Good Tuesday morning!
On Capitol Hill, Democrats are expected to roll out two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump today, centered around his alleged abuse of power and obstructing Congress.
In D.C., Trump is slated to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House.
Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Elaine Luria (D-VA) sent a letter to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney imploring him to deny press access to TruNews, after its founder and host Rick Wiles denigrated Jews and repeated antisemitic conspiracy theories.
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SCOOP — Former Trump campaign aides visit Israel to assist Netanyahu
Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, the former Trump 2016 campaign manager and deputy campaign manager respectively, are visiting Israel this week and are under consideration to advise Netanyahu’s campaign — as the embattled prime minister assembles a new strategy team ahead of a likely third election in March, JI’s Jacob Kornbluh reports.
Changing of the guard: Republican pollster John McLaughlin served as Netanyahu’s campaign pollster for the two elections earlier this year, and is currently working for Trump’s re-election campaign. JI has learned that Netanyahu is no longer using McLaughlin’s services following his two failed attempts at securing a majority. When reached by JI, McLaughlin declined to comment.
MOVING ON — Following internal power struggle, JDC selects new board president
The board of directors of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee elected Mark Sisisky to serve as its next chairman yesterday, JI’s Melissa Weiss and Debra Nussbaum Cohen report.
Challenger averted: Sisisky was the board’s nominee for the role, but he faced an internal challenge from Harvey Schulweis, marking the first time in the organization’s 105-year history that a candidate for board president has had his or her bid challenged. Sisisky beat Schulweis 74-54, with three board members abstaining, and about 40 not voting at all.
Harsh warning: The vote came after a particularly contentious period at the highest levels of the JDC. Philanthropist Lynn Schusterman emailed her fellow board members last week, writing, “I have observed with great dismay the polarization and lack of transparency over the past months” at the organization, adding: “The JDC’s credibility will be at risk if not addressed expeditiously.”
Funds pulled: As a result, Schusterman told the rest of the board that the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation will not move forward with a multi-year investment in Entwine, the JDC’s initiative designed to engage young adults. “Personal politics and internal intrigue jeopardize the JDC’s long-term reputation and vital mission,” she wrote.
HEARD LAST NIGHT — Hillary Clinton urges ‘tikkun olam’ to counter Trump
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rallied Democratic labor activists, motivating them to stand up to the Trump administration — using the term tikkun olam ― at the Jewish Labor Committee’s annual human rights awards dinner in New York City last night.
Addressing the current state of the union, Clinton said, “You know, it would be easy to walk away and say, ‘I can’t deal with this. I can’t tell fact from fiction, I don’t want to live in an alternative reality; I’m checking out.’ Well, that’s what the other side wants us to do. My friends, they want us to just throw our hands up and just walk away, saying somebody else is going to have to continue to fight. ‘I can’t do it any longer.’”
Moving forward: “You know, when I get a little down — and it happens from time to time — I like to think about people in the past and the present who have just gotten up and said, ‘I’m not going back. I’m going to go forward and I’m going to make a positive difference, not just in my life but in the lives of so many others.’ So we all need to be, women and men alike, gutsy in this time — because it’s not going to be easy.”
On 2020: “I’ll tell you, we’re going to have a tough election in 2020. You are going to need to bring your organizing skills, your shared sense of values, your feelings of empathy and compassion and caring, your deep conviction about justice, because we’re going to need every single person in this fight.”
Wishful thinking: Clinton was introduced at the JLC dinner by Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Jewish Labor Committee, who reminded the crowd that Clinton got a majority of the popular vote in 2016. “If only we could have had a do-over,” he said.
INTERVIEW — Jason Greenblatt: I still hope peace plan will be released
Jason Greenblatt, the recently departed White House Mideast peace envoy, shared his perspective on the second anniversary of President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem during an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh.
Not held hostage: Greenblatt stressed that it is “incorrect” to suggest that the embassy relocation stalled hopes for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. “There were no direct talks for a long time prior to the embassy move,” Greenblatt explained to Jewish Insider. “Second, the lack of the move of the embassy over all these decades did not lead to a peace accord or anything close to it.” He added that there “was no exemption to suspend the Jerusalem Embassy Act with the hope that doing so would yield a peace process,” and that the Trump administration “cannot be held hostage to threats of a freezing of a relationship with the Palestinian Authority.”
Ultimate deal watch: Greenblatt, who left the administration last month after the rollout of the peace plan was repeatedly delayed due to Israel’s political crisis, said he still hopes the administration will release the plan, despite a likely third election in March. “A great deal of thought and time went into it by very dedicated individuals who hope to better the lives of Palestinians, Israelis and so many others in the region,” he said. “An election in Israel may change the timing. This is an analysis and decision that the administration will have to make. Twice before a decision was taken not to release the vision in the midst of an election process and a government formation process. I think that was the correct decision at the time. Let’s see what the administration decides this time around.”
On annexation of the Jordan Valley: Greenblatt said he “won’t speak to what President Trump may or may not support.” But he emphasized that “any solution will only be viable if it addresses Israel’s very significant and very real security threats” and “to think that the Jordan Valley does not factor into those security concerns is also incorrect.”
Greenblatt on his post-White House life: “I am back to being a father and a husband and relishing ordinary life, including being back involved in the routine of daily family life — helping with homework, driving the kids around, seeing friends and relatives I was not able to see or barely speak to for close to three years. I will always look back on the period at the White House with amazement, and with deep gratitude to have been able to serve my country. But I love being back home with my family, in my community, and being a normal citizen.”
Greenblatt also pushed back against criticism of Trump’s speech at the Israeli-American Council on Saturday: “I [have] watched people cast stones at the president since the time of the campaign. Some of it is nothing more than partisan politics and others have been led to believe things about the president that are simply not true. I deal in facts, not conjecture, not rumors and not manipulation. I have a 23-year history as an observant Jew working for President Trump. Only a very small group of people in the world have the deep experience that I do, as a Jew who worked very closely for Donald Trump over two decades. I have the real inside scoop on who Donald Trump is vis-à-vis the Jewish community. He has always been tremendously respectful of me and my observance and of Judaism.”
On Ron Lauder’s new initiative to fight antisemitism in American politics: “I think he has identified a very important area that needs significant attention. Ronald has been a man who puts his money where his mouth is. He has done many important things for Israel and the Jewish people, including Jews in Europe. I applaud his idea. As a Jew and [as] an American, I am grateful to him for identifying the need to focus on this and being willing to be so generous with his time, dedication and money to fight it and for his desire to focus on this growing problem. We need more attention and money on this. I wish him great success on this important endeavor — we will all benefit from it.”
ANNEXATION WATCH — Netanyahu’s annexation bid stumbles
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting resistance over his push to apply Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley in the coming weeks.
Details: In a video published on Monday, Netanyahu expressed his regrets that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz has refused to join him in a unity coalition to seize the one-time opportunity to annex the Jordan Valley on the first day of a new government. But according to a report in Haaretz, officials in Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s office warned Netanyahu that such a move, while considered legal once a government is sworn in, will reverse progress made in fending off attempts to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Why now? Michael Koplow, policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, suggested that Netanyahu’s annexation push is “entirely about his political needs.” Netanyahu, he posited, “is trying to use the supposed historic opportunity afforded by the Trump administration to annex the territory as a way of browbeating Gantz into joining him in a unity government, and if Gantz holds out through the Wednesday midnight deadline, he will wield it as a campaign issue.”
Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator, explained that there is no doubt that Netanyahu is eager “to deliver some goods from the U.S. to his constituency, to show leadership, maybe even thinking about what his legacy would be. But, in addition, there is a real sense of historical opportunity among his closest circle, a need to leverage this moment in time with Trump at the White House.”
Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, described Netanyahu’s actions as “politicking” in an attempt to cling to power. But she warned that “Israelis must remember that the United States is also having elections next year, and that the U.S.-Israel relationship relies on support from more than one of America’s major parties and more than one branch of American government. Netanyahu and any other Israeli leader contemplating a move like annexation just got a clear red light from 226 Members of Congress, who expressed their strong support for a negotiated solution to the conflict that establishes an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.”
Will Trump play along? Trump’s silence on the issue during his speech to the Israeli-American Council on Saturday indicates that Netanyahu “has either been unable to convince Trump to give him a green light, or that he has not actually asked for that green light since his interest in Jordan Valley annexation seems to be more for its potency as a campaign issue than for the substance of the policy itself,” Koplow told JI. But he cautioned that — given that Trump has reversed many of the previous administration’s policies and his tendency to make decisions after a short briefing on the matter — “we certainly should not assume that Trump’s silence on Jordan Valley annexation so far portends his continued silence going forward.”
Quid pro quo? According to Cofman Wittes, “There may be those within the Trump administration who would like to set up a unilateral Israeli annexation of chunks of the West Bank, but I don’t see Trump among them — not yet, and not without exacting a price in return.”
🏠 Coming Home:The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood points to the problem of ex-jihadists — youth who have returned to Europe after joining terrorist groups overseas — and the struggle to deal with deradicalization without fear. [TheAtlantic]
🧮 Doing the Math: Economist Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times yesterday — following the president’s controversial speech to the Israeli-American Council — that Jewish voting is statistically not driven by economic interests, and that “Trump is bad for the Jews, whatever tax bracket we happen to be in.” [NYTimes]
🗳️ Time to Choose: Writing in The Atlantic, Helen Lewis chronicles concerns in the British Jewish community about antisemitism in the Labour Party and the United Kingdom ahead of Thursday’s election, and the whataboutism and gaslighting faced by opponents of Jeremy Corbyn when speaking up against the politician’s past statements and behavior. [TheAtlantic]
👂 Gatekeeper: At Politico, Daniel Lippman and Tina Nguyen explore the unusual professional trajectory of Christianné Allen, Rudy Guiliani’s 20-year-old communications director. [Politico]
AROUND THE WEB
🕵️ Friend Zone: According to reports, Ivanka Trump was friends with British spy and dossier compiler Christopher Steele. Before he became a public target for President Trump, Steele reportedly visited Ivanka at Trump Tower in New York.
💸 WeNeed Cash: SoftBank Group has tapped Goldman Sachs to arrange a $1.75 billion line of credit to help revive its investment in the embattled office-space company WeWork.
🚶 Walk Up: The Israeli-U.S. tech firm WalkMe has raised $90 million in its latest round of funding. The company creates software that helps use other web-based services.
🛍️ Prime Market: Amazon has lowered its shekel-conversion fees for Israelis as part of a bid to woo consumers in the country three months after its launch.
🏗️ Construction Zone: In an interview with Denzeen, architect Asaf Mann discussed the recent boom in Israeli construction, saying, “There’s something very inspiring happening in Israel.” Asaf described the current period as similar to the Tel Aviv Bauhaus boom in the mid-twentieth century.
💊 Opioid Crisis: The Supreme Court yesterday declined to allow the attorney general of Arizona to turn directly to the country’s highest court in a bid to recover billions of dollars that the Sackler family allegedly funneled out of Purdue Pharma before it filed for bankruptcy.
🎼 Generous Gift: Philanthropists Herbert and Nicole Wertheim have donated $10 million to the Florida International University School of Music, the largest gift ever made to a music school in Florida’s state university system.
⚖️ Blame Game: Almog Peretz, who was wounded in the shooting at the Chabad of Poway earlier this year, has filed a lawsuit against the shooter, the gun store who sold the weapon, and the Chabad House itself, charging that the synagogue did not use a recent federal grant to improve security.
🤝 Easy Deals: Iran said Monday it was open to conducting a “comprehensive prisoner exchange” with the United States, but stressed that this weekend’s deal was not the result of direct negotiations.
👂 Heard Yesterday: During the impeachment hearings, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) asked what Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) meant by calling Jewish witnesses Daniel Goldman and Barry Berke “New York lawyers.”
🗣️ Sticking Up: At the WSJ’s CEO Council yesterday, Jared Kushner said that his father-in-law “did nothing wrong” in his dealings with Ukraine.
🇨🇦 Up North: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Canada’s recent vote in favor of a U.N. resolution endorsing Palestinian self-determination does not mark a shift in policy, and “we will continue to stand strongly against the singling out of Israel at the U.N.”
✉️ On The Hill: A group of 27 Democratic senators led by Kamala Harris have signed a letter calling for the immediate removal of White House advisor Stephen Miller after a recent leak of his emails showing white nationalist leanings.
🏆 Prize Winner: The Genesis Foundation has named Natan Sharansky as the recipient of its $1 million prize for 2020.
👩💼 Transition: Maggie Cordish, a friend of Ivanka Trump’s since college — who advised her on family leave policy before leaving the administration last year — has joined the Bipartisan Policy Center.
👩❤️👩 Mazel Tov: Business reporter and New York Times columnist Kara Swisher is engaged to CNN editor Amanda Katz.
PIC OF THE DAY
Speaking at the UJA-Federation of New York’s annual Wall Street Dinner at the Midtown Hilton, New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin told the more than 2,000 attendees:
“I love the world of business because when it is done right, it has the power to change the world for the better and it is infinite. I believe that to my core. And I believe that as Jews, whether you celebrate Shabbat on Friday nights or you’re a High Holiday Jew or you’re a Zabars Jews – if we all gave tzedakah every day, not just in the way we live our lives, but…if it’s infused into our business, we’d not only build great companies, we’ll build good companies, and leave this place, and this world, a little better off than we found it.”
Honored at the event were Angelo Gordon’s Adam Schwartz, who received the Alan C. Greenberg Young Leadership Award, and Blackrock’s Barbara Novick, who made history as the first woman to receive the Gustave L. Levy Award.
Actress, born in Montreal to a Sephardic Jewish family, known for her roles in HBO’s “Entourage” and CBS’s “The Mentalist,” Emmanuelle Chriqui turns 42…
Sixth-generation dairy cattle dealer, Abraham Gutman turns 75… Founder of the Texas Jewish Historical Society, and rabbi (now emeritus) of Congregation B’nai Israel in Galveston, Texas, James Lee Kessler turns 74… Advisory partner at Perella Weinberg Partners and part owner of MLB’s New York Mets, also the former CEO of Verizon, Ivan Seidenberg turns 73… Owner of Judaica House in Teaneck, New Jersey, Reuben Nayowitz turns 73… Progressive political activist, she headed the AmeriCorps VISTA program during the Carter administration, Margery Tabankin turns 71… Billionaire real estate entrepreneur, he was a candidate in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election but lost in the primary, Jeff Greene turns 65… New York real estate investor and developer, Joseph Chetrit turns 62… Israeli filmmaker and political activist, Udi Aloni turns 60…
Head of Bloomberg Beta, a venture fund backed by Bloomberg L.P., Roy Bahat turns 43… Managing director and business-unit partner for private-equity firm TPG, he is the husband of Chelsea Clinton, Marc Mezvinsky turns 42… General partner at Andreessen Horowitz, he was an SVP and general manager of Cisco’s security business, David A. Ulevitch turns 38… Co-founder of single-origin spice company, Burlap & Barrel (a public benefit corporation), Ethan Frisch turns 33… Ukrainian-born R&B, jazz and soul singer and songwriter, she performs as “Mishéll,” Irina Rosenfeld turns 31… Assistant rabbi at The Great Synagogue in Sydney, Australia, Philip Kaplan turns 29… Policy analyst in the office of NYC’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, he was in the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars, Daniel Goldstern turns 28…