Daily Kickoff

A primer on the Israel-related legislation in Congress today | Rick Perry in Jerusalem | When Kamala Harris met her Jewish in-laws

Haim Zach (GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Tuesday, 23 July 2019), at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, met with US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

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ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Three Israel-related bills will go to the House floor today for a vote, including Rep. Brad Schneider’s (D-IL) resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The resolution has more than 340 co-sponsors, with over 70 percent of Republican and Democratic members of Congress signing on. 

The United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, authored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), is also expected to pass today. The bill spells out key areas of cooperation between the U.S. and Israel, including on research and development in security, technology and science and U.S. security assistance. It also amends the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act to allow security and humanitarian assistance for Palestinians to resume and strengthens pathways to justice for American victims of Palestinian terrorism. 

The House will also vote on the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act of 2019, sponsored by Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL). The bill would cut off and sanction international networks of support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 

Not on the docket (yet) is a resolution co-sponsored by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Karen Bass (D-CA) supporting the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution, H.Res. 326, passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. No Republicans have signed on yet to the measure, which has more than 150 Democratic co-sponsors. 

AIPAC issued an action alert ahead of the vote on the anti-BDS resolution. “The bipartisan resolution puts Congress on the record in opposition to the global BDS campaign targeting Israel,” the pro-Israel lobby stated. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), however, expressed its opposition to the move, which includes language in support of a two-state solution. “A Palestinian-Arab state would be more dangerous for Israel than BDS is. So, as a result of this insertion, the net effect of these resolutions is to harm Israel,” ZOA leaders said in a joint statement. 

TALK OF THE REGION — Israeli demolition of dozens of Palestinian homes in the village of Sur Baher, on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, drew a strong rebuke from the international community on Monday. The move came after the Supreme Court ruled that the illegal construction close to the security barrier “constitutes a severe security threat and can provide cover to suicide bombers and other terrorists hiding among civilian populations,” said Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. 

The European Union called Israel’s actions “illegal” and charged that it “undermined the viability of a two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) commented, quote-tweeting Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security advisor under President Barack Obama, who stated that Israel is discriminating against Palestinians. “Ben is right,” Omar wrote. “Palestinians deserve self-determination and statehood just like their neighbors, not destruction of their property and indefinite military occupation of their land. This has to stop!” 

William McGurn writes… “Thelma and Louise go to Israel: The Democratic Party’s Thelma and Louise — Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — are taking their act to Israel. In a great gift to Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to let them in.” [WSJ]

DEEP DIVE — Israeli probes into deaths of Palestinians often go nowhere — by Isabel Debre and Mohammed Daraghmeh: “The Israeli military has opened investigations into 24 potentially criminal shootings of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip over the past year, The Associated Press has found. Yet none of the cases have yielded convictions or even indictments. In most instances, the army hasn’t interviewed key witnesses or retrieved evidence from the field… In the last eight years, nearly 200 criminal investigations into the shootings of Palestinians have secured just two convictions, according to B’Tselem.” [AP]

IRAN WATCH — President Donald Trump said Monday that Iran was lying about claims that it arrested CIA spies and downed an American drone. “The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false,” he tweeted. “Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump suggested, “It’s getting harder for me to make a deal with Iran.” The president said he was “just going to sit back and wait… we are ready for the absolute worst and we’re ready for sense, too… We are very geared up.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described on Monday the Trump peace plan, which includes an economic development component, as a “dangerous plot [that] aims to eliminate Palestinian identity among the Palestinian people.”

McClatchy‘s Michael Wilner reported on Tuesday that U.S. government agencies have “combined data tools and human expertise” to “officially rank Arab media outlets over their coverage of the Middle East peace process,” at the direction of Jared Kushner. The purpose of the project, according to the report, is to better understand “what’s driving the street” across the Arab world, so that the White House peace team can more effectively get across their message during the rollout of the peace plan.  

SCENE IN JERUSALEM — Energy Secretary Rick Perry met Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. The pair addressed a variety of issues, including Israel’s growing ties with surrounding Arab states.[Pic]

Perry also met with Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who said the pair discussed “the importance of maintaining sanctions on Iran, the opportunity to strengthen relations with the Arab Gulf countries and Israeli-American cooperation in the Tracks for Regional Peace Initiative.” [Pic]

At a press conference in Jerusalem on Monday, Perry said that the U.S. is concerned about Chinese investments in Israel due to security concerns, “particularly with the collection of information… the cybersecurity side of things.”

On Monday, a well-known Saudi blogger was attacked in Jerusalem’s Old City on his way to visit the Temple Mount because he is taking part in an event hosted by the Israeli government. Palestinians threw chairs and shouted at Mohammed Saud, who is in Israel as part of a delegation of Arab journalists and bloggers hosted by the Foreign Ministry. The group is slated to meet Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Tuesday. 

HEARD YESTERDAY — Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) vowed to impeach President Donald Trump during a speech in Detroit on Monday. “I’m not going nowhere, not until I impeach this President,” Tlaib said during the NAACP annual convention. “The Squad is all of you. I can tell you, you are all the squad, trust me. If you support equity, you support justice, you are one of us.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Hughes spoke with Tlaib’s constituents to hear their views about their representative. “I just want her to stay focused more on the district rather than all the national attention she’s getting,” Keith Williams, chairman of the Democratic Black Caucus in Michigan, told the newspaper. 

WATCH — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) recounted meeting her Jewish in-laws for the first time during a conversation at the 92Y in January, a video of which was shared on Sunday. “The first time I meet my mother-in-law — and they are originally from Brooklyn, okay — so the first time I meet my mother-in-law, she looks at me, she puts my face in her hand… she looks at me and she says, ‘Oh look at you. You’re prettier than you are on television. Mike, look at her! (long laughter) I swear to you.” [Video]

2020 BRIEFS — 2020 candidates delayed paying staff to look richer on paper in last quarter filings… Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen were spottedat Joe Biden’s fundraiser in California on Friday… Beto O’Rourke calls Trump event ‘almost an impromptu Nuremberg rally’… How to get a selfie with Elizabeth Warren in 8 steps… In a whirlwind of private meetings, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman set up meetings between Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian officials to discredit Trump’s 2020 rivals.

ROAD TO CONGRESS — Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse announced on Monday a primary challenge to House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA). In his announcement video, Morse said that the 30-year incumbent lacked the “urgency” to push progressive ideas in his powerful position.

LONG READ — The Hollywood three tries to save Western civilization — by Peter Savodnik:“Traumatized by 2016, writers-producers Billy Ray, Gregg Hurwitz, and Marshall Herskovitz discovered an unlikely new vocation as political consultants for Democratic candidates in red America…  After the election Ray, Hurwitz, and Herskovitz began thinking — first separately, then as a team — about how to help Democrats reconnect with the sort of people who had taken the leap with Trump… There’s a fraternal-paternal bond that stretches across the generations: Herskovitz is 67; Ray, 55; Hurwitz, 45. “We’re like brothers,” Hurwitz says. “We’re all probably related like 12 generations ago, in the Pale, like this wandering tribe of Jews. I would trust them with my life.” [VanityFair]

ACROSS THE POND — Former British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was elected leader of the Conservative Party on Tuesday. He is set to become the new prime minister of Britain, replacing outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May. Johnson will be faced with imminent and critical negotiations over the terms of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. Johnson, who most recently visited Israel in 2015, when he was mayor of London, is considered an ardent supporter of the Jewish state. 

On her final day in power, May appointed Labour MP John Mann as an “independent advisor on antisemitism.” Mann — a harsh critic of his party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn — was described by May on Tuesday as “without exception, a key voice on this matter. He has frequently campaigned in the House of Commons on this issue and has tirelessly used his role as a politician to speak out on behalf of victims of anti-Jewish racism.” 

MP Jo Swinson was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats on Monday. Last week, Swinson said in an interview with Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel that she sees her party as the “natural home of the Jewish community” and “if they didn’t, for a second, I as leader would want to know about it, and would expect any such concerns to be quickly and properly dealt with.” She also ruled out joining forces with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a future coalition for his “inability” to act on antisemitism within his own party. 

Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth writes… “Misery of being a Jewish member of the Labour Party is not going to end soon: It is easy, in the middle of a political crisis, to forget how you got there. That has never been more true than of the ongoing misery of antisemitism in the Labour Party. In the past three years we’ve rarely gone a week without a scandal of anti-Jewish hate and abuse, creating a situation that is becoming normalised where far too many Jewish members don’t feel safe or comfortable at a Labour Party meeting.” [TheTimes]

RACE TO THE KNESSET — A new Likud campaign ad on Monday targeted Kachol Lavan’s Yair Lapid over his command of English, even implying he made up a word during a recent CNN interview. But English-language journalists were quick to point out that the word in question — conundrum — is hardly made up. Lapid himself quickly fired back, posting a screenshot of the word’s definition on Twitter with the message: “Here Bibi, let me help you.” 

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Carl Icahn: Warren Buffett’s Occidental deal is a ‘travesty’ [CNN] • WeWork secures ‘financial inducement’ of £55.7m in Brexit windfall [TheGuardian] • What if WeWork defaults? Sales pitch at 110 Wall mulled scenario before a change-of-heart by Bill Rudin [RealDeal• Hematian family to buy Times Square building from Isaac Chetrit for $92 million [RealDeal• Israel’s Gazit Globe bets on East Europe real estate with Atrium stake increase [Reuters• Israel’s retail analytics co Trax raises $100 million [Globes]

STARTUP NATION — Israeli startup uses artificial intelligence to predict auto crash injuries — by Matthew Dolan: “An Israeli start-up is working to close the information gap with a medical artificial intelligence system designed to alert first responders in real time about the kind of internal injuries they may find. Volvo Cars today is announcing a new investment in Tel Aviv-based MDGo to help refine the technology and bring it to additional markets.” [DetroitFreePress]

SPOTLIGHT — Lawsuit challenges Barry Diller’s future control of Expedia — by Dennis Schaal: “A shareholder lawsuit naming Expedia, Diller, and the rest of the board of directors, brought by Teamsters Union Local No. 142 Pension Fund, effectively seeks to block Diller’s potential voting control of Expedia Group after a merger with Liberty Expedia, and seeks monetary damages. The lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, alleges that Diller and Expedia Group board members’ breached their fiduciary responsibilities resulting from the terms of the deal.”

“All of the board members, including Alexander von Furstenberg (the son of Diller’s wife Diane von Furstenberg), Chelsea Clinton (Diller and the Clintons are reportedly close), and Expedia Group CEO Okerstrom, as well as former CEO and director Dara Khosrowshahi, are named as defendants in the shareholder lawsuit.” [Skift]

TOP OP — The 1930s were a dark period for immigration policies. There’s one way today’s could be worse — by Catherine Rampell: “Eighty years ago last month, the S.S. St. Louis entered American waters. The liner carried more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution, hoping to find a haven across the Atlantic… Officials turned nearly all of the passengers away… It’s hard not to think about such shameful episodes of U.S. history amid our current treatment of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” [WashPost]

HOLLYWOOD — In ‘Skin,’ an Israeli director portrays a neo-Nazi’s evolution — by Tobias Grey: “‘Skin,’ which opens in the U.S. on July 26, is [Guy] Nattiv’s first American feature film. Mr. Nattiv said he dedicated it to Ruben Monowitz, who died two years ago at age 96, ‘because he taught us as grandkids how to accept and forgive.’… ‘Skin,’ which won the international critics prize at last September’s Toronto International Film Festival, draws its title from the hate-filled tattoos that [Bryon] Widner had removed from his face and body after dropping his racist beliefs and turning state’s evidence.” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Jewish medieval treasures hidden for centuries will go on view at the Cloisters — by Helen Holmes: “On July 22, a new exhibition [opened] at The Met Cloisters that [champions] certain treasures that were deliberately obscured from view by their owners to avoid the consequences of violence against Jews. Originally discovered in 1863 in the walls of a home in Colmar, France, the Colmar Treasure is a collection of precious artifacts that were the property of a single Jewish family who lived during the 14th century.” [Observer]

Hitler looted the art, then they looted Hitler — by Catherine Hickley: “Hitler, the man who turned the illegal seizure of art into a national trade, had his own plunder ransacked. Now the Central Institute for Art History in Munich has conducted the first comprehensive investigation into the fate of the art that was stored in the Führer’s building and the adjacent Nazi headquarters… Much of the art was already stolen property, having been confiscated by the Nazis from Jewish collections.” [NYTimes]

MAZEL TOV — Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky announced the birth of their third child, Jasper Clinton Mezvinsky, on Monday.

DESSERT — Tasting the past, present and future in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter — by Shinan Govani: “The mark that history puts on subsequent generations, and the way different cultures gestate was also on my mind as I eventually walked the maze of narrow cobblestone lanes that make up the Quarter now. Destination: Mazel Tov, a blithe, labyrinth restaurant clearly more than happy to lean into its Jewish-ness, both by virtue of its name and its grub… Going beyond the traditional kosher restaurants tucked in around the area… it is a spot that’s been red-hot from the moment it opened in 2014. Harnessing the flavours of Israeli-inspired cooking (with a dollop of Mediterranean) — think shakshuka, grilled meat and hymn-worthy hummus — it also looks back while looking ahead.” [EverythingZoomer]

Police thwart theft of half a ton of chickpeas in southern Israel: “Police said Sunday that a man was arrested on suspicion of attempting to steal about half a ton of chickpeas from crop fields in southern Israel. The suspect, a member of the Bedouin community in his 30s, has been taken for questioning… Border Police forces in the area then launched a search and found the car abandoned and loaded with a large quantity of chickpeas, the statement said.” [ToI]

BIRTHDAYS: U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, appointed by President Carter in 1979, he assumed senior status in 1999 and is a past president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Judge Avern Cohn turns 95… World-renowned pianist and conductor (despite a medical condition that deprived him of the use of his right hand for many years), Leon Fleisher turns 91… Banker who distributed $60 million to his 400 employees when he sold City National Bank of Florida in 2008, Leonard L. Abess turns 71… Former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands (2009-2011), she has been a trustee of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation since 2016, Fay Hartog-Levin turns 71…

Retired appellate court judge, born in Bucharest, Romania, raised in Los Angeles, at age 35 he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Reagan, Judge Alex Kozinski turns 69… Businessman who made his fortune in the trade and manufacture of fertilizer in the former Soviet Union, Alexander Rovt turns 67… Proprietor of Oy Vey Jewish Bakery and Delicatessen in Terre Haute, Indiana, Chavah Stair turns 53… Freelance journalist and a former reporter and columnist for Glamour magazine, she is the widow of Daniel Pearl and wrote a book about his kidnapping and murder in Pakistan in 2002, Mariane Pearl turns 52… Director of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Museum since 2016, Rachel Goslins turns 50… Chicago resident, Dov M. Katz turns 49…

Journalist who wrote for the Los Angeles Times, he was a regular contributor to Time (including fourteen cover stories), Joel Stein turns 48… Psychologist in private practice in both Manhattan and Great Neck, Long Island, Lynn Glasman, Ph.D. turns 48… Activist, television personality and fashion designer, Monica Lewinsky turns 46… Reporter for The Washington Postcovering education in the District of Columbia, Perry Stein turns 30… Baseball outfielder for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, he was the starting right fielder for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Zach Borenstein turns 29… Associate at The Harris Family Charitable Foundation, Joseph Stern… Melissa Brown

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