SCOOP — The State Department is treating President Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights differently than his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
WHY DOES IT MATTER? PASSPORTS — A State Department spokesperson tells Jewish Insider that no notation on American passports has changed with President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. Some will recall the 2014 case of Menachem Zivotofsky, who sued then-Secretary of State John Kerry to be able to list Jerusalem, Israel — rather than just “Jerusalem” — on his passport. Zivotofsky lost at the Supreme Court, with a majority of justices concurring that the President has the exclusive “power to recognize foreign nations in relation to consular reports.”
KEY QUESTION — How will President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and of the Golan Heights change the State Department’s policy of stating only “Jerusalem” for those born in Jerusalem, and “Syria” for those born in the Golan?
A State Department spokesperson says, “The President has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final status negotiations between the parties. We have therefore not changed our practice regarding Jerusalem as a place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”
Asked about the notation for persons born in the Golan, the spokesperson told JI that “these and other policies will be updated consistent with the President’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” Whereas it seems the Golan Heights will soon be treated by Foggy Bottom as Israeli territory — and reflected as such on official documentation — the State Department has no plans to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on American passports or consular reports.
GOING FORWARD — The Zivotofsky precedent, in effect, helps President Trump establish his office’s primacy in matters of foreign recognition. As such, his administration will have the final say in how Jerusalem, as with the Golan, is rendered on official U.S. documents. [JewishInsider]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump’s Golan Move Means His `Deal of the Century’ May Be Dead — by Glen Carey: “By recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the long-disputed Golan Heights, Trump shoved Arab allies he’s counting on to back his peace initiative into a corner… Saudi Arabia and Egypt are unlikely to throw their weight behind the proposal being drawn up by Jared Kushner and White House Middle East peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt, according to interviews with key diplomats and analysts in Washington. One diplomat described the initiative, which has yet to be made public, ‘hocus pocus’ and doubted whether Trump cares about a negotiated settlement.” [Bloomberg]
TALK OF THE REGION — Foreign diplomats from 21 Arab countries condemned President Trump’s recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and Jerusalem recognition at the conclusion of the annual Arab League summit in Tunisia on Sunday. At the opening of the summit, King Salman said Saudi Arabia “absolutely rejects any measures undermining Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights” and supports the creation of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The Arab leaders said they would seek a U.N. Security Council resolution against the U.S. decision and promised to support Palestinians in their bid for statehood.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told reporters on the sidelines of the summit: “We think there’s no need to announce the ‘deal of the century’ if it’s being implemented in steps and we are now in the last steps of its implementation. The most recent decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was preceded by the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and will be followed by recognition of Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.”
Micah Goodman presents eight concrete steps that Israel could take now that would increase Palestinian freedom without decreasing Israeli security. The plan, he believes, will place Israel in “a prime position to spot opportunities around the corner, and take advantage of them.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. The two discussed “regional issues,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
HEARD LAST NIGHT — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) at the National Council of Young Israel annual gala at the New York Marriott Marquis: “When we called for a resolution [to condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar’s antisemitic remark], the Democrats couldn’t even produce one. They had to water it down. It’s not just the Speaker that denies removing her from the Foreign Affairs Committee. It is every Democrat that will not stand up and speak. It is every American that will not stand up against that language. I will pledge to you: every day on that floor, not only will I stand against it, I will act against it, and I will gather with anyone that believes in the bond, in the values of America and Israel.” [Video]
Spotted: Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani [Pic]
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro discussed Trump’s recent comments about the Democratic party being anti-Israel and anti-Jewish in an interview with The Capital-Star: “I think it is dangerous for Israel, and it is bad for America’s national security to politicize the issue of support for Israel. I think whether it is done in the context of a prayer in the state House, or in an antisemitic tweet, it is not helpful. When Israel is viewed through a political prism, they are our most important ally in the Middle East and one of our most important allies in the world. And they provide a strategic national security support for the United States. And to undermine that, by using Israel in political terms, I think is really dangerous.”
“The charge that Democrats are anti-Israel is just political rhetoric and complete nonsense. I would not be a member of the Democratic Party if I thought the Democratic Party was anti-Israel or antisemitic.” [PennCapitalStar]
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: An Irish lawmaker who advanced a bill to ban Israeli exports made in West Bank settlements met with progressive Democratic members of the House this week, posting on Twitter pictures with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) who support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Ireland’s “Occupied Territories Bill” would make it illegal for the country to import or sell Israeli products made in areas designated occupied, such as the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The bill passed a key phase of Ireland’s parliament in January but faces at least three more votes to become law. [JewishInsider]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — State laws that prevent companies from doing business with those that boycott Israel is the subject of the latest episode of the investigative podcast Reveal with Stan Alcorn. It follows the story of a freelance translator barred from business with Texas universities because he participates in a boycott of Sabra hummus. It also tells the story of a Palestinian mushroom farmer, whose goal is to be completely independent of Israel but is dependent on certain products, and featured interviews at AIPAC and with professor Eugene Kontorovich on the constitutionality of anti-BDS laws. [Reveal]
STATE VISIT — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced that his country will open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem to handle trade and commerce, falling short of a full embassy move, at the start of a 4-day visit to Israel on Sunday. “I hope that is a first step toward the opening, in time, of the Brazilian embassy in Jerusalem,” PM Netanyahu said during a press conference in Jerusalem.
TODAY — Netanyahu will accompany President Bolsonaro’s visit to the Western Wall and the Western Wall Tunnels.
TOP TALKER — President Trump announced on Saturday that the U.S will end foreign assistance programs to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador over the flow of migrant caravans towards the U.S. border. The announcement could impact Israel’s relations with these three Latin countries, whose leaders announced their intentions to begin moving their embassies to Jerusalem partly in an effort to improve their standing with the Trump administration.
HAPPENING TODAY — President Trump and Jared Kushner will host a White House celebration this evening to mark the recent passage of the bipartisan prison reform bill. [JewishInsider]
KAFE KNESSET — Feiglin Rises High in Polls — by Neri Zilber: The surprise of the Israeli election so far, just based on the polls, is Moshe Feiglin, head of the religious-libertarian Zehut (“Identity”). A former Likud backbencher drummed out of the party a few years ago for being too radical, Feiglin established his own party and is now rising high with, among other policies, a marijuana legalization platform. Feiglin is currently polling between five to seven seats, over 135,000 potential voters that apparently care a lot more about breaking the unions and grass than human rights and basic logic. With these numbers Feiglin may in fact hold the fate of the next prime minister in his hands. “The idea is not between Netanyahu and Gantz,” he explained, “it’s between the Deep State and Two-State Solution on the one hand, and a Free State and One-State Solution on the other.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
DEEP DIVE — An Israeli watchdog group, the Big Bots Project, has found a network of hundreds of social media accounts, many of them fake, that were used to smear opponents of Prime Minister Netanyahu and promote the Likud Party… Though the report found no direct links between the network and the Likud, it appeared to operate in coordination with Netanyahu’s re-election campaign.
JI INTERVIEW — MK Merav Michaeli, a member of Israel’s Labor Party, discussed the April 9 election, the possibility of a Gantz-led government that Labor would be part of, and Trump’s Middle East peace plan in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh during AIPAC’s policy conference last week.
Michaeli on whether the center-left camp could join a Netanyahu government if Trump’s peace plan presents a chance to change Israel’s direction for the better: “Unfortunately when Isaac ‘Bougie’ Herzog was the chair of the Zionist Union, he offered Netanyahu an amazing geopolitical opportunity with Arab countries. Even el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, came out on record saying he would back such a plan. It was a huge opportunity for Israel, for its security and for its sustainability, but Netanyahu turned it down in the last moment and created an alliance with Lieberman. The same thing happened with John Kerry. Netanyahu had several opportunities to pursue the peace process when everything was offered to him, and he chose not to take that direction. There’s no single sign or reason for me to believe that it would be different this time. So, I don’t see Labor serving Netanyahu at yet another round that will end with nothing. No.”
Michaeli on Trump’s Golan recognition: “It’s not a gift for Israel. It’s a gift for Netanyahu. A gift for Israel would have been to have Israel engaged in negotiations between the U.S. and Russia to move the Iranians out of Syria. This is what Israel needs from President Trump, not the recognition of our sovereignty over the Golan. We need the Golan safe without the Iranians, something that could have been achieved in talks between Russia and the U.S. and this we didn’t get. This is a much more serious thing for Israel that unfortunately, this is not what Netanyahu is using his relationship with President Trump for.” Read the full interview with MK Michaeli here[JewishInsider]
2020 WATCH — Joe Biden’s affectionate, physical style with women comesunder scrutiny… 2020 Dems express sympathy for Biden’s accuser… Elizabeth Warren loses finance director as she struggles in early fund-raising… Pete Buttigieg’s campaign raised more than $7 million in the first quarter… Boosted by Mike Pence, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plays up his loyalty to Trump as he seeks a fourth term…
MOTOWN MOVIE NIGHT — Several hundred guests gathered on Sunday evening at the Detroit Institute of Arts for a private screening of Call Me Bill: The William Davidson Story. The documentary celebrated the life of the notable Jewish philanthropist and beloved owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. Players from the Pistons’ Bad Boys and 2004 championship teams were in attendance.
Ethan Davidson, the documentary’s producer, spoke alongside Isiah Thomas on stage before the 93 minute film was played: “My dad would absolutely not have tolerated any of this. To paraphrase the great Jewish existentialist philosopher Martin Buber who talks about people who need self-affirmation. My father was not one of those people. He was very comfortable in his own skin and he would never have done this [film]. But he’s not here to stop us (laughter).” [Pic]
Spotted at the premiere: Karen Davidson, Dorothy Gerson, Ralph Gerson, Erica Ward Gerson, Eli Saulson, the film’s co-producer Gretchen Davidson, documentary director Deb Agolli, Darin McKeever, Ben Wallace, Vinnie Johnson, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, Arn Tellem, Nancy Tellem, Sen. Gary Peters, former Senator Carl Levin, Rep. Debbie Dingell, Bob Aronson, Gary Torgow, Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein, Rabbi Jason Miller, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, Rabbi Aaron Starr, Kari Alterman, Amy Holtz, David Victor, KC Crain, Ashley Crain, Adam Finkel, David Katznelson, Howard Hertz, Anne Parsons.
The film will be available to the public on May 2nd at the JCC in West Bloomfield, Michigan [DeadlineDetroit]
** 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:Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Sets Stage for Late-2019 IPO[WSJ] • Vacancies, shaky finances plague Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp., owner of Baltimore landmarks Harborplace and Cross Keys[BaltimoreSun] • These Silicon Valley Investors’ Bets May Pay Off[NYTimes] • Gavin De Becker, Jeff Bezos’s Investigator, Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private Data [DailyBeast]
BARI WEISS’S VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — How the contest over Jerusalem’s past is part of the war over its future: “Archaeologists have been engaged in a ferocious debate about whether a king named David literally built his palace here. Dr. Yuval Gadot, who belongs to the school of archaeology known as biblical minimalism, is skeptical. But almost all agree on the big picture, which is that the 11-acre mound is the seat of the Davidic dynasty, which begot what we now call Jewish civilization… Donations have poured in, including from Americans, both liberals like the tech entrepreneur Marc Benioff and conservatives like the financier Roger Hertog. Rabbi Erica Gerson, who has given over $1 million to the project with her husband, Mark, said, ‘There is no other sight in Israel that can as effectively and authentically bring to life the 3,000-year-old connection between the Jewish people and our homeland.'” [NYTimes] • The Story Behind a 2,600-Year-Old Seal [NYTimes]
ACROSS THE SEA — Popular Jewish comedian races ahead in Ukrainian presidential election — by Matthias Williams and Pavel Polityuk: “Exit polls and early counting put 41-year-old Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who plays a fictional president in a popular TV series, comfortably ahead of incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in the first round, though short of a majority… ‘I would like to say ‘thank you’ to all the Ukrainians who did not vote just for fun,’ Zelenskiy told cheering supporters on Sunday evening. ‘It is only the beginning, we will not relax.'” [Reuters; WSJ]
Ken Livingstone calls Labour antisemitism allegations ‘lies and smears’ by ‘ghastly old Blairites’: “Ken Livingstone, who quit Labour last year after a long-standing suspension because of his comments about Hitler and Zionism, has called allegations of Labour antisemitism “lies and smears” to bring down Jeremy Corbyn.” [TheJC]
TALK OF THE TOWN — As pope visits Morocco, tiny Jewish community looks on with quiet pride — by Ahmed Eljechtimi and Philip Pullella: “On Saturday, Jewish leaders joined Christian representatives in the front row at two events presided over by the pope and King Mohammed VI on interfaith dialogue. Morocco’s 2011 constitution recognizes the ‘Hebraic’ constituent as a component of the national identity. Jews in the north African Kingdom have their own courts, family code and schools and even a state-supported Jewish heritage museum… Addressing the pope on Saturday, the king, who is also Morocco’s top religious authority, said: ‘I cannot speak of the land of Islam as if only Muslims lived there… I protect Moroccan Jews as well as Christians from other countries who are living in Morocco.'” [Reuters]
German train car arrives in New York for Auschwitz exhibit — by Verena Dobnik: “On a Sunday morning, a crane lowered a rusty remnant of the Holocaust onto tracks outside Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage — a vintage German train car like those used to transport men, women and children to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps. The windowless boxcar is among 700 Holocaust artifacts, most never before seen in the United States, which are being prepared for one of the largest exhibits ever on Auschwitz… The New York exhibit opens May 8, the day in 1945 when Germany surrendered and the camps were liberated.” [AP]
RESEARCH DEPT. — You’ve Told That Story 100 Times. Please Stop — by Elizabeth Bernstein: “10 new studies by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Georgia found that people who repeat the same stories over and over are viewed as less sincere and less authentic. In other words, they’re seen as not presenting their true self to the listener. The research also found that listeners are less interested in engaging with someone retelling a story they’ve heard him or her tell before.” [WSJ]
Attention Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer: Maybe it’s time to adjust or acknowledge the repetitiveness of your stories about Golda Meir and the bald head kippah.
HOLLYWOOD — Is the ‘Veep’ character Sherman Tanz an anti-Semitic caricature? — by Stephen Silver: “HBO’s acclaimed political sitcom ‘Veep’ returned for its seventh and final season on Sunday… Sherman Tanz… is played by the noted stage actor Jonathan Hadary. He is depicted as a powerful and vulgar political donor, one who openly boasts about his power to buy off politicians in order to serve his shady business interests… The character appears to be a fairly direct parody of Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.” [JTA]
SCENE LAST NIGHT IN DC — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended an event commemorating Israeli author Amos Oz, who died last December, at the Reform Temple Sinai synagogue in Washington, D.C. Speakers included NYTimes columnist Roger Cohen, Natalie Portman (by video), J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, professor Fania Oz-Salzberger (Oz’s daughter) and URJ’s Rabbi Esther Lederman.
Among the attendees were former ambassador Dan Kurtzer, Gilead Sher, Moment Magazine’s Nadine Epstein and ADL’s Michael Lieberman. [Pic]
Spotted Sunday night on UA90 from Newark to Tel Aviv: Morris Kahn and Isaac ‘Bougie’ Herzog.
At the Peres Center in Jaffa, philanthropist Lynn Schusterman was interviewed by Randall Lane during the Forbes 30 under 30 Global Women’s Summit. [Pic]
BIRTHDAYS: Physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (the hyphenated last name means simply the Cohen family from Tangiers) turns 86… Polish-born Israeli businessman, the owner of Eurocom Group, one of the largest private holding groups in Israel, Shaul Elovitchturns 71… President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy since 2011, she was previously a member of the Michigan legislature (House:1999-2002; Senate: 2003-2010), Gilda Jacobs turns 70… Singer-songwriter best known as the original lead guitarist for Sha Na Na and as the youngest person, at age 18, to play on the main stage at Woodstock in 1969, Henry Gross turns 68… Producer and director for film and television including the Men in Black trilogy (1997-2012), he was originally a cinematographer for the Coen brothers, Barry Sonnenfeld turns 66… NYC-based attorney, Freddie Berg turns 64… Lecturer at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism, he was previously the writer of the Media Web column for MarketWatch (1999-2013), Jonathan P. Friedman turns 64…
Six-term member of the US House of Representatives from Florida (1993-2005), he is the founder of the Ben Gamla Charter School network in Florida (2007) and now lives in Ra’anana, Israel, Peter Deutsch turns 62… President of Baltimore-based HealthSource Distributors, Jerry L. Wolasky turns 61… Author of over 150 children’s books, Mark Shulman turns 57… VP of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and a leader of the Jewish community of Kiev, Alexander (Aaron) Levin turns 51… Lawyer, turned political thriller novelist, Brad Meltzer turns 49… Four-year star basketball player at the University of Maryland including a national championship (2006), she was drafted by the WNBA and now plays for Maccabi Ashdod, Shay Doron turns 34… Noah L. Schwartz turns 32… Special assistant to President Donald Trump, she came to the White House from Breitbart News together with Steve Bannon, her grandmother is noted philanthropist Lynne Honickman, Julia Aviva Hahn turns 28… Ronald Lippman…
Over the weekend: Will Scharf, President of Sicarius, LLC and former policy advisor to Missouri Governor Greitens, turned 33 on Friday.
HEARD LAST NIGHT — President Trump during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan: “A friend of mine — he’s very shy, but he’s very rich. He shouldn’t be shy. He’s one of the biggest builders and real estate people in the world, one of the biggest owners of property. I shouldn’t introduce him because you guys won’t like him, because he’s a big owner of property. But you own property, he just owns more of it than you do. And he’s a great guy and he’s been with me from the beginning — Stanley Chera. Stanley!!”
“Those big beautiful buildings in Manhattan, you know, those big beautiful buildings? He owns them. Stanley, how much did you make this month? Stanley is a great guy. He’s been with us all. He loves you, and he’s been with us from the beginning.” [Video]
FYI: New York real estate developer Stanley Chera is the founder of Crown Acquisitions. He was born in 1942 to a Syrian Jewish family. [RealDeal]
DRIVING THE CONVO — The Obama administration had control over the timing of the UN Security Council resolution (UNSC 2334) rollout, an anonymous former Obama official revealed to the New York Times. The White House wanted the resolution to wait until after the 2016 election, so as not to create political problems for Democrats. “There is a reason the U.N. vote did not come up before the election in November,” the unidentified former official told the Times.
This new information contradicts claims made by the Obama administration at the end of 2016 that the White House was caught by surprise when Egypt proposed 2334. President Obama then instructed his U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power to abstain, an effective endorsement of the resolution.
At the time, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer contended that Israel had proof that the White House drove the resolution. White House advisor Ben Rhodes responded to Dermer’s claims in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN. Rhodes stressed “with certainty” that the administration “did not draft the resolution and put this resolution forward. This was something the Palestinians and Egyptians were working on for some time now.” [JewishInsider]
Amb. Dennis Ross emails us: “I am not surprised. There was a lot of anger at Netanyahu in and around the Obama administration, especially after the speech against the prospective Iran deal in Congress. I assumed they would do something after the election. The UNSC Resolution was destructive undoing a lot of work over the years — not to have June 4, 1967 the default border.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro: “This is a garbage claim, made by someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. I recommended we veto the resolution, and wish we had. But the idea that the United States controlled the timing, much less that it was determined by such political calculations, is simply BS. Here is a case where you shouldn’t trust anonymous sources.”
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu once gave Obama a lecture. Now he’s using it to boost his election campaign — by Ruth Eglash: “Netanyahu shared on his social media accounts Thursday a segment from the 2016 PBS Frontline documentary ‘Netanyahu at War.’ The clip features a much-discussed meeting between the two leaders in the Oval Office on May 20, 2011, days after Obama stated publicly that ‘the borders between Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines.’ … Sharing the clip on Facebook, Netanyahu wrote in Hebrew that “in the face of all pressure, I will protect our country,” making it clear that in recycling his most famous clash with Obama, he wants to show he can make Israel’s case even under pressure.” [WashPost]
Dennis Ross, who was also featured in the video, told JI he was “not thrilled” to be used in the Israeli prime minister’s reelection campaign. “Being used and in a misleading way is never pleasant.”
The Likud also criticized Yesh Atid MKs for signing a petition in December, 2015 calling on Netanyahu to cancel his planned meeting with then-candidate Donald Trump over Muslim ban proposal, implying that “Lapid-Gantz party representatives called to boycott the President.”
Of note: Trump cancelled the Israel trip in the end after the PM condemned his comments. Trump told Jewish Insider in April, 2016 that he was “disappointed” with Netanyahu over the statement.
In another video, the Netanyahu campaign featured comments made by Sean Hannity, in which the Fox News host calls him “Churchillian” and says that Netanyahu was “the sole voice of moral clarity against modern evil in our time until Donald Trump got into office.”
WHY IT MATTERS — Dan Arbell, an Associate Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) — Americas: “In sharp contrast to his close relationship with Trump, relations with Obama were very tense. In Israel, as you know, Obama is very unpopular. Showing Bibi preaching to Obama while Obama listens on and looks gloomy, plays well with Netanyahu’s base. He’s already been using the line that he alone fought against Obama and the entire world over the Iran nuclear deal. This is another example of him standing up for Israeli interests vis-a-vis an American President.”
HOW IT PLAYED — Netanyahu uses icy relationship with Obama to try to win votes [Reuters] • Netanyahu at war: Netanyahu Resurfaces Frontline Clip of Him Lecturing Obama Amid Re-election Campaign [Frontline]
Arbell: “All Netanyahu cares about and is focused on is April 9. After he wins, he’ll apologize and explain. The damage by then, however, will be irreparable.”
IPF’s David Halperin tells us: “I am sorry to say that this isn’t surprising. I’m sure we’ve reached a moment, a sad state of affairs when Netanyahu believes it’s politically advantageous to share a video in which he publicly appears to be gloating at and lecturing an incredibly popular Democratic president. This may be beneficial for Netanyahu’s personal and political prospects, but it’s disastrous for the long term strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Things like this video adds just more fuel to the fire of a growing debate within the Democratic Party on what its policies should be vis-à-vis an Israeli government that has now been led by PM Netanyahu for soon to be over 10 years and a far-right government that so clearly sides with the political opposition and with a deeply divisive American president who is not exactly beloved in the Democratic Party.”
Alon Pinkas, former Israeli Consul General to New York: “Mr. Netanyahu is reckless and his ingratitude is shameful. Political expediency is no justification for manipulating facts and history and his deliberate assault on bipartisan support for Israel is nothing short of politically criminal. With all due respect to differences they had, President Obama’s contribution to Israel’s security is immense. $38 Billion in military aid, supplemental funding for the Iron Dome, bunker busters munitions and a wide array of intelligence sharing.”
Ben Rhodes wrote on Twitter: “Democrats have to reckon with the fact that the Prime Minister of Israel has a political brand built on fear, racism, open-ended subjugation of Palestinians and gleeful disrespect for Democrats.”
ANOTHER KING BIBI COVER — After being featured on the Time Magazine’s cover in 2012 as King Bibi, Netanyahu got the title back in his bid for a 5th term, this time featured on the cover of The Economist. “The reign of King Bibi is a parable of modern politics: the rise of a talented politician and a long success based on a perplexing mixture of carrying out sound policy and cynically sowing division,” the magazine writes in a series of featured articles about Netanyahu.
— “One result of that sojourn in power is that no Israeli diplomat today need worry about humiliation at the hands of a Republican administration. It is hard to imagine a feather sliding between President Donald Trump’s Republicans and Mr. Netanyahu and his Likud party.” [Economist]
COUNTERPROGRAMMING — Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) posted a picture on Thursday with President Obama at an event with freshmen members that took place at the same time as the AIPAC leadership reception earlier this week. “We had a thoughtful discussion about serving our country,” she wrote on Twitter. “The best part was when he looked straight at me and said, ‘I’m proud of you.'” [Pic]
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Rep Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, implored the State Department to treat the threat of white nationalist terrorism as a foreign policy priority, referencing the massacres at a mosque in New Zealand and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh as evidence.
“Just as with Islamist terrorism, we must target white nationalist terrorism, and the networks and ideologies which underpin it globally to safeguard the United States, our allies, and our interests,” Engel wrote in a letter.
Rep. Engel called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to name the New Zealand attacker a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” a mechanism to punish financial backers and disrupt terrorist funding. “Now is the time to combat this scourge with a multifaceted approach – one which includes a global component in which the State Department must be a key player,” he wrote.
Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) reintroduced the Antisemitism and Awareness Act this week, an effort to protect students in schools and universities from discrimination stemming from antisemitism.
“As we just passed the five-month anniversary of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, now is an important time as ever to take action to address incidents of religiously-motivated hate crimes,” Sen. Casey wrote in an email to Jewish Insider. “We must not just condemn, but act to stop all forms of religious discrimination and hate. I urge my colleagues in both chambers to support and pass this measure swiftly.”
Sen. Scott first introduced the bill in 2016 although it failed to gain momentum. “It is crucial to have clear and concise language defining anti-Semitism in the event that violence and hatred occurs,” Scott said in a statement. The bill defines antisemitism from language adopted by the State Department from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The bill also gives more authority to punishing incidents of religious discrimination and religiously-motivated hate crimes.
Engel, McCaul Forge Rare Bipartisan Bond — by Susan Crabtree: “Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike McCaul, the panel’s ranking Republican, on Monday shared the stage at the AIPAC conference in Washington and publicly lauded each other’s personal integrity and shared commitment to protecting the U.S.-Israel alliance… Engel and McCaul are hardly natural political allies… But it doesn’t hurt that Engel, who is Jewish, and McCaul are both stalwart defenders of Israel even though Engel’s Democratic caucus is in the middle of a divisive public feud over support for that Mideast ally.” [RealClearPolitics]
AT THE UN — Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, suggested that the U.S. should give Israel ‘South Carolina’ instead of recognizing its sovereignty over the Golan Heights. During a Security Council special session on Thursday, Jaafari said, “America is a wide and vast country, so why doesn’t it give up a state or two of the United States to the Israelis, for example, North Carolina or South Carolina? South Carolina is nice because it’s the land of Senator Lindsey Graham, who supported President Trump in his actions.”
A day before the annual Arab League summit in Tunis, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui told Arab foreign ministers that the country will coordinate with fellow Arab countries to contain any fall out from the U.S. decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.
TALK OF THE REGION — Palestinians Are Getting Fed Up With Hamas for Wretched Conditions — by Amy Teibel: “Privately, some complain that Hamas is too preoccupied with fighting Israel to take care of local needs. Others are fed up with Palestinian divisions that prevent them from effectively lobbying for an independent state… The protests, promoted on social media, never involved more than several hundred people in Jabalia refugee camp, Deir El Balah and Gaza City. But although the dissent has been suppressed, the underlying despair won’t be contained, according to Mustafa al-Sawaf, a political analyst close to Hamas.” [Bloomberg]
As U.S. Tightens Iran Sanctions, Militant Groups and Political Allies Feel the Pain — by Ben Hubbard: “Fighters from Shiite militias and Palestinian factions in Syria say their salaries have been cut and their families pushed out of subsidized apartments. Even the food they receive has worsened, some say, with less meat and more potatoes. A veteran Hezbollah fighter said he and his colleagues had not been paid in January and received only base salaries in February, without the usual bonuses for wives and children… The fighter said the cuts would not push members away from the movement, but acknowledged that they put pressure on families who lacked other income.” [NYTimes]
Sigal Mandelker, under-secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, told reporters in Singapore the United States had placed additional “intense pressure” on Iran this week. Action had been taken this week against a network involved in an Iranian sanctions evasion scheme — a network that includes Iran, UAE and Turkey-based front companies, she said.
2020 WATCH — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had lunch with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while in DC. “We had labneh,” Ocasio-Cortez postedon Twitter… Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is featured in the Hollywood Reporter under the header, ‘From Hollywood to First Gentleman.’… RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said on Fox & Friends that the absence of Democratic candidates at AIPAC shows the party is “anti-Israel.”
** Good Friday 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: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on big business and socialism [BusinessInsider] • Lightstone joining the rush into opportunity zones – real estate projects that benefit tax breaks [Bloomberg] • Ari Emanuel Sells Mandeville Canyon Contemporary[Variety] • Lidar and Israel-based perception startup Innoviz raises $132 million [TechCrunch] • Walmart CEO Doug McMillon arrived in Israel earlier this week for a visit accompanied by a delegation of senior company officials [Calcalist]
SPOTLIGHT — $1 million prize awaits Israeli team if moon landing works — by Marcia Dunn: “The XPrize Foundation announced Thursday it’s offering a $1 million award for a successful lunar landing… SpaceIL, the Israeli nonprofit behind Beresheet, made the final cut in the $20 million Google Lunar XPrize competition, which ended last year without a winner. The new award was inspired by SpaceIL’s perseverance.” [AP]
SPORTS BLINK — The NHL’s Gary Bettman was a sports gambling skeptic. Now he’s a convert — by Matt Bonesteel: “NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman once didn’t think too highly of legalized sports gambling… Fast forward seven years to Thursday, when Bettman was asked about his past opposition to sports gambling at a conference held by the American Gaming Association at the MGM National Harbor casino in Prince George’s County. ‘Oh, that,’ he said, drawing a laugh… If there is one thing that best exemplifies the sweeping changes afoot in pro sports after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last May to nullify PASPA, the federal law that prohibited sports gambling in all but a handful of areas, it might be the commissioner of a major U.S. league appearing before a group of casino executives and industry insiders in a ballroom dressed with all the large-screen accoutrements of a sportsbook… ‘Times have changed,’ Bettman continued after his laugh line.” [WashPost]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Detroit Was an Anti-Vax Hot Spot. Now It’s a Measles Hot Zone — by Trevor Bach: “More than 1,400 people have rushed to three free makeshift clinics to get vaccines or boosters since the outbreak was announced… As of Thursday afternoon, Michigan officials had confirmed 22 measles cases, all but one in Oakland County. The outbreak is already the state’s worst in more than two decades, and is likely to keep growing… Metro Detroit is a hotspot for the anti-vaccination movement, according to a 2018 study in PLOS Medicine.” [DailyBeast]
TOP OP — David Brooks writes… “Longing for an Internet Cleanse: The great philosopher of time is Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. In his great book ‘The Sabbath,’ he points out that the first sacred thing in the Bible is not a thing, it is a time period, the seventh day. Judaism, he argues, is primarily a religion of time, not space. ‘The seventh day,’ he writes, ‘is a palace in time which we build. It is made of soul, of joy and reticence. In its atmosphere, a discipline is a reminder of adjacency to eternity. Indeed, the splendor of the day is expressed in terms of abstentions.’ The Sabbath, he continues, is not a rest from the other six days. It is the peak experience the other six days point toward. On this day the Orthodox do less and in slowness can glimpse the seeds of eternity.” [NYTimes]
Bagels and War Crimes — by Binyamin Appelbaum: “The heirs of Albert Reimann Jr., who built one of Germany’s largest business empires, maintained for decades that Mr. Reimann and his father had been reluctant Nazis during World War II. Yes, they said, it was regrettable that the company employed slaves and prisoners of war in its chemical factories, but that was the nature of business during the war years. This weekend the Reimann family decided to change its tune, offering an abject apology for the behavior of Albert Reimann Jr., who died in 1984, and Albert Reimann Sr., who died in 1954… The public apology also is good for business. The Reimanns have been on a buying spree, snapping up familiar food and drink brands… When the Reimanns’ holding company acquired the British sandwich maker Pret A Manger last year, the sister of the company’s deceased founder, who happened to be Jewish, declared she was mortified to learn about the Reimanns’ roots.” [NYTimes]
DESSERT — Germany: First postwar kosher restaurant opens in Leipzig: “Hummus, fried fish and matzo ball soup: Those are some of the things you can find on the menu at Cafe Salomon, Leipzig’s first kosher restaurant since World War II… Cafe Salomon’s owner, Jakob Kerzhner, told LVZ that previously kosher-abiding Jews could only have meals ‘at home.’ Most restaurants prepare meat, fish and dairy products in kitchens that do not meet the standards of kashruth, Judaism’s dietary laws.” [DW]
Our Best Passover Recipes: Brisket, Lamb, Matzo Balls and More for Your Seder Table —by Margaux Laskey: “Passover, the seven-day festival that marks the liberation of the Jews from Egyptian slavery, begins this year at sundown on April 19. Here are all the recipes you need for your Seder table, from gefilte fish and haroseth to lamb shanks and brisket.” [NYTimes]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Hollywood mogul, co-CEO of entertainment and media agency William Morris Endeavor, he acquired the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2016 for an estimated $4 billion, Ariel Zev “Ari” Emanuel turns 58… Evolutionary biologist, geneticist, academic and social commentator, he has been a professor of zoology and biology at Harvard for many years, Richard Lewontin turns 90… Florida plaintiff’s attorney, he earned a $300 million fee for suing the tobacco industry, the University of Florida law school bears his name, Fred Levin turns 82… Chemist, professor at both Hebrew University and UCLA, winner of the 1974 Israel Prize, Raphael David Levine turns 81… Attorney, NYT best-selling author, sports agent for many athletes including Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Kirby Puckett and Eddie Murray, Ronald M. Shapiro turns 76… Houston-based labor law, employment law and personal injury attorney, active in Jewish organizations, Carol Nelkin turns 74… Orthopedic surgeon, former professional boxer, entrepreneur, author, speaker, screenplay writer, movie producer and philanthropist, Harold “Hackie” Stuart Reitman, MD turns 69…
Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for economics, University of Chicago professor Roger Myerson turns 68… Investor, computer scientist and founder of D. E. Shaw & Co., a hedge fund based upon high-speed quantitative trading, David Elliot Shaw turns 68… Chairman of consulting firm Roubini Global Economics and professor at NYU, he was a senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration, Nouriel Roubini turns 61… Miami businesswoman JoAnne Papir... Adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute in the program on Arab politics, former special assistant to President Obama, Eric Pelofsky turns 48… National Press Secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, David A. Bergstein turns 31… Senior energy consultant at Aurora Energy Advisors, he was the student commencement speaker at his 2013 George Washington University graduation, Alexander Zafran turns 28… Senior administrative assistant in Christie’s impressionist and modern art group, Annie Rosen… Born in Atlanta, raised in Johannesburg, now founder of Leopard Strategies, Liz Jaff…
SATURDAY: Meteorologist, science and health reporter, who was on television in NYC for five decades, he was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, Frank Field turns 96… Musician, music executive and businessman, he was chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Charles Koppelman turns 79… Harvard Professor of Economics and winner of the Israel Prize in 1991, Elhanan Helpman turns 73… Film and television director, Michael Stephen Lehmann turns 62… Comedian, actor, television personality Paul Reiser turns 62… Actor best known for his role as Steve Sanders on the television series “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1990-2000), Ian Ziering turns 55… US Special Representative for International Negotiations since January 2017, he was previously the long-time EVP and general counsel of the Trump Organization, Jason Dov Greenblatt turns 52… Tel Aviv-born actress, she appears on television and film in both Israel and the US, Mili Avital turns 47… Mexican-American chef, television personality, cookbook author and food writer, she won a James Beard Award for her PBS television series “Pati’s Mexican Table,” Pati Jinich turns 47…
Treasurer of Oakland County, Michigan, having been elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016, he announced that he will run for County Executive in 2020, Andy Meisner turns 46… Iranian-born LA-based actress, best known for her roles in “Crash” and the “Saw” franchise, also as the mother of the inspirational amputee Ezra Frech, Bahar Soomekh turns 44… Director of communications at the DC Public Library, Gabriela Schneider turns 43… Senior advisor to Ambassador David Friedman at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Aryeh Lightstone turns 39… Author, composer and playwright, market development director of Sh’ma Journal, Robert J. Saferstein turns 36… Chief innovation officer and managing director at Kivvit, Zach Silber turns 31… Foreign policy and national security reporter at the Huffington Post since 2015, Jessica Schulberg turns 31… Professional baseball infielder for MLB’s Houston Astros, he was the MVP of the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, Alex Bregman turns 25… Feature writer for Haaretz, Danna Harman… Ft. Lauderdale resident, Lois Goldberg… Boca Raton resident, Janot Grant David… Cherry Hill, NJ’s Zelda Greenberg…
SUNDAY: Chairman of Apple, Inc. since 2011 and CEO of Calico (an Alphabet R&D biotech venture), he was previously the CEO of Genentech (1995-2009), Arthur D. Levinson turns 69… Music producer, band leader of the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert turns 84… New York Times best-selling novelist, poet and social activist, Marge Piercy turns 83… Playwright of more than 70 plays, screenwriter for movies, director and actor, in 2017 he was the subject of reported allegations of sexual misconduct, Israel Horovitz turns 80… Democratic congressman from Massachusetts (1981-2013), named co-sponsor of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, since 2015 he has served as a director of Signature Bank, Barnett “Barney” Frank turns 79… Syndicated talk radio host on 400+ stations and conservative political commentator under the name Michael Savage, also best-selling author and nutritionist under his real name, Michael Alan Weiner turns 77… Emmy Award-winning movie and television actress, best known for her role in the sitcom Cheers (1982-1993), Rhea Jo Perlmanturns 71… Russian ice dancing coach and former competitive ice dancer, now living in Stamford CT, Natalia Dubova turns 71… David Freedman turns 68… Israeli singer and songwriter, Ehud Banai turns 66… President at the Detroit-based Nemer Property Group, Larry Nemer turns 65…
Show jumping equestrian and 10-time American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year, she is a 2009 inductee into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Margie Goldstein-Engle turns 61… Emmy award winning writer (“24,” “Homeland” and “Tyrant”) Howard Gordon turns 58… Judah Isaacsturns 55… Heir to his grandfather’s NYC real estate fortune, LA-based businessman, film producer and donor to progressive causes, Steve Bing turns 54… Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, elected in 2013 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2017, Andy Berke turns 51… Chief economic correspondent for Politico and author of its “Morning Money” column covering the nexus of finance and public policy, Ben White turns 47… Chief legal correspondent at MSNBC, Ari Melber turns 39… Footballer for Beitar Jerusalem, who has also played for Chelsea, Manchester City and West Ham United in the English Premier League, Tal Ben Haim turns 37… Tal Meir Levine turns 36… Internet entrepreneur who is the co-founder and former CMO of Tinder, Justin Mateen turns 33… Jerusalem-born, raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, she was a 2010 contestant on America’s Next Top Model, she went on to join the IDF, Esther Petrack turns 27… John Jacobson… Joel Mittler… Arul Anna Raj… Howie Keenan…
HEARD LAST NIGHT — Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was asked during a live CNN presidential town hall if his faith would influence him as president. The following is part of his answer:
“One of the best sights I’ve ever
“Can I quote some Hebrew to you? Because I studied the Torah, too,” Booker continued. “There’s a song sung during the high holidays: Ki beitibeittefillahyikareil’chol ha-‘amim — ‘may my house be a house of prayer for many nations.’ (Isaiah 56:7) We are the United States of America. We were not formed as a theocracy. We were formed on the ideal that many of us in our diversity can come together and create one strong whole. And if I am president of the United States, I will fight every day to put more indivisible into this one nation under God.” [Video]
AT AIPAC – Speaking to the New Jersey delegation at AIPAC on Tuesday, Booker said, “Israel is not political to me. I was a supporter of Israel well before I was in the United States Senate. I was coming to AIPAC’s conferences well before I knew that one day I would be (a Senator). ‘If I forget thee, O Israel (Jerusalem), may I cut off my right hand.’ When we had a congresswoman who said absolutely unacceptable things, I came out and made clear, condemnation of antisemitism.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Ilhan Omar’s Embattled First Months in Office — by Benjamin Wallace-Wells: “Omar’s serial confrontations over Israel have had different stakes but a similar character. The outrage on the other side seemed not to warn her off but to spur her on. A little more than a week after Omar’s ‘It’s all about the Benjamins’ tweet, she and her staff met, in Minneapolis, with Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Hunegs brought a photograph of his cousin Gerald (Sonny) Cohen, who was killed in action while fighting for the U.S. during the Second World War, and another of Sonny’s grave, to underscore a point about Jewish patriotism.”
“Eight days later, at Busboys and Poets, Omar appeared to resurrect the anti-Jewish dual-loyalty smear with her remark about allegiance to a foreign country. Hunegs favors a robust American relationship with Israel; Omar represents a challenge to that. Even so, it wasn’t hard to see her exchanges with Carin Mrotz and Hunegs as a parable: each time a Jewish interlocutor had issued a warning, and each time Omar had mostly disregarded it.”[NewYorker]
Jeremy Slevin, a spokesman for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), is drawing fire for suggesting that antisemitism “is a right-wing force.” Slevin repeated the line eight times on Twitter while quoting one of his boss’s tweets as part of a lengthy response to PM Netanyahu’s remarks at AIPAC on Tuesday.
Slevin added to his comments on Wednesday, “My tweet was referring to the United States (which I should have made clear).”
CITY-SIDE — Brooklyn lawmaker blasts Rep. Omar, says ‘Palestine does not exist’ — by Rich Calder: “A Brooklyn lawmaker set off a social media storm Wednesday by denying the existence of Palestine and accusing Rep. Ilhan Omar of being an anti-Semite. ‘Palestine does not exist,’ tweeted Councilman Kalman Yeger, who represents Midwood and other neighborhoods with large Jewish populations. ‘There, I said it again. Also, Congresswoman Omar is an anti-Semite.’ … The councilman’s comments drew 1,900 responses, — including from colleagues in the council.” [NYPost]
LONG READ — How the Battle Over Israel and Anti-Semitism Is Fracturing American Politics — by Nathan Thrall: “For all the recent tumult over Israel in Washington, the policy debate remains extremely narrow. There is no legislative initiative to reduce, much less end, military aid, nor even to make continued assistance conditional on a halt to settlement building. BDS is not supported by a single Democratic senator or presidential candidate, including Bernie Sanders, though Sanders backed the right to boycott. Despite pointed critiques of American support for Israel by representatives like Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, there is little willingness among Democrats to argue publicly for substantially changing longstanding policy toward Israel. In part, some Hill staff members and former White House officials say, this is because of the influence of megadonors: Of the dozens of personal checks greater than $500,000 made out to the largest PAC for Democrats in 2018, the Senate Majority PAC, around three-fourths were written by Jewish donors.”
“According to Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national-security adviser and one of Obama’s closest confidants, several members of the Obama administration wanted to adopt a more assertive policy toward Israel but felt that their hands were tied. ‘The Washington view of Israel-Palestine is still shaped by the donor class,’ Rhodes, who does not support B.D.S., told me… ‘There is a reason the U.N. vote did not come up before the election in November,’ [another] former official said. ‘Was it because you were going to lose voters to Donald Trump? No. It was because you were going to have skittish donors. That, and the fact that we didn’t want Clinton to face pressure to condemn the resolution or be damaged by having to defend it.'” [NYTimes]
LABELS — President Trump said in a phone interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News Wednesday night: “I’m very proud of what we have done for Israel. I’m very proud of my relationship with Israel. And what is going on with Jewish people and the Democrats and Israel is shocking to me. You know, I grew up in a world where Democrats, they loved Israel. And now, I’m looking at a world where many Democrats seem to hate Israel. They seem to despise Israel. It is a tremendous surprise to me. What’s going on with Israel and the Democrat Party is absolutely horrific. Terrible.” [Video]
JI INTERVIEW — Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based GOP donor and a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, discussed Trump’s comments on the Democratic Party and the Jewish vote in 2020 in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh.
“To me, to say that the Democratic Party is anti-Israel or anti-Jewish, these are the same as saying the Republican Party is anti-immigration or anti-abortion,” Zeidman said, disagreeing with the President. “It’s not the party, it is members of the party. There is a segment of the party which is rearing its head right now, and a lot of it is just the progressive wing of the party, which is very similar if you will, to the ultra-conservative wing of our party. I think there is a lot more of antisemitism and a lot more of anti-Zionism in the left-wing of the Democratic Party than there is in the right-wing of the Republican Party. But I certainly can’t imagine, I wouldn’t even think that the Democratic Party per se is antisemitic or anti-Israel.”
Zeidman still gives Trump credit for keeping the issue in the conversation: “He has a way of exaggerating or magnifying every issue. I mean, I’m almost not sorry he’s doing it because most of the Jewish community is not seriously taking a stand against that. There’s been no stand by the leadership of the party against these folks. I think that I have no problem with Donald Trump, whether he’s exaggerating and magnifying it or not, bringing it to everybody’s attention and bringing it to the surface so that people are going to be forced to do something.”
Zeidman predicted that if the Democratic leadership will not deal with the issue, “I think that it could greatly affect the 2020 election. I think that the candidates running for president, who are now keeping their mouth shut and saying nothing, they’re going to have to take a stand one way or the other. Somehow, it wouldn’t surprise me if it gets to the Reagan numbers (in the high 30s). Is there going to be a mass exodus? No, there’s not, and we don’t know what we’re going to see between now and the general election. But these three women have not slowed up whatsoever in carrying on, and they’re going to have to do something at some point. If they don’t, you’re going to see Reagan numbers, but I can’t believe the Democrats will let it go that far.”
Wells or Values? — Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told the Financial Times that the U.S. shale boom has made it possible for the Trump administration to take stronger positions in support of Israel, including recognizing its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, because it is no longer dependent on imported oil. The position of the U.S. was “radically different” from 1973-74, when the oil embargo imposed by Arab members of Opec during the Arab-Israeli war sent fuel prices soaring, he explained. The shale boom has “allowed the president to make foreign policy decisions that simply were not available to previous presidents, at least not in my lifetime,” Brouillette said. “The freedom that this allows this president, and future presidents… is simply stunning.”
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: During a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over accusations that President Trump’s “point-person” on Iran is targeting career staff as “troublemakers” and based on sexual orientation, national origin and loyalty to the Trump Administration.
Rep. Engel’s line of questioning relates to a year-long investigation into improper conduct at the State Department. He singled out emails from Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, that list “intel” on certain staff, characterized by their national origin, ethnicity, perceived political affiliation and gossip. “Is targeting employees for these reasons appropriate?” Rep. Engel asked the Secretary.
“I’m not going to respond to anything about any particular person,” Secretary Pompeo answered, “but I can assure you, I want every employee at the Department of State treated with the dignity that they deserve because of their humanness.”
Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) began his questioning of Pompeo by highlighting the 40th anniversary of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, bringing his framed copy of The Jerusalem Post, with the headline “Treaty ends 30-year state of war” from March 27, 1979. “I happened to be 19 years old and living in Jerusalem at the signing of that treaty and I grabbed a newspaper and for years and years I kept it in a file in my office,” he said. “When I came to Congress, I took that newspaper and had it framed. This now hangs in my office as a reminder of the many lessons that came out of that. Among other things, that we can do what seems near impossible.” [Pic]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Earlier, during a hearing in front of the House Appropriations Committee on President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget, Pompeo avoided answering directly if Trump’s Mideast peace plan would be based on parameters that address the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We’re hoping that we can actually broaden the aperture, that we can broaden this debate.”
In response to Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), asking when the peace plan will be released, the secretary said, “I’m very hopeful that we’ll present our vision before too long. I’m not trying to evade, I don’t know precisely when and how it is we’ll present this. We’ve been working on it a while we want to make sure we have it as complete, effective, as good as we know how to do. When we get there, we’ll unveil it.” He joked: “I think we can say in less than 20 years.”
ON THE GOLAN — Pompeo also suggested on the Hill that the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights will help advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. “We believe this increases the likelihood that we get a resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” Pompeo said. “We think it speaks with the clarity that takes this away from any uncertainty about how we’ll proceed.”
AT THE UN —Security Council Denounces Trump’s Golan Decision — by Farnaz Fassihi: “All 14 other council members said Wednesday that they oppose Washington’s decision and that the Golan Heights is occupied territory by Israel… The U.S., represented by the political coordinator at its U.N. mission, Rodney Hunter, presented a short statement defending Mr. Trump’s decision, calling it of ‘critical strategic and security importance’ to Israel and saying it can contribute to stability. As member after member criticized the U.S. and accused it of undermining the U.N., the Americans didn’t offer the replies that are customary in council debates.” [WSJ]
REPORT — According to Ch. 13’s Barak Ravid, the ambassadors of France, Germany and the U.K. protested the Golan Heights move and sought clarifications on the administration’s policies in two separate meetings at the White House and State Department on Tuesday. European sources told Ravid that the meetings ‘were difficult and ended unresolved, with both sides agreeing to disagree.’
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash was quoted by The National as saying, “Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back. Because clearly, you have to really dissect and divide between having a political issue and keeping your lines of communication open.”
HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump during a meeting with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuela’s recognized interim president Juan Guaido in the Oval Office: “The Golan Heights, which every President promised they’d do, they never did. I did that — not only with respect to the Jerusalem and the embassy, but also now the Golan Heights. They desperately need it. It was good timing. They desperately need it. They need the Heights.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), responding to Trump’s declaration, told Jewish Insider, “I think we should probably stick with where we’ve been for a while [re: the status of the Golan Heights], either that or we at least ought to have a discussion about that.”
Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt posted on Twitter: “Anyone who says Syria should control the Golan is taking a position not based in reality. Allowing the Golan to be controlled by the Assad regime & their Iranian backers would ignore the atrocities committed and ignore the very real threat to Israel’s existence! #TimeToSpeakTheTruth.”
SCENE IN JERUSALEM — PM Netanyahu presented heads of local councils on the Golan Heights with President Trump’s signed order recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. “We waited 50 years for this,” the PM said. “This is a tremendous proclamation that greatly strengthens our sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” [Pic]
TRUMP DIPLOMACY — Elliot Kaufman writes… “Trump’s Golan Strategy: Mr. Trump’s decision to back Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights must sound to the Palestinians like a threat: Shape up and cease your intransigence, or America could let Israel annex parts of the West Bank, too.” [WSJ]
Sarah Helm writes in the Financial Times that Europe’s diplomatic corps are still in the dark on Trump’s peace plan with “no plan B.” The UN special co-ordinator for the Middle East, Nikolay Mladenov, told Helm recently he wondered if Kushner would produce a plan at all.
Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky write… “Mike Pompeo Is Not Making Diplomacy Great Again: The good news for Pompeo is that he’s very much in the game—he has access to Trump and enjoys his confidence. The bad news: He’s doing very little with the issues he owns, and together with Trump he’s helped dig some deep holes for American policy toward America’s European allies, while making little progress on Iran and North Korea.” [PoliticoMag]
SCOOP — President Trump and Jared Kushner will host a White House celebration to celebrate the recent passage of the bipartisan prison reform bill on April 1st, according to an invite obtained by Jewish Insider. The April 1 event is also billed as a Prison Reform Summit. Last May, President Trump and Kushner hosted the first such summit at the White House. [JewishInsider; Pic]
KAFE KNESSET — Likud Demands Investigation Into Gantz — by Neri Zilber: Another day, another corruption scandal. In a press conference yesterday evening in Tel Aviv, several senior Likud officials called for the Attorney General to open a criminal investigation into Benny Gantz for alleged misdeeds stemming from his time as chairman of Fifth Dimension, a private cybersecurity firm. The impetus for the new attack was a State Comptroller report released yesterday criticizing the Israel Police for entering into a NIS 50 million contract with Fifth Dimension without a proper tender process. Readtoday’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here[KafeKnesset]
Ahead of Israel’s Election, Gantz’s Meme-Inspiring Missteps Embolden Netanyahu — by David Halbfinger: “The Israeli election on April 9 was supposed to be a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… Yet a series of unforced errors by Mr. Gantz and his campaign have now allowed Mr. Netanyahu not only to move on but to raise doubts about Mr. Gantz’s readiness for the scrutiny that comes with being prime minister. After delivering a well-received speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference on Monday, Mr. Gantz gave back-to-back satellite interviews from Washington… and handed Mr. Netanyahu’s video- and meme-makers ammunition to use against him.” [NYTimes]
Watch — Spotted in Netanyahu’s newest campaign ad: Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes, Dennis Ross and Peter Baker. [Video] h/t Felicia Schwartz
2020 WATCH — Cory Booker is happy to be under the radar — for now…Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is leaning toward jumping into 2020 race… Stacey Abrams says Democrats will likely choose a woman or minority in 2020… Veep’s David Mandel on Bill de Blasio’s possible runfor president: “I feel like much more successful mayors have failed, so this seems crazy. It seems like ego.”… Catchy song will teach you how to pronounce Pete Buttigieg.
** 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: Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Is Opening a New York Office [Bloomberg] • Trump names wives of Steve Roth and Richard LeFrak to Kennedy Center Board [RealDeal] • Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Digital, the company that bought Gawker and Mic, has acquired The Outline, a tech/culture site launched by veteran journalist Josh Topolsky [Recode] • Bob Iger and James Cameron: Can the King of Hollywood Manage the King of the World? [HollywoodReporter]
SPOTLIGHT — For Israeli lunar lander, faith provides inspiration and challenges — by Jack Jenkins: “SpaceIL system engineering manager Alexander Friedman, who is in charge of all operations for the group’s ‘Beresheet’ lander after launch, identifies as an Orthodox Jew. As such, he does not work on Shabbat. But SpaceX… typically launches its rockets on Saturdays… Friedman said that fact led to many ‘long discussions”’between SpaceIL and SpaceX, with hopes of moving the launch to a different day of the week… It appears the issue was eventually ironed out: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off into space with Beresheet aboard on Thursday, Feb. 21, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, at 8:45 in the evening — which is just before 4 in the morning on Friday in Israel.” [ReligionNews]
PROFILE — Yoshevah Jones, Tel Aviv’s Most In-Demand Face, on Growing Up As a Black Hebrew — by Liana Satenstein: “Of late, model Yoshevah Jones has become one of the most in-demand faces in Tel Aviv, which held its own Fashion Week this month… Jones’s modeling rise is of particular note, given her unique background. Though the local fashion industry has historically cast diverse models on its runways, Jones is from the Black Hebrews, a group that settled in Israel in 1969. The movement was founded in Chicago by Ben Ammi Ben-Israel (born Ben Carter), who considered it a radical exit from America during the height of the civil rights movement… Jones explains that she still has a feeling of otherness and at times, she doesn’t know which culture she fits into; she has not been to the U.S. and so considers Israel home by default. ‘It is hard: You don’t belong here and you don’t fit in over there,’ she says of her Israeli and American identity.” [Vogue]
Israeli researchers say Sodom salt cave is world’s longest — by Ilan Ben Zion: “A recently completed survey of the Malham Cave [at the southern tip of the Dead Sea] determined the labyrinthine cavern stretches more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) in length. That puts it well ahead of Iran’s Namakdan Cave, previously thought to be the longest salt cave.” [ABCNews]
TALK OF THE TOWN — County in New York Facing Measles Outbreak Bans Unvaccinated Minors From Public Spots — by Katie Honan: “A New York county has declared a state of emergency over one of the worst measles outbreaks in the state in decades, banning unvaccinated minors from public places to help curb the spread of the disease… The extreme measure comes as the county has recorded 153 confirmed measles cases in the past six months, mostly in children under 18, according to the county’s health department. The outbreak is concentrated in the Orthodox Jewish communities in Rockland County, including the towns of New Square, Spring Valley and Monsey… Under Rockland County’s ban, children under 18 who haven’t been vaccinated won’t be allowed in any public area for 30 days.” [WSJ]
Bar or Bat Mitzvah? Hey, What About a Both Mitzvah? — by Alyson Krueger: “In recent years, more people have been questioning or exploring their gender expression, including teenagers. In Jewish circles this process can coincide with the time for bar and bat mitzvahs. To make space for transgender and nonbinary teenagers, more synagogues and Jewish communities have adopted they mitzvahs (b’nai mitzvahs or b mitzvahs, as other congregations call them.)” [NYTimes]
TRANSITION — Sheila Katz has been hired as the new CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women. Katz, who replaces outgoing CEO Nancy Kaufman, served as Vice President of Hillel International for the past 12 years.
TALK OF OUR NATION — Twitter lashes out at ‘sociopath’ bagels sliced like bread — by Tamar Lapin and Lauren Steussy: “A highly offensive photo of bagels, sliced as though they were loaves of bread, is spreading controversy across the internet. The man behind this crumby outrage, Alek Krautmann, says the serving style is a St. Louis specialty and even claims, dubiously, that people love it… But over in New York, people were calling the sideways slicing a schmear campaign against a Big Apple classic. ‘On behalf of the New York Delegation: St. Louis, fuhgeddaboudit,’ quippedSenator Chuck Schumer. The general manager of New York bagel staple Zabar’s for over 40 years, Scott, was also in complete shock. ‘I just have to say… ‘Why?” he told The Post.” [NYPost; BuzzFeed]
DESSERT — Hudson Yards $200M Art Piece Looks Like a Giant Shawarma — by Carolyn Alburger: “For the food people flocking to the Manhattan’s new $25 billion development, Hudson Yards, it might look like… a colossal shawarma — New York’s first mile-high bronze-and-steel meat on a spit… This could be the city’s most publicized meat tower replica of all time.”[EaterNY]
BIRTHDAYS: Professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics, Jerome Isaac Friedman turns 89… Tarzana, California native, Marlene R. Bane turns 86… Chairman and CEO of the Hartz Group and Hartz Mountain Corporation, a leading seller of pet supplies, Leonard Norman Stern turns 81… Israeli electrical engineer and business executive, he was the founder and first general manager of Intel Israel and the inventor of the EPROM chip, Dov Frohmanturns 80… Law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Ruth Gavisonturns 74… Expert on the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, supporter of women’s health issues and wife of former US Senator and VP-candidate Joe Lieberman, Hadassah Lieberman turns 71… Glenview, Illinois native, Genie Kutchins turns 69… Iranian-born billionaire, CEO of Los Angeles-based toy company MGA Entertainment (maker of Little Tikes and “Bratz” and “Lalaloopsy” dolls), Isaac Larian turns 65… Member of the Knesset since 2006, she served as the leader of the Israeli Labor Party (2011-2013) and was previously a journalist, she is the author of three books, Shelly Yachimovichturns 59…
VP of public policy at JUUL Labs and a presidential historian, he was a White House aide and Jewish Liaison in the George W. Bush administration (2005-2007) and Deputy HHS Secretary (2007-2009), Tevi Troy turns 52… Film producer Brett Ratner turns 50 (how he plans to celebrate)… Journalist, crime writer and blogger who has spent most of his career in Japan, he assisted the US State Department’s investigation into human trafficking in Japan, Jake Adelstein turns 50… Israeli journalist and radio presenter for Reshet Bet, Keren Neubach turns 49… Author of seven best-selling novels including in 2003 “The Devil Wears Prada,” based upon the author’s time as an assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Lauren Weisberger turns 42… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Likud party, Makhlouf “Miki” Zohar turns 39… Los Angeles-based, Israeli-born fashion designer, Yotam Solomon turns 32… Retired MLB outfielder, who played for the Boston Red Sox in 2010 and 2012 and for the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and 2016, Ryan Kalish turns 31… Ever more rising real estate star and Senior Associate at Hackman Capital Partners, Zachary David Sokoloff turns 30…
Mr. Liberman Goes to Washington: Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman departed last night on a four-day visit to Washington, DC and New York City. This is the second time…
Hamas not welcome: Last night the Security Cabinet concluded a two-day session debating the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. A joint statement was issued describing Israel’s new “red…
To evacuate or not to evacuate? New Labor chair Avi Gabbay has been making headlines for a few days now with a series of statements signaling an apparent…
Bibi versus the Police: With the continued corruption investigations against Netanyahu, the Prime Minister has taken his responses up a notch. Now he is not only blaming the…
Family man: Israelis are very familiar with Bibi’s family story. They are especially familiar with his legendary brother, Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed leading the Entebbe raid in…
Liberman “believes” Trump: Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman gave a lengthy pre-Sukkot interview to Walla. After declaring Syrian President Assad’s victory, he also had some interesting answers to share…