Daily Kickoff: Huma Abedin on Jewish Insider’s podcast + Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick’s Israel experience – Jewish Insider

👋 Good Friday morning!

For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: ​​Shirin Herzog sings a new tune as ambassador’s spouse; Rep. Ted Deutch to succeed David Harris as American Jewish Committee CEO; Batia Ofer combines art with heart; The New York Sun rises again; The Druze emissary ‘bringing the complexity’ of Israel to American Jews; Just back from Israel, Lamont touts business ties; and How vulnerable is Jamaal Bowman? Print the latest edition here.

Ahead of a March 8 deadline that would have seen flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai paused over security arrangements, Israel’s Shin Bet and its Emirati counterparts reached an agreement today to resume a full flight schedule.

AIPAC’s new PAC announced its first round of endorsements on Thursday, all but one of them incumbent members. The endorsements — totaling more than 100 — are split roughly evenly among Republicans and Democrats.

Notable endorsements include Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who is now in a runoff against progressive Jessica CisnerosRep. Haley Stevens (D-MI), who is in a member-on-member race against Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI); and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), who faces former Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), a pro-Israel stalwart during his time in office.

AIPAC did not endorseRep. Sean Casten (D-IL), who is facing off against Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL), an outspoken Israel critic who voted against supplemental Iron Dome funding. Casten participated in a J Street trip to Israel last month.

AIPAC said the PAC said it has raised more than $1.67 million in contributions, plus another $1 million funneled directly to candidates.

The PAC has already donated $2,900 of its own funds to Stevens and has facilitated $280,000 in supporter contributions to her, AIPAC’s spokesperson told JI.

The one non-incumbent endorsed by the group, Wesley Hunt, a former Army helicopter pilot, is expected to cruise to victory in November after winning the Republican primary in Texas’ newly drawn 38th Congressional District on Tuesday.

podcast playback

The ‘many worlds’ of Huma Abedin

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Huma Abedin

Growing up in Saudi Arabia was “one of the greatest gifts” given to Huma Abedin by her parents, she said in the newest episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast.” The longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recalled her upbringing in the Gulf nation in conversation with co-hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein. Abedin, who was born in Michigan, moved to Saudi Arabia as a toddler in 1977 on her parents’ one-year sabbatical (they were both academics), which they kept extending — her mother still lives in the Gulf nation. “I loved growing up there.” she said.

Expat environment: “Everybody was an expatriate. I mean, it was sort of flush with oil money. All these institutions were brand new, and they were basically importing foreign talent,” Abedin recalled of the country in 1977. “It was a few years after [the] very popular, moderate King Faisal was murdered by his nephew. So it was rather a tumultuous time in the Middle East. A lot was happening. Israel and Egypt just negotiated a peace deal…. And the siege of Mecca took place while we were living there. So a lot was happening.”

Ch-ch-changes: While she said the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi on the order of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made her “sick to my stomach,” Abedin spoke positively of the reforms enacted under the current Saudi regime. “Every year that I’ve gone back since, what has surprised me is how, yes, things that my friends and family were not able to do, they can now. I go to Saudi Arabia, my sister-in-law now drives me around. There are movie theaters; there were no movie theaters growing up,” Abedin said. “It’s just a different culture. It’s on a different timeline. But certainly I see things now that were unheard of when I was growing up.”

Memorable visit: Abedin, who began her career working in the Clinton White House for the then-first lady, recalled an assignment in 1998 to prepare for the president’s upcoming trip to Israel. “That trip changed my life,” Abedin said, describing, among other experiences, her visit to Masada and her surprised discovery of a Shabbat elevator. At the end of the trip, a member of the Israeli Foreign Ministry told Abedin that, despite the presence of Jewish staffers on the delegation, “we like you because you’re the most like us.”

Fake news: Though her role as a Clinton aide had largely placed her behind the scenes, Abedin first garnered significant press coverage when then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) questioned her allegiance to the United States, falsely asserting a connection between Abedin’s family and the Muslim Brotherhood. “It was fake news based on a fake video,” Abedin explained, but the allegation was not without a negative impact. “We went on an official State Department trip and a member of the Coptic Christian community sat across from Hillary and said, ‘We’re not sure we can trust you because of your aide, who is whispering all kinds of things in your ear,’” Abedin recalled. “What Michele Bachmann did — and the five Republican members of Congress who joined her — was essentially question my patriotism and essentially suggested that I, and not just me, it was other high-ranking Muslims serving in government, that we essentially were not loyal to this government, and that we should be investigated,” Abedin continued.

Tough on Russia: “I think Hillary was very, both prescient and tough in some of the conversations that she had [with Russia],” Abedin said. “The protests in 2011, that she spoke out about… when people took to the streets to protest the government. And then the very tough reaction from the Russian government, from Putin. I mean, she basically called him out, and, I think, made a little bit of an enemy in him.”

Read the full story here and listen to the full podcast here.

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Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick reflects on ‘overwhelming’ experience in Israel

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Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick waits for the results of a machine recount at the Voting Equipment Center in Lauderhill, Fla.

Raised in an evangelical Christian household where support for Israel felt close to sacrosanct, Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL) remembers bidding adieu to her Haitian-born parents as they set off on religious pilgrimages to the Holy Land every other year. The South Florida congresswoman, 43, never joined them on those excursions. But she hoped to visit Israel at some point in her life, and — before the pandemic hit, canceling such plans — had been expecting to embark on her first visit to Israel. A couple of weeks ago, Cherfilus-McCormick finally got her chance, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.

‘It was surreal’: The newly elected representative from Florida’s 20th Congressional District, who assumed office in January, traveled last month to Israel and the Palestinian territories with a delegation of freshman House Democrats sponsored by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation. “It was surreal,” Cherfilus-McCormick told JI in an interview. Her parents “were so excited,” she added. “They actually wanted me to go because they helped fund an orphanage” not too far from the Galilee. “They texted me and they told me, ‘Make sure you go over there, you’re going to find our name in the stone.’ But we didn’t have a chance.”

Building empathy: Beyond the personal, Cherfilus-McCormick said the delegation was instructive as she seeks to make sense of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during her first months in the House. “Usually, when you learn about the conflict and you learn about Israel, you always think about it from a cerebral, intellectual place,” she explained. “But going to Israel, meeting the people, talking to everyone and the leaders, it was an amazing experience, because you start empathizing with the people.”

Iron Dome: Cherfilus-McCormick said the trip was a reminder of the many security risks Israel faces on a daily basis. “When we talk about funding for Iron Dome,” she said, referring to Israel’s missile-defense system, which was the subject of a heated House vote last September, “a lot of times there are people who are like, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t fund it that much,’ but when you see how much needs to be covered that we’re funding, we’re still not covering enough of Israel to make it safe. You realize that there needs to be more funding.”

Hastings’ legacy: Before she took office, Cherfilus-McCormick, the first Haitian-American Democrat in Congress, had vowed to uphold the legacy of her predecessor, the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), a staunch supporter of Israel who was also known for his commitment to promoting Black-Jewish relations before he died last April. She reaffirmed that approach in conversation with JI. “The fight at the end of the day is really about equality,” the congresswoman said, “and the same way that we align ourselves and stand up for Israel and Jewish people is the same way we hope that we all stand for equality.”

Read the full interview here.

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How Call Your Mother helped end DC’s ‘bagel desert’

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Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira

Before Call Your Mother Deli existed, Washingtonians had a habit of kvetching about the lack of good bagels in the nation’s capital. When the restaurant opened its first location in the Park View neighborhood in 2018, it became something of a sensation. Lines snaked around the block every weekend morning, all year long. “We’re sort of always keeping our ear to the streets and looking for, what neighborhoods are ‘bagel deserts’ and where can we go next,” founder Andrew Dana told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch in an interview at Call Your Mother’s newest location in Yours Truly DC, a hotel in the District’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

Boca meets Brooklyn: Call Your Mother’s bagel sandwiches are named after retirement communities in South Florida. But this is not your zayde’s deli. Take the King’s Point sandwich, which is named for an iconic retirement community near Fort Lauderdale but contains fillings that would likely shock many King’s Point residents: nacho jalapeño cream cheese, bacon and crispy shallots on a cheddar bagel. At each of the local chain’s six locations — a major expansion from the lone shop it had at the start of the pandemic — visitors are greeted with a bright pink-and-teal color scheme, which Dana describes as “Boca meets Brooklyn.”

Creative cuisine: “We’ve had some people come in expecting chopped liver and a lettuce wrap, and that’s not really what we’re doing,” Dana said. A seventh location will open this spring in Logan Circle, joining spots in Capitol Hill, Georgetown, the original in Park View and two in Bethesda.

What’s in a name: “I wanted the name to be something just fun and playful, and so I was sitting around the table with a bunch of my friends, who were saying, like, ‘What’s something funny your Jewish grandmother would have yelled at you?’” Dana recalled of the process of naming the company. “My other friend yelled, ‘Call your mother,’ and I just said, ‘Holy s***.’ It was just, like, the aha moment.” Dana’s business partner and then-girlfriend (and now-wife) Daniela Moreira, who is not Jewish, instantly liked the name, too. “It spans other cultures. Dani is from Argentina. And she’s like, ‘Oh my God, my mom will love this too,’” Dana noted.

Baking bashert: Dana and Moreira, 31, met at an early iteration of Dana’s first culinary venture — Timber Pizza, another D.C. hotspot. Timber began as a mobile wood-fired pizza oven, and the pair met when both were purchasing eggs at a farmers market where the pizza truck was set up. Timber’s brick-and-mortar restaurant is located on the same street as Call Your Mother in Park View. (Before running Timber, Dana’s baking experience involved a handful of dorm room experiments; Moreira studied at the Culinary Institute of America.)

Blank slate: Moreira had never had a bagel before, which gave her a blank slate that allowed the pair to begin concocting unique, memorable sandwiches. Yes, patrons can order an everything bagel with the all the trappings of Manhattan — cream cheese, lox, capers, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions — but the menu at this self-described “Jew-ish” deli has much more than that. Last year around Purim, Call Your Mother, which is not kosher, sold dulce de leche hamantaschen, and on Passover, it offered brisket pastrami tacos.

Read the full story here.


Call Your Mother is participating in Hamantaschen for Ukraine, a global project in which bakers around the world are donating proceeds from the sale of hamantaschen to aid Ukrainian refugees.

cold case

Ben & Jerry’s Israeli distributor files lawsuit against ice cream company, Unilever

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A man buys Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Jerusalem on July 20, 2021.

American Quality Products (AQP), the Israeli manufacturer and distributor of Ben & Jerry’s products, is suing the ice cream company and its parent group, Unilever, following an announcement in July that Ben & Jerry’s would no longer sell its products in what it referred to at the time as “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.

Details: In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, AQP owner Avi Zinger alleges that Unilever’s decision to end its 34-year agreement with AQP constitutes wrongful termination and breach of contract and that the conglomerate had instructed AQP to violate existing Israeli and U.S. state laws that prohibit boycotts against Israel or areas under its control. New York, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Arizona have divested from Unilever in the months since the July announcement, citing the company’s violation of state anti-boycott laws.

Pressure campaign: Zinger told JI that pressure had been building on Ben & Jerry’s for years to cease sales in the West Bank, but that after last May’s conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, “the pressure was tremendous.” Zinger said the company asked him to find a way to stop selling Ben & Jerry’s products in the Palestinian territories. “I kept telling them it’s impossible. There are two laws in Israel, there’s the anti-discrimination law, that they cannot discriminate [against] any customer or any store that wants to buy my products, that I cannot just tell him, ‘I don’t want to sell [to] you because where the store is located or because of who you are.’ And there are anti-boycott laws here in Israel.”

Peace push: AQP partners with a range of governmental and international groups on initiatives to foster peace, including “Fruits of Peace,” an effort done in conjunction with USAID, the Israeli government, and nonprofit groups to create new Ben & Jerry’s flavors using ingredients sourced from Palestinian farmers.

Read more here.

↔️ Tough Choice: In Foreign Policy, the Atlantic Council’s Shalom Lipner, who worked for 26 years in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, calls on Israel to take a stronger position in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “Time has run out for the Bennett government to get with the program and stop equivocating. Although it cannot neglect the definite repercussions for its delicate ties with Russia, Israel has never had a realistic option other than to join Team America. Realpolitik cuts both ways: The strategic depth provided by U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military backing is considerably more vital for Israel than anything Russia will ever propose to deliver. The U.S.-Israel special relationship has withstood the challenges of domestic partisanship, proving far more dependable — owing also to the executive branch’s accountability to public opinion in U.S. politics — than Putin’s capricious efforts to accommodate Israel. Additionally, as a democratic nation and in light of the Jewish people’s particularly tragic experience with brutality, Israel is morally bound to speak out vigorously against unprovoked Russian aggression.” [FP]

✡️ Community in Crisis: The Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov looks at how Jews living in Ukraine — some of them of Russian descent — are reacting to the indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian cities by Russian forces. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has justified his war on Ukraine by the need to ‘de-Nazify’ its government, falsely claiming that Kyiv is controlled by a cabal of American-sponsored neo-Nazis. To Ukrainian Jews, and many Jewish leaders world-wide, it is a brazen insult to the memory of the Holocaust, especially now that Moscow is indiscriminately shelling Ukrainian cities. ‘War crimes are happening here,’ said one of Ukraine’s leading rabbis, Moshe Reuven Asman, in an emotional video recorded after Tuesday’s strike, holding a Torah scroll in his hands. ‘The Russian army that was beating the Nazis in 1941 is bombing civilians in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odessa today. If I die, those who are silent today will be cursed as accomplices.’” [WSJ]

🇸🇦 Potential Partner: In unpublished comments to The Atlantic, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly called Israel a “potential ally” once the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

 Energy Boost: In mid-February, the Biden administration asked Israel if it could produce more natural gas to help head off a potential disruption in the supply of gas from Russia to Europe, anticipating an escalation between Russia and Ukraine, Axios reports.

🎙️ Weighing In: On the latest episode of his podcast, “The Diplomat,” former Trump administration Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt explores the effects of the conflict in Ukraine on the Middle East.

👨 Heard Yesterday: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) argued yesterday that there is “no evidence to suggest” that continued sanctions on Iran will decrease support for terrorist groups and that “the practical impact of designating the Houthis as a [Foreign Terrorist Organization] is famine.”

💻 Spyware Saga: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mike Johnson (R-LA), respectively the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and the ranking member of its subcommittee on civil rights, called on Apple and the FBI to provide information about the NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus spyware.

💰 Opioid Deal: Purdue Pharma reached a new settlement that will see the Sackler family pay as much as $6 billion and doesn’t protect family members from facing criminal charges over the company’s role in the opioid crisis, after an earlier settlement was appealed by eight states and Washington, D.C.

🥞 Breakfast Buds: Jared Kushner and Kanye West were spotted having breakfast together at the Surf Club at the Four Seasons in Surfside, Fla. (h/t Playbook)

🚓 Double Trouble: A New York City man was arrested and charged with a hate crime for spitting on and threatening to kill a Jewish man in Brooklyn, days after he was first arrested for rubbing excrement on a woman on the subway, after which he was released due to the state’s bail reform law.

🇨🇾 Cypriot Excursion: Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia yesterday, where he reassured Anastasiades over Israel’s recent efforts at rapprochement with Turkey.

✈️ Desperate Plea: An Israeli family is asking Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to assist in the evacuation of a Ukrainian woman, who is acting as their surrogate, and her two children.

☢️ Nuclear Oh-no: A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that as of mid-February, Iran had accumulated nearly enough uranium for a nuclear bomb, as reports indicate a final deal is close to being inked.

🕯️ Remembering: Ken Duberstein, a chief of staff to former President Ronald Reagan and a consultant on “The West Wing,” died at 77. Tevi Troy writes his obituary.

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(Photo by Andrew Matthews – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince Charles visits the recently unveiled statue of the 13th-century Jewish businesswoman Licoricia of Winchester in Winchester, England, on Thursday.


JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Château les Grands Chênes 2016:

“Sometimes you find the most remarkable wines in the unlikeliest of places. While visiting a small ski village in southeastern France, I stopped at a Chabad synagogue to get some food for Shabbat and ended up spending a lot more time in the shul’s wine cellar  than on the snow-capped slopes. I discovered an excellent selection of kosher French wines that nearly had me arrested at the airport for skirting customs law. The Château les Grands Chênes 2016 is a delightful lunch wine that surprised in many ways. The strawberry-forward reminded me of a young Burgundy, the mid-palate had the chalky earth of a newborn Napa wine and the finish was of a custard freshly hand-squeezed from a Dunkin’ Donuts éclair. This wine is ready to drink now and will hold for the next three years. Enjoy with gravlox on the ski slopes.”

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NEW YORK, NY – MAY 06: Ken Lerer speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2014 – Day 2 on May 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Managing partner at VC firm Lerer Hippeau, co-founder of the Huffington Post and longtime chair of BuzzFeedKenneth B. Lerer turns 70 on Saturday…

FRIDAY: Tennis player, winner of the Australian and Wimbledon men’s singles championships, the first-ever Jewish athlete to appear on the cover of Time MagazineDick Savitt turns 95… Composer and conductor, founder and initial conductor in 1950 of the U.S. Army’s Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra, Samuel Adler turns 94… U.S. District Court judge (on inactive senior status) for the Northern District of Illinois, Judge James Block Zagel turns 81… Broadcast journalist and author, Lynn Sherr turns 80… Board member at New York City Center, Ballet Hispánico and other non-profits, Perry B. Granoff turns 79… British concert promoter, Harvey Goldsmith turns 76… Screenwriter and director, the mother of actors Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal turns 76… CEO of LCH Clearnet LLC, David A. Weisbrod turns 75… Director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi Avi Shafran turns 68… U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) turns 64… Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, Eva Moskowitz turns 58… President of the New England Patriots, Jonathan A. Kraft turns 58… French art historian, Emmanuelle Polack turns 57… U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) turns 54… New York State special counsel for ratepayer protection, Rory I. Lancman turns 53… Evan L. Presser turns 52… Staff writer for The New York Times MagazineEmily Bazelon turns 51… Chief global affairs officer at Citadel, Russell Horwitz turns 51… Member of the Knesset for the New Hope party, Sharren Haskel turns 38… VP of government and community affairs at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Abby Jagoda turns 37… Co-founder of Instagram, Mike Krieger turns 36… Singer and composer, Aryeh Kunstler turns 36… Israeli-born basketball player who played for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans, Gal Mekel turns 34… Model and actress, Erin Heatherton turns 33… Chief of staff to New York state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Tori Burhans Kelly

SATURDAY: Winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work with Amos Tversky on the psychology of decision-making, Daniel Kahneman turns 88… Former University Counsel for California State University, Donald A. Newman turns 79… Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Roy Gutman turns 78… Retired Los Angeles lawyer, Mark Edelstein turns 77… President of L.A. PR firm Robin Gerber & Associates, Robin Gerber Carnesale turns 76… Founder and CEO of the D.C.-based News Literacy Project, Alan C. Miller turns 68… Artist, writer, and professor of computer science at Yale University, David Hillel Gelernter turns 67… Actor, screenwriter and film producer, Jonathan Penner turns 60… President of AIPAC and the founder of BVision Sportsmedia dedicated to making sports more accessible to women, Betsy Berns Korn turns 54… President and founder of West End Strategy Team, Matt Dorf turns 52… Los Angeles area developer, he is a trustee of Temple Beth Am, Michael Reinis turns 51… President of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, Michael N. Kruger turns 46… Head of U.S. public affairs at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Daniel S. Schwarz turns 37… Director at Portage Point Partners, Steven Shenker turns 30… Manager of operations support at TEKsystems, Andrew Leiferman turns 28… Singer with 30.2 million followers on Instagram, her career started with a song she performed at her own bat mitzvah, Madison Elle Beer turns 23…

SUNDAY: Centenarian, known as “Philadelphia Phil,” Philip Basser turns 104… Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan turns 96… Writer, lecturer and professor emeritus of Jewish communal service at HUC-JIR Los Angeles, Steven Windmueller turns 80… Actor and director, he directed “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men,” Rob Reiner turns 75… Television personality, author and libertarian pundit, John Stossel turns 75… Musical theatre lyricist and composer, Stephen Schwartz turns 74… Actor, comedian and sports show host, Tom Arnold turns 63… Aliza Tendler turns 57… Executive producer at Momentum, Judy Victor turns 51… Founder of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto which he sold to Unilever in 2014, he has since co-founded Iris Brands, Joshua Hochschuler turns 49… Head of innovation communication at Bloomberg LP, Chaim Haas turns 47… Senior director for business development and client services at NYC-based Jewish Communal Fund, Michelle Lebowits turns 46… Former football quarterback who played on six NFL teams, Sage Rosenfels turns 44… Managing director at Berkshire Partners, Blake L. Gottesman turns 42… Fourth-generation developer, owner, and operator of commercial real estate throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, Daniel Klein turns 41… Natalie Lazaroff turns 33… Israeli fashion model, Esti Ginzburg turns 32… Artist Tova Suissa… Law clerk for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, Riley Clafton turns 27… JD candidate at Stanford Law School in the class of 2022, Theodore Furchtgott… Sandra Brown… Nelson Katz…