Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here or for early 7AM access via Debut Inbox
ON THE TRAIL — Jewish Insider’s Ben Jacobs asked Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who was campaigning at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Saturday, if he agreed with a few of his fellow 2020 Democratic candidates that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist.
Booker did not answer the question directly and took some umbrage at the premise: “You know, what I think very strongly, sir, is that we have a crisis with Israel right now. Israel is less safe under this president than it was before. We literally have a president right now that has allowed Iran to have a superhighway through Syria; that literally announces by tweet that he’s pulling our troops out which puts Israel more at risk. We have a president who is breaking [the] tradition of Democratic and Republican presidents in the past by turning his back on the commitment to a two-state solution. We have a president that’s not doing what he should be doing to protect that region. He’s pulling away from a nuclear deal now as he’s making Iran go perilously towards it.”
“I know you have these interesting questions,” Booker continued, “but I got to the United States Senate to stand up for our allies and for the State of Israel and this is a president who is making the United States weaker and making Israel more vulnerable.” [JewishInsider]
SCENE IN JERUSALEM — 70 members of Congress joined House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Sunday as the two leaders led trips organized and sponsored by AIPAC’s educational arm, the American Israel Education Foundation — JI’s Amy Spiro reports:
Much of the buzz surrounding the Democratic and Republican trips — which overlapped for several days this weekend — was focused on those who were not in attendance, in particular Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who are planning their own alternate visit to the region later this month.
“I think and I presume Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar will hear things and see things — hopefully will talk to as many people as we talk to, and get a broad perspective and draw their conclusions,” said Hoyer at a joint press conference with the Republican leader in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. “If they do that, I think they will [have] a better understanding and better support for the interests of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.”
McCarthy denied a recent report by Channel 13’s Barak Ravid that President Donald Trump was disappointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to allow Tlaib and Omar to enter Israel. “I do not know of the president being disappointed in that,” he said Sunday. “I speak to the president daily.” Hoyer noted that White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham also dismissed the report, calling it “fake news.” He added that Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer assured the House that “any member of Congress was welcome to come to Israel.”
Hoyer said that Tlaib, Omar and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — if she chooses to join them — “all three are very bright… there’s an openness to learn.”
McCarthy added: “Anybody that is actually on the ground and sees the situation will walk away with a difference of opinion.” He noted that he wished Tlaib and Omar had opted to join the larger ongoing congressional trip.
Both Hoyer and McCarthy stressed the bipartisan nature of support for Israel, pointing out that it is rare to see 72 members of Congress — more than 16% of the legislative body — gathered anywhere outside of Washington. [JewishInsider]
Here is a full list of the 72 Democratic and Republican House members visiting Israel with AIPAC:
Democrats: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD), Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (NY), Reps. Ron Kind (WI), Ted Deutch (FL), John Garamendi (CA), Brad Schneider (IL), Vincente Gonzalez (TX), Jamie Raskin (MD), Jimmy Gomez (CA), Colin Allred (TX), Ed Case (HI), Sean Casten (IL), Gil Cisneros (CA), Sharice Davids (KS), Madeleine Dean (PA), Antonio Delgado (NY), Sylvia Garcia (TX), Jared Golden (ME), Jahana Hayes (CT), Kendra Horn (OK), Steven Horsford (NV), Chrissy Houlahan (PA), Andy Kim (NJ), Mike Levin (CA), Tom Malinowski (NJ), Ben McAdams (UT), Lucy McBath (GA), Joseph Morelle (NY), Joe Neguse (CO), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Chris Pappas (NH), Max Rose (NY), Harley Rouda (CA), Kim Schrier (WA), Donna Shalala (FL), Greg Stanton (AZ), Haley Stevens (MI), Xochitl Torres-Small (NM), Lori Trahan (MA), David Trone (MD), Susan Wild (PA).
Republican: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA); Reps. Alex Mooney (WV), Troy Balderson (OH), Elise Stefanik (NY), Michael Cloud (TX), John Curtis (UT), Ron Estes (KS), Debbie Lesko (AZ), Clay Higgins (LA), Ralph Norman (SC), Kelly Armstrong (ND), Jim Baird (IN), Ben Cline (VA), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Lance Gooden (TX), Mark Green (TN), Dan Meuser (PA), Carol Miller (WV), Greg Pence (IN), Guy Reschenthaler (PA), Denver Riggleman (VA), John Rose (TN), Chip Roy (TX), Ross Spano (FL), Pete Stauber (MN), Bryan Steil (WI), Van Taylor (TX), William Timmons (SC), Michael Waltz (FL), Steve Watkins (KS), Ron Wright (TX). [Pic]
BACK IN IOWA — JI’s Ben Jacobs attends the Wing Ding: More than 20 Democratic presidential candidates — along with 1,600 Iowa Democratic activists and an untold number of reporters and operatives — piled into a compact old-fashioned ballroom in northern Iowa on Friday night, best known as the location of Buddy Holly’s last show before his untimely death in 1959.
The Wing Ding, as the joint fundraiser for local Democratic parties is known, has only recently become a fixture of the presidential calendar. In hopes of grabbing a decent seat, attendees line up for hours before the event starts. As they wait, staffers from almost every presidential campaign line up singing, shouting and holding signs to promote their candidate. This sort of visibility does little to woo voters — after all, most Iowans don’t decide their candidate based on which campaign has the most enthusiastic 23-year-old staffers — but it provides something for reporters’ Instagram feeds. [JewishInsider]
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who hosted a candidate forum on gun control in Des Moines on Saturday, said in an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation: “I think words matter. People look to their leadership for guidance and to say that it doesn’t have an effect is wrong. So what the president says is very important, and if he supports or says nice things about racists, it encourages racism. If he goes and says nice things about white supremacists, he encourages that kind of violence. I hope he understands this. He cannot go and just shoot off his mouth and say anything, he’s the president of the United States.”
PIC — Marc Daniels’ campaign kippah stand was on display at the Iowa State Fair. [Pic]
HAMPTONS SCENE — President Donald Trump was in high spirits at two big-ticket fundraisers in the Hamptons over the weekend, cracking jokes and mocking world leaders. At a fundraiser in Bridgehampton hosted by Joe Farrell, Trump said, “I know the Hamptons well, everyone here votes for me but they won’t admit it.”
Before departing the White House, Trump defended Equinox and SoulCycle owner Stephen Ross, who held a fundraising lunch for him on Friday in the Hamptons. “Stephen Ross is a great friend of mine. He’s a very successful guy. We were competitors but friends in real estate, in New York, in the old days. He’s a great guy,” Trump told reporters. “By the way, I think he’s probably more inclined to be a liberal, if you want to know the truth. But he likes me, he respects me… The controversy makes Steve Ross hotter. He’ll figure that out in about a week. But he’s very happy.”
Attendees at the Ross fundraiser included Ronald Lauder, Steven Roth, Richard LeFrak, Michael Liebowitz and Howard Lutnick.
DEEP DIVE — The inside story of how a kosher meat kingpin won clemency under Trump — by Vicky Ward: “It wasn’t [Nancy] Pelosi or [Alan] Dershowitz who convinced Trump to give clemency to [Sholom] Rubashkin. It was the persistence of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to the impression of three former officials close to the issue… According to a source with knowledge, Charles Kushner also started to lobby the New York legal community the moment Trump won the 2016 election… It is not known if the Kushners personally knew Rubashkin. But Charles Kushner has talked about the gratitude he has felt toward the Chabad Lubavitch movement… [Kushner’s] senior aide Avrahm (Avi) Berkowitz had several conversations with Alan Dershowitz who provided him with information about the case.” [CNN]
WHITE HOUSE DEPARTURE — Eli Nachmany is leaving the White House’s Office of American Innovation to attend Harvard Law School. Nachmany previously served as former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s speechwriter, assisted on the Kavanaugh confirmation and worked on the Trump 2016 campaign. h/t Playbook
IRAN WATCH — National Security Advisor John Bolton is expected to urgeBritish officials during a visit to London this week to toughen the U.K.’s stance on Iran and push it to back away from the 2015 nuclear deal.
On Saturday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemnedWhite House efforts to attain an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Khamenei told Muslim pilgrims visiting Mecca that the deal “being pushed by an oppressive America and its traitorous companions, is a crime against human society, and not just the Palestinian people.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hit back at the remarks, tweeting that “It’s sick that on the eve of Tisha B’Av — a solemn day for the Jewish people — Khamenei calls for violence against the Jewish state.”
TALK OF THE REGION — Tensions were high in Jerusalem on Sunday, where the overlap of the Muslim Eid al-Adha and the Jewish Tisha B’av led to clashes and closures atop the Temple Mount. Before fighting erupted, police temporarily barred Jewish visitors from accessing the site. Muslim worshippers fought with Israeli police, who reportedly fired sound grenades and tear gas at rioters. Later in the day, when tensions had calmed, Jewish visitors were allowed to enter the Temple Mount area.
On Saturday, the IDF shot and killed four Hamas militants who were attempting to cross the border with Gaza. When one threw a hand grenade at Israeli troops while climbing the fence, the soldiers opened fire. The men were discovered to have been carrying assault rifles, anti-tank missiles and grenades. Also on Saturday, the IDF arrested two Palestinians it said were responsible for the murder of soldier Dvir Sorek last week.
EPSTEIN SAGA — Financier and suspected sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan prison cell on Saturday morning after an apparent suicide. News of Epstein’s death shocked and angered many people, including his alleged victims, senior law enforcement officials, Attorney General William Barr and a variety of political figures. Epstein was reportedly removed from suicide watch 11 days earlier, a week after he purportedly attempted to take his own life. An initial autopsy of Epstein was conducted on Sunday but the medical examiner did not release an official cause of death, and conspiracytheories have abounded.
Several of Epstein’s accusers have vowed to continue seeking justice in the case, and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said the investigation would continue. Experts have speculated that federal prosecutors could file a civil forfeiture case against Epstein’s estate in an attempt to seize his properties and potentially use them for restitution for his victims. Such an effort could face a legal challenge from his heirs, who may also be able to sue over negligence leading to his suicide.
2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden’s first run for president was a calamity. Some missteps still resonate… Campaigning in Iowa, Joe Biden is in his zone… Kamala Harris kicked off on Friday a five-day bus tour in Iowa, her longest trip yet to any early primary state… Pete Buttigieg hired the first faith outreach director of the 2020 campaign… Warren wows in Iowa as candidates’ sprint to caucuses begins… Beto O’Rourke says Trump’s ‘bizarre behavior’ is a distraction for the American people who want to see solutions on gun violence and white nationalism… Anthony Scaramucci says Trump may need to be replaced for 2020
INTERVIEW — The rebel evangelical: Dismantling the loyalty of Christian Trump supporters — by Nina Burleigh: “Russell D. Moore, a pastor and author — and the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the more than 15 million-member Southern Baptist Convention — refused to support Trump in 2016… Moore… remains a rare anti-Trump voice in evangelical Christian leadership… ‘I hope that we don’t see a racially divisive and ugly 2020 presidential campaign. I am very worried about resurgent racism and antisemitism all over the world. That again isn’t new, but it is new in terms of the speed with which it can travel in a social media era. For me, racism is not a social or political issue. Racism is Satanism in my view, because it’s the idolatry of the flesh — and a sense of superiority and dominion over other people. That can manifest itself in neo-Nazi movements in Germany, in racist memes on Facebook or in left wing antisemitic posts and movements around the world as well.’” [Newsweek]
Correction: Last week in our coverage of the FEC filings, we inadvertently identified donor David Tisch, who maxed out to the Biden campaign, as David Tisch of BoxGroup. The Biden donor was David Tisch of LSV Advisors. We regret the error.
** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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 [email protected] **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: CBS and Viacom work through night to hammer out deal [Bloomberg] • WeWork’s looming IPO lights the path for rivals [BusinessTimes] • Strauss Zelnick sought advice from a series of high-profile mentors in his quest to conquer the worlds of media, entertainment and videogames [WSJ] • Aaron Appel leaves JLL to launch own firm [RealDeal] • Goldman Sachs sees shekel continuing to gain [Globes] • Medical device co InMode raises $70m in Nasdaq IPO [Globes]
SPOTLIGHT — Being a law firm partner was once a job for life. That culture is all but dead — by Sara Randazzo: “Many firms have expanded rapidly to mirror the growth of their corporate clients, with hundreds of partners spread around the world. The largest, Dentons, recently hit 10,000 lawyers in 78 countries, around a third of them partners… Becoming a partner, the industry saying goes, is like winning a pie-eating contest only to find the prize is more pie. ‘If you get partners in their private moments to talk about ambitions for their children, I would be very surprised if many would articulate partnership in a large law firm,’ said Elliott Portnoy, Dentons’s global chief executive.” [WSJ]
TRANSITION — Former head of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky has been named the chairman of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. Dr. Charles Asher Small, the founder and director of ISGAP, said he could not think of “an individual who carries a greater caliber of intellectual leadership in the fight against contemporary antisemitism.”
HOLLYWOOD — Emmy-winning actor turned down Netflix series audition in support of Palestinian rights — by Alex Ritman: “David Clennon, an Emmy-winning U.S. actor with more than four decades of work across film and TV, has revealed that he turned down an audition for a new Netflix series from the makers of hit Israeli show Fauda because of his support for Palestinian rights… It was on discovering that the political espionage thriller — announced in 2018 as Hit and Run — came from the creators of Fauda, Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, that Clennon changed his mind.”[HollywoodReporter]
SPORTS BLINK — A regular guy hit 96 mph in a speed-pitch booth. A viral video turned him into a prospect — by Jared Diamond: “During a rain delay at a Colorado Rockies game last month, Nathan Patterson tried his luck at a speed-pitch challenge booth. The first ball he fired reached 90 mph. The next two, 94. On his sixth and final attempt, the screen behind him lit up with an even gaudier number: 96… Two days later, Patterson’s brother uploaded a video of the pitches online. It went viral… ‘I wouldn’t be where I am today without Rob and Flatground,’ Patterson said. ‘Rob’ is Rob Friedman. He’s an attorney by trade living in the Atlanta suburbs. In the baseball world, however, he goes by something else: the Pitching Ninja.” [WSJ]
Israeli lacrosse team buys cleats for opponents after seeing they don’t have any: “The 2019 Women’s Lacrosse U19 World Championships are currently taking place in Peterborough, Ontario. Following pool play at the end of last week, the Kenyan and Israeli squads met in a playoff contest on Tuesday… The Israeli team saw that their Kenyan counterparts were playing at the tournament without cleats. So, they decided to do something about it. The entire Kenyan team received new, properly-fitted shoes to use for the rest of the competition and beyond. And as you can see by the video of them receiving their gifts, they really appreciated the kind gesture. On top of that, it may have impacted their play on the field. The day after getting the footwear, Kenya defeated Belgium 16-9 for their second win of the tournament.” [YahooSports]
TALK OF THE NATION — In D.C., New York and beyond, Jews mark annual day of mourning by protesting Trump immigration policies — by Rebecca Tan: “Members of the Jewish community typically observe Tisha B’Av, the annual day of mourning, by fasting, reading from the Book of Lamentations, and going to temple. But on Sunday, more than 250 Jews from the Washington region spent the occasion under the searing afternoon sun at Lafayette Square, across from the White House, protesting the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Some came in large groups from their synagogues, sporting matching T-shirts and signs that read ‘Never Again.’” [WashPost]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Over 100 tires slashed in Orthodox Jewish community, police say — by Morgan Winsor: “More than 100 tires have been slashed in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish community in New Jersey in recent days, according to authorities there. All of the vehicles targeted in Lakewood Township, New Jersey, were owned or driven by Jewish people. The incidents are being investigated as bias crimes, local police told ABC New York City station WABC.” [ABCNews]
Brooklyn Jewish girls’ school first in NYC to install bullet-resistant doors — by Isabella Simonetti and Susan Edelman: “A Crown Heights yeshiva for girls is the first school in NYC to install metal security doors aimed at protecting kids from active shooters… The first door of 90 planned for the Bnos Menachem school was installed last week by Remo Security Doors, a company that manufactures them in Israel.” [NYPost]
Las Vegas man planned attack of synagogue, officials say — by Derrick Bryson Taylor: “The authorities arrested a Las Vegas man who discussed attacking a local synagogue and charged him on Friday in connection with bomb-making materials found in his home, officials said. The man, Conor Climo, was charged on Thursday with one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, namely, the component parts of a destructive device… Prosecutors said that Mr. Climo, 23, had communicated with people who identify with a white supremacist extremist organization, and had encrypted online conversations in which he regularly used derogatory racial, antisemitic and homophobic slurs.” [NYTimes; NBCNews]
After 20 years, survivors gather to remember Jewish center shooting — by Sarah Parvini: “Family and friends of victims gathered on Saturday to remember the day 20 years ago when a gunman opened fire on children and staff at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, wounding several people, before moving on to Chatsworth, where he killed a postal worker. Standing outside the U.S. Post Office on Devonshire Street, where a plaque commemorates the letter carrier, parents and siblings of the victims called for stricter gun control laws.” [LATimes]
ACROSS THE SEA — Klezmer music and memory at a festival celebrating Jewish life in Poland — by Marc Santora: “There were lectures on the journey of Jews from shtetls in Poland to new homes in what would become Israel… Gentle lullabies and Yiddish folk songs, thumping Israeli hip-hop, and rousing celebratory tunes played by scores of Klezmer bands filled the ancient alleyways of Krakow… It was all part of the Jewish Culture Festival, a yearly event meant to celebrate the 1,000 years of Jewish life that had flourished in Poland before World War II, but had been erased by the Holocaust… This year, though, it took place against a backdrop of increasing xenophobia and antisemitism in Poland and across Europe. Its organizers did not shy from the topic.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Hungarian-American investor, philanthropist and political activist, George Soros (born György Schwartz) turns 89… Retired Beverly Hills attorney, Sheldon S. Ellis turns 87… Television writer, best known as the creator of the CBS primetime soap opera/drama series Dallas and Knots Landing, David Jacobs turns 80… NYC-born historian and author, he held academic positions in the UK and Australia and served as president of the Jewish Historical Society of England (2002-2004), William Rubinsteinturns 73…
Attorney in Ontario, Canada who served as president of the Canadian Jewish Congress (1989-1992), Lester Scheininger turns 72… U.S. diplomat, Karyn Allison Posner-Mullen turns 68… Director of management operations at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Fredi Bleeker Franksturns 67… Buenos Aires-born, immigrated to Israel at age 18, former member of Knesset (2015-2019) from the Yesh Atid party, Haim Yellin turns 61…
British-born Israeli journalist, he is the founding editor of the Times of Israel and formerly the editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz turns 57… Raised in in Santiago, Chile, now Rabbi at Brookline’s Temple Beth Zion, Claudia Kreiman turns 45… SVP for external engagement at NYC’s Educational Alliance, she is a fifth generation New Yorker, Anya Hoerburgerturns 42… Jay Chernikoff turns 40… Director at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Jarad Geldner turns 36… Senior customer success manager at NYC-based Dynamic Yield, David Fine turns 30… Ariel Applbaum…