Daily Kickoff

Who Buttigieg blames for Gaza | RJC’s ‘Shanda’ | 40th anniversary of Iran hostage crisis

Good Monday morning!

Last night in Baltimore, Robert Kraft hosted Hollywood überagent Ari Emanuel at the Patriots-Ravens game. Emanuel was seen chatting on the sidelines before the game with Jonathan Kraft, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank

Today in D.C., United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is hosting a briefing at the Russell Senate Office Building to mark the 40th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis, featuring several survivors. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak at a closed-to-press event at the State Department.

Also in the nation’s capital, President Donald Trump will welcome the Washington Nationals to the White House’s South Lawn this afternoon to celebrate their World Series win. 

In Jerusalem, President Reuven Rivlin is hosting a conference at his residence on combating antisemitism, with envoys from the U.S. and Europe, ahead of the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht. The Anti-Defamation League will convene its Israel social cohesion summit in Airport City Tuesday morning. Featured speakers include PM-designate Benny Gantz and Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog.

📵 Twitter announced in a letter✎ EditSign to a group of House members over the weekend that it will remove all accounts affiliated with Hezbollah and Hamas following a bipartisan push to ban profiles linked to foreign terrorist organizations.

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ON THE TRAIL — 2020 field narrows as race heats up 

Crowded stage in the Hawkeye State: Fourteen Democrats appeared at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Liberty and Justice Celebration on Friday, an annual party dinner. Two candidates who have appeared on the debate stage, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and author Marianne Williamson were not invited to speak because their campaigns have not established a sufficient presence in Iowa.

Big crowd for Buttigieg: The South Bend, Indiana mayor’s supporters filled about a fourth of the arena. He got a warm reception as he tried to invoke nostalgia about former President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Warren sharpens her critique: The Massachusetts senator took veiled shots at Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden, telling the crowd, “I’m not running some consultant-driven campaign with some vague ideas that are designed not to offend anyone.”

Celebrities turn out: The weekend also featured the first big burst of celebrities coming to Iowa to support favored candidates. Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo headlined Yangapalooza! concert in support of Andrew Yang on Friday in Des Moines. Musician Ben Harper appeared on behalf of Pete Buttigieg on Friday, while actress Rosario Dawson joined her boyfriend, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) on the campaign trail.

Heard last night: Buttigieg addressed the humanitarian situation in Gaza during a town hall meeting in Mason City, Iowa, after being asked about the matter by a Palestinian-American attendee. According to Huffington Post reporter Daniel Marans, Buttigieg said “the conditions in Gaza are horrifying,” and said the situation “has many fathers,” including Egypt, Israel, Hamas, the U.S. and the international community.

Campaign reshuffle: JI reported on Friday that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has laid off a number of field staffers in New Hampshire as she refocuses her presidential campaign on Iowa. The campaign said it had decided to realign resources “to go all-in on Iowa” for the February 3rd cacucuses. Meanwhile, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) ended his presidential bid on Friday. 

Kicking off Jewish outreach: The Republican Jewish Coalition launched its first ad of the 2020 campaign on Sunday, targeting Democratic presidential hopefuls who have expressed support for leveraging aid to Israel. The online ad, titled “Shanda” (Yiddish for shame), will target Jewish voters on Facebook, YouTube and other media platforms. RJC’s executive director Matt Brooks said the commercial is the first salvo in the group’s multi-million-dollar 2020 effort. See the ad here.

Inbox: The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations said in a statement on Friday that it is “deeply troubled” by recent statements supporting leveraging U.S. aid to Israel from several 2020 candidates — and that it “agrees” with former Vice President Joe Biden’s position.

DONOR CIRCUIT — New Israel Fund creates first progressive Jewish donor-advised fund

The New Israel Fund has launched a donor-advised fund, named the Progressive Jewish Fund (PJF), to provide an alternative funding avenue for donors who want to make contributions to groups deemed too controversial by some Jewish federations, JI’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen reports

Filling a niche: Jennifer Spitzer, the manager of the new fund, said “there are Jewish funds, there are progressive funds but there are no progressive Jewish funds… We want to be the organization that provides a national Jewish progressive home.”

Big bucks: Spitzer said that after several months in beta mode, PJF formally debuted last month, having already brought in $1.4 million in 16 different funds. She told Jewish Insider that she hopes to have $10 million under management within the Progressive Jewish Fund’s first year.

Next gen: Buying into PJF requires a $5,000 initial contribution. After its “initial phase,” Spitzer said she hopes to be able to lower that threshold to make it more inviting to young donors. In the meantime, about one-third of the accounts opened at the PJF have been created by parents and grandparents for their young adult children and grandchildren.

Read more here.

CAMPUS BEAT — New report finds anti-Israel campus activity growing

The Israel on Campus Coalition released a new report that tracks Israel-related activity, including BDS campaigns, on American college campuses, finding a growth in anti-Israel incidents.

Upswing: “During the 2018-2019 academic year, there were 3,401 pro-Israel events on U.S. college campuses, representing a steady increase in pro-Israel events over the past two academic years.”

Details: “In many cases, anti-Israel campaigns employed unmistakable antisemitic rhetoric, advancing messages with malicious symbolism familiar to Jewish communities. In others, activists embraced more subtle forms of discrimination, appropriating Jewish identity or promoting watered-down definitions of antisemitism. Taken together, these incidents revealed a significant overlap between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.”

Israel on Campus Coalition Executive Director Jacob Baime tells JI: “Anti-Zionism and antisemitism are merging. While these are not the same thing, it is increasingly rare to see the former without the latter. Anti-Israel groups are shouting down Holocaust survivors and Jewish speakers who have nothing to do with Israel, and targeting Jewish students solely on the basis of their religion. Anti-Israel propaganda materials frequently contain explicit antisemitic imagery and language.”

Poison Ivy? The report also cites an “increase in anti-Israel activity at Ivy League universities. Brown University, Columbia University, and Cornell University all faced BDS campaigns during the 2018-2019 academic year, and Harvard University saw an uptick in anti-Israel events over the past two academic years.”

Read the full report here.

HEARD YESTERDAY — Netanyahu lauds close cooperation with Trump on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Donald Trump’s Mideast policies on Sunday, just days after issuing a veiled critique of the president’s reluctance to respond to recent Iranian aggression.

Maximum pressure: In remarks at the Christian Media Summit held at the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem — attended by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman — Netanyahu said that Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran “is the right one,” and “it’s having a telling effect on Iran’s ability to fund its aggression.” Netanyahu also acknowledged Trump’s moves to recognize Jerusalem and the Golan Heights under Israeli control. 

No daylight: Netanyahu vowed to “take the necessary action to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in our borders” and to make sure Iran never develops a nuclear bomb. “We are cooperating with the United States in many, many ways, more ways than I can describe here, to achieve those two aims.” [Video]

Losing trust in Trump: According to the latest Israel Democracy Institute monthly survey, published on Sunday, only 36% of Israelis believe that Israel’s security is a central consideration in Trump’s foreign policy decisions, following the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria. This is down from 54% when Trump visited Israel in May 2017.

Coalition conundrum: The IDI poll also shows that 53% of Israelis want a national-unity government to solve the current political impasse, and only 17% favor another election. 

Reassuring alliances: Blue and White leader Benny Gantz met AIPAC President Mort Fridman and AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr on Sunday. Gantz posted on Twitter that he told the two men he is determined to continue to strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance and “thanked them for the active and important role that AIPAC plays with the American government.”


👪 Investing in the Future:Author Adam Grant and his wife, Allison Sweet Grant, lay out their approach to parenting in The Atlantic. The couple posit that teaching children to care about others is the best way to prepare them for a successful life. [TheAtlantic]

📰 Profile:The Washingtonianprofiles Ibraheem Samirah, a Palestinian-American representing the 86th district in the Virginia House of Delegates, who heckled Trump during an event in July. Samirah told the publication that it still rankles him that he faced accusations of antisemitism for social media posts attacking Israel during the special election he won in February. “The truth is, truth sometimes hurts.” [Washingtonian]

🦸‍ In the Spotlight:The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos report from Rep. Adam Schiff’s California district, where he is being hailed as a hero and treated like a celebrity for leading the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. [NYTimes]

⚔️ Top-Op: Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren questions whether Israel could rely on a U.S. president preoccupied with an impeachment procedure to intervene in the wake of a possible open war between Israel and Iran in the coming year. [TheAtlantic]


📝 Top Talker: Newly released FBI interview notes related to Robert Mueller’s inquiry and published by BuzzFeed revealed former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s hopes for Mideast policy.

🗞️ Media Watch: Ozy Media announced on Friday it has raised $35 million in new venture capital funding. The new funding round was led by hedge fund manager Marc Lasry, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. 

📺 Now Streaming: Apple launched its new Apple TV+ service in more than 100 countries, including Israel. The Apple TV app features original shows, movies and documentaries.

📛 Long Read: Writer Hannah Howard explores her internal battle over changing her last name after getting married — and how Horowitz became Howard in the first place.   

🎬 Hollywood: Amazon has released a trailer for “Hunters,” its upcoming miniseries starring Al Pacino as Nazi hunter Meyer Offerman, who tells audiences: “This is not murder. This is mitzvah.” 

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Tearful Reunion: A group of 40 relatives reunited for the first time in Jerusalem on Sunday with the 92-year-old Greek woman who hid their family members during the Holocaust. 

🧭 Return Home: A Bible that belonged to a Jewish family in Spain in the 15th century came home this week — temporarily — 527 years after the family was expelled during the Spanish Inquisition. 

🖼️ Otherworldly Art: German artist Yvelle Gabriel has created five hanging “light spheres” inside the new underground cemetery in Jerusalem.  

🛍️ End of an Era: The Barneys department store began liquidation after it was sold for parts on Friday — with six of its stores to shutter early next year, and the Madison Avenue flagship set to be converted into pop-up shops. 

👗 Dressed Down: Fashion designer to the stars Zac Posen has shut down his eponymous fashion label and fired all of his staff after failing to find new investors. 

🚨 Talk of the TownThe German city of Dresden has declared a “Nazi emergency,” warning of growing “right-wing extremist, racist” activity in the city. Councilors passed a resolution 39- 29 last week recognizing the “serious” situation. 

🚚 Across the Pond:The Sunday Telegraph’s front page headline featured a quote by Tory Chairman James Cleverly, who says he knows many British Jews who would leave the U.K. if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is elected prime minister next month. Corbyn toldThe Guardian on Sunday that Jews have nothing to fear from a Labour government.

✈️ Final Destination: El Al said goodbye to its last Boeing 747 plane with a flight from Rome to Tel Aviv on Sunday. The iconic “Queen of the Sky” plane used a flight tracker to draw the shape of a jumbo jet in 1 hour and 45 minutes over the Mediterranean Sea. 

🛰️ View from Above:Astronaut Jessica Meir tweeted photos of Israel on Friday that she took from space.

👨‍💼 Transition: Abe Goldschmidt, a former Trump White House aide, has been hired as senior director for strategic affairs at Oracle’s D.C. office. He previously worked as managing director for strategic investments at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. h/t Playbook

💍 Mazel Tov: White House senior advisor Stephen Miller and Katie Waldman, press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, got engaged over the weekend.


Israel’s new ‘Air Force One,’ which will serve the prime minister and president on official trips abroad, successfully completed its first test flight on Sunday.


👨‍💼 Special Assistant to the President and senior aide to Jared Kushner, Avrahm (“Avi”) Berkowitz turns 31…

✍️ BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Benjamin Eli “Ben” Smith turns 43… 

Political scientist and consultant, Edward Luttwak turns 77… U.S. Representative for Kentucky’s 3rd congressional district, formerly a Republican but now a Democrat, John Yarmuth turns 72… Former IDF paratrooper, he served as the IDF’s Chief of the General Staff (1998-2002), Minister of Defense (2002-2006) and member of Knesset for Kadima (2006-2015), Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz turns 71… Professor of medicine at England’s University of Birmingham and a leading British authority on organ donation and transplantation, James M. Neuberger turns 70…

Co-Chair of Jewish Funders Network, board chair of the Israel on Campus Coalition and a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, Dorothy Tananbaum turns 68…  Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2013, Kenneth I. Gordon turns 60… President and CEO of the Hudson Institute, Kenneth R. “Ken” Weinstein turns 58… Professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, Claire Elise Katz turns 55… Recording artist, songwriter, and entertainer known as Yoni Z, Yoni Zigelboum turns 28… Israeli professional stock car racing driver, he is the first Israeli to compete in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series, Alon Day turns 28… Columbia Law School student Mayer Stein… Bob Rubin


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