Meet Ritchie Torres, the pro-Israel progressive and past Bernie delegate running for Congress in the Bronx

Good Thursday morning!

In The NYTimes this morning, Bari Weiss describes how the now-regular occurrences of antisemitic incidents and attacks in Western nations have been “largely overlooked by the mainstream press,” and ignored in the broader community, heightening concerns among Jews around the world.

In Israel, a third round of elections inched closer after kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman said he would not choose between the left and the right and that a repeat vote is inevitable. Bloomberg’s Ivan Levingston details how the political stalemate has paralyzed the country, with no end in sight.

New roles: While working on Mideast peace and the building of the border wall, Jared Kushner is also taking on a bigger role in trade talks with China. Expedia put chairman Barry Diller in charge of day-to-day operations after it fired CEO Mark Okerstrom and CFO Alan Pickerill. And the New York Mets may have a new owner in one Steve Cohen.

Tonight in New York, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will speak at the inaugural U.N. Watch gala.

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MEET THE CANDIDATE — Ritchie Torres: ‘I am the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive’

New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) discussed his run for Congress and highlighted his pro-Israel bona fides in an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh. 

Details: Torres is one of 11 Democrats vying to replace outgoing Rep. Jose Serrano in New York’s solidly blue 15th district in next June’s primary. Torres has so far outraised the other candidates, who include City Council members Rubén Díaz Sr. and Ydanis Rodríguez, Assemblyman Michael Blake, and former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Torres has raised $878,084 for his campaign as of the last quarter. 

Notable firsts: Torres made history in 2013 when, at age 25, he became the youngest elected member in the council’s history. If elected, the former community activist and housing organizer could become the first openly gay black or Latino member of Congress. 

Similar on the surface, distanced in credo: If elected, Torres will be 31 when he is sworn in, which would make him one of the youngest members of Congress, along with 30-year-old Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), whose district adjoins his. But Torres, who was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2016, doesn’t see himself seeking an alliance with Ocasio-Cortez, and has vowed not to court the far-left Democratic Socialists of America or accept the endorsement of any group that supports BDS.

Insidious hate: “My concern is that BDS poisons whatever it touches,” Torres said. “There is a deep prod of antisemitism at the core of BDS, and I view it as an insidious form of antisemitism. I am concerned about the normalization of BDS within the progressive movement, and I worry deeply that BDS has the potential to poison progressiveness.”

Torres on 2020 candidates — including Bernie Sanders — expressing support for conditioning aid to Israel: “Support for Israel’s security should remain unconditional. Israel is more than a transactional ally or friend, and the notion of threatening a friend with the loss of some funding for its security needs strikes me as absurd. In what sense does that honor the very nature of friendship?” Torres further emphasized that while constructive criticism of Israeli government policies is fair game, “rhetoric about conditioning aid to Israel strikes me as a dog whistle for the pro-BDS wing of the progressive movement.” 

Pushback: When Torres visited Israel in 2015, far-left activists held a protest against him outside New York’s City Hall. “I had activists from Jewish Voice for Peace accusing me of pinkwashing, accusing me of aiding and abetting apartheid,” he recalled. “I even remember coming across an activist with a shirt that read ‘queers for Palestine.’ I remember telling the activist, ‘Does the opposite exist, are there Palestinians for queers?’ It was partly a joke but partly a serious observation. I found it utterly baffling that you had LGBT activists doing the bidding of Hamas, which is a terrorist organization that executes LGBT people. And then I came to realize… that the BDS movement uses intersectionality to penetrate a whole host of self-proclaimed progressive values.”

Face of the party: Torres pushed back against Republican attempts to use Israel as a political football and paint legislators like Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as the face of the Democratic party. “I’m both progressive and pro-Israel,” he stated. “The notion that you cannot be both progressive and pro-Israel is a vicious lie, because I am the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive. I am from the Bronx, I’m Afro-Latino, I’m Puerto Rican, I’m a millennial — but I’m also pro-Israel.” 

But Torres also believes that the decision by Israel to bar Tlaib and Omar from visiting the country was a mistake. “A robust democracy like Israel should never fear criticism. I doubt it will have lasting impact, but it was an attempt by Trump to politicize Israel.” 

Read the full profile here

TALK OF THE REGION — Netanyahu takes credit on foiling Iran talks as WH considers new deployments

Shifting strategy on Iran: The Trump administration is reportedly considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East, including dozens more ships, to counter Iranian aggression. According to The Wall Street Journal, the president is expected to make a decision on the matter this month. 

Why it matters: Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that it would be a “smart move” to increase U.S. military power in “what remains a strategic area” for America’s security and national interests. “This increased show of force makes it less likely that the Islamic Republic of Iran will test American resolve, thereby diminishing the risk of open conflict,” Dubowitz suggested. 

Ilan Goldenberg of the Center for a New American Securityposited that this is the predictable cost of walking away from the 2015 nuclear deal. “If we end up with 30K more troops in the Mideast than 6 months ago, it’s billions of dollars and massive strategic distraction,” he added. 

Locking arms: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday. “The Secretary and the prime minister discussed Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region, the importance of economic cooperation with regional partners, and Israel’s security,” the State Department said in a readout after the meeting. During a photo opportunity, Netanyahu praised Trump’s policy on Iran.

Taking credit: In a briefing with Israeli reporters before the flight from Tel Aviv, Netanyahu boasted that he foiled a planned meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. in September. The prime minister also told reporters, “The new U.S. deployment is good for Israel.”

Bonus: While Netanyahu was visiting the country on Wednesday, Portugal became a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which promotes the working definition of antisemitism, just a day after the French National Assembly passed a resolution declaring anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism.

ON THE HILL — Impeachment hearings march on in D.C.

The House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. 

Legal minds: Members heard from four law professors about the constitutional basis for impeachment — three called by Democrats and one by Republicans. The hearings lacked fireworks and remained relatively academic, with references to the Secret Treaty of Dover between Great Britain and France in 1670 as well as to the brief presidential tenure of William Harry Harrison.

Line of the day: Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, precisely summed up the Democratic case for impeachment: “If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable. This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created the Constitution, including impeachment, to protect against.”

Republican pushback: Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, argued that this impeachment would be “the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president.” Democrats have been limited in the impeachment inquiry by the White House’s refusal to produce documents and by efforts to block key witnesses from testifying. This behavior has led Democrats to consider an impeachment article against Trump for obstructing justice.

Bad pun draws outrage: Republicans pounced upon an attempt at wordplay from Pam Karlan, a professor at Stanford Law. In arguing that the president did not have absolute power, Karlan said “the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility. So while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.” Republicans painted Karlan’s words as an attack on Trump’s 13-year-old son. Melania Trump tweeted that Karlan “should be ashamed” while Rep Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said it made the Stanford professor “look mean.”

Bonus: Rep. Al Green (D-TX) sent a memo to members of Congress yesterday urging them to include in the hearings and articles of impeachment censure of the president’s “racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic, xenophobic language instigating enmity and inciting violence within our society.”

PODCAST PLAYBACK — New book on the history of Iranian Jews

In a podcast for “New Books on Jewish Studies,” assistant professor of history and Jewish Studies at Pennsylvania State University Lior Sternfeld discusses his latest book Between Iran and Zion: Jewish Histories of Twentieth-Century Iran. Interviewed by Asad Dandia, Sternfeld describes his methodology and analysis in exploring the history of the Jewish population in 20th century Iran up until the 1979 revolution.

A tragic history? Sternfeld argues most modern Jewish history as adheres to a “lachrymose historical narrative” that characterizes the history as “homogeneously tragic regardless of geographical or socio-political contexts.” In the interview, Sternfeld recounted how many Zionist scholars “started to analyze Jewish existence as made of nothing but an ordeal of pogroms and persecution,” referring to the subfield known as the “negation of exile.”

In contrast, Sternfeld describes a history of political, economic and social integration into Iranian society. Jews from Europe and the Middle East moved to Iran, rebuilding their cultures in the major centers of Tehran and Isfahan. According to Sternfeld, Jewish immigration to Iran began in the 1920s, prompted by the rise of antisemitism in Germany and other European countries. After the Farhud in 1941, Iraqi Jews established a “distinct community” in Tehran, including a school, synagogue and club. At its peak, 100,000 Jews lived in Iran.

After the revolution, many Jews supported the reformations, possessing what Sternfeld calls a “utopic idea” for post-revolution Iran. This included a Jewish member of the committee charged with drafting the new constitution. “The minorities and the Jewish community were much more optimistic of what could come from the Iranian revolution than the actual leadership of the revolution.”

Listen to the podcast here.

WORTHY READS

🙏 Family Plea: The wife and children of Robert Levinson — a retired FBI agent who has been missing in Iran since 2007 — testified during the opening of a two-day federal hearing yesterday, asking the U.S. government to impose $1.5 billion in damages on Iran. “This is an American tragedy, this is a tragedy without end,” said the family’s attorney, David L. McGee. [WashPost]

✍️ Top-Op: New York Times columnist Tom Friedman writes that across the Middle East, citizens are demanding rights and bucking authoritarianism, while in the U.S., a “sultan”-like figure has been elevated: “We’re becoming them right when they want to become us — or what used to be us.” [NYTimes

👋 Starting Over: The Washington Post is shining a spotlight on Hillel, a nonprofit in Israel that helps ultra-Orthodox men and women who want to leave their communities integrate into secular society. [WashPost

AROUND THE WEB

🚫 Tackling Hate: France announced it will establish an anti-hate crimes office after an attack on a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg. French President Emmanuel Macron said he vows to fight antisemitism “until our dead can sleep in peace.”

👨‍💼 New Face: Facebook announced on Wednesday that it has hired Zignal Labs CEO and co-founder Josh Ginsberg as VP of public affairs marketing to help improve privacy controls and election security. 

🤝 Done Deal: In a win for Shari Redstone, CBS and Viacom finally completed their merger yesterday. 

✈️ Frequent Traveler: Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani is in Budapest and Kyiv this week to film a documentary series aimed at debunking the impeachment inquiry. 

🏀 Sports Blink: Adam Sandler’s latest film, “Uncut Gems,” hinges a plot line on NBA-linked gambling, and the comedian is hoping commissioner Adam Silver can take a joke. 

⚾ Moneyball: Hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen is close to an agreement to purchase a majority stake in the New York Mets, The Wall Street Journalreports.

🎦 Movie Preview: “Incitement,” Israel’s submission to this year’s Oscars, which focuses on the period leading up to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, has Roger Cohen wondering in The New York Times: “If only.”

⚱️ Art Apology: A German art collective apologized Wednesday after outrage was sparked by its protest art installation in Berlin containing the real ashes of Holocaust victims. 

👗 Discovery: NYT’s Vanessa Friedman looks at the revitalization of German fashion brands founded by Jews in pre-war Europe.

🚌 New York Violence: Three teenagers threw a rock on Tuesday at a bus of Jewish elementary school students in Crown Heights. 

🎓 Campus Beat: Following a wave of antisemitic incidents, Syracuse University is adding surveillance cameras and increased security patrols on campus.

🎂 Birthday Bash: Comedian Tiffany Haddish celebrated both her 40th birthday and her bat mitzvah this week, with guests including Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Kimmel and Billy Crystal. Silverman’s sister, Rabbi Susan Silverman, led Haddish in reading from the Torah earlier in the day.  

PIC OF THE DAY

UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba greets CEO-designate of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations William Daroff at the UAE’s National Day celebration in D.C.

BIRTHDAYS

President of The LS Group and political fundraiser for many members of Congress, Lisa Spies turns 45…

Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist and professor, Sheldon Lee Glashow turns 87… Betti Greenstein turns 68… Fellow in digital privacy policy issues at the Woodrow Wilson Center and professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, Stuart Neil Brotman turns 67… United States Ambassador to France and Monaco, Jamie Luskin McCourt turns 66… Speakers bureau chair at Hadassah’s Southern California chapter, Esther Gluskin Winard turns 66… Mediator and arbitrator for JAMS since 1989, Michael D. Young turns 66… Venture capitalist, speaker and investment advisor, he served as chairman of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation’s Business Leadership Council, Pascal Norman Levensohn turns 59…

NYC-based author and clinical psychologist with specialties in aging and cancer, Mindy Greenstein, Ph.D. turns 57… Professor at the University of Chicago Law School, he is the son of retired Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner and is one of the most often cited legal scholars in the US, Eric A. Posner turns 54… Outgoing CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee until year-end when he will return to the faculty at Columbia Law School, David M. Schizer turns 51… Ontario-born supermodel and actress, Shalom Harlow turns 46… Urologist at Westchester (NY) Medical Group, Judd Boczko, M.D. turns 46… Co-founder and president of AxiosRoy Schwartz turns 44… Israeli-born, acclaimed video game developer, Neil Druckmann turns 41…

VP at Revere, a Daniel J. Edelman agency focused on technology, he was previously a manager of PR and digital strategy at The Clorox Company, Adam S. Rosenberg turns 39… Managing director of government relations at The Blackstone Group, he was chief of staff for Secretary Mnuchin at the U.S. Treasury, Eli H. Miller turns 37… News assistant at The New York Times and a contributor to the paper’s Metropolitan section, Alexander E. Traub turns 29… Israeli model, she represented Israel at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant where her selfie with Miss Iraq set off an international incident, Adar Gandelsman turns 22… Associate director of intergovernmental affairs for New York State Attorney General Tish James, Jonathan Shabshaikhes

Ritchie Torres: ‘I am the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive’

Notable firsts: New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres made history in 2013, when at age 25 he became the youngest elected member in the council’s history. Now mounting a run for New York’s open 15th congressional seat, the former community activist and housing organizer would be the first openly gay black or Latino member of Congress. 

Street cred: Torres doesn’t see himself as a history-maker. “There is a historical dimension to my candidacy, but, ultimately, I am running on the strength of my personal story and message. I have a strong record of advocating on the bread-and-butter concerns that matter most to the residents in my district,” Torres told Jewish Insider over a latte and croissant at a cafe in Lower Manhattan. At several points during the hour-long conversation, Torres went out of his way to highlight his support of Israel.

Similar on the surface, distanced in credo: If elected, Torres will be 31 when he is sworn in, which would make him one of the youngest members of Congress, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), whose district adjoins his. But Torres, who was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2016, doesn’t see himself seeking an alliance with Ocasio-Cortez, vowing not to court the far-left Democratic Socialists of America or accept the endorsement of any group that supports BDS. “My concern is that BDS poisons whatever it touches. There is a deep prod of antisemitism at the core of BDS, and I view it as an insidious form of antisemitism. I am concerned about the normalization of BDS within the progressive movement, and I worry deeply that BDS has the potential to poison progressiveness.”

On comparisons to another trailblazer: Torres is animated when discussing policy debates within the Democratic party. A skilled orator who speaks in measured tones and maintains a calm composure, Torres shrugged off comparisons to former President Barack Obama, himself a history-making organizer-turned-politician from one of America’s largest cities. “Um,” he said after pausing for a few seconds, “I wouldn’t presume to think of myself as Barack Obama. I insist on running as my own person. I am not running to be the reincarnation of somebody else. Even though I’m young enough to be a change agent, I have been in a position that has required me to be pragmatic.”

The numbers: Torres has so far outraised the other 10 Democrats vying to replace outgoing Rep. Jose Serrano in the solidly blue district in next June’s primary. As of the last quarter, Torres raised $878,084 for his campaign, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Data compiled by The City showed that at least $110,000 of that came from contributors with ties to the real estate industry, with some 96 percent of his contributions coming from outside the district, something he says is a reality for every candidate in the district.

“First, all of my opponents have primarily raised their funds outside of the Bronx because the south Bronx is the poorest congressional district in America,” he explained. “You cannot raise a million or even a half a million dollars from the poorest congressional district in America. Second, in the second quarter, two-thirds of my contributors were small donors. I have the highest number of Bronx donors of all my opponents, and I have the highest number of small donors. So I feel comfortable about the fundraising numbers.”

The Park Ave pitch: “My supporters see me as a pragmatic problem-solver who is thoughtful, who is committed to building consensus and common ground. There’s a real concern about the loss of pragmatism in our politics, and there’s a real market for the kind of pragmatic progressivism that I represent.”

The opponents: The young lawmaker sought to differentiate from the other candidates, which include his City Council colleagues Rubén Díaz Sr. and Ydanis Rodríguez, Assemblyman Michael Blake, and former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I have the strongest legislative record. There’s no candidate in the race who has held more high-profile hearings, who has passed more high-profile legislation, who has conducted more high-profile investigations than I have, on a wider range of issues as I have,” he pointed out. 

Controversial rival: Díaz, viewed as one of the favorites in the race, is notorious for his anti-LGBT provocations and has compared abortion to the Holocaust. “His views are so out of sync with the Democratic Party that he has no business running in a Democratic primary,” Torres charged. “He has more in common with the Christian right than he has with the mainstream of the Democratic Party.” 

Role models: “[Massachusetts Senator] Ted Kennedy is a model of pragmatic progressivism. He was a man of deeply held principles, he was an aggressive conscience of the Democratic party, but at the same time he was pragmatic enough to appropriate compromises across the aisle that moved the ball forward.”  Torres also looks up to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a fellow New Yorker. “I’m a great admirer of Hakeem Jeffries. He is impressively discipline and even-tempered, intelligent. I have enormous respect for his skills as a legislator and as a political leader.” 

Definition of progressivism: Torres, who first visited Israel in 2015 with a Council delegation, considers himself a strong supporter of the Jewish state “not despite my progressive values, but because of my progressive values.” He stressed, “I strive to keep an open mind. I am known to be pragmatic, open-minded and thoughtful, and I listen to all sides of debate, but as a wise person once said, ‘Keep an open mind, but do not keep your mind so open that your brains fall.’ There is a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Criticism of a country’s foreign policy, whether it’s American or Israeli foreign policy, is fair game. But the attempt to delegitimize Israel, the attempt to question Israel’s right to exist or right to defend itself, that, to me, crosses the line to destructive criticism. I consider anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism, and I am not going to give consideration to antisemitic voices, voices that are dedicated to delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish state.” 

Pushback: When Torres visited Israel in 2015, far-left activists held a protest outside City Hall. “At the time I was distinctively pro-Israel — because it has democratic values and institutions — but I had no deep knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no deep knowledge of intersectionality, or of BDS. But when I announced that I was going on a delegation to Israel, I became a target of vitriolic protest,” he recalled. “I had activists from Jewish Voice for Peace accusing me of pinkwashing, accusing me of aiding and abetting apartheid. I even remember coming across an activist with a shirt that read ‘queers for Palestine.’ I remember telling the activist, ‘Does the opposite exist, are there Palestinians for queers?’ It was partly a joke but partly a serious observation. I found it utterly baffling that you had LGBT activists doing the bidding of Hamas, which is a terrorist organization that executes LGBT people. And then I came to realize that the reason is intersectionality, that the BDS movement uses intersectionality to penetrate a whole host of self-proclaimed progressive values.”

On 2020 candidates expressing support for conditioning aid to Israel: “Support for Israel’s security should remain unconditional. Israel is more than a transactional ally or friend, and the notion of threatening a friend with the loss of some funding for its security needs strikes me as absurd. In what sense does that honor the very nature of friendship?” Torres further emphasized that while constructive criticism of the Israeli government’s policies is fair game, “rhetoric about conditioning aid to Israel strikes me as a dog whistle for the pro-BDS wing of the progressive movement.” 

Face of the party: Torres also pushed back against Republican attempts to use Israel as a political football and paint legislators like Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as the face of the Democratic party. “I’m both progressive and pro-Israel,” he stated. “The notion that you cannot be both progressive and pro-Israel is a vicious lie, because I am the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive. I am from the Bronx, I’m Afro-Latino, I’m Puerto Rican, I’m a millennial — but I’m also pro-Israel.” 

Torres also believes that the decision by Israel to bar Tlaib and Omar from visiting the country was a mistake. “A robust democracy like Israel should never fear criticism. I doubt it will have lasting impact, but it was an attempt by Trump to politicize Israel.” 

Command of the hour: “Support for Israel is built on a bedrock of bipartisanship, and that support has never been as threatened existentially as it is now. No matter where you stand ideologically on the spectrum, I think all of us who support Israel should recognize that there needs to be pro-Israel voices in both the Democratic and the Republican parties, in both the progressive and the conservative movements. And so I am deeply committed to not only sustaining but strengthening American support for Israel and strengthening the American-Israeli relationship.”

Recognizing Jewish refugees at the UN | White House speechwriter’s Holocaust memoir | Pompeo courts Adelson

Good Wednesday morning!

Big c-suite changes as Sergey Brin and Larry Page step down from running Alphabet. At Bridgewater, Dave McCormick is now the sole CEO. Glencore signaled yesterday that longtime CEO Ivan Glasenberg would step aside in 2020. 

On Capitol Hill, impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee begin today. Norm Eisen will serve as the committee’s counsel, doing the questioning for Democrats at the hearing. 

At the U.N., there’s a new initiative to recognize Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries. More below.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon, Portugal. More below.

Bernie Sanders surrogate Linda Sarsour came under pressure this week for comments made over the weekend at the annual American Muslims for Palestine conference in which Sarsour said that Israel was “built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else.” After video of the event began to circulate, Sarsour attempted to walk back her comments on Twitter. The Sanders campaign did not respond to JI’s request for comment.

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TOP TALKER — Kamala Harris drops out of 2020 race

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has suspended her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential election.

Crowd thins: Harris’s departure is considered the first major withdrawal from the crowded primary field as the race continues to narrow ahead of the Iowa caucuses in February. While she raised nearly $37 million during the course of her run, Harris said yesterday that her campaign “simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

Identity first: One of the senator’s most memorable campaign moments came during the June debate, when she brought her personal experience to a dispute with former Vice President Joe Biden over his past opposition to busing students to desegregate schools. But a rival Democratic strategist told JI’s Ben Jacobs that the Harris campaign “ran basically an identity-first campaign at a time when people want a message and a cause.”

Who’s next? The race is continuing to tighten, as Harris became the third Democratic candidate to drop out just this week. But some presidential hopefuls see her withdrawal as a potential boon. One Iowa-based operative for another primary campaign told JI: “This is an incredible opportunity, there is only a limited amount of media bandwidth available for candidates and this opens some of that up.” 

Read the full story here.

AT THE U.N. — Danon urges U.N. to recognize Jewish refugees

Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon urged the international body to recognize the more than 800,000 “forgotten” Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly marking the anniversary of November 29th, 1947 — the date the United Nations voted for the partition plan. 

In an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh, Danon said he plans to submit a resolution to the General Assembly to raise awareness of the issue. “We hear too much about the Palestinian refugees at the U.N. Every week there’s a discussion about it,” Danon explained. “We want to get the recognition that Jewish refugees deserve as well. It is time to correct the narrative [of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] and bring justice to the families. The story of those communities and their heritage should be known and heard.”

Next step: Danon suggested that once the matter is adopted by the international community, it could be brought up in bilateral discussions with the Palestinians if peace talks resume. 

Today at Turtle Bay: Israel’s Mission to the United Nations will host U.N. officials and ambassadors from around the world — at an event co-hosted by Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) — to formally launch the initiative to recognize the expulsion of Jewish refugees. Featured speakers will include Danon, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan Carr and former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan. 

COALITION CONUNDRUM — Amid political uncertainty, Israel’s diplomatic efforts march on

With no end to Israel’s political gridlock in sight, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still pushing ahead on the diplomatic front, and is scheduled to meet today with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon. This will be the first meeting between the two since Pompeo announced a reversal in U.S. policy on West Bank settlements last month. 

Annexation watch: Israeli military officials have warned Netanyahu that annexing the Jordan Valley could imperil Israel’s 25-year-old peace treaty with Jordan, Israeli Channel 12 reported. In a meeting with Likud members on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he wants to seize the opportunity to gain U.S. support for annexation before the 2020 U.S. election campaign kicks into high gear. 

Possible setting: President Donald Trump will address the annual conference of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), largely funded by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, in Hollywood, Florida on Saturday. But a senior administration official toldMcClatchy “not to expect any significant policy announcements” out of Trump’s speech at the gathering.

Facing reality: Danon tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that the Trump administration’s reversal of the 1978 State Department’s legal view of Israeli settlements “doesn’t repair the damage” done by UNSC 2334 in December 2016, but it is “a great indication that the U.S. continues to inject a dose of reality into the conflict and reviews previously-held assumptions with a pragmatic and objective eye.” 

Ultimate deal watch: The Trump administration has reportedly reached out to several Arab countries to advance a historic “non-aggression pact” between Israel and the Gulf states, according to Israel’s Channel 13. Channel 12 News reported last month that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed interest in pursuing the initiative, being pushed by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, during his recent trip to Israel.

According to Channel 13’s Barak Ravid, Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates met last week with the ambassadors of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Morocco to get their approval for such a move. The diplomats were non-committal, but promised to “return soon with an answer.” Coates also met with an Israeli delegation about the matter this week, Ravid reported. 

Talk of the region: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has been personally invited by the Saudi monarch to attend this month’s summit of Gulf Arab nations in Riyadh. The gesture indicates a possible breakthrough to end a 30-month feud between the two countries.

FRIENDS ABROAD — France adopts IHRA antisemitism definition

On Tuesday, The French National Assembly adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

Countering hate: The resolution, proposed by lawmaker Sylvain Maillard of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist LREM party, passed 154-72 with 43 abstentions in the parliament’s lower house. “Anti-Zionist acts can at times hide antisemitic realities,” the resolution states. “Hate toward Israel due to its perception as a Jewish collective is akin to hatred toward the entire Jewish community.”

Mark Weitzman, director of government affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Authority (IHRA), tells JI: “The French Assembly vote to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is a major step in fighting antisemitism. Its adoption by vote despite a highly organized opposition campaign demonstrates both France’s commitment to fighting antisemitism and the importance of the IHRA Definition as an international standard.” 

Across the pond: Ireland’s Foreign Minister, visiting Israel yesterday, said that the government has blocked a controversial bill in the country’s parliament that would make it a crime to buy or sell products from West Bank settlements.

BOOK SHELF — A former Obama speechwriter pens a book about his Holocaust survivor grandparents

At first glance, Adam Frankel’s The Survivors: A Story of War, Inheritance, and Healing, appears to be a book about the author’s grandparents who survived the Holocaust. At second glance, it looks more like a book about the author’s time at the White House, where he was a speechwriter for former President Barack Obama. It’s not until halfway through that it becomes clear The Survivors is about a family revelation that serves as a surprise nobody sees coming: Frankel learns that the man who raised him is not his biological father.

Plot twist: It’s rare that memoirs — especially those that track a family’s experience through a heavily documented tragedy — contain a massive plot twist. But Frankel’s does just that, illustrating for readers how generational trauma can have ripple effects that alter the course of many lives. JI spoke recently to Frankel about the book, his relationship with noted JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen, and his time in the White House.

On telling his own story: “When I left the White House, my now-wife would sometimes tease me and say that whenever I was speaking to a group or anything like that, I was sort of mimicking Barack Obama’s mannerisms and way of speaking… It happened to all of us. It happens to any speechwriter who’s been with somebody for awhile… I was initially kind of mindful and wondering to myself, ‘Will I be able to find my own voice here?’ because I’ve spent so long trying to inhabit [and] capture someone else’s. First of all, the experiences that I’m writing about — about my family and the revelation — were so raw and personal that it was almost in a way easy to express my own voice.”

Frankel grew close to Sorenson while working as an assistant on the speechwriter’s memoirs: “He was like a grandfather to me. His family and I are still close. Look, Ted was an extraordinary person and a combination of a number of different things: He combined brilliant intellect — what you would have called, as he said about people he saw were good writers, ‘a gift of words’ — and a very high standard of integrity, his strong character. And you don’t often find that combination of things in the same person. He also would always hold political leaders to the highest standards. He didn’t believe in… lowering standards to suit the time when there might not have been a lot of political people who met those standards.”

Response to the book: “I’ve had many third-generation survivors reach out about how they see their own family story, and how they started dog-earing pages that resonated and the whole book is dog-eared. I think the whole story has some uniquely insane details about my family revelations and disclosures. But the broader story, and the Holocaust experience and the way that trauma reverberates through families, is one that I think many of us share and a lot of Holocaust survivors’ families share.”

WORTHY READS

🇺🇦 Real-Life TV:The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer looks back at the rise of Volodymyr Zelensky and his tumultuous year, transforming from a comedian playing the Ukrainian president on TV to his role in a real-life U.S. political scandal just months after being elected president. Foer also documents a recent visit to the now-contentious village of Anatevka. [TheAtlantic]

🗣️ Civil War: Julia Ioffe writes in GQ about President Trump’s “war on American diplomats,” including firing an envoy to the U.K. for simply mentioning a visit by former President Barack Obama in a speech to university students. The State Department, Ioffe reports, is losing foreign service officials “at an alarming clip.” [GQ]

🎯 In the Middle: Despite the ongoing political polarization, writes William Galston in the Wall Street Journal, it is still easy to argue that the United States “is a centrist country.” A new survey claims that a plurality of Americans say they have middle-of-the-road political views. [WSJ]

AROUND THE WEB

👨‍🎤 Hollywood Star: In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, actor Michael Zegen — who plays “Joel” in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — spoke about his childhood in New Jersey, spending time with his Holocaust survivor grandfather, his desire to be an actor and his current on-screen role. 

🎬 Close Alliance: Endemol Shine is teaming up with actress Gal Gadot to develop a U.S. version of Israeli crime drama “Queens,” which is returning for a second season in 2020. 

🗳️ 2020 Watch: Arthur Jones, an outspoken Holocaust denier and antisemite, has filed petitions to run again in the Republican primary for Illinois’s 3rd congressional district. In 2018, Jones ran uncontested for the GOP nomination, but this time around there’s another candidate in the race to challenge Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski. 

💰 Gearing Up: Amid speculation that he’s eyeing a run for Senate in Kansas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has quietly reached out to top Republican donors, including Sheldon Adelson.  

👋 Stepping Down: Maryland State Sen. Bobby Zirkin, who has been a member of the General Assembly since 1999, announced yesterday that he will be resigning from office.

🙇🏻 Finally Sorry: U.K. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn finally apologized on Tuesday to the British Jewish community during an interview on ITV’s “This Morning” program: “Obviously I’m very sorry for everything that has happened, but I’m dealing with it. And I’ve dealt with it.”

📺 Media Watch:Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple writes that antisemitism “has found modern harbor at Fox Business,” and that the network is not dealing with it.

✡️ Slippery Rope: The International Skating Union apologized on Tuesday for mistakenly nominating a Russian figure skater’s Auschwitz-themed yellow star outfit for a best costume award.

💪 Taking a Stand:“Game of Thrones” star Carice van Houten pulled out of a TV appearance in Belgium alongside the mayor of Aalst, due to his continued defense of the city’s antisemitic parade. 

⚰️ Grave Desecration: More than 100 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg, France, were vandalized with swastikas and antisemitic graffiti. 

🕎 Mystery Menorah: A 14-foot bronze menorah that went missing 22 years ago has popped up at an auction in Long Island — sparking a heated ownership battle.

😷 New Life: Israeli scientists at Tel Aviv University have discovered a new treatment they claim could help cure pancreatic cancer in two weeks.

🤝 Transition: Eileen Murray is planning to step down as co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates in March after a tumultuous tenure. David McCormick, who shared duties with Murray, will become the world’s largest hedge fund’s sole CEO. 

💻 Hands Off: Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down as leaders of parent company Alphabet, but said they expect to remain actively involved as board members and co-founders.

PIC OF THE DAY

A diverse crowd of political leaders attended the AIPAC Connects holiday celebration at AIPAC’s offices in New York on Tuesday. Speakers included AIPAC’s Northeast Political Director Jason Koppel, Outreach Director Aldrin Enis, Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan and AIPAC National Council member Richard St. Paul. 

Spotted: Michael Miller, Alyson Spindel, State Senators David Carlucci and Brian Benjamin; Richie Taylor, Herb Block, Sara Liss, Phil Jones, Amelia Adams, Sara Valenzuela, Julian Kline, Yana Lukeman, Phil Darivoff, Matt Engel, Batsheva Neuer, Ari Hirt, Karen Blatt, Linda and Ronald Daitz, Tiffany Raspberry, Stella Binkevich, Maria Castro, Calvin Souder, Larry Scott Blackman, James Hendon, Ryan Karben, Keren Viktor, Andy Marte, Shir Cohen, Dor Malul, Daniel Flesch, Emanuel Almog, Justin Hayet, Chanina Sperlin, and Yeruchim Silber. 

BIRTHDAYS

Born in Ramat Gan, now living in New Jersey, Grammy Award-winning violinist, Miri Ben-Ari turns 41…

Biographer and winner of the 1980 National Book Award, A. Scott Berg turns 70… Television director and producer, Dan Attias turns 68… Founder, senior rabbi and lead guide of the Adventure Rabbi program based in Boulder, Colorado, Jamie Korngold turns 54… Publisher and founder of FlashReport on California politics and principal of the Fleischman Consulting Group, Jon Fleischman turns 52… Actor best known for playing Stuart Bloom on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Kevin Sussman turns 49… Co-founder of Manhattan-based hedge fund Knighthead Capital Management, Ara D. Cohen turns 49… Screenwriter and producer, he co-created ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” Adam Horowitz turns 48…

Founder and former CEO of Relativity Media, Ryan Kavanaugh (family name was Konitz) turns 45… Comedian and former host of HQ Trivia, one of his viral videos was “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Jew,” Scott Rogowsky turns 35… Assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, he was previously a U.S. Treasury aide and a law clerk for Judge José A. Cabranes on the Second Circuit, Sam Adelsberg turns 33… Deputy director of the States Team at the Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign, Sarah Baron turns 29… First round pick in the 2016 National Hockey League draft, he is a center for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, Luke Kunin turns 22… Israeli fashion model, as a 14-year-old she became the lead model for Dior, in 2019 she enlisted in the IDF, Sofia Mechetner turns 19… Tony Sarif...

Danon urges U.N. to recognize Jewish refugees

Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon urged the international body to recognize the more than 800,000 “forgotten” Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly marking the anniversary of November 29th, 1947 — the date the United Nations voted for the partition plan. 

In an interview with Jewish Insider, Danon said he plans to submit a resolution to the General Assembly to raise awareness of the issue. “We hear too much about the Palestinian refugees at the U.N. Every week there’s a discussion about it,” Danon explained. “We want to get the recognition that Jewish refugees deserve as well. It is time to correct the narrative [of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] and bring justice to the families. The story of those communities and their heritage should be known and heard.”

Next step: Danon suggested that once the matter is adopted by the international community, it could be brought up in bilateral discussions with the Palestinians if peace talks resume. 

Kathy Manning announces another run for Congress

Good Tuesday morning!

On Capitol Hill, the House Rules Committee will meet to discuss bringing H.R. 326, a resolution by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) reaffirming support for the two-state solution, for a floor vote later this week. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Tom Reed (R-NY) are introducing bipartisan amendments that reaffirm the “ironclad” U.S. commitment to the MOU and to annual military assistance without new conditions. 

Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman will be one of the first witnesses called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee as it begins its impeachment inquiry tomorrow. 

Tonight in New York, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr and Col. Richard Kemp will be among the speakers at the Our Soldiers Speak annual briefing at the Park East Synagogue.

Earlier today in London, President Trump was asked if he thought Jeremy Corbyn needs to do more to denounce antisemitism. Trump replied, “I know nothing about the gentleman. Jeremy Corbyn, know nothing about him.”

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IN THE RACE — Community activist Kathy Manning is running for Congress again

Prominent Jewish activist Kathy Manning announced on Monday morning that she’s running for Congress in North Carolina’s redrawn 6th district.

Community ties: Manning served as the first female chair of the Jewish Federations of North America and is a current board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Second time’s a charm? Manning came up short in her first bid for Congress in 2018. She easily won the Democratic primary for North Carolina’s 13th district and outraised her general election opponent, incumbent Rep. Ted Budd, but lost 51%-46%.

What’s changed? North Carolina’s congressional map has faced significant pushback from lawmakers and voters critical of the layout of the state’s gerrymandered districts. A redrawn map was approved Monday by a panel of judges, who had frozen the filing period until a new map was presented. 

Next up: With the freeze lifted, Manning and other candidates in the state are once again able to file. If she wins the Democratic nomination in March, Manning will likely face off against incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Walker, whose current district will be divided among several others. Walker has not yet declared in which district he intends to run.

Read the full story here

FIRST LOOK — Details from new Melania Trump book

The following are a few brief details from Kate’s Bennett’s new tell-all book, Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography, out on shelves today: 

Hand hold: Bennett details what became a viral moment on Trump’s first trip abroad as president when the First Lady appeared to swat her husband’s hand away while walking on the tarmac at the welcome ceremony in Israel in May 2017. “It was supposed to have been a four-photo op, simple, something a monkey could do,” she describes. “But as was often the case, Trump forgot about his wife, and by the time he remembered she was there, it was too late.”

Behind the snub: According to Bennett, the White House protocol team went over the plan with the Trumps for what was supposed to be a short walk alongside the Israeli leader and his wife. “But dammit if he couldn’t get right just one rehearsed fifteen-step walk.”

What happened next is the following: “As the foursome made its way toward the cameras, already not in sync, the Netanyahus holding hands, the Trumps not, Melania fell behind, sort of spilling off to the side of the carpet. Wearing a bright white Michael Kors Collection skirt suit, picked especially to honor the white in the Israeli flag, as well as the symbol of peace, Melania dropped behind, the five-foot-wide swath of red carpet not quite big enough for Trump’s girth and his penchant for easy distraction. Thus Melania lagged, unable to fit next to the other three, awkwardly relegated to unintended submissive ‘walk behind the man’ positioning. And she didn’t like it.” Once Trump realized he wasn’t walking in sync he reached out to his wife’s hand, but “Melania isn’t having it and — with a swat, as fast as lightning — she bats his hand away and turns her head.”

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Gary Cohn on his family history and 2020 choice

Gary Cohn, the former White House National Economic Council director, discussed his family’s experience as immigrants from Poland and his tenure in the Trump administration during an interview with David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast

“My grandfather came over [to the U.S.] as a 13-year-old, escaping Europe as a typical Jewish immigrant trying to get out of Europe… The story goes something like this: 13-year-old, eight dollars in his pocket, put on a boat to escape to a better land, America. [He] came by himself, came through Ellis Island, had a relative in Cleveland, Ohio. So somehow [he] managed to find his relative in Cleveland, Ohio… He was literally a bottle washer. Back in the days when we had glass milk bottles. He was a candy maker, literally made fudge at night, and then ultimately got himself into the electrical union as an apprentice. That’s where he found his career as being an electrician, but completely self-made man with literally one relative in America.”

“Both of my grandfathers were Polish immigrants. So I think that clearly has an impact on the way I think of immigration in this country — just from a fundamental experience of having grown up with immigrant grandparents and grandparents that came to this country and helped build this country and created economic prosperity, not only for themselves… And to me, that’s the American dream.”

Axelrod: The things that are being said about immigrants today were being said about immigrants from Poland and Eastern Europe, Jews, that they were diluting the population, taking jobs.

Cohn: “Yeah, look, the narrative, unfortunately, hasn’t really changed — it just ebbs and flows during periods of time.”

On 2020 — Axelrod: Would you vote for Donald Trump again — or you may not have voted for him the first time, I don’t know — I mean, having seen what you have seen from the inside, would you feel comfortable supporting him?

Cohn:“I think you have to give the president some credit — look, I give him credit for what he’s done on tax reform. I have to give him credit because, sort of, a big chunk of it was my policy… and some of the economic growth issues are there. We are at 3.5% unemployment in the U.S. We have got 3% wage growth. So on the economic side of the equation, I am pretty pleased with what I see. That said, I would wait and see what the candidate looks like on the other side, what their policies are [and] what their platform is.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

DRIVING THE CONVO — Netanyahu and Gantz spar over annexation and U.S.-Israel defense pact

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz sparred over the push for a mutual defense pact with the United States and over getting U.S. support for annexation of the Jordan Valley. 

The details: In a speech on Monday, Netanyahu described the potential defense pact as “historic” and an issue “which now we have the opportunity to implement,” given his close relationship with Trump. Netanyahu said he discussed the two issues in a phone call with the president on Sunday and called on Gantz to join a unity government led by him for at least the next six months in order to accomplish those goals. 

Now is not the time: Gantz outright rejected the offer and argued that any such deal would strip Israel of its military autonomy. “I have a strong appreciation for our strategic relationship with the United States,” he said in a statement. “But there is serious concern that a prime minister preoccupied by his own affairs may permit the limitation of our security forces’ freedom of action, in clear contradiction to the position held by the defense establishment for decades.” On annexation, Gantz maintained that while he supported the move as good for the security of the Sate of Israel, he said it was unrelated to the seating arrangements around the government table.

Right to self-defense: Knesset Member Yair Golan (Democratic Union), who served as an IDF deputy chief of staff, explained in an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh why the defense establishment would object to such a pact: “We want to keep our independence. We are the ones who are responsible for our defense and we should put minimum limitations on our ability to act or react to external threats.” Golan added that he sees no justification for a formal defense pact given the strong U.S.-Israeli military coordination. “What we have in hand right now is really fabulous.” 

Why it matters: Blue and White’s reservations over annexation and the mutual defense agreement indicate for the first time “a distinct differentiation from the Trump-Netanyahu alliance,” Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator, suggested.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro tells JI that while a defense pact “is widely seen as unnecessary” given the strong U.S.-Israel alliance and objections from security professionals, “a serious proposal for such a pact should be studied seriously.” And that’s not possible, he stressed, “when it is just thrown on the table willy-nilly by a leader navigating a political crisis.”

2020 watch: Keeping the issue in the headlines is likely to, in the wake of annexation, reignite the debate in the Democratic Party over conditioning U.S. military aid to Israel. 

Defending the move, Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) — who along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pushed for the U.S. to enter into a mutual defense agreement with Israel — tells JI: “I wish a U.S.-Israel mutual defense pact wasn’t a political issue in Israel, but it’s not surprising given that almost any issue becomes contentious in a political season. JINSA proposed earlier this year a narrow U.S.-Israel mutual defense pact in order to add another layer of deterrence to Israel and mitigate the intensity of a war if one should break out. It would only be invoked in exceptional circumstances in which Israel’s viability and existence was threatened. It would not limit Israel’s freedom of action.”

GIVING TUESDAY — Why One Jewish Charity is Sitting Out Giving Tuesday

It’s that time of year when every nonprofit organization you’ve ever heard of sends an appeal to donate on Giving Tuesday. But one group is sitting it out, and its founder says its bottom line is being affected by the popularity of Facebook fundraising campaigns.

Alex Rapaport is the founder of Masbia — Hebrew for ‘satiate’ — a network of three soup kitchens and food pantries in Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Together they provide 2.5 million meals to hungry people with an annual budget of about $5 million, he told JI’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen.

Grassroots Funding: The medium-sized charity has about 35,000 people making a donation or volunteering each year, he said. The organization’s average donation is between $50 and $100, “which makes us the Bernie Sanders of charity, with all these small donations.” 

Thumbs Down: Rapaport is critical of Facebook’s fundraising campaigns, which the social media platform is aggressively pushing for Giving Tuesday. They are also utilized by well-intentioned people year-round when someone announces a campaign to raise money for their favorite charity, asking friends to donate in honor of their birthday. Masbia is the named beneficiary of a few of those each week, he said.

But the social media giant, even while it collects all sorts of data about its users and those donating to campaigns on the Facebook platform, does not provide donors’ names to the charity they donate to, says Rapaport, preventing the non-profit organization from growing a relationship with a new donor. Facebook not sharing the donors’ names with the charity “is a huge waste. It doesn’t bring the two together anymore.”

Read the feature here.

WORTHY READS

🤝 Locking ArmsPolitico’s Bryan Bender takes an inside look at the new think tank backed by George Soros and Charles Koch, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, as it opens its doors this week. Its goal: to advocate for an end to America’s “endless wars” in the Middle East. [Politico]

📺 BB-TVHaaretz reporters Josh Breiner and Nati Tucker detail how the international i24News television channel, owned by French-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi and led by CEO Frank Melloul, has turned into a pro-Netanyahu network in order to secure a Hebrew broadcast license. [Haaretz]

📜 Rewriting History: Thousands of far-right activists in Poland — including members of parliament — have united around a common goal: to declare Jewish property restitution claims not just illegal, but criminal. One Jewish community member tells the Los Angeles Times that  antisemitism in Poland has become “socially and politically acceptable.” [LATimes]

AROUND THE WEB

🇺🇸 2020 Watch: Montana Governor Steve Bullock on Monday became the latest Democratic presidential hopeful to drop out of the race, having failed to gain traction during his bid for the White House. JI’s Ben Jacobs looks back at his campaign.

🇮🇷 Iran Watch: Writing in The New York Times, David Sanger posits that U.S. sanctions on Iran have fueled the recent deadly protests in the country, but are unlikely to actually further American interests in the region.  

👨‍⚖️ Buzz on Balfour: Prosecutors in the case against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have lined up more than 300 witnesses, including Oracle chairman Larry Ellison; billionaires Sheldon Adelson, Len Blavatnik and James Packer; WJC President Ron Lauder and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

⏲️ Time’s Up: An Israeli law passed in 2008 granted tax breaks to new immigrants and returning Israelis for a period of 10 years. Many billionaires appeared to take advantage of the law — but with the period expiring, Haaretzreports, they’re now leaving the country.

🇩🇪 Uncomfortable Memorial: The International Auschwitz Committee criticized the Center for Political Beauty for placing an oversized urn said to contain remains of Holocaust victims outside the German Reichstag. The Center claimed that the placement was aimed at showing how the “legacy of the Holocaust is rendered void by political apathy.”

👨 Trump’s Poster BoyThe New York Times profiles Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer and trusted advisor, who grew up as an observant Jew on Long Island before converting to Christianity through the Messianic movement while attending college in Atlanta, Georgia. 

😢 Man of the Hour: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with TIME Magazine about his relationships with Trump and Putin and his unwanted role in the U.S. impeachment proceedings. 

⚖️ Shadow Attorney: After a New York Timesreport about a conman who claimed to have footage from Jeffrey Epstein’s house, lawyer Alan Dershowitz claimed in court that the fraudulent story is all part of a wider attempt to defame and extort him.  

🎥 Hollywood: Universal and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions have fast-tracked a film to be written by Oscar-winner Charles Randolph about the rise and dramatic fall of WeWork and its co-founder Adam Neumann.

📺 Media Watch: Former CNN reporter Laurie Segall is launching her own production company, Dot Dot Dot. LionTree’s Aryeh Bourkoff is among the backers.

✈️ Irish Beer in the Air: El Al announced plans to launch a direct flight between Tel Aviv and Dublin in May 2020, connecting the major tech hubs and nearly halving the time it currently takes to travel between the two cities

☀️ Warming Up: U.S.-based electric car maker Tesla has registered an Israeli subsidiary under the name Tesla Motors Israel, with a focus on both electric cars and solar energy solutions.

🕍 Hate in the Capital: Swastikas and the word “Jew” were discovered carved into a door at D.C.’s historic Sixth and I synagogue, and police have already made an arrest in the case. 

🛒 Clearing the Aisle: Amazon pulled Auschwitz-themed Christmas ornaments from its site after backlash, though users continued to flag other Holocaust-printed merchandise for sale.

🥪 Sad Shutdown: The iconic Loeser’s Kosher Deli in the Bronx was recently closed down by a New York City buildings inspector following the discovery of non-code compliant plumbing. “We had Thanksgiving dinner and everyone just sat and cried,” co-owner Linda Loeser Weiss told the New York Daily News.

🍣 Gefilte SushiGreat Big Story has spotlighted Brooklyn restaurant Shalom Japan, a Japanese-Jewish eatery run by a husband-and-wife team.

🕯️Remembering: Allen Gerson, husband of noted cookbook author Joan Nathan whose efforts to get justice for the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing began a new practice of holding governments accountable for terror attacks, passed away Sunday at 74.

PIC OF THE DAY

Mark and Seth Rogen, pictured here with Executive Director Ann Toback, were presented with the Generation to Generation Activism Award at the annual gala for the Workmen’s Circle — now known as the Worker’s Circle — in New York City last night.

BIRTHDAYS

A close associate of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, now among the most influential figures within the Chabad movement, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda (“Yudel”) Krinsky turns 86…

Howard Krizer turns 87… Malibu resident, she is the founder of a successful wedding gown business and a lifestyle coach, Sandy Stackler turns 82… 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winner for his book on Jews and Arabs in Israel, he was a long-serving foreign correspondent and Washington bureau chief for The New York TimesDavid K. Shipler turns 77… Member of the New York State Assembly since 1994, Jeffrey Dinowitz turns 65… Painter and art teacher residing in Maryland, Heidi Praff turns 63…

Miami-based criminal defense attorney, Yale Galanter turns 63… Editorial page editor at USA TodayWilliam (Bill) Sternberg turns 63… British publicist, music manager and former tabloid journalist, Rob Goldstone turns 59… Elected to the Knesset in both of the 2019 elections as a member of the Yisrael Beytenu party, Eli Avidar turns 55… Member of the California State Assembly from the 43rd district since 2016, Laura Friedman turns 53… Malinda Marcus turns 49…  SVP of communications at NBC News, Alison “Ali” Weisberg Zelenko turns 48…

Associate professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University, Joshua M. Karlip, Ph.D. turns 48… French journalist, author, television and radio personality, Marie Drucker turns 45… Comedian and actress, she discovered her Eritrean Jewish roots as an adult, Tiffany Haddish turns 40 (and is celebrating her bat mitzvah today with celebrities including Sarah Silverman and Billy Crystal)… Member of the New York City Council for the 33rd District since 2010, Stephen T. Levin turns 38… Managing partner of E:SIX Strategies, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Edelman turns 32… Professional tennis player who won the gold medal in women’s singles at the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel, Sharon Fichman turns 29…

Biden advisor Stu Eizenstat on why other 2020 Dems are wrong about conditioning aid to Israel

Good Monday morning!

In a phone call yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump discussed Iran and “other critical bilateral and regional issues.” 

Netanyahu is reportedly considering traveling to London tomorrow to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the leaders of Britain, France and Germany on the sidelines of the annual NATO summit

2020 watch: Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced Monday morning that he was ending his longshot bid for the Democratic nomination. The field is now down to 16 candidates, following former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak’s decision on Sunday to end his campaign

Tonight in New York, noted Jewish cookbook author Joan Nathan will be honored by the Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot’s “Essen with the Best” gala. 

Also in New York, Jew in the City hosts its annual “All Star Awards” event at Lincoln Center. Mayim Bialik will be presented with the group’s Keter Shem Tov award. 

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INTERVIEW — Stu Eizenstat on Trump’s settlement policy, 2020 primary

In an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh, Stuart “Stu” Eizenstat, who was one of former President Jimmy Carter’s closest aides, discussed the Trump administration’s reversal of the 1978 State Department’s legal view of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. 

Why now? “This announcement by [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo is somewhat gratuitous. It comes out of the blue, and it comes at a time when there is already an impasse in the negotiations,” said Eizenstat, who served as Carter’s chief domestic policy advisor. He explained that Democratic and Republican presidents haven’t used the term ‘illegal’ when referring to Israeli settlements, but have rather criticized the expansion of settlements as something that undermines the two-state solution. 

Profound change: Eizenstat suggested that if the announcement was meant to clear the way for the next Israeli government to annex part of the West Bank, “this would be a very profound change. That would be an absolutely fundamental break, more so than just whether the settlements are technically legal or illegal, and would put into question the whole issue of Israel as a majority Jewish state.”

On 2020 candidates expressing support for conditioning aid to Israel: “I strongly disagree with [conditioned aid], because as much as I think [annexation] would be disastrous for Israel’s future, that aid is not economic aid,” he said. “It’s military aid, and the military aid is not used for tanks to go into the West Bank. It’s used to protect Israel against external enemies and that’s essential for Israeli security. We need to separate out Israel’s security needs from the political dimension with the Palestinians.” Eizenstat added that the candidates are just “wrong” because “there is no economic aid,” pointing to the deal he spearheaded in 1998 as undersecretary of state, in which Israel phased out its economic assistance from the U.S.

Advising Joe: Eizenstat told JI that he’s been serving as former Vice President Joe Biden’s advisor on foreign policy and domestic matters, although he isn’t officially on the campaign team. “I continue to believe that Joe Biden is the best candidate and the one who, I think, has the greatest opportunity to defeat President Trump,” he added.

TOP TALKER — New survey on antisemitism in the United Kingdom

A new report produced by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, King’s College London, and YouGov found, for the first time, that far-left antisemitism outnumbers far-right antisemitism in Britain. Overall, 42% percent of Jews surveyed considered leaving the U.K., a record high. With fieldwork conducted in 2018 and 2019, the study included over 3,600 responses.

By the numbers: 84% of Jewish respondents consider Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn a threat to them. Four in five believe the Labour Party “harbors” antisemites. On Israel, among the very left-wing, 60% believe Israel treats the Palestinians “like Nazis,” while 42% believe support for Israel damages the U.K.

In context: King’s College Senior Lecturer Daniel Allington, who designed the study, explained to JI: “It’s certainly not unprecedented for the leader of a mainstream British party to hold antisemitic views, but to my knowledge it has never before happened that virulently antisemitic white supremacists such as David Duke and Nick Griffin have endorsed a left-wing political leader because of the perceived overlap between his views and their own. While there is a clear tradition of antisemitism on the British left, just as there is on the British right, there was a long period in which it was very much confined to the fringes. So it’s hard to overstate the scale of what has happened under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The Labour Party used to be the most pro-Zionist party in the U.K. Now just look at the state of it.”

David Toube, director of policy at Quilliam International, told JI: “Conspiratorial antisemitism has long had a strong attraction to those on the far left and the far right.” Toube explained, “The crucial difference is that the left believes itself to be anti-racist and virtuous. It has therefore developed few antibodies to antisemitism. On multiple occasions, Corbyn has associated with, praised or engaged with antisemites and antisemitic works. It is clear that he simply doesn’t recognize antisemitism when he sees it. That is likely because he has internalized many of these views, himself.”

“For this reason, whenever a left project fails, electorally or economically, some left activists explain that failure in terms of the pernicious influence of Jews.”

In an interview with Sky News on Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn was asked by host Sophy Ridge, “Why do 87% of British Jews say they think you are antisemitic?” Corbyn responded: “I simply say this: there is no place anyway for antisemitism in our society ever.” The Labour leader also insisted that his party has “apologized for and regret any degrees of antisemitism anyone has suffered.”

DEEP DIVE — A tale of sex, blackmail and the Israeli election

Over the weekend,The New York Timesdetailed how prominent lawyers David Boies and John Stanley Pottinger discussed presenting an allegedly compromising video of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to Sheldon Adelson.

The tapes that weren’t: The story begins with a man who called himself Patrick Kessler and claimed to have thousands of hours of footage of prominent men commiting crimes — recovered from secret cameras at the homes of Jeffrey Epstein. Kessler told Boies and Pottinger that the tapes featured Barak, Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew and others. 

Well-laid plans: The lawyers eventually realized that the tapes almost certainly didn’t exist. But before that realization, they made plans, which included attempting to affect the recent Israeli election. Pottinger and Boies told Kessler that they would fly to Las Vegas to convince Sheldon Adelson to publish the photos and purported video. “There is no question that Adelson has the capacity to air the truth about [Barak] if he wants to,” Pottinger told Kessler at the time.

Backtrack: Speaking to The New York Times after discovering that Kessler is more of a con-man than a whistleblower, Pottinger said he ”never intended to sell photos of Mr. Barak to Mr. Adelson. ‘I just pulled it out of my behind,’ he said, describing it as an act to impress Kessler.”

Flashback: The relationship between Barak and Epstein did come to the forefront of the news cycle surrounding the recent Israeli election. Photos of Barak outside Epstein’s Manhattan home were regularly circulated, though Barak declined to discuss his relationship with Epstein. The scandal is not considered to have played any significant role in the election outcome, which saw Barak’s Democratic Union finish with five seats (Barak chose to place himself 10th on the combined list).

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Mike Bloomberg’s Seder plate

Journalist Emily Jane Fox discussed the time she shared a Passover Seder with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now a presidential candidate, on the “Inside the Hive with Nick Bilton” podcast:

“I believe it was in 2012. It was at a fellow billionaire’s private Passover Seder… and around the table was Mike Bloomberg, who was mayor [of New York City] at the time, Barbara Walters, [Rep.] Steny Hoyer, Katie Couric, Bon Jovi, Mark Ronson… And then people like me, who were basically the help. Funnily enough, this Passover Seder was unlike any Passover Seder I’d been to, for 50 billion reasons, but I think it was a seven-course meal… And Mike Bloomberg called ahead of time to ask what was being served, and I don’t think it pleased him.” 

“So while everyone was served — we had a soup course, and salad and whatever else — while everyone else was being served the normal meal, Mike Bloomberg just got a different fruit course every time. So like one time he got tropical fruit, and one time he got melons, and one time he got berries… Mike Bloomberg got seven courses of fruit because he called and requested that. And I thought it was a very interesting thing.” 

Listen to the full podcast here.

WORTHY READS

🗳️ On the Trail: Tory Newmyer details in The Washington Post how Goldman Sachs is seeking to rebrand itself with the launch of statewide small-business programs and forums as wealth takes center stage in the Democratic presidential race. [WashPost]

🎣 Fish in the Pond:The Financial Timesfeatures the campaign of former Labour MP Luciana Berger, now a Liberal Democrat candidate, and how she’s giving voters in Finchley and Golders Green — deemed to be the largest Jewish district in the U.K. — the chance to cast a ballot for neither the Tory Party’s Brexit plan nor Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. [FinancialTimes

🇬🇹🇮🇱 Warm Ties: Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Carle explores the “unlikely friendship” between Guatemala and Israel, including a Passover Seder held on a soccer field and Israeli technicians managing the radar at the airport in Guatemala City. [WSJ]

AROUND THE WEB

🇮🇷 Iran Unrest: At least 180 people in Iran have been killed in a government crackdown on unarmed protesters around the country across several days of violence.

🤯 Coalition Conundrum: Despite a three-hour meeting yesterday, Likud and Blue and White appear no closer to forming a unity government and averting a third election ahead of the deadline next week.  

🖋️ Editor’s Note:The Washington Post editorial board asserts that Netanyahu “is risking the destruction of what might be a solid legacy” by insisting on holding on to power and dragging Israel to a third election. 

🏘️ Facts on the Ground: Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday ordered planning to begin for a Jewish enclave in the city’s long-shuttered Hebron market.  

🕴🕴️ Talk of the Region: A group representing 100 Palestinian businessmen, called the Palestinian Business Network, has severed ties with Ashraf Jabari, a Hebron-based businessman who attended the U.S.-led economic workshop in Bahrain earlier this year. The vote took place as Jabari was holding meetings with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. as part of a tour organized by the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce. 

🤭 Heard The Other Day: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) compared the conditions at the detention centers along the U.S. border to the situation of the people in Gaza “under oppression” during her keynote address at the annual “Palestine Convention” in Chicago over the weekend. “Do you know what I saw on the border? I saw Gaza,” she told conference-goers. 

🎤 Bad Joke: Comedian Louis C.K. sparked online outrage for joking that he’d “rather be in Auschwitz than New York City” during an appearance in Tel Aviv last week. The large Israeli audience reportedly “broke out in laughter and applause.” 

🏈 Sports Blink: Michigan versus Ohio State, one of the fiercest rivalries in sports, is also a grudge match between top donors Stephen Ross and Lex Wexner. But Ross and Wexner find themselves in precarious positions, as each has come under scrutiny for their respective relationships with President Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.   

📺 Hollywood: “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Alex Borstein sits down with the Wall Street Journal‘s Chris Kornelis to talk about ambition, what it takes to make it in Hollywood, and her own TV guilty pleasures.

🍷Happy Hour:The Wall Street Journal shines a spotlight on the new Hudson Yards private club and its dining options, recently opened in partnership with developer Stephen Ross, investor Marvin Shanken and restaurateur Kenneth Himmel.

🎄 Holiday Fools: Amazon came under fire for selling Christmas ornaments and bottle openers decorated with photos of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

🎥 Bad Reviews: Originally celebrated for including a Jewish holiday in its annual winter content, the Hallmark Channel is under fire for employing antisemitic tropes in its Hanukkah movies.

🚌 Shabbat on the Trolley: Tel Aviv’s launch of public transportation on Shabbat has led to “redrawing the lines in the country’s culture wars between religious and secular citizens,” according to The Associated Press

🎓 Campus Beat: The Students’ Society of McGill University in Montreal voted to call for a student to resign from the body for accepting a trip to Israel with Hillel. 

🕍 Talk of the Town:The Philadelphia Inquirerlooks into the decline of Judaism in rural and small-town America and how the Jewish communities find strength in these smaller numbers. 

🍗 Schnitzel’s Competition: Fast-food chain KFC is expected to open its first Israel branch in the city of Nazareth later this month — its fourth attempt at entering the country’s marketplace. The menu, to the dismay of observant fried chicken addicts, will not be kosher. 

GIF OF THE DAY

Comedian Tiffany Haddish performed an impromptu version of “Hava Nagila” on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” last night to promote her new Netflix comedy special “Black Mitzvah,” which will be released tomorrow. 

BIRTHDAYS

Member of the Knesset since 2009 for the Likud party, she’s served as Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs since 2015, Tzipi Hotovely turns 41…

UC Berkeley emeritus history professor and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Leon Litwack turns 90… Partner at Personal Healthcare LLC, Pincus Zagelbaum turns 73… Moroccan-born drummer with a career in contemporary Jewish music, Isaac Bitton turns 72… EVP and media director at Rubenstein Communications, Nancy Haberman turns 72… French historian, professor at University of Paris 13 and author of 30 books on the history of North Africa, Benjamin Stora turns 69… Partner in the Madison, Wisconsin law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, she is a class action and labor law attorney, Sarah Siskind turns 67…

Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Ohel Moshe, Rabbi Zvi Teichman turns 67… Education and automotive sales manager at the Los Angeles Business JournalLanna Solnit turns 63… Cleveland resident, Joseph Schlaiser turns 61… Emmy Award-winning actress, her father was a rabbi who died in 2011, Rena Sofer turns 51… Visiting assistant professor of political science at Bucknell University, Eleanor L. Schiff turns 43… Sephardi/Portuguese actress best known for playing Special Agent Kensi Blye in CBS’s “NCIS Los Angeles,” Daniela Ruah turns 36…

Stu Eizenstat on why 2020 Dems are wrong about conditioning aid to Israel

Stuart “Stu” Eizenstat, who was one of former President Jimmy Carter’s closest aides, discussed the Trump administration’s reversal of the 1978 State Department’s legal view of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in an interview with Jewish Insider.

Why now? “This announcement by [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo is somewhat gratuitous. It comes out of the blue, and it comes at a time when there is already an impasse in the negotiations,” said Eizenstat, who served as Carter’s chief domestic policy advisor. He explained that Democratic and Republican presidents haven’t used the term ‘illegal’ when referring to Israeli settlements, but have rather criticized the expansion of settlements as something that undermines the two-state solution. 

Profound change: Eizenstat suggested that if the announcement was meant to clear the way for the next Israeli government to annex part of the West Bank, “this would be a very profound change. That would be an absolutely fundamental break, more so than just whether the settlements are technically legal or illegal, and would put into question the whole issue of Israel as a majority Jewish state.”

On 2020 candidates expressing support for conditioning aid to Israel: “I strongly disagree with [conditioned aid], because as much as I think [annexation] would be disastrous for Israel’s future, that aid is not economic aid,” he said. “It’s military aid, and the military aid is not used for tanks to go into the West Bank. It’s used to protect Israel against external enemies and that’s essential for Israeli security. We need to separate out Israel’s security needs from the political dimension with the Palestinians.” Eizenstat added that the candidates are just “wrong” because “there is no economic aid,” pointing to the deal he spearheaded in 1998 as undersecretary of state, in which Israel phased out its economic assistance from the U.S.

Advising Joe: Eizenstat told JI that he’s been serving as former Vice President Joe Biden’s advisor on foreign policy and domestic matters, although he isn’t officially on the campaign team. “I continue to believe that Joe Biden is the best candidate and the one who, I think, has the greatest opportunity to defeat President Trump,” he added.

Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃 | The social entrepreneur behind Miracle Messages | Pogrebin joins Bloomberg 2020

Good Wednesday morning!

Ed note: Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving! We’ll be back on Monday. In the meantime, good advice from New York Times columnist David Leonhardt about replicating the Tech Shabbat method on Thursday. 

On Capitol Hill, the spotlight in the impeachment inquiry is shifting from Adam Schiff to Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who is set to lead the next phase of public hearings next week. Behind the scenes, litigator Barry Berke and former Ambassador Norm Eisen will be at the center of the case. 

In London, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will meet with British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis — now at the center of the U.K election campaign over his warning about Jeremy Corbyn — during a working visit to England. 

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DRAWING PARALLELS —Trump pollster: Democrats behind efforts to oust Netanyahu

Republican pollster John McLaughlin suggested on Sunday that Democrats are behind the effort to topple Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointing to the work of Joel Benenson, a prominent Democratic pollster who is on the payroll of Netanyahu’s main political rival, Benny Gantz. McLaughlin has served as Netanyahu’s campaign pollster since 2005 and also works for President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign. 

In an interview with John Catsimatidis on the “Cats Roundtable” Sunday morning radio program, McLaughlin compared the Likud leader’s legal and political battles to the ongoing effort in the House of Representatives to impeach President Donald Trump: 

John Catsimatidis: I am now putting two and two together. The people [who are] after Netanyahu, are they the same people or same gang that is after President Trump in Washington?

John McLaughlin: “I would venture that because our main opponent in Israel right now, a fellow named Benny Gantz who runs the Blue and White Party — his campaign was just run by Joel Benenson, and Joel Benenson is one of the smartest left-of-center strategists in the country because he was Obama’s pollster for both his elections and he worked for Hillary Clinton. And just like I am over there advising Prime Minister Netanyahu, he’s advising our main opponent. So, you know, in 2015, [the Obama administration] didn’t want Bibi to wreck things with their deal they were going to have with Iran, so they were trying to beat him, and now they want Trump and Bibi out of the way.”

Listen to the full interview here

The one caveat: New York Times columnist Tom Friedman pointed to “one big difference” between Netanyahu and Trump — the reaction from members of their respective parties — during a panel on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on Sunday morning: 

“There’s one big difference between Israel and America now, Fareed. And that’s that you see now in the Likud demands for a primary… to run against Netanyahu. You see Likud ministers not defending [Netanyahu]. It turns out Likud ministers, at least a few of them, seem to have a little more spine, self-respect, and integrity than the entire Republican caucus, you know, in the House and the Senate where, other than one exception, basically are not ready to challenge Trump. So that may be a diversion in Israel, but that itself might be a warning sign to Trump as well.” 

Pro-Bibi rally: A few thousand Netanyahu supporters showed up to a rally in Tel Aviv last night, with protesters slamming the legal charges against the prime minister as a “coup” and painting state prosecutors as traitors. In a sign of trouble for Netanyahu, most Likud ministers skipped the event. As the rally was being held, two rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, and the IDF later struck Hamas targets in response.  

INTERVIEW — Washington Institute’s Rob Satloff on honoring King Abdullah II 

In an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh on Tuesday, Rob Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute, offered his analysis on Jordanian King Abdullah’s remarks last week at the think tank’s gala, where he said that the Jordanian-Israeli relationship is at “an all-time low.”

All about the tone: “In my view, the most interesting part of that exchange was that the king underscored this was a bilateral issue,” Satloff pointed out. “He didn’t make the more conventional and expected argument that the relationship suffers because of the general downturn in the peace process and how dormant progress is on the Palestinian issue. No, he made a very specific argument that Israel, in his view, is really indifferent to Jordanian opinion, and Jordanian interests have brought about this drastic downturn in the bilateral relationship. I think that underscores the seriousness of this, that it isn’t just an atmospheric issue… It won’t just go away with a breath of fresh air in terms of the Palestinian issue. It won’t just disappear without a concerted and direct Israeli-Jordanian effort to address their bilateral agenda.” 

Warning sign: Satloff also suggested that Abdullah’s mention of Israel’s political crisis shows that there is concern that the relationship is “being exacerbated by this lengthy distraction of Israeli domestic politics.” 

Pointed criticism: Arnold and Frimet Roth, the parents of U.S.-born Malki Roth — who was killed in the 2001 terror attack at the Sbarro’s pizzeria in Jerusalem — penned an op-ed criticizing The Washington Institute’s decision to honor the Hashemite ruler. The Roths argued that the Jordanian king shouldn’t be feted while he refuses to extradite Ahlam Tamimi — a Jordanian national convicted for her role in the Sbarro bombing and freed in the Gilad Shalit deal — to face U.S. federal charges. 

Satloff’s response: “I am very proud of hosting the King of Jordan, who has steadfastly remained committed to the Jordan-Israel peace treaty throughout the 20 years on the throne and has been an important partner with the U.S. on a broad range of security and strategic matters throughout the Middle East. I have great sympathy for the issue that [the Roths] raised and believe it deserves high-level engagement by the appropriate American authorities with the appropriate Jordanian authorities. It is one important item on a lengthy agenda of bilateral relations.” 

U.K. ELECTION WATCH — Corbyn refuses to apologize to Jewish community

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn turned down four separate opportunities to offer an apology to the Jewish community for his party’s failure to address antisemitism during a BBC interview last night.

Deflecting: BBC’s Andrew Neil grilled Corbyn on the issue, referencing this week’s bombshell op-ed from Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warning against electing Corbyn as prime minister. “I’m looking forward to having a discussion with him because I want to hear why he would say such a thing,” Corbyn said, before deflecting by bringing up far-right antisemitism.

Not sorry: Neil told Corbyn that “80% of Jews think that you’re antisemitic. That’s quite a lot of British Jews. I mean wouldn’t you like to take this opportunity tonight to apologize to the British Jewish community for what’s happened?” Corbyn once again deflected, and Neil asked three more times before moving on without any apology. 

Bad Timing: The interview occurred the same day as Labour released its manifesto on race relations. In a statement, Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, criticized the manifesto for making “a sinister call for reforming the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the very body that is investigating the Labour Party over antisemitic racism following a complaint by Campaign Against Antisemitism.”

How it played: Most of the U.K.’s major papers splashed Corbyn’s refusal to apologize to the Jewish community across their front pages this morning, while Tom Peck wrote in The Independent that “Jeremy Corbyn’s interview with Andrew Neil was so bad it redefined the genre.” In a tweet, Board of Deputies of British Jews called Corbyn’s interview “Shameful.”

Top talker: In a since-deleted post, The Washington Post tweeted that “The Labour Party has been hit by claims of anti-Seminism [sic] because of strong statements on Palestinian rights.” The tweet was immediately slammed for wildly misrepresenting the situation, and for contradicting the Washington Post article linked to in the tweet. The ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt called the original tweet “categorically false,” and called on the newspaper to “Do better.” The Post later admitted that the original tweet “was not accurate and incorrectly summarized Post reporting.”

Bonus: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering halting intelligence sharing with the U.K. should Corbyn become prime minister. 

PROFILE — Jessica Donig uses the power of compassion to reunite families

Jessica Donig works every day to bring families back together. The 34-year-old director of the San Francisco-based Miracle Messages spoke with Matt Villano for Jewish Insider about her work reconnecting homeless individuals with their estranged loved ones through video messages and online detective work. 

Life’s work: Donig first joined the organization — founded by Kevin Adler in 2014 — as a volunteer in early 2017. She had just moved to San Francisco’s Mission District from Oakland, and noticed a row of tents behind her building. Shortly after, she spotted a post online about Miracle Messages and thought it sounded interesting, seeing it as a way to get involved. Since its founding, the organization has recorded more than 1,000 messages from homeless individuals, resulting in more than 250 reconnections and about 40 permanent housing situations.

Spiritual drive: “In many ways Miracle Messages is perpetuating a modern-day form of tzedakah, an obligation to give to those in need,” Donig said. “Being part of a defined people is about being connected to each other… I want the Jewish community to take responsibility for how people treat each other on the streets. It’s so important to be good to each other and to see each other.”

Living in hope: Donig estimates that 10-15% of family members decline the opportunity to reconnect with Miracle Messages clients and request privacy. Still, she said, those statistics offer a pretty reliable outlook of hope. “When you get ‘No’ 10% of the time and 90% of the time you get people saying, ‘This is a gift from God,’ it buoys your spirits,” she said. “If I was in isolation doing this, I would have quit a long time ago because it feels horrible when you strike out. Thankfully, I work with people who remind me that we’re working with the hardest-to-reach population out there, and any successes are successes worth celebrating.”

Read the full story here.

WORTHY READS

☝️ The Adult Behind the Door: In Politico Magazine, Ryan Lizza outlines former President Barack Obama’s role in the 2020 primary, serving as an unsolicited advisor to most of the candidates and waiting in the wings to unite the party behind the presumptive nominee. The story also details how Obama was blocked from joining the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland over his Israel policies. [PoliticoMag]

📳 Man of the Decade: BuzzFeed’s Matt Berman explains why former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has personified the dramatic change in U.S. history over the past decade — from his scandalous tweet through his failed mayoral campaign — which was followed by the rise of far-right media and the election of Donald Trump. [BuzzFeed]

🥯 War on Bagels: The New York Times features two rival bagel companies in Montreal, Fairmount Bagel and St-Viateur Bagel, who are locking arms in a united front against environmentalists pursuing an effort to abolish the pollutant-producing ovens where the bagels are made. [NYTimes]

AROUND THE WEB 

📺 Spotlight: Danna Stern, managing director of Israel’s Yes Studios, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about turning “hyper-local” Israeli shows like “Fauda” and “On the Spectrum” into international hits. 

😂 Yiddish Humor: In an interview with the Jewish Week, comedian Seth Rogen discussed his role in “American Pickle,” a new movie in which he plays Herschel Greenbaum, a Yiddish-speaking immigrant at the turn of the 20th century who falls into a pickle barrel.

👩 2020 Hire: Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is bringing on writer Abigail Pogrebin to serve as the campaign’s director of Jewish outreach. 

👨‍💼 Latest Trump Whisperer: Mark Penn, one of President Bill Clinton’s top strategists, is advising Trump amid his impeachment battle, The Washington Post reported on Monday. 

👋 Troublesome Ties: Activist firm Blackwells Capital is seeking to remove Tom Barrack from his role as CEO of Colony Capital due to his close ties to Trump. 

🏫 Talk of the Town: There’s tension between the Orthodox and Conservative Jewish communities in Flatbush over a plan to rent a former Jewish day school building to a charter school devoted to educating at-risk kids. 

🌍 Never Again Is Now: A new survey from the Anti-Defamation League has found that antisemitic attitudes in central and eastern Europe have risen significantly since 2015, The Washington Post reports. 

🥣 Double Life: NBC News has discovered that a prominent neo-Nazi and white supremacist is living in government housing and eating at a city-run soup kitchen in Denver.

GIF OF THE DAY

President Trump issued a “full and complete pardon” to a turkey named Butter in an annual tradition in the White House Rose Garden yesterday.

BIRTHDAYS

Congressman (D-NY-11) from Staten Island since January 2019, he served in the U.S. Army (2008-2013) and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, Max Rose turns 33 on Thursday…

WEDNESDAY: Attorney and investor, Brian J. Strum turns 80… Founding partner of TPG Capital, David Bonderman turns 77… Principal at ESL Catalyst, Lawrence Greenberg turns 71… Director-at-large of the JCC Association of North America, Joyce Goldstein turns 70… Former collegiate (Harvard) and professional (Maccabi Tel Aviv) basketball player, he then practiced corporate law at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in NYC, Louis Grant Silver turns 66… Founder and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, Barry Stuart Sternlicht turns 59… CEO of website Time4Coffee, she was previously VP of Global Engagement at Mercy Corps (2011-2017) and a television journalist like her father, Ted Koppel, Andrea Koppel turns 56… Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey (2004-2010 and re-elected in 2018), he is an immigration attorney for several celebrities, Michael Jay Wildes turns 55…

1996 graduate of the University of Maryland Dental School, he worked for the U.S. Navy for three years and now practices in Stevenson, Maryland, Joshua P. Weintraub, DDS turns 50… Co-host of seasons two through nine of Dancing with the Stars and then a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, Samantha Harris (born Samantha Harris Shapiro) turns 46… Former NFL player who appeared in 147 games over ten seasons for the 49ers, Lions and Cowboys (2002-2011), Kyle Kosier turns 41… Israeli model, she represented Israel in the 2005 Miss Universe pageant, Elena Ralph turns 36… Executive director for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, he is a contributor at Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post, Joel Braunold… DJ Levy

THURSDAY: Former Homeland Security Secretary (2005-2009), he is senior of counsel at Covington & Burling, Michael Chertoff turns 66… Former CFO of Citigroup and then president of the Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America, now CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, Sallie Krawcheck turns 55… 

FRIDAY: Consul General of Israel in New York since August 2016, Dani Dayan turns 64… Former Mayor of Chicago, member of Congress and White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel turns 60…

SATURDAY: Douglas Jemal turns 77… Former U.S. Treasury Secretary (1999-2001) and then President of Harvard University (2001-2006), Larry Summers turns 65…  CEO designate of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, William Daroff turns 51…

SUNDAY: CEO at Oracle Corporation, Safra A. Catz turns 58… Foreign editor of Vox and the author of a book on military suicides, Yochi J. Dreazen turns 43…

Trump pollster: Democrats behind efforts to oust Netanyahu

Republican pollster John McLaughlin suggested on Sunday that Democrats are behind the effort to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointing to the work of Joel Benenson, a prominent Democratic pollster who is on the payroll of Netanyahu’s main political rival, Benny Gantz. 

McLaughlin has been Netanyahu’s campaign pollster since 2005 and also serves as a pollster for President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign. 

In an interview with John Catsimatidis on the “Cats Roundtable” Sunday morning radio program, McLaughlin compared the Likud leader’s legal and political battles to the ongoing effort in the House of Representatives to bring impeachment charges against the president: 

John Catsimatidis: I am now putting two and two together. The people [who are] after Netanyahu, are they the same people or [the] same gang that is after President Trump in Washington?

John McLaughlin: “I would venture that because our main opponent in Israel right now, a fellow named Benny Gantz who runs the Blue and White Party — his campaign was just run by Joel Benenson, and Joel Benenson is one of the smartest left-of-center strategists in the country because he was Obama’s pollster for both his elections and he worked for Hillary Clinton. And just like I am over there advising Prime Minister Netanyahu, he’s advising our main opponent. So, you know, in 2015, [the Obama administration] didn’t want Bibi to wreck things with their deal they were going to have with Iran so they were trying to beat him, and now they want Trump and Bibi out of the way.”

“There are a lot of things here that are in common between Prime Minister Netanyahu, him keeping Israel safe and secure, what’s going on in Europe, and certainly what is going on in the U.S. — where the same people, basically, would like to see Donald Trump removed from office because they can’t beat him in the election.” 

Meet the shul president running for Nita Lowey’s seat | Interview with the NBA’s Enes Kanter | Ramah reunion

Good Tuesday morning!

Tonight, President Donald Trump is holding a campaign rally in Sunrise, Florida.

In Israel, a rally is slated for this evening in Tel Aviv in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a day after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ruled that the prime minister does not have to step down following his indictment last week. Netanyahu invested efforts to bolster the crowd, but his Likud party is concerned only a small number of people will come out. 

The IDF is on high alert today after Palestinians declared a “day of rage” in the West Bank following the U.S. decision last week to reverse its longstanding policy on settlements.

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MEET THE CANDIDATE — From Synagogue to Congress: Allison Fine is running to replace Nita Lowey

Allison Fine, one of seven Democrats running to succeed longtime Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), discussed her candidacy in an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh.

Bio: Fine is the past president of Temple Beth Abraham in Tarrytown, N.Y., a former chairwoman of the national board of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, and a member of the advisory board of the Westchester branch of UJA-Federation of New York.

Female power: “This is not a business-as-usual moment in our country’s history,” Fine explained. “In every government that has more women at the table, they generally have fewer extreme partisan splits and they get more stuff done for people and for their families. I bring a really deep knowledge of technology and community service, and I bring both a passion for and a deep knowledge of women’s equality. This is a woman’s seat and I think it should stay a woman’s seat.” Fine said she didn’t plan to run for Congress, but — citing women’s equality and economics as key issues in the race — told Jewish Insider, “This moment and time is too important to be sitting on the sidelines.”

Big shoes to fill: Fine said that she “can’t replace” Lowey. “But I do want to build on her legacy, in particular on her strong support for Israel, on her deep desire to want to reduce hate in all of its forms, and to support women’s equality and women’s health.” 

From shul to the halls of Congress: Fine pointed to her past role as president of her synagogue as something that may have prepared her to walk the halls of Congress and deal with partisan politics. “I think anybody who can do a good job as president of a synagogue is well-qualified to go to Congress,” she said. “People are really passionate about their congregations and they’re very vocal. It’s not an easy job at all.” 

Of note: Fine wouldn’t be the first synagogue president to enter Congress.

Breaking barriers: Fine suggested that her ability to adapt to meet the demands of a changing environment has prepared her for Washington, noting that during her tenure as synagogue president, “We were the first synagogue to move from dues to a donation model — the idea of remaking communities without the barriers that came last century, in terms of what it meant to be a member in our community. We tried very hard to take down the walls of our synagogue to make sure everyone felt that they were a full member of the community regardless of their financial means, and made it a much more inviting place.”

Read the full interview here.

ON THE TRAIL — Bloomberg launches his campaign in a diner

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched his presidential campaign with a cup of decaf coffee at the D’Egg Diner in Norfolk, Virginia on Monday, followed by a brief press conference.

Setting records: Bloomberg set a record for the largest single-week television buy in American political history this week by spending $34 million of his own fortune on commercials across the country. The former mayor could keep up that pace for the next calendar year without making a significant dent in his more than $50 billion fortune. In his first week alone, Bloomberg will have outspent most of his rivals for the Democratic nomination who have been running all year.

“Arrogance of billionaires”: At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Bloomberg’s presidential campaign displayed the “arrogance of billionaires,” while in Iowa Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) flatly accused Bloomberg of trying to “buy the nomination.” “Michael Bloomberg is making a bet about democracy in 2020,” she said. “He doesn’t need people, he only needs bags and bags of money. I think Michael Bloomberg is wrong and that’s what we need to prove in this election.”

Can he win? Democratic strategists are skeptical about Bloomberg’s chances, with one describing him to JI’s Ben Jacobs as “both underrated and overrated.”

What they are saying: The former New York City mayor is planning on skipping the first four primary states (he is not even on the ballot in New Hampshire) and polling shows weak favorability with Democratic primary voters. In addition, Bloomberg has alienated key constituencies in the party with his support for stop-and-frisk policing in New York and his vocal support for George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign. However, Bloomberg has long been one of the biggest progressive donors in the country and a vocal champion on issues like climate change and gun control. That track record helps him build a coalition and provide a strong raison d’etre for running. His deep pockets help with everything else.

SPORTS BLINK — The Goldstein Standard: Interview with NBA player, activist Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter, the Boston Celtics’ Turkish center who is a critic of the Erdogan regime, spoke with Alex Goldstein for Jewish Insider to discuss his political activism, his busy schedule and his love of hummus.

Erdogan enmity: “When you consider what’s going on in Turkey, the sheer immensity of human rights violations, I just don’t know how I couldn’t be an advocate. Especially when you have such a platform that I have,” Kanter said. “As I started speaking out, the Turkish government came down on me harder. They increase the pressure every day, trying to cow me into submission. It only increases my resolve to speak even louder.”

About that White House visit: “Trump should know that pressing Erdogan to stop cracking down on the opposition is in the best interest of the U.S. and makes Turkey a more reliable ally. And this is exactly what I would expect Trump to say to his Turkish counterpart.”

On the Hill: “I met with dozens of U.S. lawmakers this month alone and all of them extended their support. They have been very generous in [hearing] me out… and we exchanged views on how to make a difference to improve the rights situation in Turkey.”

Nosh time: “My favorite restaurant in NYC is a kosher one. They have the best hummus. I always tried to keep it kosher. It’s very similar to Halal food. So I always look for the [kosher] symbols.”

Read the full interview here.

U.K ELECTION WATCH — Chief Rabbi Mirvis warns of a Corbyn victory

On Tuesday, British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis took the unprecedented step of warning U.K. voters against electing a government led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “The very soul of our nation is at stake,” he declared in an op-ed in The Times

Anxious nation: Mirvis addressed what he described as “anxiety” among British Jews about their safety if Labour forms the next government following the December 12 elections: 

“Convention dictates that the Chief Rabbi stays well away from party politics — and rightly so. However, challenging racism is not a matter of politics, it goes well beyond that… A new poison — sanctioned from the top — has taken root in the Labour Party. Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe that this is the same party that they called their political home for more than a century. It can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism. How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office? Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not.” 

Voter challenge: While the chief rabbi refrained from calling to vote for the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he posed the following challenge to voters when they enter the ballot booth: 

“I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”

Mirvis’s predecessor, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks called the Labour leader “an antisemite” in a wide-ranging interview back in August.

Warning to U.S. Democrats: Mark Mellman, president of the Democratic Majority for Israel, tells JI’s Ben Jacobs, “Britain’s Labour party is losing to the most incompetent British government in history importantly because of Labour’s anti-Zionist antisemitism. Democrats are not where Labour is and we should make sure we never get there.”

Bonus: Johnson’s Conservative Party has included in its election policy manifesto a pledge to ban local councils from boycotting products from foreign countries, including Israel. In contrast, Labour’s manifesto called for a ban on weapon sales to Israel and promised, for the first time, to recognize Palestinian statehood.

WORTHY READS

📳 Butt Dialing:New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi has been texting — with former New York City mayor and current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. In an amusing recounting, Nuzzi details receiving emojis, 3 a.m. links, being added to group chats and other bizarre texting behavior from the 75-year-old lawyer. [NYMag]

🛢️ Deep Dive: The Iranian strike on a Saudi processing facility in September was a calculated move by Tehran hardliners to punish the United States but stop “short of direct confrontation that could trigger a devastating U.S. response,” Reuters details. [Reuters]

🎧 Worthy Listen: In the latest episode of Foreign Policy’s podcast I Spy, Mossad agent Mishka Ben-David details his mission in 1997 to assassinate Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal. Ben-David recounts how newly-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tasks Mossad with killing Mashal in Amman, Jordan. [ISpy]

AROUND THE WEB

👑 Oh My King: Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested in an interview with Fox News that President Donald Trump was chosen by God to lead the country, adding that Trump is following in the steps of Kings David and Solomon — who weren’t perfect human beings.

🧱 Moving on from Middle East? Multiple sources told The Washington Post that Trump has appointed Jared Kushner to oversee the construction of his border wall.

⚖️ Judge Jack: At 98, Judge Jack Weinstein is the longest-serving judge on the Federal bench. Formerly the Chief Judge in the Eastern District of New York, Weinstein has maintained a close friendship with Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, founder of Aleph Institute, a Jewish organization caring for the families of the incarcerated. In an interview, Weinstein and Lipskar recount their introduction by Rabbi Menachem Schneerson. 

💣 On the Ground: U.S. troops and Kurdish fighters resumed large-scale counterterrorism missions against ISIS in northern Syria on Monday.  

🛫 Talk of the Region: After a protracted court battle, Israel yesterday deported Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir, who boarded a flight to Jordan — where he vowed to continue his work.  

💰 Recalculating: The Council on Foreign Relations said Monday that it will spend the $350,000 it received from Jeffrey Epstein on efforts to fight human trafficking.  

✉️ Heartfelt Plea: Yaffa Issachar, the mother of U.S.-born Israeli army veteran Naama Issachar, sent a personal letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin through the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem asking him to pardon her daughter from a 7.5-year sentence in a Russian jail. 

😲 Act of Hate: A monument named after Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem in Kyiv, Ukraine was discovered Monday defaced by a big red swastika. In a tweet, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denounced the vandalism as “disgusting, appalling and in need of prompt investigation.”

📱 Milestone:The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum has reached 1 million followers on social media.

📺 Media Watch: Fox Sports in the Netherlands suspended analyst Marco van Basten for a week after he used the phrase “Sieg Heil” on air.

🖋️ Power of the Pen:New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation that would establish a hate crimes recognition training program for law enforcement officers.

🇮🇱 Transition: Ishmael Khaldi, Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat, assumed the role of acting consul general in Miami yesterday.

🏦 Holding Steady: In a surprise move, the Bank of Israel kept its benchmark interest rate at 0.25% yesterday, and warned that political uncertainty may have a negative economic effect.

💊 Drug Deals: Teva signed research deals with two Israeli academic institutions to focus on early-stage cancer treatments, as the company continues talks with the U.S. government to resolve an alleged price-fixing probe.

🥙 Mideast in Midtown:Philadelphia Magazinereviews Michael Solomonov’s recently opened diner, Merkaz, and its celebration of Israeli street food.

🥪 Last Bite: Mensch Jewish Delicatessen is hosting a pop-up eatery in Vancouver this weekend. 

PIC OF THE DAY

Ramah Reunion: CNN’s Jake Tapper and actor Ben Platt snap a selfie

SCENE YESTERDAY:

Over 1000 people attended the annual AIPAC real estate luncheon in Manhattan on Monday. The program featured a bipartisan panel with Reps. Max Rose (D-NY) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), moderated by AIPAC’s northeast political director Jason Koppel. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) delivered closing remarks. [Pic]

Other elected officials in attendance: Reps Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Grace Meng (D-NY); State Senator Anna Kaplan, Assemblymembers Michael Blake, Nicole Malliotakis, Daniel Rosenthal, Simcha Eichenstein and David Weprin; Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch, Rory Lancman and Kalman Yeger; Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan, and Andrew Gross.

BIRTHDAYS

Senior editor at Bloomberg News following 17 years at The New York TimesEthan Samuel Bronner turns 65…

Holocaust refugee from Budapest, he founded a generic drug company in 1965 that he sold to Teva Pharmaceuticals 35 years later, Leslie Dan turns 90… San Francisco-based venture capitalist, he is a founding partner of CMEA Capital, Formation 8 and Baruch Future Ventures, Thomas R. Baruch turns 81… Diplomat and author, he worked under Presidents Bush (41), Clinton and Obama on Middle East and Persian Gulf matters, in 2002 he co-founded a synagogue in Rockville, MD, Dennis B. Ross turns 71… Former national executive director of the Zionist Organization of America, Gary P. Ratner turns 71… Former member of the Illinois House of Representatives (1987-2019), now a lobbyist, Louis I. Lang turns 70…

Editor, journalist and publisher of Hebrew media for U.S.-based Israeli readers, Meir Doron turns 65… Israeli reporter and writer, Ari Shavit turns 62… First Jewish governor of Delaware (2009-2017), following 10 years as the treasurer of Delaware, Jack Alan Markell turns 59… CEO and founder of Dansdeals[dot]com, a credit card and travel blog, he is a fifth-generation Clevelander, Daniel Eleff turns 35… Editor-in-Chief of W MagazineSara Anne Moonves turns 35… Lead software architect at Advisor Perspectives, Benjamin Huebscher turns 34… Ohio director for Agudath Israel, Rabbi Eric “Yitz” Frank turns 33… Associate at Covington & Burling’s litigation department focusing on white collar and national security-related issues, Jordan Chandler Hirsch turns 32…

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