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WOULD YOU MOVE THE EMBASSY BACK TO TEL AVIV? — In an interview published Sunday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told Axios that he would not relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Tel Aviv if elected president in 2020. “I think what’s done is done,” Buttigieg acknowledged in an interview with Mike Allen on Axios on HBO. “I don’t know that we’d gain much by moving it to Tel Aviv.”
The Democratic presidential candidate explained it was a mistake to make the move without getting a concession out of Israel, something that could’ve come as part of a negotiated settlement. Instead, he argued, the Trump administration “gave it away” as a gift to Netanyahu, as well as recognizing Israeli rule over the Golan to have “an impact in Israeli domestic politics.”
“Here’s the problem with what he did,” Buttigieg said, “[if] you’re going to make a concession like that, if you’re going to give somebody something that they’ve wanted for a long time in the context of a push-pull, even with a strong ally like Israel, right? We have a push-pull relationship. And you don’t do that without getting some kind of concession. Instead, we’ve seen the Israeli government continue to act in ways that are detrimental to peace. And I believe, therefore, also detrimental to U.S. interests.”
Buttigieg, who outlined his foreign policy views in a speech at Indiana University last week, was also asked about his stance on the refugee issue — the “right of return”— a core issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I think that concept can be honored in the context of a negotiated peace,” he said, refusing to take a definitive stance on the issue as a presidential candidate. [JewishInsider; Video]
HOW IT PLAYED — Pete Buttigieg calls Israel a “strong ally” and says he’d keep the US embassy in Jerusalem — by Alex Ward: “Most Democratic presidential campaigns for 2020 have bucked tradition and openly expressed their criticisms of the tiny Middle Eastern nation. But Pete Buttigieg, 2020 Democratic hopeful and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, isn’t one of those candidates. While he’s no fan of Netanyahu’s leadership, he has shown a consistent willingness to back Israel.” [Vox]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Ron Lauder at the Jerusalem Post conference held at the Marriott Marquis in NYC — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: World Jewish Congress’s Ron Lauder warned against the “unsettling” drift in support for Israel among Democratic presidential candidates. “We’ve all seen the unsettling change in support for Israel in the Democratic Party. Democrats were once Israel’s strongest supporters beginning with Harry Truman in 1948, but today polls show us that only 24 percent of Democrats side with Israel,” Lauder said. “Most of the presidential candidates in the Democratic Party have distanced themselves from Israel because they see the base of the party moving away from the Jewish state.”
Lauder also called on U.S. Jews to support Israel: “Secular and reform Jews in the Diaspora must show greater solidarity with Israel than to left-wing ideas. Believe me, socialism won’t save you from antisemitism, but Israel will.”
Jason Greenblatt, the White House Mideast peace envoy, indicated that the rollout of the Trump peace plan will likely be delayed until the fall due to Israel’s repeat election. “It’s no secret that the Israeli elections have certainly put a new thought into our head. Had the elections not been called again, perhaps we would have released it during the summer,” Greenblatt said in a conversation with JPost Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz. “We haven’t made a decision on whether we will delay it now until potentially November 6, but I think the logic will still dictate that if we want to wait until a new government is formed, we really do have to wait until, potentially, as late as November 6.”
Greenblatt also said that he is in agreement with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman’s comments to The New York Times about a partial Israeli annexation of the West Bank. “I will let David’s comments stand for themselves, and I support his comment,” he said. [JewishInsider]
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “The deal of the century has to be between Israel and the Palestinians, not between Israel and America… Look, I don’t know the president… However, I know one thing — and you will all agree with me — that he’s exceptionally sensitive not to appear failing in anything that he does, maybe more than most other political persons that we have come to know over the years. So if he calls a peace plan the deal of the century, then at least he thinks that there is a good chance that he will succeed. Otherwise, he would not propose a peace plan named after him that is going to fail almost from the beginning. However, for this peace plan to be successful, it has to [be] at least a little bit appealing also to the other side… So my guess is that if the president is as dedicated to this as I think he is, he will propose something that will be equally uncomfortable to Israel and the Palestinians so it would bring them together to the [negotiating table]. We will see.”
Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked suggested that the appointment of David Friedman as the U.S. envoy opened up a window of opportunity for Israel “to apply Israeli law on Area C, or part of Area C.” Shaked recalled meeting with Friedman during the 2016 presidential election and being surprised to hear from the person who introduced Friedman to her that he was a candidate to become the ambassador to Israel. “I said, ‘You’re kidding me… Wow! This guy is a truly supporter on the settlements in Judea and Samaria. You really think he is going to be the ambassador?’ And he said, ‘Yes, wait and see.’”
TRUMP HEIGHTS — The Israel government approved the establishment of a new community on the Golan Heights to be named Trump Heights (Ramat Trump). U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Elan Carr, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, attended Israel’s cabinet meeting and the plaque-unveiling ceremony, both held in the Golan. [Pic]
“This is an act of settlement and of Zionism of the first order,” Netanyahu saidat the beginning of the cabinet meeting. “The second thing is to honor our friend, a very great friend of the State of Israel, President Donald Trump, who recently recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He is the first international leader to have done so. He tore the mask off this hypocrisy, which does not recognize what is self-evident.”
Amb. Friedman called it an “absolutely beautiful” birthday gift to the president, who celebrated his 73rd birthday on Friday. “I can’t think of a more appropriate and a more beautiful birthday present,” he said.
President Trump thanked Netanyahu for the gesture on Twitter: “Thank you PM Netanyahu and the State of Israel for this great honor!”
The move was slammed as a “PR stunt” since the current interim government doesn’t have the legal authority to establish new communities in the Golan. The cabinet resolution didn’t include funds or a final approval for its precise location and name.
Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) tweeted, “Don’t be too impressed. Before Trump Heights there was an Israeli city named B’nai Barak (loosely translated).”
IRAN WATCH — On Monday, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization announced it will begin to increase enrichment of low-grade uranium to an “unlimited rise,” which will pass the limit allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal by June 27. “If Iran feels that the sanctions have been reinstated or not lifted, Iran has the right to partly or on the whole suspend its commitments,” said the agency’s spokesperson, Behrouz Kamalvandi.
Meanwhile, the IRGC has reportedly “found new sources of revenue, including recently-signed infrastructure contracts in Syria and Iraq as well as expanded smuggling networks” to maintain its support for its proxies in the Middle East.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. is “considering a full range of options” to “restore deterrence” with Iran in the Gulf region, including military options. “President Trump has done everything he can to avoid war,” Pompeo added on Fox News Sunday. “We don’t want war. We’ve done what we can to deter this.”
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman called on the international community to take a “decisive stand” in response to the alleged Iranian attacks in the Gulf of Oman.
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israeli officials have determined that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is responsible for the attack against the two oil tankers last week, Ch. 13’s Barak Ravid reported on Friday. The officials believe the IRGC used mines and a torpedo to attack the tankers.
Why Israel Remains Mum as Accusations Against Iran Abound — by Amos Harel: “Israel’s unusual and even protracted silence is interesting. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said little on the Iranian issue, which is so close to his heart… The Israeli interest appears pretty clear. Jerusalem hopes the U.S. administration will continue to pressure Iran, but in a rare move it’s trying to stay out of the storm. Israel doesn’t want to be accused of encouraging Trump to get into a direct confrontation with Tehran.”[Haaretz]
Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh write… “America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran: Iran’s fragile theocracy can’t absorb a massive external shock. That’s why Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has, for the most part, adhered to the JCPOA, and why he is likely angling for negotiation over confrontation with the Great Satan.” [WSJ]
HEARD ON CABLE — On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) questioned whether President Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement and his recent moves in the region led to the current situation with Iran in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria: “What is his motivation? What is their motivation to be provocative with the Iranians? Why did the president turn his back on the Iranian nuclear agreement? What’s the logic except some other issue — that it was negotiated by President Obama? We had so many national security experts, whether they were ambassadors, generals, admirals and all the rest supporting the agreement as well, so it had official, diplomatic, national security, technical, nuclear, et cetera support along the way. So why? So, then he comes in and undoes that and inflames the U.S.-Iran issue. Why? What is the purpose?” [Video]
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on CBS Face the Nation: “There’s no question that Iran is behind the attacks. I think the evidence is very strong and compelling. In fact, I think this was a class A screw up by Iran to insert a mine on the ship… I can imagine there are some Iranian heads rolling for that botched operation. But, nonetheless, the problem is that we are struggling, even in the midst of this solid evidence, to persuade our allies to join us in any kind of a response and it shows just how isolated the United States has become… This is, I think, the worst of all situations and the maximalist pressure campaign has massively failed and only heightened the risk of conflict.” [Video]
ON THE HILL – By JI’s Laura Kelly: Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) argued for retaliatory strikes against Iran for its alleged attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, in an interview on Sunday on CBS Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan.
Brennan: You have long been defined as a hawk on Iran. You see these recent attacks, these are commercial vessels not military installations. What kind of response is warranted?
Cotton: “Well, Iran, for 40 years has engaged in these kinds of attacks going back to the 1980s. In fact, Ronald Reagan had to reflag a lot of vessels going through the Persian Gulf and ultimately take military action against Iran in 1988. These unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike.”
Brennan: A retaliatory strike? When we had Secretary Pompeo on just a few moments ago, he said the U.S. always has the authorization to defend American interests. As someone who sits in Congress, do you believe that he can act—the administration can act without coming to Congress first?
Cotton: “Yes, Margaret. Going back to President Washington and all the way down to President Trump, the fastest way to get the fire and fury of the U.S. military unleashed on you is to interfere with the freedom of navigation on the open seas and in the air. That’s exactly what Iran is doing in one of the world’s most important strategic choke points. The president has the authorization to act to defend American interests.” [Video]
There’s one more day until House members return to Capitol Hill,to resume debate of the first appropriations package meant to fund key government agencies through fiscal year 2020.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said on CNN’s Van Jones Show on Saturday: “I want to say, you know, there are people who are genuinely interested in fighting antisemitism and then there are those that are interested in weaponizing antisemitism to shut down debate on whatever they might not agree on, and vilify anybody that they might not want to have any kind of platform to have influence. And so with many of my colleagues, they understand that. One of my first acts, after I won my general election, was to write an op-ed in my local newspaper about the rise of antisemitism when the FBI report came out, and the work that we have to do, because it’s really important that you’re not only talking about the threats that you face, you’re talking about the threats that others face. I’m someone that always sees that there is a connection to your oppression to mine.”
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who appeared with Rep. Omar on the program: “Let me just say, though, I think some of the people who were upset about what they heard as antisemitism, were not necessarily trying to weaponize them. This was a genuine feeling… and a genuine concern…”
Omar: “There were a lot of very loud people who may not have a genuine concern.”
Schakowsky: “But one of the motivations for me to be public along with Ilhan was to help those people understand where I was coming from, but even more importantly where she’s coming from.” [Video]
WATCH — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed at the Cambridge University Labour Club (CULC) Union: “I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends.” [Video]
2020 BRIEFS — Trump campaign to purge most pollsters after the leak of dismal results. Pollsters Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin will remain with the campaign… Never mind those tweets, Trump’s 2020 re-election team wants order and discipline… Elizabeth Warren is completely serious about income inequality, corporate power and corrupt politics — and about being America’s next president, writes Emily Bazelon in New York Times Magazine… Can Elizabeth Warren win it all by fighting outsized wealth to the 2020 presidential race? — by Sheelah Kolhatkar in the New Yorker… This isn’t going according to the plan for Kirsten Gillibrand… Pete Buttigieg raisedstaggering $7 million in April alone.
DONOR CIRCUIT — Wall Street Donors Are Swooning for Mayor Pete. (They Like Biden and Harris, Too.) — by Shane Goldmacher: “Hamilton E. James, the executive vice chairman of Blackstone and a top fund-raiser, hosted Mr. Buttigieg at his home on Thursday. The short-selling hedge fund manager James Chanos will hold an event for Mr. Biden on Monday. And on Tuesday, Marc Lasry, the hedge fund manager and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, is gathering checks for Ms. Harris. Co-hosts of that event include Blair W. Effron, an investment bank co-founder and an influential Democratic financier, and Ray McGuire, vice chairman of Citigroup.” [NYTimes]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Sony CEO’s choice: Stay together or bend to Dan Loeb’s breakup push [WSJ] • Goldman CEO David Solomon to DJ at Tomorrowland music festival [NYPost] • Palestinian contractors poised for riches from Israeli tech firm Mellanox’s takeover [Reuters]
STARTUP NATION — Mobileye Expects to See Self-Driving Cabs Hit the Road in 2020 — by Gwen Ackerman: “Intel Corp.’s Mobileye NV unit expects to launch a trial of robo-cabs next year in Israel, the company told Bloomberg News on Sunday. Intel Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan rode a Mobileye autonomous car through Jerusalem congestion Sunday with pedestrians crossing the street and traffic going both ways, on and off ramps and through roundabouts.” [Bloomberg] • Intel launches a project, called Ignite, to help Israeli tech start-ups [Reuters]
THE CIRCUIT — Media titans prepare for celeb-studded Cannes Lions — by Alexandra Steigrad: “This week, at the alcohol-infused five-day gathering known as the 66th annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the brightest minds in the advertising, performing arts, media, tech and corporate marketing worlds, will mull over how to get their content in front of consumers who are increasingly watching in a different way. Headline speakers at the five-day fest, which starts on Monday, include Jeffrey Katzenberg, Shonda Rhimes, Jeff Goldblum, Kerry Washington, Gayle King, Laura Dern, Chrissy Teigen, Sheryl Sandberg and Lorne Michaels.”
“Katzenberg will introduce Quibi, a short/-form video platform, to the ad community. The former Dreamworks boss will be on site to receive Cannes Lions prestigious Media Person of the Year award, is rumored to be announcing ‘massive’ ad partners to launch the service next April.” [PageSix]
PROFILE — Day in the life of Chany Rosen — by Erin Hudson: “Chany Rosen is on a path less traveled. The 28-year-old expeditor got her start in the real estate business a half-dozen years ago after discovering she had a penchant for battling the bureaucracy of New York City’s Department of Buildings… After two-and-a-half years at Frankel’s EF Properties, Rosen’s brother, Yoel Bochner, who was also working in property management, suggested they form their own company, Cavalry Associates. The current mother of five young daughters admitted she was nervous about the move but grew to enjoy being her own boss. ‘You’re not answering to anybody,’ said Rosen, recalling her early days sitting in cafes, jotting down ideas on how to find her first clients. ‘I put myself on a deadline. After four weeks, you’ve got to make an income.’ Rosen and her brother won their first business by fighting $100 sanitation violations for landlords.” [RealDeal]
TALK OF THE TOWN ― Quebec Bans Religious Symbols in Some Public Sector Jobs — by Dan Bilefsky: “The Quebec government passed a bill late Sunday barring schoolteachers, police officers, judges and other public employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace… François Legault, the right-leaning Quebec premier, had called the bill a necessary measure to ensure the separation between religion and state in an abidingly secular province. It applies to Muslim head scarves, Jewish skullcaps, Sikh turbans and Catholic crosses, among other symbols… Critics say that the legislation will effectively exclude religious Muslims, Sikhs and Jews from positions of authority in education and law enforcement… They also argue that it threatens to foment Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fear of other minorities.” [NYTimes]
What Went Wrong at the American Hebrew Academy? — by Phil M. Cohen: “In his email to the faculty, Glenn Drew appeared to blame strikes two and three on the times. Enrollment in Jewish day schools has been in steady decline, he argued; as for fundraising, ‘Declining interest and philanthropic support,’ he wrote, ‘has made sustaining the Academy near impossible. The same has been true for many Jewish schools worldwide.’ In other words: It’s the times, not us. Some of us fortunate enough to be associated with the academy, however, see a more complicated picture. The American Hebrew Academy might have been an insurrection in American Jewish education. A pluralist Jewish boarding school tasked with creating a new paradigm, outrageous as that might appear, might have arisen.” [Tablet]
An Abandoned Weapon in the Fight Against Hate Speech ― by James Loeffler: “Anti-Semitism has returned with a vengeance, yet American Jews have forgotten how to fight it… From Charlottesville to Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania, to Poway, California, American anti-Semitism has repeatedly demonstrated its deadly propensity for violence. The common link is a social mediascape in which anti-Semitic and racist ideas and memes freely circulate, intensifying as they do so. Yet most American Jews feel powerless to fight anti-Semitism, trapped in a simplistic understanding of the First Amendment.”
“To access those legal instruments, however, will require accepting some hard truths about the place of Jews in American society and exploding some myths about the First Amendment. Progressives must accept that Jews face real threats and deserve legal protection. Conservatives must come to terms with the fact that not all offensive political speech about Zionism and Israel is anti-Semitism. Moreover, the best way to ban discriminatory behavior is not by singling out American Jews or the state of Israel for special protection, but by drafting laws that address all forms of bias equally. And everyone needs to think again about the proper balance between free speech and hate speech in American civil-rights law.” [TheAtlantic]
BOOK REVIEW ― Vasily Grossman’s ‘Stalingrad’: Harsh and Sublime ― by Douglas Smith: “Alexandra Popoff, a Russian-born author of several outstanding literary biographies, tells Grossman’s story with sensitivity and a keen understanding of his world, drawing on little-known archival collections to produce what must be considered the definitive biography. Throughout she highlights Grossman’s resistance to the twin totalitarian evils of his time — Nazism and Stalinism — and the defense of human freedom that animates all his writing… He was born into an educated and largely assimilated Jewish family in the Ukrainian town of Berdichev in 1905. His parents gave their son a Russian name and sent him off to school in Switzerland at the age of five. From there he went on to Kiev, where he fell in love with science and began to dream of a life dedicated to research, a dream that was cut short by the revolution and civil war… ‘Stalingrad,’ as the author originally titled his novel, has finally been translated into English for the first time by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, what they call ‘one of the great novels of the last century.'” [WSJ]
TRANSITION ― Eliot A. Cohen, executive vice dean at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), has been appointed dean through June 2021.
MAZEL TOV — At the Mamilla Hotel overlooking the old city of Jerusalem, Michael Short, head of media relations for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and a Trump White House and RNC alum, proposed to Natalie Strom, a Trump White House and RNC alum who is communications director for the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). [Pic] h/t Playbook
DESSERT — Why There’s Never Been a Better Time to Eat Jewish Food — by Kelly Dobkin: “First came the hipster delis. Then babka went viral. Now, Broad City is filming scenes at Russ & Daughters Cafe and people are making burgers with latkes for buns. There’s no doubt about it, Jewish food is everywhere, and it’s undeniably cool. “Only 10 short years ago, things were not looking great for the centuries-old cuisine. Food media was screaming about the rapid disappearance and decline of the Jewish deli, which seemed to indicate a declining interest around Jewish food in general from the millennial generation.” [Thrillist]
BIRTHDAYS: Diplomat and attorney, 1965 President of the Harvard Law Review, Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs in the Carter administration, long-time UN Special Representative, Matthew Nimetz turns 80… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, professor at Georgetown and UC Berkeley, he is married to retired Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin, George Akerlof turns 79… Former member of the Knesset (2015-2018) for the Zionist Union party, Eitan Broshi turns 69… Commissioner and then Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (2004-2013), now a partner at the law firm of Davis Polk, Jonathan David (“Jon”) Leibowitz turns 61… Fashion designer, daughter of Reva Schapira, Tory Burch turns 53… Active in interfaith peace initiatives between Judaism and Islam and in encounters for Jews with Eastern religions, Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen (born Genack) turns 52…
Michael Warner turns 47… Advocacy, philanthropic and political counsel at Chicago-based Beyond Advisers, David Elliot Horwich turns 43… SVP for the Economic Program at Third Way, Gabriel Aron (“Gabe”) Horwitz turns 43… Director of government affairs for the Conservation Lands Foundation, he previously worked for the Claims Conference and World Jewish Restitution Organization on behalf of Holocaust victims, David Eric Feinman turns 40… Rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, NJ, he is also the assistant director of Jewish Family Service of Clifton-Passaic, Rabbi Michael Bleicherturns 35… Recently appointed as a NYC-based writer for The Hollywood Reporter‘s daily newsletter, Today In Entertainment, Alexander Weprinturns 35… Founder and executive director of the Zioness Movement, designed to empower progressive Zionists, Amanda Berman turns 34…
2014 graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC with a master’s degree in Jewish Experiential Education, Alexander Willick turns 32… College football reporter for The All-American, she previously covered college sports for six years at USA Today, Nicole Auerbach turns 30… Member of the United States Ski Team’s alpine skiing program, he competed for the USA in both the 2014 (Sochi) and 2018 (PyeongChang) Winter Olympics, Jared Goldberg turns 28… Graphic designer working on editorial illustrations at Axios, Rebecca Zisser turns 27 (h/t Playbook)… Shortstop in the Colorado Rockies organization, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and the qualifier round in 2016, Scott Burcham turns 26… Washington bureau chief and a reporter for the international news channel i24News, Mounira Al Hmoud… Michael Freund…