HAPPENING TONIGHT — Robert Kraft was slated to be honored at the U.S. Navy Seals Foundation Gala in NYC this evening. We’re told Kraft is no longer planning to attend the event as he apparently did not want to create a distraction for the cause. Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis will serve as the evening’s keynote.
ALSO IN NYC TONIGHT — Megadeveloper Harry Macklowe is set to marry Patricia Landeau, president of the French Friends of the Israel Museum. According to the NYPost, the entire 78th floor of Macklowe’s Park Avenue tower has been gutted to be transformed into a “massive ballroom.”
AT SEA ISLAND — White House senior advisor Jared Kushner will speak at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual weekend confab in Sea Island, Georgia tonight. Kushner, who is expected to roll out the administration’s Mideast peace plan next month, will appear in conversation with Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen.
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: House Democrats have tasked the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) with drafting a resolution meant to respond to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) antisemitic remarks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Politico Wednesday evening.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who led the drafting of the first resolution and sits on the HFAC, told Jewish Insider that Democrats “are focused on making sure we’re able to come together on a strong statement condemning antisemitism.”
While the first draft of the resolution laid out explicit examples of antisemitic characterizations, members disagreed on Wednesday morning over which types of bigotry, in addition to antisemitism, should be included in the resolution. “I’ve been in arguments all day long” about the historical context of antisemitic beliefs and misunderstanding among members, said Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA). “I’m starting to realize with some of my younger colleagues there is a generational divide that sometimes they don’t understand the language they’re using necessarily.” It’s unclear what language the final draft will include, but according to Vargas, adding more examples of other offensive hate speech detracts from the serious consequences of antisemitic rhetoric.
Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), a former synagogue president, said he takes antisemitism very seriously but expressed deep discomfort with the treatment of Rep. Omar. “I’m working with people to build understanding, respect, and make sure that we don’t have antisemitic statements coming from people, and certainly antisemitic actions, and also working to fight against Islamophobia and intolerance and knee-jerk reactions,” he said.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), a member of the HFAC, told Jewish Insiderthat Rep. Omar should be stripped of her committee assignments. “Same thing as Steve King,” he said.
HOW IT PLAYED — House Democrats splinter over the response to Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitism — by Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade: “In a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting Wednesday morning, lawmakers debated whether to vote on an anti-hate measure in response to Omar. The session quickly became rancorous, reflecting splinters over wider issues… Plans for a quick vote appeared to fade amid the uproar… Walking into the meeting, Pelosi said the Omar situation ‘would be resolved’ and chastised the news media… Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) was among the first members to speak up in the meeting, asking, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Afterward, she said any resolution would be “redundant and unnecessary.’”
“Omar attended Wednesday’s Democratic caucus meeting but did not speak… Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)… rose to defend it and… grew emotional. He said his colleagues needed to understand that these words were hurtful to people like himself who had dealt with them all their lives… At one point during the meeting, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a close Pelosi ally, pleaded with Democrats: ‘Everyone stop tweeting!'”
“Later Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus met to discuss how to handle the issue, but the group’s chair, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), said it would not take an official position on a response to Omar. ‘People within the caucus are kind of all over the map,’ she said… [WashPost; RollCall]
— “By Wednesday afternoon, several had taken to blaming the media for covering Omar’s remarks… ‘We have to do better across the board,’ said Rep. Max Rose (D-NY)… ‘We also have to acknowledge the incredible hypocrisy you all are showing — that I did not see you guys trailing [Rep. Kevin] McCarthy — over and over and over again, there has been an unequal treatment.'”[DailyBeast]
— “Other Democrats said the decision to pursue the resolution was a surrender to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” [Bloomberg]
Rep. Omar’s Israel Comments Drag Democrats’ Quiet Divisions Out in the Open[Time] • Pelosi left with no good options for how to address Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial Israel comments [WashPost] • Ilhan Omar Controversy Caps a Month of Stumbles for Democratic Leaders [NYTimes]
SCENE — “Some Democrats hugged Omar… during the meeting… She’s also received powerful boosts from fellow Democratic freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.” [AP]
— Omar declined to meet with leaders of Neturei Karta, an anti-Israel Orthodox Jewish group, who showed up at her office to express their support for her, according to Jonathan Allen. “She did not and has no plans to,” Jeremy Slevin, Omar’s communications director, told NBC News. [Pic; Pic] • The group also stopped at Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s office [Pic]
HEARD ON CABLE — Mary Bruce, a Congressional correspondent for ABC News, on Good Morning America: “This is exposing a real family feud. A generational and ideological divide between sort of the old guard, older more established House members, House Democrats, and these younger freshmen, more liberal members.” [Video]
THE LEADERS SPEAK — President Trump tweeted on Wednesday: “It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference. Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters: “I don’t think this is just about comments by Congresswoman Omar, which I do not think were intentionally anti-Semitic… It has raised interest in having some resolution about [denouncing] anti-Semitism, of course, always, anti-Islamaphobia, always… We will see what the [House Foreign Affairs] committee comes up with. They have an array of concerns and priorities they are addressing.”[WashExaminer]
Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) defends Omar due to ‘personal’ experience — “I just think that we lose too many battles up here arguing over the stuff that’s kind of silly to argue over,” Rep. James Clyburn… said during an interview… Her experience, Clyburn argued, is much more empirical — and powerful — than that of people who are generations removed from the Holocaust… ‘I’m serious about that. There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’ It’s more personal with her,’ Clyburn said. ‘I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.'” [TheHill]
Several 2020 candidates also commented — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said criticism of Omar and efforts to get her taken off the House Foreign Affairs Committee are aimed at stopping a discussion about U.S foreign policy toward Israel… Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said that while there was a “responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism” she was “concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk.”… Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that “branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse” and makes “it harder” to achieve peace…
JDCA’s Halie Soifer tells Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh: “Clearly, there has a been a robust discussion within the party about the best way to go forward with this condemnation and it appears as though there will be wide support for a condemnation of antisemitism, along with the addition of a denunciation of other forms of hatred. So I don’t want to feed into this, what I think is a false narrative, that somehow Democrats who wanted to see this resolution expanded in any way were opposed to denouncing anti-Semitism. I don’t think that’s the case. It is very important that the provisions with regard to denouncing antisemitism not be watered down. By defining these antisemitic tropes, I hope people will be more careful in the language that they use when engaging in political debate to avoid using antisemitic references going forward.” [JewishInsider]
RJC’s National Chair Norm Coleman: “The sad reality is that the Democratic party is shifting further to the left, and one of the casualties of that shift is Israel and support for the state of Israel. So, I lament that. I don’t celebrate it. I lament it because I think Israel has consistently benefited from bipartisan support in the Congress. The Democratic leadership, Pelosi and Hoyer, I give them credit for attempting to stand with Israel. But they’re, unfortunately, dealing with the sad reality that a big portion of their base is not in the same place. They’re struggling because their base is reacting negatively and their base is, unfortunately, not supportive of Israel. Is the response too muted? Yeah, it’s muted because, at this point, they can’t even get a simple resolution on the floor that condemns antisemitism. It shouldn’t be that difficult.”
Coleman on Democrats criticizing President Trump on antisemitism: “The president moved the embassy to Jerusalem. The President finally dealt with the scourge of antisemitism reflected in the UN. I mean, the president’s actions in regard to Israel and supporting Israel and rejecting antisemitism have been very strong. And when he was not as strong as he should have been on Charlottesville, he was criticized. He was challenged on that. But his actions have shown that without a doubt, the strongest support Israel that we’ve seen. Let’s judge the President by his actions, and every one of those actions have been such that he should be praised.”
Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “There is a lot more that unites Democrats, and I think most Americans, than meets the eye here. The vast majority reject Rep. Omar’s suggestions that Americans’ support for Israel is driven by money or reflects a dual loyalty, which echo antisemitic tropes. The vast majority believe we can have a full and open debate on our Middle East policy, or disagree with given Israeli policies, without crossing those lines. The vast majority believe that anti-Semitism from any side needs to be condemned and ruled out of bounds, as do other forms of racism and bigotry, including that which has been aimed at Rep. Omar and other Muslims, and which have too often been fueled by the President’s rhetoric. This is less complicated than it seems.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel writes… “I’ve faced the charge of dual-loyalty. It was anti-Semitic then, and it’s anti-Semitic now: “No one is questioning the right of members of Congress and others to criticize Israeli policies. But Omar is crossing a line that should not be crossed in political discourse. Her remarks are not anti-Israel; they are anti-Semitic. Whether consciously or not, Representative Omar is repeating some of the ugliest stereotypes about Jews—tropes that have been unleashed by anti-Semites throughout history. She is casting Jewish Americans as the other, suggesting a dual loyalty that calls our devotion to America into question.”[TheAtlantic]
TOP OP — Tom Friedman writes… “Ilhan Omar, AIPAC and Me: “AIPAC is a self-appointed lobby that does not represent my feelings as an American Jew. But neither does Representative Omar. Everything I have heard from her leads me to conclude that she dislikes AIPAC because she dislikes Israel, because she does not really believe the Jewish people have a right to an independent state in their ancestral homeland. She seems to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel… Which only reinforces a fundamental rule I have: I love the Israelis and the Palestinians, but God save me from their American friends. When they recreate and fuel their conflict here in America, and on college campuses, they only sow more division, distrust and make things worse.” [NYTimes]
Ilhan Omar Shouldn’t Get a Pass — by Yascha Mounk: “Those who refuse to criticize Omar on the grounds that Trump and his outriders are attacking her are allowing the president to set the terms of the debate. It is undoubtedly discomfiting to be on the same side as racists and Islamophobes. But the right answer cannot be to forgive anyone’s faults if the wrong people so happen to point them out; after all, a standard we are willing to abandon as soon as someone we dislike invokes it is no standard at all.” [Slate]
Ilhan Omar Knows Exactly What She Is Doing — by Bret Stephens: “It says something about the progressive movement today that it has no trouble denouncing Republican racism, real and alleged, every day of the week but has so much trouble calling out naked antisemite in its own ranks. This is how progressivism becomes Corbynism… If Pelosi can’t muster a powerful and unequivocal resolution condemning antisemitism, then Omar will have secured her political future and won a critical battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. At that point, the days when American Jews can live comfortably within the Democratic fold will be numbered.” [NYTimes]
Matt Nosanchuk, a former White House Jewish Liaison for President Obama, tells Jewish Insider: “There is still a strong bipartisan consensus in Congress that supports Israel, but it’s also the case that there are now members of Congress who hold a different perspective and have expressed that perspective on occasion using unfortunate language that invokes antisemitic tropes. And when language like that is used, it’s appropriate to call it out. But an all-out war within the Democratic Party that divides pro-Israel progressive Democrats from other progressives only serves to play into the hands of those who have been trying for a number of years now to make support for Israel into the exclusive purview of the right. Democrats should not be lured into this self-destructive mode and should stand strong in their support for Israel and for robust policy debates.”
Andrew Weinstein, a leading Democratic donor from Coral Springs, emails: “While the ‘Dems in disarray’ narrative makes for an interesting news cycle, it does not reflect the reality inside the caucus. There is strong support for Israel among Democratic House members and there has been absolutely no effort to change that. There is no question that Rep. Omar’s comments were inappropriate and unacceptable, but the GOP’s efforts to capitalize on her remarks and drive a wedge between Jewish voters and the Democratic Party is hypocritical and beyond shameful.” Read more here [JewishInsider]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor for President Barack Obama, discussed Omar’s remarks and the House resolution on the Pod Save the World podcast with Tommy Vietor:”I want Ilhan Omar to succeed. I think she’s talented. I think she’s earnest. I do not think Ilhan Omar is an antisemite. She’s just been very careless in her language about certain stereotypes… I welcome a diversity of views on Israel in the Democratic Party… She’s more critical than even I am of the Netanyahu government. Fine. Let’s have a big tent of views on these things, but she should be making her case about policies.”
“The reality is if you’re only going to call out a black Muslim woman for making comments about Israel and you’re not going to call out a lot of other behavior, then that’s not a great look. And so either you’re going to have to do these resolutions over and over again every time somebody says something or you’re basically indicating that you, you’re singling this one member out when she’s far from the only member of Congress who said something offensive.” [PodSaveTheWorld]
KAFE KNESSET — Lapid Says Israel in Midst of National Crisis — by Neri Zilber: At an overflow public appearance last night at the Zionist Organization of America House in Tel Aviv, Blue and White co-leader Yair Lapid slammed the current government for a host of missteps, in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attacks on many of the state’s democratic institutions — “freedom of speech, the courts, the police and free media” — and warned that Israel was “in the midst of a national crisis.” The English-only remarks came as part of an election series organized by the Tel Aviv International Salon, with Times of Israel editor-in-chief David Horowitz engaging Lapid in conversation before the crowd — primarily young immigrants — had a chance to ask their questions. A confident, easy-mannered Lapid explained the genesis behind Blue and White’s creation two weeks ago (with his Yesh Atid faction merging with Hosen Le’Israel, led by Benny Gantz) and said adamantly that he didn’t have “an ounce of remorse” for giving up the top spot to Gantz. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
Netanyahu’s Opposition Offers Bibiism Without Bibi — by Eli Lake: “If Netanyahu loses power next month, the government that replaces him is likely to continue most of his national-security policies. Call it Bibiism without Bibi… Despite Netanyahu’s reputation as a hawk, he has managed to govern Israel for a decade without getting into a major war. That may seem like a low bar. But in a region beset by revolutions, failed states and an emboldened Iran, it’s the kind of success that even Netanyahu’s opposition seeks to emulate.” [Bloomberg]
2020 WATCH — Biden’s 2020 plan is almost complete. Democrats are impatient… Bernie Sanders’ campaign says he will keep his pledge to not go negative in ads for 2020… Howard Schultz hopes to benefit from Michael Bloomberg’s decision not to run for president.
** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? 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: Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg sees Facebook’s future focused more on private sharing than public content [WSJ] • With loans from billionaires Eli Broad, Francois Pinault and Dan Loeb, Basquiats worth $1 billion on display at Brant Foundation show [Bloomberg] • WarnerMedia Content Chief Robert Greenblatt Says Competitors ‘Are Eating Our Lunch’ [WSJ] • Disney’s Bob Iger seat on Apple’s board could be at risk as both companies plan to launch video streaming service later this year [9to5Mac]• Hapoalim Sets Aside Another $246 Million for U.S. Tax Probe [Bloomberg]
STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — Fourpost Faces Its Next Big Test: Mall of America After the Holidays — by Amanda Ostuni: “Created by Mark Ghermezian, whose family owns the largest malls in North America, including MOA, Fourpost invites emerging brands to test their concept in a store setting without the usual build-out and long-term commitment that can make premium mall space cost-prohibitive for small companies. Fourpost offers six or 12-month leases for around $3,200 per month, including assistance with staffing, merchandising, and marketing. In comparison, rent starts at $7,500 per month for a 1,000-square-foot MOA storefront.” [TwinCities]
HOLLYWOOD — Texts Reveal Warner Bros. CEO Promoted Actress Amid Apparent Sexual Relationship — by Tatiana Siegel: “At 12:10 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2013, Australian billionaire James Packer texted a 21-year-old British actress named Charlotte Kirk… Packer, who was a partner with director Brett Ratner in the film production/finance company RatPac Entertainment, was saying she was about to catch a major break. ‘I have the opportunity of a lifetime for u,’ Packer wrote in a text message… He promised an introduction to ‘the most important man u can meet.’ Packer did not identify the man by name, but based on hundreds of texts, emails and a draft settlement agreement obtained and reviewed by THR, the late-night introduction was to Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara.” [HollywoodReporter]
ACROSS THE SEA — Socially Acceptable Anti-Semitism — by Eliot Cohen: “On Sunday, a float rolled down the streets of Aalst, a Belgian town, for carnival. It featured two grotesque caricatures of Hasidic Jews, hooked noses, hands reaching out for money, and a rat sitting on money bags. That’s 2019. A second float, pictured above — in Marburg, Germany, in 1936 — featured celebrants dressed as Orthodox Jews.”
“It is not merely ‘the socialism of fools,’ as the German social democrat August Bebel famously put it at the turn of the 20th century. It is a confession of weakness and fear, a belief in occult forces that explain why you or your group has failed in some way — whether it is in securing a foreign policy guided by realpolitik or justice for a group you feel for, or a lost election, or the fact that the bond markets occasionally go against you. Antisemitism is, in short, the religion of people too lazy to accept the complexity of reality, who hunger for enemies whose power excuses their own deficiencies, and who cannot take responsibility for why their side has not won.” [TheAtlantic]
What I learned from donating a kidney to my 70-year-old father — by Ilan Goldenberg: “Two summers ago, my father asked if I would give him one of my kidneys. He was 70 at the time, suffering from kidney disease. I was 39 with a wife and two young kids… For me, that summer conversation with my father led to one of the most complicated decisions of my life. I am 100 percent certain I made the right call.” [Vox]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Moishe’s East Village kosher bakery has closed after 42 years — by Michelle Cohen: “Moishe’s, the beloved kosher bakery on 2nd Avenue, instantly recognizable by what the New York Times called its “stopped-in-time storefront,” has served its last hamantaschen. Owner Moishe Perl told local photographers James and Karla Murray that yesterday was the bakery’s last day, and that the entire building has been sold. In business since 1977, everything was baked on the premises daily… Hamantaschen was the signature item at the all-kosher establishment.” [6SQFT]
DESSERT — A fond, musical farewell to Jaffa’s beloved Anna Loulou Bar — by Naomi Zeveloff: “The language of Anna Loulou was not Hebrew, or Arabic, or even English — which the multilingual staff used to communicated over WhatsApp — but music. On any given night, a rotating cast of DJs played tracks from the world over, especially the Middle East and North Africa, with a heavy dose of American hip-hop. According to Marwan Hawash, Anna Loulou provided a platform for Palestinian artists and DJs who lacked other places to perform in the Tel Aviv area, or found themselves tokenized as Arabs when they did. These DJs included people from inside the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israel controls freedom of movement. The bar closed for quotidian reasons.” [RoadAndKingdoms]
BIRTHDAYS: Nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Times since 1984, Suzanne Bregman Fields, Ph.D. turns 83… Biologist, president of the California Institute of Technology (1997-2006) and 1975 Nobel laureate in Medicine, David Baltimore turns 81… Former bureau chief for the AP in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo, president of the National Press Club in 2014, since 2005 a journalism educator at George Washington University, Myron Belkind turns 79… Former chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company (1984-2005), Michael Eisner turns 77… Geneticist and 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, his parents were immigrants who had fled Nazi Germany in 1938, his father was the cantor of Boston’s Temple Ohabei Shalom, Michael Rosbash turns 75… Retired media executive who was a member of the first co-ed class at Yale College in 1969, Ruth Barbara Jarmulturns 70… Chairman and general trust counsel of Fiduciary Trust International, Gail Ehrlich Cohen turns 63… Award-winning freelance journalist, author and adjunct professor at Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, Anne Farris Rosen turns 63… British public law and human rights barrister and a member of the House of Lords, he is the long-time chair of the British Legal Friends of Hebrew University, Baron David Pannick turns 63…
Executive director of Academic Exchange, promoting understanding of the Middle East within the international academic community, he was previously with Aish HaTorah Los Angeles, Rabbi Nachum Braverman turns 61… Democratic political strategist, he was an SVP at TruBlu Politics (2016-2017), Lewis H. Cohen turns 59… Professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and the author or editor of several books about Baruch Spinoza, Yitzhak Yohanan Melamed turns 51… Academy Award winning actress, Rachel Weisz turns 49… Assistant News Director for DC’s NBC4 News, adjunct professor of journalism at American U, Matt Glassman turns 49… Brooklyn-based political consultant and attorney focused on media relations, formerly director of intergovernmental affairs for Senator Schumer (2001-2005), Michael Tobman turns 46… Television news anchor, author and businesswoman, she is the host of Hatched, a business competition show on The CW Network, Nicole Lapin turns 35… Author, popular science writer, spaceflight historian, YouTuber and podcaster, best known for writing Breaking the Chains of Gravity, Amy Shira Teitel turns 33… Staff writer for U.S. News & World Report covering energy, the environment, STEM and hospitals, Alan Neuhauser turns 32… Attorney in Reno, Nevada, Sasha Ahuva Farahiturns 31… Press manager at NBC News since 2017, she was previously a senior publicist in the media relations group at MSNBC, Rachel Zuckerman turns 30… Jake Hirth… Yaakov Spira…
2020 WATCH — Michael Bloomberg Will Not Run for President in 2020 — by Alexander Burns: “Michael R. Bloomberg… has decided not to challenge Mr. Trump as a candidate in the 2020 election. Rather than entering the race himself, Mr. Bloomberg intends to plow his political energy and immense personal fortune into other efforts to thwart Mr. Trump and his agenda.” [NYTimes]
Bloomberg explained his decision in an op-ed in Bloomberg News: “I know what it takes to run a winning campaign, and every day when I read the news, I grow more frustrated by the incompetence in the Oval Office. I know we can do better as a country. And I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election. But I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”
From this morning’s DealBook newsletter — “Mr. Bloomberg’s decision may weigh on Howard Schultz, the other centrist, pro-business billionaire considering a presidential bid. If Mr. Bloomberg, with an established political brand and an estimated $55 billion fortune, doesn’t think he can spend his way to victory, critics will ask how a less-famous, less-wealthy billionaire could.”
Hank Sheinkopf, a New York Democratic campaign consultant, tells Jewish Insider: “Here is the case of no good deed goes unpunished. Michael Bloomberg used his own resources, his own staff and his own time to help the Democrats take back the House of Representatives. He played an important role in that. The reward is that the party pays no attention to him. He’s operating, as he always has, to do what he thinks is right, because he doesn’t need the power. He’s had the power. Just by withdrawing, he proved his value. As an American, as someone who cares deeply, it was not about power. It was about what was right. Pretty extraordinary.”
“He could have beaten Donald Trump. The problem is getting through the primary, and his withdrawal should be an indication of Democrats, who have many delusions whatsoever, that they’re preparing to do what they do best, which is to eat each other before they get to the general election so there’s nothing left. They’re really good at that. Anybody who gets joy out of Mike Bloomberg’s self-removal from the presidential contest is really foolish.”
Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, the co-chairman of Miami’s effort to land the 2020 Democratic convention, blasts DNC’s ‘massive’ convention delay… Mark Cuban is strongly considering running for president in 2020 as a third-party candidate… John Delaney preaches moderation in bid to win Democratic race…
DRIVING THE DAY — On Tuesday,Democratic leaders moved to broaden a resolution condemning anti-Semitism to encompass other types of religious bigotry after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and lawmakers from the Congressional Black Caucus bristled at the attempt to reprimand Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her anti-Semitic comments.
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Democratic leadership convened on Tuesday to discuss the ‘Resolution rejecting anti-Semitism’ ahead of its introduction, pushed back to later in the week as members discuss what should be included in the text.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said that he “obviously” believes statements made by Rep. Ilhan Omar are wrong — particularly the statement that pro-Israel groups push for allegiance to a foreign country — but that he needed to “evaluate the resolution” before committing to supporting it. Jeffries declined to comment Tuesday evening after leaving a meeting with leadership to discuss the text of the resolution.
Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) told Jewish Insider that he rejected Rep. Omar’s statements. “Obviously, I think that’s not what we want to be saying at all, I disagree completely with that.” While he hasn’t seen the text of the resolution, he’ll likely vote in favor he says, “I’m sure I’ll be supporting it, it’s a priority for me of course.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told Jewish Insider that he plans to vote for the resolution and also called out the racist poster equating Rep. Omar and Muslims with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “I equally condemn and deplore the anti-Muslim statements that were made against her,” the congressman said. “I condemn and deplore attempts to impute dual loyalty of Jews and we have to stand against all forms of bigotry, that attacking Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, immigrants, everybody.” He said he hadn’t seen the text of the resolution, which circulated online Monday, and said that any pushback from fellow Democrats “depends on the final text.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) said he would “most likely” also vote for the resolution.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) called the move by Democrats “virtue signaling” and an attempt to cover themselves without actually punishing Rep. Omar. “What they really should do is take Ilhan Omar off the Foreign Affairs Committee. That would actually be a rebuke of her very clearly, anti-Semitic views. That’s what I would say about that.” Rep. Crenshaw earlier tweeted that “At some point, Dems just need to accept that @IlhanMN has deeply held prejudices about the Jewish people. Stop explaining her comments away and “asking for dialogue.” It’s clear an apology from her is hollow.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WI) said she “absolutely” condemns Rep. Omar’s statements. “I think she ought to be stripped of her membership on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” the House Republican Conference Chair said. “I think it is a disgrace that Democratic leaders have refused to take real action. You’ve seen some statements of condemnation and then Speaker Pelosi turned around and embraced her on the cover of Rolling Stone just this week. I think that what they’re doing is abhorrent. Anyone who recognizes the history realizes that we have to call evil, evil, and we have an obligation and a duty to do that. The fact that Representative Omar has not only been allowed to serve on that critical committee but is now being supported by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who have now called themselves some sort of a squad in defense of her comments, I just think is an absolute appalling disgrace. I cannot imagine that the leaders in the Democratic Party in the house aren’t willing to take action and say ‘enough is enough and we’re going to strip her of her committee membership.’ And frankly, I think her constituents ought to recognize the damage she’s doing and the damage she’s doing to the United States of America.”
OVERNIGHT — Ocasio-Cortez blasted ‘racist tropes’ and ‘white supremacy’ in a midnight tweetstorm [NYPost]
HEARD ON CABLE — Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) on CNN’s Outfront with Erin Burnett: “Look, you hope that people who get elected to office and they grow. I would hope the same thing would happen to [Omar], but I’m not going to sit silent as long as there are people who are yelling out anti-Semitic tropes or anti-anything tropes, by the way… I’m hoping that she’ll grow and she’ll change. I’m hoping. Some people change their beliefs, I’m hoping she’ll change hers. I think what she said was wrong and hurtful. I think she should understand that.”
Burnett: At what point do you say to her, ‘Congresswoman Omar, look, you are not on this [House Foreign Affairs] committee anymore. You are stripped of your seat.’ Are you close to that or at that point?
Engel: “No. I am not close to it. First of all, it’s not up to me. This is done by the leadership. I don’t know that that would do anything except exacerbate the situation even more. I’m looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody.” [Video]
Of note: NORPAC is hosting a fundraiser forEngel in Teaneck, New Jersey on Sunday. In the last event hosted by the pro-Israel political action committee in January, Engel had already faced questions about the Democratic leadership’s handling of Omar and her colleagues Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
WATCH — Chuck Todd in a monologue on his daily show, MTP Daily, on MSNBC says he’s “obsessed” with the rise of anti-Semitism and the “game of whataboutism being played now by both parties. Stop It! You both have a problem.” [Video]
— Omar’s remarks were also the topic on panel discussions with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi and Chris Hayes.
Can Anti-Semitism Split Democrats Like It Split Labour? — by Jonathan Chait: “Contrary to Omar’s insinuation, at least some Democrats do criticize Israel and its domestic supporters in harsh terms without leaning on anti-Semitic tropes. An easy way to do this is to recognize that advocating for a strong American alliance with another country is not a form of disloyalty… The Democratic Party is far more resistant to anti-Semitism than the Labour Party ever was. But the speed at which the virus has spread among progressive activists in the wake of Omar-gate has been a depressingly illuminating experience.” [NYMag]
— Jeremy Corbyn accuses MP Margaret Hodge of ‘breach of trust’ after she secretly recorded their meeting and insists aides acted ‘in good faith’ over anti-Semitism cases in leaked fiery letter [DailyMail]
Ilhan Omar’s Anti-Israel Nativism Will Haunt Democrats — by Eli Lake: “What is surprising is that many Democrats are still demanding an apology. Why do they think a third apology will make a difference? It won’t… In an era that rewards politicians for taboo-busting controversy, Omar’s pandering is understandable. In this sense, it’s not that different from the kind of venom spewed by President Donald Trump when it comes to immigrants, Latinos and Muslims… This much, however, is clear: Democrats have to do more than demand another apology. If the party wants to make a credible case against a nativist president, it cannot look the other way at the nativism of its own members.” [Bloomberg]
Former Amb. Daniel Kurtzer writes… “How Ilhan Omar is setting back legitimate debate of Israeli policies: Only Omar knows what is in her own heart. But the rest of us hear loud and clear what she says. Omar may truly believe that her comments are legitimate forms of opposition to Israeli policy. But if that is the case, she is naïve, and as an elected official, she has a duty to acquire a basic understanding of the likely inferences drawn from the things she says.” [NYDailyNews]
JI INTERVIEW — Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University and the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now, discussed with Jewish Insider the Right vs. Left antisemitism, and how one should discuss it in America.
Q: So on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent comment about “foreign allegiance” in the context of pro-Israel Americans, and in discussion of her Jewish colleagues; what do you make of it? Is this textbook antisemitism?
Lipstadt: “Sadly, I believe it is. ‘Dual loyalties’ is part of the textbook accusations against Jews. They are cosmopolitans, globalists, not loyal to their country or fellow citizens. (That is why so many people were shocked when Stephen Miller used it at a press conference about DJT’s critics.) I don’t remember a time when there was such sustained attacks from both the right and the left simultaneously. I think it is that phenomenon that leads to the ‘whataboutism.’” Read the entire interview here [JewishInsider]
GOP chairman eyes move to lock in Trump’s Iran deal withdrawal — by Rebecca Kheel: “Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said Tuesday he’d like to include language in the annual defense policy bill that codifies President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal… Inhofe said he found [during a recent trip overseas] that countries such as Iran were ‘waiting Trump out.’ … To address that, Inhofe argued, Congress needs to codify what it can of actions Trump has taken.” [TheHill]
AT THE UN — U.N. again defers report on companies with Israeli settlement ties — by Stephanie Nebehay: “Publication of a U.N. database of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank has been delayed again… Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Tuesday that despite progress made since launching the study, further work was needed due to the ‘novelty of the mandate and its legal, methodological and factual complexity.’ Her office aimed to finalize and issue the study ‘in coming months,’ she said in a letter to the Human Rights Council.”[Reuters]
TALK OF THE REGION — Fears grow of rift between Saudi king and crown prince — by Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Nick Hopkins: “King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are understood to have disagreed over a number of important policy issues in recent weeks… These tensions increased dramatically in late February when the king, 83, visited Egypt and was warned by his advisers he was at risk of a potential move against him… His entourage was so alarmed at the possible threat to his authority that a new security team, comprised of more than 30 hand-picked loyalists from the interior ministry, was flown to Egypt to replace the existing team.”
“The crown prince, who was designated ‘deputy king’ during the Egypt trip, as is customary, signed off two major personnel changes while the king was away. They included the appointment of a female ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, and that of his full brother, Khalid bin Salman, to the ministry of defense… The Guardian has been told the king and his team learned about the reshuffle via television.” [TheGuardian] • Cloistered Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Aims to Ease Entry for Tourists [WSJ]
Is a new Arab Spring on the way? — by Ishaan Tharoor: “In recent weeks, there have been sustained mass protests against two long-ruling autocratic leaders south of the Mediterranean… Analysts caution against declaring the advent of a new Arab Spring, not least because the unrest in Sudan and Algeria is taking place in rather different contexts. But across North Africa and the Middle East, the conditions for greater upheaval remain — indeed, they may be worse.” [WashPost]
The Trump Musical: ‘Anything Goes’ — by Tom Friedman: “When America, the world’s most influential democracy, has a leader without shame, who is backed by a party without spine willing to prostitute itself to Trump no matter how low he goes… it becomes a hunting license for leaders everywhere to go after their own domestic opponents and cross any human rights redline to stay in power.”
“And we’re talking about some close allies. Last week, Israel’s attorney general recommended that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu be indicted on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust… This comes just after Netanyahu forged a political alliance with an openly racist, anti-Arab party… These are the people Netanyahu wants to bring into his government. Why not? Bibi knows that no matter how low he sinks, Trump will always have his back.”[NYTimes]
POMPEO TO ISRAEL — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit Israel ahead of election: “Pompeo will visit Israel ahead of its April 9 election but will not be involved in the country’s domestic politics, the State Department said Tuesday… State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Pompeo’s trip was not intended to send any message. ‘Israel is an ally,’ Palladino said. ‘We’re not going to get involved in the domestic politics of another country.'” [YahooNews]
— “A visit by the secretary of state in a country during an election campaign is a bit unusual… The visit is unusual also because Prime Minister Netanyahu will visit Washington four days later and meet President Trump at the White House… It’s unclear if [Pompeo] is going to meet Netanyahu’s main political rival — retired Gen. Benny Gantz… Unlike previous secretaries of state, Pompeo has not met any members of the opposition during his trips to Israel.” [Axios]
ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Gantz pledges allegiance to Diaspora Jewry — by Gil Hoffman: “The Blue and White Party of former IDF chiefs of staff Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi and former finance minister Yair Lapid will make Diaspora affairs a top priority, sources in the party revealed on Tuesday… The platform talks about the importance for all Jews to feel welcome and at home in Israel. After years of rifts between Netanyahu and progressive U.S. Jews, Blue and White vows to ‘build on and reinforce the bridge between Israel and different communities around the world.'” [JPost; ToI]
Could Ayman Odeh Determine Who Becomes Israel’s Next Prime Minister? — by Elhanan Miller: “‘Our main goal is to change the government in Israel,’ Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List, told a Jewish audience at a packed event in Jerusalem this week… ‘If we see a minimum of goodwill on these issues, we will study the matter seriously and decide which candidate to recommend to the president [as prime minister],’ Odeh said. ‘We are here to make a difference and influence government. If we find a partner, we would love to become influential in Israeli politics.'” [Tablet]
REPORT — President pressured staff to grant security clearance to Ivanka Trump — by Pamela Brown and Kaitlan Collins: “President Donald Trump pressured his then-chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn to grant his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump a security clearance against their recommendations… After concerns were raised by the personnel office, Trump pushed Kelly and McGahn to make the decision on his daughter and son-in-law’s clearances so it did not appear as if he was tainting the process to favor his family… After both refused, Trump granted them their security clearances.” [CNN]
** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? 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: Blackstone slaps golden handcuffs on Bennett Goodman [FinancialTimes] • Tough Year For Superrich As Hundreds Drop Out Of Ranks [Forbes] • A healthcare investment fund has become one of Israel’s largest with a $660 million close [TechCrunch] • Israel market regulator sees room for cryptocurrency trading [Reuters]
SPOTLIGHT — A Rare Find In Silicon Valley: A New Woman Billionaire In Tech — by Angel Au-Yeung: “Safra Catz, the media-averse and once reluctant co-CEO of software behemoth Oracle, debuts on Forbes’ definitive ranking of the wealthiest people on earth with a net worth of $1 billion. Though she owns less than 1% of the company, her option grants—which form the majority of her fortune—have pushed her to the top 1% of the world. In 2017, Catz received $135 million in total realized pay, according to the company’s latest proxy, making her one of the world’s highest-paid female executives. She is one of only 61 self-made female billionaires in the world, who make up less than 3% of the billionaires on the list.” [Forbes]
MUELLER WATCH — Alan Dershowitz hasn’t written a word of his new book. It’s selling fast — by Nestor Ramos: “Selling for $9.37 in paperback, or $9.99 on Kindle, ‘The Mueller Report: The Final Report of the Special Counsel into Donald Trump, Russia, and Collusion’ is already the number three best seller in Amazon’s Civics and Citizenship category… The problem, of course, is that nobody knows when (or even if) the Mueller report will be made public — a decision that appears to be mostly up to the attorney general… ‘My intention is to drop everything’ when some version of the report is released, Dershowitz said in an interview on Monday. ‘I’m a fast reader, and a fast writer. Even though I’m 80 years old, I still do things quickly.’ Fact check: True. Approximately 3 seconds elapsed between the time I sent Dershowitz an e-mail and my phone rang. Dershowitz said his publisher, Skyhorse, came to him with the proposal.”
“’I’m not doing this on behalf of Donald Trump or the Republicans,’ Dershowitz said. ‘I may be supportive of the Mueller report. I have no pre-disposition about it.’ … Dershowitz said he wasn’t sure how many copies had been pre-sold, and was surprised to learn that it was already labeled a best-seller.”[BostonGlobe]
PROFILE — The Renegade Street Photographer Of Boro Park — by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt: “I first meet Kaye at Boro Park’s Cafe Paris, a popular lunch spot, frequented that afternoon by Hasidic housewives. He shows up in a velvet yarmulke and a v-neck sweater, cleanly-shaven and around the age of forty — and asks me to please refer to him as ‘Avi Kaye,’ and not by his real name. ‘In order to achieve my goal of documenting Hasidic life, it’s best for me to keep my identity private,’ Kaye tells me over coffee. ‘If my identity was revealed, it would go viral among the Hasidim, and that would affect my ability to do what I do.'” [Forward]
TALK OF THE TOWN — $6.3M Raised for Synagogue Massacre Families, Survivors: “A $6.3 million fund established in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre will primarily be split among the families of the dead and survivors of the worst attack on Jews in U.S. history. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s ‘Victims of Terror Fund’ took in donations from more than 8,500 people, companies and organizations in 48 states and at least eight countries. Organizers say about $5.3 million will be given to those most directly impacted by the attack. Most of the balance will go to the three impacted congregations, with some of the money funding repairs to the heavily damaged synagogue.” [NYT]
SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — “On Monday, March 4, some of history’s most unforgettable characters descended upon the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York City when, as part of Lincoln Center Theater’s annual benefit, a one-night-only concert of the classic musical Camelot was staged, directed by Bartlett Sher and featuring actors including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Solea Pfeiffer, Danny Burstein, Ruthie Ann Miles, and more. The evening also drew an impressive group of guests to both the performance and the dinner held after at the Grand Promenade of David Geffen Hall. Among those in attendance were Hillary Rodham Clinton, Laura and Lloyd Blankfein, Fareed Zakaria, and Daryl Roth as well as the evening’s co-chairs, Andy and Betsy Kenny Lack, Brooke and Daniel Neidich, and Caryn Zucker.” [TownAndCountry]
SPOTTED IN DC — Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) with Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) leaving Morton’s on Connecticut Avenue last night. [Pic]
SCENE LAST NIGHT — The Jewish Book Council hosted the 68th annual National Jewish Book Awards last night at Bohemian National Hall in NYC. The event, hosted by Unorthodox podcaster Stephanie Butnick, awarded the Book of the Year to Hunting the Truth by Beate and Serge Klarsfeld.
SPOTTED: Jane and Stuart Weitzman, Joseph Telushkin, Carol and Jerry Levin, Wayne Hoffman, Naomi Firestone-Teeter, William Daroff, Francine Klagsbrun, Edith Everett, Alan and Constance Kadish, Abe Steinberger, Lynn Schusterman, Louise Mirrer, Alana Newhouse, Ami Eden, Andres Spokoiny, Cindy Spiegel, Jack Wertheimer, Alan Mittleman, Ari Mittleman, Erika Dreifus, Dana Raucher.
ALSO IN NYC — IfNotNow co-founder Simone Zimmerman, Avi Mayer, Assistant Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, and Carly Pildis participated in a panel discussion moderated by Bari Weiss at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan last night. [Pic]
BIRTHDAYS: Centenarian, known as “Philadelphia Phil,” the founder of a successful advertising agency, he achieved fame during the Eagles 2018 run to a Super Bowl championship, Philip Basser turns 101… Former chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States (1987-2006), Alan Greenspan turns 93… Writer, lecturer and emeritus professor of Jewish communal service at HUC-JIR Los Angeles, Steven Windmueller turns 77… Actor, writer, director, producer and political activist, he directed “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men,” Rob Reiner turns 72… Television personality, author and libertarian pundit, known for his career on both ABC News and Fox Business Channel, he is a winner of 19 Emmy Awards, John Stossel turns 72… Musical theatre lyricist and composer, winner of three Oscars, three Grammys and received six Tony Award nominations, Stephen Schwartz turns 71… Actor, comedian and sports show host, he converted to Judaism upon marrying Roseanne Barr in 1990, Tom Arnold turns 60… Aliza Tendler turns 54… Founder of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto which he sold to Unilever in 2014, he has since co-founded Iris Brands, Joshua Hochschuler turns 46…
Head of Innovation Communication at Bloomberg LP, Chaim Haas turns 44… Senior director for business development and client services at NYC-based Jewish Communal Fund, Michelle Lebowitz turns 43… Former football quarterback who played on six NFL teams (2001-2012), he is member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Sage Rosenfels turns 41… Managing director at Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based investment firm, he was the body man (2001-2006) and then deputy chief of staff (2008-2009) for former President George W. Bush, Blake L. Gottesman turns 39… Fourth generation developer, owner, and operator of commercial real estate throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, Daniel Klein turns 38… Director of marketing and communications at Zionist Organization of America, Natalie Lazaroff turns 30 (h/t Playbook)… Israeli fashion model who has appeared in international campaigns for many world-wide brands, Esti Ginzburg turns 29… Artist Tova Suissa turns 28… 3L student at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, she was a member of the Israel Project’s Tower Tomorrow Fellowship, Riley Clafton turns 24… Theodore Furchtgott… Sandra Brown… Nelson Katz…
ON THE HILL — A group ofHouse Democrats — including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee — have circulated the initial text of a resolution that defines and condemns anti-Semitic tropes and stereotypes, a legislative response to recent statements by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) who suggested pro-Israel groups push for “allegiance to a foreign country.”
The resolution, expected to pass on Wednesday, will explicitly address that charges of “dual loyalty” directed at Jews are anti-Semitic in nature and that such rhetoric has no place in congressional discourse. Rep. Omar is not mentioned in the draft by name, a deliberate move by lawmakers who, for days, debated how to respond to her comments in an official manner. The resolution, about four pages long, defines anti-Semitism as “the bigotry faced by Jewish people simply because they are Jews.” It’s unclear whether the group plans to seek Omar’s removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
A senior congressional source said that given the Minnesota lawmaker’s repeated offenses, Democratic members felt compelled to devise a more concrete act responding to her comments rather than simply calling for a public apology. “The idea that certain members of Congress seemingly believe it is acceptable to use historic anti-Semitic tropes accusing Jews of dual loyalty, despite the broad condemnation of the entire House Democratic Leadership, is beyond me,” Rep. Gottheimer wrote in an email to Jewish Insider. [JewishInsider]
On Monday, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for a House resolution rejecting Omar’s “latest slur and make clear that no matter what may divide the 435 members of the House of Representatives, they are united in condemning anti-Semitism.”
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) tells Jewish Insider: “The grotesque anti-Semitic slur of dual loyalty has a long and painful history for Jews around the world, including here in the United States. I hope Rep. Omar will recognize this fact and steer clear of unjustifiably questioning the allegiance of supporters of the US-Israel relationship. Loyal Americans can passionately support the Jewish state and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, just as they can passionately support the aspiration for a Palestinian state. Personally, as a lifelong supporter of Israel, I remain fully committed to a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state living side by side in security, peace and prosperity with the Jewish state of Israel. That has always been, and remains U.S. policy.”
“Hateful stereotypes of any type have no place in our policy debates. That is why I wholly condemn the racist poster in the West Virginia statehouse attacking Rep. Omar, and indeed all Muslim Americans. We must speak out against intolerance, irrespective of the source or the target.“
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) tweeted: “It is disturbing that Rep. Omar continues to perpetuate hurtful anti-Semitic stereotypes that misrepresent our Jewish community. Additionally, questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable. Israel has and remains a stalwart ally of the United States because of our countries’ shared interests and values. I condemn her remarks and believe she should apologize for her offensive comments.”
President Trump commented on Monday night: “Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel. Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!”
Meanwhile… Ocasio-Cortez defends Ilhan Omar’s tweets about Israel — by Chris Perez: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter on Monday night to once again defend Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar over the comments she keeps making about Israel.” [NYPost]
Ilhan Omar is the Steve King of the left — by Henry Olsen: “Democrats might hope that she will straighten up, but as the GOP learned with King, bigotry can be a deep-rooted plant. Keeping Omar on her committees when Republicans have divested King of his harms Democratic claims that their party is pure of heart… If they wish to credibly maintain that they have no tolerance for bigotry in any of its forms, they must be beyond suspicion of such. They must remove Omar from all of her committees now, or forever risk that bigotry will haunt them for the remainder of her time in office.” [WashPost]
HEARD ON THE VIEW — Bari Weiss, co-hosting The View on Monday: “I would say, for the past decade or more I’ve been watching, as all of you have, the rising anti-Semitism across Europe — cemeteries being defaced and a Holocaust survivor lynched in her apartment in Paris by her neighbors, people getting beat up in the street for wearing a yarmulke or for speaking Hebrew in Berlin. I always thought that America was different, but it was different not just because of our love of religious liberty and the fact that the founders themselves always had embraced the Jewish population of this country, but the fact that we don’t have a history of genocide and anti-Jewish pogroms, and the fact that we don’t have a flood of immigrants from it from countries where anti-Semitism is the norm… The fact that I thought America was an exception has changed. I am now worried that what we are seeing in Europe could be coming here.”
Weiss on anti-Semitism on the Left: “The problem with anti-Semitism from the far Left is that often times it is smuggled into the mainstream under the guise of progressive values… And so that kind of language is a siren song, including to Jews — seventy-five percent of whom vote for Democrats… I’m a liberal Zionist. I am very critical of the policies of the current Israeli government. I believe that Bibi Netanyahu is selling out the legacy of the Holocaust when he makes common cue with leaders like Viktor Orban in Hungary. I believe that he is desecrating what the Jewish state is all about when he allows out-and-out racists into his political coalition. I’m saying all of that. I am not an anti-Semite. That’s about criticizing Israel. Where it crosses a line is when it becomes about dehumanizing Israel, Israelis and Jews, and when you say that the largest Jewish community on planet earth seventy years after the Holocaust does not have a right to exist in the Jewish ancestral homeland, that’s when it crosses a line.” [Video]
Dr. Einat Wilf: “The rise of anti-Zionism in left wing and progressive circles in UK/U.S. has little to do with Israel. It is an insidious way of constraining Jewish life in the west. By playing token anti-Zionist ‘good Jews’ against a majority of Jews, it tells Jews ‘you can no longer belong here.'”
2020 WATCH — Here’s The Pro-Israel Lobby’s New Plan To Preserve Its Political Influence — by Noah Kulwin: “Senior figures affiliated with America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, known better as AIPAC, are preparing to launch a new political group called Pro-Israel America to steer smaller-dollar political donations toward pro-Israel candidates… Pro-Israel America hopes to recruit 10,000 donors giving around $200 each in order to send at least $2 million to pro-Israel candidates during the 2020 campaign cycle… The new group’s executive director, Jeff Mendelsohn, served as AIPAC’s director of outreach from 2005 to 2016. The group’s organizers plan to unveil it at AIPAC’s Policy Conference later this month.” [HuffPost]
— “‘Many other people involved in the pro-Israel community, a lot of AIPAC-affiliated members, there’s a lot of concern; there’s a clarion call for activism,’ said Stephen Fiske, who is the chairman of the Florida Congressional Committee that backs pro-Israel candidates… So far, no organized effort to field a primary challenger against Ms. Omar has begun, although Rudy Boschwitz, a former Republican senator from Minnesota who served on AIPAC’s board in the 1990s, said he had ‘suggested that to some people.'” [NYTimes]
Bernie Sanders’ staffers want him to be less grumpy… Top Democratic donors wait for Terry McAuliffe to decide on 2020 bid… Sen. Jeff Merkley opts outof Democratic presidential contest and will run for reelection to Oregon seat… Also not running: Hillary Clinton… Big-dollar donors, including Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump, fueled Kamala Harris’ political rise in California.
PODCAST PLAYBACK — H.R. McMaster, former National Security Advisor and currently Chair of the Board of Advisors at FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power, discusses the Mideast on FDD’s Foreign Podicy podcast with Cliff May: “What Iran is trying to do, I believe, is keep the Arab world perpetually weak so it can apply a Hezbollah model to the greater Middle East and to the Arab world in which they have a weak government in place that is dependent on Iran for support while they create militias and other armed groups that are outside of that government’s control and can be turned against that government if that government acts against Iranian interest… This is what they’ve achieved, in large measure, in Syria… What Iran is trying to do, as well, is place a proxy army on the border of Israel. And so we have to do something about this. Remaining in the northeastern part of Syria gives the United States and our partners some significant leverage.” [FDD]
PROFILE — John Bolton May Save Us All — by Graeme Wood: “[Bolton] is now the most important figure in American national security, and because his position requires no Senate confirmation, he answers to no one but Trump. With the departure of James Mattis as secretary of defense early this year, Bolton is, incredibly, the only senior security official close to Trump who has seen how a normal White House works… Bolton’s return to power has allowed him to pursue his great passions in life, which are outmaneuvering his adversaries, foreign and domestic, and getting America out of treaties.”
“I asked Bolton whether the U.S. should leave the UN, which seems both a logical conclusion of his contempt and a policy that Trump himself might consider. He replied by quoting Jeane Kirkpatrick, who served as Reagan’s UN ambassador: “No,” she said. ‘It’s not worth the trouble.'” [TheAtlantic]
TALK OF THE REGION — Palestinian president slams US administration from Baghdad: “On Monday, Abbas held talks with President Barham Saleh a day after he met with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi… Abbas said after meeting with Abdul-Mahdi that ‘the current American administration is encouraging Israel to be a state above the law.’ Abbas added that the Trump administration ‘is biased and not suitable to be a sponsor of peace talks.'” [AP] • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slams Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ [JPost]
— “A former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Ned Walker, has been an outspoken advocate of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but strongly objected to the consulate closing. ‘To put it bluntly, it is a stupid move driven by an ambassador who represents a certain portion of the Israeli political scene — the settlers,’ he said in an email to The Times. ‘It is true that when I cover one eye I can still see, but not as well as with two. Why we want to half-blind ourselves by cutting off the Palestinians makes no sense to me.'” [LATimes]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with Israeli journalist Tali Lipkin-Shahak for the Truman Conference — 40 Years since the Peace Treaty between Israel at the Hebrew University on March 11th, and parts of which were broadcasted Monday on Israel’s Channel 12: “I don’t see any way to make peace with Netanyahu as PM. I don’t think he wants peace, and I am not sure that Abu Mazen (Abbas) does either right now. And you don’t have a trusted mediator who can bridge the gap and secure the step by step, small concessions that are necessary for accommodation. I have talked to President Trump’s son-in-law (Jared Kushner) about the Middle East and urged him to be aggressive and flexible as well and to reach out to the Palestinians as well as to the Israelis and the Arab leaders, and he promised me that he would, but I am not sure that’s being done.”
SCENE LAST NIGHT — by JI’s Laura Kelly: At Washington DC’s historic Sixth and I synagogue, experts from the Israel Policy Forum spoke to a crowded basement room on the crisis in Gaza and chance for a successful Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. [Pic]
“My own view is, I’m deeply skeptical about anything that could come out of this peace plan,” said Ilan Goldenberg, former head of the 2016 negotiating team under John Kerry. Yet, where the Trump Administration has surprised experts in the field, is by putting together an almost 100-page proposal of “describing in full the actual vision of what an agreement looks like. I think that makes more sense because it’s really hard to sell the public and politicians on, ‘Here’s some theoretical stuff without giving you the full picture.’ So you have to make these huge political sacrifices up front without an actual vision of what that end state looks like. They’re actually going to try and sell peace.”
On the Israeli elections and possibility for peace, Goldenberg said in the scenario that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wins, he’ll likely form a far-right government coalition and reject the peace plan out of hand, if it’s released sometime after the elections. If the newly-formed Blue White party headed by Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and former Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid manage to form a government, by the time they are stable enough to discuss the peace plan, it could have lost its relevancy. “I am personally of the view, that the most likely scenario is this thing never sees the light of day.”
KAFE KNESSET — Bibi Rallies the Likud — by Neri Zilber: In an overflowing hall packed with Likud activists outside Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially launched the party’s campaign with a rousing, spirited forty-three minute speech that hit all the expected notes. The PM touted his government’s accomplishments over the past decade, especially in foreign affairs (“the Left always warned us about…international isolation, but we chose a different path — one of honor, strength, pride and spirit”); attacked the media and the Left (“they’re usually the same thing”); and hammered home the point that his main challengers in Blue and White were closet leftists (“Purim came early — they’re dressing up pretending to not be Left”). At one point the PM led the crowd in chants of “it’s Bibi or Tibi,” a reference to prominent Arab MK Ahmed Tibi. Nevertheless, as many observers pointed out, the PM’s speech was riddled with inaccuracies. Arguably the biggest news was the pre-speech handshake Netanyahu shared with Gideon Sa’ar, a popular former senior Likud minister who Bibi had accused of plotting a putsch against him. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu Faces Indictments and a Rising Opposition — Could He Lose Reelection? — by Bernard Avishai: “Polling conducted by the Times of Israel on the eve of the indictments found that, ‘if charges are announced,’ more than a quarter of those who had planned to vote for the Likud would not. Then again, defiance is Netanyahu’s brand. His supporters admire his strength, his spite. Mandelblit has handed him a new foil.” [NewYorker] • Netanyahu is going down, but what about his powerful accomplice? [Haaretz]
WATCH — Former PM Ehud Olmert on CNN with Christiane Amanpour: “I think that Benjamin Netanyahu has finished his service as the leader of the state of Israel… Towards the end of the year, Netanyahu will have to spend most of his time in the District Court in Jerusalem and not in the Prime Minister’s Office.” [Video]
— Israel’s Channel 12 News anchor Yoni Levi: “Indeed the ground is shaking under [Netanyahu’s] feet… but it’s very early to rule him out.” [Video]
NEW DETAILS — Lawyer for Michael Cohen Approached Trump Attorneys About Pardon — by Rebecca Ballhaus, Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld: “Mr. Cohen’s attorney at the time, Stephen Ryan, discussed the possibility of a pardon with lawyers for Mr. Trump in the weeks after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room… The president’s lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time… But at least one of them, Mr. Giuliani, left open the possibility that the president could grant Mr. Cohen one in the future. Mr. Ryan also brought up the subject of a pardon with Alan Futerfas, an outside lawyer for the Trump Organization, and the company’s general counsel, Alan Garten.” [WSJ]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Leslie Wexner’s L Brands Faces Pressure to Separate Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works [WSJ] • Surfing, Schools and Jets: WeWork’s Bets Follow CEO Adam Neumann’s Passions [WSJ]• Bowery’s Ace Hotel is getting an $80 million refinancing package from Bank Hapoalim [RealDeal] • China’s AliExpress is Bringing Turkey and Israel Together [Calcalist]
MEDIA WATCH — Daily Mail Owner to Spin Off Euromoney Stake to Shareholders — by James Ludden and Thomas Seal: “The owner of Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper will distribute its stake in the publisher of Euromoney magazine to shareholders in a move that will tie the fortunes of Chairman Lord Rothermere closer to the company… Euromoney CEO Andrew Rashbass said it supported DMGT’s latest move, which would underline the publisher’s ‘status as a fully independent company.'” [Bloomberg]
SPOTLIGHT — After 25 years as partners, Soffer siblings of Turnberry, Fontainebleau part ways — by Rene Rodriguez: “Jeffrey Soffer and Jackie Soffer, the brother-and-sister team of the formidable Turnberry Associates development firm, are going their separate ways. Jeffrey Soffer is launching a new company, Fontainebleau Development LLC, that will focus on taking the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hospitality brand to international markets… Jackie Soffer will remain chairman and CEO of Turnberry, the development firm launched by their father Don Soffer. She will continue her role as major partner of Aventura Mall and the Miami Beach Convention Center hotel. Both Soffers will continue to share ownership of several properties, including JW Marriott Nashville, Hilton Downtown Nashville and Fontainebleau Aviation. They will also share ownership of the Solé Mia residential development in North Miami, which they are developing with Richard LeFrak and his family.” [MiamiHerald]
HOLLYWOOD — Spielberg, Netflix Clash on Streaming’s Eligibility for Oscars — by Hailey Waller: “Steven Spielberg is taking on Netflix Inc. At this year’s annual post-Oscars meeting, the filmmaker, who’s representing directors as an Academy governor, will speak out against considering streamed films for awards, IndieWire reported… ‘Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,’ a spokesperson from Amblin, Spielberg’s production company, told IndieWire, adding that the Hollywood director hopes others will join his campaign at the meeting next month… Netflix fired back late Sunday, without naming Spielberg, in a tweet that proclaimed the service’s love of cinema and said it also loves providing wider access to movies and ‘giving filmmakers more ways to share art.'”[Bloomberg]
SPORTS BLINK — Revolution to play Chelsea in charitable match — by Nate Weitzer: “The Revolution will team up with English Premier League power Chelsea FC to play a charity match at 8 p.m. May 15 at Gillette Stadium. The exhibition match, dubbed the ‘Final Whistle on Hate,’ was conceived in November without a specified time or date. Proceeds from the match will be dedicated to initiatives to combat anti-Semitism and all hate crimes, including the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Holocaust Educational Trust. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Revolution owner Robert Kraft will also donate $1 million each in support of the cause.” [BostonGlobe]
Ajax’s ‘Super Jews’ keep on singing amid rising anti-Semitism — by James Masters and Sean Coppack: “Speaking to CNN, a number of Ajax supporters who refused to give their names, insisted the use of Jewish symbolism had nothing to do with religion. ‘I think it’s a kind of culture, every club has that,’ one fan said. Another added: ‘It’s nothing to do with that (religion), it’s just nostalgia for them.’ … Off the field, the Dutch football authorities have made the eradication of anti-Semitism a priority. Since 2016 the KNVB, the governing body of Dutch football, has met with Jewish groups to discuss tackling anti-Semitic chanting.” [CNN]
Do the Jews really need their own Nobel Prize? — by Jonathan Tobin: “If we gave as much publicity to honoring an exemplary Jewish teacher or organization as we do to a ‘Jewish Nobel’ driven as much by fame as it is by good deeds, we might do more to inspire Jewish youth (Genesis’ purpose), who tend to regard the celebrity-driven ceremonies with the sort of cynicism that is already killing Jewish life. It would be far better to embrace a more intellectual model for a Jewish award — one not based on worshiping the rich and famous.”[JNS]
STATE-SIDE — Pepperoni served at reception for Connecticut’s first Muslim state legislator — by Neil Vigdor: “M. Saud Anwar is Connecticut’s first Muslim state legislator — so it raised eyebrows when pepperoni was served at a reception for the Pakistani-American at the Capitol. Pepperoni is a pork product and is not halal under Islamic law, which is similar to the kosher tradition in Judaism… The episode recalls a 2005 diner stop by Connecticut’s then-U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in Greenwich, where Prescott Bush Jr., the late brother of President George H.W. Bush was coincidentally having breakfast and innocently offered Lieberman some bacon. Lieberman eats kosher food and observes the Sabbath.” [Courant]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Amid Measles Outbreaks, States Seek to Force Parents to Vaccinate Children — by Kate King: “New York’s measles outbreaks have largely been concentrated in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County. Rockland County’s outbreak has infected 143 people, mostly children under age 18, since October. No one has died, but several people have been hospitalized, said county Health Commissioner Patricia Ruppert. Public and private health providers have given out more than 16,000 vaccines since the outbreak began, mostly in the Orthodox community… Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America in Manhattan, an Orthodox advocacy group, said he believes most parents in the Orthodox Jewish community vaccinate their children, but rabbis have differing opinions on vaccines.” [WSJ]
Art Collected by Jewish Lawyer Before WWII Goes to Auction: “About 200 works of art from a Jewish lawyer’s collection that were spirited out of Nazi Germany to the U.S. are going up for auction. The works collected by Ismar Littmann being offered Tuesday at Swann Auction Galleries in New York are mostly drawings, etchings and lithographs. They were once part of a collection of about 6,000 pieces he amassed. The works being auctioned are pieces brought out of Germany before World War II by Littmann’s son, who eventually settled in Texas.” [AP]
Vatican to Open Archives on World War II Pope Pius XII — by Francis X. Rocca: “Pope Francis said on Monday that he would open the Vatican archives on Pope Pius XII, bowing to decades of requests from historians and Jewish groups who have questioned why the wartime pope stayed silent during the horrors of Nazi-controlled Europe. Pope Pius has been criticized for his failure to speak out against the Holocaust, as well as for his earlier record as the Vatican’s Secretary of State, when he negotiated a concordat establishing the Holy See’s relations with Nazi Germany.” [WSJ; TheAtlantic]
ACROSS THE POND — Jeremy Corbyn is thoroughly indecent — by James Kirchick: “The majority of Corbyn’s parliamentary colleagues agree that he should not be prime minister. In 2016, they voted 172 to 40 against him in a vote of no confidence. But the exigencies of the parliamentary system mean that as long as they stay in the party, Labour MPs will be working toward a Prime Minister Corbyn at the next election. And what would it signify if, in the words of its own former MPs, a ‘sickeningly, institutionally racist’ party that poses ‘a threat to national security’ and is a ‘danger to the cohesion of our society’ ever came to power? Britain would boast the dubious distinction of having the first anti-Semitic government in Western Europe since the Third Reich.” [WashPost]
BOOK OF THE WEEK — Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel by Matti Friedman (on sale today, $17.67 on Amazon)
TRANSITION — Dr. Noam Wasserman has been appointed as Yeshiva University’s new Dean of the Sy Syms School of Business, effective May 2019. Wasserman was a professor at Harvard Business School (HBS) for 13 years before serving as the Lemann Chair in Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California (USC) and the founding director of its Founder Central initiative.
DESSERT — What Happens to London’s Food Scene After Brexit? — by Yasmeen Serhan: “Britain’s impending (and ever more uncertain) departure from the European Union has prompted some people to start preparing for the worst. Many of the country’s top retailers warn that in a worst-case scenario, lettuce and fresh fruit could disappear from supermarket shelves… Yotam Ottolenghi isn’t one of those people. The renowned Israeli-British chef does have his own reasons to be concerned about Brexit, though: His London restaurants and eponymous deli chain are known for incorporating fresh, seasonal ingredients into their recipes and, like the rest of the country, a significant chunk of the fruits and vegetables he serves comes from continental Europe… Ottolenghi opened his first deli with his business partners Sami Tamimi and Noam Bar nearly two decades ago in Notting Hill… Ottolenghi and Tamimi focused their efforts on the food, which was influenced in large part by their shared hometown, Jerusalem.” [TheAtlantic]
How To Decode A Kosher Label — by Shira Feder: “Less than 2% of America’s population is Jewish, yet 41% of America’s packaged food is kosher. According to marketing firm Lubicom, there are 35 million non-Jewish consumers of kosher products. By 2025, the kosher food market is projected to grow 11.6%. And as kosher gets bigger and bigger, the world of kosher certification industry — and the public’s questions — grow with it.” [Forward]
BIRTHDAYS: Israeli-American psychologist, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work with Amos Tversky on the psychology of decision-making, Daniel Kahneman turns 85… Former University Counsel for California State University, Donald A. Newman turns 76… Partner emeritus of Los Angeles law firm, Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP, Mark Edelstein turns 74… President of Los Angeles PR firm Robin Gerber & Associates, Robin Gerber Carnesale turns 73… Managing partner at Lerer Hippeau, a NYC-based VC firm, he co-founded Huffington Post and is chair of BuzzFeed and serves on the boards of Group Nine Media, Blade and Thrive Global, Kenneth B. Lerer turns 67… Founder and CEO of the DC-based News Literacy Project, he was a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with the Los Angeles Times for 21 years, Alan C. Miller turns 65… Artist, writer, and professor of computer science at Yale University, he was a national fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow in Jewish thought at the Shalem Center, David Hillel Gelernter turns 64…
Founder of BVision Sportsmedia dedicated to making sports more accessible to women, she has been a national board member of AIPAC, Betsy Berns Kornturns 51… President and founder in 2013 of West End Strategy Team, he was previously managing partner of Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, Matt Dorfturns 49… Los Angeles area builder and developer, Michael Reinis turns 48… President of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association since 2018, he was previously in public affairs at the US Department of Commerce (2010-2016), Michael N. Kruger turns 43… Director of strategic communications for the House Judiciary Committee, he previously held a similar position for the committee’s chairman, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Daniel S. Schwarz turns 34… Co-founder and CEO at ImpactTechNation, he is also a co-founder of Wake-Up Jerusalem, a social-political movement in Israel for young adults, Hanan Rubin…
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