Daily Kickoff

Indicted Giuliani associates and their Jewish community ties | Nita Lowey to depart Congress | Is there a Koufax curse?

Jacob Kornbluh

Lev Parnas and Rudy Giuliani visit the burial site of the Lubavitcher rebbe in Queens in November 2018.

👋 Good Friday morning! 

An Iranian oil tanker was hit by a pair of missiles early Friday morning off the coast of Saudi Arabia, spilling oil into the Red Sea, according to Iranian media.

Today in D.C., Ivanka Trump, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, and special envoy on Iran Brian Hook will address the Warsaw Process: Human Rights Working Group at the State Department. 

In New York, the 20th annual New Yorker Festival kicks off today, and will include appearances by Terry Gross, Sarah Silverman, Michael Chabon and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  

Holiday schedule: Sukkot starts Sunday evening, we’ll be publishing the Daily Kickoff intermittently and the next newsletter will be on Wednesday, Oct. 16th. Happy holidays! 🌴🍋 👉 Received this from a friend? Subscribe to the Daily Kickoff.

SPOTLIGHT — Arrested Giuliani associates have deep ties to Jewish community

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, were indicted Thursday on campaign finance charges related to their efforts to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, from her job. The two were arrested Wednesday evening at Dulles International Airport as they tried to leave the United States on one-way plane tickets to Vienna.

Lovers of Zion: Fruman and Parnas, who are both Jewish, visited Israel alongside Anthony Scaramucci and Mike Huckabee last summer. Earlier this year, the pair were presented with the National Council of Young Israel’s Chovevei Zion (Lover of Zion) award. Dr. Joe Frager, vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, which also hosted their Israel trip, declined to say whether he regrets giving Parnas and Fruman the award. “I am just shocked,” he repeatedly told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh yesterday.

2018 flashback: At an event hosted by Frager in Queens ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Giuliani — in the presence of Parnas and Fruman — predicted that Democrats will launch “a hundred investigations” into Trump’s activities. Giuliani said that “Washington lawyers will make a fortune” and joked he should open an office there. Parnas chimed in saying that “we need to win the midterms. That’s the bottom line. The president can’t do everything on his own, unfortunately.”

More on that event here

On tape: In a 2018 video obtained by Jewish Insider, Rudy Giuliani is seen with Parnas and Fruman expressing his hope to return to Ukraine. Giuliani says he “can’t wait to come back,” followed by Parnas saying, “See you in Ukraine soon.” The video was posted last year on the Facebook page of the Anatevka Jewish Refugee Community, the social media arm of a charity set up to help Ukrainian Jews fleeing violence in the eastern part of the country. Both Parnas and Fruman sit on the board of the charity.

Watch the video here

Returning the cash: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on Thursday that he will return campaign donations he received from the indicted pair. 

PASSING THE TORCH — Longtime Rep. Nita Lowey announces she will not seek another term

Veteran Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced✎ EditSign on Thursday that she will not seek re-election for a 17th term next year. Lowey, chairwoman of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, was a staunch supporter of the U.S.-Israel alliance throughout her 31 years in Congress.

Howard Wolfson, who served as Lowey’s chief of staff in the 90s, noted how the congresswoman blazed a path for women in politics throughout her long and storied career. “She is a Lion of Judah and so proud of it — stalwart in her support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, always willing to do the quiet work in the Democratic caucus rounding up the votes on behalf of Israel’s aid package,” Wolfson told JI. “Nita changed the lives of the people who worked for her. She taught us that politics could be practiced with a smile and an outstretched hand and that you could compromise to get a law passed without compromising your values.” 

Read Wolfson’s full comments

Ann Lewis, who served as White House director of communications for President Bill Clinton and is currently co-chair of the Democratic Majority for Israel, tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: “Lowey has been an inspiring leader ever since I met her. She was one of the first women to run successfully for Congress. While leading one of the most important committees in Congress, she established a bipartisan partnership with her Republican colleagues and was an eloquent force for the U.S.-Israel relationship.” 

Cheryl Fishbein, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, said in a statement that Lowey has left “big shoes to fill.” Fishbein said that, in her leadership position on the appropriations committee, Lowey “could do more to influence and advance a piece legislation than almost any other member, except for the Speaker.” 

Top five: Mondaire Jones, who worked in President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, announced a primary challenge against Lowey earlier this year. Other candidates currently being discussed in Democratic circles are Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia, Assemblyman David Buchwald, State Senator David Carlucci, and Stephanie Hausner, a former Clarkstown councilwoman and the current deputy director of the Israel Action Network. 

Rumor mill: Chelsea Clinton has been floated in the past as a possible candidate for the seat, but has never publicly expressed interest in running. 

Why it matters: Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf tells JI that any replacement would lack Lowey’s influence in the Democratic party. As an “unabashedly pro-Israel member of Congress with the power generated by seniority,” Lowey is “an irreplaceable defender of Israel” and there’s “no guarantee” that a newly elected Democrat will be as strong of a supporter of the Jewish state, Sheinkopf explained. 

See more reactions here

🏃‍♂️Also running in NY: New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera is launching a primary challenge against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), targeting her “socialist views.” 

DIGITAL DOWNLOAD — New guide shares 2020 candidates’ Israel views

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), an organization that supports pro-Israel Democrats, has unveiled a new online platform to allow presidential candidates to share their views on Israel and the Middle East with voters, JI’s Ben Jacobs reports.
 
One-stop shopping: Mark Mellman, the group’s leader and a top Democratic pollster, told Jewish Insider that the website is “the one place where pro-Israel Democrats can go to find all of the candidates telling us what they want to tell us.” The website also includes a searchable archive of articles where presidential hopefuls are quoted on Middle East policy.
 
Prompting conversation: The group gave Democratic presidential candidates an open-ended prompt to share their views on Israel policy. “We asked all of the candidates to tell us what they wanted to tell pro-Israel Democrats about their positions on Israel,” Mellman said, noting that candidates’ views would be published without commentary. Thirteen candidates have already responded to DMFI’s prompt, including frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Read the full story here

 

DRIVING THE CONVO

Trump’s Syria decision continues to reverberate

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to side with critics of President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria. In a strong statement on Thursday, Netanyahu denounced Turkey’s invasion of Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria. Sen. Lindsey Graham retweeted the comments with his approval and added that the Turkish operation “is a nightmare for the U.S. and Israel.”

Reverberations:NYTimes columnist Tom Friedmanwrote that Trump’s recent decisions on Syria and Iran have “fractured the tacit U.S.-Sunni Arab-Israel anti-Iran coalition and left Israel feeling more alone than ever to deal with Iran — and its proxies.” 

Israel Policy Forum’s Michael Koplowopines that while Trump will never abandon Israel, as he has with the Kurds, his move in Syria will impact Israeli relations with other regional actors, who will shift to “bandwagoning with Iran in order to stave off Iranian aggression.” 

Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, writes in Bloomberg that even though Israel “benefited from Trump’s unpredictability” when it came to Jerusalem and the Golan, they “have been unnerved” by his sudden reversals and “are wondering if they might be next.” 

A different view:Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Netanyahu, toldThe Associated Press that a U.S. withdrawal from the region could create new opportunities for Israel in countering Iran’s entrenchment in Syria without worrying about the presence of U.S. troops. “The space is more opened to not just the Iranians but to us,” he said.

Heard yesterday: Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said during a panel discussion hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that — as a result of Trump’s “perceived inconsistencies and unreliability” — U.S. allies in the region could “start to hedge” and be forced to rethink their alliances with Russia and Iran. “I think there is a direct line between the unenforced red line in Syria [by the Obama administration] and the annexation of Crimea, the invasion of Ukraine… So how are the decisions we are making today affecting the perception of American power and how we are perceived by like-minded partners?” [Video]

COMMUNITY COMMS

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WORTHY READS

🗣️ Heard on the trail: Trump slammed Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), referencing her antisemitic tweet and sharp criticism of Israel, during a campaign rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night. “Rep. Omar has a history of launching virulent antisemitic screeds, whether you like it or not,” Trump said, pointing at the media. 

💥 Profile: The Huffington Post‘s Jessica Schulberg profiles another congresswoman from Minnesota, Betty McCollum, and her critical approach towards Israel. For the past few years, McCollum has been trying to pass legislation that would limit U.S. aid to Israel. McCollum’s chief of staff Bill Harper is quoted regarding Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial statements on the Jewish state, “My own take on it is that she really derailed a lot of our work.”

🧠 Inside the empire: Both The Atlantic and the New Yorker have published deep dives on Amazon and its fearless leader, Jeff Bezos. The company’s founder and CEO has been a frequent target of attacks from the president: “Despite the vitriol, or perhaps because of it, Amazon hired the lobbyist Jeff Miller, a prodigious Trump fundraiser; Bezos conveys his opinions to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner,” writes Franklin Foer in The Atlantic. “One former White House aide told me, ‘If Trump knew how much communication Bezos has had with officials in the West Wing, he would lose his mind.’”

🕍 Talk of the town: The victims of a shooting outside a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur were identified late Thursday as 40-year-old Jana Lange and 20-year-old Kevin S. The neo-Nazi gunman shot dead the two individuals after an unsuccessful attempt to enter the synagogue and kill worshippers. The German Jewish community demanded increased protection in the wake of the attack, as the suspect appeared in court Thursday and Friday to face charges. “Germany’s Jews are increasingly a target of violence and aggression,” wrote Anna Sauerbrey in a New York Times op-ed. “Germany, of all countries, needs to protect them.” The Washington Post editorial board wrote Friday that German and world leaders must “match words with deeds.”       

💻 Presidential harassment: Minneapolis’ Jewish mayor, Jacob Frey, claims that he faced a barrage of antisemitic messages after Trump called him out on Twitter following a dispute between his city and the president’s campaign over a security fee for Thursday’s campaign rally. 


AROUND THE WEB

🧾 You’re fired:Les Wexner’s L Brands Inc. is laying off about 14% of Victoria’s Secret’s corporate staff in New York and Columbus, Ohio. 

🏢 Can we? Embattled WeWork is aiming to secure new financing by the end of next month to buy the company more time after its failed IPO, The Financial Timesreported. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal offered a closer look at ousted CEO Adam Neumann’s extensive personal real estate holdings. 

📖 Coming soon: Fired National Security Advisor John Bolton is expected to write a book about his time in the Trump administration, Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports

🤲 United against hate: An interfaith prayer vigil was held on Thursday at the site of a Holocaust memorial in White Plains that was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti on the eve of Yom Kippur. 

🎧 Hear their voices: Audio recordings from the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders were made available to the public for the first time in digital form at the Memorial of the Shoah in Paris. 

🏀 Sports blink: The Portland Trail Blazers announced that they have severed relations with Leupold & Stevens, an Oregon company that supplies sniper rifle scopes to the IDF, following a pressure campaign by pro-BDS activists. 

⚾ The Koufax curse: Tablet’s Armin Rosen notes that the three Jewish baseball stars — Max Fried (Braves), Joc Pederson (Dodgers) and Alex Bregman (Astros) — who played on Yom Kippur lost in their respective MLB playoff games.

PIC OF THE DAY

BIRTHDAYS

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor turns 61 on Friday…

On Saturday, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Lewis Eisenberg turns 77….

Also on Saturday, host of The Daily at The New York TimesMichael Barbaro turns 40 (h/t Alex Levy)…

Award-winning actor and comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen turns 48 on Sunday…

FRIDAY: Professor emeritus of history at UCLA, winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and the Israel Prize, Saul Friedländer turns 87… Tony award and Emmy award-winning actor, Ron Leibman turns 82… Former Assistant United States Attorney and the author of two novels, Ronald S. Liebman turns 76… Israeli novelist and documentary filmmaker, Amos Gitai turns 69… Jewish communal leader in Potomac, Maryland, Helane Goldstein turns 66… Shari Aronson turns 61… Executive vice president at The Jewish Federations of North America, Mark Gurvis turns 60…

Owner of Sababa Travel, Sharon Rockman turns 59… Peter Turman turns 54… President and CEO of real estate firm Tishman Speyer, Rob Speyer turns 50… CFO of Rockville, Maryland-based VIVA Creative, Asher Epstein turns 45… Director of government affairs at JINSA, Joshua London turns 44… Commentator and host of The Jamie Weinstein Show podcast, Jamie Weinstein turns 36… Actress and model, Michelle Trachtenberg turns 34… StandWithUs’ Michael Dickson

SATURDAY: President of Los Angeles-based Community Advocates, Inc., David A. Lehrer turns 71… CEO of Wakefield, Massachusetts-based nonprofit CAST, transforming education for students with disabilities, Linda Gerstle turns 67… Managing director at UBS Financial Services, Charles S. Temel turns 66… Dermatologist in Los Angeles, Lamar A. Nelson, MD turns 65… Editor of the Wall Street Journal‘s Weekend Review, Gary Rosen turns 53…

Managing director at Goldman Sachs, Raanan Agus turns 52… Executive Director of Start-Up Nation Central, Wendy Singer… Producer, actress and screenwriter, Alexandra Smothers turns 46… Politics and media reporter for BuzzFeed News,Rosie Gray… Associate director of communications at Alliance for Middle East Peace, Fatima Fettar turns 28… Argentine artist, Naomi Preizler turn 28…

SUNDAY: Music composer and alto saxophonist, Lee Konitz turns 92… Encino, California resident, Sonia Bordo turns 82… Former deputy assistant secretary at the USDA, Richard D. Siegel turns 80… Musician Paul Simon turns 78… Chair of the ADL, Esta Gordon Epstein turns 76… Former White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush, now a sports media consultant, Ari Fleischer turns 59… Film director, producer and screenwriter, Amy J. Berg turns 49… Author, novelist and blogger, Emily Gould turns 38… Associate at Seattle’s Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Josh Friedmann turns 31… Rick Lamke

BIRTHWEEK: Former White House Jewish Liaison, now Section Lead for Internet Freedom and Business & Human Rights at State Department, Chanan Weissman

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