Good Tuesday morning.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on the pro-terrorism social media posts of a Maryland hate crimes commission member, and interview a mother whose two sons are hostages in Gaza. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Julianna Margulies, Ben Sasse and Sheryl Sandberg.
A new survey commissioned by Hillel International found that more than 1 in 3 Jewish college students have felt they needed to hide their Jewish identity in the weeks since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack and ensuing Israel-Hamas war, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports.
More than half of the 300 students surveyed said they feel scared on campus, and that they are unsatisfied with how their university administrations are responding to the uptick in antisemitic incidents and rhetoric on campus.
These concerns have manifested in a number of ways in recent weeks. A major fundraiser for The George Washington University that was held in New York City last week and featured the school’s president, Ellen Granberg, “went absolutely off the rails,” according to one attendee, who said Granberg was confronted by several participants who accused the administration of not doing enough to counter rising antisemitism on campus, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
At the event, Granberg shared updates on the university’s efforts to combat antisemitism, noting that the administration has been working with local and federal police to bolster campus security measures, according to the attendee, who also shared notes taken during the meeting.
The university president, however, acknowledged that such work “needs to go deeper,” emphasizing a commitment to expanding “support for religious and fraternal community groups,” training staff and reconciling what she characterized as a “right to free speech with our community values,” according to the notes.
Despite her assurances, a number of parents in attendance still expressed dissatisfaction with the administration’s approach. “It is now life or death,” one parent said during the question-and-answer period.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloombergcalled the response by many students to Hamas’ terror attacks “painful,” noting that students on campus today “aren’t old enough to remember 9/11, and it’s clear they never learned its lesson: Intentionally targeting civilians for slaughter is inexcusable no matter the political circumstances.”
The blame, Bloomberg suggests, lies with college presidents, who “allowed campuses to become institutions of conformity.”
“For years,” Bloomberg writes, “they have allowed their campuses to become bastions of intolerance, by permitting students to shout down the voices of others. They have condoned ‘trigger warnings’ that shield students from difficult ideas. They have refused to defend faculty who run afoul of student sentiment. And they have created ‘safe spaces’ that discourage or exclude opposing views.”
But universities are beginning to respond to concerns about campus climate. A state official in Tallahassee set off panic after alleging that a professor at the University of Florida was disseminating antisemitic content in the classroom.
The allegation was untrue, but concern had risen to such a level that UF President Ben Sasse issued a statement distancing the school from the accusations — which Sasse said were “wrong on multiple counts” — and reaffirming the administration’s commitment to “protect everyone’s speech rights” while denouncing “political activism in taxpayer-funded classes.”
In a message to the school’s deans and cabinet, Sasse, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, noted that the individual in question was not a tenured professor but an instructor who had left the university in 2019, and had posted offending content online, not on campus.
“Education happens when someone engages new ideas,” Sasse wrote in the note outlining the “fundamentals” of the school. “Indoctrination happens when someone enforces political orthodoxy. It’s not our job to indoctrinate – it is our job to educate.” Read the full story here.
That seems to be the message at the University of Iowa, where the state’s Board of Regents instructed the Hawkeye State’s three public universities to eliminate all Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) roles not mandated by law.
And that is the message to graduating seniors — and students considering their post-college employment options — being sent by some of the biggest names in finance, who signed onto a statement pledging that “[s]upporters of hate will have no place in our organizations or our community.”
The open letter has already been signed by Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman, Hudson Bay Capital’s Sander Gerber, Element Capital’s Jeffrey Talpins, Saba Capital’s Boaz Weinstein, Bank of America’s Zoya Raynes and Altitude Venture’s Jay Zeidman.
Maryland hate crimes commission member under fire for pro-Hamas posts
When Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown announced the inaugural members of the state’s Commission on Hate Crime Response and Prevention in August, he said Maryland residents “deserve a safe and inclusive state” and pledged to develop strategies to address hate crimes. Now, one of the members of the commission is facing criticism from a Jewish colleague and from the Jewish legislator who created the commission for comments she has made in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Unsavory comparisons: In a series of Facebook posts published on and after Oct. 7, Zainab Chaudry, the director of the Maryland branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, offered praise for Hamas terrorists, compared Israel to Nazi Germany and called the wide swath of Jewish Americans who attended last week’s March for Israel in Washington “genocide sympathizers.”
‘Inflammatory rhetoric’: “As commissioners who are supposed to be showing leadership in the fight against hate, it’s disappointing and concerning that inflammatory rhetoric is being used instead of finding ways to bring people together,” said Meredith Weisel, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Washington office and a member of the Maryland hate crimes commission. “We may have disagreements on the policies in Israel and Gaza,” Weisel said of Chaudry, but her posts are “downright dismissive of the majority of American Jews.”
shift in sentiment
‘The lid is off’: Lipstadt reflects on explosion of public antisemitism since Oct. 7
Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism — a longtime Holocaust scholar seen as a leading expert on antisemitism — said Monday that the current moment is deeply concerning and has emboldened public expressions of antisemitism in a way not seen in decades, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
New era: “I’ve been working on this for over 30 years, and it feels different,” Lipstadt told reporters in a meeting at the State Department. “The extent, the intensity that we’ve seen — uneasy lies the head that has studied this for over three decades.” She said that officials she’s met with around the world and within the State Department, including high-level national security officials in multiple countries, are also highly concerned. “I’m not saying that we’ve seen a creation of a whole new generation of antisemites,” she continued, but that people feel more comfortable expressing antisemitic sentiments publicly.
Administration messaging: Lipstadt trode carefully when asked about a trend in Biden administration messaging that has paired condemnations of rising antisemitism with concerns about Islamophobia. “When it’s antisemitism, I call it out as antisemitism,” Lipstadt said, “then I will say it operates within the larger parameters of prejudice. That’s the message I’ve been giving.” Pressed on messaging from the White House and elsewhere in the administration, Lipstadt said she could not comment on others “who I know have been making very different statements,” but said that statistics make it clear that antisemitism is rising domestically and globally.
Humanitarian access: Thirteen Senate Democrats, led by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), called again yesterday for additional humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza. The letter urges the administration to pressure Israel to reopen the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Gaza, protect civilians and civilian sites and ensure that noncombatants are not forced out of Gaza. The letter warns that the humanitarian situation in Gaza risks “significant, and preventable loss of human life” and will “negatively impact the security of Israeli civilians.” They also expressed concern that the “current trajectory of the conflict… moves us farther away” from ending the Hamas threat and Hamas’ governance in Gaza and from a two-state solution.
From heaven to hell: Mother of two hostages reflects on seeing her worst nightmare on video
There are two videos that depict the nightmare Renana Gome Yaakov has lived for the last six weeks: One is a short animated clip telling the harrowing story of how her two sons, Yagil, 12, and Or, 15, were brutally kidnapped from their home on Kibbutz Nir Oz by Palestinian terrorists on Oct. 7; the second is a haunting hostage video of her youngest child pleading to be returned home. Gome Yaakov recounted to Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash last week that she was not home on that fateful Saturday morning when Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups broke through the border fence from Gaza, abducting her sons, as well as their father, Yair Yaakov, and his girlfriend, Meirav Tal.
Last words: She said the last contact she had with the two boys was a desperate phone call, where she heard Arabic voices in the background and her youngest frantically yelling: “Don’t take me, I’m too young,” before the phone line went dead. “This was not a war, this was a terror attack,” said Gome Yaakov, speaking from the hotel in Eilat where she and many others from Nir Oz are now staying. The kibbutz was one of more than 20 communities along the border to be brutally attacked that day and currently uninhabitable. “No mother should have to hear her child say those last words,” she said.
Animating the disaster: Haunted by nightmares and unable to sleep since that awful day, Gome Yaakov, who works as a strategic advisor for another area kibbutz that was also attacked, recalled to JI how she contacted award-winning Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman, best known for his Golden Globe-winning animated feature film, “Waltz with Bashir,” in a bid to release the horrors from her head by visualizing what happened. The 80-second animated short, which is aptly called “Disaster” and which Gome Yaakov narrates in flawless English, recounts the final moments on the phone with her sons, as well as her fears of where they are now and how they are being treated.
Bonus: Politico interviews the family members of an American citizen being held by Hamas.
In Knesset, far-right lawmakers clash with hostages’ relatives
The petty politics and shouting matches that so often characterize the Knesset may have been on hiatus so far in this season of war, but they were back in full force on Monday, with members of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party screaming at relatives of hostages being held in Gaza, bringing some to tears. Knesset National Security Committee Chairman Zvika Fogel of Otzma Yehudit called a meeting to advance a bill by MK Limor Son Har-Melech, of the same party, to impose the death penalty on terrorists, even after some hostages’ families asked to call off the discussion for fear that that the legislation could negatively impact their loved ones still in captivity. The move did not have support from other coalition parties and Likud said it would block the bill, Jewish Insider’s Lahav Harkov reports.
The bill: Son Har-Melech’s bill states that the courts may only impose the death penalty, and no other punishment, on someone convicted of killing an Israeli with the motives of racism or “to harm the State of Israel and the revival of the Jewish people in our land.” Israel already has laws permitting the death penalty for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The only civil execution in the history of the Jewish state was the hanging of Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann in 1961.
Point of view: Fogel said on Monday that the bill’s opponents have been manipulated by Hamas. “I’m hinting that Hamas is trying to exploit you, yes – and I’m not hinting. I’m saying it openly,” Fogel told the relatives of one of the hostages. “This [bill] does not contradict the goal of bringing back the hostages and anyone who tries to present it as a contradiction is someone who is trying to represent Hamas more than the State of Israel.”
Heartfelt pleas: Gil Dickmann, cousin of hostage Carmel Gat, 39, broke down in tears, saying, “I begged you to stop…Please remove this from the agenda. If you have a heart, please do not say we are representing the people who murdered our loved ones. Please, choose life and ensure they come home alive and whole,” he added. A man whose wife and daughter are held hostage by Hamas shouted, “Stop talking about killing Arabs and start talking about saving Jews.”
Last night: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the other members of the war cabinet held a three-hour meeting with the families of the hostages at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Silence on War Crimes: For CNN, Sheryl Sandberg raises concerns about the degree to which Hamas’ sexual violence is being met by indifference and denial. “On October 7, Hamas terrorists committed unspeakable atrocities that we must speak about — and speak about loudly. Numerous witnesses have testified that sexual violence was widespread on that day, according to reports by Israeli investigators. An eyewitness has recounted the horror of watching a fellow concert-goer being gang-raped, then murdered. Rescue workers have reported recovering lifeless bodies, naked with their legs spread. Yet some are flat-out denying that these atrocities occurred. Even worse, some might actually believe that these women — mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives — ‘deserved it.’ We have come so far in believing survivors of rape and assault in so many situations, yet this time, many are ignoring the stories that these bodies tell us about how these women spent the last moments of their lives. The silence on these war crimes is deafening. It’s time to see beyond historical arguments about the past and political arguments about the future to denounce this now.” [CNN]
Cancel Culture:New York magazine’s Simon van Zuylen-Wood looks at the fallout from the 92Y’s disinvitation to a speaker who had signed onto an anti-Israel letter. “Virtually every trademark of the American dispute over the war in Gaza can be found within the Y drama: the epistolary mania that keeps producing open letters and counter-letters; the scrambling of sympathies on free speech; the contested border separating anti-Zionism from antisemitism; the intense scrutiny paid to semantics, as in the Y’s repeated insistence that the postponement of [Viet Thanh] Nguyen’s reading was not the same as a cancellation. … Columbia University Shakespeare scholar and longtime Y collaborator James Shapiro tells me he considers the LRB [London Review of Books] letter ‘ignorant of a lot of the geopolitical context and the actual reality in Israel.’ But also: ‘It’s just a letter. He signed … a letter.’ At the same time, it’s a testament to the seriousness of the matter and the depth of feeling on the part of prominent Jewish New Yorkers that the Y was willing to jeopardize its secular reputation, built over many years as its donors and patrons helped build this city, over a few absent but crucial words. And if the Y is not backing down, then it’s a sign that its brand of adamance, mingled with regret, is widespread in New York.” [NYMag]
Kids Just Don’t Understand: In The Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead considers why Gen Zers are overwhelmingly opposed to Israel’s military actions in Gaza. “One reason the news from Gaza has so massively affected the younger generation is that they have grown up considering peace to be normal and natural. The war in Gaza hasn’t merely introduced young Americans to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also has shown them the face of war. After the horrors of World War II, Americans did everything to build a stable and at least relatively peaceful world order. This order was far from perfect. It tolerated and, in some cases, protected gross economic, social, racial and national injustices. And some of the little wars Americans fought to defend it, as policy makers at the time believed, were as brutal as the world wars of the 20th century. But the world order prevented the eruption of global conflicts on the scale of the great wars with casualties reckoned by the tens of millions. It also permitted generations of Americans to grow up in a bubble. For younger generations, war was passé.” [WSJ]
Plea for Hopkins Doctor: In Commentary, the Washington Free Beacon’s Daniel Halper shares how Dr. Darren Klugman, a pediatric cardiologist and associate professor at Johns Hopkins University who is under fire for social media posts made after Oct. 7 — for which he has apologized — saved his daughter’s life. “The tweets are dated October 8, when Hamas terrorists were still infiltrating Israel and hunting down innocent civilians to murder. And just as the true horrors of the brutal massacre — the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust — was first becoming clear…Klugman has since apologized for his ‘regrettable, hurtful messages.’ In a letter to his Hopkins colleagues, Klugman added, ‘These messages in no way reflect my beliefs, me as a person, a physician, a friend, or colleague. I cannot undo the harm and hurt … and I am devastated by the impact it has had on my Hopkins family and others.’ As the father of a Klugman patient, I know he means it. Why? Because I witnessed with my own eyes how he delivered medical care. And because my daughter’s ability to live a healthy and meaningful life is in part due to him. Johns Hopkins, where Klugman is the director of pediatric cardiac critical care, is lucky to have such a doctor. I know Children’s National was as well during the time he was there. There’s no doubt in my mind that his patients all benefited from his medical care — and that Hopkins would be a worse hospital if he were not part of it.” [Commentary]
Time to Speak Out: In USA Today, Julianna Margulies pens an op-ed critical of the widespread silence in the weeks following the Oct. 7 attacks. “The events in Israel have shone a light on something I never realized: You, my loving, non-Jewish friends, have no idea of the Jewish experience, of living in our shoes, of learning from the stories of our parents and grandparents. We grew up hearing about the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were deliberately and methodically slaughtered. And so we grew up knowing that we were lucky to be alive. This fact – a miracle in itself – was drilled into us from the day we were born. We are lucky to be here! And truly that is how I feel today. … In the week following this horrific event, the silence on your end was deafening. My Jewish girlfriends and I huddled together, crying and trying to make sense of a world gone mad. ‘It’s 2023!’ We said to one another, ‘How is this still happening?’ I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I felt sick to my stomach. The silence continued. That’s when we all began to wonder if we were safe.” [USAToday]
Around the Web
Haley’s Peak: Puck Newsconsiders how former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has seen a surge in support in New Hampshire, could potentially win the GOP presidential nomination.
Candace Cut: The David Horowitz Freedom Center severed ties with far-right media personality Candace Owens — who got her start with the organization — over her comments about Israel and Jews since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Strategy Session: The Atlantic Council’s Jonathan Panikoff spotlights how different malign actors in the Middle East could be deterred by Israeli and U.S. policies and strategies.
Temperature Check: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Aaron David Miller assesses the relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Joe Biden, amid questions over the degree to which Washington will push Israel on its policy choices.
Mark Your Calendar: Presidential historian Tevi Troy’s next book, The Power and the Money: The Epic Clashes Between American Titans of Industry and Commanders in Chief, will hit bookshelves next August. h/t Playbook
Suing Musk: CNN interviews the Jewish man who is suing Elon Musk after the X owner amplified posts falsely alleging the man was an undercover agent in a neo-Nazi group.
A Star is Reborn: The New York Timesspotlights the resurgent popularity of the Magen David — the Star of David — since the Oct. 7 terror attacks.
Poet’s Arrest:New Yorker editor David Remnick told staff that a Gaza-based Palestinian poet, Mosab Abu Toha, who has written for the publication, was arrested, but did not provide further details. Friends and family of Abu Toha said the IDF arrested him at a military checkpoint.
Pretoria Recall: Israel recalled its ambassador to South Africa after a government minister in Pretoria called for the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A Shanghai Song: The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and choirs from the U.S. and China debuted in Shanghai an oratorio about the city’s role in providing a safe haven to Jews fleeing Nazi Europe.
How Dare She: German publication Der Spiegeldoes a deep dive into climate activist Greta Thunberg’s anti-Israel positions, and broader anti-Israel sentiment within the climate justice movement.
Hitler’s House: Residents and officials of an Austrian town are at odds over what to do with the now-vacant building where Adolf Hitler was born.
Diplomatic Tour: The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Indonesia met with their Chinese counterpart in Beijing to discuss ending the Israel-Hamas war, the first stop on a global tour that will see the group meet with foreign ministers of U.N. Security Council permanent members.
Scott Free: In The Wall Street Journal, former Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz suggests that Iran is not paying a price for its proxies’ malign activities in the region.
Captive Cargo Ship: Houthi rebels hijacked an Israeli-linked cargo vessel and are holding the 25 crew members hostages.
Remembering: Novelist Herbert Gold, whose books delved into the American Jewish experience, died at 99.
Pic of the Day
A projection on the walls of the UNICEF offices in Tel Aviv by demonstrators marking International Children’s Day and calling on UNICEF and the U.N. to act for the return of the children who are being held captive in Gaza.
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and editor of Sapir, Bret Stephens (family name was Ehrlich) turns 50…
Director-general of the Mossad from 1982 to 1989, Nahum Admoni turns 94… British entrepreneur and philanthropist, Baron Harold Stanley Kalms turns 92… U.S. senator (D-IL), he serves as the Senate majority whip, Dick Durbin turns 79… Academy Award-winning actress, director, producer and occasional singer, she founded The Hawn Foundation to help underprivileged children, Goldie Hawn turns 78… Founder, chairman and CEO of Men’s Wearhouse for 40 years, currently holding these same positions at Generation Tux, George Zimmer turns 75… U.S. senator (R-LA), John Kennedy turns 72… Beverly Hills resident, Julie Shuer… U.S. district judge for the Northern District of California, she is a past president of Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, Calif., Judge Beth Labson Freeman turns 70… Chairman of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, Thomas Rothman turns 69… Israeli media personality, Avri Gilad turns 61… Business development officer at the San Francisco office of Taylor Frigon Capital Management, Jonathan Wornick… VP of planned giving and endowments at UJA-Federation of New York, William Samers… CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan A. Greenblatt turns 53… Founder and publisher of The Real Deal,Amir Korangy turns 50… Former NFL running back for the Raiders and Rams, he is now a real estate entrepreneur, Chad Levitt turns 48… Political director of ABC News, Rick Klein turns 47… Director of global government relations at the Hershey Company, Joanna Liberman Turner turns 47… Consul general of the U.S. in Quebec, Danielle Hana Monosson… Reporter at Bloomberg News and Businessweek, Max Abelson… Member of the New York City Council from the Bronx, Eric Dinowitz turns 38… MLB pitcher in five organizations, now playing for the Long Island Ducks, he played for Team Israel in this year’s World Baseball Classic, Robert Stock turns 34… Director of social media at the American Jewish Committee, Alexander Freeman… Judy Brilliant… Ruth Shapiro…