Good Tuesday morning!
On Capitol Hill, the House Rules Committee will meet to discuss bringing H.R. 326, a resolution by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) reaffirming support for the two-state solution, for a floor vote later this week. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Tom Reed (R-NY) are introducing bipartisan amendments that reaffirm the “ironclad” U.S. commitment to the MOU and to annual military assistance without new conditions.
Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman will be one of the first witnesses called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee as it begins its impeachment inquiry tomorrow.
Tonight in New York, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr and Col. Richard Kemp will be among the speakers at the Our Soldiers Speak annual briefing at the Park East Synagogue.
Earlier today in London, President Trump was asked if he thought Jeremy Corbyn needs to do more to denounce antisemitism. Trump replied, “I know nothing about the gentleman. Jeremy Corbyn, know nothing about him.”
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IN THE RACE — Community activist Kathy Manning is running for Congress again
Prominent Jewish activist Kathy Manning announced on Monday morning that she’s running for Congress in North Carolina’s redrawn 6th district.
Community ties: Manning served as the first female chair of the Jewish Federations of North America and is a current board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Second time’s a charm? Manning came up short in her first bid for Congress in 2018. She easily won the Democratic primary for North Carolina’s 13th district and outraised her general election opponent, incumbent Rep. Ted Budd, but lost 51%-46%.
What’s changed? North Carolina’s congressional map has faced significant pushback from lawmakers and voters critical of the layout of the state’s gerrymandered districts. A redrawn map was approved Monday by a panel of judges, who had frozen the filing period until a new map was presented.
Next up: With the freeze lifted, Manning and other candidates in the state are once again able to file. If she wins the Democratic nomination in March, Manning will likely face off against incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Walker, whose current district will be divided among several others. Walker has not yet declared in which district he intends to run.
FIRST LOOK — Details from new Melania Trump book
The following are a few brief details from Kate’s Bennett’s new tell-all book, Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography, out on shelves today:
Hand hold: Bennett details what became a viral moment on Trump’s first trip abroad as president when the First Lady appeared to swat her husband’s hand away while walking on the tarmac at the welcome ceremony in Israel in May 2017. “It was supposed to have been a four-photo op, simple, something a monkey could do,” she describes. “But as was often the case, Trump forgot about his wife, and by the time he remembered she was there, it was too late.”
Behind the snub: According to Bennett, the White House protocol team went over the plan with the Trumps for what was supposed to be a short walk alongside the Israeli leader and his wife. “But dammit if he couldn’t get right just one rehearsed fifteen-step walk.”
What happened next is the following: “As the foursome made its way toward the cameras, already not in sync, the Netanyahus holding hands, the Trumps not, Melania fell behind, sort of spilling off to the side of the carpet. Wearing a bright white Michael Kors Collection skirt suit, picked especially to honor the white in the Israeli flag, as well as the symbol of peace, Melania dropped behind, the five-foot-wide swath of red carpet not quite big enough for Trump’s girth and his penchant for easy distraction. Thus Melania lagged, unable to fit next to the other three, awkwardly relegated to unintended submissive ‘walk behind the man’ positioning. And she didn’t like it.” Once Trump realized he wasn’t walking in sync he reached out to his wife’s hand, but “Melania isn’t having it and — with a swat, as fast as lightning — she bats his hand away and turns her head.”
PODCAST PLAYBACK — Gary Cohn on his family history and 2020 choice
Gary Cohn, the former White House National Economic Council director, discussed his family’s experience as immigrants from Poland and his tenure in the Trump administration during an interview with David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast:
“My grandfather came over [to the U.S.] as a 13-year-old, escaping Europe as a typical Jewish immigrant trying to get out of Europe… The story goes something like this: 13-year-old, eight dollars in his pocket, put on a boat to escape to a better land, America. [He] came by himself, came through Ellis Island, had a relative in Cleveland, Ohio. So somehow [he] managed to find his relative in Cleveland, Ohio… He was literally a bottle washer. Back in the days when we had glass milk bottles. He was a candy maker, literally made fudge at night, and then ultimately got himself into the electrical union as an apprentice. That’s where he found his career as being an electrician, but completely self-made man with literally one relative in America.”
“Both of my grandfathers were Polish immigrants. So I think that clearly has an impact on the way I think of immigration in this country — just from a fundamental experience of having grown up with immigrant grandparents and grandparents that came to this country and helped build this country and created economic prosperity, not only for themselves… And to me, that’s the American dream.”
Axelrod: The things that are being said about immigrants today were being said about immigrants from Poland and Eastern Europe, Jews, that they were diluting the population, taking jobs.
Cohn: “Yeah, look, the narrative, unfortunately, hasn’t really changed — it just ebbs and flows during periods of time.”
On 2020 — Axelrod: Would you vote for Donald Trump again — or you may not have voted for him the first time, I don’t know — I mean, having seen what you have seen from the inside, would you feel comfortable supporting him?
Cohn:“I think you have to give the president some credit — look, I give him credit for what he’s done on tax reform. I have to give him credit because, sort of, a big chunk of it was my policy… and some of the economic growth issues are there. We are at 3.5% unemployment in the U.S. We have got 3% wage growth. So on the economic side of the equation, I am pretty pleased with what I see. That said, I would wait and see what the candidate looks like on the other side, what their policies are [and] what their platform is.”
DRIVING THE CONVO — Netanyahu and Gantz spar over annexation and U.S.-Israel defense pact
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz sparred over the push for a mutual defense pact with the United States and over getting U.S. support for annexation of the Jordan Valley.
The details: In a speech on Monday, Netanyahu described the potential defense pact as “historic” and an issue “which now we have the opportunity to implement,” given his close relationship with Trump. Netanyahu said he discussed the two issues in a phone call with the president on Sunday and called on Gantz to join a unity government led by him for at least the next six months in order to accomplish those goals.
Now is not the time: Gantz outright rejected the offer and argued that any such deal would strip Israel of its military autonomy. “I have a strong appreciation for our strategic relationship with the United States,” he said in a statement. “But there is serious concern that a prime minister preoccupied by his own affairs may permit the limitation of our security forces’ freedom of action, in clear contradiction to the position held by the defense establishment for decades.” On annexation, Gantz maintained that while he supported the move as good for the security of the Sate of Israel, he said it was unrelated to the seating arrangements around the government table.
Right to self-defense: Knesset Member Yair Golan (Democratic Union), who served as an IDF deputy chief of staff, explained in an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh why the defense establishment would object to such a pact: “We want to keep our independence. We are the ones who are responsible for our defense and we should put minimum limitations on our ability to act or react to external threats.” Golan added that he sees no justification for a formal defense pact given the strong U.S.-Israeli military coordination. “What we have in hand right now is really fabulous.”
Why it matters: Blue and White’s reservations over annexation and the mutual defense agreement indicate for the first time “a distinct differentiation from the Trump-Netanyahu alliance,” Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator, suggested.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro tells JI that while a defense pact “is widely seen as unnecessary” given the strong U.S.-Israel alliance and objections from security professionals, “a serious proposal for such a pact should be studied seriously.” And that’s not possible, he stressed, “when it is just thrown on the table willy-nilly by a leader navigating a political crisis.”
2020 watch: Keeping the issue in the headlines is likely to, in the wake of annexation, reignite the debate in the Democratic Party over conditioning U.S. military aid to Israel.
Defending the move, Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) — who along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pushed for the U.S. to enter into a mutual defense agreement with Israel — tells JI: “I wish a U.S.-Israel mutual defense pact wasn’t a political issue in Israel, but it’s not surprising given that almost any issue becomes contentious in a political season. JINSA proposed earlier this year a narrow U.S.-Israel mutual defense pact in order to add another layer of deterrence to Israel and mitigate the intensity of a war if one should break out. It would only be invoked in exceptional circumstances in which Israel’s viability and existence was threatened. It would not limit Israel’s freedom of action.”
GIVING TUESDAY — Why One Jewish Charity is Sitting Out Giving Tuesday
It’s that time of year when every nonprofit organization you’ve ever heard of sends an appeal to donate on Giving Tuesday. But one group is sitting it out, and its founder says its bottom line is being affected by the popularity of Facebook fundraising campaigns.
Alex Rapaport is the founder of Masbia — Hebrew for ‘satiate’ — a network of three soup kitchens and food pantries in Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Together they provide 2.5 million meals to hungry people with an annual budget of about $5 million, he told JI’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen.
Grassroots Funding: The medium-sized charity has about 35,000 people making a donation or volunteering each year, he said. The organization’s average donation is between $50 and $100, “which makes us the Bernie Sanders of charity, with all these small donations.”
Thumbs Down: Rapaport is critical of Facebook’s fundraising campaigns, which the social media platform is aggressively pushing for Giving Tuesday. They are also utilized by well-intentioned people year-round when someone announces a campaign to raise money for their favorite charity, asking friends to donate in honor of their birthday. Masbia is the named beneficiary of a few of those each week, he said.
But the social media giant, even while it collects all sorts of data about its users and those donating to campaigns on the Facebook platform, does not provide donors’ names to the charity they donate to, says Rapaport, preventing the non-profit organization from growing a relationship with a new donor. Facebook not sharing the donors’ names with the charity “is a huge waste. It doesn’t bring the two together anymore.”
🤝 Locking Arms: Politico’s Bryan Bender takes an inside look at the new think tank backed by George Soros and Charles Koch, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, as it opens its doors this week. Its goal: to advocate for an end to America’s “endless wars” in the Middle East. [Politico]
📺 BB-TV: Haaretz reporters Josh Breiner and Nati Tucker detail how the international i24News television channel, owned by French-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi and led by CEO Frank Melloul, has turned into a pro-Netanyahu network in order to secure a Hebrew broadcast license. [Haaretz]
📜 Rewriting History: Thousands of far-right activists in Poland — including members of parliament — have united around a common goal: to declare Jewish property restitution claims not just illegal, but criminal. One Jewish community member tells the Los Angeles Times that antisemitism in Poland has become “socially and politically acceptable.” [LATimes]
AROUND THE WEB
🇺🇸 2020 Watch: Montana Governor Steve Bullock on Monday became the latest Democratic presidential hopeful to drop out of the race, having failed to gain traction during his bid for the White House. JI’s Ben Jacobs looks back at his campaign.
🇮🇷 Iran Watch: Writing in The New York Times, David Sanger posits that U.S. sanctions on Iran have fueled the recent deadly protests in the country, but are unlikely to actually further American interests in the region.
👨⚖️ Buzz on Balfour: Prosecutors in the case against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have lined up more than 300 witnesses, including Oracle chairman Larry Ellison; billionaires Sheldon Adelson, Len Blavatnik and James Packer; WJC President Ron Lauder and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
⏲️ Time’s Up: An Israeli law passed in 2008 granted tax breaks to new immigrants and returning Israelis for a period of 10 years. Many billionaires appeared to take advantage of the law — but with the period expiring, Haaretzreports, they’re now leaving the country.
🇩🇪 Uncomfortable Memorial: The International Auschwitz Committee criticized the Center for Political Beauty for placing an oversized urn said to contain remains of Holocaust victims outside the German Reichstag. The Center claimed that the placement was aimed at showing how the “legacy of the Holocaust is rendered void by political apathy.”
👨 Trump’s Poster Boy: The New York Times profiles Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer and trusted advisor, who grew up as an observant Jew on Long Island before converting to Christianity through the Messianic movement while attending college in Atlanta, Georgia.
😢 Man of the Hour: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with TIME Magazine about his relationships with Trump and Putin and his unwanted role in the U.S. impeachment proceedings.
⚖️ Shadow Attorney: After a New York Timesreport about a conman who claimed to have footage from Jeffrey Epstein’s house, lawyer Alan Dershowitz claimed in court that the fraudulent story is all part of a wider attempt to defame and extort him.
🎥 Hollywood: Universal and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions have fast-tracked a film to be written by Oscar-winner Charles Randolph about the rise and dramatic fall of WeWork and its co-founder Adam Neumann.
📺 Media Watch: Former CNN reporter Laurie Segall is launching her own production company, Dot Dot Dot. LionTree’s Aryeh Bourkoff is among the backers.
✈️ Irish Beer in the Air: El Al announced plans to launch a direct flight between Tel Aviv and Dublin in May 2020, connecting the major tech hubs and nearly halving the time it currently takes to travel between the two cities
☀️ Warming Up: U.S.-based electric car maker Tesla has registered an Israeli subsidiary under the name Tesla Motors Israel, with a focus on both electric cars and solar energy solutions.
🕍 Hate in the Capital: Swastikas and the word “Jew” were discovered carved into a door at D.C.’s historic Sixth and I synagogue, and police have already made an arrest in the case.
🥪 Sad Shutdown: The iconic Loeser’s Kosher Deli in the Bronx was recently closed down by a New York City buildings inspector following the discovery of non-code compliant plumbing. “We had Thanksgiving dinner and everyone just sat and cried,” co-owner Linda Loeser Weiss told the New York Daily News.
🍣 Gefilte Sushi: Great Big Story has spotlighted Brooklyn restaurant Shalom Japan, a Japanese-Jewish eatery run by a husband-and-wife team.
🕯️Remembering: Allen Gerson, husband of noted cookbook author Joan Nathan whose efforts to get justice for the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing began a new practice of holding governments accountable for terror attacks, passed away Sunday at 74.
PIC OF THE DAY
Mark and Seth Rogen, pictured here with Executive Director Ann Toback, were presented with the Generation to Generation Activism Award at the annual gala for the Workmen’s Circle — now known as the Worker’s Circle — in New York City last night.
A close associate of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, now among the most influential figures within the Chabad movement, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda (“Yudel”) Krinsky turns 86…
Howard Krizer turns 87… Malibu resident, she is the founder of a successful wedding gown business and a lifestyle coach, Sandy Stackler turns 82… 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winner for his book on Jews and Arabs in Israel, he was a long-serving foreign correspondent and Washington bureau chief for The New York Times, David K. Shipler turns 77… Member of the New York State Assembly since 1994, Jeffrey Dinowitz turns 65… Painter and art teacher residing in Maryland, Heidi Praff turns 63…
Miami-based criminal defense attorney, Yale Galanter turns 63… Editorial page editor at USA Today, William (Bill) Sternberg turns 63… British publicist, music manager and former tabloid journalist, Rob Goldstone turns 59… Elected to the Knesset in both of the 2019 elections as a member of the Yisrael Beytenu party, Eli Avidar turns 55… Member of the California State Assembly from the 43rd district since 2016, Laura Friedman turns 53… Malinda Marcus turns 49… SVP of communications at NBC News, Alison “Ali” Weisberg Zelenko turns 48…
Associate professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University, Joshua M. Karlip, Ph.D. turns 48… French journalist, author, television and radio personality, Marie Drucker turns 45… Comedian and actress, she discovered her Eritrean Jewish roots as an adult, Tiffany Haddish turns 40 (and is celebrating her bat mitzvah today with celebrities including Sarah Silverman and Billy Crystal)… Member of the New York City Council for the 33rd District since 2010, Stephen T. Levin turns 38… Managing partner of E:SIX Strategies, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Edelman turns 32… Professional tennis player who won the gold medal in women’s singles at the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel, Sharon Fichman turns 29…