Good Monday morning!
On Capitol Hill, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is co-sponsoring Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) “No War with Iran” bill. On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said that while President Donald Trump has “shown remarkable restraint” with Iran, Congress needs to “stand up and take back the power” on war authority.
In a New York Times op-ed, Reps. Max Rose (D-NY) and Elaine Luria (D-VA) explain their opposition to the House resolution limiting Trump’s military options.
In Baltimore, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), will be joined by religious leaders to announce their support for Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) proposal to quadruple funding for the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
On a California swing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak at the Commonwealth Club and Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and will meet with former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and George Schultz. Pompeo will also attend a private dinner in San Francisco with tech leaders including Oracle’s Larry Ellison and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen.
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EYE ON THE REGION — Iran rocked by protests after it admits to downing plane
Iran admitted over the weekend that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane last week, as protests intensified across the country. Meanwhile, on Sunday missiles rained down on a military base in Iraq that recently housed American forces.
Taking to the streets: Thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Iran for the second day in a row on Sunday, railing against leaders after the country admitted it was responsible for the downing of a passenger airliner, killing all 176 people on board — including 147 Iranians. The protests turned violent, with Iranian security forces using both live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrators, according to video circulating on Monday.
President Donald Trump tweeted support for the protesters and a warning to Iranian officials: “To the leaders of Iran — DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” he wrote. “The USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free!”
Conflicting narratives: Defense Minister Mark Esper said yesterday that he had not seen evidence that Iran was planning to attack U.S. embassies, countering a claim made by Trump last week. “I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies,” Mr. Esper said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, adding: “I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies.”
On the ground: At least six rockets were fired at the Balad airbase north of Baghdad yesterday, wounding four members of the Iraqi military. While the airbase has hosted American trainers, advisors and contractors until recently, there were reportedly no U.S. citizens at the airbase during the missile attack.
Window for diplomacy: In an interview with Axios, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien suggested that the chances of direct talks with Iran on a nuclear deal have “improved significantly” since the killing of Soleimani. Trump undercut his advisor’s message in a Sunday evening tweet, in which he stated, “Actually, I couldn’t care less if they negotiate.”
No daylight: According to The New York Times, Netanyahu was the only world leader who knew ahead of time about the decision to target Soleimani. According to an NBC News report, Israel assisted the U.S. with key intelligence details that contributed to the success of the mission. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has postponed a scheduled visit to Dubai this month due to security concerns.
Report: Journalist Ronen Bergman reported on Israel’s Channel 13 on Friday that Iran has warned Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah that he could be the United States’s next target.
ON THE TRAIL — Warren, Booker targeted with Israel questions by JVP
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) fielded questions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while campaigning in Iowa over the weekend.
In Mason City, Iowa, on Saturday, Warren maintained her support for leveraging aid to Israel to prevent annexation and talked about the steps the U.S. should take immediately on the Palestinian issue:
“The first thing I believe that we should take, is we have to speak out about Palestinian rights and talk about values. We also need to establish Palestinian representation in Washington. We need to make sure that there is aid to the Palestinian people, and that we are helping the Palestinians and the Israelis move to — what has been the official policy in Israel and the official policy of the U.S.A for nearly 70 years now — and that is a two-state solution that recognizes a home and recognizes dignity for everyone in the region. It is the long-term path for peace and we need to keep pushing in that direction… We are a good friend not when we put a thumb on the scales and say, ‘Here is the right answer. Here is how we are going to help one side, take advantage of the other.’’’
In Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Thursday, Booker was confronted by a group of Jewish Voice for Peace activists over U.S. military aid to Israel, Trump’s executive order on combating antisemitism on campus and Palestinian human rights.
Yes to human rights, no to leveraging aid: “No, I will not redirect funding [from Israel to the Palestinians],” Booker said when repeatedly pressed on the issue. “I will put more funding into affirming human rights and dignity for the Palestinian, but I will not redirect funding. That’s a no question.” The candidate added that his support for Israel is “firm and resolute.”
Of note: The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere pointed out the “very different” answers from Booker and Warren. “Booker spoke about finding justice for Palestinians and protecting human rights but emphasized his commitment to standing up for Israel’s right to its own security. Warren made no mention of security, spoke mostly of Palestinians and frustration with Israeli actions,” he tweeted. Dovere also noted that the group of activists posed for pictures with Warren after the event.
Softball: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) got friendlier treatment while campaigning in Newton, Iowa, on Saturday. “I lived in Israel when I was a kid, but we cannot have a policy that is just 100% pro-Israel and ignore the terrible suffering that’s going on in Gaza and elsewhere for the Palestinian people,” Sanders said during the town hall.
Alex Kane reports that this is part of a concerted effort by Jewish Voice for Peace Action to bring the issue to the forefront of the Democratic presidential primary debate.
Warren’s whisperers: CNN listed on Friday a group of experts who are advising Warren on foerign policy. The list of informal advisors includes Ilan Goldenberg and Hady Amr, who worked under John Kerry on the Israeli-Palestinian file in former President Barack Obama’s second term.
In other 2020 news: Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg said in an interview on Saturday that he is open to spending as much as $1 billion in the general election — even if Sanders or Warren become the Democratic nominee — in order to defeat Trump.
Court Order: Television star Judge Judy Sheindlin has endorsed Bloomberg for president. The two campaigned together over the weekend.
HEARD YESTERDAY — NJ senators pledge to keep Jews safe, fight antisemitism
Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) addressed the rise of hate and antisemitic violence at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s community safety and security summit, held at the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, New Jersey, yesterday.
Never forget: In brief remarks, Booker noted that political and elected leaders stood up to respond to the recent wave of antisemitic violence, learning from the past, when the world was too slow to respond to the rise of the Nazi regime and prevent the Holocaust:
“This is a time in our state and in our nation with the growing level of antisemitic violence that no one should remain silent. This is a time where all of us should be speaking up, condemning the hate, celebrating our connection, and allowing no shelter to those who want to divide our society against itself. It is often in times of most difficulty that we see the truth of what we are. We are not defined by what happens to us, but how we choose to respond. In this difficult time of pain and tragedy… we should also be proud that we are standing together to ensure that we are never again in history too late to respond to hatred.”
Menendez called out leaders on the right and on the left who fail to denounce antisemitism and hate, and said, “Antisemitism is like a cancerous tumor that grows larger with every act carried out in its name.”
Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Bill Pascrell Jr., Albio Sires and Donald Payne Jr. —all New Jersey Democrats — also delivered remarks.
🍫 High Bar: Talking to The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Lubetzky explains how his father motivated him to use his snack-bar company, KIND, to build bridges between people and promote peace through food and philanthropy. “A lot about who I am and how I behave is very connected to knowing that my dad survived the Holocaust because of the kindness of others,” Lubetzky said. [WSJ]
🖼️ Reclaimed Art: Forbes contributor Carlie Porterfield has penned an in-depth look at the journey one Jewish family underwent to reclaim art looted by the Nazis. It took almost 80 years after the family fled Paris — and 73 years since they applied for restitution — for four small drawings to return to their rightful owner. [Forbes]
⚔️ Class War: In a Wall Street Journal essay over the weekend, Michael Lind argues that there is a worldwide revolt “against post-national metropolitan elites.” This new class war, Lind writes, manifests itself by the fact that “the elite university has replaced the church or synagogue as the source of moral ideas and moral authority… the urban political machines and county courthouse gangs are long gone, replaced by parties that are little more than marketing labels fought for by politicians and their billionaire donors.” [WSJ]
🐦 Is this Real Life?: Using the U.K.’s Labour Party as an example, The Atlantic’s Helen Lewis argues that the Twitter-sphere is caught in a bubble of its own making and that “activists on Twitter should understand that their opinions, though valid, are not as widely shared as they may believe, even among their own political allies.” [TheAtlantic]
AROUND THE WEB
|⚖️ Buzz on Balfour: A Knesset panel is slated to convene today to begin processing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for parliamentary immunity. With Blue and White controlling the committee, Netanyahu is poised to lose his bid to buy time — a trial could begin before the March 2 vote. Like Trump, Netanyahu is expected to use the immunity hearing to highlight the injustice of his indictments in an effort to rally the base.|
🗳️ New Union: Labor-Gesher has signed a deal to run together with Meretz ahead of the March 2 threepeat election in Israel. Labor’s Amir Peretz will be No. 1 on the list, followed by Gesher’s Orly Levy and then Meretz’s Nitzan Horovitz. Democratic Union’s Stav Shaffir appears to be out of the deal.
⏲️ Ultimate Deal Watch:In an interview with Axios, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien confirmed an earlier report that the administration is not expected to wait for the Israeli political crisis to be resolved before it releases its peace plan.
🤝 Jerusalem Scene: Outgoing AIPAC President Mort Fridman and incoming president Betsy Berns Korn met with MK Gideon Sa’ar, Netanyahu’s Likud rival, and MK Gabi Ashkenazi of Blue and White during an AIPAC board mission to Israel this week.
⛪️ Complicated Game: ABC’s quiz show “Jeopardy!” came under fire over the weekend for wading into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After asking about the location of the Church of Nativity, show host Alex Trebek rejected an answer from a contestant who said Palestine, and accepted the answer of Israel from another contestant.
⛈ Mother Nature Expense: The severe storm that ravaged Israel last week has caused more than NIS 2 billion worth of damages, according to the Israel Insurance Agents Association.
🚘 No Hands Free: A week after Tesla leased a 2,000-square-meter showroom in Tel Aviv, the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety notified the electric car company that it must tell customers that they are not allowed to use the cars’ autonomous capabilities.
🥋 Sports Blink: Kimia Alizadeh, the only woman to ever win an Olympic medal for Iran, said she has left the country “because I didn’t want to be part of hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery.”
🚙 Costly Jump: New England Patriots star Julian Edelman was arrested — and later released — for misdemeanor vandalism on Saturday night after allegedly jumping on the hood of a Mercedes, TMZ Sports reported.
⛹️♂️ Strong Message: Players on the Brooklyn Nets warmed up last night while wearing “No Place for Hate” shirts, part of a collaboration with the ADL.
🛡Self Defense: The Rockland County Clerk’s office has reported a sharp increase in gun permit seekers in the week following the Monsey stabbing attack, with 23 out of 65 new applications countywide coming from Monsey.
👨🔧 Across the Pond: Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said in an interview that while there’s been “a lot of relief” that Jeremy Corbyn didn’t win the U.K. election, it will take at least 10 years to repair the “destroyed” relationship between the Jewish community and the Labour Party.
🎬 Job Seeking: Recent royal drama has led to renewed interest in the encounter between Prince Harry and Disney CEO Bob Iger at the London premiere of “The Lion King” last summer. “She’s really interested,” Harry appeared to tell Iger at the prospect of Meghan Markle doing voiceover work.
🤵👨 The Other Harvey: The New Yorker looks at the real-life case of Harvey Weinstein — the Queens-based tuxedo manufacturer — who was kidnapped and trapped in a pit in the ground for nearly two weeks before being rescued.
🖼️ Lost Art: Polish art museums are being pushed to return works that had belonged to Dutch Jews prior to WWII. A Dutch agency that investigates looted art estimates that Poland is now home to more than 80 pieces of art seized by Nazis in the Netherlands during the war.
👸 Mazel Tov: Princess Diana’s niece, Lady Kitty Spencer, is engaged to Jewish fashion tycoon Michael Lewis, the Daily Mail reported.
👶 Historic First: The first-ever brit milah in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, took place on Sunday.
👩 👨 Transitions: Shira Efron, a special advisor on Israel with the RAND Corporation and a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, and John Ruskay, executive vice president emeritus of UJA-Federation of New York and senior fellow at the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Institute, have joined Israel Policy Forum as policy advisors.
🥪 Chopped Liver Alert: Sam & Gertie’s in Chicago, described as the world’s first vegan Jewish deli, has formally opened after a brief debut pop-up last month.
PIC OF THE DAY
Jarrod Bernstein, who served as deputy commissioner of community affairs under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was spotted yesterday putting on Tefillin at the Chabad house in Hoboken, New Jersey, with Rabbi Moshe Shapiro while campaigning for Bloomberg.
Partner in King & Spalding since last week, he served as Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. (2017-2019) following 12 years as U.S. Attorney for Maryland (2005-2017), Rod J. Rosenstein turns 55…
Marriage and family therapist in Bakersfield, California, Kathleen Chambers turns 74… Cathy Nierenberg turns 73… NYC pediatrician at Carnegie Hill Pediatrics, he is a graduate of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Barry B. Stein, MD turns 63… Lifelong resident of Greenwich Village, a two-time Emmy Award winner as a television producer, she worked for NBC Nightly News, Susanna Beth Aaron turns 60… President of the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, she was the director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships during the Obama administration, Cindy S. Moelis turns 59… Actress and producer, winner of 11 Emmy Awards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus turns 59… Board member of the Federal Reserve of New York, a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, she is the founder of Working Today and Freelancers Union, Sara Horowitz turns 57… Author, journalist and a Conservative member of the Senate of Canada since 2009, she was co-chair of the 2018 campaign for the UJA of Greater Toronto, Linda Frum turns 57…
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel since 2013, Rabbi David Baruch Lau turns 54… Bruce Maclver turns 54… Resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he works on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, Kenneth M. Pollack turns 54… North America director at The Israel Forever Foundation, Heidi Krizer Daroff… Statistician and writer who analyzes baseball and elections, he is the editor-in-chief of ABC News’s FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver turns 42… VP of donor relations at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Shira Berenson Feinstein turns 34… Director of communications at the Israel on Campus Coalition, Carly Freedman Schlafer turns 29… Lucia Meyerson… Rebecca Seider… Sandra Shapiro… German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier mix, Jersey Brown turns 14…