Your Daily Phil: House committee OKs funding boost for U.S. antisemitism envoy

Good Wednesday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a proposed funding boost for the U.S. special envoy on antisemitism, and feature an op-ed from Aiden Pink. Also in this newsletter: Jake Tapper, Michael Gencher and Vladimir (Ze’ev) Khanin. We’ll start with a new report on antisemitism on Twitter. 

A new analysis of antisemitism on Twitter released on Wednesday found that external factors —from COVID-19 conspiracy theories prompting greater use of classic antisemitic tropes to Israeli military conflicts leading to increased anti-Zionist rhetoric — shaped the types of hate-filled remarks on the platform, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The study, which evaluated approximately 100 million tweets from Jan. 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022, was presented in Israel’s Knesset on Wednesday as part of the launch of the parliament’s Caucus for Israel-American Jewry Relations. Both the caucus and the study, which was conducted by the Network Contagion Research Institute, were supported by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

“The research also found that antisemitic and anti-Zionist tropes share virtually identical themes, such as bloodlust, dominance, covert control, and replacement,” according to a statement from the Ruderman Family Foundation. “This similarity further highlights the connection between the two types of tropes and their impact on public perception and discourse.”

The researchers calculated that from Jan. 1, 2020 to Jan. 20, 2021 – just over a year – there were approximately 12,500 “antisemitic tweets” each day and roughly 2,000 “anti-Zionist” tweets each day. From Jan. 20, 2021 to June 30, 2022 – just over a year and a half – there were approximately 17,000 “antisemitic” tweets and 7,000 “anti-Zionist” tweets per day. The study also found that Israel was 10 times more likely to be accused of human rights abuses than any other country, including China, Iran, Russia and North Korea.

The authors called for further research into these issues and ways to combat them. They added that their report “demonstrates how both Jews and Israel, as the Jewish state, are being targeted under similar narratives and themes, which evidently can shed light on the reason why the double standard against Israel on Twitter is so severe. The international community must address that accordingly.”

Read the full story here.

Budget bump

Deborah Lipstadt, then-nominee to be special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, speaks at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)

The House Appropriations Committee has proposed $2.5 million in funding for the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, a level that far exceeds both the White House’s request and a bipartisan funding request from lawmakers. The special envoy’s office was funded at $1.5 million in 2023. The proposal, laid out in an explanatory report written by the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, would increase that level by a full $1 million, reports Marc Rod for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Unprecedented investment: “This significant increase in funding for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism will go a long way to address the tangible and growing threats faced by both the American Jewish community and Jewish communities around the world,” a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who led the $2 million funding request, said in a joint statement. “The dangerous and distributing rise in antisemitism requires unprecedented investments in the Office of the Special Envoy so that the Special Envoy has the staffing and resources it requires to accomplish its work.” The full Appropriations Committee will meet to discuss the bill on Wednesday.

Great appreciation: “With antisemitism surging across the globe, the additional funds for which we advocated will increase the Special Envoy’s capacity to ensure we are leveraging all of our diplomatic tools to help improve the safety and security of at-risk Jewish communities and hold world leaders to account,” Elana Broitman, the senior vice president of public affairs for the Jewish Federations of North America, said in a statement. “Jewish Federations are grateful to see Congress taking this issue seriously and providing the necessary support to keep fighting the oldest hatred.”

Read the full story here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.

Practical action

The rabbinical question behind the climate question

Getty Images

“One of the key concepts I’ve learned in rabbinical school is ‘the question behind the question.’ When someone makes a seemingly innocuous inquiry about Jewish law or tradition, it’s often actually a gateway to a different, harder topic… So when people ask me, ‘What classes are you taking this semester,’ then yes, they are being friendly and curious, but the question behind their question is, ‘Are you training to be the type of rabbi that I need, and embody the values I support?’” writes Aiden Pink, a rabbinical student and the 2022-2023 rabbinical school climate organizing fellow for Dayenu, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Endowment divestment: “I worked this year as a fellow with Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action. One of its campaigns, called ‘All Our Might,’ calls on Jewish institutions to move their funds away from fossil fuel companies, and to pressure their banks and asset managers to stop financing those polluting firms with our deposit dollars and investments. If they don’t, those Jewish institutions should consider changing banks… It is important to us – and to stakeholders at dozens of other institutions across the country also embarking on this process – that Jewish organizations embody Jewish values, including preserving and nurturing the planet that God has entrusted us to steward.”

Call to action: “To be sure, change is never easy, and setting out on a new course is not without risk… But if Jewish institutions want to speak in our name, they need to be clear with us about their priorities: whether they are choosing potential short-term financial gain, or guaranteed financial, social and spiritual loss for future generations.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Jewish Boy from Philly Makes Good: In eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider, Matthew Kassel interviews Jake Tapper about his new novel, All the Demons Are Here, which was released yesterday, and how his Jewish heritage influences his work. “In his day job at CNN, Tapper’s Jewish background has often informed his approach, whether he is invoking a Jewish expression or raising concerns over antisemitic sentiments expressed on both sides of the aisle. But he insists that he sees himself simply as a journalist, ‘not as a Jewish journalist’ who is speaking on behalf of the community. ‘I do think that, as in every election, there are people using hate to divide and conquer in attempts to win primaries or elections, and sometimes it’s pretty explicit and sometimes it’s more code words, and it’s just something that I keep an eye out for,’ he said. ‘But it’s not just about Jews. It’s about any number of groups. I think I’m probably more outspoken about racism and sexism just because there’s more of it that I see. But I certainly don’t hold back when I see antisemitism.’” [JewishInsider]

It Takes a Village (to Fight Antisemitism): In Montgomery County, Md.’s MoCo 360 news publication, Amy Halpern reports on the ways that the wider community is rallying behind its Jewish population in the face of antisemitism. “Guila Franklin Siegel, associate director of the North Bethesda-based Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC), says she has a long list of non-Jewish school, community and religious leaders she considers allies in the fight against Jewish hate. ‘While I know that there is a tremendous amount of work to do, I’m very, very cognizant of the people who sit in natural positions of power who have the ability to do something and are taking that seriously,’ she says.” [MoCo360]

Russian-Speaking Jews (Mostly) Rally Behind Ukraine: In an article for Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, researcher Vladimir (Ze’ev) Khanin examines the response by Russian-speaking Jews around the world to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. “The Russian military invasion of Ukraine (aided by Belarus) on February 24, 2022 not only made a great impact on the Jewish communities of those countries but became an element of Russian Jewish political discourse on least at three levels: among transnational and transcontinental Russian-speaking Jewish (RSJ) organizations and their affiliated regional Jewish umbrella institutional structures; in the national discourse of the host countries; and within specific RSJ diaspora segments around the world… If, as has tended to happen in the past, the political and other public discourse of ‘Russian Israel’’ continues to make a significant impact on the collective worldview of other segments of the transnational Russian-Jewish subethnicity, it has every chance to take hold in the RSJ diaspora as a whole, though it is too soon to draw any final conclusions.” [BESACenter]

Around the Web

The Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah,” was played at an esports tournament underway in Saudi Arabia. This appears to be the first time the anthem has been played in the kingdom…

British Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis was knighted yesterday by King Charles III. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, one of the UK’s highest honors, for his work on behalf of the U.K.’s Jewish community, interfaith relations and education…

New York Times opinion columnist Tom Friedman wrote that the Biden White House is reassessing its diplomatic support for the Israeli government. A senior Israeli official said Jerusalem was “unaware” of any reassessment… 

At its annual National Business Meeting this week, Hadassah passed two resolutions: one encouraging the expansion of the Abraham Accords and another “affirming support” for reproductive health medication in light of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade

Australia’s New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies selected Michael Gencher to serve as its acting CEO following the sudden and as-yet-unexplained resignation of the previous CEO, Darren Bark, earlier in the week…

The Anti-Defamation League announced this week it was offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of co-conspirators in a deadly 1994 shooting attack on Jewish students in New York…

Jewish cookbook author Marlena Spieler died last week in London at 74…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/United Hatzalah

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (center) visits the United Hatzalah emergency medical service headquarters in Jerusalem on Monday.

“I just spent 45 minutes visiting this organization and now I grasp the concept that the volunteers in this organization save the lives of anyone and everyone, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else, free of charge,” Nides said during his visit, according to the organization. “It is simply amazing. I’m honored to be here and honored to see what this organization does and be a part of it. I say to all of you involved, thank you for being who you are and what you are doing.”


Courtesy/Gateways: Access to Jewish Education

Founding executive director (now retired) of Newton, Mass.-based Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, focused on children with special educational needs, Arlene Remz

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Rita E. Hauser… Former congressman (R-OK-5) for 16 years, Marvin Henry “Mickey” Edwards… Former executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Dan Botnick… Canadian journalist, social activist and author of three bestselling books, Michele Landsberg… Former member of the Florida House of Representatives for eight years, Franklin Sands… Best-selling author, screenwriter, and playwright, sister of the late Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron… Professor of religion at the University of Vermont, he was an advisor to Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on his 2016 presidential campaign, as an undergraduate at Yale his roommate was Joe Lieberman, Richard Sugarman… Co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, Brian Grazer… Board certified lactation consultant based in Riverdale, N.Y., Rhona Yolkut… Co-owner of the Midland Group, Eduard Shifrin… Former member of the Knesset for the Blue and White party, Alon Tal… Chief television critic for The New York Times, James “Jim” Poniewozik… Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel… Israeli journalist and former member of Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Anastassia Michaeli… Founder of Innovation Policy Solutions, Jennifer Leib… U.S. senator (I-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema… Israeli news anchor, television presenter and journalist, Yonit Levi… Winner of an Olympic gold medal (Athens, 2004) and a silver medal (Sydney, 2000) as a freestyle swimmer, Scott Daniel Goldblatt… Co-founder of Aspiration, Joseph N. Sanberg… Senior reporter at CNN, Edward-Isaac Dovere… Partner in the Des Moines-based public relations firm AdelmanDean Group, Liz Rodgers Adelman… Israeli media personality, sociologist and fashion and jewelry designer, Ortal Ben Dayan… President of executive communications firm A.H. Levy & Co based in NYC, Alex Halpern Levy… Registered nurse now living in Jerusalem, Rena Meira Rotter… Benjamin Birnbaum… Actress, she is well-known for playing the title character in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Rachel Brosnahan