First Read For Feb. 8


The “World’s Greatest Authority” has died.

Irwin Corey, a comedian and actor who performed for seven decades in the guise of a befuddled, absent-minded, nonsense-spouting professor, and remained true to his liberal, Jewish urban roots, passed away yesterday at his Manhattan home. He was 102.

He was, the New York Times wrote, “a caricature of every windbag who ever emptied his lungs.”

Along with five of his young siblings, he became a ward of the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum.

A busy actor, he once portrayed Jesus in a play in Boston, which he called “a piece of typecasting for a short Jewish atheist.”


Democrats in the House of Representatives yesterday failed in an effort to pass a resolution that criticizes the White House for not mentioning the Jewish people in its recent statement recognizing International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Washington Examiner reports.

“The White House was wrong on this,” said House Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY). “It is true that not all the victims were Jews. But all the Jews were victims.”

Led by Crowley, Democrats tried to force the House to vote on a resolution that called on the White House “to affirm that the Nazi regime targeted the Jewish people in its perpetration of the Holocaust.” More than 100 House Democrats co-sponsored the measure. But Republicans rejected the Democrats’ plan in a party-line vote.

“The Trump administration doubled down and defended its statement, despite many pointing out the consequences of such inaccuracies,” said Crowley, referring to a report that the White House intentionally did not mention Jews, an allegation the Trump administration denies.



Reports that “White House Svengali” Steve Bannon, a top advisor to President Trump, once referred to the American Jewish community as “enablers of Islamic jihad,” has revived accusations that the former Breitbart News publisher is an anti-Semite, Andrew Silow-Carroll writes on JTA.

“On its face the accusation …is weak,” Carroll writes. “Bannon’s point about jihad’s ‘enablers’ is not that Jews share an ideology with the jihadists but the opposite: As a largely liberal community, American Jews support civil liberties and immigrants’ rights — creating a climate, so goes the argument, that even with the best of intentions supposedly allows terrorists to thrive.”

On Breitbart, “Jewish” is synonymous with “liberal,” according to the writer.  “Trump bought into the good Jews-bad Jews view of the world in picking David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel … what troubles so many Jews, including some Jewish Republicans, is the deeply conditional nature of a support that says ‘If you’re with me, I’m with you.’ It’s … the ideological version of two of the weakest defenses in the accused bigot’s arsenal: ‘Some of my best friends are Jewish’ and ‘I have Jewish grandchildren.’”



If all goes as planned, an Israeli delegation of Jewish and Arab youth movement leaders will head to the Greek island of Lesbos next week to help establish educational and social programs there for young Syrian refugees, according to Haaretz.

“Teaming up in the effort will be two youth movements – Zionist-socialist Hashomer Hatzair and the Arab Ajyal group – who have a long history of cooperation, though never in something quite like this,” Haaretz reports. The Lesbos project will be overseen by the Tel Aviv-based humanitarian assistance organization Natan.


Tel Aviv University ranks among the top schools in the world that produce billion-dollar startups, JTA reports, referencing a study conducted by the cloud accounting software firm, Sage.

The Israeli school placed eighth for training the founders of so-called unicorns, startup firms worth more than $1 billion.

Stanford University topped the list, followed by Harvard.

Companies founded by TAU alumni include ForeScout, a computer security firm whose co-founders attended the school, and ironSource, which builds tools for app developers.


The Israel Army’s Home Front Command is preparing for thousands of rockets that are expected to strike Israel during the next war, the Jerusalem Post reports.

According to the paper, the Home Front command is investing “hundreds of millions of shekels over the past two years on defensive measures and strengthening strategic capabilities.”

The IDF considers Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, “the most substantial threat,” the Post reports, “with at least 120,000 rockets aimed at Israel, many of them able to strike anywhere in the country.”

Israel’s already state-of-the-art alert system is being upgraded, as the number of “polygon” alert zones is set to increase to a few thousand by April 2018, which means that — as opposed to a siren sounding for an entire city — individual neighborhoods or streets will be alerted to take shelter.