July 29, 2020
Good Wednesday morning!
Ed note: In commemoration of Tisha B’av, the fast day that begins this evening, the next Daily Kickoff will be on Friday.
Republican Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL)called on fellow Republican Senator David Perdue (R-GA) to fire those responsible for creating an attack ad against his Jewish challenger, Jon Ossoff, featuring an enlarged nose.
Jewish Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) weighed in on the controversy tweeting that, “As someone with a nose requiring no amplification, I’m disgusted by the anti-Semitism and tropes being propagated by some on the left and some on the right.”
Tech titans Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai are slated to appear this afternoon at a congressional hearing at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust.
Outgoing Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan reflects on his experience in New York
Ambassador Dani Dayan didn’t envision ending his four-year term as Israel’s consul general in New York behind a computer with a series of Zoom calls. Since entering the position in the summer of 2016, Dayan was regularly spotted at Jewish events across the city and neighboring states — but all that changed when the coronavirus hit. In a Zoom call with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh ahead of his departure on Saturday, Dayan described his final months in office and the virtual goodbye parties as “bittersweet.”
Cheerless departure: “I feel like I was riding a train at 300 miles per hour and suddenly someone pulled the brakes,” he said of the last few months of his posting. “It prevented me from bidding farewell to the city and to the area.” As someone who made an effort to immediately visit the scenes of antisemitic attacks and console the community in times of grief, Dayan said it was “extremely frustrating” not to be able to physically show solidarity with the Jewish community impacted by coronavirus. “It was a sad and frustrating period.”
Moment of horror: Dayan described the deadly 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh as the most significant moment of his term. “Nothing prepared me for Pittsburgh,” he said. “This was something that I couldn’t imagine I would experience in this country.” Dayan said that, for the first time, he is worried about American Jewry. “I must admit that I sometimes thought that antisemitism is mainly a fundraising tool for Jewish organizations,” he said. “But I was wrong. It is real and we have to be extremely attentive to the issue.”
Challenging role: Months after Dayan arrived in New York, Donald Trump was elected president. Dayan described the U.S.-Israel relationship as “extremely strong” under Trump, but noted that his job — as Israel’s representative in a Democratic-controlled state — became more challenging. “I remember on election night in 2016, it was clear to me that the job of my colleague, Ron Dermer, in Washington became easier and my job in New York became more difficult.”
No reason to worry: Dayan told JI he refuses to “share the doomsday scenarios” often expressed by pundits and community leaders that Israel might cease to be a bipartisan issue in the U.S. “I long ago realized that the positions of Americans towards Israel are more influenced by socio-political current events than by what Israel does or does not do,” he opined. Pointing to the recent Democratic primary for New York’s 15th congressional district in the South Bronx, where, despite a small Jewish population, five of the leading six candidates — including projected winner Ritchie Torres — were vocally pro-Israel, Dayan argued that ”the stance for retaining Israel as bipartisan is a winnable one.”
No regrets: Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said in an interview with The Associated Press that the Israeli government should not expect to pay a price for its close relationship with the Trump administration if Joe Biden is elected president in November. “I spoke publicly against Mr. Bernie Sanders. But he wasn’t elected,” said Danon. “Mr. Biden is a friend of Israel and he proved it over the years.”
RACE TO WATCH
Candidates in crowded race to succeed Rep. Joe Kennedy struggle to stand out
Five weeks ahead of the Sept. 1 primary election in Massachusetts, seven of the nine Democrats running to fill Rep. Joe Kennedy’s (D-MA) seat in the 4th congressional district introduced themselves to Jewish voters and sought to differentiate themselves in the crowded field. The candidates, running in a district that includes the heavily Jewish neighborhoods of Brookline and Newton, took part in a two-hour candidate forum hosted this week by the Jewish Democratic Council for America.
Bona fides: “I did not grow up in a Jewish home, but I grew up in a home practicing tikkun olam,” Alan Khazei✎ EditSign, said on the call, describing his childhood as the son of a nurse and a doctor. Ben Sigel, a member of the American Jewish Committee’s New England board of directors, said voters “need to make sure we have a leader who isn’t just being pro-Israel and Jewish because of this election, but someone who has been working in the trenches alongside the Jewish community for years.” Dave Cavell✎ EditSign, a former Obama administration speechwriter and Massachusetts assistant attorney general, noted that, “yeah, I sit on all the boards as well. Yeah, I’ve been involved. But day to day, what I choose to do is fight for you, fight for values that as progressive Jews we all believe in.”
Same page: The candidates were uniformly critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of the Middle East peace process. “He basically assigned his son-in-law, who has zero experience whatsoever in foreign policy, to put together a strategic plan that has absolutely failed because the Palestinians weren’t even at the table,” said Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss✎ EditSign. Auchincloss said the Trump administration has made “Israel an increasingly partisan issue and it must not be.” Jesse Mermell✎ EditSign, who served as an aide to former Gov. Deval Patrick, said the president’s “desire to fan the flames of hate and stir up trouble” has been “detrimental to the future of the region.”
Late entry: A newcomer to the group was Dr. Natalia Linos, an epidemiologist at Harvard University who entered the race in April following the coronavirus outbreak. Linos noted that she and her husband, who is Palestinian-American, intentionally enrolled their children in day care at a Reform temple in the district. “I know that raising children in Brookline who are Arab American, they need to have deep friendships and [a] deep understanding of Israeli history as well as Judaism, and that was a choice,” she said. “I know that growing up in an Arab-American setting, they will hear a lot of antisemitic things. And they need to know what that is and to speak up about it.”
Noticeably absent: Missing from the debate were Ihssane Leckey and Christopher Zannetos. A spokesperson for Leckey, who has been endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now Boston, told JI that Leckey “will hold events in the coming weeks to discuss the issues facing Jewish Americans.”
Illinois’s Jewish community praises VP contender Tammy Duckworth
With the Democratic National Convention just weeks away, speculation over Joe Biden’s running mate selection has hit a fever pitch. Biden told reporters on Tuesday that he’ll likely announce his pick next week, and one name reportedly on the shortlist is Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod spoke to members of Chicago’s Jewish community about their views on the senator.
Record: Duckworth is largely in line with the Democratic mainstream on Israel — she supports a two-state solution, backed the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran, opposes BDS and supports continued U.S. military aid to Israel. In the House, Duckworth co-sponsored a resolution condemning antisemitism and comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, as well as a bill providing resources to Holocaust survivors. Recently, Duckworth has been vocal in her opposition to Israel’s potential annexation efforts. She signed a letter criticizing the move as a “dramatic reversal of decades of shared understandings between the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and the international community.”
Congressional endorsement: “Senator Duckworth has been a great friend to the Jewish community and a champion on the issues they care about, from helping the widow, orphan and stranger, to ensuring a safe and secure Israel as a democratic, Jewish state,” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), who is Jewish, told Jewish Insider.
Enthusiastic support:Alan Solow, a national co-chair of the 2012 Obama-Biden reelection campaign and the former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JI he would be happy to see Duckworth on the ticket. “If Vice President Biden selected Senator Duckworth, I would enthusiastically support that,” said Solow. “I’m sure she would do an excellent job if she were called upon to assume the duties of the presidency.”
Tikkun olam: Lauren Beth Gash, a former member of the Illinois House of Representatives and the vice chair of the Illinois Democratic Party, said she has known Duckworth for more than 15 years. “One of the reasons that I have supported Tammy is because she truly shares our values and the value of tikkun olam,” Gash told JI. “Personally, I feel as an American Jew that she is the kind of leader we can trust to fight for Israel, and that matters to me.”
J Street backing: Gash told JI that Duckworth speaks frequently to local Jewish organizations, as well as national groups including J Street and AIPAC. Duckworth’s positions have earned her an endorsement from J Street PAC. “The J Street Chicago chapter is proud to have a very strong relationship with Senator Duckworth and her staff,” J Street’s Midwest Regional Director Sam Berkman said in an email to JI. “The Senator has proven herself time and again to be a true friend of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.”
Seth Rogen’s comments on Israel draw ire
Actor and comedian Seth Rogen drew some criticism for a discussion about Israel he held on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast this week. Rogen is currently promoting his upcoming HBO Max film, “An American Pickle,” about a Jewish immigrant to New York who accidentally brines himself for a century.
Weighing in: In a wide-ranging discussion about their Jewish identities, views on intermarriage and their time at Jewish summer camps, Rogen weighed in on Israel — where his parents met at a kibbutz. “As a Jewish person I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life!” Rogen said to Maron. “They never tell you that — oh by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the f**king door’s open!.. They forget to include [that] fact to every young Jewish person, basically.”
Existential: The actor also said he didn’t really understand the existence of the State of Israel. “To me it just seems very like an antiquated thought process. If it is for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it, because I think religion is silly. If it is for truly the preservation of Jewish people, it makes no sense, because again, you don’t keep something you’re trying to preserve all in one place — especially when that place is proven to be pretty volatile.”
Take a joke: Responding to some of the Twitter criticism, Rogen implied that many of his comments were intended humorously. “For a Jewish person, you really can’t take a joke,” he tweeted at one critic.
Reaction: The Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov tweeted that Rogen’s comments “are made from a position of really, really great privilege — and ignorance — if he can’t understand why Israel makes sense to millions of Jews around the world.” Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg, meanwhile, implied that people were unfairly jumping “on a few lines on a podcast, including some obvious jokes.” Washington Examiner magazine editor Seth Mandel tweeted that Rogen’s comments represented “the suicide cult of the diaspora.” Several Twitter users, including Harkov and Michael Elgort, noted that Rogen reached out privately after they tweeted about the podcast.
Stolen Music: NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley explores the fate of the thousands of musical instruments looted by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Those working to trace the stolen pianos and violins face difficult obstacles to recovery. [NPR]
The Scoop: New York Times magazine writer David Marchese interviews Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the Ben & Jerry’s co-founders long known for their social activism. ‘‘Using ice cream to talk about difficult issues creates an opening,’’ said Cohen. [NYTimes]
⚖️ Bench Battle:The Atlantic’s Emma Green reports on the anger many religious conservatives are feeling about the records of Trump’s Supreme Court appointees, especially after Justice Neil Gorsuch ruled in favor of LGBTQ civil rights protections. [Atlantic]
Game On: Noah Smith and Leore Dayan write in The Washington Post about the “Carmel,” a new Israeli tank under consideration by the IDF that features video game controllers and an operating system designed to promote ease of use for young soldiers. [WashPost]
Around the Web
️ On the Ground: The IDF is reinforcing its position on the border with Lebanon after this week’s incident with Hezbollah.
Taking Action: British rapper Wiley has been suspended from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram over his antisemitic posts after the platforms faced days of criticism.
🏿 Reaching Out: Former NBA star and current Maccabi Tel Aviv player Amar’e Stoudemire toldUSA Today that he is helping Nick Cannon become educated about Jewish culture.
Time to Go: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined calls for Philadelphia NAACP President Rodney Muhammad to resign after he shared an antisemitic post, as Black and Jewish leaders in the city met yesterday in a sign of unity.
Rethinking:Jenna Ellis, an advisor to the Trump campaign, proclaimed that there is no support for the separation of church and state in American law.
Poor Post: A Wabasha County GOP board member in Minnesota has resigned for a post comparing COVID mask laws to forcing Jews to wear Jewish stars in the Holocaust.
Stepping Down: As Ken Marcus steps down from his role as the Education Department’s civil rights chief, The New York Times looks at two complaints filed against him in recent months, including one claiming that he gave preferential treatment to the Zionist Organization of America.
⚔️ Bitter Fight: Real estate magnates Rotem Rosen and Alex Sapir are suing each other in a long battle over the Sapir family business.
Startup Nation: Israeli-founded data analytics company Explorium has raised an additional $31 million.
🥳 Summer in the Hamptons: The Southampton, N.Y., town supervisor has come under fire over a charity concert, featuring a DJ performance by Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, that violated social distancing guidelines.
Cashing In: Hedge fund manager Boaz Weinstein, who has settled in the Hamptons since the COVID-19 outbreak, has pulled in $1 billion to his Saba Capital Management.
Shore Shul: Rabbi Benny Berlin, a newly installed rabbi in Long Beach, Long Island, is drawing new families to the town despite the synagogue’s pandemic-limited activities.
Hate Remains: A swastika and other graffiti were spray-painted on three Jewish businesses in University Heights, Ohio, earlier this week.
🪓 Foiled Attack: A security guard outside a synagogue in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol managed to stop an axe-carrying attacker from entering.
Gates of Mercy: The bullet-damaged door that blocked attacker Stephan Balliet from entering a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur last year, was replaced yesterday; the original door is slated to become part of a memorial.
️ Justice: An Italian museum paid a settlement to the heirs of Jewish art collector Gustav Arens in order to keep his Nazi-looted art in their exhibition.
Unwrapped: Scientists at a museum in Haifa gave a CT scan to two bird mummies which date back to ancient Egypt.
Book Shelf: British Voguerecommended eight contemporary Jewish novels to readers as antisemitism once again dominated the discourse in the U.K. this week.
️Remembering: Reese Schonfeld, CNN’s founding president, died at age 88.
Pic of the Day
Team members of Israeli artist Itay Zalait, work on an installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock “Last Supper” at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. The installation, placed in a central Tel Aviv square on Wednesday, in the latest twist in a summer of protests against Netanyahu and his lengthy rule. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
A protest art installation depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock “Last Supper” was installed this morning in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the work of Israeli artist Itay Zalait.
Rabbi of NYC’s Congregation Shearith Israel, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik turns 43 today…
WEDNESDAY: Banker and energy executive in Tulsa, Okla., George Kaiser turns 78… Yedioth Ahronoth columnist, Meir Shalev turns 72… Shoe designer, Stuart A. Weitzman turns 71… Denver-based trial lawyer and film producer, Kenneth Eichner turns 66… Deputy health and science editor at The Washington Post, Carol Eisenberg turns 63… European economics correspondent for The New York Times, Peter S. Goodman turns 54… Twin brothers and Los Angeles based businessmen, Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz and Yisroel Zev Rechnitz turn 49… Actor, filmmaker and musician, Joshua Radnor turns 46… Scottsdale, Ariz.-based director of community engagement at BBYO, Jayme David turns 43… Investigative journalist at Bloomberg Industry Group, Aaron Kessler turns 41…
Former member of the Canadian Parliament, David Graham turns 39… Political and communications strategist, now serving as an adjunct professor at Duke University, Allison Jaslow turns 38… Rabbi, educator and physician assistant, Rabbi Levi Welton turns 37… SVP in the NYC office of SKDKnickerbocker, Herbie Ziskend turns 35… Volunteer manager at the Maryland SPCA, Adrienne Potter Yoe… and her twin sister, Moira Yoe Bauer, who works on corporate responsibility, governance and sustainability at Cigna, both turn 33… Law student in the 2021 class at Georgetown, Danny Vinik turns 30… Uriel Wassner turns 26… Broadcaster and media relations manager for the Chicago Dogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, Sam Brief turns 23… Jason Levin…
THURSDAY: Commissioner emeritus of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig turns 86… Retired attorney in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Ronald E. Stackler turns 83… Long-time owner and editor-in-chief of The New Republic, Martin H. “Marty” Peretz turns 81… Film director, Peter Bogdanovich turns 81… The first female justice on the Nebraska Supreme Court, winner of two gold medals as a swimmer at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman turns 73… Actor, director and producer, Ken Olin turns 66… Known as the “King of Diamonds,” Lev Leviev turns 64… Member of the Knesset for Likud, Tali Ploskov turns 58… COO for the Trump-Pence 2020 campaign, Michael Glassner turns 57… Chairman of the Edmond de Rothschild Group, Benjamin de Rothschild turns 57… Emmy Award-winning actress, Lisa Kudrow turns 57… Best-selling non-fiction author, Rich Cohen turns 52… District director for Rep. Jerry Nadler, Robert Gottheim turns 49…
Childhood actor, he served as a law clerk in 2008 for Justices O’Connor and Ginsburg, the only blind person to clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court, now a motivational speaker, Isaac Lidsky turns 41… Vice President at CNN, Rebecca M. Kutler turns 41… News reporter and producer at Southern California public radio station KCRW, Avishay Artsy turns 40… President and founder in 2013 of Dallas-based ECA Strategies, Eric Chaim Axel turns 40… Division director at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Lewis Sohinki turns 40… New media editor at the Times of Israel, Sarah Tuttle-Singer turns 39… Director of policy and public affairs for the Jewish Community of Denmark, Jonas Herzberg Karpantschof turns 38… Head of new media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Tamar Schwarzbard turns 30… Staff assistant for Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN-06), Joshua Weintraub turns 26… Former Miss Israel, Mor Maman turns 25…