What will Bibi do when Ilhan Omar arrives in Israel? | Epstein panic in Manhattan, DC & Palm Beach | Haim Saban’s new $500M music label

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DRIVING THE CONVO — From a series of background conversations with House Democrats on Wednesday, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that members are frustrated about being forced to now defend ‘the Squad.’ The members pointed to repeated attacks from their progressive colleagues and noted the contrast with this week’s resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s tweets with the more broad resolution against hate following Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) antisemitic remarks.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Tapper quoted one unnamed House Democrat saying, “Everybody was completely outraged by what the president said, and everybody thought it was appropriate to criticize him. But this was the first time the House has taken action to criticize him in any way. We couldn’t even bring ourselves to have a resolution exclusively condemning antisemitism uttered by one of those members [Omar], but we leapt to their defense here.”

Talia Lavin writes… “When non-Jews wield antisemitism as political shield: The Jews are tired, tired, tired of being used as defenses against naked racism, tired of being used to justify conditions at detention camps. Just plain tired… Jews are not trees, not animals, not mute props to use as cudgels in a war of escalating rhetoric. We do not need to be spoken for, we who have been here since before this country was a country, and want to remain, and know no other home; we are not waiting for your apocalypse.” [GQ]

HEARD ON THE TRAIL — 
President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on Omar and her progressive colleagues, known as “the Squad,” during a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday evening, drawing chants of ‘send her back’ from the crowd. 

“Obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious antisemitic screeds,” Trump said. “And she talked about the ‘evil Israel’ and ‘it’s all about the Benjamins’ — not a good thing to say. So that’s Omar. That’s Omar. And by the way, many other things.” [Video]

Earlier, speaking to reporters on the White House South Lawn before departing for the rally, Trump said that he is “not relishing the fight” with the four members of Congress. “I am enjoying it because I have to get the word out to the American people,” he said. “And you have to enjoy what you do. I enjoy what I do.” Asked by a reporter about the “anti-Israel trend of the Democratic Party,” the president said the party is “going so far left they’re going to fall off a cliff. So I think they’re making a big mistake.” [Video]

HOW IT PLAYED — Trump leans on issue of race in bid for a 2nd term in 2020 — by Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller: 
“Not since George Wallace’s campaign in 1968 has a presidential candidate — and certainly not an incumbent president — put racial polarization at the center of his call to voters. Though Trump’s comments generated outrage and even a resolution of condemnation in the House, the president and his campaign believe the strategy carries far more benefits than risks.” [AP]

Republican Jewish Coalition’s Matt Brooks tweeted this morning: 
“The ‘send her back’ chants were wrong, vile, and don’t reflect who we are as Americans. I strongly oppose Ilhan Omar’s views and policies but those chants have no place in our society.” 

Rep. Omar added fuel to the flame when she announced the introduction of legislation designed to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The resolution — co-sponsored by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and John Lewis (D-GA) — affirms that “all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution” and “opposes unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad.”

SUMMER TRAVELS — Omar told JI’s Laura Kelly on Capitol Hill that she’ll be traveling to Israel and the Palestinian Territories in August. “I am going in a couple of weeks and so I’ll learn more,” Omar said. “But truly, everything that I hear points to both sides feeling like there is still an occupation.” 

When asked where she will visit, the Minnesota lawmaker replied “both,” seemingly referencing Israel and the West Bank, and directed questions about logistics to her office. [JewishInsider]

Last week, Tlaib said she expects to visit the West Bank next month. “My [grandmother] is so excited that I am possibly going to come to see her next month. She is so happy. And I am going to take my two wonderful boys… and they are going to meet their great grandmother. So I am really, really excited about that.”

Following JI’s publication of the story, Haaretz reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to decide whether to issue a waiver to allow Omar and Tlaib to enter the country because they’re supporters of the BDS movement. According to a new law, Israeli authorities can bar the entry of anyone who supports BDS. But denying entry to visiting members of Congress could spark a backlash.

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich tells JI, “It’s very hard for the Israeli government to actually apply the law because, basically in practice, everybody who they try to bar immediately turns to the Supreme Court. So the Supreme Court has barred the effective implementation of the law, and unfortunately, that results in a situation where Israel gets all of the criticism for applying it without the actual benefits of being able to exclude people. Omar is an American congressperson. That is a very strong reason for admitting her. But at the same time, I would expect Israel would seek the opinion of the United States government as to whether to admit her.” 

Our friends over at Politico Playbook speculate that Trump would be pretty pleased if his friend and ally Benjamin Netanyahu did not allow Omar and Tlaib into Israel.

HEARD ON CABLE — In an interview with Gayle King aired on CBS This Morning on Wednesday, Omar said she doesn’t regret the “it’s all about the Benjamins” tweet that drew strong condemnation at the time. “But I am grateful for the opportunity to really learn how my words make people feel and have taken every single opportunity I’ve gotten to make sure that people understood that I apologize for it.”

King: Would you like to make it clear that you are not antisemitic?

Omar: “Oh, certainly not.”

King: Would you like to make that clear?

Omar: “Yes and that nothing I said, at least to me, was meant for that purpose.” [Video

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: At least five bills related to Israel passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, including a resolution by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Karen Bass (D-CA) supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Rep. Brad Schneider’s (D-IL) resolution opposing the global BDS movement against Israel. 

Omar said she supports the two-state solution resolution but opposes the anti-BDS measure.

Schneider told JI: “Well, she’s entitled to her opinion. I’ve been very clear. BDS is hateful, BDS oppose[s] two states, BDS is antisemitic at its core. That’s why it’s important to speak out.” [JewishInsider]

The House and Senate are working towards amending the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, a law passed last year, with the intention of restoring funding to key security and humanitarian projects for Palestinians while also holding the Palestinian Authority accountable in the U.S. justice system, particularly in cases brought forth by American victims of terrorist attacks. 

“American victims of international terrorism need access to justice and the Palestinian Authority needs our assistance to promote security,” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said in a statement. “This important bill would give victims of terrorism their day in court and promote U.S. security interests in the Middle East by improving our nation’s engagement with Palestinian security forces, a relationship highly praised and valued by the Israeli government.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), author of the United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, which passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee markup Wednesday, said that his bill also helps correct unintended negative consequences of the passage of the ATCA. “This bill is a step toward providing American victims of terrorism with a path of justice,” Deutch said during the markup.

The House passed three resolutions Wednesday opposing U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, measures that were earlier adopted by the Senate. The three resolutions, S.J. Res. 36, 37, and 38, were all introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and address opposition to U.S. transfer of weapons, defense articles and services to the two Gulf states. 

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt discussed the Trump peace plan in an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour on Wednesday. “The 60-page plan will address everything, including that question [about Palestinian statehood],” Greenblatt said. “Our plan does not contemplate one state. I think, if it did, we would have released it over two years ago. But I think that one of the challenges of this file, as people speak about the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, as being occupied, I would argue that the land is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties.”

IRAN WATCH — Iranian State TV said Thursday that its Revolutionary Guard forces seized a foreign oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz with 12 crew on board. The TV report accused the tanker of smuggling fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers. While the Iranians did not identify the tanker or its country, U.S. officials have speculated that it originated in Panama.

Fifty Republican members of Congress, led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) wrote a letter to the Trump administration on Wednesday protesting a series of sanctions waivers that have permitted Iran to continue its most contested nuclear research, according to the Washington Free Beacon. The letter urges the president to make good on his promise to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran, and to “dismantle the last remaining vestiges of the failed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) once and for all.”

Visiting the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the travel restrictions placed on Iranian diplomats by the United States are “basically inhuman.” 

NEW IRAN DEAL — President Donald Trump reportedly signed off on the idea that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) should sit down with Zarif to “extend a fresh olive branch on the president’s behalf,” Politico reported. The idea has reportedly “rankled many administration officials,” and it is currently unclear if the senator’s proposed meeting will actually take place at all. 

Eli Lake writes… “On Iran, Is Rand Paul the New John Kerry? Before Paul gets carried away with optimism, he would do well to study a former colleague’s experience with the Iranian foreign minister. In 2015, former Senator and then-Secretary of State John Kerry said that Zarif had assured him that he was empowered to negotiate with the U.S. on regional issues like Syria following the nuclear deal. But that promise was empty… There’s no doubt that Paul, a libertarian who has opposed U.S. interventions since he became a senator, is sincere when he talks about trying to prevent a war with Iran. His interlocutor, however, has a reputation for insincerity.” [Bloomberg]

REPORT — During a trilateral summit in Jerusalem last month, the Trump administration and Israel insisted that any deal on the future of Syria must include Iranian withdrawal from Lebanon and Iraq as well, Israeli Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reported on Wednesday. The first stage in that deal would reportedly require the Iranians to take all their long-range missiles and rockets out of Syria.

In an interview with Moscow-based newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “The U.S. is flexing its muscles by seeking to discredit Tehran and blame all the sins on the Islamic Republic of Iran. This creates a dangerous situation: a single match can start a fire. The responsibility for the possible catastrophic consequences will rest with the United States.” Lavrov said Russia’s ties with both Israel and Iran have “intrinsic value.”

JI INTERVIEW — Nick Langworthy, who replaced Ed Cox as the New York State GOP chairman earlier this month, sat down with JI’s Amy Spiro in Jerusalem this week to discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship, the New York Jewish community and the state’s 2020 congressional races. 

Langworthy was visiting Israel for the first time, and was joined by former Governor Mike Huckabee, as well as two New York women he believes can win seats in Congress next year: Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and former Rep. Claudia Tenney. 

“I think the president at the top of the ticket makes those seats far more competitive, because people will be coming out to support the president,” said Langworthy of the upcoming congressional races. “It’s going to be a far different dynamic than the midterm elections.”

Langworthy said it was important for him that Israel be his first trip on the job, in order to “establish right away, the strength in the support level from our party that I intend to show as chairman for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.” 

Langworthy pledged to run a Republican candidate in all 27 upcoming New York 2020 congressional races, and said his number one goal as the party’s state chairman is to oust Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2022. [JewishInsider]  

PROFILE — Trump’s new top Labor official is expected to advance an anti-labor agenda — by Noam Schreiber and Glenn Thrush: “As an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina, [Patrick Pizzella] wrote columns for the school newspaper, including one in 1972 in which he criticized Senator George McGovern, the recently defeated Democratic presidential nominee, for sending his daughter to an upscale suburban school near Washington. ‘The hypocrisy continues as McGovern expresses the opinion that he represents the working man,’ Mr. Pizzella wrote. ‘That’s similar to Hitler saying he represented the Jewish people in Germany during the 1930s.’ …In the mid-1990s, Mr. Pizzella joined the lobbying arm of the law firm Preston Gates, where Jack Abramoff, who was later convicted of defrauding clients, had set up a growing lobbying practice.” [NYTimes]

NEXT FOR POMPEO — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with KCMO Radio in Kansas City on Wednesday that he is open to reconsidering a run for an open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas. “I would have never dreamed that I’d be the secretary of state even a year before I became the director of the CIA, a year before that,” Pompeo said. “And so, I always leave open the possibility that something will change and my path in life will change too, but my mission set is really very clear.”

2020 BRIEFS —Bernie Sanders strikes familiar notes on ‘Medicare For All’… Sanders urges 2020 rivals to reject health insurance industry donations… Donors love a winner — which is why Silicon Valley is chucking money only at the top 2020 candidates… Harris, Warren surge in new California poll… Why progressives think Joe Biden is not ‘electable’… Pete Buttigieg campaign adds ex-DNC CEO to expanded senior staff. 

What being Jewish means to Bernie — by David Klion: “‘I think there’s a lot of pain and trauma about what happened to his family,’ says David Sirota, a Sanders adviser who consulted on the Brooklyn College [campaign launch] speech, and who is also Jewish. ‘I do think that [speech] was an important moment for him in that he let people see that pain. And frankly, I don’t think it was all that easy for him.’ …‘He’s talking about [his Jewish identity] where it makes sense,’ says Ari Rabin-Havt, Sanders’s chief of staff, who is Jewish. ‘It’s part of the story of where he gets his empathy from.’” [JewishCurrents]

RACE TO THE KNESSET — At a meeting of party activists in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of fomenting a “poisoned atmosphere” leading to a “blood libel” against him over ties to accused sex trafficker and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Barak railed against the “mudslinging that is spread against anyone today who stands against Netanyahu,” comparing it to the incitement in the days before the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

The Daily Mail, which published photos on Tuesday of Barak entering Epstein’s home in 2016 with his face covered, ignored the former prime minister’s ultimatum yesterday that it remove the article by 7 p.m.  Israel time or face a defamation suit. 

The Ohio State University said on Wednesday that it plans to reviewdonations made by Epstein and any organization affiliated with him. “Preliminary findings show that the university has received one gift from Epstein and one gift from an affiliated foundation,” the university said in a statement.

‘It’s going to be staggering, the amount of names’: As the Jeffrey Epstein case grows more grotesque, Manhattan and DC brace for impact — by Gabriel Sherman: “The Jeffrey Epstein case is an asteroid poised to strike the elite world in which he moved. No one can yet say precisely how large it is… A wave of panic is rippling through Manhattan, DC, and Palm Beach, as Epstein’s former friends and associates rush to distance themselves, while gossiping about who might be ensnared… Likely within days, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will release almost 2,000 pages of documents that could reveal sexual abuse by ‘numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders.’” [VanityFair]

** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Boeing hires Kenneth Feinberg to handle 737 max claims [WSJ• Former New York Governor David Paterson takes VP role at Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. [NYPost• The Louvre museum in Paris has removed the name of the Sackler family from a major wing devoted to eastern antiquities [TheGuardian• Shekel resumes gains despite falling inflation [Globes• Another $860 million recovered for Bernie Madoff customers in Kingate settlement [Reuters]

Haim Saban pledges $500 million for new record label — by Leila Cobo: 
“In late 2018, the same topic of conversation would come up every time entertainment mogul Haim Saban chatted with two of his friends, Lucian Grainge and Lyor Cohen. ‘They thought we were on the cusp of the golden age of the music world,’ recalls Saban. ‘The first thing that came to my head was, ‘If this is the golden age, why am I ignoring it?’’ Saban decided to pay attention, to the tune of half a billion dollars: He plans to invest $500 million in Saban Music Group (SMG), a new Los Angeles-based label and music company with a global outlook and a roster to match.”[Billboard]

EXPLORING THE LAND — Remains of 9,000-year-old Neolithic settlement unearthed outside Jerusalem — by Oscar Holland: “A huge Stone Age settlement unearthed outside Jerusalem may have been home to 3,000 people, the Neolithic equivalent of a large city, according to details released by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Tuesday. Believed to have been inhabited 9,000 years ago, the site has yielded thousands of tools and ornaments, including arrowheads, figurines and jewelry… The discovery was made near the Israeli town of Motza, about three miles west of Jerusalem.” [CNN]

Discarded windows give view of Jerusalem’s diversity — by Shahar Golan: “A project in downtown Jerusalem is using an ornate tower constructed of discarded windows from around the city to give people a view of its diverse cultural past and present and bring life to a neglected area. ‘Window Stories’ is made of 550 windows collected by the late Jerusalem artist Yoram Amir, who died earlier this year… The exhibit is part of an annual festival put on by Mekudeshet, a group that sponsors artistic events that focus on Jerusalem’s complexities.” [AP]

TOP-OP — Daniel Gordis writes from Jerusalem… “Why American Jews mostly shrugged off the ultimate insult: The relatively muted response to [Education Minister Rafi] Peretz may stem in part from a long overdue but growing realization by American Jews that the world’s two largest Jewish communities were fashioned on utterly different foundations. The U.S. is a liberal democracy, committed to a country with no inherently privileged ethnicity, race or religion, while Israel was always intended to be a ‘national home for the Jewish people.’ American Jews believed that in the U.S., they would prove an exception to the antisemitism and assimilation that had always plagued diaspora communities, while Zionists thought that belief a foolish misread of history, and were certain that only in a Jewish State could Jews flourish for the long haul.” [Bloomberg

TALK OF THE TOWN — A McDonald’s job, a Jewish man’s beard and a religious discrimination lawsuit  — by David Neal: “The owner of several McDonald’s franchised stores in Florida finds itself the defendant in a religious discrimination lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after, the suit says, a Hasidic Jewish man’s beard prevented his hiring.” [MiamiHerald]

Toronto court hears challenge over conflict of fall federal election date and Jewish high holiday — by Adrian Humphreys: “On election day, the most important date of this fall’s federal campaign, Chani Aryeh-Bain, a Conservative candidate in Toronto, will not be able to call supporters… or run the crucial get-out-the-vote ground game… The current election date of Oct. 21 falls on a Jewish high holiday, although a more obscure one called Shemini Atzeret… Aryeh-Bain, running in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, and Ira Walfish, a Jewish voter in Toronto, are asking the Federal Court of Canada to order the Chief Electoral Officer… to push the election date back a week.” [NationalPost]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Jewish delegation visits Christchurch mosques in New Zealand, marking $1.1m donation for terrorist victims — by Thomas Mead: “Jewish leaders visited the two mosques targeted in the Christchurch terror attack [on Wednesday] to mark a $1.1 million donation from their communities around the world… At times the Jewish delegates knelt in the mosque alongside the Muslim worshipers to listen to the imam, while the Muslim representatives donned the traditional skullcap or kippah inside the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation synagogue… The $1.1 million dollar fund was raised in the months following the attack, with fundraisers arranged by the New South Wales Jewish Community, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh in the U.S.” [TVNZ]

Argentina creates anti-terrorism database: “Argentina is creating an anti-terrorism database ahead of the 25th anniversary of its worst terror attack… Wednesday’s decree also declares July 18 a day of national mourning in remembrance of the victims of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires. The decision comes ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Argentina.” [AP• The move is being interpreted by many as Argentina moving one step closer to declaring the armed Lebanese group Hezbollah a terrorist organization [ToI] • Argentine photo exhibit stirs memories of 1994 bombing attack on Jewish center [Reuters]

ACROSS THE POND — Jeremy Corbyn criticized for meeting anti-LGBT education Charedi Jewish activist — by Nicola Bartlett: “Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for meeting with a controversial Charedi Jewish activist who opposes LGBT issues being taught in school. Photographs emerged online of Mr. Corbyn eating with Shraga Stern in Parliament after PMQs — prompting anger from the party’s Jewish wing.”[TheMirror]

ON THE SCREEN — The filmmaker creating ‘Friends’ for Modern Orthodox Jews — by Carly Stern: “Most Orthodox Jews date explicitly for the goal of marriage rather than for personal exploration, [Leah] Gottfried says. Navigating this paradigm while chasing a film career supplied a gold mine of artistic fodder for a web series shedding light on a group that rarely gets screen time. Gottfried created, writes, directs and acts in Soon by You, the only show about Modern Orthodox Jews in the U.S.” [Ozy]

WELL WISHES  — In post-surgery update, Norm Coleman says all visible signs of cancer removed from his lung — by Liz Sawyer: “Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman offered a medical update on his Facebook page Tuesday, saying that a seven-hour surgery at Mayo Clinic removed all visible traces of cancer from his lung. He praised his team of doctors, who successfully excised the lower left lobe of his lung Monday after ‘determining the cancer was more invasive than seen in earlier scans.’” [StarTribune]

TRANSITION —
 Shira Siegel was hired as legislative director for Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA). Siegel was previously senior legislative assistant for Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). 

DESSERT — A fledgling endeavor: Pigeon Bagels opens in Squirrel Hill — by Dan Gigler: “Gab Taube punched in for work Wednesday at just about 2 a.m., because, to borrow a phrase, it was time to make the bagels. And not just any bagels, but the first batches for the 7 a.m. grand opening of her Pigeon Bagels, a certified kosher bakery on Hobart Street in Squirrel Hill [in Pittsburgh].” [PostGazette]

BIRTHDAYS: Cognitive therapy psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, Aaron Temkin Beck turns 98… Hidden with his mother in a school attic in Poland during WW2, theoretical chemist who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he has also published plays and poetry, Roald Hoffmann (born Roald Safran) turns 82… Rhoda Rosen turns 78… Jan Allen turns 74… Leader of the Alberta Party since 2018, he was previously the mayor of Edmonton, Alberta (2004-2013) and Minister of Health in the Alberta provincial government (2014-2015), Stephen Mandel turns 74… Politician, legislator and former Prime Minister of Peru (2008-2009), Yehude Simon Munaro turns 72… Executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (1985-2009) including during the 1994-95 MLB strike, he became executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association in 2010, Donald Fehr turns 71…

Beverly Hills resident, Felisa Bluwal Pivko turns 68… Nursing home executive, attorney, founder of two banks and chairman of the Israel Discount Bank of New York (2006-2007), Leonard Grunstein turns 67… Former Israeli Police spokesman, he is now a senior national radio broadcaster in Israel and an international talk-show host, Elihu Ben-Onn turns 65… Former deputy finance chairman of the RNC (2017-2018) and owner of Circinus (a global security company), Elliott B. Broidy turns 62… Minister for Congressional Affairs at the Embassy of Israel to the United States, he was previously the Israeli ambassador to Belarus (1998-2002), Martin Peled-Flaxturns 61… Creative director and co-founder at Let’s Bench, a publisher of customized keepsake prayer books and benchers, Yitz Woolf turns 44…

Assistant Professor in the Cyber Science Department at the U.S. Naval Academy and formerly an attorney at Covington & Burling, Jeffrey Michael Kosseffturns 41… Kiev-born, Australian writer, advocate, commentator and lawyer, he is the co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Alexander Ryvchin turns 36… Graphic designer at Acronym, she was previously a digital media associate at NYC-based The Workmen’s Circle, Lauren Friedlanderturns 30… VP of development and strategy at 70 Faces Media, Shuli Karkowsky turns 36… Jewish Insider‘s Capitol Hill reporter, Laura Kelly… VP at World Jewish Congress, he was previously the chairperson of the Jerusalem-based World Union of Jewish Students, Yosef Tarshish Izi Doenyas… Regina Brenner… Ted Rosenberg

Marc Lamont Hill continues opining on Israel | Jews tell Trump — ‘Leave us out of it’ | Mossad thriller coming to Netflix this month

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TOP TALKER — Former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill claimed that news outlets like NBC and ABC were “Zionist organizations” that produced “Zionist content,” during a panel discussion on Friday. The comments, made at the annual Netroots Nation summit held by progressive activists in Philadelphia, were first revealed by JI’s Ben Jacobs. 

The summit describes itself as “the largest annual conference for progressives” and has long been a stop for Democratic presidential hopefuls, including this year.

Hill’s comments came less than a year after he lost his CNN perch after calling for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” during an appearance at the U.N. 

In response to a question from the audience on Friday, Hill described the choices faced by young journalists when they tell stories about Palestinians. “They’re like, I want to work for Fox, or I want to work for ABC or NBC or whoever. I want to tell these stories,” he said. “You have to make choices about where you want to work. And if you work for a Zionist organization, you’re going to get Zionist content. And no matter how vigorous you are in the newsroom, there are going to be two, three, four, 17, or maybe one powerful person — not going to suggest a conspiracy — all news outlets have a point of a view. And if your point of view competes with the point of view of the institution, you’re going to have challenges.” 

Also at the summit, t-shirts were sold grouping Zionism with racism, sexism, homophobia and antisemitism as maladies to be “resisted.” [JewishInsiderPic]

After publication, Hill disputed Jewish Insider‘s characterization of his statement via Twitter: “This is not what I said, nor what I believe. The idea of ‘Jewish controlled media’ is an antisemitic narrative that I wholly and unequivocally reject. My instinct is to ignore this, but I care too much about the subject to do so. First, I told the student that if they wanted to do radical work, they may not be able to so inside a mainstream outlet. Then I said, as an example, that you can’t do anti-Zionist work inside a Zionist org. I specifically said that there is NOT a conspiracy of media control.”

Watch the video of Hill’s remarks here [Video]

DRIVING THE CONVO — After a bitter, partisan fight on the House floor, the body voted 240-187 on Tuesday night to condemn President Donald Trump’s tweets about four U.S. congresswomen. Four Republicans and Rep. Justin Amash, who recently left the GOP, joined the Democrats in labeling the president’s comments racist, the first House rebuke of a president in more than 100 years.

HEARD ON THE FLOOR — Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) during a debate on H. Res. 489: “I am more proud today, Mr. Speaker, than ever to be the daughter of Palestinian immigrants… This resolution chooses all of us… It chooses those who are marginalized, and more importantly, it chooses the values that we all must live up to.” 

Speaking to reporters at the start of a cabinet meeting at the White House, Trump said, “You look at what they’ve said. I have clips right here. The most vile, horrible statements about our country, about Israel, about others… The way they’re treating Israel is a disgrace. But not only Israel; it’s what they say about our country.”  

Trump also pushed back against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comments comparing detention centers to the Nazi concentration camps. “They’re not concentration camps. They’re really well-run,” he said.

HEARD ON CABLE — Jake Tapper to David Axelrod on CNN’s The Lead: How do Democrats deal with offensive comments, bigoted comments made within their own ranks — because… I mean, Congresswoman Omar has said things that a lot of Jewish Democrats in Congress found blatantly antisemitic — her and Congresswoman Tlaib? 

Axelrod: “Right. And the House voted on a resolution and there was a rebuke from the Speaker about that. The resolution wasn’t as strong as some wanted. I do think that you have to call out your own… Democrats need to be strong in condemnation of things that are viewed as antisemitic, or in any other way bigoted… Not everybody is the president of the U.S. Not everybody has issued blatantly racist tweets of this sort, and to make this sort like everybody does it, is really missing the point.” [Video]

Batya Ungar-Sargon writes… “Why does President Trump keep dragging Jews into his attacks? Feeding the base while ‘owning the libs’ has always been Trump’s campaign strategy. But dragging Jews or the Jewish state into it is terrible for Jews, like Trump’s other casually antisemitic comments. We don’t want or need to be defended with racism. Jews don’t want the Jewish state to be wrapped up in a racist screed.” [WashPost]

Zev Chafets writes: “No, Mr. Trump, the ‘Squad’ doesn’t bother Israel: Like most Israelis, I appreciate Trump’s willingness to stand up for Israel in international forums… But it seems the president would like to foment a civil war among Democrats, using Israel as a wedge… Nothing [the congresswomen] say about this country will be any worse than the things you can hear in Israel’s own legislature, the Knesset, every day.” [Bloomberg]

James Kirchick writes… “Leave Jews out of it: [Trump’s attack] was also of a piece with traditional antisemitism. Trump’s line of attack — instructing a group of American citizens to ‘go back’ from where ‘they came’ — is one that can easily be, and often is, deployed against Jews… If Trump & Co.’s intent is to spark a ‘Jexodus’ from the Democratic Party, it would be hard to find a less effective catalyst.” [TheAtlantic]

WATCH — Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway questioned Andrew Feinberg, a correspondent for Breakfast Media who asked a question about Trump’s tweets: “What’s your ethnicity?” Feinberg, who is Jewish, responded: “Um, why is that relevant?” 

Conway: No, no, because I’m asking you a question. My ancestors are from Ireland and Italy.

Feinberg: “Kellyanne, my ethnicity is not relevant to the question I’m asking.” [Video]

Conway later tweeted that her question was “meant with no disrespect. We are all from somewhere else ‘originally.’”

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: A Democratic-led resolution supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was overhauled ahead of a markup by the House Foreign Affairs Committee today.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s (D-CA) resolution supporting the two-state solution will be replaced with new text introduced by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), removing references to Israel’s “occupation” and “settlement activity.” The new text also acknowledges that unilateral moves, including by Palestinians, make it difficult to achieve a two-state solution. The bill cites attempts by Palestinians to achieve recognition of statehood, outside of bilateral negotiations with Israel, as an unacceptable unilateral move. 

While the Bass amendment replaces the entire text of Lowenthal’s bill, the resolution will retain its original 145 co-sponsors.

A bipartisan group of senators including James Lankford (R-OK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the “Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019,” legislation aimed at strengthening the ability of American victims of international terrorism, specifically of acts committed by Palestinians, to seek justice in U.S. courts. 

The legislation is similar to efforts underway in the House by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), whose own bill – “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East” – includes a provision meant to achieve two goals: restore funding to key security and humanitarian projects for Palestinians, and hold the PLO and P.A. accountable in U.S. courts for claims by American victims of Palestinian terror. 

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is challenging bipartisan efforts in the House to oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and expects to introduce her own pro-BDS legislation, Al-Monitor reported Tuesday.
 
“We are introducing a resolution… to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor. “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

Rep. Brad Schneider’s (D-IL) anti-BDS bill, which has over 336 co-sponsors, will be voted on in the House Foreign Affairs Committee today. According to a report in Politico, a small group of senior progressive Democrats are hoping the House will abandon the bill altogether. Many in the party are worried debate over the bill could fracture the party that just united in a vote against President Donald Trump. Others, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), have been “vocal about demanding a vote on the resolution.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told the White House that he is concerned about a proposal in the Trump peace plan for a $5 billion highway and railway system between the West Bank and Gaza. According to Israeli Channel 13’s Barak Ravid, Netanyahu’s main reservation is over security, and the ease of transfer between the two areas potentially fueling terrorist activity. 

SCENE IN JERUSALEM — Netanyahu met on Tuesday with a delegation of Orthodox Union leaders from the U.S. and Canada — headed by OU President Moshe Bane, Allen Fagin, Chair Zvi Sand, Nathan Diament, Avi Berman and Rabbi Micah Greenland. The group “discussed the need to increase and expand initiatives focused on Diaspora Jewish education and identity.” [Pic

IRAN WATCH — Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened to further breach the 2015 nuclear deal on Tuesday, at the same time that President Donald Trump cited “a lot of progress” in negotiations. Khamenei said Tehran would continue with its “trend” of reducing its commitments to the deal. At a White House cabinet meeting, meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran had signaled it was ready to negotiate about its ballistic missiles, and Trump said: “We’ll see what happens. But a lot of progress has been made.”

The offer was immediately rejected by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Iran’s missiles “are absolutely and under no condition negotiable with anyone or any country, period,” Zarif’s spokesman said. 

2020 BRIEFS — Some presidential candidates are spending cash faster than they raise it… The 2020 Democratic field is about to get a whole lot smaller, writes Eric Lutz… Joe Biden: I’ll challenge Trump to do push-ups onstage if he makes fun of my age or mental state… Former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) considering a presidential run against Trump.

Pete Buttigieg has raised more money from NYC residents than Bill de Blasio got nationwide — by Julia Marsh, Theo Wayt and Bruce Golding: “Buttigieg’s local supporters include such quintessential Gothamites as longtime Vogue editor Anna Wintour, media tycoon Barry Diller and financier Bill Ackman, who each made maximum, $2,800 contributions, with Ackman doubling down for both the primary and general elections. Other bold-faced names who used their city addresses to back Buttigieg include Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jesse Eisenberg and Jane Lynch.” [NYPost

RACE TO THE KNESSET — Former Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich announced Tuesday that she is taking a break from politics and will not run in the September 17 election. Yacimovich, who has been an MK since 2006, said she has “grown very tired of the political part… unfortunately these are not normal times.”

Another ex-Labor leader, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, is continuing to be drawn into the center of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. On Tuesday the Daily Mail published new photos of Barak entering Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse in 2016, the same day that four young women were also photographed entering. Barak is seen wearing a scarf pulled over his face. The former prime minister vowed to sue the Daily Mail for its implications, saying he merely covered his face on the January day in New York City because of the chilly weather.

COURT BATTLE — Lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein argued in a court filingTuesday that their client should be released on house arrest, and that an Austrian passport in his possession was merely to protect him from hijackings. “Epstein — an affluent member of the Jewish faith — acquired the passport in the 1980s, when hijackings were prevalent, in connection to Middle East travel,” the court filing states. “The passport was for personal protection in the event of travel to dangerous areas, only to be presented to potential kidnappers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur.”

Scandal-plagued Education Minister Rafi Peretz has walked back comments he made recently about both intermarriage among Jews in the United States and about gay conversion therapy. Peretz wrote to Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog to convey his regret to the American Jewish community for his “inappropriate” remarks that intermarriage is “like a second Holocaust.” Also Tuesday, he backtracked on his earlier support for gay conversion therapy: “I know that conversion therapy treatments are unacceptable… this is my position and it is unequivocal.”

** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Steve Cohen’s Point72 Loses Long-Tenured Money Managers [WSJ] • Israel Q1 growth revised upwards [Globes] • Israel Aerospace signs $50 million follow-up deal with Indian navy [Reuters• Israeli cancer treatment co P-Cure raises $15 million [Globes] • Israeli tech companies raised record $3.9b in second quarter of 2019 [Globes] • Haredi software services startup Ravtech raises $4 million [Calcalist

Trial opens for Israeli woman charged in $145M fraud scheme: “A federal trial begins this week for an Israeli woman charged in the U.S. with directing a scheme to defraud tens of thousands of investors across the globe out of tens of millions of dollars… Elbaz was CEO of an Israel-based company called Yukom Communications.” [AP]

HOLLYWOOD — After years of anticipation, Netflix on Tuesday finally revealed a trailer and a release date for its upcoming film, “The Red Sea Diving Resort.” The movie, starring Chris Evans and telling the story of a Mossad operation in the 1980s to airlift Ethiopian Jews to Israel, will hit the streaming platform on July 31. Ben Kingsley also stars as a Mossad boss, alongside Haley Benett and Greg Kinnear, with Israeli Gideon Raff directing. [USAToday]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Oregon passes law saying schools must teach the Holocaust — by Sarah Zimmerman: “Oregon public school students will be required to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides under a bill signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on Monday… The law was introduced by 14-year old Claire Sarnowski from suburban Lake Oswego. She came up with the idea through an unlikely friendship with 92-year-old Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener, who died last year.” [AP]

Donors suspend funds for Poland’s Jewish museum — by Monika Scislowska: “A Jewish association says some private donors to Poland’s renowned Jewish history museum have suspended funding out of concerns about the government’s failure to renew the term of its director. A special commission in May approved Dariusz Stola for another five-year term, but Culture Minister Piotr Glinski hasn’t yet officially reappointed him… Stola had allegedly refused to make the museum available for a conference that was to be dedicated to the late twin of ruling conservative party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski… The government also criticized the tone of an exhibit last year that mentioned Poland’s antisemitic campaign in March 1968.” [AP]

DEEP DIVE — Jews are routinely being attacked in the streets of New York City. So why is no one acting like it’s a big deal? — by Armin Rosen: “The increase in the number of physical assaults against Orthodox Jews in New York City is a matter of empirical fact… In late 2018, [Councilman Chaim] Deutsch and Council Speaker Corey Johnson began pushing for the creation of an office of hate crime prevention, which [Mayor Bill] de Blasio announced this spring. In June, the mayor said he would move up the anticipated launch date from November to an unspecified point later in the summer…  in mid-June there was no director, no dedicated staff, and nothing to show of the office outside of fairly preliminary efforts.” [Tablet

ACROSS THE POND — More than 60 Labour peers, members of the House of Lords, signed their names to a full-page ad in The Guardian on Wednesday slamming party leader Jeremy Corbyn on the issue of antisemitism. “The Labour Party welcomes everyone irrespective of race, creed, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Except, it seems, Jews,” the advert reads. “This is your legacy Mr Corbyn.” The 67 signatories make up about a third of Labour members in the House of Lords. [BBC]

TOP-OP — Deborah Lipstadt writes… “She survived Auschwitz — and eventually forgave her persecutors. Should others? [Eva Mozes] Kor, who was imprisoned at Auschwitz for 10 months, was among the 1,500 sets of twins upon whom the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele conducted horrific experiments. That alone would have rendered her an iconic figure. But Kor did something else, and it made her controversial. She declared that she forgave those who had tortured her, together with all who had participated in the genocide… Kor always insisted she was forgiving these perpetrators in her name only. Nonetheless, many survivors were troubled by her actions.” [WashPost]

How antisemitism corrupts democracy; Argentina’s refusal to face its antisemitic past continues to damage the nation — by Federico Finchelstein and Rebecca Kobrin: “On July 18, 1994, unknown attackers bombed the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association… a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires… This week, as we mark the 25th anniversary of the greatest single loss of Jewish lives outside Israel since the Holocaust, it is imperative that we grapple with antisemitism as a global issue. An ideology that combines racism and right-wing politics, antisemitism has long pervaded Europe and the United States — and South America. This region’s antisemitism, however, has long been neglected and ignored by international bodies like the United Nations.” [WashPost

TRANSITION — Rhoda Smolow was elected national president of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. Smolow will replace Ellen Hershkin, whose term ends on December 31st. 

DESSERT — On the menu soon: lab-grown steak for eco-conscious diners — by Lianne Back and Tova Cohen: “Diners in some upmarket restaurants will soon be able to tuck into laboratory-grown steak, thanks to an Israeli startup that seeks to tap into consumer concerns about health, the environment and animal welfare. While lab-grown hamburgers and chicken are already in development around the world, Israel’s Aleph Farms claims to be the first company to have developed steak in a laboratory… Aleph Farms hopes to have its product on a limited number of restaurant menus from 2021 in a trial phase, aiming for an official launch in 2023, first in restaurants and then in stores.” [Reuters

REMEMBERING — Mark Talisman, advocate for Jewish causes, dies at 77 — by Bart Barnes: “Mark E. Talisman, a leader, supporter and advocate of several Jewish organizations and causes as well as a founder of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, died July 11 at his home in Chevy Chase, Md. He was 77… Mr. Talisman spent much of his early career as chief of staff to Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D-OH), and his most notable impact in Congress was helping draft legislation aimed at removing official emigration barriers for Jews in the former Soviet Union.” [WashPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Chair of Samson Energy Company, co-founder of Granite Properties and co-chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Stacy Helen Schusterman turns 56… Travel writer, publisher, consumer advocate and the founder of the Frommer’s series of travel guides, he is a graduate of Yale Law School, Arthur Frommer turns 90… Israeli politician and historian, professor emeritus at Tel Aviv U., he served as a member of Knesset (1996-2002), Minister of Foreign Affairs (2000-2001) and as ambassador to Spain (1987-1991), Shlomo Ben-Ami turns 76… Emmy Award-winning play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Charley Steiner turns 70… Retired VP and assistant general counsel of The Hartford and former chairman of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, Robert K. Yass turns 68…

Baltimore-born, HUC-JIR educated, rabbi at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA, author, historian and college professor, Lance Jonathan Sussman, Ph.D. turns 65… Annapolis, Maryland-based research consultant performing litigation support, commercial and political research, Steven Lebowitz turns 54… Treasurer of Australia, he has previously served as Minister for the Environment and Energy, Joshua Anthony “Josh” Frydenberg turns 48… Founder and CEO of Zeta Global, David A. Steinberg turns 49… Stand-up comedian, he was a finalist on the NBC reality-talent show “Last Comic Standing” in two seasons, Gary Gulman turns 49… VP of communications at Hillel International, Matthew E. Berger turns 41…

Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party (2013-2015), elected to the Knesset in 2019 for the Blue and White party, Boaz Toporovsky turns 39… Healthcare reporter for Barron’s since 2019, he was previously a staff writer at The Forward (2010-2019), Josh Nathan-Kazis turns 34… Corporate advisor at Institutional Shareholder Services since June 2017, he was previously at The Israel Project (2014-2017), Jared Sorhaindo turns 33… Senior strategy associate at JPMorgan Chase, she is a Young Leadership Division board member at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Melanie Beatusturns 29… Daughter of Jared and Ivanka, Arabella Rose Kushner turns 8…

Trump squares off vs. Squad using ‘Israel’ and ‘Jews’ | Interview with congressional candidate Nicole Malliotakis | Tony Ressler, Matthew Bronfman turn 60

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DRIVING THE CONVO — President Donald Trump faced a wave of fierce condemnation from Democratic and Republican lawmakers, as well as Jewish community leaders, for comments he made on Sunday about progressive Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was reportedly moving ahead with plans to vote on a resolution condemning Trump’s remarks as early as today. In a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi said Trump “went beyond his own low standards using disgraceful language” on Sunday. Text of the resolution states that “President Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”

Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined the critics, calling Trump’s comments “destructive” and “spiteful.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged Trump to avoid personal attacks. 

Holding a press conference on Capitol Hill on Monday, the four congresswomen declared that it is “time for us to impeach this president.” 

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement, “While ADL has publicly disagreed with these congresswomen on some issues, the president is echoing the racist talking points of white nationalists and cynically using the Jewish people and the State of Israel as a shield to double down on his remarks. Politicizing the widespread, bipartisan support for Israel and throwing around accusations of antisemitism is damaging to the security of Israel and the Jewish community.” 

Abe Foxman tells JI, “There is no way to explain or rationalize President Trump’s comments. It is classic xenophobic, bigoted, and racist remarks directed at immigrants to our country since the days of the Pilgrims. The president’s use of that phrase only continues to tarnish his presidency as he did with his Charlottesville comments. He can repair it, but I fear he won’t. It will continue to legitimize prejudice in our country.” Foxman added that he’s “additionally troubled” by the president’s “efforts to drag Israel into his political fight.” 

The American Jewish Committee tweeted“Our nation was built by people who hailed from every corner of the globe and we are enriched by our diversity to this day. Surely we can have policy debates in this country without resorting to potshots at our opponents’ identities or origins.”

Haile Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, writes… “American Jews don’t want to be Trump’s political pawns: Many Jewish Americans reject the president’s transparent attempt to divert the country’s attention from his own moral failings, just as we reject his attempts to politicize Israel and the rise of antisemitism. The president should recognize that Jews see his 280-characters of hate for what they are — an utter lack of character on his part and a betrayal of the values that truly make America great. Jews have experienced the devastating consequences of hatred and intolerance throughout history and do not want to be used as political pawns in Trump’s Twitter feed.” [CNN]

But the president did not back down. During a White House event on Monday, Trump said he’s not moved by his critics, “because many people agree with me.” He added: “If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, you can leave. You can leave right now.”

He further defended his comments, explaining that Omar had said “horrible things about Israel… Hates Israel. Hates Jews. Hates Jews. It’s very simple.” 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the president during a press briefing at the White House. “I don’t find them racist,” he said of the tweets. “The president just went on and clarified his comments. I think he speaks for himself on that.”

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Palestinians in the West Bank denouncedTrump’s attacks on their ‘hometown hero,’ Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Ibrahim Milhim, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority, said that the president’s Sunday statement is “an insult to the Statue of Liberty, America’s most famous symbol, an insult to the American values where migrants from all over the world are united as one nation under one law.”

Speaking to The Washington Post, Bassam Tlaib, an uncle of the Michigan congresswoman, described Trump’s comments as “racist,” and meant “to target Rashida because she has Palestinian roots.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Elan Carr, the State Department’s special envoy on antisemitism, addressed a conference on antisemitism hosted by the Justice Department at the Great Hall in Washington, D.C. [CSPAN]

HIGHLIGHTS — Barr touched on the political debate during his remarks: “A body politic must have an immune system that resists antisemitism and other forms of racial hatred. My concern today is that under the banner of identity politics, some political factions are seeking to obtain power by dividing Americans, and they undermine the values that draw us together, such as a shared commitment to our country’s success.”

DeVos: “One of the most pernicious and prevalent examples of antisemitism on campus is the campaign known as BDS. These campus bullies claim they stand for human rights, but we all know BDS stands for antisemitism… Israel has a committed friend in the White House and Israel has friends at the U.S. Department of Education.”

JI INTERVIEW — Nicole Malliotakis, a New York State assemblywoman and a 2020 congressional candidate, spoke to JI’s Amy Spiro on Monday while visiting Israel. “This is my first trip to Israel, I’m here for a historical perspective, but also for current events, to see things first hand,” Malliotakis told Jewish Insider. 

Malliotakis recently announced a bid to challenge Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) in the 2020 elections. On Monday, her campaign announced that she raised $250,000 in the last quarter.

The Republican lawmaker criticized Rose, the freshman Democrat she hopes to unseat, for not condemning Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on concentration camps and for supporting Omar remaining on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Now more than ever, we need elected officials at the city, state and federal level who will strongly condemn those in our government expressing antisemitic and anti-American sentiments, not turn a blind eye to it,” she said. [JewishInsider]

Rep. Rose sent Jewish Insider the following statement: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a thousand times more: As a Jewish-American, I disagree with politicians invoking the Holocaust in any capacity. I also find it disgusting that while in Israel, rather than learning about the real dangers of antisemitism that Jews face around the world, Nicole would play politics with someone else’s faith. She should realize how offensive it is to try and lecture me about my responsibilities as a Jewish person… Plain and simple, Nicole Malliotakis is not fit to serve in Congress… I don’t have time for her using the Jewish people as some kind of prop for her political campaign and neither do the people in my district.”

IRAN WATCH — European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday that Iran’s breaches of the nuclear deal are not yet significant enough to take action. “Technically all the steps that have been taken, and that we regret have been taken, are reversible,” Mogherini said at a press conference in Brussels, following a meeting of EU foreign ministers. “We invite Iran to reverse the steps and go back to full compliance.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement Monday that Mogherini’s statement “reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s. Then, too, there were those who stuck their head in the sand and did not see the approaching danger. It seems there are those in Europe who will not wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles land on European soil. But then it will be too late, of course.” 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif — who is in New York — told NBC’s Lester Holt on Monday that while he does not believe President Donald Trump wants war, he believes “there are people around him who wouldn’t mind.” Zarif added that the Iranian regime “will not take a military attack lightly.” But Zarif signaled a willingness to negotiate with the Trump administration if the new sanctions are lifted. “Once those sanctions are lifted, then… the room for negotiation is wide open,” Zarif said.

Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon official, tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: “I happen to think that a military option might not succeed anyway. Sanctions are what’s been basically driving the Iranians crazy, and tightening them up even more is probably the right way to go. The Europeans are desperate because they’re terrified that the Iranians are going ahead with their nuclear program and they’re still locked into the old JCPOA. Right now, the Europeans are making it easier for the Iranians to get around our sanctions… And we need to be sure that they can’t do it. I don’t think sanctions will bring down the ayatollah, but it could bring them to their senses and force them back to the negotiating table.” 

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Several bills related to Israel will move through the House Foreign Affairs Committee, with a markup announced for Wednesday. One of the bills scheduled for debate is H.R. 1837, Rep. Ted Deutch’s (D-FL) legislation codifying the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Also slated for debate are Rep. Brad Schneider’s (D-IL) resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; a resolution by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), which puts Congress on record as supporting the two-state solution; Rep. Brian Mast’s (R-FL) bipartisan legislation calling for sanctions on foreign groups that provide support for Palestinian terrorism; and a resolution authored by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), supporting Arab and Muslim-majority countries for working toward normalization with Israel.

Lowenthal’s bill, H.Res. 326, recently gained the support of House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), bringing the total number of Democratic co-sponsors to 144. Yet Republicans are unlikely to join the effort, with one GOP source saying the bill is “one-sided,” referencing “occupation” and “settlement activity” as red flags for Republicans, and that the resolution doesn’t call for Palestinians to enter direct negotiations with Israel. 

NEXT GEN — Matt Lieberman, the son of former Senator Joe Lieberman, is considering a run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Monday. Lieberman is reportedly “fed up” with the Republican incumbent, Sen. David Perdue. 

HEARD ON THE TRAIL — Washington Governor Jay Inslee indicated an openness to moving the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv. In response to a follow up from JI’s Ben Jacobs on Saturday about relocating the embassy, Inslee said, “I don’t have an answer to that.” He added: “I will do whatever is necessary to keep the possibility alive for a two-state solution and I believe that is the ultimate goal, along with the preservation for the security of a democratic Israel. I will pursue whatever is appropriate to those goals.” [JewishInsider]

2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden’s cancer non-profit suspended its operations indefinitely… Biden leans on maximum donors to fund 2020 campaign… Money gap among Democrats grows as Jay Inslee, Julian Castro and Kirsten Gillibrand report small hauls… Beto O’Rourke’s fundraising falters… NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio raised just $1.1 million in the second quarter, mostlyfrom high-dollar donations… Pro-Booker super PAC raised $1.1 million in the first half of 2019… 

GOP mega-donors pour money into Trump campaign — by Alex Isenstadt: “Some of the high-dollar contributors are familiar to the president. The list of six-figure givers included several longtime Trump friends, including investor Howard Lorber, Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, and Las Vegas casino executive Phil Ruffin.” [Politico]

RACE TO THE KNESSET — Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak pushed back against attacks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party over his ties to accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with The Daily Beast. 

“The man who introduced me to Epstein about 17 years ago was Shimon Peres,” Barak said. He said that since then he met Epstein “more than 10 times and much less than a hundred times, but I can’t tell you exactly how many.” The former prime minister said he “never attended a party with him. I never met Epstein in the company of women or young girls.” He said that he did once visit the convicted sex offender’s private Caribbean island “once, for several hours,” but not during a party. Barak once again refused to reveal the purpose of a $2.4 million grant he received in 2004 from the Wexner Foundation, while Epstein was a trustee, and said he did not know if Epstein had any connection to the payment. 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Epstein appeared once again in court on Monday in Manhattan, just several feet away from two women who accused him of sexual abuse when they were teenagers. Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild both testified on Monday before U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, who said he would rule on Thursday on Epstein’s bid for house arrest. 
Prosecutors argued that Epstein is a flight risk, and revealed Monday that FBI agents found “piles of cash,” dozens of diamonds and an expired foreign passport in the safe of his Manhattan townhouse. The passport was issued in the 1980s under a different name but with a photo of Epstein and a listed residence of Saudi Arabia.

L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner wrote in a memo to his employees on Monday that he wasn’t aware of Epstein’s alleged criminal behavior, the Wall Street Journal reports. “I would never have guessed that a person I employed more than a decade ago could have caused such pain to so many people,” Wexner wrote. “I would not have continued to work with any individual capable of such egregious, sickening behavior as has been reported about him.”

** Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s streaming startup Quibi to create daily news show with NBC [WSJ• Car finance co Lendbuzz, founded in 2015 by Amitay Kalmar and Dan Raviv, raises $150 million [Globes] • Sheryl Sandberg to inaugurate Facebook’s new space in Tel Aviv [ToI• Bank Hapoalim appoints Dov Kotler CEO [Globes] • SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum to step down, serve as chairman [JPost] • Tel Aviv Stock Exchange launches initial public offering [Reuters]

HEARD AT FORTUNE BRAINSTORM TECH — ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt blasted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg for not removing a doctored video depicting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an appearance at the annual Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado. 

Zuckerberg “refused to offer the kind of answer responsible people would expect… It’s ugly and it’s got to change,” Greenblatt said. “If you go to Shake Shack and yell ‘Die dirty Jew,’ they will throw you out.” He added: “It’s long overdue for Facebook, Google, and Twitter to take people spewing racism, antisemitism and hate and throw them out.” 

IN THE ARTS — Singer Pink defends her children running, celebrating at Holocaust Memorial — by Michael Rothman: “Ahead of any backlash she thought may be coming, Pink took to Instagram to pay tribute to her Jewish faith and explain why her kids were running at a Berlin memorial. ‘Berlin, I love you. #holocaustmemorial,’ she wrote, next to a series of pics of the singer and her family in Germany. She then addressed the opening pic that had her children, Willow and Jameson, running around the Holocaust Memorial. ‘For all of the comments; these two children are in actuality Jewish, as am I and the entirety of my mothers family,’ she wrote. ‘The very person who constructed this believed in children being children, and to me this is a celebration of life after death. Please keep your hatred and judgment to yourselves.’” [ABCNews]

TALK OF THE NATION — Jewish group plans D.C. protest to occupy ICE detention centers — by Rebecca Klar: “Never Again Action is planning a #ShutDownICE protest at 11:30 a.m. on the National Mall as the group continues to push for the government to close the border facilities that reports have shown to be overcrowded… Tuesday’s planned D.C. protest comes as the Trump administration has announced mass ICE raids to deport certain immigrants. The movement began after Serena Adlerstein, 25, posted on Facebook asking ‘What if young Jews occupied ICE detention centers and shut them down?’” [TheHillNBCNews]

A judge ruled a neo-Nazi blogger should pay $14 million to a woman targeted in a racist ‘troll storm’ — by Salvador Hernandez: “A federal judge ruled more than $14 million should be awarded to a woman who was barraged with antisemitic and threatening messages online after a neo-Nazi blogger instructed his followers to target her and her family with a ‘troll storm.’ The ruling was handed down Monday against Andrew Anglin, a white supremacist and publisher of the website The Daily Stormer.” [BuzzFeedNews]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Rendering reveals vision for Jewish Federation’s Midtown HQ revamp — by Sean Keenan: “The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s modest Midtown campus could be on track to undergo a substantial makeover. A new rendering published by the Atlanta Jewish Times shows one architect’s vision for the potential transformation of the organization’s headquarters… The building had once been likened to ‘an aircraft carrier, an enormous craft that requires time to pivot in the water.’ Under the leadership of JFGA CEO Eric Robbins, who came aboard in 2016, it seems that pivot is beginning to happen.” [CurbedAtlanta]

As Bauhaus marks 100 years, Tel Aviv’s White City stands tall — by Alexandra Vardi: “While many in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv start the weekend at a sidewalk cafe, there is a small group of visitors walking the streets in search of Bauhaus buildings. Practitioners of the minimalist architectural movement, founded in Germany a century ago, were among European Jews who fled to British-ruled Palestine when the Nazis took power. Today Tel Aviv is a leading repository of the modernist style that celebrates its 100th year in 2019. Bauhaus and its variations are prominent among the 4,000 buildings which make up what is known as Tel Aviv’s White City, a UNESCO World Heritage site.” [AFP]

Rediscovering a Jewish cultural legacy at ‘The Weimar Republic of Yiddishland’: “For 20 years, Yiddish Summer Weimar (YSW) has served to restore the vibrancy of Yiddish culture, and especially music, that was once a key part of European cultural life… ‘The Weimar Republic of Yiddishland’…celebrates a Yiddish creative heyday as secular Jewish culture peaked in Germany and Europe before Hitler rose to power. ‘Jewish artists were prominent in all fields of Weimar era culture, including literature, classical and popular music, theater, film, cabaret, fine arts and even modern dance,’ YSW festival director Alan Bern told DW.” [DW]

SCENE IN D.C. — At the National Conservatism Conference on Monday, Rabbi Menachem Zupnik kicked off the day’s plenary with a prayer. [Pic] • Rabbi Zupnick with Fox News host Tucker Carlson [Pic]

DESSERT — Pastrami Queen in Times Square is closing — by Michael Kaminer: “Just three months after a splashy opening, Midtown’s Pastrami Queen has gone to the big meat slicer in the sky… At the time, manager Jack Turner told the Forward that the new Pastrami Queen was ‘what I’d consider the only real kosher deli left in Midtown, where there used to be an abundance.’ … Now owned by Friedmans Restaurant Group, a Big Apple mini-conglomerate, Pastrami Queen still operates an Upper East Side restaurant.” [Forward]

BIRTHDAYS: Co-founder of both Apollo Global Management and Ares Management, owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, Tony Ressler turns 60… Businessman and philanthropist, owner of interests in many Israeli firms including IKEA Israel, Israel Discount Bank and the Shufersal supermarket chain, Matthew Bronfman turns 60… Former State Department official under JFK and LBJ, later VP of Continental Airlines, and then Managing Editor of the NYTimesJames L. Greenfield turns 95… Former member of Knesset, winner of the Israel Prize, real estate developer and philanthropist, Stef Wertheimer turns 93… One of the three co-founders of Comcast Corporation, he served as its chief financial officer and vice chairman, Julian A. Brodskyturns 86… San Antonio-based financial advisor and real estate broker, Norman Lee Nonken turns 72…

World-renowned violinist, violist, and conductor, Pinchas Zukerman turns 71… Co-creator of the first-ever spreadsheet program (VisiCalc), he currently serves as the Chief Technology Officer of Alpha Software, Daniel Singer “Dan” Bricklin turns 68… Former high ranking civilian official in the Pentagon during the Bush 43 administration, now a senior fellow and director of the Center for National Security Strategies at the Hudson Institute, Douglas J. Feith turns 66… Senior Rabbi since 1997 at Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, Rabbi Keith Stern turns 65… Immediate past chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and chair of United Israel Appeal, Cynthia D. Shapira turns 64… British solicitor advocate, known for his outspoken opposition to antisemitism, he represented Princess Diana in her divorce, he was chairman of The Jewish ChronicleAnthony Julius turns 63…

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and screenwriter, Tony Kushner turns 63… Professor of psychology and philosophy at Tel Aviv University, senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Terrorism at NYC’s John Jay College, columnist for HaaretzCarlo Strenger turns 61… President of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group (2004-2017), he is now an advisor at Quibi, Doug Herzog turns 60… Canadian journalist working for CNN International and La Presse, he is an anchor and correspondent for CNN’s International Desk, Jonathan Mann turns 59… Chief of Staff of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Jim Rosenberg turns 52… Chicago based philanthropist, Victoria Rivka Zell turns 51… Former NFL offensive lineman who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1991-1995) and the Minnesota Vikings (1996), he is now a division manager at Premier Mortgage Group in Boulder, Colorado, Ariel Solomon turns 51…

Israeli former professional tennis player, noted for her fitting last name for a tennis player, in 2003 she was ranked 15th in the world, Anna Smashnovaturns 43… Founder of Pinkitzel, a cupcake cafe, candy boutique and gift store located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Jonathan Jantz turns 41… Marketing and communications strategist at Los Angeles-based Meteorite Social Impact Advisors, former White House aide (2006-2009) and VP of Corporate Social Responsibility at Univision, Steven Max Levine turns 35… White House staff assistant and liaison to the Jewish community in the Bush 43 administration (2006-2009), now a senior director in the Atlanta office of Stord, Scott Raymond Arogeti turns 35… Partner at venture capital firm, Sinai Ventures, Eric Reiner turns 28… VP of strategy and operations for healthcare legal solutions at Guidepoint, Chantal Low Katz George Nahas

2020 NY congressional contender: We’re seeing antisemitism rise in Congress

Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican New York State Assemblywoman who lost a bid to unseat Bill de Blasio as New York City mayor in 2017, visited Israel for the first time this week with New York State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. 

“This is my first trip to Israel, I’m here for a historical perspective, but also for current events, to see things first hand,” Malliotakis told Jewish Insider in Jerusalem on Monday. “I think it’s very important that the United States remains a strong ally of Israel.” 

Malliotakis recently announced a bid to challenge Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) in the 2020 elections. On Monday, her campaign announced that she has raised $250,000 in the last quarter.

The Republican lawmaker told JI, “For the first time, we’re seeing antisemitism rise within the ranks of Congress, and that is something that we need to push back on.” 

Malliotakis praised New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for recently visiting Israel — to express solidarity with the Jewish community in New York amid a “troubling” rise in antisemitism — and for condemning Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for comparing detention facilities to the Nazi concentration camps. 

“Unfortunately, we’re not seeing that from her colleagues in Congress, we are not seeing it from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and that is unfortunate,” she said. “We’ve always had antisemitism within the United States and across the globe. When we see it, we need to be forceful in condemning it in the strongest terms — we’re not seeing that. I’m happy to see the governor has come here, and quite frankly, Ocasio-Cortez should be coming here as well, and be learning [about] some things that she’s saying.” 

When asked about next year’s race, Malliotakis criticized Rose, the freshman Democrat she hopes to unseat, for not condemning Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on concentration camps and for supporting Omar remaining on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

“Now more than ever, we need elected officials at the city, state and federal level who will strongly condemn those in our government expressing antisemitic and anti-American sentiments, not turn a blind eye to it,” she said.

Asked for comment, Rose told Jewish Insider, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a thousand times more: as a Jewish-American, I disagree with politicians invoking the Holocaust in any capacity. I also find it disgusting that while in Israel, rather than learning about the real dangers of antisemitism that Jews face around the world, Nicole would play politics with someone else’s faith. She should realize how offensive it is to try and lecture me about my responsibilities as a Jewish person, but that would require some semblance of a conscience and self-awareness. Apparently, she has neither. Plain and simple, Nicole Malliotakis is not fit to serve in Congress.”

“On Staten Island, in Brooklyn, and across the country Jews are being targeted and murdered because of their faith,” Rose continued. “I don’t have time for her using the Jewish people as some kind of prop for her political campaign, and neither do the people in my district, who have to worry about a murderer entering their synagogue or a person filled with hate knocking them to the ground just because they’re wearing a kippah.”

Asked by JI about President Donald Trump’s tweets on Sunday, attacking progressive Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Ocasio-Cortez, Malliotakis defended the president, saying he was “taken out of context.” 

“This country has been very generous,” Malliotakis explained. “My mother is also a Cuban immigrant. My mother is one of the most patriotic human beings I’ve ever met because she appreciates what this country has provided for her. I think that there is anti-American sentiment within Congress, and Ilhan Omar is an example of someone who has received the generosity of this country, became a United States member of Congress — nothing describes the American dream better than that. And yet I question whether she’s appreciative of everything that our country has provided to her. So… I do believe because it’s the president, he is being taken out of context.” 

Rose, meanwhile, tweeted that Trump’s comments “are morally reprehensible and racist. You’re the President of all Americans. Act like it.”

Malliotakis’s trip was organized by Dr. Joe Frager, vice president of the National Council of Young Israel and founder of the Chovevei Zion organization.

“Bringing the assemblywoman to Israel, and specifically to Yad Vashem, was incredibly important since many congressmen and New York State legislators representing Jewish communities have been AWOL confronting the growing antisemitism in the halls of government,” Frager told Jewish Insider.

Jay Inslee on Jerusalem embassy: I don’t have an answer to that

PHILADELPHIA — Washington Governor Jay Inslee became the first major Democratic candidate to express an openness to moving the U.S. embassy in Israel out of Jerusalem on Saturday.

In response to a follow up from Jewish Insider on Saturday about relocating the embassy, Inslee said, “I don’t have an answer to that.”

He added, “I will do whatever is necessary to keep the possibility alive for a two-state solution and I believe that is the ultimate goal along with the preservation for the security of a democratic Israel and I will pursue whatever is appropriate to those goals.”

While the 2017 decision by President Donald Trump to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was roundly condemned by Democratic White House hopefuls at the time, those who commented have said they would not reverse it. Senator Amy Klobuchar told Jewish Insider earlier this month “I wouldn’t reverse it” and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke echoed those remarks, telling Jewish Insider  “I don’t know if there’s a lot of sense in reversing it.”

Although there has long been a bipartisan consensus that the embassy should eventually be moved to Jerusalem, concerns were raised that the decision was made unilaterally and not as part of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Most recently, Andrew Bates, a spokesman for former Vice President Joe Biden, said in a statement first reported by Axios, “Vice President Biden would not move the American embassy back to Tel Aviv. But he would re-open our consulate in East Jerusalem to engage the Palestinians.”

One minor candidate, former Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, has said “We need to move the embassy back out of Jerusalem.” However, he added that decision would be “with the understanding that, ultimately, I believe we need to have the capital be there.” Sestak has not qualified for any debates and only launched his campaign in late June.

“If that’s your issue, I’d understand if you want to support somebody else” — Cory Booker to anti-Israel activist on campaign trail

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HEARD ON THE TRAIL — Former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) were confronted by IfNotNow activists while campaigning in New Hampshire over the weekend and asked about their views on the Israeli “occupation.” 

NOT THIS TIME — On Saturday, an activist, who introduced herself as Becca, asked Booker — who was on a weekend RV tour in New Hampshire — if he’s okay with the “imprisonment of Palestinian children” and whether he thinks the “occupation” is a “human rights crisis and a violation of international law.”

“So I am sorry that you think I’m okay with that, which I am not, and I will continue to do everything I can to address this issue,” Booker replied. “We may not agree on strategies.”

When the activist pressed on about the occupation, Booker said: “You are not going to get me to address that question as you want, and I know that that’s the question that you’ve been asking every presidential candidate. But I am working on this issue, probably more than any other foreign policy issue… If that’s your issue, I would understand if you want to support somebody else, but know I am just as committed to that as you are — committed to human rights.” [Video]

During a campaign event in Atkinson, New Hampshire, Biden was approached by an IfNotNow activist — identified as Elias Newman — and asked the same question. “I think occupation is a real problem, a significant problem,” Biden said. “I think the settlements are unnecessary. The only answer is a two-state solution, number one. Number two: the Palestinians have to step up to stop the hate. So, it’s a two-way street.” 

Asked if he would pressure Israel to end the occupation, Biden said: “You know anything about my record? You know I have.”[JewishInsiderVideo]

While greeting supporters, Biden also got into a heated debate with another IfNotNow activist over Israel. “As the heated discussion dragged on, Biden raised his finger at the woman, moved his face within inches of hers and slid off his thin-rimmed aviators,” the Concord Monitor reported. “I felt that he was trying to intimidate me,” the activist, identified as Sarah Kate Feferman, told the publication. “That, in combination with hearing him use the same talking point… it’s so disheartening.”

At a town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire, on Saturday, Buttigieg told another activist that, “The occupation has to end.”

Buttigieg pointed to comments previously made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about the occupation in the West Bank. “Even people… associated with the Israeli right… like Sharon — towards the end of his life — recognize that this state of affairs is unsustainable. And the pathway to peace has to include Israelis and Palestinians living side by side with self-determination.” [Video]

IfNotNow “has said that six full-time fellows are in New Hampshire to spend the summer publicly confronting candidates during their events.” [Haaretz

TALK OF 2020 — Axios asked the Democratic 2020 presidential candidates whether they would reverse President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. 

The Biden campaign told Axios“Vice President Biden would not move the American embassy back to Tel Aviv. But he would re-open our consulate in East Jerusalem to engage the Palestinians.” 

Booker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Buttigieg told Axios that they would not reverse Trump’s decision. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)  recently told Jewish Insider they would keep the embassy in its current location.

Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as former HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, declined to express an opinion on the matter. Read the full list of responses here [Axios]

Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) told the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) that he would return the embassy to Tel Aviv. 

REPORT — Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) visited the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and met with Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers while visiting the area for a campaign rally in April, The New York Times reported on Saturday. But Sanders instructed his campaign aides not to tell the news media about the visit because he didn’t want it to be perceived as a publicity grab, according to the report. 

Now, facing competition by candidates who have made their personal stories central to their campaign, his advisors are urging Sanders to talk more about his post-World War II childhood in Brooklyn surrounded by Holocaust survivors. “In a campaign in which issues of race and discrimination have been central, and in which the inhumane treatment of migrants has become a partisan flash point, the senator’s advisors believe he has something to contribute to that discussion and that many voters today are open to a Jewish president,” according to The Times

In an interview with NowThis, Sanders acknowledged that being elected the first Jewish president would be “another barrier that’s broken down.”

HEARD ON CABLE — New York Times columnist Tom Friedman discussed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to avoid trial if he wins his re-election bid in September. “It would, in effect, turn Israel into a Jewish banana republic,” Friedman warned in an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS. [Video]

NETANYAHU ON ISRAEL-DIASPORA RELATIONS — Netanyahu dismissed the perception that he’s seen as “a polarizing figure” among American Jews in an interview with TIME magazine, the transcript of which was published over the weekend.

“I don’t think I’ve been a polarizing figure at all,” Netanyahu said. “I’ve actually incorporated into law our communal responsibility with our fellow Jews abroad… I want every Jew to feel at home in Israel.” Read the full transcript of the interview with Netanyahu here [TIME]

HUCKABEE IN THE HOLY LAND — Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee told reporters at a press breakfast at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem Monday morning that he certainly hopes the White House will consider endorsing the Israeli annexation of settlements in the West Bank. Huckabee said he asked President Donald Trump last year what made him decide to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and “he just shrugged his shoulders and he said, ‘Well, I said I was going to do it, and it’s the right thing to do,’” the former governor recalled. 

Huckabee also addressed the recent departure of his daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, from her position as White House press secretary, and her potential run for Arkansas governor. “I can tell you that she did not really want to leave the job,” he said. “She loved it. She loves the president. She’s anxious to tell what she considers to be the real story in the Trump White House.” But, he said, she felt the need to leave to spend more time with her three young children. Looking ahead, he said, Sanders “very well may” run for governor, “but she’s not going to make any decision about that for a while. The race is not until 2022 so she’s got some time.”

Huckabee said he has visited Israel five times already this year: “Bibi told me that if I spend any more time here, I would have to start paying income tax,” he joked. [JewishInsider

LAST NIGHT — Huckabee partook in one of his favorite pastimes during this Israel visit: playing his guitar. The former governor performed “Sweet Home Alabama” on Sunday evening at the Jerusalem home of Simon Falic, the chairman of Duty Free Americas. [Video

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — The burgeoning normalization between Gulf Arab states and Israel “could stall if Israeli-Palestinian ties remain frozen, or they could even be reversed if ties deteriorate,” wrote former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and INSS fellow Yoel Guzansky in Foreign Policy over the weekend. The willingness of Gulf states to engage with Israel “will be tested mightily if and when they must react to a Trump political plan that does not envision statehood for the Palestinians or an Israeli decision to proceed with annexation of parts of the West Bank. The Bahrain summit tells us that in such a circumstance, it is nowhere near certain that Gulf states would feel they could continue in their recent trend of warming toward Israel.”

TALK OF THE REGION — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that President Donald Trump should waive sanctions on Turkey over purchasing Russian air defense systems. “Right now, I don’t believe Trump is of the same opinion of those below him and he has said this in front of all the world’s media,” Erdogan said, according to Reuters. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Washington Post that “the law requires that there be sanctions and I’m confident that we will comply with the law and President Trump will comply with the law.” Turkey received on Friday the first components of the S-400 missile defense system that it purchased from Russia.

According to Bloomberg, the White House has settled on a package of sanctions against Ankara and “the intention is to announce the sanctions late [this] week.”

IRAN WATCH — On Sunday, France, Germany and the U.K. called on Iran to “act responsibly” and fully comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) and “seek ways to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue.” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters on Monday that there’s a “small window to keep the deal alive.”

The State Department granted a visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit New York this week to attend a meeting of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saidon Sunday. But Pompeo said Zarif and his delegation will only be permitted to travel back and forth between the U.N. headquarters and the Iranian mission, and to the residence of the Iranian ambassador. 

Last week, Reuters reported that the Treasury Department decided to hold off on sanctioning Zarif as part of a campaign against the Iranian regime, indicating that the door remains open for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. 

The House voted on Friday to prevent President Trump from launching into war with Iran without getting congressional approval. 

Trump told reporters on Friday: “Iran better be careful. They’re treading on very dangerous territory. Iran, if you’re listening, you better be careful.” 

The Daily Mail published on Sunday a leaked memo from former U.K. Ambassador Kim Darroch, arguing that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last year was “an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons — it was Obama’s deal.”

INSIDE THE ADMIN — Multiple U.S. officials revealed to the Washington Free Beacon that pressure is mounting on the State Department “to nix a series of sanctions waivers that have permitted Iran to continue some of its most controversial nuclear weapons research, including at a secretive military bunker known to have housed the Islamic Republic’s bomb program.” 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ret. Army Gen. Jack Keane write… “Call Iran’s bluff with an offer of nuclear power: Before we reach the point at which military conflict is inevitable, we hope the Trump administration will consider a simple, clear proposal. Iran could be allowed — in concert with their Arab neighbors — to operate reactors and produce nuclear power. If Iran wants peaceful nuclear power, fine. But under this plan, the regime would not have the ability to enrich, reprocess or fabricate its own nuclear fuel.” [WSJ]

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) tweeted“POTUS⁩ maximum pressure campaign on Iran is working. Must end ‘civil nuclear’ waivers, too. These waivers legitimize and sustain Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities.”

John Hannah, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), writes… “Trump’s Iran policy hasn’t failed — yet: Trump’s maximum pressure strategy may still seem ambitious but hardly fantastical. Indeed, at least as far as constraining the regime’s resources, it’s impossible at this point to argue that the policy is not making progress. The regime is systematically being denied billions of dollars that it heretofore was using to both subsidize its domestic stability and finance its imperial ambitions… The chances that the European Union or other world powers will be capable of circumventing the U.S. sanctions wall, now or in the foreseeable future, are slim.” [ForeignPolicy]

TOP TALKER — President Trump tweeted on Sunday morning that the four progressive congresswomen — Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — who have been critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the administration’s immigration policies should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The tweets prompted Democrats — including Pelosi — to come to their defense. Pelosi called the attacks “xenophobic” and said they showed that Trump’s goal was “making America white again.”

Trump doubled down on his criticism of the Democratic freshmen on Sunday evening. “So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion,” the president tweeted. “If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behavior, then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!”

Trump added this morning: “When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said… If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.”

TOP OP — Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes: “Can Ilhan Omar overcome her prejudice? Like me, Il­han Omar was born in So­ma­lia and ex­posed at an early age to Mus­lim anti-Semi­tism. In my ex­pe­ri­ence it is dif­fi­cult, per­haps im­pos­si­ble, to un­learn hate with­out com­ing to terms with how you learned to hate. Most Amer­i­cans are fa­mil­iar with the clas­sic West­ern fla­vors of anti-Semi­tism: the Chris­t­ian, Eu­ropean, white-su­premacist and Com­mu­nist types. But lit­tle at­ten­tion has been paid to the spe­cial case of Mus­lim anti-Semi­tism. That is a pity be­cause to­day it is anti-Semi­tism’s most zeal­ous, most po­tent and most un­der­es­ti­mated form.” [WSJ]

Poll: An internal Democratic poll published by Axios on Sunday revealed that progressive Democrats Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar are very well-known but deeply unpopular among swing voters. 

2020 BRIEFS — Bernie Sanders and former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein traded barbs on Twitter over “anti-endorsements” snub… Beto O’Rourke said on Sunday that his ancestors owned slaves… Kamala Harris makes the case against Trump at Brooklyn fundraiser… Struggling in White House bid, Kirsten Gillibrand seeks bump in Trump country… Democratic candidates juggle presidential race with day jobs… 

RACE TO THE KNESSET — Days after igniting a firestorm over his comments on intermarriage, Israeli Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz found himself at the center of a new controversy, after publicly endorsing gay conversion therapy. Peretz told Channel 12 News that he believed the controversial and widely discredited tactics could work: “I have a very deep familiarity with this kind of education, and I have also done this.” 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly distanced himself from the remarks, saying they “are not acceptable to me and do not reflect the position of the government under my leadership.” Likud Justice Minister Amir Ohana, Israel’s first openly gay minister, said in response that “sexual orientation does not require correction or conversion. Ignorance and prejudice require conversion.”

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean tweeted about Peretz’s comments on Sunday: “Israel’s government has lost its soul and its purpose. The nobility of the Jewish people conferred by their terrible suffering is being squandered by cheap bigoted political crooks. The result will ultimately be the loss of a Jewish homeland which would be an unspeakable tragedy.”

TRANSITION — The Israeli prime minister announced on Sunday the appointment of Evan Cohen as his new foreign media spokesperson. Cohen replaces David Keyes, who resigned last December amid several accusations of misconduct. Cohen, the founder of the Likud’s LGBT forum, was appointed a day after Netanyahu distanced himself from comments on gay conversation therapy by his education minister. Cohen told The Jerusalem Post that he was not appointed because he is gay, and that he was actually selected for the job weeks ago. A Likud official, meanwhile, said the timing of the announcement itself was not accidental.  

Israel’s National Conflict Plays Out in Clash Over a Sabbath Bus Service — by Dov Lieber: “[Ramat Gan] Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen’s desk is strewn with evidence of the threats against his life over his campaign to introduce public bus service on the Sabbath… The dispute was the latest in a national conflict over the Sabbath that has upended Israeli politics… The Sabbath issue will be among the most important issues deciding Mr. Netanyahu’s fate in September, said Yair Sheleg, a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute.” [WSJ]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be looking to neutralize one of his potential electoral rivals by offering the post of U.N. ambassador to former Education Minister Naftali Bennett. According to a report on Army Radio, Netanyahu offered the position to Bennett, whose New Right party failed to cross the threshold in the April elections. Bennett has yet to decide if he will run again in the September 17 election, but a source told The Jerusalem Post that he is not interested in the envoy post. 

The Jeffrey Epstein scandal has even spread to Israel’s election — by Jonah Shepp: “Whether or not the attorney general decides to open an investigation into [Ehud] Barak’s relationship with Epstein, it’s definitely become a serious political liability for the former Labor party leader… Netanyahu’s reasons for jumping on this story and gunning for Barak are harder to understand, as the prime minister has much bigger fish to fry if he hopes to survive September’s election.” [NYMag]

After downplaying his ties to Epstein for several days, Barak said Saturday that he was looking to dissolve his business partnership with the man accused of sex trafficking. “For close to five years, a firm linked to Epstein has been a passive investor in a limited partnership registered in Israel under the law and controlled by me,” he wrote. “Right after the current accusations in the Epstein case became known, I instructed my lawyers to look into the possibilities before us to remove the company tied to Epstein from the limited partnership.”

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — The Wexner Foundation, a Jewish leadership nonprofit founded by CEO of L Brands Les Wexner, distanced itself from Jeffrey Epstein in a statement on Friday. The letter from the foundation’s president, Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, confirmed that Epstein was once a trustee of the organization, but “the Wexner Foundation and Jeffrey Epstein cut ties more than a decade ago. As reported, Les severed ties at that time as well,” Abrahamson wrote. “Needless to say, it is a highly disturbing story. Sexual abuse and trafficking is abhorrent and when it involves minors, all the more so… We are sickened by Mr. Epstein’s behavior.”

REPORT — In 2017, Epstein donated $50,000 to the UJA-Federation of New York, JTA reported. The donation was made through his charity, Gratitude America, according to his tax records. Epstein, who is currently being held in jail in New York City, is due in court in Manhattan this morning over his request for house arrest.

** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: ‘The town hall of Hollywood’ — welcome to the Netflix lobby [NYTimes•Israel Discount Bank names Uri Levin as new CEO[Reuters• Israel holds 5G mobile network tender, aims for 2020 launch[Reuters] • Cybersecurity company BigID raises $50 Million [Calcalist] • Israel social impact bond to help Bedouins in math studies [BusinessInsider]

STARTUP NATION ― The secret to success of an Israeli company that’s the darling of Warren Buffett ― by Ephrat Livni: “Iscar is a metalworking tool manufacturer in Israel that few people had heard of until the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, blessed it with an investment in 2006. It was the first time Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway invested in a company outside of the US, and one of the biggest foreign investments in an Israeli company ever… Haaretz reports that ‘sources close to the company’ say Iscar has made about $6 billion for Berkshire Hathaway since its initial investment.” [Quartz

DEEP DIVE — OxyContin made the Sacklers rich. Now it’s tearing them apart — by Jared Hopkins: “Jacqueline Sackler was fed up. HBO’s John Oliver would soon use his TV show to pillory her family, the clan that owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin… Before the show aired, Ms. Sackler… emailed her in-laws, lawyers and advisers. ‘This situation is destroying our work, our friendships, our reputation and our ability to function in society,’ she wrote. The host of lawsuits, some of which name as defendants many individual Sacklers who served on Purdue’s board, has unraveled the family’s standing in philanthropic, academic and financial circles.” [WSJ]

Theodoric Meyer reports in Politico Influence“Joey Allaham, the New York restaurateur who helped mastermind a lobbying campaign for Qatar… has a new client. He’ll represent the government of Kosovo’s Ministry of European Integration through his new firm, Madison Global Strategies… Allaham isn’t working with Nick Muzin… with whom he did the Qatar work. (Muzin and Allaham also told The Wall Street Journal last year they were starting a new firm with Michael Flynn.) ‘There was no split with Nick — it is a common misperception that they were ‘partners’ but they never were,’ wrote Craig Engle, a lawyer for Allaham, in an email to PI.” [PoliticoInfluence]

ACROSS THE POND — Jewish figures rail against Labour’s handling of antisemitism charges — by Stefan Boscia: “A group of prominent Jewish writers and artists have expressed their ‘bewilderment and disgust’ with Labour’s handling of the antisemitism crisis engulfing the party. The letter — signed by Howard Jacobson, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Sir Simon Schama, Neil Blair, Tracy Ann Oberman and Rabbi Julia Neuberger —– claims that antisemitism has been ‘protected, sanctioned and propagated by the leadership faction.’” [TheGuardian]

The new antisemitism — by Yaroslav Trofimov: “‘Jews in this country are held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government in the way we wouldn’t demand for, say, British Pakistanis. It’s the way that is not applied to any other minority,’ said Luciana Berger, a [Jewish] member of Parliament who had to be protected by police at last year’s Labour conference and quit the party in February. Ms. Berger said that she is often asked whether Jewish life in Britain could continue under a Corbyn government. ‘It comes up all the time: Do we have to leave the country?’ she said. ‘It’s terrifying.’” [WSJ]

SPORTS BLINK — Omri Casspi is returning to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv —  and will re-assume his role as team captain — after 10 years playing in the NBA. Casspi will reportedly earn $3.2 million for three years. 

TALK OF THE NATION — After a police shooting, Ethiopian Israelis seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ reckoning — by David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner: “Ethiopian-Israelis, a tiny minority of 150,000 in a country of 9 million, say they hope the killing of 18-year-old Solomon Tekah might finally be their Black Lives Matter moment. At a minimum, it has been a galvanizing one: In housing-complex courtyards and shady parks, on social media and in professional suites, people in all reaches of the community have become newly emboldened to speak out… The chances that the protests will gain the kind of traction and attention Black Lives Matter has in the United States are slim. Ethiopian-Israelis possess scant political power, lack recognized leadership and face internal resistance from disapproving elders when they rock the boat.” [NYTimes]

Israeli court halts park entry ban deemed racist by Arab citizens — by Rami Ayyub: “A court on Sunday ordered a predominantly Jewish town in northern Israel to lift a ban on non-resident visitors to its parks, a prohibition that a rights group said was aimed at keeping Arabs out. The town of Afula denied the edict was racially motivated.” [Reuters

TRAGIC — Police find body believed to be rabbi who saved student from drowning — by Tamar Lapin: “Search and rescue crews pulled the remains ‘presumed to be that of the missing swimmer’ Reuven Bauman, 35, from the ocean near False Cape around 2:15 p.m., Virginia Beach Police said in a statement. The teacher at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Norfolk was reported missing last Tuesday after he swam out to rescue a 13-year-old student caught in a rip current in the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.” [NYPost]

MEDIA WATCH — 
Politico Playbook‘s Daniel Lippman is transitioning to full-time reporting at Politico

DESSERT — A 96-year-old center city bakery is closing, at least temporarily — by Rachel Vigoda: “Kosher bakery Swiss Haus, a staple in Philly for close to 100 years despite multiple ownership changes, is closing for at least a month… According to social media posts by the bakery… the owner is looking to ‘revitalize and revamp our brand, culture and overall client experience for the better’ in a ‘significant undertaking.’” [EaterPhilly]

BIRTHDAYS: President and chairman of the board of the Annenberg Foundation, a multibillion-dollar charity formed by her father (Walter Annenberg), Wallis Annenberg turns 80… Member of the British House of Lords, he is a professor, medical doctor, scientist, television anchor and Labour Party politician, Baron Robert Maurice Lipson Winston turns 79… Professional sports bettor and poker player, he is a four time winner of the World Series of Poker, Mickey Appleman turns 74… Physician and life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, father of Politico’s Daniel Lippman, Dr. David H. Lippman turns 74 (h/t son Daniel)… Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ, one of the largest rabbinical schools in the world with more than 6,000 students, Rabbi Dovid Schustal turns 72… Former congresswoman (1989-2019), she was Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (2011-2013), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen turns 67…

EVP at the Aspen Institute responsible for its policy and public programs, he was a Rhodes Scholar and he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (1980-1981), Elliot Gerson turns 67… Partner in the California-based appellate law firm of Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland, Feris M. Greenberger turns 63… Regional director in Florida for the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, Miriam Baron (Mimi) Jankovits turns 63… Board Chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, she is also the Board Secretary of The Jewish Federations of North America, Julie Beren Platt turns 62… Professor at the UCLA School of Law, expert in human rights, international criminal law and international trade, Richard Harold Steinberg turns 59… News editor for BloombergJodi Schneider turns 59…

Member of Congress since 2011 (D-Rhode Island-1), previously mayor of Providence (2003-2011), his mother is Sabra née Peskin, David Nicola Cicilline turns 58… Anchorage-based attorney, a member of the Alaska House of Representatives since 2012, Andrew Lewis “Andy” Josephson turns 55… Former UK Labour Party member of Parliament (2001-2013) including three years as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, now CEO of NYC-based International Rescue Committee, David Miliband turns 54… Co-founder and chief investment officer of Toronto-based EdgeStone Capital Partners, one of Canada’s leading private equity firms, Gilbert S. Palter turns 54… Senior advisor at investment bank Greif & Co., he is also the CFO of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, David S. Felman turns 41… Florida Synagogue Initiative Director for AIPAC since 2011, Sam Kalmowicz turns 41…

Rabbi, blogger and attorney, he served for almost seven years at the Shul on the Beach in Venice, California, Eliyahu Fink turns 38… SVP of the Milwaukee Bucks and chair of the winning Milwaukee 2020 Democratic National Committee Bid Committee, Alexander Lasry turns 32… Baltimore native, now in Denver as the senior Israel Education Director at Hillel International, Jonathan Steven (“Jon”) Falk turns 31… Fund director of the Membership in News Fund at the Membership Puzzle Project, she was previously a Nairobi-based foreign correspondent and the Middle East editor at the Christian Science MonitorAriel Zirulnick turns 31… Bloomberg reporter and team leader covering mergers and acquisitions since 2019, she was previously at Thomson Reuters (2010-2019), Liana Balinsky-Baker (h/ts Playbook)…

Activists press Biden, Buttigieg on Israel

Former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg commented on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while campaigning in New Hampshire on Saturday. 

Biden was asked about the Israeli ‘occupation’ by an IfNotNow activist — identified as Elias Newman — during a campaign event in Atkinson, New Hampshire. 

“I think occupation is a real problem, a significant problem,” Biden replied. “I think the settlements are unnecessary. The only answer is a two-state solution, number one. Number two: the Palestinians have to step up to stop the hate. So, it’s a two-way street.” 

Asked if he would pressure Israel to end the occupation, the 2020 presidential candidate said: “You know anything about my record? You know I have.”

Read the full exchange below:

Elias Newman: I’m an American Jew, who is very concerned about what Netanyahu’s government is doing to Palestinians currently. 

Joe Biden: “There’s no answer but a two-state solution.” 

Newman: I am wondering if you think that the occupation is a human rights crisis, and if you’ll pressure Israel when you’re president? 

Biden: “The answer is, I think the settlements are unnecessary. Here is the deal. The only answer is a two-state solution, number one. Number two: the Palestinians have to step up too to stop the hate. So, it’s a two-way street.” 

Newman: Do you believe the occupation is a human rights crisis?

Biden: “I think occupation is a real problem, a significant problem”.

Newman: And will you pressure Israel to end the occupation as president?

Biden: “The answer is, you know anything about my record? You know I have.” 

While greeting supporters, Biden also got into a heated debate with another IfNotNow activist over Israel. “As the heated discussion dragged on, Biden raised his finger at the woman, moved his face within inches of hers and slid off his thin-rimmed aviators,” the Concord Monitor reported. “I felt that he was trying to intimidate me,” the activist, identified as Sarah Kate Feferman, told the publication. “That, in combination with hearing him use the same talking point… it’s so disheartening.”

At a town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told another activist that, “The occupation has to end.”

Buttigieg pointed to comments previously made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about the occupation in the West Bank. “Even people… associated with the Israeli right… like Sharon — towards the end of his life — recognize that this state of affairs is unsustainable. And the pathway to peace has to include Israelis and Palestinians living side by side with self-determination, and that is the right answer for our own security interest — in a stable Middle East — as well as for an Israeli future that is Jewish and democratic, and for the future of the Palestinian people.”

Buttigieg added: “There is, I think, frankly a healthier discussion happening among the American Jewish community today than there has been in some time, and frankly a healthier discussion in the American Jewish community than there is in the American Congress right now. But what we are starting to see is the awareness that in the same way that you can be pro-America without that meaning you have got to support our president. You can care about Israel’s future and believe in the U.S. relationship and alliance with Israel without being on board with right-wing policies by the Netanyahu government, which is now walking away from peace in a way that I think will harm the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, and in the long run, the American people. So I believe that as the most important ally that Israel has we need to do what you do when you have a friend who is doing something you think is harmful — put your arm around your friend and try to guide them into a better place.”

Biden and Inslee on reentering the Iran deal | House Dems divided on anti-BDS resolution | Meet Alma, the WeWork for therapists

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HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Vice President Joe Biden pledged to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran “if Tehran returns to compliance with the deal” in a foreign policy speech in New York City.

“The historic Iran nuclear deal we negotiated blocked Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, with inspectors on the ground  — international inspectors confirming that the agreement was being kept,” he said. “Yet Trump cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program, become more provocative, and raising the risk of another disastrous war in the region.” 

Biden also stressed the need to sustain America’s “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” despite disagreements with the present Israeli government. “It is essential,” he said. [JewishInsiderVideo]

Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh caught up with Washington Governor Jay Inslee while he was visiting a labor union in New York City on Thursday. The 2020 presidential hopeful told JI that his only pre-condition to re-entering the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is to “remove Donald Trump” from office. 

“It is clear who breached the agreement — it was Donald Trump. Donald Trump tore up the agreement, not Iran,” Inslee explained. “I see no reason why that cannot be reinstituted. Iran has not indicated in any way that they want to breach the agreement; it is Donald Trump who has created this crisis, it was Donald Trump who made a giant misjudgment, and it’s Donald Trump who’s hired the same people in his administration that led to [the Iraq] War.” 

Inslee refused to say whether he’d reverse or accept Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but stressed that he’s committed to “do everything possible to create a two-state solution in a peaceful region.”[JewishInsider]

REPORT — U.N. inspectors have found evidence of illicit nuclear activity in an Iranian warehouse, Ch. 13’s Barak Ravid reported on Thursday. The site was first revealed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his address at the U.N. General Assembly last September. The Iranians denied Netanyahu’s claims that the site was used to secretly store nuclear material, claiming it was a carpet factory.

At the time, Israel passed the information about the warehouse to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and U.N. inspectors reportedlyvisited the site several months ago. The samples tested for evidence of radioactivity came back positive, “and in the last few weeks it became clear that the remains of radioactive material were found at the site.”

IRAN WATCH — Despite President Donald Trump’s rhetoric over Iran sanctions, Reuters reported on Thursday that the U.S. has “decided not to impose sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for now… in a sign Washington may be holding a door open for diplomacy.” Though Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said last month that Zarif would be sanctioned, according to Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “opposed designating Zarif ‘for the time being.’”

On Friday, Iran called on Britain to immediately release an oil tanker that the British Royal Marines seized last week on suspicion it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the situation with Iran in a phone call on Wednesday. Netanyahu “expressed his appreciation for President Trump’s intention to increase the sanctions on Iran,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. 

TALK OF THE REGION — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have startedto withdraw their forces from Yemen after being part of the Saudi-led war to drive out Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Diplomats told The New York Times that the Saudis “were deeply disappointed by the Emirati decision. Top officials with the royal court personally intervened with the Emirati leaders to try to dissuade them from the drawdown.” 

Turkey has begun receiving Russia’s S-400 air-defense system, with the first parts for the system arriving at an air base in Ankara on Friday. The move could likely trigger U.S. sanctions. 

DIPLOMACY BY TWEET — President Trump explained why he announced his decision to recognize Israeli control over the Golan Heights by tweet during remarks at the White House social media summit: “For 52 years they’ve been trying to get it. They couldn’t get it… I said ‘watch, I’m going to do this.’ …I go ‘watch this,’ boom, I press it.” [Video]

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Several House Democrats, led by leading progressive members, are charging that a congressional resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a violation of First Amendment rights. 

“The core of the bill… is suppressing people that criticize the country,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) told Jewish Insider on Thursday. 

The bipartisan bill opposing the movement is expected to advance through committee next week, paving the way for a vote on the House floor and dividing Democrats. About 69 Democrats have yet to sign on the bill, which will be marked up in the House Foreign Affairs Committee next week. 

Among those holding off on signing are Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. “I think there are a lot of people, and it’s not just progressives, who feel that this issue is being used by Republicans to try and divide Democrats,” Jayapal told JI. “And that comes from people who oppose BDS. I’m not sure this is the right time to be bringing that resolution forward.” 

But Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) told JI that “it’s very hard to have an unconstitutional resolution. Freedom of speech starts with the representatives of the American people. We have a constitutional right to express our views. So, it’s very hard to see how a resolution could violate the constitution,” he said. “It’s very hard to find a constitutional scholar that thinks that [that a congressional resolution authored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) condemning BDS] raises any issues. So I don’t know what she’s concerned about.” [JewishInsider]

WHAT’S NEXT ― Infighting among Democrats ― over immigration, the defense spending bill and particularly accusations that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is singling out freshman progressive  Reps. Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — could spill over into the anti-BDS debate.

LAST NIGHT — Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) spoke at the New Story Leadership annual congressional forum on Capitol Hill: “It’s going to be really hard — I mean, next week, I have to vote against something I know is going to be about suppressing my voice, and saying… I am an American that deserves to say things like my [Palestinian] grandmother deserves human dignity and deserves equality and justice.” 

Tlaib also told the crowd that she expects to visit the West Bank next month: “My city [of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, near Ramallah] is so excited that I am possibly going to come to see her next month. She is so happy. And I am going to take my two wonderful boys… and they are going to meet their great grandmother. So I am really, really excited about that.” [Pic]

JI INTERVIEW — House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) spoke with Jewish Insider’s Laura Kelly on Thursday about the stalled efforts in Congress to combat the BDS movement against Israel.

“We hear from Democrats who want to see [S.1] come to the floor,” Scalise said. “They’d like to see it come to the floor in the traditional sense, so that they don’t get in the middle of a fight with the Speaker. But, at the same time, they would like to see the Speaker bring it to the floor, they’re frustrated that she won’t — but not everybody’s willing to stand up to the Speaker. But at the end of the day, if that bill was on the floor, it would be a strong bipartisan vote — which tells you there is still a lot of support for Israel on both sides of the aisle.”

JI: What kind of feedback have you been hearing from pro-Israel groups like AIPAC about the discharge petition?

Scalise: “They typically don’t get involved in internal House conflicts, where you have a Speaker of the House who’s not willing to bring a bill forward. I think they’d like to see a bipartisan movement behind this and there are a growing number of Democrats who are speaking out, some of them get threatened within their own party when they speak out and that’s a shame, but at the same time they realize now’s a very important time to stand with Israel.”

JI: There was the Israeli Anti-Boycott Act in the 115th Congress, that cleared the House Foreign Affairs Committee and had strong bipartisan support, why didn’t it come to the floor for a vote?

Scalise: “I don’t know why it didn’t come to the floor last year. I’m not sure if they were waiting to work with the administration on some different approaches but, I’m not aware – obviously now you’ve seen it escalate where you actually have members of Congress joining in to the BDS movement and that’s a real concern. So we want to be more vocal and not only stand up against the BDS movement but also to stand up against some of the members of Congress who support the BDS movement, which is very alarming.”

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced stop at the Chabad of Poway while visiting San Diego, California, on Thursday evening. Pence “was greeted with a bear hug by Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein… The vice president wore a yarmulke,” according to the vice president’s pool reporter Josh Dawsey. “We had to come,” Pence told the rabbi. [Pic

Later in the evening, Pence and his wife, Karen, headlined a fundraiser at the home of Dr. Bob & June Shillman in Rancho Santa Fe, California. The event raised more than $500,000, according to a White House official. 

2020 BRIEFS — Pete Buttigieg details ‘Frederick Douglass Plan’ for black Americans… Elizabeth Warren takes on Trump with immigration overhaul… Kamala Harris wants to spend $1 billion clearing America’s 225,000 untested rape kits… Andrew Yang raises $2.8 million in second quarter… Moulton: Trump voters ‘know that he’s an asshole’… Sanders says he backs abolishingElectoral College… Is Justin Amash running for president? 

DONOR CIRCUIT — How Wall Street Democrats see the race — by Ben White and Aubree Eliza Weaver: “‘I don’t think Wall Street is for Biden and it never really was,’ said one banker who has raised money for multiple candidates. ‘Biden has some support but he was never really a financial services guy. Kamala [Harris] has Marc Lasry and Blair Effron, Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] has Orin [Kramer], it’s all very spread around.'” [Politico]

How Joe Biden avoided Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street problem — by Rick Newman: 
“Here’s one thing that doesn’t appear on Biden’s financial disclosure forms: The name ‘Goldman Sachs.’ Or the name of any Wall Street Bank. That’s because Biden gave speeches, in conjunction with his 2017 book ‘Promise Me, Dad,’ mostly to university groups and civic organizations such as Vanderbilt University and the San Francisco Jewish Community Center.”[YahooFinance]

RACE TO THE KNESSET — The recent arrest of financier Jeffrey Epstein has become an Israeli election campaign issue, with the New York millionaire’s ties to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak coming under heavy scrutiny. Haaretz reported on Thursday that Epstein, who is charged with sex trafficking, partnered with Barak to invest in Reporty Homeland Security, now known as Carbyne, the former prime minister’s startup. Barak told the newspaper that “a small number of people I know invest in it. Since these are private investments, it wouldn’t be proper or right for me to expose the investors’ details.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared the report on his Facebook pageon Thursday writing: “Immediately investigate Ehud Barak.” 

Barak is also connected to Epstein through the Wexner Foundation, a Jewish leadership nonprofit founded by Epstein’s former close associate and Victoria’s Secret owner Les Wexner. CNBC reported Thursday that Epstein donated $46 million to a separate Wexner nonprofit in 2008; he also served as a trustee and member of the board of the Wexner Foundation for decades. Barak reportedly received more than $2 million from the fund for unspecified research in 2004. On Wednesday, the Likud party submitted a request to Israel’s attorney general to investigate Barak over the ties. In an Israeli radio interview on Thursday, Barak said he met Epstein several times but that he “didn’t support me or pay me.”

Separately, the Likud attacked Kachol Lavan on Friday over its recent hire of American pollster and strategist Joel Benenson. In a campaign ad, Likud said when Benenson worked for Hillary Clinton he urged her not to mention Israel, and that he led a campaign under U.S. President Barack Obama in favor of passing the Iran deal. The ad called Benenson “one of the most extreme left-wing people in the United States.” 

** Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS:Paul Singer’s Elliott scores big win in PG&E clash [WSJ• Netflix has already won the streaming wars, says Barry Diller [CNBC]• PepsiCo CEO: Daniel Birnbaum’s Sodastream growth exceeding our expectations [JPost• Israeli cybersecurity company enSilo raises $23 million [Globes]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — Alma, the WeWork for therapists, gets $8 million to draw ‘soulfulness into the world’ — by Sara Ashley O’Brien: “Some investors are betting on a new mental health startup called Alma, a membership-based group for mental health professionals… Founder and CEO Harry Ritter told CNN Business that Alma has raised $8 million in new funding towards its expansion. The round was led by venture capital firm Tusk Venture Partners, bringing Alma’s total funding to $12.5 million to date… “‘Alma’ in Aramaic and Latin means ‘world’ and ‘soul,’ according to Ritter, who said the company aims to draw ‘soulfulness down into the world.’”[CNNBusiness]

Forget about Silicon Valley. This VC wants Israeli founders to set up shop in L.A. — by Eyal Bino: “Bahram Nour-Omid, Eran Gilad and Robert Mai… in 2018 teamed up to launch Scopus Ventures, the first venture fund committed to growing Israeli startups into global companies from Los Angeles. The fund has a major focus on B2B software and enterprise tech and $25 million in capital to invest in early-stage startups from Israel and the U.S. …So far, Scopus has made four investments in Israeli startups and is looking to grow its portfolio over the next few years.” [Forbes]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Now U.S. couples are more willing to disagree on faith than politics  — by Sean Braswell: “Seth and Tracy Preminger of Chicago, Illinois, make for a rather unorthodox couple. Seth, 34, is Jewish; Tracy, 33, is Roman Catholic. Despite their different faiths, however, the couple shares a core set of principles. ‘We joked at the time when we were dating that we have the same beliefs and values, just a different God to get there,’ remembers Seth. What might have been a more challenging divide for the interfaith Democrat couple to bridge? Politics. ‘Before I met Tracy,’ says Seth, ‘I was talking to a Jewish Republican, and I was like: ‘I can’t deal with you.’ …For decades, religion was considered a divisive issue for prospective couples, but now religious belief is taking a back seat to politics.” [Ozy]

Ambassador Dennis Ross, who recently presented the Jewish People Policy Institute’s 2019 annual report about Jews and Israel to the Israeli cabinet, reacted to comments made by Israel’s education minister, Rafi Peretz, about the rate of intermarriage and assimilation among U.S. Jews, reportedly describing it “like a second Holocaust.”

“Peretz’s comment was not only completely misguided and inappropriate but also reveals how little he understands Jews in the Diaspora,” Ross explained to Jewish Insider. “Not surprisingly, it was also disconnected from the presentation of the JPPI’s annual assessment to the Cabinet, which emphasized three main issues: 1) The geopolitical developments of the last year and the need actively to cultivate bipartisan support in the U.S. even while preserving favorable ties with a friendly administration. 2) The presentation of JPPI’s Antisemitism Index, which reflects the rise of antisemitism in the West, and the recommendation to establish a centralized body in the Israeli government to develop responses to the growing threat. 3) Demographic trends and the growth of the Orthodox community generally.” 

“The issue of intermarriage was not part of the briefing this year but was raised by Cabinet members — who generally dismissed Peretz’s comments while saying they believed Israel should invest more in Jewish identity in the Diaspora.”

ACROSS THE POND — UK Labour Party in turmoil over new antisemitism claims: “Britain’s main opposition Labour Party was in turmoil Thursday after a [BBC] television documentary renewed allegations that antisemitism is rife within its ranks… The party condemned the BBC documentary, broadcast Wednesday night, saying it contained ‘deliberate and malicious representations.’ It alleged the former staffers who took part had ‘personal and political axes to grind.’ …But many Labour lawmakers expressed dismay at the allegations… Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said antisemitism was ‘a sickness in our party’ that had to be dealt with.” [AP]

LONG READ — Celebrating Sabbath in Iran: “Prior to 1979 there were ten times more Jews living in Iran than there are now. Despite the troubled relationship with Israel however, Iranian politicians and clergy are always at pains to stress that they have no quarrel with the Jews, only with the state of Israel… In contrast to the situation in German-speaking countries, Jewish institutions in Iran do not require any security arrangements. Iran has not seen a single attack on a Jewish building… Every Friday, always at sunset, parishioners stream into the synagogue [in Tehran].” [Qantara]

REMEMBERING — Award-winning memoirist Lucette Lagnado dies at 63 — by PJ Grisar: “Lucette Lagnado, the award-winning author who documented her family’s exodus from Egypt to America, has died at 63… Lagnado was born to a Jewish family in Cairo in 1956. In 1963, during a wave of mass exodus by Jews and other oppressed Egyptian minorities, the family left as refugees, landing in New York… In 1996, she joined the staff of The Wall Street Journal as a cultural and investigative reporter. In 2007, she published ‘The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit,’ a memoir of her family’s journey to America.” [ForwardWSJ]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council (1969-1972), senior partner for more than twenty years at the NYC law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Rita E. Hauser turns 85… Former congressman (R-Oklahoma-5) (1977-1993), he was a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation and national chairman of the American Conservative Union, Marvin Henry “Mickey” Edwards turns 82… Former executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Dan Botnick turns 81… Canadian journalist, public speaker, feminist and social activist, she is the author of three bestselling books, Michele Landsbergturns 80… Member of the Florida House of Representatives (2005-2013), Franklin Sands turns 79…

Bestselling author, screenwriter, and playwright, sister of the late Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron turns 75… Professor of religion at the University of Vermont, he was an advisor to Bernie Sanders on his 2016 presidential campaign, as an undergrad at Yale his roommate was Joe Lieberman, Richard Sugarmanturns 75… Co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, his films and TV series have been nominated for 43 Academy Awards and 187 Emmys, Brian Grazer turns 68… Executive Director of Newton, Massachusetts-based Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, focused on children with special educational needs, Arlene Remz turns 64… Co-owner of the Midland Group with holdings in steel, shipping, real estate, agriculture and sports, Eduard Shifrin turns 59… Nancy Billin turns 56…

Israeli journalist, television presenter and politician, mother of eight children, she served as a member of Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party (2009-2013), Anastassia Michaeli turns 44… Founder of Innovation Policy Solutions, a DC-based health care consulting and advocacy firm, Jennifer Leib turns 44… Chief news anchor of the Israeli commercial television channels Keshet 12 and Reshet 13, Yonit Levi turns 42… Staff writer at The AtlanticEdward-Isaac Dovere turns 39… Partner in the Des Moines-based public relations firm AdelmanDean Group, Liz Rodgers Adelman turns 38… President of executive communications firm A.H. Levy & Co based in NYC, he was previously chief speechwriter and deputy communications director for U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Alex Halpern Levy turns 33… Registered nurse now living in Jerusalem, Rena Meira Rotter turns 30… Benjamin Birnbaum turns 30…

SATURDAY: Teacher for 27 years in the Los Angeles United School District (1964-1991), president of the San Fernando Valley Council of NA’AMAT USA, Zita Gluskin turns 93… Scottsdale, Arizona resident, retired teacher, Howie K. Kipnes turns 80… One of the highest box office grossing actors ever, his maternal grandmother was Anna Lifschutz, a Jewish immigrant from Minsk, he is best known as the title character in the Indiana Jones film series, Harrison Ford turns 77… Louis Panzer turns 73… Radio and television talk show host, co-host of “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN and columnist for The Washington PostAnthony Irwin “Tony” Kornheiser turns 71… Director of governmental and regulatory affairs for Calpine Corporation (Calpine is an operator of 80 electric power plants), Stuart Widom turns 62…

Television executive and producer, she was the president of HBO’s network’s entertainment division until 2008 and was responsible for commissioning The Sopranos, The Wire and other hit shows, Carolyn Strauss turns 56… Manager of institutional affairs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Jennifer Rebecca Goodman Lilintahlturns 39… Founder of Omanut Consulting, she was previously the co-founder and COO of Bubby, a tech enabled matchmaking app, Sarah Persitz turns 34… Creator, writer and producer of the TV show “Casual,” Alexander “Zander” Sutton Lehmann turns 32… Co-founder of Time Flash, Jared Kash turns 26… Founding partner and CEO of Trinnacle Capital Management, Eric Kohlmann Kupper… Senior development officer at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (FL), Yishai Mizrahi

SUNDAY: Architect, urban designer, educator, theorist and author, Moshe Safdie turns 81… MLB pitcher (1971-1981), he won the Cy Young Award and was an MLB All Star in 1980, Steve Stone turns 72… Los Angeles resident, Susan Farrell turns 72… Film producer, best known for the Lethal Weapon series, the first two Die Hard movies and the Matrix trilogy, Joel Silver turns 67… Film producer and a theatrical producer, in 2012 he became the first producer to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award, Scott Rudin turns 61…

SVP and wealth management advisor at the Los Angeles office of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Scott Shagrin turns 58… Reporter and columnist for the Chicago TribunePhil Rosenthal turns 56… Veteran PR, political communications and media strategist, he is a principal at Oakland-based Full Court Press Communications and a past president of the Oakland Hebrew Day School, Daniel Eli Cohen turns 50… Rapper and record producer from Brooklyn, he is the producer, founder and CEO of Uncle Howie Records, William “Bill” Braunstein, better known as “Ill Bill,” turns 47…

Politico’s White House correspondent and CNN contributor, Eliana Yael Johnson… Program analyst at Crown Family Philanthropies in Chicago, she is an MBA candidate at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Rachel Giattino turns 29… CEO and co-founder at Beautylink, she also operates the Instagram feed ‘Second Date Shadchan,’ Elizabeth Morgan (Lizzy) Brenner turns 25… Director of brand development at Omaze, Daniel Jeydel turns 30… Rabbi Menachem Shemtov

Biden: I’d rejoin nuclear deal if Iran returns to compliance

On Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden pledged to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran if Tehran returns to compliance with its terms. 

“If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, I’d rejoin the agreement,” Biden said in a foreign policy speech in New York City. “The historic Iran nuclear deal we negotiated blocked Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, with inspectors on the ground  — international inspectors confirming that the agreement was being kept. Yet Trump cast it aside prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program, become more provocative, and raising the risk of another disastrous war in the region.” 

Biden said he would use “hard-nosed diplomacy” and seek support from U.S. allies to strengthen and extend the agreement to “more effectively” push back “against Iran’s destabilizing activities” in the Middle East. 

Biden also stressed the need to ‘sustain’” America’s “iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security” despite disagreements with the present Israeli government. “It is essential,” he said. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee blames Trump, not Iran for crisis

NEW YORK — Washington Governor Jay Inslee told Jewish Insider on Thursday that his only pre-condition to re-entering the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is removing President Donald Trump from office. 

“We need to remove Donald Trump. That’s the pre-condition for progress in this regard, and I’m dedicated to that,” Inslee told JI after touring a green building training program at SEIU 32BJ, a labor union in New York City. 

“It is clear who breached the agreement — it was Donald Trump. Donald Trump tore up the agreement, not Iran,” the 2020 presidential hopeful explained. “I see no reason why that cannot be reinstituted. Iran has not indicated in any way that they want to breach the agreement; it is Donald Trump who has created this crisis, it was Donald Trump who made a giant misjudgment, and it’s Donald Trump who’s hired the same people in his administration that led to [the Iraq] War.”

According to Inslee, the international accord with Iran was “containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and it was being effective. And the international community was working with us.” 

By withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran deal, Trump has “opened up the door to the nuclearization of Iran,” he further charged. “He’s personally responsible for this, not the United States of America.” 

Inslee refused to say whether he’d reverse or accept Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but stressed that he’s committed to “do everything possible to create a two-state solution in a peaceful region.”

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