Daily Kickoff: Congress likely to vote on opposing BDS in coming months | Kushner’s WINEP talk tonight | Meet Iceland’s only Rabbi
JI SCOOP — A resolution putting Congress on record as opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is likely to go to the floor for a vote in the summer, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) told Jewish Insider.
“My understanding from our leadership is that the anti-BDS legislation will be on the floor this summer,” Rep. Gottheimer said, referring to a resolution authored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and introduced last month. The resolution has garnered at least 229 co-sponsors. “A majority of the Democratic Caucus supports this critical legislation and I’m confident that it will pass the House,” he added.
Rep. Gottheimer’s comments come after House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told JI on Tuesday, “We’re trying to stay clear of the BDS right now.”
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), a co-sponsor of the Rep. Schneider’s resolution, said the expectation was that a vote would happen quickly. “My understanding, and actually the commitment from Brad Schneider, was that it was going to come up. I expected — I was hoping imminently.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a supporter of the BDS movement against Israel, blasted the Trump administration for sanctioning the Maduro regime in Venezuela in an appearance on Democracy Now’s daily show.
“This particular bullying and the use of sanctions to eventually intervene and make regime change really does not help the people of countries like Venezuela, and it certainly does not help and is not in the interest of the United States,” Omar explained. “I remember talking to Madam Secretary Albright… and she concurred with me that many of the sanctions that we impose ultimately lead to devastations — and we are seeing it now in Venezuela — and ultimately lead to having severe problems in that country, which doesn’t stabilize life for the people, and certainly puts us here in the United States at risk.”
HEARD LAST NIGHT — President Trump in remarks at the National Day of Prayer dinner in the White House’s state dining room: “All of us in this room send our love and prayers to the Jewish Americans wounded at the Chabad of Poway shooting in California — so tragic, so terrible. And our hearts break for the life of Laurie Gilbert-Kaye who was so wickedly taken from us… Violence and terrorism against people of all faiths must end and it must end now.”[CSPAN]
On the Kosher menu: Baked salmon, rice and green beans [Pic]
SPOTTED: Jared Kushner, Norm Coleman, Abba Cohen, Nathan Diament, Ezra Friedlander and Yechezkel Moskowitz
The president also invited Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway to the National Day of Prayer event he will host in the Rose Garden at 11am EST.
NYTIMES TAKES ACTION — The New York Times is “taking disciplinary steps” with “a single production editor working without adequate oversight,” who selected the antisemitic cartoon for publication in the newspaper’s international edition last week, the Times’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, announced in a memo to staff.
The newspaper will no longer run syndicated cartoons created by artists who have no direct ties to the Times, according to Sulzberger, and will also update its bias training to include a focus on antisemitism.
The cartoonist, António Moreira Antunes, said in an interview with CNN that the antisemitism charges are a misunderstanding “made through the Jewish propaganda machine, which is, anytime there’s criticism it’s because there’s someone antisemitic on the other side, and that’s not the case.”
Brian Stelter, Hadas Gold and Oliver Darcy, reporters for CNN, spoke with over a dozen Times staffers about the controversy. [CNNBusiness]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Speaking at a state ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spotlighted “the publication of cartoons and articles dripping with hatred of Jews and Israel – even in respected newspapers. This is not legitimate criticism of Israel – I would not dwell on this if it were not systematic, poisonous, deceitful slander that constantly undermines the legitimacy of the Jewish nation-state. This is intolerable hypocrisy that must not be tolerated.” [Video]
HAPPENING TODAY — White House senior advisor Jared Kushner will be the keynote speaker at the Washington Institute’s 2019 Soref Symposium dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C.”Inside the Trump Administration’s Middle East Peace Effort: A Conversation With Jared Kushner” will be moderated by executive director Robert Satloff. A panel of experts — Dennis Ross, David Makovsky, Mike Herzog, Ghaith al-Omari and Susan Glasser — will follow to analyze Kushner’s comments.
Washington Institute’s David Makovsky tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: “There’s skepticism that the Trump peace plan will work, and we wanted to make sure to give the Trump administration an opportunity — on the record — to put forward the principals they feel comfortable sharing and seek to allay some of the skepticism. I think people will want to come with an open mind and certainly, we’ll want to be respectful to a representative of the administration to hear their point of view.”
Makovsky shared his skepticism of the peace plan, expected to be presented this summer, after three similar attempts by previous administrations: “I’m skeptical only because I feel the Venn diagram between Netanyahu and Abbas does not overlap. On the five core issues — borders, security arrangements, Jerusalem, refugees, and mutual recognition ― there are some gaps. This administration has said they want to try to solve this problem. My hope is that even if this doesn’t succeed in solving all the problems and hitting a home run to end this conflict, that it will be used as a catalyst to spark renewed conversation between Israel and the Palestinians.”
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced a resolution seeking to stop U.S. assistance to the Israeli military from being used in the administrative detention of Palestinian children age 17 and younger.“I just introduced H.R. 2407, the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, to prohibit funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel,” Rep. McCollum wrote on Twitter. The text also calls for an estimated $19 million to be made available for non-governmental organizations to document alleged human rights abuses against Palestinian children in the West Bank.
NGO Monitor criticized Rep. McCollum’s proposal for citing research from Defense for Children International-Palestine and said that the current and former officials in the organization have connections to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an E.U.- and U.S.-designated terrorist organization. “Like its predecessor, this bill is based entirely on the false claims of NGOs,” Yona Schiffmiller, director of research at NGO monitor, said in a statement. “Foremost is Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), whose US bank account was shut down due to its connections to the PFLP terrorist organization. It is absurd that a group with ties to terror has been lobbying Congress and writing legislation that would provide it with US taxpayer funding.”
Democratic representatives expressed concern for the planned evacuation and demolition of a Bedouin village in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, as supporters of the communities continue to fight in Israeli courts over the future of the village.
“As strong supporters of the U.S.-Israeli special relationship and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we are deeply concerned about the potential forced evacuation and demolition of the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar and the Palestinian village of Susiya in the West Bank,” the congress members wrote in the statement, signed by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), David Price (D-NC), John Yarmuth (D-KY), Peter Welch (D-VT), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).
They called on the Israeli government to revoke demolition orders and said the “destruction or displacement of these villages… run counter to shared American and Israeli values and undermine long-term Israeli security, Palestinian dignity, and the prospects for peacefully achieving two states for two peoples.”
Senators are expected to vote on whether to override President Trump’s veto to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. A two-thirds majority is needed to override a presidential veto, yet the original bill only passed with a simple majority, 54-46. President Trump vetoed the bill earlier this month.
Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) told Jewish Insider that he opposes overriding the veto. “I will be with the president on that resolution,” he said.
TALK OF THE REGION — Jordan’s King Abdullah II had ordered a review of his country’s $10 billion agreement to import Israeli natural gas, London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported. Senior Jordanian political sources told the paper that the king was using a technical report that examines Jordan’s interests from the agreement to pressure Israel to lower its price for the gas and/or to deflect pressure from Jordan’s parliament to cancel the deal.
IRAN SANCTIONS — Trump’s decision to ban all Iranian oil purchases after May 1 came after hawkish economic and security advisors allayed the president’s fears of an oil price hike, sources familiar with the internal debate told Reuters. “No one’s actually tried to take this all the way to zero,” a senior administration was quoted as saying, adding that forging a consensus among government agencies required “a lot of work.”
Some Iranian officials concur with U.S. estimates that sales could collapse to 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day this summer. That compares with 2.5 million daily barrels in May 2018, when President Trump said he would withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear agreement.
2020 WATCH — Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) announced his presidential candidacy on CBS This Morning, making him the 21st candidate to enter the Democratic primary race… Joe Biden calls for an end to U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen… Biden faces a conflict of interest questions that are being promoted by Trump and allies… Trump’s Biden-bashing splits his advisers, with Jared Kushner warning him that meddling in the Democratic primary politics could be counterproductive… Mayor Buttigieg is meeting powerful donors and charming the coastal media. But what about his day job back in South Bend?
— South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg took an audience question about his position on the Iran nuclear deal during a taping of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in New York on Monday. “I think the Iran deal is something that we should be party to and should strengthen it. We didn’t do it as a favor to Iran. We did it to reduce a nuclear threat, and it’s still a good policy.” [Video]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Billionaire Marc Benioff donates $30 million to research homelessness [CNN] • Studio President Alan Bergman will become co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios alongside its current chairman, Alan Horn[WSJ] • Amazon opens its platform to local retail market in Israel [Reuters]
MILKEN RECAP — Milken elite reveal anxiety over ‘class war’ and ‘revolution’ — by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, Lindsay Fortado and James Fontanella-Khan: “The biggest applause from the 4,000-strong crowd in Beverly Hills was for a guest appearance by Margaret Thatcher… Mr. Milken played a video of Thatcher from two years before she became UK prime minister. ‘Capitalism has a moral basis,’ she declared, and ‘to be free, you have to be capitalist.’ Applause rippled through the ballroom… Executives are paying close attention to what one investment company CEO called ‘the shift left of the Democratic party.’” [FinancialTimes]
— “In Beverly Hills, the chicken Caesar salad costs $25.95. Stephen Schwarzman, with a net worth of $14.3 billion, could buy one for all 329 million people in the U.S. today — and then do so again tomorrow for 222 million of them… Even with all the lip service paid to correcting societal ills, much of the conference was aimed at the very privileged. On panels, executives pitched services such as selfie-friendly helicopter rides. One touted the benefits of micro-dosing LSD. And, on Monday morning, a handful of attendees meditated to the sound of chiming bells, while others networked nearby over a spread of bagels and coffee. By Wednesday, attendees were snacking on make-your-own avocado toast.” [Bloomberg]
Richard Sandler, a trustee of the Milken Family Foundation, tells us regarding the evolution of the Global Conference: “It has been a privilege to watch Michael Milken from a front row seat for over forty years as he employs his immense talents and vision to improve the world for mankind whether by revolutionizing the world of finance in democratizing capital to create new businesses and millions of jobs or through his transformational philanthropy in so many area, especially in health care where he has revolutionized the way research is funded and shared to prevent and cure serious diseases which has resulted in saving millions of lives. No matter what obstacles have been put before him, he has maintained a positive attitude and continued his extraordinary efforts. The 2019 Milken Institute Global Conference is the most recent example of how one person can make a difference.”
PROFILE — The story behind Iceland’s only rabbi — by Fortunato Salazar: “Estimates of Iceland’s Jewish population range from zero to a couple hundred… Officially and legally, the government of Iceland doesn’t recognize Judaism as a religion. So, in the census tally, zero gets the final word. Rabbi Avi Feldman, a tall, lanky 27-year-old with a tawny beard who hails from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has made it his mission to raise the tally. It’s part of the fight against rising anti-Semitism… Feldman moved to Iceland late last year along with his wife, Mushky, and their three young daughters… Feldman’s move is historic because, since World War II, Iceland has not had a rabbi.”[Ozy]
NEXT CHAPTER — Rahm Emanuel, leaving office after two terms as Chicago mayor, is still campaigning — for the history books. As the Washington Post‘sDavid Von Drehle notes, in an interview with an out-of-town columnist Emanuel spotlighted a booming, gleaming, bustling downtown to shape the narrative of his tenure that had critics claim that he ignored the city’s neighborhoods. Emanuel is alsodeveloping a new side gig: warning Democrats about the dangers of 21st Century progressivism, on cable TV and in the pixels of The Atlantic, racking up 11 bylines in the publication since announcing he wouldn’t run for a third term last September.
MEDIA WATCH — As the Markup Implodes, Craig Newmark Is Learning How Journalism Really Works — by Joe Pompeo: “Last week, a heated fracas burst forth at the Markup, an inchoate, data-oriented technology watchdog that Newmark had partly funded with a $20 million gift. The fireworks began when founding editor in chief Julia Angwin… revealed that she had been fired via e-mail by co-founder and executive director Sue Gardner… In the ensuing days, the majority of the Markup’s still small newsroom resigned in protest, and the two sides waged dueling P.R. campaigns, each one knocking down the other’s version of events in the press.”[VanityFair]
Conservative Host Ben Shapiro Target of Death Threats, FBI Makes Arrest: “Ben Shapiro, the conservative talk show host and editor of The Daily Wire, was the target of serious death threats and the suspect has just been arrested… Law enforcement sources tell us, Shapiro, who frequently appears on cable news shows and has a hugely popular podcast, filed a police report with the LAPD… Our sources say a man was arrested Wednesday in Washington state for making the threats.” [TMZ]
Rapper Meek Mill posted a photo with Patriots CEO Bob Kraft, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, Jay Z, Van Jones and Dan Loeb. [Pic]
EUROVISION 2019 — Eurovision Gives Israel Controversy and Branding Opportunity — by Ivan Levingston and Michael Arnold: “The Eurovision song contest in Israel later this month… will mark a shift in the country’s tourism strategy, promoting Tel Aviv as a hotbed of culture and innovation after decades of focusing on religious-based visits… Eurovision performances are meant to be apolitical, but some delegations have hinted they may use the stage to criticize Israeli policy toward the Palestinians… ‘The government and the Ministry of Tourism are pushing Tel Aviv like it was never promoted in the past,’ said Oded Grofman, director general of the Tel Aviv Hotel Association.. ‘For us, it’s like hosting the Super Bowl.'” [Bloomberg]
TALK OF THE TOWN — The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked Christian theology, raising tough questions for evangelical pastors — by Julie Zauzmer: “Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: that Jewish people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his intention to kill Jews would glorify God. Days later, the Rev. Mika Edmondson read those words and was stunned. ‘It certainly calls for a good amount of soul-searching,’ said Edmondson, a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church… Earnest’s actions on Saturday in Poway have spurred debate among evangelical pastors about the role of a certain stream of Christian theology in shaping the young man’s worldview.” [WashPost]
ACROSS THE SEA — Antisemitism ‘calling into question future of Jewish life in Europe’ — by Harriet Sherwood: “The future of Jewish life in Europe is being called into question by rising antisemitism, according to an analysis of global attacks and abuse. Jews in many countries around the world feel an ‘increasing sense of emergency,’ said Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, launching the 2018 Kantor Center report on global antisemitism… The analysis found an increase in 2018 in almost all forms of antisemitism, with the number of major violent incidents rising by 13%, from 342 to 387.” [TheGuardian]
CAMPUS BEAT — College Council rejects Williams Initiative For Israel — by William Newton: “Students advocating against [Williams Initiative For Israel] took issue with the lack of specificity they saw in WIFI’s stated mission. ‘From our perspective, there are ways of supporting Israeli statehood that don’t support the occupation or human rights abuses against Palestinians, but there are ways of doing that that definitely do,’ said Joseph Moore ’20, who attended and spoke at both meetings as a guest. ‘[WIFI’s] inability to take a political stance with reference to those issues was incredibly problematic, and I think it came out during several parts of the conversation.'”[WilliamsRecord]
BIRTHDAYS: Former Lord Chief Justice and President of the Courts of England and Wales, Baron Harry Kenneth Woolf turns 86… Professor of international relations and Middle Eastern studies at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir turns 82… President of four radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, Alan Merril Gottlieb turns 72… Former member of the Texas Senate (1993-2013), Florence Shapiro turns 71… Former USAID contractor imprisoned by Cuba from 2009 to 2014, Alan Gross turns 70… Co-founder and president of private equity firm NCH Capital, he has funded the establishment of more than 220 Chabad Houses at universities throughout the world, George Rohr turns 65… Analyst at MSNBC, he was previously Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2014-2016) and Managing Editor of Time Magazine (2006-2013), Richard Allen “Rick” Stengel turns 64… Member of the New York State Assembly since 2010, David Weprin turns 63…
Former US Secretary of Commerce (2013-2017) and chairman of the private investment firm she founded PSP Capital Partners, Penny Sue Pritzker turns 60… Partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Jodi J. Schwartz turns 59… Director of the Chabad Center in Bratislava, Slovakia, Rabbi Baruch Myersturns 55… Founder and CEO of Shutterstock, Jonathan E. Oringer turns 45… Deputy chief of staff to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Stephen Schatz turns 39… DC-based CBS News correspondent, once a K-12 student at CESJDS in Rockville, Julianna Goldman turns 38… Founder and president of ETS Advisory, she was previously at the Center for American Progress (2013-2018), Emily Tisch Sussman turns 37… J.D. candidate at Cardozo School of Law, he was previously a senior communications specialist at HIAS and West End Strategy Team, Gabe Cahn turns 29… Director of development at Cornell Hillel, Susanna K. Cohen turns 29…