Your Daily Phil: Jewish orgs react to Israeli election + Hillel’s Adam Lehman on antisemitism

? Good Thursday morning!

Today’s Your Daily Phil looks at some unlikely cheerleaders for the Lebanon-Israel maritime deal, and features op-eds by Hillel International’s Adam Lehman on antisemitism, and by Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn on the weekly Torah portion. Also in this newsletter: Melissa Berman, Kyrie Irving, Eric Schmidt, Justin Turner and Julie Wiener. We’ll start with reactions from some American Jewish organizations to Benjamin Netanyahu’s likely victory in Israel’s election.

A number of major Jewish organizations have issued their first statements about the Israeli election, sounding the same notes they generally do about Israel’s democracy and cooperating with the incoming government, which will almost certainly be helmed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and its right-wing allies.

The organizations all refer obliquely or directly to the likelihood that Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right lawmaker, will serve as a minister in Netanyahu’s next government. But not all of them name Ben-Gvir — who has proposed expelling Arabs and politicians deemed disloyal from Israel and whose colleagues have denigrated non-Orthodox Jews — or discuss how they plan to relate to him.

A statement by the Jewish Federations of North America says that the federations “respect and salute Israel’s vibrant democratic process, which allows all Israelis a voice and vote in forming their government,” and “look forward to working with the government selected by the Israeli people, as we always have, to support Jews around the world and strengthen the relationships between Israel, the North American Jewish community, and our government leaders.”

Asked about the group’s approach to Ben-Gvir, a JFNA spokesperson told eJewishPhilanthropy that the contours of the coalition have not been finalized yet, and that American Jews’ “relationship with Israel is built on our shared values and ideals, such as democracy, support of the rule of law and equal justice for all. It is always our priority to strengthen these shared values.”

The American Jewish Committee, now led by former Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, was more direct in addressing the role of Ben-Gvir and his Religious Zionism party. “For AJC, and for many Jews in America, Israel, and around the world, past statements of some potential members of the governing coalition raise serious concerns about issues we prioritize: pluralism, inclusion, and increased opportunities for peace and normalization,” its statement said. “Regardless of the composition of any governing coalition, we will continue to work with those in the Israeli government and in Israeli society who are committed to advancing democracy, inclusion, and peace, and to combating efforts to undermine these values.”

The Union for Reform Judaism named Ben-Gvir and party leader Bezalel Smotrich, and said, “Their platforms and past actions indicate that they would curtail the authority of Israel’s Supreme Court and inhibit the rights of Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, members of the LGBTQ+ community and large segments of Jews who are non-Orthodox. Including Ben Gvir and Smotrich in the government will likely jeopardize Israel’s democracy and will force the country to reckon with its place on the world stage.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee did not mention Ben-Gvir, but said, “As Israel determines the formation of its new government, it is clear that the Knesset – like the U.S. Congress – will include leaders of a wide range of different political, ideological, economic, racial, and religious identities and perspectives.”

The center-left Israel Policy Forum, which advocates for a two-state solution, named Ben-Gvir and said, “Should Itamar Ben-Gvir and his Otzma Yehudit faction be part of the next coalition and wield any measure of power, it will put significant stress on U.S.-Israel relations and challenge the notion of shared values upon which the strength of the relationship is based, while raising deep and legitimate concerns about the robustness of Israeli democracy.”

And J Street, the liberal Israel lobby, went further, decrying an “ultra-right-wing Netanyahu government” that “will force a moment of reckoning for the US-Israel relationship, and for all Americans who care about a just, equal and democratic future for all those living in Israel and Palestine.”

strange bedfellows

A Lebanese navy patrol boat next to a buoy marking the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel in the Mediterranean Sea on Oct. 27, 2022.

A Lebanese navy patrol boat next to a buoy marking the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel in the Mediterranean Sea on Oct. 27, 2022.

When Israel and Lebanon reached a historic agreement regarding their maritime border last week to open up drilling in two natural gas fields in the Mediterranean that were previously in disputed territory, the deal had unexpected supporters: two Israeli environmental groups, reports Melanie Lidman for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Benefits: In most places around the world, environmental activists are usually quick to condemn any new maritime gas announcements. But Israeli environmental groups that prioritize two of the agreements’ areas of focus, maritime issues and regional cooperation, applauded the deal, focusing on the opportunities that the agreement could inspire in other long-running conflicts in the region. “We want our electricity to come from renewable sources, but right now we’re in a time of transition,” explained Youval Arbel, the deputy director of Zalul, a nonprofit environmental group focused on seas and streams.

Paradigm shift: For EcoPeace Middle East, an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian environmental group that works on cross-border initiatives, the deal is “a paradigm shift of diplomacy” that could usher in a new strategy for peace agreements in the region, Gidon Bromberg, the group’s Israeli co-director, told eJP, even though he said, “We understand that we need to stop burning fossil fuel, full stop.”

Read the full story here.

campus climate

Antisemitism is rising on campus. We’re rising to confront it.

Jewish students gather at GW Hillel ahead of the High Holidays

“Hate crimes targeting U.S. Jews last year reached their highest levels since the Anti-Defamation League started tracking antisemitism in 1979. And last year, Hillel tracked more than 500 instances of Jewish students and their campus institutions being subjected to antisemitic harassment, discrimination and attack — more than three times the number of incidents recorded when today’s seniors were starting college just a few years ago. This challenge is aggravated by the intense and ongoing demonization of Israel on many college campuses, targeting and marginalizing Jewish students, often regardless of their views about or relationships to Israel,” writes Hillel International CEO Adam Lehman in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Empowering students to respond: “The current spike in antisemitism demands a strong, sustained and strategic community response: That’s why Hillel and our many partners are aggressively countering campus antisemitism from every angle. For starters, we operate from a core belief that the most important way to support Jewish students is by building strong, welcoming and vibrant Jewish student communities that empower students to loudly and proudly develop and express their Jewish identities without fear. And this part of the equation is working — we are on track for more students to participate in Jewish life and experiences through Hillel during the 2022-2023 academic year than at any time in our 100-year history.”

Advising administrators: “But we also know that other interventions are required to address the unacceptable ways in which Jewish students encounter bias, discrimination, harassment or worse. University administrators play a fundamental role in establishing and governing campus climate, so we are rapidly expanding our Campus Climate Initiative (CCI) to provide higher education leaders with the knowledge and support they need to be stronger, more effective partners in countering the scourge of campus antisemitism.”

Read the full piece here.

parsha phil

“The words ‘lech lecha’ appear as bookends on either side of Avram’s spiritual journey. The first appears in this week’s Torah portion, which says, ‘Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house’ (Bereshit 12:1) as his travels begin. And the second comes from the instruction in next week’s portion that Avram — now Avraham — take his son to the land of Moriah to be sacrificed, where it again says ‘lech lecha,’ ‘Go away to the land of Moriah.’ Why does God use the words ‘lech lecha’ specifically in these two instances?” Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn asks in this week’s Parsha Phil column for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Taking a leap of faith: “The first is a call to go out and leave the familiar – his family, his comfort zone and his sense of stability. This is in order to leave behind whatever may hold him back and face the unknown potential and blessings that can come from following God’s path. As the commentator Or HaChayim teaches, ‘lecha’ refers to the call to go to our best self, or as the Zohar says, it’s the challenge to get to know and fix ourselves. The second ‘lech lecha’ is a call to sacrifice, to turn everything, even his child’s life, over to God. It’s a test of faith against instinct, a leap into the unknown, even into terror.”

Facing self and circumstance: “What’s the common thread? Both instances of ‘lech lecha’ require that Avraham proactively face whatever comes next and make something meaningful out of it, even if he must transcend himself and his circumstances.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

The Transparency Effect: With salary transparency laws now in effect in New York City — and with California, New York State, Illinois, Nevada and Connecticut soon following suit — employers should embrace transparency, writes Sara Shapiro-Plevan in The Times of Israel. “The more transparency organizations offer about how decisions are made, the more commitment employees demonstrate to organizational mission and vision. In general, this translates into retention, loyalty and higher levels of morale, and general job satisfaction. Most employers want people to enjoy working with them, to feel good about the work they do, and feel good about being a part of their team: this is amplified when they understand how salaries are constructed, why people are paid the way they’re paid, and how their individual contributions are rewarded. Transparency matters.” [TOI]

Storytelling, Empathy & Wealth: 
Melissa Berman, the outgoing president and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, shared some thoughts about philanthropy, impact investing and crowdfunding via social media becoming the future of philanthropy, Fang Block writes in Barron’sPenta site. “For charities, while it’s very tempting to tell the donor what the donor wants to hear, ‘there are opportunities that charities have to try and tell the story using real examples, to show how long change is gonna take, how complicated it is, and what that process is really going to be like,’ she says. ‘Storytelling is a great way to help people get empathy with one another.’ Berman says it’s very easy for people to consume news and become discouraged, but philanthropy has had an impact in the past and will continue to have a positive impact. ‘There are a lot of very legitimate questions about wealth and whether people have too much wealth and whether those wealth holders have too much power. But being charitable is a natural part of being a human person everywhere in the world. So I still believe very strongly in the power of philanthropy to make our world a better place.’” [Penta]

Around the Web

NBA guard Kyrie Irving and his team, the Brooklyn Nets, will each donate $500,000 toward “causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities,” according to a joint statement from Irving, the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League, which will work with Irving and the team on the educational initiative.

Irving, who promoted an antisemitic movie on Twitter, said in the statement, “I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day. I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility.”…

Officials from the World Jewish Congress met with representatives of more than 25 governments and international organizations yesterday and urged them to place increased focus on combating hate on social media…

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, and his wife Judy Schmidt are actively recruiting other philanthropists to join P150, a new initiative to help better facilitate collaboration and cooperation among funders…

Julie Wiener is starting as assistant director of The Hadassah Foundation in mid-November. She was previously director of communications at the Jewish Funders Network

Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turnerreceived Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award for character, community involvement and philanthropy, before Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday night…

Pic of the Day

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A student from Lawndale High School poses for a photo in Los Angeles with Joseph Alexander, 99, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, who was in 12 different concentration camps, after Alexander shared his story with a group of students at the Holocaust Museum LA last week.


STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – DECEMBER 10: Professor James E. Rothman, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine acknowledges applause after he received his Nobel Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony at Concert Hall on December 10, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine, professor at Yale University, James Rothman

Chancellor emeritus of The Jewish Theological Seminary, where he also served as a professor of Jewish history, Ismar Schorsch, Ph.D.… Senior U.S. district judge in California, he is the younger brother of retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Charles Breyer… Major League Baseball pitcher with more career victories (174) than any other Jewish pitcher, Ken Holtzman… U.S. senator, Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI)… Resident of Great Barrington, Mass., and a part-time researcher at UC Berkeley, Barbara Zheutlin… Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine, professor at Yale University, James Rothman… Rabbi emeritus at Temple Anshe Sholom in Olympia Fields, Ill., Paul Caplan… Actress, comedian, writer and television producer, best known for the long-running and award-winning television sitcom “Roseanne,” Roseanne Barr… Comedian, talk show host, political and sports commentator, Dennis Miller… Manuscript editor and lecturer, author of books on the stigma of childlessness and on the Balfour Declaration, Elliot Jager… Award-winning Israeli photographer whose works have appeared in galleries in many countries, Naomi Leshem… Regional director of development for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Jeanne Epstein… Co-founder and former CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, Michael Morhaime

Entrepreneur-in-residence at Loeb Enterprises II, he was previously co-chair of the board of the Yeshiva University Museum, Edward Stelzer… VP for federal affairs at CVS Health, she was the White House director of legislative affairs in the last year of the Obama administration, Amy Rosenbaum… Founder of AKM Consulting, providing fundraising consulting services to progressive candidates and nonprofit organizations, Amie Kershner… Partner at political consulting firm GDA Wins, Gabby Adler… Agent at Creative Artists Agency, Rachel Elizabeth Adler… Actress who won three Daytime Emmy Awards for her role on ABC’s “General Hospital,” Julie Berman… Director of corporate responsibility, communications and engagement at Southern Company Gas, Robin Levy Gray… Managing director at Guggenheim Partners, Rowan Morris… Executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, Yael Averbuch West… Former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, he is the founder of Compass Coffee, Michael Haft… New York state senator, Michelle Hinchey… Former director for China in the White House’s National Security Council, Julian Baird Gewirtz… Director of data solutions at Civis Analytics, Ben Kirshner… MBA candidate at The Wharton School, Caroline Michelman… Former director of media outreach at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Noy Assraf Azran… Actress Diana Silvers… Stu Rosenberg…