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Mayor apologizes to Orthodox, Zionist moderates speak up, ‘Borat’ mocks anti-Semitic QAnon
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Daily Update

Mayor apologizes to Orthodox, Zionist moderates speak up, ‘Borat’ mocks anti-Semitic QAnon

Sacha Baron Cohen appears in character as Borat Sagdiyev on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Oct. 19, 2020. (Screen shot from YouTube)
Sacha Baron Cohen appears in character as Borat Sagdiyev on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Oct. 19, 2020. (Screen shot from YouTube)

Mayor Bill de Blasio regrets how he handled a large chasidic funeral in the pandemic’s early days.

Back in April, after a large funeral for a local rabbi in Brooklyn drew thousands of Orthodox Jews into the streets of Williamsburg, de Blasio visited the scene himself and called out “the Jewish community” for irresponsible behavior. The tweet damaged relatively warm relations between the mayor and the city’s Orthodox community.

“I look back now and understand there was just more dialogue that was needed,” de Blasio said during a press conference Tuesday. “I certainly got very frustrated at times when I saw large groups of people still out without masks but I think more dialogue would have been better so I certainly want to express my regret that I didn’t figure out how to do that better.”

Related: An anonymous Twitter account sough to discredit New York’s Satmar chasidic community, by falsely claiming that tens of thousands of Satmar Jews gathered Monday for a wedding in Williamsburg despite a state pandemic ban. The tweet used footage of a funeral from 2006.

Perspective: A charedi Orthodox activist explains why he blew the whistle on plans for the Satmar wedding, which was eventually shut down by Gov. Cuomo. “Stopping it from happening almost certainly meant saving lives,” writes Naftuli Moster.

A coalition of legacy Jewish groups has temporarily blocked a plan by Orthodox and right-wing parties to hoard top positions at the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund and other crucial groups that spend $1 billion annually on international Jewish causes.

As the 38th World Zionist Congress convened virtually Tuesday, delegates from Hadassah, Naamat, Maccabi, B’nai B’rith International, the Women’s International Zionist Organization and Emunah stepped in on behalf of liberal delegates to delay the vote on the right-wing plan until Thursday, in order to renegotiate how the professional leadership will be selected.

The right-wing coalition believes it deserves sole control of spending because of its strong showing in this year’s election of the U.S. portion of the World Zionist Congress.

Why it matters: Liberal groups argue that the top positions at the agencies — which give Diaspora Jews a voice in Israel affairs — have until now been filled in consultation with all constituent bodies. Without this consultation, the liberal groups say, tens of thousands of Diaspora Jews will have no say on spending related to religious pluralism, minority communities and settlement activity in the West Bank.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) is asking the Justice Department to amend its position on a pending Supreme Court case involving artworks stolen by the Nazis.

The Queens Democrat and her House colleagues, Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.), are concerned the U.S. has bought into a German government assertion that art sold by Jewish dealers during Hitler’s regime does not count as “expropriated” art. In a letter to U.S. Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, the lawmakers say that Jews had no choice but to sell their valuables when Hitler and the Nazi Party had complete control of Germany.

“Germany’s economic coercion robbed Jews of the ability to keep property that was rightfully theirs,” Meng said in a statement.

The case, which Supreme Court will hear on Dec. 7, asks whether Germany must make good on claims of stolen property worth some $250 million.

The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg designated part of a cash prize to the New Israel Fund.

The National Constitution Center awarded Ginsburg its 2020 Liberty Medal, which is accompanied by a $100,000 prize, on Sept.17, just one day before her death. “Justice Ginsburg decided to divide the prize among the institutions and organizations that meant the most to her,” including the liberal New Israel Fund, said Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, in a statement.

Said Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund: “We will do justice to her faith in us and in all those who are working toward a democratic and equal future for all Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans.”

A new anthology collects 50 examples of Yiddish children’s literature that are “essential…to understanding Jewish history and culture in the twentieth century.”

The Jewish Week interviews the book’s editor and translator, Miriam Udel, who says the stories represent the political and educational goals of a lost Yiddish civilization that stretched from Eastern Europe to New York and Latin America. The stories in “Honey on the Page” should be read by families today, “putting a joyful, lively Yiddish on the radar for a lot of kids.”

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen mocked anti-Semitic conspiracy theories during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Monday night.

In character as “Borat” — an anti-Semitic, misogynist journalist from Kazakhstan — Cohen blamed Israel for the coronavirus, spouted anti-Semitic elements from the QAnon conspiracy theory and said Jews control the media. Watch the video here.

Borat returns in Cohen’s upcoming film, which premieres on Amazon Prime on Friday, duping apparently unsuspecting Americans to reveal their racist, anti-Semitic and misogynist tendencies.

Background: Cohen, an observant Jew, last year received an award from the ADL for his efforts to fight disinformation. In his acceptance speech, Cohen called social media the “greatest propaganda machine in history,” and he has since grown only more outspoken in his criticism of Facebook and other social media companies for their role in facilitating the spread of false and dangerous information.

Streaming Today

The Los Angeles Press Club presents Malina Saval in conversation with author Amy Klein about her book, “The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant without Losing Your Mind.” Klein wrote the “Fertility Diary” column for The New York Times’s Motherlode blog for three years. Saval is a features editor at Variety covering the film, TV and music beats. Register here. 2:00 pm.

FJC presents a conversation with Kate Dodson, Vice President for Global Health Strategy at the UN Foundation, as she shares how the global community is contributing to the fight to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and its many secondary impacts. The webinar is first in a planned series of three that FJC will host with experts from the UN Foundation to highlight inspiring work around the globe. The conversation will be moderated by FJC’s CEO Sam Marks. RSVP here. 2:00 pm.

The Florida Jewish Vote for Biden team presents “Israel’s Security and Prosperity in a Biden White House,” featuring Congressman Ted Deutch and Haim Saban. They will discuss issues specific to Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge, normalization agreements, and regional stability as well as Vice President Biden’s longstanding support for Israel. Saban founded the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and currently chairs its International Advisory Council. Deutch is U.S. Representative for Florida’s 22nd congressional district. Register here. 6:00 pm.

The Jewish Coalition on Criminal Justice Reform presents the first in a series of webinars titled “Reimagining Criminal Justice in New York City Today.” The webinar will provide an overview of recent criminal justice reform efforts in New York and will also include reflections on this work through a Jewish perspective. The event will be moderated by Rabbi Hilly Haber of Central Synagogue and will feature Insha Rahman of the Vera Institute, Pastor Gilford Monrose of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council (GodSquad), and Johnny Perez of the U.S. Prisons Program: National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Register here. 7:00 pm.

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