year.
Uman has been the site of repeated Russian missile attacks, the latest in June. Zelensky said that “Ukraine always welcomes pilgrims with warmth and hospitality and is responsible for their security,” but also said that Israeli police forces may take part in securing the events.
Netanyahu is also seeking to meet with Zelensky at the United NationsGeneral Assembly in New York later this month, diplomatic sources tell Jewish Insider, but Zelensky wants him to show his support by visiting Kyiv, as other Western leaders have.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent comments questioning the origins of European Jews and claiming that the Nazis targeted Jews “because they were dealing with usury and money” were roundly condemned in Washington — and beyond — yesterday.
Antisemitism envoy Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt wrote that she was “appalled by President Abbas’ hateful, antisemitic remarks” and called for an “immediate apology.”
Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the comments, “in addition to being antisemitic, [undermine] prospects for a secure and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians,” while Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Ellen German said the comments were “horrifying examples of #Holocaust distortion and efforts to rewrite the history of WWII and the Holocaust.”
On Capitol Hill, multiple lawmakers said the comments highlight why Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are not viable negotiating partners for peace with Israel.
“These offensive comments are not only wrong and contribute to Holocaust distortion, but they also incite violence and undermine the prospects for peace,” said Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV).
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) said Abbas’ “Jew-hatred and corruption have only served to perpetuate the suffering of his own people while lining his own pockets” and that it is outrageous that “Abbas is considered a ‘moderate.’”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), running for the Senate, said he “strongly condemn[ed]” the comments, which “add fuel to the fire at a time when antisemitism and violence against the community are so alarmingly on the rise.”
Condemnations also emanated from Europe, with the E.U. saying that Abbas’ comments are “inflammatory, deeply offensive, [and] can only serve to exacerbate tensions in the region and serve no-one’s interests,” adding that “They play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated for.”
Israel on track to join U.S. Visa Waiver Program as deadline looms
Israel is on track to become the next country to join the U.S.’ coveted Visa Waiver Program, with an official announcement expected from the Department of Homeland Security before the end of this month, officials with knowledge of the process told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash.
Minor matters remain: While some of the fine details of the arrangement still need to be resolved before Israel formally qualifies for the program, those appear to be minor matters and should be settled within the next week, according to the sources. A signing ceremony could even take place ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline set by the U.S.
Timeline: If accepted, Israel will become the 41st country to join the program, which will enable most Israelis to travel visa-free to the U.S. for cultural exchanges, tourism and business purposes for visits up to three months, and the first country from the Middle East. Sources said it would likely take a further six weeks for the U.S. to update its Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in order to allow Israeli nationals to register. If all goes according to plan, Israeli passport holders could be eligible to travel visa-free to the U.S. sometime in mid-November.
POV: “Israel has met all of its commitments, and all that is left is for the U.S. to say the word,” a source in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told JI. A U.S. State Department spokesperson was more cautious, saying that Israel’s application still needed to be fully processed and that Israel would face the same scrutiny as “any candidate for the VWP. We will carefully evaluate the government of Israel’s efforts to meet the program’s requirements, including extending reciprocal privileges to all U.S. citizens – just as the United States does with citizens of all VWP countries,” the spokesperson said.
‘I worry a great deal’: Greenblatt on Musk, online antisemitism and the ADL’s decision to stop advertising on X
In less than a year, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has gone from feeling “cautiously optimistic” about new Twitter owner Elon Musk to accusing the entrepreneur of stoking antisemitism on one of the world’s largest social media platforms, Greenblatt told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch in an interview on Thursday, days after Musk posted a series of tweets blaming Greenblatt and the ADL for the decline of advertising revenue on the platform and threatening to sue the organization for defamation.
Dubious claims: One post on Tuesday accused “Jonathan at ADL” of orchestrating a boycott of the platform — a November 2022 move that was spearheaded by a coalition of more than five dozen groups, of which the ADL was just one. And Musk attributed the rise in antisemitism in the U.S. to actions taken by the ADL.
Raising eyebrows: “There’s no doubt that by claiming the ADL is causing antisemitism, this is invoking a classic trope of blaming the victim, blaming the Jews for their misfortune,” Greenblatt told JI in the interview. “Sixty [groups] called for a pause on advertising last November. The idea that he chose, of all of them, just us — to claim that we’re somehow costing him some amount of money, that also does more than raise eyebrows. It underlines concerns.”
Watching his words: But Greenblatt declined to say whether Musk’s remarks could be described as antisemitic, or whether Musk himself is an antisemite. “I’ve never said Elon Musk was antisemitic,” Greenblatt noted. “I think people can lapse into tropes, people can invoke long-standing myths, that might not reflect their true worldview.”
on the hill
Sen. Menendez: Lew confirmation hearing should be a ‘priority’
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod on Thursday that Jack Lew’s confirmation hearing to be U.S. ambassador to Israel should be “a priority because of the nature of the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” following Lew’s nomination earlier this week.
Risch agreement: Menendez said he had had a “brief” discussion on Wednesday with Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the committee ranking member whose consent Menendez has sought before scheduling confirmation hearings for nominees. “[Risch] agreed that it should be a priority,” Menendez said. “We did not agree on a time yet, of course — [Lew’s] file has to be ready first.”
Hampering efforts: Some Republicans on Menendez’s committee have already signaled their intentions to slow down Lew’s confirmation process. “We’ll work at it as always,” Menendez said, when asked about whether he was confident that the committee would be able to move Lew to the Senate floor quickly. “The reality is, I always find it amazing that people are wanting to put holds before they even talk to the candidate.”
Israeli war correspondent Itai Anghel shares how he gains trust in hostile countries
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s podcast, co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein are joined by Israeli war correspondent and documentary filmmaker Itai Anghel, winner of Israel’s highest journalistic honor, the Sokolow Prize for Print Journalism, and recent Emmy nominee for his film “Last Stop Before Kyiv,” about the war in Ukraine, for a conversation on his groundbreaking career, Ukraine, ISIS and reporting from enemy states as an Israeli.
On becoming a war correspondent: “I did it on my own expense. I took a sleeping bag, I paid for a flight ticket to Austria, I took a train all the way down to Slovenia, and I reached Yugoslavia, then Croatia, then Bosnia. You know, the passion was so, so big. I wanted to be there. I wanted to do it, and if someone told me no, you’re not the one to do it, regardless, I would do it. I didn’t listen to anyone…” Anghel said.
On being an Israeli reporting in hostile countries: “Before even doing journalism, I have to break the ice. When you see me in my reports in Syria and Iraq, I was there alone. I give them my camera. ‘Come and have my camera. This is the only thing I have. Please have it. Can you help me? Can you film me inside this situation?’ When I say, ‘Can you help me,’ [what I’m actually] saying to you without saying the words [is], ‘I trust you, you are a good guy,’” Anghel said.
🌐 The World’s ATM: The Wall Street Journal’s Eliot Brown and Rory Jones look at how an influx of funds has reshaped the global economy in favor of Gulf nations. “Higher energy prices — a byproduct of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — have given the region’s oil- and gas-dependent wealth funds tens of billions of dollars of extra money to spend. That means a drop in oil prices could quickly cause a pullback from the Gulf countries, as has happened in energy booms-turned-bust of the past. At the same time, Saudi Prince Mohammed and top officials in the U.A.E. have jostled for greater sway on the world stage — in geopolitics, finance and sports — pumping additional money into their wealth funds to do deals and expand industry at home. The intersection of politics and finance in the region has led Gulf wealth funds from Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Qatar to be the main financial backers of two key Trump administration figures: Jared Kushner and former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who together raised billions of dollars from the region.” [WSJ]
🏨 Soho A-Go-Go: Bloomberg’s Sabah Meddings interviews Soho House CEO Andrew Carnie as the company looks to expand across the Americas. “Soho House’s empire also includes furniture retailer Soho Home, Italian restaurant Cecconi’s and The Line chain of hotels, which it bought in June 2021. Soho House & Co. also runs The Ned — a type of Soho House for City workers, which has venues in London, New York and Doha. A fourth venue, with backing from the ‘junk bond king’ Michael Milken, is opening in Washington close to the White House. Securing backing from wealthy partners such as Milken has become key to Soho House’s business model. It is majority owned by the retail billionaire Ron Burkle, who serves as Soho House & Co.’s executive chairman. Finding members for new houses begins far ahead of opening. Across Latin America, where Soho House is opening in Mexico City and Sao Paulo, it already has 15 ‘cities without houses’ where it holds events and dinners for prospective members.” [Bloomberg]
👨 Mattel Man’s Mettle:The New York Times’ James Stewart spotlights Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, who has led the company since 2018. “An Israeli military veteran with dual Israeli and British citizenship, a former professional wind surfer, an avid kite surfer and a fitness buff, with more than a passing resemblance to a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 58-year-old Mr. Kreiz comes across as more of a square-jawed G.I. Joe action hero than a Barbie fan with a sense of humor. Mr. Kreiz’s entire career was in media and entertainment, not retail. His longtime mentor, the Power Rangers entrepreneur and billionaire Haim Saban, hired him fresh out of the University of California, Los Angeles, to launch Fox Kids Europe, a joint venture with Fox. He later ran Maker Studios, a YouTube aggregator, which Disney acquired in 2014. Mr. Kreiz left in 2016, and Maker was folded into the Disney Digital Network in 2017.” [NYTimes]
✖️ Musk’s Moves:The Wall Street Journal’s Georgia Wells, Alexa Corse and Kirsten Grind do a deep dive into Elon Musk’s takeover of X, formerly known as Twitter. “He made so many decisions that employees wrote down some rulings and had him sign them, fearing he would forget what he said, according to people familiar with his actions. When told a change would take weeks, Musk sometimes asked for a quick version employees could make if they worked overnight. In December, Musk decided that employees would no longer be covered by Project Guardian, a program that flagged abusive tweets about important users, including celebrities and politicians, so that the company could remove them quickly. Musk explained to colleagues that anyone who took a job at Twitter should know there is a risk of online harassment, according to people familiar with the conversation. Many pushed back. Staffers regularly faced threatening posts from users upset by Twitter’s actions, and some blamed Musk for contributing to the problem. That same month, Musk made reference in a post to the Ph.D. thesis of Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, who had recently left. Musk tweeted, incorrectly, that it looked like Roth had argued ‘in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services.’ Some of the platform’s users interpreted it as Musk calling Roth a pedophile, and they posted calls for Roth’s death.” [WSJ]
🇺🇳 Turtle Bay Talk: In Newsweek, Menachem Rosensaft calls on the United Nations to designate a day of remembrance for the victims of the massacre at Srebrenica. “The international community that could have prevented the Srebrenica genocide made no serious attempt to do so. Neither the U.S. government nor NATO, nor anyone else for that matter, sent troops to repel the Bosnian Serb forces. The greatest moral responsibility for this genocide, however, must be placed squarely at the feet of the United Nations. It was the U.N. Security Council that deluded Bosniaks into believing that they would enjoy the U.N.’s protection in Srebrenica. Instead, [the peacekeeping force] Dutchbat abandoned them into the hands of the Bosnian Serb Chetniks without firing a shot. Dutchbat commander Thom Karremans was even photographed drinking wine with General Ratko Mladić, the commander of the Bosnian Serb breakaway armed forces who would be convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Court of the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2017. As Bosniak men and boys were led away to be killed — while their mothers, wives and sisters were being abused and forced onto buses — they could see the Dutchbat soldiers save their own lives by walking away.” [Newsweek]
Around the Web
🏗️ Room Revamp: The White House unveiled its refurbished Situation Room, which underwent a $50 million renovation that included added protections against potential surveillance attempts by American adversaries.
👩 Veepstakes: Politicolooks at South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s efforts to boost her profile amid speculation that she’s looking to be former President Donald Trump’s running mate should he be the party’s nominee in 2024; Noem is expected to endorse Trump at a Rapid City fundraiser slated for later today.
😡 DeSantis Disarray: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is privately voicing concerns about Jeff Roe, the top strategist at the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC.
🚃 Making Tracks: The U.S., India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are finalizing an agreement to construct an extensive railway system across the Middle East, the announcement of which could come as soon as this weekend at the G-20 summit.
👨 Campbell’s Candidacy: National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell is reportedly the top candidate to replace Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state.
🤨 Santos Saga: CBS News obtained a report commissioned by Rep. George Santos (R-NY) ahead of his 2022 election that found red flags in the then-candidate’s background; the report, which had been shared with the Congressional Leadership Fund, led to the primary super PAC withholding its support for the Long Island Republican.
🖊️ Mapping Mayhem: Ohio’s Supreme Court dismissed two legal challenges to the state’s congressional map, despite the court previously ruling that the 2022 map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.
👀 Sneak Peek: The Washington Postprinted an excerpt of Walter Isaacson’s upcoming book that looks at X owner Elon Musk’s support for Ukraine.
🏀 Lakers Loss?: Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was spotted in Saudi Arabia, amid rumors that a Saudi basketball team has offered him a $1 billion contract to play in the Gulf nation.
👋 Bye-Bye Brady: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft promised a “special and unique” sendoff for retired QB Tom Brady, who left the team in 2019, at Sunday’s season opener.
🕵️♀️ Stocky Suspicions: The SEC is looking into former Bed Bath & Beyond owner Ryan Cohen’s sale of his interests in the company shortly after taking a $120 million stake in the home-goods retailer.
📚 Book Shelf: The New York Times reviews Marisa Meltzer’s Glossy, about Emily Weiss’ Glossier beauty brand.
🎭 Coming Soon: Voguespotlights the Perelman Performing Arts Center in lower Manhattan, which opens next week.
🤷 Faith No More: In The Wall Street Journal, Joseph Epstein contemplates the concept of pious agnosticism.
🏈 Kosher Stand: The Orthodox Union’s Yachad is partnering with Baltimore’s Star-K to staff a kosher food stall at M&T Bank Stadium during the Ravens’ home games this season.
🇪🇸 Spanish Speak: A coalition of Jewish organizations is calling on the Spanish Royal Academy, the preeminent authority on the Spanish language, to reconsider the definitions for judío and judiada, both of which contain antisemitic descriptions.
🇮🇹 Righteous in Rome: Researchers in Rome found documentation to corroborate reports that Catholic institutions in Italy sheltered more than 3,000 Roman Jews during the Holocaust.
☢️ Calming Tensions: A Reuters analysis found that Iran’s slowdown in its buildup of weapons-grade uranium is unlikely to result in a broader nuclear agreement with the West, even if it does calm tensions between Tehran and Washington.
🧑🔬 Science Experiment: Israeli scientists used stem cells to create a model of a human embryo without the use of sperm, eggs or a womb.
Pic of the Day
U.K. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer meets high school students during a visit to the Independent Jewish Day School in Hendon, London, ahead of Rosh Hashanah.
Chairman of Douglas Elliman and its parent company, NYSE listed Vector Group, also chairman of Nathan’s Famous, Howard Mark Lorber turns 75…
FRIDAY: Holocaust survivor and a pioneer in children’s Holocaust education, Bat-Sheva Dagan turns 98… Chair emeritus of Bath & Body Works, Leslie H. “Les” Wexner turns 86… U.S. senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders turns 82… Labour party member of the U.K. House of Commons, Dame Margaret Eve Hodge (née Oppenheimer) turns 79… Pharma executive, Samuel D. Waksal turns 76… Owner of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie turns 72… Former co-chair of the Jewish National Fund, he was previously a member of Knesset, Eli Aflalo turns 71… CEO of Weight Watchers until early 2022, Mindy Grossman turns 66… Owner of Sam’s Fine Wines & Spirits in Walpole, Mass., Jay W. Abarbanel… British physician and professor of neuroscience at Columbia University, Daniel Mark Wolpert turns 60… Founder and president of Cedille Records, a classical music label, he is the son of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, James Steven Ginsburg turns 58… Real estate developer in Russia, Zarakh Iliev turns 57… Australian businessman, James Douglas Packer turns 56… Senior rabbi of the Jewish Center of Princeton, Rabbi Andrea Merow… Aspen, Colo., resident, Adam Goldsmith… Actress, model and television personality, Brooke Burke turns 52… Founder of Atlanta-based JewishGPS, Robyn Faintich… Principal and co-founder of BerlinRosen, Jonathan Rosen… One of the world’s best-selling music artists, known professionally as Pink, Alecia Beth Moore turns 44… Head coach for the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team, Eran Ganot… and his twin brother, the creative director of an eponymous clothing line, Asaf Ganot, both turn 42… Founder and CEO at SPARK Neuro, Spencer Gerrol… Director of corporate communications at Related Companies, Andrei Berman… Drummer for heavy metal band Slipknot, he is the son of drummer Max Weinberg, Jay Weinberg turns 33… Washington correspondent for Jewish Insider, Gabby Deutch… and her twin sister, who is the external affairs associate at VELA Education Fund, Serena Deutch… Director of education at Itrek, Gilad Peled… Philip Ehrensaft…
SATURDAY: Beverly Hills resident, Barbara Schechter… Former president of Israel, Reuven “Ruvi” Rivlin turns 84… Real estate investor and manager, Harris Rosen turns 84… Senior fellow emeritus in the foreign policy program at The Brookings Institution, Kenneth G. Lieberthal turns 80… Former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald M. Berwick turns 77… President of the Middle East Forum and publisher of its Middle East Quarterly journal, Daniel Pipes turns 74… President emeritus of Yeshiva University, Richard M. Joel turns 73… Founder of the Shas party, he served in the Knesset for 16 years, Nissim Mordechai Ze’ev turns 72… Founding president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, Martin Kramer turns 69… Brooklyn educator, Steven Elworth… Editorial director of Schocken Books, the Judaica imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Altie Karper… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Shari Arison turns 66… Suzanna Stone… D.C.-based communications strategist and tactician, Jeffrey Weintraub… Founder and managing member of Alternative Asset CFO Services, Lloyd Eric Appel… U.S. senator (D-DE), Chris Coons turns 60… Professional golfer formerly on the PGA Tour and then on the Champions Tour, Jules Ira “Skip” Kendall turns 59… Actor, comedian, screenwriter, film producer and musician, famous for “The Chanukah Song,” Adam Sandler turns 57… Author and senior national correspondent at HuffPost, Jonathan Cohn turns 54… Former member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Dov Lipman turns 52… Partner and associate director at Boston Consulting Group, Sacha Frédéric Litman… New York City-based freelance journalist, David Freedlander… Israeli entrepreneur and the CEO and co-founder of Lightricks, Zeev Farbman turns 44… Global lead of digital assets at Amazon Web Services, Michael B. Greenwald… Program specialist at USC’s school of architecture, Carla Hashley… Longtime head of Google Cuba, Brett Perlmutter… Associate director at Alums for Campus Fairness, he is also the D.C. chair of B’nai B’rith Connect, Trey Meehan… Founder of International Hummus Day, now working on Notion, Ben Lang… Fourth overall pick by the New Jersey Devils in the 2021 NHL draft, Luke Hughes turns 20…
SUNDAY: Chairman of Shamrock Holdings, Roy Disney’s private investment company, Stanley Gold turns 81… Huntington Beach, Calif., resident, Dianne Varon… Former EVP and general counsel at Chicago’s futures broker Rosenthal Collins Group, Gerald Fishman… Past president of Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic, Howard Penner… Retired coordinator of the Youth Advisory Council at Truman Heartland Community Foundation, Henri Goettel… Houston attorney, and Republican party activist, Gary M. Polland turns 73… Denver attorney and politician, he served in the Colorado House of Representatives for eight years, Joel Judd turns 71… Executive assistant to the office managing partner of the E&Y office in Tampa, Nancy Carol Finkel… U.S. senator (R-WY), Cynthia Lummis turns 69… Retired VP at Goldman Sachs, now a part-time schoolteacher, Matthew Fried… Real estate attorney in South Florida, Steven A. Greenspan… Editor of Mideast Dig, Richard Behar… Former acting administrator of the DEA, now an MSNBC contributor and host of “The Oath” podcast, Charles Philip (Chuck) Rosenberg turns 63… Founder and managing director at Beacon Global Strategies, Andrew Shapiro… NYC trusts and estates attorney, Lawrence I. Garbuz… Founder and CEO of NYC-based hedge fund JS Capital Management LLC, Jonathan Soros turns 53… Television writer and producer, Eric Kaplan turns 52… Director of the mid-Atlantic region of Agudath Israel, Ariel Sadwin… Principal at Blue Zone Partners and managing partner at Precision Infrastructure Management, Charles Szold… PR strategist Josh Nass… Fox News foreign correspondent based in Jerusalem, Trey Yingst turns 30… Jennifer Meyer…