2020 WATCH — Michael Bloomberg Will Not Run for President in 2020 — by Alexander Burns: “Michael R. Bloomberg… has decided not to challenge Mr. Trump as a candidate in the 2020 election. Rather than entering the race himself, Mr. Bloomberg intends to plow his political energy and immense personal fortune into other efforts to thwart Mr. Trump and his agenda.” [NYTimes]
Bloomberg explained his decision in an op-ed in Bloomberg News: “I know what it takes to run a winning campaign, and every day when I read the news, I grow more frustrated by the incompetence in the Oval Office. I know we can do better as a country. And I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election. But I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”
From this morning’s DealBook newsletter — “Mr. Bloomberg’s decision may weigh on Howard Schultz, the other centrist, pro-business billionaire considering a presidential bid. If Mr. Bloomberg, with an established political brand and an estimated $55 billion fortune, doesn’t think he can spend his way to victory, critics will ask how a less-famous, less-wealthy billionaire could.”
Hank Sheinkopf, a New York Democratic campaign consultant, tells Jewish Insider: “Here is the case of no good deed goes unpunished. Michael Bloomberg used his own resources, his own staff and his own time to help the Democrats take back the House of Representatives. He played an important role in that. The reward is that the party pays no attention to him. He’s operating, as he always has, to do what he thinks is right, because he doesn’t need the power. He’s had the power. Just by withdrawing, he proved his value. As an American, as someone who cares deeply, it was not about power. It was about what was right. Pretty extraordinary.”
“He could have beaten Donald Trump. The problem is getting through the primary, and his withdrawal should be an indication of Democrats, who have many delusions whatsoever, that they’re preparing to do what they do best, which is to eat each other before they get to the general election so there’s nothing left. They’re really good at that. Anybody who gets joy out of Mike Bloomberg’s self-removal from the presidential contest is really foolish.”
Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, the co-chairman of Miami’s effort to land the 2020 Democratic convention, blasts DNC’s ‘massive’ convention delay… Mark Cuban is strongly considering running for president in 2020 as a third-party candidate… John Delaney preaches moderation in bid to win Democratic race…
DRIVING THE DAY — On Tuesday,Democratic leaders moved to broaden a resolution condemning anti-Semitism to encompass other types of religious bigotry after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and lawmakers from the Congressional Black Caucus bristled at the attempt to reprimand Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her anti-Semitic comments.
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Democratic leadership convened on Tuesday to discuss the ‘Resolution rejecting anti-Semitism’ ahead of its introduction, pushed back to later in the week as members discuss what should be included in the text.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said that he “obviously” believes statements made by Rep. Ilhan Omar are wrong — particularly the statement that pro-Israel groups push for allegiance to a foreign country — but that he needed to “evaluate the resolution” before committing to supporting it. Jeffries declined to comment Tuesday evening after leaving a meeting with leadership to discuss the text of the resolution.
Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) told Jewish Insider that he rejected Rep. Omar’s statements. “Obviously, I think that’s not what we want to be saying at all, I disagree completely with that.” While he hasn’t seen the text of the resolution, he’ll likely vote in favor he says, “I’m sure I’ll be supporting it, it’s a priority for me of course.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told Jewish Insider that he plans to vote for the resolution and also called out the racist poster equating Rep. Omar and Muslims with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “I equally condemn and deplore the anti-Muslim statements that were made against her,” the congressman said. “I condemn and deplore attempts to impute dual loyalty of Jews and we have to stand against all forms of bigotry, that attacking Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, immigrants, everybody.” He said he hadn’t seen the text of the resolution, which circulated online Monday, and said that any pushback from fellow Democrats “depends on the final text.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) said he would “most likely” also vote for the resolution.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) called the move by Democrats “virtue signaling” and an attempt to cover themselves without actually punishing Rep. Omar. “What they really should do is take Ilhan Omar off the Foreign Affairs Committee. That would actually be a rebuke of her very clearly, anti-Semitic views. That’s what I would say about that.” Rep. Crenshaw earlier tweeted that “At some point, Dems just need to accept that @IlhanMN has deeply held prejudices about the Jewish people. Stop explaining her comments away and “asking for dialogue.” It’s clear an apology from her is hollow.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WI) said she “absolutely” condemns Rep. Omar’s statements. “I think she ought to be stripped of her membership on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” the House Republican Conference Chair said. “I think it is a disgrace that Democratic leaders have refused to take real action. You’ve seen some statements of condemnation and then Speaker Pelosi turned around and embraced her on the cover of Rolling Stone just this week. I think that what they’re doing is abhorrent. Anyone who recognizes the history realizes that we have to call evil, evil, and we have an obligation and a duty to do that. The fact that Representative Omar has not only been allowed to serve on that critical committee but is now being supported by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who have now called themselves some sort of a squad in defense of her comments, I just think is an absolute appalling disgrace. I cannot imagine that the leaders in the Democratic Party in the house aren’t willing to take action and say ‘enough is enough and we’re going to strip her of her committee membership.’ And frankly, I think her constituents ought to recognize the damage she’s doing and the damage she’s doing to the United States of America.”
OVERNIGHT — Ocasio-Cortez blasted ‘racist tropes’ and ‘white supremacy’ in a midnight tweetstorm [NYPost]
HEARD ON CABLE — Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) on CNN’s Outfront with Erin Burnett: “Look, you hope that people who get elected to office and they grow. I would hope the same thing would happen to [Omar], but I’m not going to sit silent as long as there are people who are yelling out anti-Semitic tropes or anti-anything tropes, by the way… I’m hoping that she’ll grow and she’ll change. I’m hoping. Some people change their beliefs, I’m hoping she’ll change hers. I think what she said was wrong and hurtful. I think she should understand that.”
Burnett: At what point do you say to her, ‘Congresswoman Omar, look, you are not on this [House Foreign Affairs] committee anymore. You are stripped of your seat.’ Are you close to that or at that point?
Engel: “No. I am not close to it. First of all, it’s not up to me. This is done by the leadership. I don’t know that that would do anything except exacerbate the situation even more. I’m looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody.” [Video]
Of note: NORPAC is hosting a fundraiser forEngel in Teaneck, New Jersey on Sunday. In the last event hosted by the pro-Israel political action committee in January, Engel had already faced questions about the Democratic leadership’s handling of Omar and her colleagues Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
WATCH — Chuck Todd in a monologue on his daily show, MTP Daily, on MSNBC says he’s “obsessed” with the rise of anti-Semitism and the “game of whataboutism being played now by both parties. Stop It! You both have a problem.” [Video]
— Omar’s remarks were also the topic on panel discussions with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi and Chris Hayes.
Can Anti-Semitism Split Democrats Like It Split Labour? — by Jonathan Chait: “Contrary to Omar’s insinuation, at least some Democrats do criticize Israel and its domestic supporters in harsh terms without leaning on anti-Semitic tropes. An easy way to do this is to recognize that advocating for a strong American alliance with another country is not a form of disloyalty… The Democratic Party is far more resistant to anti-Semitism than the Labour Party ever was. But the speed at which the virus has spread among progressive activists in the wake of Omar-gate has been a depressingly illuminating experience.” [NYMag]
— Jeremy Corbyn accuses MP Margaret Hodge of ‘breach of trust’ after she secretly recorded their meeting and insists aides acted ‘in good faith’ over anti-Semitism cases in leaked fiery letter [DailyMail]
Ilhan Omar’s Anti-Israel Nativism Will Haunt Democrats — by Eli Lake: “What is surprising is that many Democrats are still demanding an apology. Why do they think a third apology will make a difference? It won’t… In an era that rewards politicians for taboo-busting controversy, Omar’s pandering is understandable. In this sense, it’s not that different from the kind of venom spewed by President Donald Trump when it comes to immigrants, Latinos and Muslims… This much, however, is clear: Democrats have to do more than demand another apology. If the party wants to make a credible case against a nativist president, it cannot look the other way at the nativism of its own members.” [Bloomberg]
Former Amb. Daniel Kurtzer writes… “How Ilhan Omar is setting back legitimate debate of Israeli policies: Only Omar knows what is in her own heart. But the rest of us hear loud and clear what she says. Omar may truly believe that her comments are legitimate forms of opposition to Israeli policy. But if that is the case, she is naïve, and as an elected official, she has a duty to acquire a basic understanding of the likely inferences drawn from the things she says.” [NYDailyNews]
JI INTERVIEW — Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University and the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now, discussed with Jewish Insider the Right vs. Left antisemitism, and how one should discuss it in America.
Q: So on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent comment about “foreign allegiance” in the context of pro-Israel Americans, and in discussion of her Jewish colleagues; what do you make of it? Is this textbook antisemitism?
Lipstadt: “Sadly, I believe it is. ‘Dual loyalties’ is part of the textbook accusations against Jews. They are cosmopolitans, globalists, not loyal to their country or fellow citizens. (That is why so many people were shocked when Stephen Miller used it at a press conference about DJT’s critics.) I don’t remember a time when there was such sustained attacks from both the right and the left simultaneously. I think it is that phenomenon that leads to the ‘whataboutism.’” Read the entire interview here [JewishInsider]
GOP chairman eyes move to lock in Trump’s Iran deal withdrawal — by Rebecca Kheel: “Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said Tuesday he’d like to include language in the annual defense policy bill that codifies President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal… Inhofe said he found [during a recent trip overseas] that countries such as Iran were ‘waiting Trump out.’ … To address that, Inhofe argued, Congress needs to codify what it can of actions Trump has taken.” [TheHill]
AT THE UN — U.N. again defers report on companies with Israeli settlement ties — by Stephanie Nebehay: “Publication of a U.N. database of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank has been delayed again… Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Tuesday that despite progress made since launching the study, further work was needed due to the ‘novelty of the mandate and its legal, methodological and factual complexity.’ Her office aimed to finalize and issue the study ‘in coming months,’ she said in a letter to the Human Rights Council.”[Reuters]
TALK OF THE REGION — Fears grow of rift between Saudi king and crown prince — by Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Nick Hopkins: “King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are understood to have disagreed over a number of important policy issues in recent weeks… These tensions increased dramatically in late February when the king, 83, visited Egypt and was warned by his advisers he was at risk of a potential move against him… His entourage was so alarmed at the possible threat to his authority that a new security team, comprised of more than 30 hand-picked loyalists from the interior ministry, was flown to Egypt to replace the existing team.”
“The crown prince, who was designated ‘deputy king’ during the Egypt trip, as is customary, signed off two major personnel changes while the king was away. They included the appointment of a female ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, and that of his full brother, Khalid bin Salman, to the ministry of defense… The Guardian has been told the king and his team learned about the reshuffle via television.” [TheGuardian] • Cloistered Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Aims to Ease Entry for Tourists [WSJ]
Is a new Arab Spring on the way? — by Ishaan Tharoor: “In recent weeks, there have been sustained mass protests against two long-ruling autocratic leaders south of the Mediterranean… Analysts caution against declaring the advent of a new Arab Spring, not least because the unrest in Sudan and Algeria is taking place in rather different contexts. But across North Africa and the Middle East, the conditions for greater upheaval remain — indeed, they may be worse.” [WashPost]
The Trump Musical: ‘Anything Goes’ — by Tom Friedman: “When America, the world’s most influential democracy, has a leader without shame, who is backed by a party without spine willing to prostitute itself to Trump no matter how low he goes… it becomes a hunting license for leaders everywhere to go after their own domestic opponents and cross any human rights redline to stay in power.”
“And we’re talking about some close allies. Last week, Israel’s attorney general recommended that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu be indicted on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust… This comes just after Netanyahu forged a political alliance with an openly racist, anti-Arab party… These are the people Netanyahu wants to bring into his government. Why not? Bibi knows that no matter how low he sinks, Trump will always have his back.”[NYTimes]
POMPEO TO ISRAEL — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit Israel ahead of election: “Pompeo will visit Israel ahead of its April 9 election but will not be involved in the country’s domestic politics, the State Department said Tuesday… State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Pompeo’s trip was not intended to send any message. ‘Israel is an ally,’ Palladino said. ‘We’re not going to get involved in the domestic politics of another country.'” [YahooNews]
— “A visit by the secretary of state in a country during an election campaign is a bit unusual… The visit is unusual also because Prime Minister Netanyahu will visit Washington four days later and meet President Trump at the White House… It’s unclear if [Pompeo] is going to meet Netanyahu’s main political rival — retired Gen. Benny Gantz… Unlike previous secretaries of state, Pompeo has not met any members of the opposition during his trips to Israel.” [Axios]
ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Gantz pledges allegiance to Diaspora Jewry — by Gil Hoffman: “The Blue and White Party of former IDF chiefs of staff Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi and former finance minister Yair Lapid will make Diaspora affairs a top priority, sources in the party revealed on Tuesday… The platform talks about the importance for all Jews to feel welcome and at home in Israel. After years of rifts between Netanyahu and progressive U.S. Jews, Blue and White vows to ‘build on and reinforce the bridge between Israel and different communities around the world.'” [JPost; ToI]
Could Ayman Odeh Determine Who Becomes Israel’s Next Prime Minister? — by Elhanan Miller: “‘Our main goal is to change the government in Israel,’ Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List, told a Jewish audience at a packed event in Jerusalem this week… ‘If we see a minimum of goodwill on these issues, we will study the matter seriously and decide which candidate to recommend to the president [as prime minister],’ Odeh said. ‘We are here to make a difference and influence government. If we find a partner, we would love to become influential in Israeli politics.'” [Tablet]
REPORT — President pressured staff to grant security clearance to Ivanka Trump — by Pamela Brown and Kaitlan Collins: “President Donald Trump pressured his then-chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn to grant his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump a security clearance against their recommendations… After concerns were raised by the personnel office, Trump pushed Kelly and McGahn to make the decision on his daughter and son-in-law’s clearances so it did not appear as if he was tainting the process to favor his family… After both refused, Trump granted them their security clearances.” [CNN]
** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Blackstone slaps golden handcuffs on Bennett Goodman [FinancialTimes] • Tough Year For Superrich As Hundreds Drop Out Of Ranks [Forbes] • A healthcare investment fund has become one of Israel’s largest with a $660 million close [TechCrunch] • Israel market regulator sees room for cryptocurrency trading [Reuters]
SPOTLIGHT — A Rare Find In Silicon Valley: A New Woman Billionaire In Tech — by Angel Au-Yeung: “Safra Catz, the media-averse and once reluctant co-CEO of software behemoth Oracle, debuts on Forbes’ definitive ranking of the wealthiest people on earth with a net worth of $1 billion. Though she owns less than 1% of the company, her option grants—which form the majority of her fortune—have pushed her to the top 1% of the world. In 2017, Catz received $135 million in total realized pay, according to the company’s latest proxy, making her one of the world’s highest-paid female executives. She is one of only 61 self-made female billionaires in the world, who make up less than 3% of the billionaires on the list.” [Forbes]
MUELLER WATCH — Alan Dershowitz hasn’t written a word of his new book. It’s selling fast — by Nestor Ramos: “Selling for $9.37 in paperback, or $9.99 on Kindle, ‘The Mueller Report: The Final Report of the Special Counsel into Donald Trump, Russia, and Collusion’ is already the number three best seller in Amazon’s Civics and Citizenship category… The problem, of course, is that nobody knows when (or even if) the Mueller report will be made public — a decision that appears to be mostly up to the attorney general… ‘My intention is to drop everything’ when some version of the report is released, Dershowitz said in an interview on Monday. ‘I’m a fast reader, and a fast writer. Even though I’m 80 years old, I still do things quickly.’ Fact check: True. Approximately 3 seconds elapsed between the time I sent Dershowitz an e-mail and my phone rang. Dershowitz said his publisher, Skyhorse, came to him with the proposal.”
“’I’m not doing this on behalf of Donald Trump or the Republicans,’ Dershowitz said. ‘I may be supportive of the Mueller report. I have no pre-disposition about it.’ … Dershowitz said he wasn’t sure how many copies had been pre-sold, and was surprised to learn that it was already labeled a best-seller.”[BostonGlobe]
PROFILE — The Renegade Street Photographer Of Boro Park — by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt: “I first meet Kaye at Boro Park’s Cafe Paris, a popular lunch spot, frequented that afternoon by Hasidic housewives. He shows up in a velvet yarmulke and a v-neck sweater, cleanly-shaven and around the age of forty — and asks me to please refer to him as ‘Avi Kaye,’ and not by his real name. ‘In order to achieve my goal of documenting Hasidic life, it’s best for me to keep my identity private,’ Kaye tells me over coffee. ‘If my identity was revealed, it would go viral among the Hasidim, and that would affect my ability to do what I do.'” [Forward]
TALK OF THE TOWN — $6.3M Raised for Synagogue Massacre Families, Survivors: “A $6.3 million fund established in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre will primarily be split among the families of the dead and survivors of the worst attack on Jews in U.S. history. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s ‘Victims of Terror Fund’ took in donations from more than 8,500 people, companies and organizations in 48 states and at least eight countries. Organizers say about $5.3 million will be given to those most directly impacted by the attack. Most of the balance will go to the three impacted congregations, with some of the money funding repairs to the heavily damaged synagogue.” [NYT]
SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — “On Monday, March 4, some of history’s most unforgettable characters descended upon the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York City when, as part of Lincoln Center Theater’s annual benefit, a one-night-only concert of the classic musical Camelot was staged, directed by Bartlett Sher and featuring actors including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Solea Pfeiffer, Danny Burstein, Ruthie Ann Miles, and more. The evening also drew an impressive group of guests to both the performance and the dinner held after at the Grand Promenade of David Geffen Hall. Among those in attendance were Hillary Rodham Clinton, Laura and Lloyd Blankfein, Fareed Zakaria, and Daryl Roth as well as the evening’s co-chairs, Andy and Betsy Kenny Lack, Brooke and Daniel Neidich, and Caryn Zucker.” [TownAndCountry]
SPOTTED IN DC — Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) with Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) leaving Morton’s on Connecticut Avenue last night. [Pic]
SCENE LAST NIGHT — The Jewish Book Council hosted the 68th annual National Jewish Book Awards last night at Bohemian National Hall in NYC. The event, hosted by Unorthodox podcaster Stephanie Butnick, awarded the Book of the Year to Hunting the Truth by Beate and Serge Klarsfeld.
SPOTTED: Jane and Stuart Weitzman, Joseph Telushkin, Carol and Jerry Levin, Wayne Hoffman, Naomi Firestone-Teeter, William Daroff, Francine Klagsbrun, Edith Everett, Alan and Constance Kadish, Abe Steinberger, Lynn Schusterman, Louise Mirrer, Alana Newhouse, Ami Eden, Andres Spokoiny, Cindy Spiegel, Jack Wertheimer, Alan Mittleman, Ari Mittleman, Erika Dreifus, Dana Raucher.
ALSO IN NYC — IfNotNow co-founder Simone Zimmerman, Avi Mayer, Assistant Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, and Carly Pildis participated in a panel discussion moderated by Bari Weiss at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan last night. [Pic]
BIRTHDAYS: Centenarian, known as “Philadelphia Phil,” the founder of a successful advertising agency, he achieved fame during the Eagles 2018 run to a Super Bowl championship, Philip Basser turns 101… Former chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States (1987-2006), Alan Greenspan turns 93… Writer, lecturer and emeritus professor of Jewish communal service at HUC-JIR Los Angeles, Steven Windmueller turns 77… Actor, writer, director, producer and political activist, he directed “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men,” Rob Reiner turns 72… Television personality, author and libertarian pundit, known for his career on both ABC News and Fox Business Channel, he is a winner of 19 Emmy Awards, John Stossel turns 72… Musical theatre lyricist and composer, winner of three Oscars, three Grammys and received six Tony Award nominations, Stephen Schwartz turns 71… Actor, comedian and sports show host, he converted to Judaism upon marrying Roseanne Barr in 1990, Tom Arnold turns 60… Aliza Tendler turns 54… Founder of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto which he sold to Unilever in 2014, he has since co-founded Iris Brands, Joshua Hochschuler turns 46…
Head of Innovation Communication at Bloomberg LP, Chaim Haas turns 44… Senior director for business development and client services at NYC-based Jewish Communal Fund, Michelle Lebowitz turns 43… Former football quarterback who played on six NFL teams (2001-2012), he is member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Sage Rosenfels turns 41… Managing director at Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based investment firm, he was the body man (2001-2006) and then deputy chief of staff (2008-2009) for former President George W. Bush, Blake L. Gottesman turns 39… Fourth generation developer, owner, and operator of commercial real estate throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, Daniel Klein turns 38… Director of marketing and communications at Zionist Organization of America, Natalie Lazaroff turns 30 (h/t Playbook)… Israeli fashion model who has appeared in international campaigns for many world-wide brands, Esti Ginzburg turns 29… Artist Tova Suissa turns 28… 3L student at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, she was a member of the Israel Project’s Tower Tomorrow Fellowship, Riley Clafton turns 24… Theodore Furchtgott… Sandra Brown… Nelson Katz…