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Our senior political reporter, Jacob Kornbluh, shares what’s in his notebook…
Members of the House of Representatives were finally sworn in this weekend, after the longest battle for speakership in 164 years. Among them was Rep. George Santos, who flipped a Long Island district Republican while lying about his background — including that his grandparents fled anti-Jewish persecution in Europe during World War II. Robert Zimmerman, the Democrat Santos beat, led a protest this weekend outside the congressman’s office in Queens, demanding his resignation. Read our interview with Zimmerman ➤
Opinion: Columnist Rob Eshman suggests that last week’s congressional chaos could have been cut short if only House members had looked to Israel as a model. That is, looked back to Israel circa 2021, when political rivals Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid agreed to take turns at the country’s helm. “The coalition government was far from perfect,” Eshman writes. “But it notched some singular accomplishments, not least of which was its very existence. It was able to pass the country’s first national budget in three years.” Read his essay ➤
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and congressional leaders will address AIPAC’s political leadership forum in Washington on Monday and Tuesday. This is the group’s first gathering since it created a super PAC and funneled money into competitive primaries in last year’s midterms. Read more here ➤
Thousands protested in Tel Aviv Saturday night against the new government’s far-right policies. (Getty)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced the first mass protest of his government Saturday evening in Tel Aviv, focused on a judicial overhaul package that would limit the power of the country’s supreme court. Alan Dershowitz, the criminal defense attorney, recently met with Netanyahu about these changes and said he would’ve joined the protest. Netanyahu defended the proposal Sunday as a necessary balance between the authorities in the governing system.
Israel’s new finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, on Sunday signed a decree to block more than $39 million in tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority and redirect it to Israelis whose families were victims of terror attack. “As long as the Palestinian Authority encourages terror and is an enemy,” he said, “I have no interest for it to continue to exist.”
Separately, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s new national security minister, ordered the police to enforce a ban on flying the Palestinian flag in public spaces. The longstanding law applies to any flag considered to potentially incite violence.
Assi Cohen and Dana Modan play neighbors on Significant Other, an Israeli comedy series. (ChaiFlicks)
Israel’s ‘best comedy’ arrives in America – with honesty, nihilism and subtitles: The hilarious Significant Other begins with one of its two protagonists scarfing down pills and waiting to die. As things go from bleak to bleaker, our culture critic Simi Horwitz writes, the absurd gallows humor gives way to a trenchant complexity. The show is “laugh-out-loud funny at its most unsettling moments,” Horwitz says, “and the chemistry between the two leads is palpable.” Read her review ➤
But wait, there’s more…
- It was Prince William’s idea for Prince Harry to wear a Nazi costume to a party in 2005, Harry claims in a new memoir. Harry called the outfit “one of the biggest mistakes of my life,” in a recent Netflix documentary series, adding that Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, then the chief rabbi of Britain, helped him learn from the episode.
- A quotation by Wernher von Braun, a NASA scientist who had worked for the Nazis during World War II, was removed from a Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Huntsville, Alabama, months after the Forward reported that it was displayed there.
And in case you missed it…
- Why did a Manhattan pulpit rabbi replace the traditional prayer for the State of Israel with a psalm? Because Netanyahu’s new government includes right-wing extremists he considers akin to the Ku Klux Klan. “I hope that this government falls and is replaced by something better,” Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky told our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren for her latest column.
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WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
🛫 Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff plans to join Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. antisemitism envoy, on a trip to Europe this month, including a stop at Auschwitz for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Axios)
🏫 The United Arab Emirates says it will teach about the Holocaust in its schools. The country is one of four Muslim-majority nations to establish relations with Israel via the Abraham Accords in 2020. “I commend the UAE for this step and expect others to follow suit soon,” said Lipstadt, who is also a Holocaust scholar. (AP)
📅 A new Ohio law will provide college students with more flexibility to observe religious holidays. The Testing Your Faith Act, signed by the governor last week, requires colleges to give students a minimum of three days off every semester and also provide other accommodations. (NBC 4)
💍 A Muslim man who posed as an Orthodox Jew and married a Jewish woman in Brooklyn in 2021 has granted a Jewish divorce document called a get to his wife. He also went through a conversion to actually become Jewish. “I want my children to learn in a yeshiva,” he said. (VIN News, Times of Israel)
🐘 A zoo in Cologne, Germany, got its first check from a $26 million gift given by the widow of an animal-loving Holocaust survivor. The couple credited the residents of Cologne for keeping them safe during the war. (JTA)
Mazel tov ➤ Dmitriy Salita is set to be inducted into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame. “As a Ukrainian immigrant coming to America to make my dreams come true and an Orthodox Jew who did not fight on Shabbos, it’s a great honor,” Salita said.
Shiva calls ➤ Bernard Kalb, a veteran foreign correspondent for The New York Times, CBS and NBC who became a spokesman for the State Department, died at 100 … Owen Roizman, the Academy Award-nominated cinematographer of The French Connection and The Exorcist, died at 86.
World leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, attended a unity rally days after the two attacks in Paris in 2015. (Getty)
On this day in history (2015): A gunman held customers at a kosher grocery store hostage on a Friday afternoon in Paris. Four people were killed in the attack, which occurred two days after Muslim terrorists forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which published cartoons featuring the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In December 2020, 14 people were convicted as accomplices in the attacks.
Last year on this day, our colleagues at the JTA reported that State Rep. Doug Mastriano entered the Pennsylvania governor’s race with a Jews for Jesus clergy member blowing the shofar. Mastriano, whose campaign embraced both Messianic Jews and antisemitic tropes, eventually lost to Josh Shapiro, who is scheduled to be sworn in next Tuesday as the state’s third Jewish governor.
In honor of National Choreographer’s Day, check out this story about Zvi Gotheiner, a world-renowned Israeli choreographer, who is returning to work after a stroke upended his life.
A bipartisan group of Georgia state lawmakers gathered Friday at Congregation B’nai Torah in suburban Atlanta for the first annual Georgia Legislators Shabbat service and dinner.
Thanks to PJ Grisar, Jacob Kornbluh and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter.
You can reach the “Forwarding” team at [email protected].