Daily Kickoff — Aspen edition: Bashar Masri and Yossi Klein Halevi on one stage | Upset in Queens | Interview with Congressional candidate Max Rose
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PRIMARY RESULTS — New York incumbents — Reps. Dan Donovan (R-NY1), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY12) and Eliot Engel (D-NY16) — easily beat their primary challengers yesterday, with the exception of longtime Queens Congressman Joe Crowley, who was defeated by a 28-year-old progressive activist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This was described as the biggest primary upset since then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated by his Republican primary challenger, David Brat, in 2014.
Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer and a former staffer for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, called Israel’s response to the Gaza border protests a “massacre.” In a recent interview with The Intercept, Ocasio-Cortez said she is not concerned about paying a political price for taking this position on Israel because she views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a humanitarian lens and “I had a lot of my own constituents thanking me for taking that position.” She further explained, “I think I was primarily compelled on moral grounds because I could only imagine if 60 people were shot and killed in Ferguson, or if 60 people were shot and killed in the West Virginia teachers’ strikes. The idea that we are not supposed to talk about people dying when they are engaging in political expression just really moved me.”
Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf emails us… “The left is on the move, and mainstream Democrats, in order to be successful, must stop the denial. Traditional urban organizations are the emperors with no clothes. This trend expedites the long-running divorce proceedings between the Democratic Party and Israel.”
Howard Wolfson shared his take in his morning newsletter, Your Daily Biscuit: “Crowley was done in by low turnout, changing demographics in the district, and given the events of the last week, an electorate eager to support a Latina who promised to abolish ICE. Credit to Ocasio-Cortez for running a great race, but I will confess real sadness at seeing Crowley’s departure from the House. He is a great guy, genuine and warm, and always worked hard to deliver for NYC.”
In NY’s 1st Congressional District, businessman Perry Gershon was declared the winner of the Democratic primary to take on incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin in the fall. Gershon was endorsed by JStreet PAC. “Congrats to Park Avenue Perry on buying his way into a general election,” Zeldin’s campaign said in a statement.
In Maryland: Former NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous won the Democratic nomination for governor. Jealous’ running mate is Susan Turnbull, a former vice chair of the DNC and former chair of Jewish Women International.
Bluelight Strategies’ Steve Rabinowitz emails us… “So happy for Ben and Susie. They’ve worked so hard for this and are so deserving and Maryland Dems obviously thought so, too… The Washington Post has this wrong: only 10 points behind the popular governor in the middle of their primary with a high undecided vote was a great position and the Post has been calling it an ‘uphill’ battle.”
In Colorado: Rep. Jared Polis Polis clinched the Democratic nomination for governor. He will face off in November against Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. If elected, Polis would make history by becoming Colorado’s first Jewish governor. [ColoradoIndependent; Haaretz]
INTERVIEW — Democratic congressional hopeful Max Rose, who clinched his party’s nomination yesterday to take on Rep. Dan Donovan in the fall for New York’s 11th Congressional District, discussed his Jewish upbringing and policy positions in an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh. “Since my great-grandfather came here from the Soviet Union, we’ve been New York Jews with all of the religious commitment that comes with that, but also the cultural understandings — a commitment to family and education, a commitment to your community, and a commitment to public service, which is something that is all too often not acknowledged as a real core tenet of the Jewish faith,” Rose said in between knocking on doors in the Northerleigh Park neighborhood on Staten Island.
Rose pledges to be both a proud Democrat and a proud supporter of Israel if elected to Congress. “As a Jew and as a veteran, I will bring an understanding of what Israel’s role is in the world, as well as an understanding of the importance of the Jewish faith, to advance two things. One, to undeniably make sure that we are supporting Israel into the next generation. It is so important for a variety of reasons. People always forget the importance of Israel economically speaking and from a national security perspective. But also to advance the cause of peace because for all of the discussions about the ways in which there are significant divisions, I do come back to my core belief that humans want very similar things. They want safety and security and a bright future for their families. And I know that Jews also have a commitment to peace, they want that. And that’s what I think we need to focus our attention on.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
2018 WATCH — In Bucks County congressional race, GOP seizes on Scott Wallace’s wealth — by Andrew Seidman: “Republicans are trying to turn Bucks [County Democrat Scott] Wallace’s wealth into a political liability, seizing on donations made by his family foundation to portray Wallace as a radical liberal who sympathizes with anti-Israel groups… Wallace says the grants to groups protesting Israel were made by another board member of the Wallace Global Fund. He says he disavows the grants and is “unequivocally pro-Israel, pro-peace, and pro-democracy.” Even so, the controversy cost Wallace the endorsement of a prominent Democratic Jewish group in Pennsylvania that supports other Democrats, including Gov. Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.” [Philly]
A Pivotal Race In The Poconos — by Jonathan Mark: “Despite [Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District’s] small Jewish population, the two candidates for Congress in the redrawn district — Democrat Susan Wild and Republican Marty Nothstein — are Jewish… The Jewish Poconos… was split into three separate congressional districts… Rabbi Melman, exaggerating for emphasis, said that with redistricting “the Republican vote is now bitul b’shishim,” referring to a Talmudic equation in which a fraction is so weak as to be meaningless.” [JewishWeek]
2020 WATCH — Michael Bloomberg Considering 2020 Presidential Run: “Sources tell CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer that if [Bloomberg] runs in 2020, he would run as a Democrat. A source close to the former three-term mayor says the move is fueled in part by regret that he didn’t stay in the race in 2016, because he feels he could have either won outright or prevented Donald Trump from winning… The 76-year-old would be the oldest person to run for president, but longevity runs in the family. His mother, Charlotte, lived to be 102.” [CBSNewYork]
— At Axios AM Live with Mike Allen in Aspen, Allen shared a bit about Bloomberg’s 2020 mindset: “Bloomberg wants there to be a path, he doesn’t want it to be a crusade…” Allen explained that Bloomberg’s announcement of supporting Democrats in the midterms to the tune of $80M shows he wants to be active, wants to be talked about and isn’t going a third way. He’s back to being a Democrat. Allen added that “the trends in the country would seem indicate there’s never been a better time in our lifetimes for a third party candidate but the mechanics are really hard and costly.” [Pic]
HEARD AT THE ASPEN IDEAS FESTIVAL — Wajahat Ali, author of the recent article “A Muslim Among the Settlers,” discussed how Middle East peace affects Muslim-Jewish relations in America. Ali was interviewed by The Atlantic’s Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg. “Muslim-Jewish relations in America, whether it’s philanthropy, whether it’s education, whether it’s media, whether it’s law, the rampaging circumcised elephant in the room is the Israel-Palestine conflict,” he said. “You go to these philanthropies, Jewish communities… When you talk to them they say, ‘When we think of Muslims, we see the worst of the community, the worst angels.’ They think that represents all Muslims…”
“When you talk to some Muslims, they say, ‘Look at what this rabbi said. They hate us, they will always hate us. Everywhere there’s a Muslim ascension, you will see Jewish money trying to stamp us down.’ That’s a perception. And the worst angels of the community end up representing the diversity of the community that is not represented by the minority.”
Goldberg: I couldn’t help but notice this morning — and I am wondering if Muslim Americans noticed it — that there are 4 dissenters in the Muslim ban case, 3 of the Justices who dissented were Jewish – 75 percent are Jewish…
Ali: “Thank you, Jews.”
Goldberg: That could very well be the tweet of the day. ‘Thank you Jews, Wajahat Ali says.’
ASPEN SCENE — The Paul E. Singer Foundation hosted a sunset dinner at the home of Laura and Gary Lauder on the sidelines of the Ideas Festival. The evening’s theme was New Perspectives from a Changing Middle East. The NYTime’s Bari Weiss interviewed Yossi Klein Halevi, author of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor; Dan Senor, author of Start-Up Nation, interviewed Bashar Masri, the Palestinian entrepreneur and investor building Rawabi, the first Palestinian hi-tech city; and Michal Rovner, the award-winning Israeli artist who has exhibited at the Met, MOMA, Louvre, Whitney, Guggenheim and more, presented her version of “reality.” [Pic; Pic]
SPOTTED: Laura and Gary Lauder, Paul Singer, Terry Kassel, Judith and Leonard Lauder, Dawn Arnall, Karen Davidson, Stuart Weitzman, Steve Case, Stewart Resnick, Yossi Sagol, Campbell Brown, Joleen and Mitch Julis, Elena and Jay Lefkowitz, Kiki and Steven Esrick, Guggenheim Chair Wendy Fisher, Ellen and Gary Davis, Lisa Pritzker, Vicki and Ron Simms, Liora and Menachem Sternberg, Abigail Trenk, Carole and Gordon Segal, Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker, National Review’s Reihan Salam, Anne McNulty, Politico’s Daniel Lippman, TIP’s Josh Block, Evelyn Farkas, Betty and Gidi Grinstein, Tobey and Mark Dichter, Ambassador Stu Eizenstat, Morning Consult’s Kyle Dropp, Makan Delrahim, Phyllis and David Cook, Arlene and Keith Bronstein, Blackstone Foundation’s Amy Stursberg, Israel Museum Chair Jill and Jay Bernstein, Lindsey Spindle, KIND Foundation’s Michael Johnston, Ruth and Ira Salzman.
Masri and Klein Halevi were asked to rate the Trump administration’s efforts thus far to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Masri: “All I can is that we had a terrible 8 years during Obama’s presidency. So anything vis-à-vis the Palestinian-Israeli issue is not terrible anymore for the Palestinians. Obama’s administration was not positive to the Palestinians. He talked a lot about the Palestinians but then he became enemies with Israel and that doesn’t do us any good. So I am hoping the friendship President Trump has built with PM Netanyahu, and more importantly with the Israeli people, will benefit us.”
“Unfortunately, of course, the last couple of months things were not dealt with quite well. We already set up the Palestinians for rejection. I do fault the Palestinian leadership for that as well but I also fault the American administration for setting up the Palestinian leadership to reject the plan before it was even presented. We haven’t even heard the plan yet but I think if the plan is good, I think the leadership will be forced to accept it. It’s a cautious optimism because we have no other optimism.”
Halevi: “The change over the last 8 years to now is that this president — and I know it sounds bizarre to many of you, but this president is far more trusted in the Middle East than Obama was, both by the Arab countries and by Israel.”
Masri on Rawabi, a new city built for Palestinians in the West Bank: “Soon after I launched Rawabi project Netanyahu became the Prime Minister and Netanyahu’s ticket was economy for peace. I was criticized by many of the Palestinians that I was in cahoots with Netanyahu because my project was all about the economy. Yet until today, the things that we wanted to solve — like widening the road — that for 11 years now, this road was discussed, including twice in the White House between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Recently, Trump’s Special Envoy [Jason] Greenblatt visited Rawabi and raised it twice with Netanyahu, and there’s still no resolution until this very day. Absolutely for no good reason at all.”
Klein Halevi on Israel and Gulf ties: “We are at a moment of opportunity in the Middle East. We haven’t seen a moment like this in many years. For the first time we see the beginning of a strategic relationship between Israel and parts of the Sunni world. No one could’ve imagined, even three years ago, a strategic alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia. No one could’ve imagined that the Saudi Crown Prince when asked a question whether Saudi Arabia accepts Israel’s right to exist, would’ve answered that of course ‘for us in Saudi Arabia that’s not an issue.’ Really? Saudi Arabia? Israel’s existence isn’t an issue?”
Back at the Ideas Festival, Saudi human rights activist Hala Al-Dosari was asked if Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) is still in power five years from now: “I don’t think so. He undermines a lot of people. His legitimacy is now external more than internal. He has the support of the UAE, support of Israel and the U.S., but not the support of the people who are really looking for relief. So I don’t think this way of doing business will survive.”
— Karen Young, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington: “What I hear from Saudis is this is a year and a half of looking forward… It’s extremely delicate. Even after the arrests in the Ritz Carlton, there already was a sense of anxiety within the business community. That’s throughout society. There’s great wanting for something to work, and the UAE feels the same way. They want Saudi to succeed because it’s a great security risk if they do not but it’s a crippling moment right now.”
Israel confident U.S. to keep protections in any Saudi nuclear power deal — by Timothy Gardner: “Israel vehemently opposes any effort by Saudi Arabia to relax “gold standard” non-proliferation limits on enriching uranium or reprocessing nuclear fuel in any deal between the two countries, Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, told Reuters… Steinitz, in Washington for the World Gas Conference, met this week with people in the Trump administration about Saudi Arabia’s quest to build at least two nuclear power stations with the help of U.S. technology. He did not identify who he met with.” [Reuters]
Spotted late last night at Belly Up in Aspen: Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
ROYAL VISIT — Prince William traveled to the West Bank today to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Earlier in the day, William joined Israel’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai on a stroll down Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, where they discussed mental health and diversity. He then attended a cultural event on the rooftop of a museum where he met young people engaged in youth activism, social impact and the environment.
Yesterday, the UK prince attended a soccer match between young Jewish and Arab players and hit the beach before speaking at a reception hosted by the British Ambassador to Israel at his residence in Ramat Gan. “Israel’s remarkable story is partly one of remembering this terrible past but, also, looking forward to a much more hopeful future. There is – and I’ve seen it already – an essential vibrancy to this country,” Prince William said. He beganhis address in Hebrew — Erev Tov, LeKulam (Good evening everybody)… He ended it, to more applause, with Toda Raba.”
PIC OF THE DAY — Start-Up Nation, the book co-authored by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, and an Israeli innovation for the blind was on display for Prince William at the British Ambassador to Israel’s residence. The book “was used to demonstrate for the Prince and for his guides Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu, how Orcam’s glasses convert text to audible narration,” Reuters reported Dan Williams tweeted. “They seemed impressed.” [Pic]
NYTimes editorial… “Princes Charming and Not-So-Charming: Jared Kushner and Prince William made back-to-back visits to Jerusalem this week, a curious coincidence of two heirs in their mid-30s representing outside powers with major past and present roles in the fate of Israel and the Palestinians… Prince William may have little to offer, but at least he has been able to give both sides of the divide a bit of royal pageantry and good will. But if Mr. Kushner produces a proposal that the Palestinians reject out of hand, as he most likely will, a true peace deal might be pushed back even further.” [NYT]
HEARD YESTERDAY — CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) about his past ties to Louis Farrakhan as he decries President Trump’s travel ban — Tapper: You’ve been decrying President Trump’s bigotry. Obviously, you used to follow somebody who continually expressed sexist anti- LGBTQ and anti-Semitic bigotry, Lewis Farrakhan… You’re decrying bigotry, and Louis Farrakhan is a pretty clear bigot. Ellison: “And I agree that that’s true. And I think I made myself very clear. But, look, that’s going back to the false equivalency. You know, I don’t have any support for the individual you just mentioned stands for, nor do I agree with Trump’s bigotry either.”
Tapper: You were a follower of Farrakhan, sir. Ellison: “Jake, I’m sorry. That is not true, Jake. But I just want to say to you, if anyone who raises concerns about bigotry then is put in a position to have to defend themselves, then we never get to talk about bigotry and I hope that’s not what your purpose is…”
Tapper: The question I had for you that I’ve been trying to ask is, Farrakhan said in 2016, you met with him in his hotel suite in Washington, D.C. Ellison: “That is a false — that did not happen.” Tapper: It did not happen? So, Farrakhan is lying? Ellison: “That is untrue. I don’t know if he’s lying or not. I could tell you I was in no such meeting… You know that, Jake. I have denied this because it’s not true.” [Video]
Tony Blair: Return to dark 1930s politics no longer far-fetched — by Patrick Wintour: “In a stark speech to the Chatham House think tank in London, [former British prime minister Tony] Blair, who maintains close relations with Jared Kushner… mainly over the Middle East, will not directly accuse the president of populism, but his speech makes little attempt to hide his dislike of this political style… “Once it is clear the populism isn’t working because, ultimately, it offers only expressions of anger and not effective answers, the populists may double down… Who knows where the dynamic of that scenario takes us. Then the comparisons with the 1930s no longer seem far-fetched.” [TheGuardian]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Brian Roberts’ Comcast Hunts for Additional Cash in Pursuit of 21st Century Fox Assets [WSJ] • Ashkenazy, Kingdom get extension to close on Plaza deal: sources [TheRealDeal] • Teddy Sagi Group Invests $4 Million in Business Travel Startup Arbitrip [Calcalist]
Adapted from Keach Hagey’s new book titled “The King of Content: Sumner Redstone’s Battle for Viacom, CBS, and Everlasting Control of His Media Empire: “With the exception of Rupert Murdoch, no other titan of media so personally shaped the companies [Sumner Redstone] controlled, at times swooping in to act as CEO when his frustration with management got too great. Like Murdoch, he had inherited a regional company from his father and turned it into a global behemoth. And like Murdoch, he sought to continue this control by passing it on to his children. But the very ruthlessness that made Redstone a great businessman made him a terrible father.” [HollywoodReporter]
Poland to Amend Holocaust Law Upending Ties With Israel, U.S. — by Wojciech Moskwa: “Poland’s government wants to amend a controversial law that criminalizes suggesting that the Polish nation was in any way responsible for the Holocaust, Michal Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s chancellery, said on Wednesday… Dworczyk told public radio that the goal of the Holocaust law was to “defend the good name of Poland” and the amendment, which may be worked on by parliament as soon as on Wednesday, would seek to “move away” from penalizing people.” [Bloomberg]
Young Fathers disinvited and then reinvited by German arts festival — by Philip Oltermann: “A leading German music and arts festival (Ruhrtriennale) has been thrown into disarray after its organizers disinvited – and then reinvited – the Scottish band Young Fathers over their support for the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement… [The] U-turn was criticized in Germany by local Jewish organizations and Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, the culture minister for the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. “It cannot be excluded that this decision will give the BDS campaign a platform at the Ruhrtriennale,” said Pfeiffer-Poensgen. “At times of increasing antisemitic crimes and other incidents… this is the wrong signal.” [TheGuardian]
TALK OF THE NATION — Republican tax law hits churches: Some nonprofits could start paying taxes for the first time — by Brian Faler: “Republicans have quietly imposed a new tax on churches, synagogues and other nonprofits, a little-noticed and surprising change that could cost some groups tens of thousands of dollars. Their recent tax-code rewrite requires churches, hospitals, colleges, orchestras and other historically tax-exempt organizations to begin paying a 21 percent tax on some types of fringe benefits they provide their employees… The Jewish Federations of North America is looking at a new $75,000 tax bill this year because of the change.” [Politico]
HEARD YESTERDAY — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at the annual Jewish Heritage Month reception at Gracie Mansion: “This nation was founded by people fleeing religious persecution. Because of that, the Jewish community over time was welcomed into this nation. I think you might agree with me that America ultimately welcomed and embraced the Jewish community, and by its deeds, by its charity and by its goodness, the Jewish community rewarded America and New York City a thousand times over.” [Video]
— Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan: “Mayor de Blasio, even when you lose your voice (the Mayor had a sore throat), your voice is still one of the strongest voices among leaders in the world in support of Israel against the bigotry of BDS, against the delegitimization of Israel.” [Pic]
SPOTTED: Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Michael Miller, Amir Sagie, Galit Peleg, Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch, Mark Levine, Ben Kallos, Kalman Yeger, and Matthew Eugene; Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz, former mayor David Dinkins, Judge Rachel Freier, Herb Block, Abe Biederman, David Lobl, Devorah Halberstam, Jenny Berger, George Artz, Mark Appel, Chanina Sperlin, Chaskel Bennett, Nachum Segal, David Greenfield, Rabbi Marc Schneier, Jonathan Greenspun, Charles Temel, Eli Bennet, Almog Elijis, Shani Dilian, Andrew Gross, Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, Alicia Post, Yeruchem Silber, Pinny Hikind, Michael Snow, Noam Gilboord, Rabbi David Niederman, Tova Chatzinoff, Eli Slavin, Yoel Lefkowitz, Yidel Perlstein, Jason Koppel, Joe Stamm, Shahar Azani, Gil Cygler, Ben Segal, Mo Gruber, Pinny Ringel, Jon Greenfield, Ezra Friedlander, David Pollock, Josh Mehlman, Moshe Indig, Avi Posnick, Francine Raubvogel, Zack Pyzer, Heshy Dembitzer, Shea Rubenstein, Miriam Wallach, Richard and Miri Tayler, Yoel Eisdorfer, Jacob Eisdorfer, Gili Getz, Rivkie Feiner, Daniel Atwood, Peter Fox, Alana Pilar Cantillo, and Michael Alexander.
SCENE ON THE HILL — Knesset Member Yair Lapid held separate meetings with Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bob Corker (R-TN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); as well as over two dozen Democratic House members in meetings organized by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). [Pic; Pic]
DESSERT — Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to open 100 cafes in New York, heightening the city’s coffee wars — by Lauren Thomas and Sarah Whitten: “Los Angeles-based The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which has more than 1,200 shops globally, said Tuesday it plans to open 100 franchise locations in New York over the next 10 years. It will open its first stores in Manhattan this year.” [CNBC]
HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY to Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Reeves. h/t Daniel Lippman
BIRTHDAYS: Co-founder of Taglit Birthright, the first Chairman of the United Jewish Communities (1999-2001), owner of MLB’s Montreal Expos (1968-1990), Charles Bronfman turns 87… Member of the Pennsylvania legislature: lower house (1997-2001) and Senate (2001-2009), her father is Leon Hess, founder of Hess Corporation and former owner of the New York Jets, Constance H. “Connie” Williams turns 74… Senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, previously the commander of the Israeli Navy (1992-1996), head of the Shin Bet (1995-2000) and member of Knesset (2006-2009), Amihai “Ami” Ayalon turns 73… Officer at Northern New Jersey-based A & E Stores, Kenneth R. Blankfein turns 62… Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives since 2010, Lori Berman turns 60…
British historian, television presenter and award-winning author of popular history books and novels, he is a great-great-nephew of Sir Moses Montefiore,Simon Sebag Montefiore turns 53… Creator of multiple TV series including “Felicity,” “Alias,” “Lost” and “Fringe,” and director and producer of many films, J.J. Abrams turns 52… Senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review, Ilya Shapiro turns 41… Talent Partner at the Menlo Park office of New Enterprise Associates, Holly Rose Faith… Principal of Mercazz, LLC, a boutique business development and private equity investment firm, Deydra Cavazos… Meyer Roth… Susan Feldman…