👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the far-reaching implications — from primaries to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — of Sen. Bob Menendez’s recent indictment, and spotlight newly revealed documents about Iranian efforts to build an echo chamber in the West. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Sam Altman, John Bolton and Haim Katz.
Nearly a decade ago, Iran sought to build an influential network of allies in the U.S. and Europe — an effort that included building relationships with current and future associates of Rob Malley, the State Department’s Iran envoy currently on leave amid an investigation over his handling of classified information. The influence campaign came at a pivotal moment, as Tehran was conducting negotiations with world powers over the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, according to a blockbuster report from Semafor’s Jay Solomon.
The Iran Experts Initiative, according to documents obtained by the London-based Iran International publication and shared with Solomon, sought to include individuals who “were prolific writers of op-eds and analyses, and provided insights on television and Twitter, regularly touting the need for a compromise with Tehran on the nuclear issue.”
The efforts to infiltrate Western thought circlesextended to the International Crisis Group’s Ali Vaez, whom Solomon describes as a “protégé” of Malley’s. In June 2014, Vaez sent an op-ed to IPIS, Iran’s state-run think tank, for editing; the piece would appear two weeks later in The National Interest. In a 31-tweet thread, Vaez accused Solomon, who as The Wall Street Journal’s top foreign affairs correspondent a decade ago was one of the first reporters to cover initial talks between the U.S. and Iran, of “hatchet journalism” and defended his contacts with IPIS, noting in particular that he shared the draft of the National Interest essay “as a courtesy” to Iranian officials who claimed Vaez had “been too harsh on their position.”
Ariane Tabatabai, now a senior policy advisor at the Department of Defense, vetted her participation in conferences and events with Iran’s Foreign Ministry on two occasions, according to Semafor’s reporting. In one communique to IPIS head Mostafa Zahrani, Tabatabai broached the topic of an upcoming conference being held at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University on the topic of nuclear proliferation. “I am not interested in going, but then I thought maybe it would be better that I go and talk, rather than an Israeli like Emily Landau who goes and disseminates disinformation,” Tabatabai wrote. “I would like to ask your opinion too and see if you think I should accept the invitation and go.” The conference in Israel, Zahrani replied the same day, “is better to be avoided.”
Dina Esfandiary, who worked with Malley when he headed the International Crisis Group, was a third individual named in the documents. Those monitoring the Iran Experts Initiative from Tehran kept meticulous track of the media appearances and published articles by each of the individuals selected for the IEI project.
The revelations were met with swift condemnation from Washington. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the reports “indescribably troubling” and called on the Biden administration to “immediately cease its secret diplomacy with Iran and its dismantling of sanctions.” Cruz also called for those named in the documents to have their security clearances revoked pending investigations.
Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told JI’s Marc Rod that he is “looking into this as we speak to figure out the extent of this reported operation by the Iranian regime and how many Obama and Biden officials were ensnared in it.”
Elsewhere in Washington, U.S. officials are preparing to announce Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program as soon as today, according to officials in Jerusalem. Israelis with biometric passports will be allowed to enter the U.S. without a visa and vice versa, within 72 hours of submitting a request, beginning in November. Israel will be the 41st country to join the program. The program is expected to be enacted by the end of November, with Israel’s adherence to the standards of the program subject to the same standards and reviews as other participating countries.
Under the terms of the program, entry into the U.S. for Israelis will be valid for 90 days. Those going for longer periods, including those studying or seeking employment in the U.S., have to apply for a visa.
The approval is set to come after years of efforts in Israel and the U.S., with the Shin Bet, Israel’s Security Agency, changing its policies to allow Palestinian Americans without known security offenses who reside in the West Bank and Gaza to freely enter Israel as part of the American requirement of reciprocity.
Earlier this week, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced that Israel would join the Visa Waiver Program in the coming days, but the U.S. Embassy called the statement “entirely premature” and said a determination had not been made.
Axios reportedlast night that Secretary of State Tony Blinken has already given his sign-off to Israel’s entry into the program, a necessary step before Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, with whom the decision officially rests, makes his final determination.
And up north in Canada, House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota resigned following an uproar over the invitation to appear in the chamber extended to a 98-year-old Ukrainian man who served in a Nazi unit during WWII; Rota, who said he did not know the man’s background, had described him on Friday as “a Ukrainian hero, [and] a Canadian hero.”
Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Israel’s new special envoy for combating antisemitism who grew up in Canada, told JI’s Lahav Harkov that the incident highlights “the importance of comprehensive education on antisemitism, the Holocaust and the history of WWII, particularly at a time of rising antisemitism.”
“The incident is embarrassing beyond words, a real undermining of the responsibility of countries like Canada to the shared prospective commitment of ‘Never Again,’” Cotler-Wunsh said. “The speaker’s resignation is a first step to acknowledging responsibility for this wrong. Turning this into a teaching moment, next steps will hopefully include educational measures and Canada coming to terms with its history of Nazi fighters who immigrated to the country following WWII.” Stay tuned for an in-depth interview with Cotler-Wunsh about her new posting later this week.
Last night’s Saudi National Day celebration, held at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, featured speeches from Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Princess Reema and Daniel Benaim, deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Peninsula Affairs. Attendees at the reception included Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), Rob Satloff, Dennis Ross, Rich Goldberg, Michael Makovsky and John Hannah.
on the hill
Menendez’s legal woes could reshape direction of Democratic foreign policy
More than half of Senate Democrats have called on Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign since his indictment Friday on federal corruption charges over alleged transactions with Egyptian businessmen and government officials, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The New Jersey Democrat’s legal troubles could spur a major shake-up in the direction of his party’s foreign policy. Menendez, who served as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a Democratic hawk and a pro-Israel stalwart. There will likely be competition for the top Democratic spot on the committee between lawmakers with different views on international affairs.
Short term: Menendez announced that he would temporarily step aside as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position from which he has been a powerful ally of the pro-Israel community and a strong skeptic of the Biden administration’s efforts at diplomacy with Iran. In the short term, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) will assume the chairmanship — as he did during Menendez’s first indictment in 2015 — a Senate source told JI Tuesday evening. Cardin is another longtime ally of the pro-Israel community who, like Menendez, broke with his party to vote against the Iran nuclear deal.
Long term: In the longer term, the Foreign Relations Committee’s leadership could be up for grabs, given that Cardin will retire at the end of 2024. He is followed in seniority on the committee by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Shaheen’s potential leadership of the committee could cause consternation for some pro-Israel advocates, given her occasional criticism of Israeli policy. Coons, a close ally of President Joe Biden, currently serves as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the State Department and foreign aid. He’s seen as an unofficial representative of Biden on foreign policy, as well as a close AIPAC ally.
Menendez indictment sets off game of musical chairs in New Jersey
The recent indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has triggered an increasingly complex game of musical chairs as a growing number of potential primary opponents weigh campaigns to unseat him in next year’s election. Meanwhile, the political fallout from the federal corruption charges — which Menendez has vehemently denied amid mounting calls for his resignation — is shaping several down-ballot races in New Jersey, extending beyond federal office into state and municipal contests. “It’s created this whole domino effect,” Steven Fulop, the longtime Democratic mayor of Jersey City who is now running for governor, said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Tuesday. “You see that one person changing in the hierarchy at the top is impacting every level of government.”
Primary field: On Saturday, Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) was the first to announce he would run against Menendez in 2024. A spokesperson for Kim’s campaign declined to comment on Tuesday. While experts believe that Kim represents a serious threat to Menendez, the primary field is likely to expand as other lawmakers are rumored to be plotting their own bids, including Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), both of whom have called on Menendez to resign.
Backing Menendez: While a growing list of Senate Democrats have urged Menendez to resign, several leading pro-Israel groups have suggested that they will continue to back the embattled senator, who is among the most outspoken supporters of Israel in Congress. “The pro-Israel community deeply appreciates Sen. Menendez’s leadership in strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Marshall Wittmann, a spokesperson for AIPAC, said in a statement to JI on Tuesday. “Like all Americans, he deserves the presumption of innocence.”
JI podcast special: Netanyahu at UNGA
In the days leading up to Yom Kippur, President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the first meeting between the two leaders since Netanyahu was reelected in December. Lahav Harkov, Jewish Insider’s senior political correspondent, was in New York covering the prime minister’s visit. She joined co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein for a special episode of JI’s podcast to discuss Netanyahu’s high-level meetings during his weeklong trip to the U.S., Saudi normalization and artificial intelligence.
On Netanyahu’s meeting with Biden: “The big deal is the fact that the meeting happened, right? It’s not like something particularly surprising happened, certainly not in the part that was public… The fact that this meeting didn’t happen for so long, was because of judicial reform and was because of figures in Netanyahu’s government that Biden views as extremist, especially on the settlement issue. But it’s also beyond that — on settler violence and other things like that. But on the other hand, they made a very big effort to focus on the positives, and from my understanding, in the meeting itself, like the issues, those differences came up, but the actual focus of the meeting was the sort of broader Middle Eastern questions of normalization and the infrastructure project and things like that. And Iran, of course.”
Meeting Musk: “Before coming to New York, Netanyahu was in California. He went to the Tesla plant and he had this chat with Elon Musk. I thought it was really fascinating. You know, Netanyahu has clearly done his homework and really understands what’s going on with AI, and sort of what the potential risks and potential benefits are of it… it also, I thought, was a really good attempt — I’m not sure it entirely succeeded — but Netanyahu was really trying to, sort of, seize the narrative of this trip and start it with like, positive, and not all about the protests — of which there were protests in California, but I think in New York they were getting a lot more attention.”
Bonus: Netanyahu pressed his case for the need for judicial reform in a wide-ranging, hour-long meeting with Jewish leaders in New York on Friday afternoon, trying to convince the skeptics in the room that they have the “wrong perception” of his government’s controversial moves, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports.
Bipartisan group of senators urges European allies to push U.N. on Iran sanctions
A bipartisan group of senators called on the governments of the United Kingdom, France and Germany to take action to halt the expiration of the United Nations’ sanctions on Iran’s missile and drone programs in a letter on Friday addressed to the three countries’ ambassadors. A letter, signed by 31 lawmakers including the senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praises the E3 nations for their recent announcement of their plans to unilaterally maintain their sanctions, but argues that U.N. action is necessary to maintain proper safeguards on Iran, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Expiry date: Under the 2015 nuclear deal, the U.N. sanctions on Iran’s missile and drone programs will expire next month, and the E3 countries — the only nations with the ability to intervene at the U.N. to keep the sanctions in place — have said they do not plan to do so. “Allowing these restrictions to expire poses a threat to stability and security in the Middle East and beyond,” the letter reads. “It would enable the further proliferation of advanced weaponry, empower malign actors in the Middle East and Europe, and send the wrong signal to the Iranian regime when it has shown no willingness to alter its destabilizing policies across a number of areas.”
Signatories: Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) organized the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jim Risch (R-ID), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Casey (D-PA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Kennedy (R-LA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Deb Fischer (R-NE).
Read the full story here.
Elsewhere on the Hill: After a week of failed attempts, the House approved a procedural vote last night opening up consideration of the 2024 Homeland Security, Defense and State and Foreign Operations funding bills this week. Consideration of the defense and homeland bills will begin today. Coming up today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East subcommittee will hold a hearing today on the Taylor Force Act and the Palestinian Authority’s “pay to slay” policy, with testimony from Elliott Abrams, the former deputy national security advisor; Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; and Michael Koplow, the Israel Policy Forum’s chief policy officer.
Teach Action Fund seeks to expand access to Jewish education through politics
A new advocacy organization that aims to make Jewish education accessible to children from various socioeconomic and denominational backgrounds, with a focus on political activity, is scheduled to launch Wednesday morning, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports for Jewish Insider.
Expanding approach: The move comes as the barriers for public funding of private schools have been lowered in recent years. Earlier this year, Oklahoma approved public funding for a religious (Catholic) charter school – the first in the nation. Dan Mitzner, Teach Coalition’s director of government affairs, told JI that Teach Action was established as a way for Jewish day school and yeshiva communities to expand their approach and participation in political activity.
The vision: Teach Action Fund will “elevate our Get Out the Vote efforts and will use this new platform to educate the community about our champions in the state legislatures in the states where we operate,” Mitzner said. “Our ambitions have grown and our ability to make major policy changes in spaces like New York, New Jersey and across the country depend on us evolving as an organization,” Mitzner said.
🇺🇸 A Change is Gonna Come: In The Wall Street Journal, William Galston opines that both major U.S. parties are in need of generational change, citing high rates of disapproval and distrust in political leaders and institutions. “The reservations about Mr. Biden are well-known. He is seen as lacking the mental sharpness and physical stamina to carry out the duties of the presidency for a second term. Only 34% of Americans believe that he would be able to complete a second term. Expect Republicans to begin arguing that a vote for Mr. Biden is a vote for President Kamala Harris. The reservations about Mr. Trump’s return to the Oval Office are very different. More than half of all Americans believe that if he gets another term, he will try to gain more presidential power than he had during his first, and 75% think that is a bad thing. Expect Democrats to argue that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote for autocracy….The country needs a new beginning, a reordering of policy and rhetoric in both political parties. Instead, we have a frozen politics. Donald Trump seems likely to win his party’s nomination for the third consecutive time. Joe Biden first ran for national office more than half a century ago, and he first ran for president in 1988.” [WSJ]
💻 AI Sam:New York magazine’s Elizabeth Weil profiles OpenAI CEO Sam Altman amid questions about the extent of the impact of artificial intelligence on society. “Altman grew up the oldest of four siblings in suburban St. Louis: three boys, Sam, Max, and Jack, each two years apart, then a girl, Annie, nine years younger than Sam. If you weren’t raised in a midwestern middle-class Jewish family — and I say this from experience — it’s hard to imagine the latent self-confidence such a family can instill in a son. ‘One of the very best things my parents did for me was constant (multiple times a day, I think?) affirmations of their love and belief that I could do anything,’ Jack Altman has said. The stores of confidence that result are fantastical, narcotic, weapons grade. They’re like an extra valve in your heart…. It’s disorienting, the imperialist cloaked in nice. One of Altman’s most treasured possessions, he told me, is the mezuzah his grandfather carried in his pocket his whole life. He and Ollie want to have kids soon; he likes big families. He laughs so hard, on occasion, he has to lie down on the floor to breathe. He’s ‘going to try to find ways to get the will of the people into what we built.’” [NYMag]
👨 Bibi Bluster: In The New York Times Magazine, Ruth Margalit explores the origins of Israel’s current state of politics. “Netanyahu thinks of himself in Churchillian terms. He would like to be remembered as the leader who faced down the Iran menace, the savior of Israel in the face of forbidding odds for the Jewish people. But the country’s 75th year will be noted for something quite different. Its democracy is dimming; the public has never been more divided. Netanyahu has pushed Israel to the brink, gradually and then suddenly…. The judicial overhaul has now jeopardized every one of his perceived accomplishments, including Israel’s economic success and its international standing. Netanyahu is ‘in a Job-like state,’ Nahum Barnea, a veteran columnist for Yedioth Ahronoth, told me. His coalition members embarrass him on a daily basis. His legal woes are mounting. On top of which, Barnea added, ‘He can’t travel to the White House, and it’s killing him’ (Netanyahu’s meeting with President Biden on Sept. 20 was the first since Netanyahu’s re-election last November and came on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.) Still, many who know Netanyahu well rebuff the suggestion that he is losing control. ‘That’s like saying that Orban or Erdogan has lost control,’ a former senior aide to Netanyahu told me recently.” [NYTimes]
📺 Yiddish Schtick: The Washington Post’s Antonio Olivo and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux spotlight the resurgent popularity of Yiddish. “At a time when antisemitism is surging nationwide, Yiddish — once nearly wiped out by the Holocaust and assimilation pressures — is making a comeback. The interest is reflected in popular TV shows, theatrical productions, podcasts and an array of learning apps and online instruction that burgeoned during the pandemic. The trends aren’t directly connected, say those encouraging the revived interest in the language as well as other aspects of Jewish life. But for some, its growing popularity beyond mainstream terms such as ‘schlep’ and ‘klutz’ has become a kind of defiance against feelings of being perpetually under siege. ‘We have to stand up because, you know what? We’ve already seen this movie,’ [Yiddishkayt Initiative cofounder Ari] Hoffman said, alluding to the early 20th century prejudices that led to the Nazi Holocaust and the deaths of 6 million Jews.” [WashPost]
🏈 Harris’ Command: ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne looks at Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris’ ultimately successful bid to purchase the team. “Harris is one of the most powerful men in sports, owning three teams worth roughly $10.3 billion across three major North American sports. During the nine-month-long bidding process for the Commanders, Harris admits, he nearly walked away a half dozen times but never could. He knew how much the fan base had endured the past two decades because he endured it too. He’d also learned hard lessons in his first decade in the sports world — and couldn’t repeat them. This was a $6 billion bidding war he had to win. The Commanders are Harris’ hometown team. And he knows that being out in front, where people can see him, is just the beginning. ‘It’s not something that I really relish or want to do,’ Harris says. ‘I’m more famous than I ever thought I would be. I have a family. I have five kids. I want them to have as normal of a life as they can.’” [ESPN]
Around the Web
🎥 Back to Work: Writer’s Guild of America leadership voted to end a monthslong strike, with film and television production set to resume today.
🇮🇷 Diplomatic Effort: The State Department said that Iran must take “de-escalatory” steps regarding its nuclear program if it wants to move forward in diplomatic efforts with the U.S.
🗳️ Bay Area Ballot: Levi Strauss & Co. heir Daniel Lurie announced a primary challenge to San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
📖 The WaPo Chronicles: Former Washington Post Editor-In-Chief Marty Baron spoke to the Boston Globe about his upcoming book, Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and The Washington Post, an excerpt of which appears in The Atlantic.
🏢 Coming Soon: A new creative studio and private investment firm, launched by former CBS executive Eric Kuhn and former Microsoft executive Tre’ Scott, will invest in companies that promote live content.
🥊 The Sweet Science: The Washington Postspotlights Daniel Mendoza, an 18th-century British Jewish boxing champion whose strategies reshaped the fight game.
📘 A Siddur Comes Home: A professor at Rutgers University writes in The New York Times about his efforts to track down the origins of his mother’s recently discovered prayer book.
👀 Campus Watch: Against the backdrop of last weekend’s Palestine Writes conference at the University of Pennsylvania, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called on universities to stand up against antisemitism programming on campus.
🏫 School Dazed: A new Washington Post-Schar School poll found that parents are increasingly choosing to homeschool their children due to bullying, curricula concerns and heightened concerns about school shootings, rather than due to religious beliefs.
🏈 Bad Call: A high school football coach in Ohio resigned after a game in which his team repeatedly used the word “Nazi” in calling plays against a team from the heavily Jewish Cleveland suburb of Beachwood.
🤔 Author’s Analysis: In the Washington Post, author Adam Mansbach considers what lessons can be learned from tales of the golem amid a global surge in antisemitism.
☢️ Nuke Intel: Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton reviewsTarget Tehran, a new book from Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar about the Mossad’s efforts to expose Iran’s nuclear program.
💵 Sanctions Settlement: Industrial manufacturer 3M will pay close to $10 million to settle dozens of sanctions violations related to a subsidiary knowingly selling products to a company tied to Iranian law enforcement through a third party in Germany.
🤝 West Bank Meet-up: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Jordan is leading a high-level delegation of Saudi officials to the West Bank this week for meetings with Palestinian Authority officials.
📺 As Seen on TV: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was grilled by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on his government’s judicial reform efforts and potential roadblocks to Israeli-Saudi normalization.
🇮🇱🇸🇦 Debut Delegation: Israel Tourism Minister Haim Katz arrived in Saudi Arabia for a U.N. World Tourism Organization event, becoming the first Israeli government official to lead a delegation to the Gulf nation.
📆 Normalization Timetable: Bahraini Ambassador to the U.S. Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashid Al Khalifa said that Saudi-Israel normalization is “probably not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”
🎓 NYU in UAE: NYU is launching a one-year MBA program at its campus in Abu Dhabi.
🛃 No Visa Needed: The United Arab Emirates is mulling a plan to allow visa-free travel among citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council members.
💢 Yom Kippur Clash: Secular and religious activists clashed in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Circle over the latter’s attempt to hold gender-segregated Yom Kippur services in the public square.
🚓 Foiled: The Shin Bet arrested five people — three Palestinians and two Israelis — whom officials said were part of an Iran-backed plot to carry out terror attacks, including a planned assassination attempt on Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
🔥 Flare-up: Israel struck several Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing Palestinian demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border.
🪖 Embedded with the IDF: Fox News’ Trey Yingst embedded with an IDF unit conducting a West Bank raid that yielded a tranche of IEDs, roadside bombs and explosive material.
➡️ Transitions: Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides is joining Wells Fargo as vice chairman, three months after leaving Jerusalem. Jonathan Harounoff is joining the Jewish Institute for National Security of America as director of communications. Reuben Berman, formerly at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is joining Hillel International as director, campus support & action implementation.
🕯️ Remembering: Chess master Jeremy Silman, who authored books on chess strategy, died at 67.
Pic of the Day
Relatives pray at the graves of fallen soldiers of the Yom Kippur War at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery yesterday as Israel marked the 50th anniversary of the war.
Deputy mayor of Jerusalem, she was appointed recently as Israel’s special envoy for innovation, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum turns 50…
Co-founder of The Home Depot and owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, Arthur M. Blank turns 81… Of counsel, antitrust and business litigator at the Locke Lord law firm, Stephen J. Landes turns 78… Board member of the Milken Family Foundation, Ellen Sandler… Chairman of the Victoria Beckham fashion brand, Ralph Toledano turns 72… Longtime Washington correspondent, he is the author of books on Israel’s defense, intelligence and diplomatic services, Dan Raviv turns 69… President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond until 2017, now chair of the Richmond Jewish Foundation, Jeffrey M. Lacker turns 68… President of public relations at BGR, Jeffrey H. Birnbaum turns 67… Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives since 2002 and married to Rabbi Marcia A. Zimmerman, Frank Hornstein turns 64… Comedian and author, Marc Maron turns 60… Chief rabbi of France since 2014, Haïm Korsia turns 60… Member of the House of Representatives since 2005, she was previously chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz turns 57… Literary and film publicist based in Israel, Judy Tashbook Safern… President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Michael Balaban turns 57… President of NBC News Editorial, Rebecca Blumenstein turns 57… Hockey reporter for Sportsnet and as an insider for the NHL Network, Elliotte Friedman turns 53… Rabbi and kabbalist, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto turns 50… Author of four books on North Africa and the Middle East and president of The Center for Peace Communications, Joseph Braude… Musician, actress, writer, director and comedian, Carrie Rachel Brownstein turns 49… Former state treasurer of Ohio, Josh Mandel turns 46… Architect, entrepreneur and author, Marc Kushner turns 46… Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from the D.C. suburbs, Daniel Isaac Helmer turns 42… Executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, Rori Picker Neiss… Advisory manager for cyber and strategic risk at Deloitte, Alexa Wertman Brown… Actor best known for his role as Geoff Schwartz on “The Goldbergs,” Sam Lerner turns 31…