Daily Kickoff: Trump may have recognized Golan & Jerusalem but passports still don’t say ‘Israel’ | Interview with MK Michaeli | Call Me Bill premiere
SCOOP — The State Department is treating President Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights differently than his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
WHY DOES IT MATTER? PASSPORTS — A State Department spokesperson tells Jewish Insider that no notation on American passports has changed with President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. Some will recall the 2014 case of Menachem Zivotofsky, who sued then-Secretary of State John Kerry to be able to list Jerusalem, Israel — rather than just “Jerusalem” — on his passport. Zivotofsky lost at the Supreme Court, with a majority of justices concurring that the President has the exclusive “power to recognize foreign nations in relation to consular reports.”
KEY QUESTION — How will President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and of the Golan Heights change the State Department’s policy of stating only “Jerusalem” for those born in Jerusalem, and “Syria” for those born in the Golan?
A State Department spokesperson says, “The President has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final status negotiations between the parties. We have therefore not changed our practice regarding Jerusalem as a place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”
Asked about the notation for persons born in the Golan, the spokesperson told JI that “these and other policies will be updated consistent with the President’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” Whereas it seems the Golan Heights will soon be treated by Foggy Bottom as Israeli territory — and reflected as such on official documentation — the State Department has no plans to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on American passports or consular reports.
GOING FORWARD — The Zivotofsky precedent, in effect, helps President Trump establish his office’s primacy in matters of foreign recognition. As such, his administration will have the final say in how Jerusalem, as with the Golan, is rendered on official U.S. documents. [JewishInsider]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump’s Golan Move Means His `Deal of the Century’ May Be Dead — by Glen Carey: “By recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the long-disputed Golan Heights, Trump shoved Arab allies he’s counting on to back his peace initiative into a corner… Saudi Arabia and Egypt are unlikely to throw their weight behind the proposal being drawn up by Jared Kushner and White House Middle East peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt, according to interviews with key diplomats and analysts in Washington. One diplomat described the initiative, which has yet to be made public, ‘hocus pocus’ and doubted whether Trump cares about a negotiated settlement.” [Bloomberg]
TALK OF THE REGION — Foreign diplomats from 21 Arab countries condemned President Trump’s recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and Jerusalem recognition at the conclusion of the annual Arab League summit in Tunisia on Sunday. At the opening of the summit, King Salman said Saudi Arabia “absolutely rejects any measures undermining Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights” and supports the creation of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The Arab leaders said they would seek a U.N. Security Council resolution against the U.S. decision and promised to support Palestinians in their bid for statehood.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told reporters on the sidelines of the summit: “We think there’s no need to announce the ‘deal of the century’ if it’s being implemented in steps and we are now in the last steps of its implementation. The most recent decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was preceded by the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and will be followed by recognition of Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.”
Micah Goodman presents eight concrete steps that Israel could take now that would increase Palestinian freedom without decreasing Israeli security. The plan, he believes, will place Israel in “a prime position to spot opportunities around the corner, and take advantage of them.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. The two discussed “regional issues,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
HEARD LAST NIGHT — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) at the National Council of Young Israel annual gala at the New York Marriott Marquis: “When we called for a resolution [to condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar’s antisemitic remark], the Democrats couldn’t even produce one. They had to water it down. It’s not just the Speaker that denies removing her from the Foreign Affairs Committee. It is every Democrat that will not stand up and speak. It is every American that will not stand up against that language. I will pledge to you: every day on that floor, not only will I stand against it, I will act against it, and I will gather with anyone that believes in the bond, in the values of America and Israel.” [Video]
Spotted: Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani [Pic]
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro discussed Trump’s recent comments about the Democratic party being anti-Israel and anti-Jewish in an interview with The Capital-Star: “I think it is dangerous for Israel, and it is bad for America’s national security to politicize the issue of support for Israel. I think whether it is done in the context of a prayer in the state House, or in an antisemitic tweet, it is not helpful. When Israel is viewed through a political prism, they are our most important ally in the Middle East and one of our most important allies in the world. And they provide a strategic national security support for the United States. And to undermine that, by using Israel in political terms, I think is really dangerous.”
“The charge that Democrats are anti-Israel is just political rhetoric and complete nonsense. I would not be a member of the Democratic Party if I thought the Democratic Party was anti-Israel or antisemitic.” [PennCapitalStar]
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: An Irish lawmaker who advanced a bill to ban Israeli exports made in West Bank settlements met with progressive Democratic members of the House this week, posting on Twitter pictures with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) who support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Ireland’s “Occupied Territories Bill” would make it illegal for the country to import or sell Israeli products made in areas designated occupied, such as the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The bill passed a key phase of Ireland’s parliament in January but faces at least three more votes to become law. [JewishInsider]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — State laws that prevent companies from doing business with those that boycott Israel is the subject of the latest episode of the investigative podcast Reveal with Stan Alcorn. It follows the story of a freelance translator barred from business with Texas universities because he participates in a boycott of Sabra hummus. It also tells the story of a Palestinian mushroom farmer, whose goal is to be completely independent of Israel but is dependent on certain products, and featured interviews at AIPAC and with professor Eugene Kontorovich on the constitutionality of anti-BDS laws. [Reveal]
STATE VISIT — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced that his country will open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem to handle trade and commerce, falling short of a full embassy move, at the start of a 4-day visit to Israel on Sunday. “I hope that is a first step toward the opening, in time, of the Brazilian embassy in Jerusalem,” PM Netanyahu said during a press conference in Jerusalem.
TODAY — Netanyahu will accompany President Bolsonaro’s visit to the Western Wall and the Western Wall Tunnels.
TOP TALKER — President Trump announced on Saturday that the U.S will end foreign assistance programs to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador over the flow of migrant caravans towards the U.S. border. The announcement could impact Israel’s relations with these three Latin countries, whose leaders announced their intentions to begin moving their embassies to Jerusalem partly in an effort to improve their standing with the Trump administration.
HAPPENING TODAY — President Trump and Jared Kushner will host a White House celebration this evening to mark the recent passage of the bipartisan prison reform bill. [JewishInsider]
KAFE KNESSET — Feiglin Rises High in Polls — by Neri Zilber: The surprise of the Israeli election so far, just based on the polls, is Moshe Feiglin, head of the religious-libertarian Zehut (“Identity”). A former Likud backbencher drummed out of the party a few years ago for being too radical, Feiglin established his own party and is now rising high with, among other policies, a marijuana legalization platform. Feiglin is currently polling between five to seven seats, over 135,000 potential voters that apparently care a lot more about breaking the unions and grass than human rights and basic logic. With these numbers Feiglin may in fact hold the fate of the next prime minister in his hands. “The idea is not between Netanyahu and Gantz,” he explained, “it’s between the Deep State and Two-State Solution on the one hand, and a Free State and One-State Solution on the other.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
DEEP DIVE — An Israeli watchdog group, the Big Bots Project, has found a network of hundreds of social media accounts, many of them fake, that were used to smear opponents of Prime Minister Netanyahu and promote the Likud Party… Though the report found no direct links between the network and the Likud, it appeared to operate in coordination with Netanyahu’s re-election campaign.
JI INTERVIEW — MK Merav Michaeli, a member of Israel’s Labor Party, discussed the April 9 election, the possibility of a Gantz-led government that Labor would be part of, and Trump’s Middle East peace plan in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh during AIPAC’s policy conference last week.
Michaeli on whether the center-left camp could join a Netanyahu government if Trump’s peace plan presents a chance to change Israel’s direction for the better: “Unfortunately when Isaac ‘Bougie’ Herzog was the chair of the Zionist Union, he offered Netanyahu an amazing geopolitical opportunity with Arab countries. Even el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, came out on record saying he would back such a plan. It was a huge opportunity for Israel, for its security and for its sustainability, but Netanyahu turned it down in the last moment and created an alliance with Lieberman. The same thing happened with John Kerry. Netanyahu had several opportunities to pursue the peace process when everything was offered to him, and he chose not to take that direction. There’s no single sign or reason for me to believe that it would be different this time. So, I don’t see Labor serving Netanyahu at yet another round that will end with nothing. No.”
Michaeli on Trump’s Golan recognition: “It’s not a gift for Israel. It’s a gift for Netanyahu. A gift for Israel would have been to have Israel engaged in negotiations between the U.S. and Russia to move the Iranians out of Syria. This is what Israel needs from President Trump, not the recognition of our sovereignty over the Golan. We need the Golan safe without the Iranians, something that could have been achieved in talks between Russia and the U.S. and this we didn’t get. This is a much more serious thing for Israel that unfortunately, this is not what Netanyahu is using his relationship with President Trump for.” Read the full interview with MK Michaeli here[JewishInsider]
2020 WATCH — Joe Biden’s affectionate, physical style with women comesunder scrutiny… 2020 Dems express sympathy for Biden’s accuser… Elizabeth Warren loses finance director as she struggles in early fund-raising… Pete Buttigieg’s campaign raised more than $7 million in the first quarter… Boosted by Mike Pence, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plays up his loyalty to Trump as he seeks a fourth term…
MOTOWN MOVIE NIGHT — Several hundred guests gathered on Sunday evening at the Detroit Institute of Arts for a private screening of Call Me Bill: The William Davidson Story. The documentary celebrated the life of the notable Jewish philanthropist and beloved owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. Players from the Pistons’ Bad Boys and 2004 championship teams were in attendance.
Ethan Davidson, the documentary’s producer, spoke alongside Isiah Thomas on stage before the 93 minute film was played: “My dad would absolutely not have tolerated any of this. To paraphrase the great Jewish existentialist philosopher Martin Buber who talks about people who need self-affirmation. My father was not one of those people. He was very comfortable in his own skin and he would never have done this [film]. But he’s not here to stop us (laughter).” [Pic]
Spotted at the premiere: Karen Davidson, Dorothy Gerson, Ralph Gerson, Erica Ward Gerson, Eli Saulson, the film’s co-producer Gretchen Davidson, documentary director Deb Agolli, Darin McKeever, Ben Wallace, Vinnie Johnson, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, Arn Tellem, Nancy Tellem, Sen. Gary Peters, former Senator Carl Levin, Rep. Debbie Dingell, Bob Aronson, Gary Torgow, Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein, Rabbi Jason Miller, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, Rabbi Aaron Starr, Kari Alterman, Amy Holtz, David Victor, KC Crain, Ashley Crain, Adam Finkel, David Katznelson, Howard Hertz, Anne Parsons.
The film will be available to the public on May 2nd at the JCC in West Bloomfield, Michigan [DeadlineDetroit]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS:Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Sets Stage for Late-2019 IPO[WSJ] • Vacancies, shaky finances plague Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp., owner of Baltimore landmarks Harborplace and Cross Keys[BaltimoreSun] • These Silicon Valley Investors’ Bets May Pay Off[NYTimes] • Gavin De Becker, Jeff Bezos’s Investigator, Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private Data [DailyBeast]
BARI WEISS’S VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — How the contest over Jerusalem’s past is part of the war over its future: “Archaeologists have been engaged in a ferocious debate about whether a king named David literally built his palace here. Dr. Yuval Gadot, who belongs to the school of archaeology known as biblical minimalism, is skeptical. But almost all agree on the big picture, which is that the 11-acre mound is the seat of the Davidic dynasty, which begot what we now call Jewish civilization… Donations have poured in, including from Americans, both liberals like the tech entrepreneur Marc Benioff and conservatives like the financier Roger Hertog. Rabbi Erica Gerson, who has given over $1 million to the project with her husband, Mark, said, ‘There is no other sight in Israel that can as effectively and authentically bring to life the 3,000-year-old connection between the Jewish people and our homeland.'” [NYTimes] • The Story Behind a 2,600-Year-Old Seal [NYTimes]
ACROSS THE SEA — Popular Jewish comedian races ahead in Ukrainian presidential election — by Matthias Williams and Pavel Polityuk: “Exit polls and early counting put 41-year-old Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who plays a fictional president in a popular TV series, comfortably ahead of incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in the first round, though short of a majority… ‘I would like to say ‘thank you’ to all the Ukrainians who did not vote just for fun,’ Zelenskiy told cheering supporters on Sunday evening. ‘It is only the beginning, we will not relax.'” [Reuters; WSJ]
Ken Livingstone calls Labour antisemitism allegations ‘lies and smears’ by ‘ghastly old Blairites’: “Ken Livingstone, who quit Labour last year after a long-standing suspension because of his comments about Hitler and Zionism, has called allegations of Labour antisemitism “lies and smears” to bring down Jeremy Corbyn.” [TheJC]
TALK OF THE TOWN — As pope visits Morocco, tiny Jewish community looks on with quiet pride — by Ahmed Eljechtimi and Philip Pullella: “On Saturday, Jewish leaders joined Christian representatives in the front row at two events presided over by the pope and King Mohammed VI on interfaith dialogue. Morocco’s 2011 constitution recognizes the ‘Hebraic’ constituent as a component of the national identity. Jews in the north African Kingdom have their own courts, family code and schools and even a state-supported Jewish heritage museum… Addressing the pope on Saturday, the king, who is also Morocco’s top religious authority, said: ‘I cannot speak of the land of Islam as if only Muslims lived there… I protect Moroccan Jews as well as Christians from other countries who are living in Morocco.'” [Reuters]
German train car arrives in New York for Auschwitz exhibit — by Verena Dobnik: “On a Sunday morning, a crane lowered a rusty remnant of the Holocaust onto tracks outside Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage — a vintage German train car like those used to transport men, women and children to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps. The windowless boxcar is among 700 Holocaust artifacts, most never before seen in the United States, which are being prepared for one of the largest exhibits ever on Auschwitz… The New York exhibit opens May 8, the day in 1945 when Germany surrendered and the camps were liberated.” [AP]
RESEARCH DEPT. — You’ve Told That Story 100 Times. Please Stop — by Elizabeth Bernstein: “10 new studies by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Georgia found that people who repeat the same stories over and over are viewed as less sincere and less authentic. In other words, they’re seen as not presenting their true self to the listener. The research also found that listeners are less interested in engaging with someone retelling a story they’ve heard him or her tell before.” [WSJ]
Attention Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer: Maybe it’s time to adjust or acknowledge the repetitiveness of your stories about Golda Meir and the bald head kippah.
HOLLYWOOD — Is the ‘Veep’ character Sherman Tanz an anti-Semitic caricature? — by Stephen Silver: “HBO’s acclaimed political sitcom ‘Veep’ returned for its seventh and final season on Sunday… Sherman Tanz… is played by the noted stage actor Jonathan Hadary. He is depicted as a powerful and vulgar political donor, one who openly boasts about his power to buy off politicians in order to serve his shady business interests… The character appears to be a fairly direct parody of Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.” [JTA]
SCENE LAST NIGHT IN DC — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended an event commemorating Israeli author Amos Oz, who died last December, at the Reform Temple Sinai synagogue in Washington, D.C. Speakers included NYTimes columnist Roger Cohen, Natalie Portman (by video), J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, professor Fania Oz-Salzberger (Oz’s daughter) and URJ’s Rabbi Esther Lederman.
Among the attendees were former ambassador Dan Kurtzer, Gilead Sher, Moment Magazine’s Nadine Epstein and ADL’s Michael Lieberman. [Pic]
Spotted Sunday night on UA90 from Newark to Tel Aviv: Morris Kahn and Isaac ‘Bougie’ Herzog.
At the Peres Center in Jaffa, philanthropist Lynn Schusterman was interviewed by Randall Lane during the Forbes 30 under 30 Global Women’s Summit. [Pic]
BIRTHDAYS: Physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (the hyphenated last name means simply the Cohen family from Tangiers) turns 86… Polish-born Israeli businessman, the owner of Eurocom Group, one of the largest private holding groups in Israel, Shaul Elovitchturns 71… President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy since 2011, she was previously a member of the Michigan legislature (House:1999-2002; Senate: 2003-2010), Gilda Jacobs turns 70… Singer-songwriter best known as the original lead guitarist for Sha Na Na and as the youngest person, at age 18, to play on the main stage at Woodstock in 1969, Henry Gross turns 68… Producer and director for film and television including the Men in Black trilogy (1997-2012), he was originally a cinematographer for the Coen brothers, Barry Sonnenfeld turns 66… NYC-based attorney, Freddie Berg turns 64… Lecturer at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism, he was previously the writer of the Media Web column for MarketWatch (1999-2013), Jonathan P. Friedman turns 64…
Six-term member of the US House of Representatives from Florida (1993-2005), he is the founder of the Ben Gamla Charter School network in Florida (2007) and now lives in Ra’anana, Israel, Peter Deutsch turns 62… President of Baltimore-based HealthSource Distributors, Jerry L. Wolasky turns 61… Author of over 150 children’s books, Mark Shulman turns 57… VP of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and a leader of the Jewish community of Kiev, Alexander (Aaron) Levin turns 51… Lawyer, turned political thriller novelist, Brad Meltzer turns 49… Four-year star basketball player at the University of Maryland including a national championship (2006), she was drafted by the WNBA and now plays for Maccabi Ashdod, Shay Doron turns 34… Noah L. Schwartz turns 32… Special assistant to President Donald Trump, she came to the White House from Breitbart News together with Steve Bannon, her grandmother is noted philanthropist Lynne Honickman, Julia Aviva Hahn turns 28… Ronald Lippman…
Over the weekend: Will Scharf, President of Sicarius, LLC and former policy advisor to Missouri Governor Greitens, turned 33 on Friday.