Your Daily Phil: Blavatnik onstage for anti-Israel Oscars speech

Good Monday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new Jim Joseph Foundation-funded study of Jewish college students, and Barry Finestone writes about getting Jewish professionals out of “the Red Zone” in the latest installment of eJP’s opinion column “The 501(c) Suite.” Also in this issue: Lee Maschler, Tova Moradi and Israeli President Isaac Herzog. We’ll start with last night’s Oscars ceremony.

Writer-director Jonathan Glazer included Ukrainian-born British-American philanthropist Sir Leonard Blavatnik in his denunciation of Israel as he accepted the award for Best International Feature Film for his Holocaust film, “The Zone of Interest,” at last night’s Oscars in Los Angeles, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

With Blavatnik and Jim Wilson, who both produced the film, standing behind him, Glazer declared: “We stand here as men who refute [sic] their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people, whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanization.” (Glazer likely meant reject or renounce, not refute, which means to disprove.)

The statement was in line with previous comments made by Glazer and Wilson, who have in the past conflated the Israeli victims of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks with the Palestinians killed in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, and expressed sympathy for both.

The remarks were notable in the presence of Blavatnik, who in December halted donations to Harvard, reportedly over the university’s handling of antisemitism on campus in the wake of Oct. 7, and who owns the controlling stake in an Israeli television network, Channel 13. Through his family foundation, Blavatnik is a major donor to a number of Israeli and Jewish causes, including a Chabad-run food bank in southern Israel, the National Library of Israel and Birthright Israel.

Blavatnik helped produce “The Zone of Interest,” which focuses on the banal evil of Nazis’ families willfully ignoring the slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust, through his Access Industries investment group.

While onstage, Blavatnik did not react to Glazer’s remarks about Israel, and it was not immediately confirmed that he knew the contents of his speech in advance. (Blavatnik’s office did not respond to questions from eJP.)

Glazer’s comments were not the only example of the Israel-Hamas war coming up at the Oscars. Some attendees sported yellow pins, denoting solidarity with the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, while others wore red pins declaring their support of the group Artists4Ceasefire, a list of Hollywood professionals who are calling for “the immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Gaza and Israel.” Before the event began, roughly 1,000 protesters also held a “Free Palestine” march near the venue.

After the ceremony, Hollywood producers Matti Leshem and Lynn Harris, who are married, projected the images of the hostages onto the side of a building at Beverly Hills City Hall, across the street from the Vanity Fair Oscars party, one of the premier after-party events.

“This is a really big night for Hollywood and for Beverly Hills,” said Leshem about the Vanity Fair party, which he called “the hottest ticket in town,” for reliably drawing Hollywood’s biggest stars.

“As a member of the entertainment community, I think it’s great that we celebrate our achievements in film,” Leshem, the founder of New Mandate Films, a film and television production company created to draw stories from Jewish sources, told eJP. “But I also think that this year is very special, and that we can’t let it go by without [acknowledging that] there’s 134 people who’ve been in captivity for five months. The most influential people in the world, all of whom are going to be in that tent, and the media that cover them, need to see this at that moment.”

Read the full report here.


Study: Jewish college students feel they must hide support for Israel; their non-Jewish peers agree

Students participate in a protest against Israel outside of Columbia University in New York on Nov. 15, 2023.

More than a third of Jewish college students report hiding their identity since Oct. 7, such as no longer wearing Jewish stars, in order to fit in — double the number of university students who said they did so before the Israel-Hamas war, according to a recent study conducted by Tufts University political scientist Eitan Hersh, in partnership with College Pulse, and funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Social costs of Zionism: The survey found that more than three-quarters of Jewish students (77%) notice a social stigma around supporting Israel’s right to exist. Non-Jewish students surveyed also agree that there’s a social stigma associated with supporting Israel — with the highest agreement (50%) coming from those on the far-left or who identify as socialist. “What the data shows is that this is not about one or two isolated incidents or just a few kids… also that it’s not just in the head of some Jewish students — we actually saw a higher rate of non-Jewish students saying they don’t want to be friends with someone who supports the existence of Israel as the Jewish state,” Hersh told eJP. “The social stigma is felt by the Jewish students, and it makes sense they feel that way because the non-Jewish students are saying they endorse that social stigma.”

Getting closer: At the same time, the survey found that Hersh’s depiction of the “typical Jewish college student,” someone who isn’t involved with Judaism, could be changing. In the wake of Oct. 7, Jewish students polled reported feeling a heightened sense of Jewish identity. Thirty-five percent said they feel very close to a Jewish community, double the amount who did in 2022.

Affirming the anecdotes: The data shows “both immense challenges and opportunities,” among college students, Stacie Cherner, director of research and learning at the Jim Joseph Foundation, said in a statement. “Both in scale and depth, the research goes beyond anecdotal stories many of us have heard,” she said. “Jewish students feel more isolated and ostracized, and they feel this from peers of all political perspectives.”

Read the full report here.


Getting the Jewish workforce out of ‘the Red Zone’

“Over the past five months, I have spent time with dozens of colleagues representing the full range of positions and years of experience in the Jewish professional field. What I saw and heard in many conversations was, frankly, scary,” writes Barry Finestone, president and CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation, in the latest installment of eJewishPhilanthropy’s opinion column “The 501(c) Suite.”

Running on red: “‘The Red Zone’ is a reference to the work of Susan Britton… Her company focuses on training courses for leaders, businesses and organizations using evidence-based methods that are rooted in neuroscience. One of the cornerstones of her work is what she calls Blue and Red Zones. These ‘zones’ are measurable physiological states. When we feel safe, in Britton’s words, our ‘parasympathetic nervous system… brings heart rate and blood pressure to healthy levels, nurtures immune and digestive systems, and restores cortisol levels to baseline… [Thinking becomes] broader and more creative so that we can be more strategic and proactive.’ But when we feel threatened, she writes, ‘we get emotionally hijacked… [T]he sympathetic nervous system [spikes] us with extra cortisol, adrenaline, and other neurotransmitters. In this fight-flight state, the smartest part of the brain goes off-line (the neocortex), heart rate increases, vagal tone diminishes, and open-mindedness shuts down.’”

S.O.S.: “Our people have been in the Red Zone for over five months; this is damaging to the Jewish community and the people who make it function. I fear this will cause a massive exodus of professionals in the field. Particularly as we inch closer to a surely heated and polarizing November election, the pressure and urgency are not sustainable. The ‘brain drain’ will accentuate an already acute workforce and leadership pipeline problem… To be sure, being in the Red Zone every once in a while can be a good thing to deepen one’s focus and accelerate progress toward a goal. But how can we get the Jewish workforce out of the Red Zone in the long term to counter an exodus before it occurs?”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Another Death Cult: In the Jewish Journal, Kathleen Hayes shares her thoughts on the public response to the recent suicide of U.S. airman Aaron Bushnell in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. “On X, a weeping young woman — she’s Jewish, according to the post; a small Magen David tattoo is visible on her right hand — howls over the world’s inability to understand… ‘Are you f—ing serious?’ the woman sobs. ‘His last words were “Free Palestine.” This man was an active service member for our f—ing military — a white man who knew his privilege and he knew the effect that if he killed himself, that he would actually get coverage on the news … And how many more people have to say that they don’t support the existence of Israel for this to end!’ … I’d like to believe the woman is just performing for likes, as some commenters claim, but I don’t. She is, clearly, desperately sincere. She truly believes the world’s sins would be purged if it were only rid of the Jewish state. That the drive to annihilate Israel necessarily threatens the existence of all Jews, including herself, obviously does not occur to her. Bushnell’s martyrdom fills her with a grief-stricken ecstasy. She is in the grip of a secular religion in which Jews are again the earthly antichrist and followers are frenzied by the need for purification. No sacrifice is too great, no pain too terrible, in the face of so much evil… This is a death cult, paralleling that of Hamas itself. And just as Hamas’ death-worship is both suicidal and homicidal, so this Western version threatens not only its followers but, most immediately, Jews.” [JewishJournal]

Creative Giving: Two septuagenarian activists decided to donate their three adjacent properties in a gentrifying neighborhood of Chicago, worth more than $1.5 million after renovations, to an affordable home ownership program, reports Ariel Parrella-Aureli in Block Club Chicago. “Sally Hamann, 76, and Anne Scheetz, 73, community activists and friends who have been fighting for the preservation of affordable housing in Logan Square since 2015, donated their workers cottages to the Here to Stay Community Land Trust… [F]ounded in 2019, [the trust] helps lower- to medium-income families with roots in Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Hermosa and Avondale build generational wealth by buying the land of subsidized properties. Local organizations Palenque LSNA, the Center for Changing Lives, LUCHA and the Spanish Coalition for Housing launched the community land trust to counteract rapid displacement in the area… For Hamann, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1979, preserving property for future generations was an important goal — especially after seeing rapid displacement and a slew of $1 million homes go up around her cottage near Artesian and Fullerton avenues, she said. ‘I really loved the house, and I watched many beautiful old houses like mine [where] people died … and the houses got knocked down and we got these more expensive houses,” Hamann said. “I saw this to the south and was like, ‘They’re not going to do that to my house.”’ [BlockClubChicago]

Free Press Concerns: Financial vulnerability and loss of public trust in the media is emboldening public officials to challenge press freedoms, a threat not only to journalists but to all Americans, writes Paul Farhi in The Atlantic. “A database maintained by the nonprofit Press Freedom Foundation documents roughly 1,000 incidents involving alleged official interference with the U.S. news media since 2017, including arrests of journalists, denial of access to official meetings and proceedings, and equipment searches and seizures. (Another 867 or so incidents involved alleged criminal assaults on reporters by members of the public.) Many of these occurred in small towns, and thus out of the national spotlight… The true cost of media intimidation is measured not in punishments handed out, but in stories never pursued. The media’s delicate financial picture acts as a hidden hand on editorial decisions, limiting what news organizations are willing to take on. ‘Smaller newsrooms or citizen journalists that are so afraid of the risk of a criminal prosecution, an aggressive search, or a lawsuit, regardless of how realistic of a threat those are, may alter what they’d be reporting on otherwise,’ Jennifer Granick, an attorney at the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told me.” [TheAtlantic]

Around the Web

Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism ran a commercial during last night’s Oscars, which featured a dramatization of a real-life bomb threat that was called into Congregation Agudas Achim in Attleboro, Mass., last year during a bar mitzvah and the reaction of a neighboring church…

Lee Maschler, the founder of Trillium Tradingdonated $250,000 to four Israeli nonprofits — Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah, Save a Child’s Heart and Yachar L’Chayal — and pledged to match an additional $250,000 worth of donations to those groups by employees, traders and friends of Trillium…

Anti-Israel activists defaced a portrait of Lord Arthur James Balfour in Cambridge, England, spray painting his face red and slashing the painting, over his eponymous 1917 declaration, which voiced official British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in present-day Israel…

President Joe Biden nominated Mark Wilf, who chairs the Jewish Agency for Israel board of governors, to serve as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council

Nefesh B’Nefesh signed an agreement with Israel’s Immigration and Absorption Ministry and Health Ministry to create a program to streamline the immigration process for medical professionals, in a bid to alleviate a critical doctor shortage in the country…

The New York Times finds that Elon Musk’s foundation gave well below the legal requirement in recent years and about half of the donations went to causes that benefited him or his companies…

The National Jewish Advocacy Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of families of survivors of the Oct. 7 terror attacks against the nonprofit UNRWA USA, which supports the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, on the grounds that UNRWA employees took part in the massacres…

The Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) nonprofit released a new edition of its Distinctions journal, focused on the concept of Diaspora…

New Lines Magazine reports on the escape from Afghanistan of Tova Moradi, now believed to have been the last Jew in the country before she left in 2021 in an airlift organized by IsraAid

The Times of Israel reveals previously censored information about a 2021 effort to extract Yemeni Jews from Sana’a and bring them to Egypt…

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to allow the demolition of the B’nai B’rith Lodge, a more-than-100-year-old building in the city that is considered a Jewish labor landmark…

A new survey by the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats found that the majority of both Jewish college students (56%) and Muslim college students (52%) reported feeling “in personal danger” on campus…

Barron’s looks at how Ruth Gottesman’s recent $1 billion donation to make Albert Einstein College of Medicine tuition-free may resonate further in academic philanthropy…

The families of the two victims of a shooting in a Jewish-owned California dental clinic — Yareli Carrillo, the mother of a 9-month-old baby, who was injured, and Dr. Benjamin Harouni, who was shot dead — have launched fundraisers on their behalf…

The social media influencer Adina Sash, known by her moniker Flatbush Girl, has called for married women to refrain from going to the mikveh — withholding sex and effectively all physical contact with their husbands — to protest the agunah crisis

Indiana passed a law defining antisemitism in the state’s education code, relying on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism but removing explicit mention of it as a compromise between more conservative and more liberal lawmakers…

Pic of the Day

Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.
Amos Ben Gershom/Israeli Government Press Office

Israeli President Isaac Herzog attends the opening of a new national Holocaust museum in Amsterdam yesterday, the first such institution in The Netherlands.

“Friends, I am deeply grateful to everyone that has supported the establishment of this new Holocaust Museum,” Herzog said at the event. “At this pivotal moment in time, this institution sends a clear, powerful statement: Remember. Remember the horrors born of hatred, antisemitism and racism. And never again allow them to flourish. Unfortunately, ‘Never Again’ is right now. Because right now, hatred and antisemitism are flourishing worldwide, and we must fight it, together.”


Annie Liebovitz smiles
JOHNPARV22/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

CEO of Campus Apartments and a limited partner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, David J. Adelman

Pioneering investor in high-tech startups, he was the chairman of Compaq Computer for 18 years, Benjamin “Ben” M. Rosen… Professor emeritus at Princeton University whose research focused upon the Cairo Geniza and Jewish life in Muslim countries, Mark R. Cohen… Doctor of nursing practice, Hermine Warren… Film producer, director and writer, Jerry Gordon Zucker… Office administrator at Creative Wealth Management in Islandia, N.Y., Glenda Kresh… Culinary writer, television host and novelist, Steven Raichlen… Suzanne Dreyfus… Academy Award-winning composer and conductor, he has composed the music for nearly 100 feature films, David Louis Newman… Co-owner of One Oak Vineyard in Sonoma, Laura Zimmerman… Chairman of Lions Gate Entertainment and head of MHR Fund Management, Mark Rachesky… President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan … CEO of The Carlyle Group, Harvey M. Schwartz… Managing director of Rockefeller Capital Management, Alexandra Lebentha… College physician at Stony Brook University, internal medicine specialist, Richard E. Tuckman, MD… CEO of Weiss Public Affairs, Amy Weiss… Singer-songwriter, she also promotes an eponymous line of eyeglasses, Lisa Loeb turns 56… Keyboardist for the rock band Foo Fighters, Rami Jaffee… Former entrepreneur-in-residence at Primera Capital and fellow at Bloomberg Beta, Jon Cohen… Northeast regional political advocacy director at AIPAC, Daniel Kochavi… Israeli singer-songwriter and pianist who has twice been recognized as Israel’s Singer of the Year, Keren Peles Toor… Film, theater and television actress, Lucy Chet DeVito… Managing director at Ridgewood Energy, Samuel J. Lissner… CEO of Flow Carbon, Dana Stern Gibber… Financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors, Lev Beltser… Assistant director of Ramah Sports Camp, Ayala Wasser… Director of the Israel office at Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, Richard Pater… President of JCS International, Michal Grayevsky… Principal and chief strategist at MCS Group, Sharon Polansky