Good Wednesday morning!
On Capitol Hill, the House is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Watch live on CSPAN starting at 9 a.m.
In a scathing and lengthy letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi protesting the proceedings, Trump noted his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights as part of his administration’s accomplishments.
William Taylor Jr. announced yesterday he’s stepping down as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine following damning testimony in the House-led impeachment inquiry.
At the U.N. today, a resolution co-sponsored by North Korea titled The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination goes for a final vote before the general assembly. Canada previously voted in favor and pressure is on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reverse their vote from Nikki Haley and others.
In D.C., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver remarks on human rights in Iran at the State Department at 10:15 am.
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TAKING ACTION — Top Iowa Democrat enforces state anti-BDS law
Rob Sand, Iowa’s state auditor, discussed the first enforcement action of the state’s anti-BDS law in an interview with JI’s Ben Jacobs.
Details: Iowa passed an anti-BDS law in 2016 that prevents state pension funds from directly investing in companies that boycott Israel. In a report issued on Tuesday, Sand found that the Municipal Fire & Police Retirement System of Iowa was in violation of the provision of Iowa code that required it to report any transactions “pertaining to companies boycotting Israel.” The MFPRSI, which had complied with the state law in previous years, claimed that it verified its compliance to the Iowa General Assembly via a mailed hard copy. However, no response was ever received.
Walk the walk: Sand tells Jewish Insider that this was “definitely the first audit” done to ensure compliance with state anti-BDS law. The Democratic prosecutor, a rising star in Iowa politics, maintained that it was “important” to confirm compliance because “it’s not a particularly controversial issue. Israel is a great ally to us. When you say [you are] willing to be supportive of your ally, you need to put your money where your mouth is.”
Bonus: Earlier this month, The New York Times profiled Sand, who “has become one of the most sought after endorsements in what could be the most important state in the most important presidential primary for Democrats maybe ever.”
ON THE HILL — Funding for U.S.-Israel military coordination included in appropriations package
On Tuesday, the Senate passed several pro-Israel funding measures as part of the $738 billion defense authorization bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2020 fiscal year. The bill is now awaiting the president’s signature.
Military assistance: Among the provisions included in the bipartisan defense bill were $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation and up to $25 million for U.S.-Israel counter-unmanned aerial systems (UAS) cooperation. The measure authorizes funding for cooperative missile defense programs in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Israel and the U.S. in 2016, and funding for the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missile defense systems. The legislation also authorizes extending U.S.-Israel counter-tunnel cooperation through 2024.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement: “I am proud to play a leading role in our ongoing support for Israel’s critical self-defense systems… This massive investment is vital to the safety and security of Israel and will help save countless lives in the future.”
Tax credit: The Manager’s Amendment to the appropriations bill voted on by the House on Tuesday included the repeal of a 21% tax on nonprofits, synagogues, religious institutions, and universities providing benefits for their employees, such as parking, transportation and meals. Jewish and other religious groups lobbied for the repeal of the provision that was included in the GOP-led tax cut reform bill, claiming it would cost the charitable sector $1.7 billion over the next decade.
Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that he was grateful that a yearlong effort to repeal the provision was fruitful. “This was going to cost the shuls, day schools and Jewish institutions tens of thousands of dollars on an annual basis, or more, which would have been very harmful,” he said. Diament also noted that there were various interest groups that were trying to get other tax provisions into the package but they were not successful. He attributed the passage to the fact that “even in cynical Washington, D.C., charity and religion can still get a certain amount of sympathy.”
ON THE TRAIL — Booker fails to qualify for the Vermont primary ballot
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has failed to qualify for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary ballot in Vermont — falling short of the 1,000 signatures required. The Booker campaign still has a robust ballot-access program in other states. However, Vermont presents unique political challenges — candidates need to receive at least 15% of the vote in the state to receive delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
Not alone: Along with Booker, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) also failed to clear the necessary threshold.
Not his week: Booker has also failed to qualify for the Democratic debate scheduled for tomorrow night in Los Angeles, which will debut a narrowed seven-candidate field.
Looking ahead: Julie McClain Downey, a spokeswoman for the Booker campaign, told Jewish Insider’s Ben Jacobs: “We are focused on using our campaign’s resources in the most efficient and effective way possible to win the Democratic primary and go on to defeat Donald Trump. In this case, given Vermont’s 15% threshold requirement to receive delegates, we have decided to direct our efforts elsewhere to best achieve our goals and objectives.”
SCENE LAST NIGHT — Dermer defends Trump EO at Hanukkah party
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer hosted his annual Hanukkah party at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. last night.
Debate over Trump’s EO: In his remarks, Dermer said he found it “interesting” that Trump’s executive order to combat antisemitism on college campuses set off a Twitter debate over defining Judaism as a nationality. Dermer noted that both Jewish and non-Jewish anti-Zionists have sought to deny that the Jews are a people for different reasons. Nonetheless, “regardless of what one’s motives are and what nonsense floats in the Twittersphere, the fact is that the Jews are both a people and a faith. In fact, we were a people before we were a faith.”
For argument’s sake: “As for those who are still not convinced,” Dermer continued, “remember that Jews don’t say, ‘Dat Yisrael Chai’ — the faith of Israel lives. We say, ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ — the people of Israel lives.”
Bipartisan moment: Former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), who now serves as national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and former Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL), who is chairman of the Jewish Democratic Council of America board, jointly lit one of the candles of the menorah — made from remnants of rockets fired from Gaza — as a show of bipartisanship on Israel. This may be “the only thing a Republican and a Democrat do together in Washington this week,” Dermer told the crowd.
The rest of the candles were lit by Israel’s National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, Deputy U.S. National Security Advisor Victoria Coates, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), philanthropist Robert Kogod, Conference of Presidents CEO-designate William Daroff, Watergen USA President Yehuda Kaplan, and Nate Mulberg, coach of Israel’s Olympic baseball team.
Also spotted: Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith, Polish Embassy First Secretary Filip Jasiński, Nathan Diament, Steve Rabinowitz, Sheila Katz, Dan Mariaschin, Mark Levin, Lesley Weiss, Stacy Burdett, Heidi Krizer Daroff, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Avi Mayer, Sarah and Buddy Stern, Judy Novenstein, Rabbi Michael Safra, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Howard Libit, Michael Medina, Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, Randy and Lynn Morgan, Eric Lynn, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, Ron Halber, Stephan Kline, Jason Isaacson, Yoel Lefkowitz, Gil Tamary, Sofia Gross, Jennifer Packer, Joel Rubin, Ron Kampeas, Omri Nahmias, and Ellie Cohanim.
📏 Middle Lane: In The New Yorker, Benjamin Wallace-Wells takes a closer look at South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s efforts to walk a fine line in energizing Democrats behind his candidacy while laying the foundation to win over disaffected Republicans in the general election. The author also describes the South Bend mayor’s outreach to former Harvard classmates, including Eric Lesser and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for recommendations on staff hires. [NewYorker]
💪Status Quo:The Wall Street Journaldetails the debate within Facebook whether to bow to public pressure and ban political ads during the 2020 election. Billionaire investor Peter Thiel, serving as advisor to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is reportedly gaining influence in the company against calls for changes, and has been helping Zuckerberg understand the dynamics within the Trump White House. [WSJ]
🎎 Playing With Ya: In The New York Times’ parenting section, Chavie Lieber profiles Isaac Larian, founder and CEO of toy giant MGA Entertainment, noting his enterprising spirit, his “chutzpah,” and his habit of “sending out emoji-filled press releases that tease the toy industry for falling behind.” [NYTimes]
AROUND THE WEB
📈 Aiming High: The Tel Aviv-based Aleph VC announced yesterday it has closed its third fund, Aleph III, after raising $200 million aimed at investing in “ambitious Israeli entrepreneurs who want to build large, meaningful companies and impactful global brands from Israel.”
👓 Clear Vision: 1-800 Contacts has purchased the Israeli at-home eye exam startup 6over6 for an undisclosed sum.
🕎 Piece of History: The grandson of Holocaust survivors, antique dealer Tsadik Kaplan is an expert on pre-World War II artifacts – eight of his menorahs will be on display at Manhattan’s Center for Jewish History through the end of the year.
🏦 Three Strikes:The Israeli economy — and any much-needed reforms and long-term planning — have no way “to hide from Israel’s election nightmare,” writes Ivan Levingston in Bloomberg.
📈 Opening the Door: Israel’s securities regulator is banking on U.S. financial services group Jefferies’ membership in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to help boost public offerings from Israeli hi-tech companies.
💪 Big Man: After installing his allies and cementing his status in the White House, Jared Kushner has gradually exerted more control—including over acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. According to a report by Vanity Fair, only Kellyanne Conway stands in his way.
⌨️ Top-op: Former White House Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt writes in JTA that the Jewish community must “thank the unsung heroes keeping American synagogues safe.”
👨⚖️ Free for Another Day: A federal judge rejected a request by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office to revoke the bail of indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas for lying about his finances. Parnas remains under house arrest in Florida.
👮 Moving Tracks: The private investigation into the murders of Canadian drug company billionaire and philanthropist Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, has concluded but the police investigation remains active, Toronto police said Monday. The $10 million reward for an arrest and conviction still remains, the family said.
🤦♂️ Blind Eye: Turkey is allowing senior Hamas operatives to plot attacks against Israel from Istanbul, The Telegraph reports.
🙇 Voting Rights: The Palestinian Authority asked Israel on Tuesday to allow residents living in East Jerusalem to vote in the currently unscheduled national elections. An Israeli official told Reuters the government was aware of the request but “has not yet taken a position on it.”
🗳️ Blame Game: Former Labour MP Chris Williamson, who was suspended over his interventions in the antisemitism crisis, accused Israel of “mobilizing its assets” in the U.K. to defeat Jeremy Corbyn.
🏃🏻♂️ Warming Up: Shaun Bailey, the Conservative Party candidate for the 2020 London mayoral election, is accusing London Mayor Sadiq Khan of being a “loyal foot soldier” to Jeremy Corbyn on antisemitism, despite Khan’s harsh criticism of his party’s leader in recent years.
🖌️ Campus Beat: Antisemitic graffiti was found Tuesday morning outside the American Jewish University’s Bel Air campus in Los Angeles.
🚇 Hate in New York: An Israeli woman was the subject of a verbal and physical antisemitic attack on the New York City subway recently. The Wall Street Journal has taken a closer look at the national rise in antisemitism beyond the highly publicized shootings.
✍️ Words Matter: The governor of New Jersey and the mayor of Jersey City have called for a Jersey City Board of Education member to resign after she implied that the murder of two Jews at a kosher grocery last week may have been justified.
⚰️ Across the Ocean:As many as 59 gravestones were found knocked down at a Jewish cemetery in northern Slovakia.
📺 Hollywood: The success of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has led Whitney Friedlander in The Los Angeles Times to explore the many female Jewish characters of the small screen — from Batwoman to “The Nanny.”
🏥 Talk of the Town: The Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia is training its maternity ward nurses and doctors to be mindful of the customs of observant Jewish patients.
🕍 Face Lift: The Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan has reopened after completing a $96 million expansion.
🕯️ Tragedy: Erica Tishman, vice president at Zubatkin Owner Representation and wife of financial analyst Steven Tishman, was tragically killed by a falling piece of building facade in Manhattan on Tuesday.
PIC OF THE DAY
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, flanked by Jewish leaders, unveiled on Tuesday the state’s official menorah. “In joining together with Illinois’ Jewish community in anticipation of the first night of Hanukkah, the people of Illinois once again demonstrate our commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive state,” Pritzker tweeted.
Principal with the communications firm 30 Point Strategies, formerly a White House speechwriter and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush, Noam Neusner turns 50. Neusner tells JI he will be celebrating his birthday by “working, as usual, followed by having dinner with my daughters, and definitely will have a good beer.”
Founder of supply chain firm HAVI, Theodore F. Perlman turns 83… Winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Medicine, he previously served as director of NIH and of the National Cancer Institute, Harold Eliot Varmus turns 80… Office manager in the D.C. office of Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, Ramona Cohen turns 74… Co-founder of DreamWorks Studios, Academy Award-winning director of “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” plus many other box-office record-setters like “E.T.” and “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg turns 73… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2009 (R-FL-8), William Joseph (Bill) Posey turns 72… Former CFO of the Pentagon, presently a senior fellow at CNA, Dov S. Zakheim turns 71… Film critic, historian and author of 13 books on cinema, Leonard Maltin turns 69… Winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics, professor at Stanford and Harvard, Alvin Elliot Roth turns 68…
Television writer, producer and director, best known as the co-creator and executive producer of the award-winning series “24,” Joel Surnow turns 64… Labor leader, attorney, and educator, she is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten turns 62… Founder and chief executive of Third Point LLC, Daniel S. Loeb turns 58… Editor since 2008 of The Jewish Chronicle in London, Stephen Pollard turns 55… Member of the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency, Gael Grunewald turns 55… Development officer for institutional giving at Yonkers, New York-based Greyston Health Services, Erica Skolnick turns 54… Motivational speaker and teacher, his book about his own coping with Tourette syndrome was made into a Hallmark movie, Brad Cohen turns 46…
Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management since this past January, he was previously a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Jared Moskowitz turns 39… Head of policy and communications at Sidewalk Labs, Micah Lasher turns 38… Manager of public policy and government relations for Wing Australia at Google, Jesse Suskin turns 37… Senior producer at CNN’s State of the Union, Rachel Streitfeld turns 37… Chicago-based, Midwest political director for AIPAC, Marc Ashed turns 32… J.D. candidate at Columbia Law School, formerly a community liaison for U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Eliezer H. (Elie) Peltz turns 29… Project manager at the Brussels-based Buildings Performance Institute Europe, Jessica Glicker turns 29… Desk lead for the Middle East and North Africa at Dataminr, Emily Cooper turns 28…
Birthweek: Program officer at the Rowan Family Foundation, Julia Sobel turns 32 this week.