SCOOP: HEARD LAST NIGHT — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on a conference call hosted by Jim Zogby, Co-Chair of the DNC’s Ethnic Council, when asked about the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweets about AIPAC:“I talked to Ilhan last night to give her my personal support. We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
PHILLY SCENE — Howard Schultz discussed his potential independent run for president in a conversation with Bill Kristol at Free Library of Philadelphia. During the event, Kristol asked the former Starbucks CEO why he is not seeking the Democratic nomination, “assuming you are not going to come over and win the Republican nomination.”
“I am not asking nothing,” Schultz jokingly replied. To which Kristol joked: “I can help you with that. Also, I have a bridge to sell you, if you’d like.”
Schultz then explained why he would run as an independent: “I have nothing against the Democratic party. I have a lot of friends who are Democrats and I have friends who hold office who are Democrats. This is not personal against the party of them. If I should decide to run for president, in many ways, I am running against the two party broken system. With regards to the Democratic Party, I no longer feel as if I have a home there. I feel that the party is moving so far left, and almost every day even further left… I am trying to suggest a more centrist approach… and I don’t think the Democratic Party is interested in listening to a centrist position. If I had to make a prediction, the Democratic person who is going to get the nomination is going to be a far-left-leaning person who is going to run against Donald Trump, and I am not clairvoyant, but I worry a lot about whether or not a far-left person on the Democratic side can defeat Donald Trump.”
Schultz concluded the conversation by noting: “I’m a Jewish kid from Brooklyn that has lived the American dream. And if someone told me when I was 15-years-old that I would reach this level of success, I would not have believed it.”
— Why Howard Schultz keeps a stone from Auschwitz on his desk: In a speech to the Atlantic Council on May 10, 2018, Schultz told the audience, “Twenty years ago, as a Jewish person, I had the opportunity to go to Poland and visit Auschwitz for the first time… It was a very cold, gray winter day, and the two three hours that had passed while we were there was a gruesome, gruesome visual understanding of what took place in these camps… Somehow when we were leaving the camp, in the mud and in the sand, I reached into the sand and into the mud, and I somehow found this stone. And this stone had been sitting on my desk for the last twenty years.” [JewishInsider]
— Schultz’s lead political strategist Steve Schmidt referenced the speech in an interview this week when asked to explain the potential 2020 candidate’s foreign policy views.
ON THE HILL — Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chair, urged Speaker Pelosi to bring an anti-BDS measure for a vote in a floor speech on Wednesday. “Helping our key allies in the Middle East ensure their security should not be controversial,” said Cheney, urging the Democrats to pass a House version (H.R. 336) of the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act in a bipartisan manner. “We are now at a moment in this body, where we are facing real anti-Semitism from the other side of the aisle. It is time Madam Speaker, that we all come together as a body in a bipartisan manner to stand against anti-Semitism, to condemn it, to ensure that everyone understands it has no place in this House, in this body, or in our public discourse.” [JewishInsider; CSPAN]
House votes to take stand against anti-Semitism in an unexpected way — by Lindsey McPherson: “The House overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to take a stand against anti-Semitism in all forms and did it in an unexpected way. The vote was surprising because the language was added to an unrelated resolution on removing U.S. armed forces assisting the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen… The amendment added through the motion to recommit says ‘it is in the national security interest of the United States to combat anti-Semitism around the world because,’ and then lists a few reasons… Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel spoke in favorof the GOP’s motion to recommit and Democrats followed suit in voting for it… It was adopted, 424-0, with two members voting present. The Yemen resolution passed 248-177.” [RollCall; Politico] • House Votes to Halt Aid for Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen [NYTimes]
TOP TALKER — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Elliott Abrams, special envoy to Venezuela, clashed over his role in the Iran-Contra affair and possible U.S. military involvement in Venezuela during a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Referring to him as “Mr. Adams,” Rep. Omar started her questioning by casting doubt on Abrams’s credibility. “In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George HW Bush,” Omar said. “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.” As Abrams attempted to respond, Omar cut him off by saying she was making a statement and not asking him a question. “It is not right that members of this committee can attack a witness who is not permitted to reply,” Abrams interjected. [JewishInsider] • Watch the full exchange here [CSPAN]
Democrats Grapple with the Ilhan Omar Fallout — by Abigail Tracy: “Largely satisfied with Omar’s mea culpa, Democrats want to forgive and forget. ‘It was a mistake. She apologized,’ explained the Democratic aide. ‘Some people were more satisfied with her apology than others. But we can’t waste days and weeks on this, because this is totally going to distract us from our agenda if we get hung up on this infighting.’ The tweet about AIPAC, this person said, was ‘obviously a big self-inflicted wound, but we are not going to now look at the Republicans moving the goalposts and be responsive to them.’ Republicans, however, aren’t ready to move on.” [VanityFair]
Vice President Mike Pence doubled down on his criticism during a visit to Warsaw on Wednesday. “The Republican leadership was right to condemn Steven King’s remarks and also to remove him from the committee,” Pence told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “There were consequences to what he said, and unless Rep. Omar resigns from Congress, at minimum Democrat leaders should remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.” [Video] • Kevin McCarthy on deleted tweet about Bloomberg, Steyer and Soros: ‘That had nothing to do about faith’ [WashPost]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back against the administration during an interaction with a CNN reporter on Capitol Hill: “As I heard the President speaking this morning, all that was going through my mind was ‘Jew-S-A, Jew-S-A’ at his rallies that he never distanced himself from. They shouldn’t go down this path, they do not have clean hands.”
— “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) left open the possibility of disciplinary action. ‘Apologies are appropriate,’ Hoyer said. ‘But the real test are actions going forward… We need to treat one another with respect. If that doesn’t pan out, there may be further actions we need to take,’ he added.”[WashPost]
Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program who worked against the anti-BDS bill, tweeted: “The pressure on Ilhan Omar to apologize is only the tip of the iceberg. The ultimate goal is to silence her and boot her out of Congress for her courageous positions on foreign policy issues including her support to the BDS movement. Are you with Trump or Ilhan? #IStandWithIlhan.”
— Prof. Eugene Kontorovich: “Most Democrats, echoing ACLU, claim they don’t support BDS, they just oppose anti-BDS efforts out of poorly defined constitutional concerns. But if now the head of ACLU praises Ilhan Omar’s ‘support’ of boycotting Israel, maybe the constitutional arguments were just a facade?”
Omar fundraises: “We will not be silenced.” [Pic]
STATE-SIDE — Virginia Democratic Candidate Apologizes to Jewish Community for Past Statements — by Liel Leibovitz: “Ibraheem Samirah, a dentist and the Democratic nominee in a special election next week for a seat in the 86th District of Virginia’s House of Delegates, issued a written apology Friday for a slew of statements, made on social media over several years, including one comparing Israel to the KKK and another wishing for the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to ‘burn in hell.’ … And while some, including Samirah’s historically Jewish fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, have defended the candidate from accusations of anti-Semitism, others have said it remains to be seen whether Samirah has outgrown his offensive views.” [Tablet]
SCENE YESTERDAY — Elan Carr, the new Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, met with a group of Jewish community leaders at the State Department. Carr pledged to aggressively pursue countries that have either passed new laws or are contemplating such that would outlaw Kosher meat or circumcision during the 90-minute meeting, according to several participants.
Among those who attended the meeting were Eric Fusfield, Stacy Burdette, Nathan Diament, William Daroff, Michael Lieberman, David Bernstein, Mark Levin, Rabbi David Zwiebel, Noah Silverman, Karen Paikan Barall, Candace Bryan Abbey, Lori Weinstein, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Halie Soifer, Steve Rabinowitz and Aaron Keyak. [Pic]
WARSAW SUMMIT — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu metwith Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of the U.S.-led ‘Promoting a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East’ summit in Warsaw, Poland this morning. “You can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran. It’s just not possible,” Pompeo told reporters at the start of their meeting.
— Jason Greenblatt tweets: “A lighthearted moment — Netanyahu’s microphone was not working so the FM of Yemen loaned him his microphone. Netanyahu joked about the new cooperation between Israel and Yemen. Step by step.”
Watch — Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa asked about meeting Netanyahu: “It will happen when it happens.”[Video]
Netanyahu, in a short video recorded on the sidelines of the summit, emphasized the significance of Israeli and Arab officials appearing in the same venue, noting that the summit was “not in secret, because there are many of those. This is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of combatting Iran.”
Neri Zilber reports in today’s Kafe Knesset: Last night during a closed dinner, Netanyahu and Arab representatives sat and listened openly to each other. “Tonight I believe we are beginning a new era, with Prime Minister Netanyahu from the State of Israel, with leaders from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, all breaking bread together, and later in this conference sharing honest perspectives on the challenges facing the area,” Vice President Mike Pence said in his remarks at the dinner.
In an interview aired last night on Channel 13, Saudi Prince Turki al Faisal, a former intelligence chief, told diplomatic reporter Barak Ravid that Netanyahu needed to be more honest regarding what was possible absent Israeli-Palestinian peace. “Israeli public opinion should not be deceived into believing that the Palestinian issue is a dead issue… From the Israeli point of view, Netanyahu would like us to have a relationship, and then we can fix the Palestinian issue. From the Saudi point of view, it’s the other way around.”
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — U.S. to present Mideast peace plan after Israeli vote, Jared Kushner says — by David Herszenhorn: “The United States will put forward a Middle East peace plan after an Israeli general election on April 9, Jared Kushner told officials on Thursday. Ministers who took part in a closed-door session with Kushner at the conference in Warsaw said he told them that Israelis and Palestinians would each have to compromise.” [Politico]
HOW IT’S BEING PLAYED — Iran Rift Hurts U.S. Effort to Build Consensus on Mideast Policy [WSJ] • Anti-Iran Message Seeps Into Trump Forum Billed as Focusing on Mideast Security [NYTimes] • Middle East conference opens with warnings that all problems originate in Iran[WashPost]
Rudy Giuliani appears on stage with anti-Tehran group once branded terrorists — by James Shotter and Evon Huber, Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Demetri Sevastopulo: “Rudy Giuliani appeared at a rally against Iran’s regime in Warsaw on Wednesday at the behest of a controversial group once labeled a terrorist organization by Washington, and without the approval of the Trump administration. Mr. Giuliani, who serves as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, said he attended the demonstration at the invitation of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian resistance group that was on the U.S. State Department’s terrorist list until 2012… Mr. Giuliani conceded that he had not notified the administration of his plans to attend the rally in Warsaw.” [FinancialTimes]
U.S. Accuses Ex-Intelligence Officer of Giving Iran Secrets — by Aruna Viswanatha and
Dustin Volz: “A former U.S. Air Force special agent gave highly classified information to Tehran and helped hackers mount campaigns against U.S. spies after defecting to Iran, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday. Monica Elfriede Witt, who left the Air Force in 2008 and a job with a defense contractor two years later, showed persistence in trying to betray her country, prosecutors said.” [WSJ]
KAFE KNESSET — AG Decision Looming — and Bibi Knows It— by Neri Zilber: Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit rejected the Netanyahu legal team’s petitions to interview further witnesses in the multiple corruption cases arrayed against the premier. Analysts surmised this was a Netanyahu attempt to stall the legal process — and Mandelblit’s ultimate decision on the probes — until after the April election. The AG’s office stated in a letter that “at the current stage there is no need for further investigative action.” Netanyahu immediately took to Twitter to express his “sadness” that Mandelblit was succumbing to left-wing and media pressure, causing him to speed up his decision on whether to indict Netanyahu. The AG is now expected to issue his verdict in the next few weeks but not later than mid-March. Subscribe to read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [KafeKnesset]
2020 WATCH — Michael Bloomberg is preparing to spend at least $500 million from his own pocket if he runs for president… Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand added top national, New Hampshire staff to 2020 campaign… Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Beto O’Rourke last week to discuss a possible 2020 Senate campaign against GOP Sen. John Cornyn…
** 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: Suit Accuses Current, Former CBS Executives of Insider Trading [WSJ] • Disney CEO Bob Iger Flies to Brazil to Seal Fox Deal, Leaves Empty-Handed [Bloomberg] • Former Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer to Join BlackRock [WSJ] • Israel’s Bezeq Telecom turns to High Court in bid to merge units [Reuters] • Edward Lampert has a plan to turn around Sears: smaller stores, more tools and appliances [WSJ]
SPOTLIGHT — Annie Leibovitz Revisits Her Early Years — by Robin Pogrebin: “More than 4,000 images from her early years fill an exhibition of Ms. Leibovitz’s work opening in Los Angeles on Thursday at Hauser & Wirth, the first show with the gallery for the photographer, who turns 70 in October… The exhibition — “Annie Leibovitz. The Early Years, 1970-1983: Archive Project No. 1” — comes as photographers are increasingly promoted as artists by galleries… The exhibition takes up 24 walls of the gallery’s sprawling space in a downtown Los Angeles former flour mill, which opened in 2016. The images encompass the first 14 years of Ms. Leibovitz’s career, when she was shooting performers like Rod Stewart, Loretta Lynn, Elton John and Aretha Franklin, and public officials like Hubert H. Humphrey, Henry A. Kissinger and Edward M. Kennedy. To move through the show is to be immersed in the pivotal era between 1970 and 1983.” [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE TOWN — L line delayed during morning rush into Manhattan as crews remove train with swastika stickers from service — by Dan Rivoli and Clayton Guse: “An L was removed from service in Brooklyn Wednesday morning after a subway worker found anti-Nazi stickers — swastikas crossed out with a red line, like a no-smoking sign… The swastikas were first reported to police as ‘racist graffiti,’ the MTA said… Subway workers will now find a way to cover up decals until they can be removed later without holding up service… During the afternoon rush hour, L trains were held up again when a train with ‘offensive graffiti’ was yanked out of service at Broadway Junction shortly after 4 p.m, and sent to a train yard for cleaning.”[NYDailyNews]
A Year After the Parkland School Shooting That Was Supposed to Change Everything — by Patricia Mazzei: “Sarah Lerner, 38, an English and journalism teacher and yearbook adviser at Stoneman Douglas, compiled stories from shooting survivors into a book. Two of her students, Jaime Guttenberg and Meadow Pollack, were killed. ‘I went to the cemetery on Sunday. The first place I went to was Meadow. I just got out of the car, and I lost it. I was ugly crying. I apologized for what happened to her. I told Jaime that my daughter, Hannah, dedicates her competitive dances to her. On Rosh Hashana I asked my rabbi if it would be O.K. to say Kaddish, the memorial prayer. I didn’t want to be disrespectful to those whose immediate family member had died. He’s like, ‘Of course it’s appropriate, Sarah. They meant so much to you.’ It was just so awful, to say it for people who shouldn’t have gone so young and shouldn’t have gone that way.'” [NYTimes]
TRANSITIONS — Binyamin Appelbaum, a reporter in Washington who has covered the economy for nine years, has joined the NYTimes editorial board as its lead writer on business and economics.
Josh London has joined the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) as its Director of Government Affairs.
DESSERT — Grand Bakery now in the bagel business — by Alix Wall: “Last fall, Grand Bakery started making its own kosher bagels and holding pop-ups on occasional Sundays, when customers could come to the production facility in Oakland, California and buy a dozen bagels along with a shmear and lox. Earlier this month, the pop-ups became a regular thing, and now are being held on the first Sunday of the month… Jason Scott, who owned Authentic Bagel Company in Oakland’s Jack London Square for seven years, has come on board in a new partnership with Grand owner Sam Tobis. And he brought his bagel recipes with him. ‘It’s the new bagel brothers from different mothers. Red Sox vs. Yankees, Authentic keeps it rolling with Grand Bakery. Let the world know,’ Scott said.” [JWeekly]
BIRTHDAYS: Former president and CEO of Bear Stearns from 1985 until its demise in 2008, he is a renowned bridge player, James Cayne turns 85… Recently ranked as the 8th richest person in the US ($51.8 billion), former Chairman of Johns Hopkins University (1996-2002) and Mayor of NYC (2002-2013), Michael Bloomberg turns 77… Award-winning investigative journalist for The Washington Post and author, who together with Bob Woodward did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal, Carl Bernsteinturns 75… British businessman and founder of WPP plc, Sir Martin Stuart Sorrell turns 74… Former Borough President of Brooklyn (2002-2013) and New York State senator (1979-2001), Marty Markowitz turns 74… Chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, Stephen A. Schwarzman turns 72… Born in Lakewood, NJ, film producer and chairman and EVP of the NFL’s New York Giants, winner of a Golden Globe award, an Academy Award and two Super Bowl rings, Steven Elliot “Steve” Tisch turns 70… Host and co-executive producer of “Fresh Air” on WHYY-FM in Philadelphia since 1975, an interview program distributed throughout the United States by NPR, Terry Gross turns 68…
Sports executive and former All Star basketball player, she served as president of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) for 6 years and SVP of the PGA Tour for 17 years, Donna Geils Orender turns 62… Board member at the Los Angeles Museum of The Holocaust, Paulette Nessim turns 59… Attorney, venture capitalist and executive chairman of Townsquare Media (owner of 310 radio stations), he was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (2001-2003), Steven Price turns 57… Volleyball and beach volleyball star, she is the only Brazilian athlete in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Adriana Brandão Behar turns 50… Jewish hockey player selected in the first round of the 2002 NHL draft, he then played on four NHL teams and was also a player on the United States national team, Eric Nystrom turns 36… Financial advisor in the Boca Raton office of Morgan Stanley, Alan Feinberg Jr. turns 40… Co-founder of Run for Something, a PAC dedicated to helping progressive young people run for office, she was Hillary Clinton’s email director, Amanda Litman turns 29… Actress best known for her role as Charlotte on the CMT comedy television series Still the King, Madison Iseman turns 22…
TOP TALKER — Dems gunning for Trump fear 2020 split over Israel — by Nahal Toosi and Marc Caputo: “Democrats hoping for a united front against President Donald Trump in 2020 are trying to avoid splintering over an increasingly thorny topic: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… The 2020 Democratic presidential contenders are saying little publicly as they balance the competing interests. But in the meantime, pro-Israel Democrats are scrambling behind the scenes to shore up support, providing Holy Land trips to members of Congress and proposing policies they hope can bridge a growing party divide.”
“A big Democratic concern: how to handle the issue of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem? … One campaign platform proposal being floated among Democratic consultants is to keep the embassy in Jerusalem but reestablish a diplomatic mission — possibly something beyond just a consulate general — in a part of East Jerusalem that Palestinians claim for a future capital… Democratic activists say they expect a more intense fight than usual over the Democratic Party platform.” [Politico]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — Peter Beinart discusses the Dem debate on Israel with Tommy Vietor on the Pod Save The World podcast: “In the Democratic Party what you see is a pretty significant gap between where Democratic politicians are and where Democratic grassroots activists are. There’s been a real shift in public opinion and a younger generation, including a number of Jews, who want America to take a more forthright, critical position on Israel. It’s like where the Republican Party was on trade before Donald Trump came along which was that Republican politicians were much more pro free trade than Republican voters and Donald Trump saw that opening.”
“The interesting question will be whether a candidate in 2020 in the Democratic nomination seizes that opening and distinguishes themselves from the rest of the pack by taking a much more critical position on Israel. Bernie Sanders is really the only one so far who I think seems to be moving in that direction. He’s even said things about conditioning military aid to Israel, which is not something that Barack Obama ever discussed. I suspect if he does that we will see it’s a political winner for him. That shifts the debate and shows other Democratic politicians where there is a political opportunity and the debate within the Democratic Party could change pretty significantly.” [PodSaveTheWorld]
DRIVING THE CONVO — A day after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) offered her “unequivocal” apology for invoking anti-Semitic tropes, Republicans continued to hammer Democrats over their response to the Minnesota Representative’s comments, with President Trump leading the demand for a greater response. Progressive allies of Omar joined together to push back against calls for further punishment.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted on Tuesday evening: “Ilhan Omar’s tweets were a disgrace & her apology was inadequate. Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress, much less the Foreign Affairs Committee. Those who engage in anti-Semitic tropes should not just be denounced, they should face consequences for their words.”
— “A senior Democratic aide told The Washington Post such a move was not under discussion.” [WashPost]
At the start of a cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday,President Trump called on Omar to “either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign” from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “What she said is so deep-seeded in her heart that her lame apology — that’s what it was, it was lame and she didn’t mean a word of it — was just not appropriate,” Trump said. “I think she should resign from Congress frankly, but at a minimum, she shouldn’t be on committees, certainly that committee.” [CSPAN]
HOW IT PLAYED — Trump Rejects Democrat’s Apology, but Traffics in Own Jewish Stereotypes — by Mark Landler: “Mr. Trump was the latest in a parade of Republicans and Democrats to condemn Ms. Omar. But the president himself has perpetuated stereotypes of Jews using money to buy political influence or of acting as ‘globalists,’ pulling the levers of power for their own enrichment.” [NYTimes]
— Flashback to December 3, 2015 — Trump: Jewish Donors Want Control Over Electeds: “Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, said that after having carefully reviewed the speech, the ADL does not believe ‘that it was Donald Trump’s intention to evoke anti-Semitic stereotypes.’” [JewishInsider]
RJC’s Matt Brooks tells us: “It is absolutely offensive to try and equate Donald Trump with the comments by Representative Omar. Donald Trump has never uttered anything anti-Semitic that anybody can point to, and does not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body. In fact, I encourage everybody to go look at his speech to the Farmers of America following the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, and you will see the most historic declaration and condemnation of anti-Semitism and hatred ever espoused by any United States president. It goes far beyond anything that any other president has said and is absolutely historical.”
“The Democrats — and I applaud them for putting forth a statement condemning Omar’s comments — continue to reward bad behavior by letting her continue to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She’s proven that she doesn’t have the depth, the knowledge, the bandwidth, or the fundamental understanding of the complexities of the region. If she believes that the only reason we support Israel is because of rich Jewish donors, then she just doesn’t understand and is ill-equipped to serve on that committee.”
JDCA’s Halie Soifer: “We welcomed Rep. Omar’s apology but wished she had ended the apology with ‘unequivocally apologize’ because subsequent paragraphs made it appear somewhat equivocal by likening AIPAC to other organizations, such as the NRA. We were disappointed with that part of the apology. But we welcomed her apology. And in it, she indicated a willingness to learn and we think that’s very important.”
“We’ve never seen an apology from President Trump for the many anti-Semitic tropes and dog whistles and other things he has done and said that have been deeply offensive to the Jewish community. Almost daily, he offends minorities in this country and he’s never once apologized for his work. So, of course, he’s not just the wrong messenger, he’s very hypocritical.”
Mark Mellman, President of the newly-created Democratic Majority for Israel, emails: “Many people have standing to have called out Congresswoman Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks. President Trump is not one of them. He would do better atoning for his own racist and sexist remarks.”
Abe Foxman: “We should welcome the President’s strong condemnation of anti-Semitism, but the president who had never apologized is not a mayven (expert) on the sincerity of an apology.” Read more here [JewishInsider]
MN Jewish leaders talked with Ilhan Omar about anti-Semitism last year. Why they remain frustrated — by Dave Orrick: “Last year, State Sen. Ron Latz… invited Omar to his house, where a number of Jewish leaders had gathered… He declined to attempt to recall exact statements made by him, or others, including Omar… But here’s his summary: ‘Over the course of about two hours, we shared with her our concerns for things, including language that has references and meanings beyond just the meanings of words. Tropes, dog whistles… Most of us came out of that conversation very troubled by the answers we received. I was not convinced she was going to give a balanced approach to policy in the Middle East, and I was not convinced … where her heart is on these things.'” [TwinCities] • Was Congresswoman Omar listed to speak with anti-Semite Abdallah in error? [JPost]
HEARD ON CABLE — CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers on CNN Newsroom: “The reason that I’m disappointed in Omar’s comments, more so than the anti-Semitism and the racism that we are enveloped in, in this country right now, is that it made the conversation about Israel, that’s a very nuanced conversation, more difficult to have. There are many of us who are friends of AIPAC, who are friends of Israel, but have very critical opinions on Bibi Netanyahu. I mean those criticisms are okay. Those criticisms are valid… But when you start to go down this path of anti-Semitic rhetoric, it doesn’t do anybody any good.” [Video]
AIPAC fundraises on Rep. Omar’s remarks — In an email with the subject line titled — “We will not be deterred” — AIPAC notes: “We are proud as Americans to participate in our democratic process to effect change, and we are determined to exercise that right to help keep Israel safe. We are proud that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle continue to stand together to condemn illegitimate attacks on the pro-Israel community. And we are determined to continue our bipartisan efforts in support of the shared values that unite America and Israel.”
ON THE HILL — Two Jewish members of the Democratic caucus — Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Elaine Luria of Virginia (D-VA) — have gathered 25 signatures from their colleagues in the Democratic caucus on a letter asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to confront “recent rhetoric from certain members within our caucus” by “reiterating our rejection of anti-Semitism and our continued support for the State of Israel.” Read the full letter here [JewishInsider]
2020 WATCH — Beto O’Rourke Was Once Adrift in New York City. Now He’s Searching Again — by Matt Flegenheimer: “In a neighborhood of Hasidic Jews, Mexican-Americans and residents from the Marcy Houses blocks away, Mr. O’Rourke developed a reputation as the socially dexterous Texan who could talk to anyone. ‘If you needed somebody to talk to somebody, you asked Beto,’ a neighbor, Yuval Adler, recalled.” [NYTimes]
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz discussed Trump’s Syria withdrawal during a CNN town hall with Poppy Harlow in Houston, Texas: “I disagree completely with how President Trump acted in unilaterally deciding that we were going to pull out of Syria for a whole host of reasons. The first is, he did not inform any of our allies. The second is, the president of the United States has a moral responsibility to listen to the intelligence community and his military advisers. He did not do that… The country cannot function by these kinds of hyperbolic decisions. We need a thoughtful, disciplined strategy in all the things we’re doing, and it goes back to thoughtful, servant leadership and recognizing the role and responsibility of the commander-in-chief.”
HEARD LAST NIGHT — Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley after receiving the 2019 Friend of Israel Humanitarian Award at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation Main Event at the Hilton Miami Downtown: “If you support BDS, you support hate.” [Pic]
— Haley says standing up for Israel was ‘right thing to do’ — by Carli Teproff: “Haley, a fervent supporter of Israel, said supporting the Jewish state was ‘one of the easiest things I did in the UN.’ … Haley said of the award: ‘It is an honor and pleasure to accept this award. I can promise you I’m too young to stop fighting.’ She added jokingly, ‘That did not mean I am running for president.'” [MiamiHerald]
Christie plays Manhattan — by Jonathan Swan: “Chris Christie told Trump stories for nearly an hour last night at the Manhattan home of hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen… The former New Jersey governor said ‘the thing I’m proudest about’ — now that his book, ‘Let Me Finish,’ has been out for two weeks — is that nobody he wrote about, some of whom still work in the White House, had dared to deny what he’d written. ‘They know I know even more,’ Christie said. Christie pointed at Gary Cohn, Trump’s former economic adviser, as he said this. Cohn nodded knowingly.” [Axios] • Christie Handicaps the Field of Democratic Presidential Hopefuls [Bloomberg]
DRIVING THE DAY — Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are headlining a conference on peace and security in the Middle East, with the participation of 60 nations, including 30 foreign ministers, in Warsaw, Poland. Pence, Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver remarks at the main session on Thursday.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will also discuss details of Trump’s peace plan at the two-day conference. Western officials say the parts expected to be unveiled mostly focus on economic aid — and European nations have not been privy to Kushner’s plan.
Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt insisted in a Twitter exchange with Martin Indyk on Tuesday that the Palestinians were invited to the conference but declined. “Unfortunately it serves some people’s interests to spread false info to media, experts and those interested in the conflict,” he added.
— Greenblatt will also discuss the peace plan in an off the record conversation moderated by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at the Klubokawiarnia Babel on Thursday evening.
Greenblatt tweeted this morning: “About to daven (pray) with my tefillin on Air Force Two en route to Warsaw. Very special. God bless the USA.”
Aaron David Miller emails: “To borrow a Seinfeld trope, the Warsaw conference may well turn out to be a show about nothing. Having organized my fair share of Middle East conferences — most of which failed, I’m something of an expert on the subject. But when you send Secretary of State and Vice President, you invest a lot. And what will the return be? I’m watching two things: will Bibi meet publicly with the Saudis, and will Jared Kushner say anything new in his peace process speech?”
REPORT — Israel rejected 2014 Saudi proposal on Palestinian peace talks — by Barak Ravid: “In early September 2014, Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Saudi national security adviser, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan… Bandar told Netanyahu at the meeting that Saudi Arabia wanted to re-launch the peace process… Netanyahu was enthusiastic, and after 10 hours of talks he and Prince Bandar agreed to start preparing for a summit at the UN. In the next few weeks, meetings were held between Netanyahu’s advisers and Bandar’s aides to draft a joint document… While the Saudis agreed to many of the points, they asked Israel to show flexibility. Netanyahu refused to go further and the talks collapsed.” [Axios]
SCENE IN JERUSALEM — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweets: “Was a joy and a thrill to perform tonight with Governor Mike Huckabee and his band from the Holy City of Jerusalem. No worries, I am keeping my day job!” [Pic; Video]
KAFE KNESSET — Bibi and Gantz Go to (Viral) War — by Neri Zilber: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger in the polls, retired IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, have gone to war over the last two days via social media. Netanyahu’s Likud and Gantz’s Hosen Le’Israel issued a number of short video clips in quick succession blasting the other as soft on terror and relitigating the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Subscribe to read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[KafeKnesset]
TRANSITION — House Judiciary ramps up oversight of Trump administration with two new hires — by Rebecca Kaplan: “The House Judiciary Committee announced Tuesday it has retained… ethics expert Norm Eisen and trial attorney Barry Berke of Kramer Levin… [to] help develop an oversight agenda — filled with document requests and hearings… A committee aide told CBS News that Eisen and Berke are not being brought in to help launch impeachment proceedings against the president. But the aide did not dispute that whatever their work uncovers could eventually be used as evidence against the president if Congress does move to impeach him… Eisen will resign as chairman of the board of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington… He will continue part-time work as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.” [CBSNews]
LONG READ — The new Washington, D.C., is awash in foreign money and shady lobbyists — and Elliott Broidy fits right in — by Andy Kroll: “This story is based on more than 40 interviews, hundreds of pages of legal records as well as private emails and other documents of Broidy’s, which reveal his efforts to shape the Trump administration’s Middle East policy and score foreign contracts for his company. Before publication of this story, a lawyer for Broidy sent a letter to Rolling Stone alleging that “paid agents” of Qatar stole the emails from Broidy as retribution for the “exercise of his First Amendment rights to highlight Qatar’s support for global terrorist organizations.” The lawyer contended that some of the documents were doctored or forged by the alleged hackers. Taken together with Rolling Stone’s reporting, the documents give a rare inside view of how the Trump-era swamp works — and Broidy’s place in it.” [RollingStone]
** 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: Michael Lynton Joins Warner Music Board [Variety] • Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry fined for tampering[ESPN] • Lululemon exit makes Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities vulnerable on Fifth Avenue—again [CrainsNewYork] • Bobby Kotick’s Activision Blizzard cuts nearly 800 jobs amid ‘record results in 2018’ [TheVerge] • Axonius raises $13 million to help businesses track and secure their connected devices [VentureBeat] • Qatar Shocked, Shocked to Learn It Accidentally Bailed Out Jared Kushner [VanityFair]
HEARD AT MILKEN — Trump backer Tom Barrack defends Saudi Arabia — by Ed Clowes: “Speaking on stage at the Milken Institute MENA Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Barrack was asked by CNN’s Becky Anderson about the reputational damage to Saudi Arabia over the Jamal Khashoggi killing… Barrack said that ‘whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal, or worse.’ … He later added that the West had always been confused about the Middle East. ‘The corrupt hand of the West has been the primary instigator in the kingdom, and in the resource curse across the region forever.'” [GulfNews]
Iran is turning its ‘people into paupers’ instead of providing food, Saudi prince says — by Natasha Turak: “Iran is funding militias throughout the Middle East while turning its own people into paupers, Saudi Arabian Prince Turki Al-Faisal told CNBC Tuesday. ‘I’ve described Iran in the past, and I think the description still fits, the leadership in Iran has developed into a paper tiger with steel claws. The ‘steel claws’ are the militias that they have established throughout the Middle East… whose main purpose is to further Iran’s influence and its domination of the areas in the Middle East,’ he said.” [CNBC]
TALK OF OUR NATION — JCPA Makes Expansion Push Amid Increasingly Treacherous Politics — by Shira Hanau: “As the Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA) marks its 75th anniversary this year, it unveiled a strategic plan to expand its relationship-building efforts across the country by increasing the number of JCRC professionals working on the local and national level. But the excitement around increasing personnel and budgets was tempered by the challenges facing JCRCs in building broad coalitions in the face of increasing polarization… ‘We talk a lot about building consensus — I’m not sure that’s doable anymore,’ said David Bernstein, president and CEO of JCPA, at a panel of past JCPA leaders… The central aim of the strategic plan announced at the conference [this week] — strengthening community relations across the country — is an attempt to answer these challenges.” [JewishWeek]
ACROSS THE SEA — Sharp Rise in Anti-Semitic Acts in France Stokes Old Fears — by Elian Peltier: “A spate of reports in recent days illustrates what the government officially confirmed on Tuesday: Anti-Semitic incidents have risen sharply in France. Such episodes jumped by 74 percent in 2018, to 541, up from 311 in 2017, the interior ministry reported. ‘Anti-Semitism is spreading like a poison, like a bile,’ the interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said on Monday as he visited the site of the felled tree.” [NYTimes]
George Soros: The EU is heading toward a Soviet-style collapse — by Zachary Basu: “Billionaire philanthropist George Soros penned an op-ed in The Guardian Tuesday in which he argued that anti-EU forces in the U.K., Germany, Italy and elsewhere are driving the European bloc toward the same fate suffered by the Soviet Union in 1991. ‘Most of us assume the future will more or less resemble the present, but this is not necessarily so. In a long and eventful life, I have witnessed many periods of what I call radical disequilibrium. We are living in such a period today.'” [Axios]
Somerville College looks into kosher meat ban: “An Oxford University college is considering a request from students to ban certain kinds of halal and kosher meat from its dining hall. Somerville College’s Junior Common Room (JCR) passed a motion that any animals on the menu should be stunned before being killed. The college said it would still expand its halal and kosher offering. It is looking into the request by the JCR… but the vote by the students is not binding… Nicole Jacobus, president of the university’s Jewish Society, said: ‘The very fact that this amendment was passed in a JCR meeting without a Jewish student being able to challenge it highlights the lack of diversity and awareness of other cultures amongst students in Oxford.’” [BBC]
‘The Empire and the Five Kings’ Review: The Desert Grows — by Martin Peretz: “The old world, which Bernard-Henri Lévy has written about for more than four decades, is one of ethnic groups struggling for self-determination in Europe, Asia and the Arab world. The realized nations among them, such as Poland and Kosovo, are ‘rational’ states created by thick, recognizable communities—interlocking, uncategorizable mixes of ethnic, cultural, genetic and vernacular inheritance. They’re mostly new nations; most of their inhabitants share an inherited identity; almost all of them knew oppression firsthand, and, for many, threats still loom—for example, Ukraine is threatened by Russia.” [WSJ]
TAPPER AND SON — Jake Tapper Interviews His Kids About How He’s Doing as a Dad —“Jake: What could I be better at as a dad? Son: Not yelling. Jake: You really think I yell a lot? Son: Your voice is too loud. Mom: That’s just his voice. But he needs to learn to make it softer. Son: I don’t like your angry eyebrow.” [MensHealth]
ENTERTAINMENT — Hit Israeli Comedy Series ‘Checkout!’ Ordered For Second Season — by Elsa Keslassy: “Israel’s public broadcaster, KAN, has ordered a second season of the hit half-hour comedy series “Checkout!” (“Cash Register”). Produced by July August Prods., a Red Arrow Studios company, “Checkout!” is a behind-the-scenes look at the clash of cultures and characters in a supermarket located in a Central District of Israel. Each episode follows the daily lives of the store’s crazy staff and eccentric customers. The first season the show was critically acclaimed and pulled strong ratings in Israel with more than 30% above the average on Channel 10, the show’s original home.”[Variety]
DESSERT — This Italian Chef is Bringing Kosher Wood-Fired Pizza to NYC — by Shannon Sarna: “Abaita, which opened in May of 2018, is the brainchild of Chef Egidio ‘David’ Donagrandi, [his Brazilian-Jewish wife] Hannah, and Chef Sruli Subar (who is Jewish). Abaita, Hebrew for ‘at home,’ is a fitting name for a restaurant that focuses on simple cooking prepared at the very highest level. The name also works on two levels: In the Italian dialect of Chef Donagrandi’s childhood, ‘baita’ means ‘little house or little mountain hut,’ and so the dual meaning is doubly significant.” [MyJewishLearning]
Things I Never Knew About Skiing Until I Was a Private Instructor in Aspen — by Brandon Presser: “Noncash payouts can also be a delightful byproduct of long-term relationships. A Saudi prince once gifted an instructor a Jeep. Other clients have shown their gratitude with heli-skiing vacations in the Southern Hemisphere, trips to the Super Bowl, and invitations to weddings and bar mitzvahs. One instructor is even the godfather to his client’s children.”[Bloomberg]
REMEMBERING — Edward F. Zigler, an Architect of Head Start, Dies at 88 — by Sam Roberts: “Edward F. Zigler, a psychologist who in the mid-1960s helped design Head Start, the vanguard federal government program for preschool children, died on Thursday at his home in North Haven, Conn… President Richard M. Nixon nominated Dr. Zigler to be chief of the children’s bureau of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services) in early 1970. Within months the bureau became the Office of Child Development and he became its first permanent director… Edward Frank Zigler was born in Kansas City on March 1, 1930. His parents, Frank and Gertrude (Gleitman) Zigler, were Jewish immigrants from Poland who sold fruit from a horse-drawn wagon.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Talmudic scholar, also emeritus professor of economics at New York University, closely identified with the Austrian school of economic thought, Rabbi Yisroel Mayer Kirzner turns 89… Television, film and stage actor, popular in the 1960s and 1970s for playing both dramatic and comedic roles such as Ship of Fools (1965), and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), George Segal turns 85… Board member (and chair) of the Toronto-based Mackenzie Institute think tank, he is a former North York and Toronto City Councillor, Norman “Norm” Gardner turns 81… Professor at American Jewish University in Los Angeles and scholar of biblical literature and Semitic languages, Ziony Zevit turns 77… Pamela Brown turns 76… Host of the tabloid talk show “The Jerry Springer Show” (1991-2018), former Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, Jerry Springer turns 75… Newsweek columnist specializing in US intelligence, military and foreign policy issues, previously national security editor for Congressional Quarterly, Jeff Stein turns 75… Former Speaker of the New York State Assembly (1994-2015), Sheldon Silverturns 75…
Senior US Senator from Connecticut, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2016, previously Attorney General of Connecticut (1991 to 2011), Richard Blumenthal turns 73… Professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto, author of “‘I Did Not Know You Were Jewish’ and Other Things Not to Say,”Ivan Kalmar turns 71… Arlene Milrad turns 70… Former front office consultant for the Atlanta Falcons (2014-2015), CEO of the Cleveland Browns (2012-2013) and president of the Philadelphia Eagles (2001–12), Joe Banner turns 66… Radio broadcaster for the New York Mets, he also called games for the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, Howard “Howie” Roseturns 65… Ukrainian billionaire, previously president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, Ihor Kolomoyskyi turns 56… Casting director, Amy Sobo turns 56… President and CEO of the congressionally chartered National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, professor at GWU Law School and a contributing editor of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Rosen turns 55… Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of Zynga, maker of online social games, Mark Pincus turns 53…
Retired Israeli soccer player, he made 89 international appearances for Israel and won eight league championships, more than any other Israeli player, Alon Harazi turns 48… SVP at Wells Fargo Advisors, he is an Executive Committee and Board member of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Bryan M. Drowos turns 40… Publisher of Southern California’s Jewish Link Magazine, Dov Blauner turns 40… Corporate crisis correspondent at Reuters since 2018, following 12 years as a Wall Street Journal reporter, Mike Spectorturns 38… Director of communications at Columbia World Projects for Columbia University, she was previously communications director for US Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Samantha Slater turns 36… Jonathan Neuman turns 35… Dallas native and graduate of SMU, she is a government and public affairs associate at Dallas-based ECA Strategies, Alejandra Aguirre turns 28… Former senior speechwriter for Treasury Secretaries Geithner and Lew (2010-2017) and speechwriter for Senator Frank Lautenberg (2008-2010), Mark Cohen…
Subscribe to Kafe Knesset, a sister publication to JI’s Daily Kickoff focused on Israeli politics. Delivered Sunday through Thursday and curated by Israel-based journalist Neri Zilber, this daily briefing provides a quick, yet comprehensive and engaging briefing on everything driving the conversation in Israel, from the cafes in Tel Aviv to the Knesset in Jerusalem and the taxi cabs in between. [KafeKnesset]
DRIVING THE CONVO — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with senior members of the Democratic Party, issued a strong rebuke of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent anti-Semitic comments. “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” a joint statement of the House leadership said. “We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”
Schumer told JI: “Rep. Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible. This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress — or anywhere in American society. No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements.”
Omar issued an ‘unequivocal’ apology shortly after, but “at the same time” doubled down on her criticism of AIPAC. “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar wrote on Twitter. “At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”
So far, at least 45 House Democrats have condemned Omar’s anti-Semitic comments. But the Democratic leadership resisted calls to remove the Minnesota Congresswoman from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Instead, some Democrats drew attention to House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s past comments against George Soros, Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), in an exclusive, tells JI: “I found the tweets to be deeply troubling and I’m glad she apologized. Anti-Semitism has no place in our country or our political discourse. I look forward to opening a dialogue with her to discuss these issues in greater detail.”
Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), who was the first House member to condemn Omar on Sunday, told reporters on Capitol Hill: “She’s a friend. I take her at her word. We share great values. She wants to see a great country, and I look forward to working with her. I do want to point out that when Kevin McCarthy said that it was Bloomberg, and then it was Soros, and it was Steyer pulling the strings behind the scenes—none of you camped out. And their caucus stayed united and had his back, and none of you called him out on that. I just want you all to acknowledge that there’s some hypocrisy going on there, too. That caucus can’t be chickenshit in the face of anti-Semitism either.”[Video]
— Omar tweeted on Monday: “Hey Max Rose thank you for stopping by the office today! I appreciated your call to do better as a friend and ally and appreciate your courage in calling out the double standard in Congress.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) noted in a statement, “I am watching with great concern the actions of the President and Leader McCarthy – who have both trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes themselves – regarding their attempt to purposely make Israel a partisan issue and use Israel as a partisan weapon.”
Amb. Dan Shapiro tells us: “Good on the Democratic leadership. They responded quickly and firmly in calling for Rep. Omar to apologize. Apologies are good. Better still is when they indicate real learning and a changed approach going forward. Here’s hoping that is what we’ll be seeing in the near future.”
President Trump also chimed in, telling reporters aboard Air Force One, “I think she should be ashamed of herself. I think it was a terrible statement and I don’t think her apology was adequate.”
The Atlantic’s Emma Green writes… “Ilhan Omar Just Made It Harder to Have a Nuanced Debate About Israel: That Omar has become the face of anti-Israel sentiment on the American left in a short space of time is most frustrating of all for activists and advocacy groups who wish for more nuanced conversations and policies on Israel and Palestine. Especially on the left, there is a hunger for this kind of conversation: According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, less than a third of self-identified Democrats say they’re more sympathetic to Israel than to Palestinians, and yet the vast majority of Democratic politicians in Washington are staunchly pro-Israel.” [TheAtlantic]
Yair Rosenberg: “Unlike most people who have voiced anti-Semitic tropes, Omar has actually expressed genuine self-awareness about doing so, and a desire to unlearn these toxic ideas… She deserves all the denunciation today, yes, but tomorrow, she deserves a chance to move beyond it.”
Wall Street Journal editorial… “The Education of Ilhan Omar: Democrats risk losing moderates as well as part of their base if these sentiments begin to define their party’s view of Israel in the public mind. They’re wise to send a rebuke now.” [WSJ]
Superstar freshman Dems replace Pelosi as GOP targets — by John Bresnahan, Laura Barron-Lopez and Heather Caygle: “While the NRCC still regularly bashes Pelosi, GOP lawmakers and aides privately acknowledge that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar are their main focus now. The GOP strategy risks a backlash — a party that has problems with women and minorities continues to focus its attacks on women of color — even as the freshman Democrats say they’re not surprised by it.” [Politico]
Rep. Rashida Tlaib wrote a column for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s blog in 2006 — by Joe Perticone: “Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan published a column in 2006 on The Final Call, an online publication founded and maintained by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.” [BusinessInsider]
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean tweeted on Monday: “Netanyahu has made enemies of the Democratic Party and AIPAC has become an arm of the GOP. The sooner Israelis get rid of their corrupt PM and make peace with the Palestinians, the sooner the strain between our countries will dissipate.”
— Of note: Howard Dean tweeted in 2016 that he was “excited” to be a speaker at AIPAC’s Northeast Gala.
ON THE GOLAN — Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY) joined their fellow Democrats in supporting U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The two New York Democrats told Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh on Sunday that they would follow Rep. Eliot Engel’s lead in supporting the move.
Suozzi: “I am going to follow Eliot Engel’s lead. Whatever he says, I do.”
Meeks: “I will look at it. I have been to the Golan Heights. I know the significance of it. Eliot hasn’t mentioned it to me, but it’s something I would definitely consider, knowing the strategic spot of the Golan Heights and how it helps Israel with security. So I will talk to Eliot Engel about it, and, generally, where Eliot is, I am.”
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) declined to take a position when asked about it, but asserted, “I do understand how critical that region is to the security of Israel, and I am very worried about the turmoil in Syria and what it could mean for the security of Israel’s northern border. So you can absolutely count on me to a be a fierce defender of Israel security, including on the northern border, where so many of the threats originate from.”
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich writes… “For the ACLU, Antipathy to Israel Trumps Antidiscrimination: The ACLU is providing political cover to Democrats who oppose the laws by claiming they raise constitutional problems. It has brought lawsuits in three states, arguing that the First Amendment protects firms’ right to boycott certain clients… Yet state anti-BDS laws do not infringe on speech. They don’t regulate speech at all. That’s exactly what the ACLU has said when states passed similar anti-boycott laws that weren’t about Israel.” [WSJ]
ON THE HILL — GOP livid with Trump over ignored Khashoggi report — by Andrew Desiderio and Burgess Everett: “Senate Republicans are fuming at President Donald Trump for telling lawmakers he would disregard a law requiring a report to Congress determining who is responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The uproar among Republicans is just the latest example of their deep discontent with the president’s foreign policy. It could prompt even more defections in favor of a Democrat-led resolution coming before the House and Senate this month to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war.” [Politico]
SCENE YESTERDAY — Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) posted a photo of himself addressing an event honoring the Bukharian Jewish community on the Capitol. “I’ll always support our Jewish communities and our strong ally Israel,” he wrote. [Pic]
— Flashback: GOP lawmaker condemned for inviting Holocaust denier to State of the Union [TheGuardian]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — On the Words Matter podcast, Elise Jordan, a former policy advisor to Rand Paul in 2016, asked strategist Steve Schmidt who is advising Howard Schultz about the potential 2020 candidate’s foreign policy views.
Schmidt: “Earlier this year he gave a speech at the Atlantic Council and by any objective measurement he would fall within the tradition that endured from President Trump through President Obama.”
Jordan: Would you say he’s a realist in the tradition of, say, James Baker or does he tend to be for democracy promotion? He said he would support leaving troops in Syria the other day.
Schmidt: “He did say that and thought that Trump’s decision announcing the decision precipitously was a mistake. I think if you go back to his speech at the Atlantic Council, what he talked about was the importance of alliances, the connection within that alliance of free peoples, the idea that America is the indispensable nation in the world that if the U.S. steps back that vacuum will be filled with actors that are not benevolent, not benign, so I think he stayed in that speech well within the boundaries of what we would recognize as a foreign policy that James Baker would be deeply comfortable with.” [WordsMatter]
— Flashback to April 24, 2015 — Jeb Bush distances himself from James Baker: “After Baker’s J Street speech, Bush came under pressure from prominent conservatives — including Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson — who wanted Bush to strongly speak out against Baker’s comments.” [CNN]
DRIVING THE DAY — Netanyahu to Join Arab Leaders at Middle East Conference in Poland — by Noa Landau: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Poland Tuesday night to attend a conference on the Middle East co-hosted by Poland and the U.S. State Department… According to the Polish Foreign Ministry, some 60 countries have confirmed their attendance, including several from the Middle East. Aside from Israel, the Mideast participants include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Tunisia.” [Haaretz]
Palestinians ask Arabs to boycott Mideast summit in Poland — by Mohammed Daraghmeh: “The Palestinians on Monday called on Arab nations to boycott or downgrade their representation at [the] Mideast summit… as President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Saudi Arabia… to meet King Salman to discuss ‘the current political situation and the dangers facing the Palestinian cause, especially Jerusalem.’ A senior Palestinian official said the visit had come at the invitation of the Saudi king, and talks were expected to focus on a peace plan the U.S. says it is working on.” [AP]
Pence to visit Auschwitz death camp during Europe trip — by Anne Gearan: “Vice President Pence will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp site on Friday, and tour a memorial to Jews killed at the former Nazi extermination camp in Poland… Pence will tour the site with Polish President Andrzej Duda… It will be Pence’s first visit to the infamous prison camp… Pence will be in Poland this week for a joint U.S.-Poland conference on Middle East peace and security… Pence is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when both are in Warsaw earlier in the week.”[WashPost]
TALK OF THE REGION — Chinese Investment in Israel Raises Security Fears — by Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber: “Israel is moving to create an interagency government body to oversee sensitive commercial deals involving foreign companies… The effort… has taken on added urgency amid recent complaints about Chinese investment from American and Israeli security officials, including national security adviser John Bolton and Israel’s domestic spy chief.” [WSJ]
REPORT — The secret drone deal that created an Israel-UAE rift — by Barak Ravid: “A secret deal for the sale of drones from an Israeli company to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that failed in 2009 caused a deep rift in relations between Israel and the Gulf state. Former U.S. and Israeli officials tell me the crisis was only resolved after two years of efforts by the Obama administration and Israel’s Mossad intelligence service… When the deal was cancelled the UAE government, especially its de facto ruler Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), was furious. Dan Shapiro, who was the Middle East director at the National Security Council at the time, told me MBZ felt betrayed by the Israelis.” [Axios]
Venezuela’s Guaido says he is working to restore ties with Israel: “Venezuela’s self-declared leader Juan Guaido he was working to restore ties with Israel that Caracas cut off a decade ago… ‘I am very happy to report that the process of stabilizing relations with Israel is at its height,’ Guaido told the mass-circulation Israel Hayom daily in an interview. A formal announcement on reestablishing ties and opening a new Venezuelan embassy in Israel would come ‘at the proper time.'” [Reuters]
KAFE KNESSET — Labor Parties Like It’s 2011 and Looks to Future — by Neri Zilber: For one day at least the Labor party, plummeting in the polls, took a step towards revitalization and the future. Over 30,000 party members — a respectable 56 percent turnout — voted in yesterday’s primaries, returning a younger, more diverse and cohesive slate for the upcoming general election. The top spots were taken by MKs Itzik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir, both under 40 and leaders of the 2011 social justice protest movement.
No Generals Left? — Retired IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi has apparently decided against entering politics, according to a Channel 12 report last night. Ashkenazi had been linked to Gantz’s party, for whom he may yet issue a public statement of support. The big loser may be Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party. At the start of the election campaign sources close to Lapid told Kafe Knesset they were confident that “at least one” senior general would be brought in to the list. With Gantz forming his own party and adding another retired chief of staff in Moshe Yaalon, Ashkenazi may have been the last realistic option for Lapid (a talented politician but decidedly not a general) to shore up his security bona fides. Subscribe to read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [KafeKnesset]
2020 WATCH — Democrats cast deep doubt on Biden’s 2020 value… As he weighs whether to jump into the race, Biden has been conspicuously absentfrom early voting states… Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton is thinking about running for president… New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is heading to New Hampshire this week as he contemplates a run for president… Rob Godfrey, Nikki Haley’s former deputy chief of staff and chief spokesperson, dismissed the speculation raised by Bill Kristol on Sunday that the former UN Ambassador could primary Trump in 2020…
HAPPENING TODAY — Nikki Haley will headline a Miami event. Her fee may be $200,000 — by Martin Vassolo: “Nikki Haley will headline the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Main Event at the Hilton Miami Downtown at 6 pm. But other than those basic facts, details about her appearance have remained shielded from the public. And the organization intends to keep it that way.” [MiamiHerald]
** Good Tuesday 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: GV Hires David Schenkein for Life Sciences Investments [Bloomberg] • Irving Azoff Adds to Budding Restaurant Empire With West L.A.’s Apple Pan [HollywoodReporter] • Pernod Gets the Gentle Treatment From Elliott Management [Bloomberg] • Former Amazon Executive Jon Fine Emerges as Foe of Jeff Bezos [WSJ] • Kosher hotel proposed near Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood [Bizjournals] • Larry Silverstein May Start Building Final WTC Tower Without Signed Tenant [Bloomberg] • Tikkun Olam Makers and Knock Knock Give a Sock featured among winners of Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Grant Competition [BxcfIdeas]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Robert Bowers, Suspect In Synagogue Shooting, Enters Not Guilty Plea During Arraignment On Hate Crimes Charges: “Robert Bowers, accused of killing 11 people and wounding seven during the attack on Squirrel Hill’s Tree of Life Synagogue in October, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Monday morning… In a statement, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady implied there would be no deal to avoid execution… In the coming weeks, Clarke will try to find reasons that Bowers should not die at the hands of the state… Two members from the Dor Hadash congregation, which is part of the Tree of Life Synagogue, were present at the hearing. They said they wanted to stand strong and represent the congregation.”[CBSPittsburgh]
ACROSS THE SEA — Tree commemorating murdered French Jew is chopped down amid anti-Semitic spate — by Clare Byrne: “A tree planted in a Paris suburb in memory of a young Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006 has been chopped down… Ilan Halimi was kidnapped by a gang that demanded huge sums of money from his family, believing them to be rich because he was Jewish. After being tortured for three weeks, the 23-year-old cellphone salesman was found dumped next to a railway in the southern suburb of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois.” [ToI]
DESSERT — Inside Brooklyn’s New, Supersized Russ & Daughters — by Christopher Bonanos: “The first thing you see when you enter the Navy Yard’s Building 77 is the spacious, spotless, white-tile-and-stainless-steel storefront of the new Russ & Daughters. It’s has been doing partial business most weekdays since December, and the full-time, seven-days-a-week official opening is today. The apricot rugelach hit the counter warm from the oven, and the chopped liver is fresh and isn’t overloaded with onion.” [GrubStreet]
Can Israeli Wine Succeed Beyond The Kosher Aisle? — by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen: “Over dinner at a bustling Flatiron Greek restaurant, Kyma, where Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve will be added to the list in the near future, we tasted the newly-released 2017 vintage of several Recanati wines and discussed the winery’s recipe for success. Recanati Winery’s total production is 100,000 cases (1,200,000 bottles) per year. Of that, 13,000 cases (156,000 bottles) are shipped to the United States, with 70 percent sold to non-kosher accounts. The majority of Recanati wine, about 75 percent, is sold domestically within Israel.” [Forbes]
The Trials of Creating Vegan, Kosher, Halal, Meat-Free Gelatin — by Sujata Gupta: “Newly converted gummy teetotalers joined strict vegetarians, vegans, and millions of kosher and halal eaters in the still-untapped consumer market for foods made with gelatin that doesn’t come from the slaughterhouse…” [Eater]
REMEMBERING — Ron Wilner, radio personality and political strategist, dies — by Christina Tkacik: “A few Baltimoreans will remember Ron Wilner’s voice. Those who don’t will still recognize his words. During the span of his career, Mr. Wilner hosted an AM radio show, helped coin the slogan ‘wild, wonderful West Virginia,’ named the ‘MARC’ train, and wrote zingers for politicians in Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere. ‘My memories of him are of an individual who had real talent,’ said former Baltimore Sun reporter Edgar Feingold, a longtime friend.” [BaltimoreSun]
Nancy B. Reich, Scholarly Champion of Clara Schumann, Dies at 94 — by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim: “Nancy B. Reich, whose seminal 1985 biography of Clara Schumann established her as an important musical figure independent of her husband, the composer Robert Schumann, and helped turn the musicological spotlight on female composers, died on Jan. 31 in Ossining, N.Y… Nancy Bassen was born on July 3, 1924, in the Bronx to Hyman Bassen, a writer and labor activist, and Ida (Orland) Bassen… Ida ran a boardinghouse for Jewish and black students who were not welcome in college dorms.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Prime Minister of Israel (1999-2001), Deputy Prime Minister (2009-2013), Defense Minister (2007-2013), highly decorated IDF soldier and general, Ehud Barak turns 77… Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks and the President of Disney-ABC Television Group, former President of ABC News, Ben Sherwood turns 55… Commercial director in the Inglewood and Beverly Hills offices of Keller Williams Realty, he is also a principal at Westside Realty Advisors, Gary Aminoff turns 82… Best-selling author, known for children’s and young adult fiction, Judy Sussman Blume turns 81… Author, former member of the Knesset (1992-2003) and then chair of the Tel Aviv City Council (2008-2013), daughter of Moshe Dayan, Yael Dayan turns 80… Periodontist in Newark, Delaware, Barry S. Kayne, DDS turns 75… Economist, physicist, legal scholar and libertarian theorist, his father was Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, David D. Friedman turns 74… Google’s computer genius, author, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil turns 71… Esther Dickman… Film director, Darren Aronofsky turns 50… Comic book author and illustrator, Judd Winick turns 49…
Comedian, actor, podcaster, writer and producer, Ari Shaffir turns 45… Deputy director for external affairs and communications at the Troy, Michigan-based Kresge Foundation, Christine M. Jacobs turns 40… Former MLB player, he is now the program director and owner of London, Ontario-based Centrefield Sports, Adam Stern turns 39… NYC-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal who covers management trends and chief executives, Rachel Feintzeig turns 34… Law clerk for Justice Sonia Sotomayor (2018-2019), he previously clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore at the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Michael Zuckerman turns 32… NYC-based political reporter for BuzzFeed News, Megan Apper turns 28… Associate in the DC office of Kirkland & Ellis focused on international trade and national security issues, Jeremy Iloulian turns 28… Media strategist at NYC-based Stu Loeser & Co., she worked previously for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in both her NYC and Washington offices, Anna Miroff turns 26…
Boom! After months of investigations, deliberations, leaks and discussions over Sara Netanyahu’s alleged criminal affairs – Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has officially announced that the PM’s wife will…
Mum’s the word: Israeli officials, as always, kept mum this morning as the country woke up to news of an air strike on a military factory in Syria….
WASHINGTON – An amendment from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that would sever U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) — an agency that exclusively assists…
WASHINGTON – As one of the more outspoken Congressmen regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) spearheaded a June letter advocating on behalf of Palestinian activist Issa…
From Hollywood to the interrogation room: The first rule of Fight Club is that there is no Fight Club. So maybe the fact that “Fight Club” producer Arnon…
The Chief of Staff Curse: The criminal rope involving Netanyahu’s present advisors, past advisors and associates is increasingly tightening in recent days. The Police have shifted into high…