HAPPENING TONIGHT — Robert Kraft was slated to be honored at the U.S. Navy Seals Foundation Gala in NYC this evening. We’re told Kraft is no longer planning to attend the event as he apparently did not want to create a distraction for the cause. Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis will serve as the evening’s keynote.
ALSO IN NYC TONIGHT — Megadeveloper Harry Macklowe is set to marry Patricia Landeau, president of the French Friends of the Israel Museum. According to the NYPost, the entire 78th floor of Macklowe’s Park Avenue tower has been gutted to be transformed into a “massive ballroom.”
AT SEA ISLAND — White House senior advisor Jared Kushner will speak at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual weekend confab in Sea Island, Georgia tonight. Kushner, who is expected to roll out the administration’s Mideast peace plan next month, will appear in conversation with Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen.
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: House Democrats have tasked the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) with drafting a resolution meant to respond to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) antisemitic remarks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Politico Wednesday evening.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who led the drafting of the first resolution and sits on the HFAC, told Jewish Insider that Democrats “are focused on making sure we’re able to come together on a strong statement condemning antisemitism.”
While the first draft of the resolution laid out explicit examples of antisemitic characterizations, members disagreed on Wednesday morning over which types of bigotry, in addition to antisemitism, should be included in the resolution. “I’ve been in arguments all day long” about the historical context of antisemitic beliefs and misunderstanding among members, said Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA). “I’m starting to realize with some of my younger colleagues there is a generational divide that sometimes they don’t understand the language they’re using necessarily.” It’s unclear what language the final draft will include, but according to Vargas, adding more examples of other offensive hate speech detracts from the serious consequences of antisemitic rhetoric.
Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), a former synagogue president, said he takes antisemitism very seriously but expressed deep discomfort with the treatment of Rep. Omar. “I’m working with people to build understanding, respect, and make sure that we don’t have antisemitic statements coming from people, and certainly antisemitic actions, and also working to fight against Islamophobia and intolerance and knee-jerk reactions,” he said.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), a member of the HFAC, told Jewish Insiderthat Rep. Omar should be stripped of her committee assignments. “Same thing as Steve King,” he said.
HOW IT PLAYED — House Democrats splinter over the response to Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitism — by Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade: “In a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting Wednesday morning, lawmakers debated whether to vote on an anti-hate measure in response to Omar. The session quickly became rancorous, reflecting splinters over wider issues… Plans for a quick vote appeared to fade amid the uproar… Walking into the meeting, Pelosi said the Omar situation ‘would be resolved’ and chastised the news media… Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) was among the first members to speak up in the meeting, asking, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Afterward, she said any resolution would be “redundant and unnecessary.’”
“Omar attended Wednesday’s Democratic caucus meeting but did not speak… Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)… rose to defend it and… grew emotional. He said his colleagues needed to understand that these words were hurtful to people like himself who had dealt with them all their lives… At one point during the meeting, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a close Pelosi ally, pleaded with Democrats: ‘Everyone stop tweeting!'”
“Later Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus met to discuss how to handle the issue, but the group’s chair, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), said it would not take an official position on a response to Omar. ‘People within the caucus are kind of all over the map,’ she said… [WashPost; RollCall]
— “By Wednesday afternoon, several had taken to blaming the media for covering Omar’s remarks… ‘We have to do better across the board,’ said Rep. Max Rose (D-NY)… ‘We also have to acknowledge the incredible hypocrisy you all are showing — that I did not see you guys trailing [Rep. Kevin] McCarthy — over and over and over again, there has been an unequal treatment.'”[DailyBeast]
— “Other Democrats said the decision to pursue the resolution was a surrender to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” [Bloomberg]
Rep. Omar’s Israel Comments Drag Democrats’ Quiet Divisions Out in the Open[Time] • Pelosi left with no good options for how to address Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial Israel comments [WashPost] • Ilhan Omar Controversy Caps a Month of Stumbles for Democratic Leaders [NYTimes]
SCENE — “Some Democrats hugged Omar… during the meeting… She’s also received powerful boosts from fellow Democratic freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.” [AP]
— Omar declined to meet with leaders of Neturei Karta, an anti-Israel Orthodox Jewish group, who showed up at her office to express their support for her, according to Jonathan Allen. “She did not and has no plans to,” Jeremy Slevin, Omar’s communications director, told NBC News. [Pic; Pic] • The group also stopped at Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s office [Pic]
HEARD ON CABLE — Mary Bruce, a Congressional correspondent for ABC News, on Good Morning America: “This is exposing a real family feud. A generational and ideological divide between sort of the old guard, older more established House members, House Democrats, and these younger freshmen, more liberal members.” [Video]
THE LEADERS SPEAK — President Trump tweeted on Wednesday: “It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference. Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters: “I don’t think this is just about comments by Congresswoman Omar, which I do not think were intentionally anti-Semitic… It has raised interest in having some resolution about [denouncing] anti-Semitism, of course, always, anti-Islamaphobia, always… We will see what the [House Foreign Affairs] committee comes up with. They have an array of concerns and priorities they are addressing.”[WashExaminer]
Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) defends Omar due to ‘personal’ experience — “I just think that we lose too many battles up here arguing over the stuff that’s kind of silly to argue over,” Rep. James Clyburn… said during an interview… Her experience, Clyburn argued, is much more empirical — and powerful — than that of people who are generations removed from the Holocaust… ‘I’m serious about that. There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’ It’s more personal with her,’ Clyburn said. ‘I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.'” [TheHill]
Several 2020 candidates also commented — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said criticism of Omar and efforts to get her taken off the House Foreign Affairs Committee are aimed at stopping a discussion about U.S foreign policy toward Israel… Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said that while there was a “responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism” she was “concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk.”… Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that “branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse” and makes “it harder” to achieve peace…
JDCA’s Halie Soifer tells Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh: “Clearly, there has a been a robust discussion within the party about the best way to go forward with this condemnation and it appears as though there will be wide support for a condemnation of antisemitism, along with the addition of a denunciation of other forms of hatred. So I don’t want to feed into this, what I think is a false narrative, that somehow Democrats who wanted to see this resolution expanded in any way were opposed to denouncing anti-Semitism. I don’t think that’s the case. It is very important that the provisions with regard to denouncing antisemitism not be watered down. By defining these antisemitic tropes, I hope people will be more careful in the language that they use when engaging in political debate to avoid using antisemitic references going forward.” [JewishInsider]
RJC’s National Chair Norm Coleman: “The sad reality is that the Democratic party is shifting further to the left, and one of the casualties of that shift is Israel and support for the state of Israel. So, I lament that. I don’t celebrate it. I lament it because I think Israel has consistently benefited from bipartisan support in the Congress. The Democratic leadership, Pelosi and Hoyer, I give them credit for attempting to stand with Israel. But they’re, unfortunately, dealing with the sad reality that a big portion of their base is not in the same place. They’re struggling because their base is reacting negatively and their base is, unfortunately, not supportive of Israel. Is the response too muted? Yeah, it’s muted because, at this point, they can’t even get a simple resolution on the floor that condemns antisemitism. It shouldn’t be that difficult.”
Coleman on Democrats criticizing President Trump on antisemitism: “The president moved the embassy to Jerusalem. The President finally dealt with the scourge of antisemitism reflected in the UN. I mean, the president’s actions in regard to Israel and supporting Israel and rejecting antisemitism have been very strong. And when he was not as strong as he should have been on Charlottesville, he was criticized. He was challenged on that. But his actions have shown that without a doubt, the strongest support Israel that we’ve seen. Let’s judge the President by his actions, and every one of those actions have been such that he should be praised.”
Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “There is a lot more that unites Democrats, and I think most Americans, than meets the eye here. The vast majority reject Rep. Omar’s suggestions that Americans’ support for Israel is driven by money or reflects a dual loyalty, which echo antisemitic tropes. The vast majority believe we can have a full and open debate on our Middle East policy, or disagree with given Israeli policies, without crossing those lines. The vast majority believe that anti-Semitism from any side needs to be condemned and ruled out of bounds, as do other forms of racism and bigotry, including that which has been aimed at Rep. Omar and other Muslims, and which have too often been fueled by the President’s rhetoric. This is less complicated than it seems.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel writes… “I’ve faced the charge of dual-loyalty. It was anti-Semitic then, and it’s anti-Semitic now: “No one is questioning the right of members of Congress and others to criticize Israeli policies. But Omar is crossing a line that should not be crossed in political discourse. Her remarks are not anti-Israel; they are anti-Semitic. Whether consciously or not, Representative Omar is repeating some of the ugliest stereotypes about Jews—tropes that have been unleashed by anti-Semites throughout history. She is casting Jewish Americans as the other, suggesting a dual loyalty that calls our devotion to America into question.”[TheAtlantic]
TOP OP — Tom Friedman writes… “Ilhan Omar, AIPAC and Me: “AIPAC is a self-appointed lobby that does not represent my feelings as an American Jew. But neither does Representative Omar. Everything I have heard from her leads me to conclude that she dislikes AIPAC because she dislikes Israel, because she does not really believe the Jewish people have a right to an independent state in their ancestral homeland. She seems to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel… Which only reinforces a fundamental rule I have: I love the Israelis and the Palestinians, but God save me from their American friends. When they recreate and fuel their conflict here in America, and on college campuses, they only sow more division, distrust and make things worse.” [NYTimes]
Ilhan Omar Shouldn’t Get a Pass — by Yascha Mounk: “Those who refuse to criticize Omar on the grounds that Trump and his outriders are attacking her are allowing the president to set the terms of the debate. It is undoubtedly discomfiting to be on the same side as racists and Islamophobes. But the right answer cannot be to forgive anyone’s faults if the wrong people so happen to point them out; after all, a standard we are willing to abandon as soon as someone we dislike invokes it is no standard at all.” [Slate]
Ilhan Omar Knows Exactly What She Is Doing — by Bret Stephens: “It says something about the progressive movement today that it has no trouble denouncing Republican racism, real and alleged, every day of the week but has so much trouble calling out naked antisemite in its own ranks. This is how progressivism becomes Corbynism… If Pelosi can’t muster a powerful and unequivocal resolution condemning antisemitism, then Omar will have secured her political future and won a critical battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. At that point, the days when American Jews can live comfortably within the Democratic fold will be numbered.” [NYTimes]
Matt Nosanchuk, a former White House Jewish Liaison for President Obama, tells Jewish Insider: “There is still a strong bipartisan consensus in Congress that supports Israel, but it’s also the case that there are now members of Congress who hold a different perspective and have expressed that perspective on occasion using unfortunate language that invokes antisemitic tropes. And when language like that is used, it’s appropriate to call it out. But an all-out war within the Democratic Party that divides pro-Israel progressive Democrats from other progressives only serves to play into the hands of those who have been trying for a number of years now to make support for Israel into the exclusive purview of the right. Democrats should not be lured into this self-destructive mode and should stand strong in their support for Israel and for robust policy debates.”
Andrew Weinstein, a leading Democratic donor from Coral Springs, emails: “While the ‘Dems in disarray’ narrative makes for an interesting news cycle, it does not reflect the reality inside the caucus. There is strong support for Israel among Democratic House members and there has been absolutely no effort to change that. There is no question that Rep. Omar’s comments were inappropriate and unacceptable, but the GOP’s efforts to capitalize on her remarks and drive a wedge between Jewish voters and the Democratic Party is hypocritical and beyond shameful.” Read more here [JewishInsider]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor for President Barack Obama, discussed Omar’s remarks and the House resolution on the Pod Save the World podcast with Tommy Vietor:”I want Ilhan Omar to succeed. I think she’s talented. I think she’s earnest. I do not think Ilhan Omar is an antisemite. She’s just been very careless in her language about certain stereotypes… I welcome a diversity of views on Israel in the Democratic Party… She’s more critical than even I am of the Netanyahu government. Fine. Let’s have a big tent of views on these things, but she should be making her case about policies.”
“The reality is if you’re only going to call out a black Muslim woman for making comments about Israel and you’re not going to call out a lot of other behavior, then that’s not a great look. And so either you’re going to have to do these resolutions over and over again every time somebody says something or you’re basically indicating that you, you’re singling this one member out when she’s far from the only member of Congress who said something offensive.” [PodSaveTheWorld]
KAFE KNESSET — Lapid Says Israel in Midst of National Crisis — by Neri Zilber: At an overflow public appearance last night at the Zionist Organization of America House in Tel Aviv, Blue and White co-leader Yair Lapid slammed the current government for a host of missteps, in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attacks on many of the state’s democratic institutions — “freedom of speech, the courts, the police and free media” — and warned that Israel was “in the midst of a national crisis.” The English-only remarks came as part of an election series organized by the Tel Aviv International Salon, with Times of Israel editor-in-chief David Horowitz engaging Lapid in conversation before the crowd — primarily young immigrants — had a chance to ask their questions. A confident, easy-mannered Lapid explained the genesis behind Blue and White’s creation two weeks ago (with his Yesh Atid faction merging with Hosen Le’Israel, led by Benny Gantz) and said adamantly that he didn’t have “an ounce of remorse” for giving up the top spot to Gantz. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
Netanyahu’s Opposition Offers Bibiism Without Bibi — by Eli Lake: “If Netanyahu loses power next month, the government that replaces him is likely to continue most of his national-security policies. Call it Bibiism without Bibi… Despite Netanyahu’s reputation as a hawk, he has managed to govern Israel for a decade without getting into a major war. That may seem like a low bar. But in a region beset by revolutions, failed states and an emboldened Iran, it’s the kind of success that even Netanyahu’s opposition seeks to emulate.” [Bloomberg]
2020 WATCH — Biden’s 2020 plan is almost complete. Democrats are impatient… Bernie Sanders’ campaign says he will keep his pledge to not go negative in ads for 2020… Howard Schultz hopes to benefit from Michael Bloomberg’s decision not to run for president.
** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg sees Facebook’s future focused more on private sharing than public content [WSJ] • With loans from billionaires Eli Broad, Francois Pinault and Dan Loeb, Basquiats worth $1 billion on display at Brant Foundation show [Bloomberg] • WarnerMedia Content Chief Robert Greenblatt Says Competitors ‘Are Eating Our Lunch’ [WSJ] • Disney’s Bob Iger seat on Apple’s board could be at risk as both companies plan to launch video streaming service later this year [9to5Mac]• Hapoalim Sets Aside Another $246 Million for U.S. Tax Probe [Bloomberg]
STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — Fourpost Faces Its Next Big Test: Mall of America After the Holidays — by Amanda Ostuni: “Created by Mark Ghermezian, whose family owns the largest malls in North America, including MOA, Fourpost invites emerging brands to test their concept in a store setting without the usual build-out and long-term commitment that can make premium mall space cost-prohibitive for small companies. Fourpost offers six or 12-month leases for around $3,200 per month, including assistance with staffing, merchandising, and marketing. In comparison, rent starts at $7,500 per month for a 1,000-square-foot MOA storefront.” [TwinCities]
HOLLYWOOD — Texts Reveal Warner Bros. CEO Promoted Actress Amid Apparent Sexual Relationship — by Tatiana Siegel: “At 12:10 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2013, Australian billionaire James Packer texted a 21-year-old British actress named Charlotte Kirk… Packer, who was a partner with director Brett Ratner in the film production/finance company RatPac Entertainment, was saying she was about to catch a major break. ‘I have the opportunity of a lifetime for u,’ Packer wrote in a text message… He promised an introduction to ‘the most important man u can meet.’ Packer did not identify the man by name, but based on hundreds of texts, emails and a draft settlement agreement obtained and reviewed by THR, the late-night introduction was to Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara.” [HollywoodReporter]
ACROSS THE SEA — Socially Acceptable Anti-Semitism — by Eliot Cohen: “On Sunday, a float rolled down the streets of Aalst, a Belgian town, for carnival. It featured two grotesque caricatures of Hasidic Jews, hooked noses, hands reaching out for money, and a rat sitting on money bags. That’s 2019. A second float, pictured above — in Marburg, Germany, in 1936 — featured celebrants dressed as Orthodox Jews.”
“It is not merely ‘the socialism of fools,’ as the German social democrat August Bebel famously put it at the turn of the 20th century. It is a confession of weakness and fear, a belief in occult forces that explain why you or your group has failed in some way — whether it is in securing a foreign policy guided by realpolitik or justice for a group you feel for, or a lost election, or the fact that the bond markets occasionally go against you. Antisemitism is, in short, the religion of people too lazy to accept the complexity of reality, who hunger for enemies whose power excuses their own deficiencies, and who cannot take responsibility for why their side has not won.” [TheAtlantic]
What I learned from donating a kidney to my 70-year-old father — by Ilan Goldenberg: “Two summers ago, my father asked if I would give him one of my kidneys. He was 70 at the time, suffering from kidney disease. I was 39 with a wife and two young kids… For me, that summer conversation with my father led to one of the most complicated decisions of my life. I am 100 percent certain I made the right call.” [Vox]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Moishe’s East Village kosher bakery has closed after 42 years — by Michelle Cohen: “Moishe’s, the beloved kosher bakery on 2nd Avenue, instantly recognizable by what the New York Times called its “stopped-in-time storefront,” has served its last hamantaschen. Owner Moishe Perl told local photographers James and Karla Murray that yesterday was the bakery’s last day, and that the entire building has been sold. In business since 1977, everything was baked on the premises daily… Hamantaschen was the signature item at the all-kosher establishment.” [6SQFT]
DESSERT — A fond, musical farewell to Jaffa’s beloved Anna Loulou Bar — by Naomi Zeveloff: “The language of Anna Loulou was not Hebrew, or Arabic, or even English — which the multilingual staff used to communicated over WhatsApp — but music. On any given night, a rotating cast of DJs played tracks from the world over, especially the Middle East and North Africa, with a heavy dose of American hip-hop. According to Marwan Hawash, Anna Loulou provided a platform for Palestinian artists and DJs who lacked other places to perform in the Tel Aviv area, or found themselves tokenized as Arabs when they did. These DJs included people from inside the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israel controls freedom of movement. The bar closed for quotidian reasons.” [RoadAndKingdoms]
BIRTHDAYS: Nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Times since 1984, Suzanne Bregman Fields, Ph.D. turns 83… Biologist, president of the California Institute of Technology (1997-2006) and 1975 Nobel laureate in Medicine, David Baltimore turns 81… Former bureau chief for the AP in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo, president of the National Press Club in 2014, since 2005 a journalism educator at George Washington University, Myron Belkind turns 79… Former chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company (1984-2005), Michael Eisner turns 77… Geneticist and 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, his parents were immigrants who had fled Nazi Germany in 1938, his father was the cantor of Boston’s Temple Ohabei Shalom, Michael Rosbash turns 75… Retired media executive who was a member of the first co-ed class at Yale College in 1969, Ruth Barbara Jarmulturns 70… Chairman and general trust counsel of Fiduciary Trust International, Gail Ehrlich Cohen turns 63… Award-winning freelance journalist, author and adjunct professor at Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, Anne Farris Rosen turns 63… British public law and human rights barrister and a member of the House of Lords, he is the long-time chair of the British Legal Friends of Hebrew University, Baron David Pannick turns 63…
Executive director of Academic Exchange, promoting understanding of the Middle East within the international academic community, he was previously with Aish HaTorah Los Angeles, Rabbi Nachum Braverman turns 61… Democratic political strategist, he was an SVP at TruBlu Politics (2016-2017), Lewis H. Cohen turns 59… Professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and the author or editor of several books about Baruch Spinoza, Yitzhak Yohanan Melamed turns 51… Academy Award winning actress, Rachel Weisz turns 49… Assistant News Director for DC’s NBC4 News, adjunct professor of journalism at American U, Matt Glassman turns 49… Brooklyn-based political consultant and attorney focused on media relations, formerly director of intergovernmental affairs for Senator Schumer (2001-2005), Michael Tobman turns 46… Television news anchor, author and businesswoman, she is the host of Hatched, a business competition show on The CW Network, Nicole Lapin turns 35… Author, popular science writer, spaceflight historian, YouTuber and podcaster, best known for writing Breaking the Chains of Gravity, Amy Shira Teitel turns 33… Staff writer for U.S. News & World Report covering energy, the environment, STEM and hospitals, Alan Neuhauser turns 32… Attorney in Reno, Nevada, Sasha Ahuva Farahiturns 31… Press manager at NBC News since 2017, she was previously a senior publicist in the media relations group at MSNBC, Rachel Zuckerman turns 30… Jake Hirth… Yaakov Spira…