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JI EXCLUSIVE — AIPAC’s congressional trip to Israel leaves in August. Here’s who’s going — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Jewish Insiderreached out to all 64 offices of freshman House Democrats, inquiring if they will attend the AIEF/AIPAC trip to Israel in August.
At least 16 freshmen are scheduled to go, including Reps. Sharice Davids (D-KS); Madeleine Dean (D-PA); Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX); Sylvia Garcia (D-TX); Steven Horsford (D-NV); Ben McAdams (D-UT); Lucy McBath (D-GA); Joe Morelle (D-NY); Chris Pappas (D-NH); Max Rose (D-NY); Harley Rouda (D-CA); Donna Shalala (D-FL); Greg Stanton (D-AZ); Haley Stevens (D-MI); David Trone (D-MD) and Susan Wild (D-PA).
Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) told JI he will attend some, but not all of the August trip.
The trip is led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who will also be joined by Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). In March at the AIPAC conference, Majority Leader Hoyer said he expected the August trip to be the largest delegation he’s ever led, with at least 30 members of the Democratic caucus, including ‘many’ freshmen.
At least 15 Democrats told JI they won’t be attending the trip, a majority cited scheduling conflicts, prioritizing time in their district, or planned trips with family.
Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D-NJ) said he is spending time at home over the summer recess in lieu of any trips. Likewise, a spokesman for Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) said she won’t be taking any foreign trips during her first term. Rep. Dean Phillips, who traveled to Israel shortly before declaring his candidacy in 2017, told JI he won’t be attending the AIEF trip. Rep. Andy Levin (D-MN) said he has to put family commitments happening at the same time ahead of taking the trip, but said he spoke to AIPAC about his inability to attend. Reps. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) all cited scheduling conflicts. [JewishInsider]
DRIVING THE CONVO — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday morning. “Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Pompeo said at the State Department.
The U.S. military released a video showing an Iranian navy boat removing an unexploded mine attached to the hull of the Kokura Courageous, after “a flying object” appeared to strike the tanker. “Iran did do it, and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” President Trump said during a phone interview on Fox and Friends this morning.
Tehran dismissed the U.S. claim as “unfounded.” In a statement on Friday, the Iranian mission to the United Nations said: “Iran categorically rejects the U.S. unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents, and condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”
Former U.S. officials, foreign diplomats and experts expressed fear that things could get out of hand, leading to a military conflict that both sides want to prevent.
Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama admin. official, tweeted: “I’ve been saying for the past month that threat of war with Iran is overhyped. Not after today. We should be concerned. Khameini’s tweets embarrassing [Japanese PM Shinzō] Abe who was there at Trump’s request + attacks on oil tankers seem to signal a fundamental shift by Iran.”
FDD’s Mark Dubowitz emails JI: “Tehran should review the history of Operation Praying Mantis in 1988 when President Reagan ordered the sinking of Islamic Revolutionary Guard navy boats in response to their mining of the Gulf that caused damage to American and international ships. American patience is not limitless.”
Former Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran, said in an interview with Fox Business: “The president broke out of the Iran nuclear agreement, squeezing Iran with sanctions economically. They are on the defensive, so this is one of the ways they can fight back… We can’t let Iran essentially try to hold us hostage. They are weak right now, and this is about one of the few things they can do.” [Video]
The Wall Street Journal editorial… “The Iranian Tanker Attacks: These accumulating acts of aggression by Iran should make clear that Secretary Pompeo is right to insist that the U.S. proceed with its planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia… Lately, some have doubted the importance of the U.S. role in the region. Two oil tankers in flames from torpedo attacks in the Gulf of Oman refute that view. The unavoidable fact is that Iran remains the primary threat to stability in the Middle East. The U.S. is right to be there, in force and prepared to defend the interests of itself and its allies.” [WSJ]
ON THE HILL – By JI’s Laura Kelly: Senate Democrats on Thursday sought to block President Trump from attacking Iran without the approval of Congress, introducing an amendment prohibiting the use of military funds for operations against the Islamic Republic, unless approved by lawmakers.
The Democrats, including Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), were also joined by Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a constitutional conservative who frequently supports non-interventionist legislation. The amendment is to be attached to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the vice chair of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the State Department and foreign operations, tweeted: “Let me be perfectly clear: the administration does not have the authorization to go to war without Congressional approval. Trump and Pompeo must come before Congress and make their case before any action is taken.”
The question of whether the administration has a plan in place to do this came up Wednesday night during a marathon bill markup session of the House Armed Services Committee, with Democrat and Republican members saying Secretary Pompeo had briefed lawmakers on the exact scenario. “We were absolutely presented with a full formal presentation on how the 2001 [Authorization of Military Force] might authorize war on Iran. Yes, I’m sorry sir. Secretary Pompeo said it with his own words,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) said during the markup.
Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded to a question by Jewish Insider on what next steps the U.S. should take with Iran, asserting that the Trump administration should revoke all civilian nuclear waivers to increase the “maximum pressure” campaign.
Bipartisan lawmakers condemned on Thursday that justice has yet to be served in the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Argentina, calling for more accountability of Iran and Hezbollah’s role in the deadly attack, in a resolution introduced Thursday marking the 25th anniversary.
Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Francis Rooney (R-FL) co-sponsored the resolution, which honors the 85 people killed at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The resolution also highlights the death of special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, found shot in the head in his apartment the day before he was to present special evidence accusing the Argentinian government of conspiring to cover up Iran and Hezbollah’s role in the attacks.
ANTISEMITISM WATCH ― On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution condemning antisemitism, co-sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). The resolution also puts the Senate on record as committed to combating all forms of antisemitism.
Cruz, in his remarks on the floor, said the resolution is an answer to alarming increases in antisemitic attacks and incidences, but also called out the House of Representatives for failing to singularly condemn antisemitism during the passage of an anti-hate resolution in March.
JI INTERVIEW — Miami-based developer Michael Adler, who served as former Vice President Joe Biden’s national finance chair in 2008 and who hosted a fundraiser for Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign at the Gables Club Tower in Florida last month, discussed his support for Biden in a phone interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh.
“I [have known] the former vice president since he became a United States senator in the 1970s and I found him to be of the highest character, and — contrary to what has been written — of very high level of intelligence, but at the same time to be a very serious, compassionate, and insightful person who really cares about community and is not just the politically motivated, ambitious person,” Adler said.
Adler dismissed the chatter about Biden’s age. “Considering the assumption would be that he runs against President Trump. I don’t think that the difference in age between the two of them makes age an important issue at all,” he explained. “As to the primary process, I certainly understand why there’s an overwhelming feeling within the Democratic electorate that you would like somebody who is a woman or progressive, or somebody that really speaks to the future, and therefore the age would be an issue. I don’t believe it is as important today because of the particular election and the present condition of our country.”
Adler also sees a difference between Biden and former president Barack Obama with regard to Israel, even though Biden has said he would continue Obama’s policies if elected as president, mainly in style and approach. But he also argued that Biden would not have negotiated the exact deal that President Obama signed with Iran in 2015. “Whoever is the president and is going to be the primary negotiator is going to have their own views and is going to impact significantly what those specific terms are. So given where we are now, in the president rejecting the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal], you can’t replay history. There will be a negotiation, if there ever is that opportunity, and I believe that under President Joe Biden, there would be, not a difference in ideology, but there would be a difference in the negotiating style that would be very important to those negotiations.” [JewishInsider]
Professor Alan Dershowitz said on Thursday he could be a Biden supporter. “I’m a strong supporter of Joe Biden. I like Joe Biden, I’ve liked him for a long time, and I could enthusiastically support Joe Biden,” Dershowitz said in an interview with SiriusXM.
Dershowitz tweeted this morning: “I will not make a final decision who to vote for until Election Day. I like Joe Biden but no one can take my vote for granted. I said I ‘could ‘ vote for Biden, not that I would. I don’t like what Biden said to JStreet about Israel. I could never vote for Sanders.”
WEDDING CIRCUIT — Hunter Biden, second son to Joe Biden has remarried, per numerous sources and confirmed by the former vice president. Biden reportedly wed Melissa Cohen, a Jewish-South African, in mid-May. According to Facebook posts reviewed by JI, Cohen appears to proudly display her Jewish heritage.
2020 BRIEFS — It’s not just Trump questioning Biden’s age. Democrats are, too… If Pete Buttigieg wins, he’d support a criminal investigation into Trump…For Bernie Sanders, the path to power began in a public-housing laundry room…
TRUMP HEIGHTS — It’s official. The new community in the Golan Heights set to be established in honor of President Trump will carry the name ‘Ramat Trump’ — Trump Heights in English, the Israeli government announced on Thursday.
Cabinet ministers will approve the resolution during the weekly cabinet meeting, which will be held in the Golan on Sunday.
Tremors across Jordan as Trump Mideast peace plan revives old fears — by Suleiman Al-Khalidi: “Jordan’s King Abdullah reacts angrily to any suggestion that he might accept a U.S. deal to end the Arab-Israeli conflict that would make his country a homeland for Palestinians… American officials deny contemplating making Jordan a Palestinian homeland… But Trump’s radical approach to the issue, and recent statements by his ambassador to Israel that it had a right to annex some of the West Bank have done little to assuage Jordanian concerns.” [Reuters]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Elliott deal undervalues Barnes & Noble, investor group led by Richard Schottenfeld says [WSJ] • Barry Rosenstein’s Jana eyes pushing Callaway Golf for changes, stock surges [Reuters] • Daniel Loeb’s Third Point calls for breakup of Sony — again [WSJ]
LONG READ — Nazis Killed Her Father. Then She Fell in Love With One — by Katrin Bennhold: “The story of [Emilie] Landecker, whose Jewish father was murdered by the Nazis, and [Albert] Reimann, whose fervent Nazism and abuse of forced laborers did not stop his family from attaining colossal wealth after the war, is a tale of death and devotion and human contradictions. It is also a tale of modern-day corporate atonement.”
“Decades after World War II, Benckiser evolved into one of the largest consumer goods conglomerates on the planet. Known today as JAB Holding Company and still controlled by the Reimann family, it is worth more than $20 billion and owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Peet’s Coffee, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Pret A Manger, Keurig and other iconic breakfast brands.”
“The relationship between Mr. Reimann and Ms. Landecker was for many years a secret. He was married, but had no children with his wife. He and Ms. Landecker had three, and he adopted them in the 1960s; today, two of them own a combined stake in JAB of about 45 percent. For decades, they say, they did not know about their father’s Nazism and the abuses that took place at the company they inherited: The female forced laborers who had to stand at attention outside their barracks naked. A prisoner of war who was kicked out of a bomb shelter and died.” [NYTimes]
NEW FILM — An affair between a Palestinian man and Israeli woman ignites ‘The Reports on Sarah and Saleem’ — by Kenneth Turan: “‘The Reports on Sarah and Saleem’ snaps, crackles and pops. A taut and compelling Jerusalem-set melodrama, it effectively intertwines the personal with the political in a way that is only enhanced by that city’s fraught atmosphere and cultural dynamics. The second feature for promising Palestinian director Muayad Alayan, ‘Sarah and Saleem’ combines fine naturalistic acting and a psychologically complex script (by the director’s brother Rami) with Alayan’s filmmaking abilities to tell a story where unforeseen circumstances produce devastating consequences. As the director himself has succinctly put it, ‘only in Jerusalem can private extramarital affairs destroy lives.'” [LATimes]
SPORTS BLINK — The Toronto Raptors, co-owned by Larry Tanenbaum, win the NBA championship — by Ben Cohen: “Before the first NBA team outside the U.S. ever played a game, the new franchise in Toronto needed a name. The owners asked the entire nation of Canada for ideas… Now the Toronto Raptors can be called something else: NBA champions. The Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors, 114-110, in Game 6 of the Finals on Thursday to win the series, 4-2.” [WSJ]
— Last week, Tanenbaum was quoted as saying during a visit to Israel, “If we win the NBA championship, I will come with the Toronto Raptors to visit the Holy Land.”
Ryan Braun breaks Hank Greenberg’s record for most home runs by a Jewish player: “Ryan Braun now holds the record for most home runs by a Jewish baseball player. The 35-year-old outfielder passed Hank Greenberg on Friday when he hit his 332nd career homer in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.” [JTA]
TALK OF THE TOWN ― N.Y. Eliminates Religious Exemptions for Vaccinations — by Jesse McKinley: “Lawmakers in New York, the epicenter of the nation’s measles outbreak, voted on Thursday to end religious exemptions for immunizations… Calling it a public health emergency, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo immediately signed the bill… The tension over the issue was readily apparent in the Capitol on Thursday as hundreds of angry opponents — many with young children and infants — pleaded with lawmakers to reject the bill, sometimes invoking the will of God, other times their rights as parents.”[NYTimes]
DESSERT — The Cost Of Keeping Kosher For Houston Businesses: Michael Hagerty talks to Tzivia Weiss, executive director of the Houston Kashruth Association (HKA), Rabbi Adrienne Scott of Congregation Beth-Israel, Barak Richman from the Duke University School of Law, and Janice Jucker, owner of Three Brothers Bakery, about why the bakery lost its certification, what it takes to get certified, what it means to keep kosher, and about the challenges raised by the growth of the kosher industry in recent years. [HoustonPublicMedia]
WINE OF THE WEEK — 2014 Smith Haut Lafitte — by Yitz Applbaum: “On a recent trip to France, I, by chance, ran into my old friend Fabrice. Fabrice is one of the great founders of the kosher wine movement creating some of the finest kosher wines ever produced. With his newest Bordeaux, he has once again taken the kosher palate to new heights.”
“The 2014 Smith Haut Lafitte is a gargantuan panoply of mixed dark berries, tartness, huge tannins, red roses and dark chocolate, all elegantly blended together. The color of this wine is deep ruby red and the nose is laced with hints of aged tobacco and cherry pie. Decant the wine at least two hours before drinking and enjoy in the largest Cabernet glass you can find.” [SmithHautLafitte]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump turns 73… Civil rights activist, June Shagaloff Alexander turns 91… Retired Soviet nuclear scientist, now writing from Skokie on Jewish intellectual spirituality, Vladimir Minkov, Ph.D. turns 86… Member of Knesset (1988-2003) and twice Israel’s Minister of Finance, Mayor of Arad for twenty years and son-in-law of former Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol, Avraham (“Beiga”) Shochat turns 83… Senior Vice President for Synagogue and Rabbinic Initiatives at the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Dr. Beryl Geber turns 82… Former French UN Ambassador (2000-2002), French Ambassador to the U.S. (2002-2007), then diplomatic advisor to former French Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy (2007-2012), Jean-David Levitte turns 73…
Writer, critic, philosopher Leon Wieseltier turns 67… Russian-born billionaire and philanthropist, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 for services to philanthropy, Sir Leonard “Len” Blavatnik turns 62… Political activist and outspoken critic of Islam, Pamela Geller turns 61… CEO at M+R Strategic Services, a consulting firm for non-profits with 140 employees, William Benjamin (“Bill”) Wasserman turns 60… Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, previously an Emmy Award-winning television news anchor on NBC (2003-2007) and CNN (2008-2010), Campbell Brownturns 51…
SVP at Weber Shandwick, he was previously a global communications executive at Nike and an official at USAID, Daniel M. Gaynor turns 38… NYC-based businessman, living in the US since 2003, he is the son of Russian oligarch and former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Pavel Khodorkovsky turns 34… Senior advisor in the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, Paige Esterkin turns 29… New Leadership Network Director at AIPAC, Lilly Rapson turns 28… Freelance writer specializing in European and Israeli politics, Liam Hoare… Research assistant at Stateside Associates, Julia Cohen… Joanna Lerner…
SATURDAY: Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Hédi Fried turns 95… Iranian-born British billionaire, his companies employ 70,000 people in 67 countries, Baron David Allianceturns 87… Co-founder with his father and brothers in 1961 of Canadian radio and television conglomerate Astral Media, Ian Greenberg turns 77… Gerald S. Adler turns 77… Former president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, he is now the host of a weekly radio news magazine, Stuart C. Turgel turns 71… Author, attorney, public speaker and president of the National Rifle Association (2005-2007) where she has served on the board since 1992, Sandra S. (Sandy) Froman turns 70… Ethicist and professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, she served as Dean there (2017-2018), Laurie Zoloth turns 69… Entrepreneur, currently living in Estonia, vice president of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, he has rebuilt a synagogue and a community center in Estonia, Alexander Bronstein Ph.D. turns 65…
President and CEO of the public relations firm Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman turns 65… Born and educated in NYC, he moved to Warsaw in 2000 and became Chief Rabbi of Poland in 2004, Rabbi Michael Schudrich turns 64… Rabbi of Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield, NJ and rosh yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University in NYC, Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger turns 64… Daniel Lacesa turns 54… Co-founder of The Jerusalem Portfolio, a diverse portfolio of over 100 Israel-focused public companies, and board member of The Washington Institute For Near East Policy, Jeffrey I. Abrams turns 52… Metropolitan editor of The New York Times since 2018, he is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and previously managed the NYT’s digital platforms, Clifford J. Levy turns 52… CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash (born Dana Ruth Schwartz) turns 48…
News and finance reporter at CNN, she was previously a co-host of CBS This Morning, a Yahoo News anchor and a contributor to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Bianna Golodryga turns 41… Co-founder of Evergreen Strategy Group, he is a former director of speechwriting for Hillary Clinton and was also the principal collaborator on HRC’s two memoirs (published in 2014 and 2017), Daniel Baum Schwerin turns 37… NYC-based public affairs director for DC and regional communications at Google, Rebecca Michelle Ginsberg Rutkoff turns 34… VP of leadership development at Birthright Israel Foundation, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani turns 33… Digital journalist and producer for ABC News, Ali S. Weinberg Rogin turns 32… The Paul E. Singer Foundation’s Joel Winton… Finance major at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Elli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter…
SUNDAY: Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives for multiple terms, in 2015 she became the president of Plaza Health Network, Elaine Bloom turns 82… Former Mayor of Portland, Governor of Oregon and later a member of Jimmy Carter’s cabinet, Neil Goldschmidt turns 79… Brigadier-General (retired) in the IDF, then a member of Knesset (1992-1999), then chairman of Ha’aguda Lema’an Hachayal, a non-profit IDF veterans group (2007-2015), Avigdor Kahalani turns 75… Chairman of AG International Law, a DC-based law firm specializing in mass tort litigation against governments and institutions complicit in terrorism and human rights violations, Allan Gerson turns 74…
Graduate and later Dean of Yeshiva College, U.S. ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) for President Bill Clinton, and U.S. ambassador to Israel (2001-2005) for President George W Bush, Daniel C. Kurtzer turns 70… Rickey Wolosky Palkovitz turns 70… Chief investigative correspondent at Yahoo! News, Michael Isikoff turns 67… President of GEM Commercial Flooring Company in Overland Park, Kansas, Matthew Elyachar turns 59… Managing director and founder in 2008 of NYC-based Marathon Strategies, long-time staffer for Senator Schumer, Philip Keith (“Phil”) Singer turns 44…