Good Monday morning!
This week is a busy one — from today’s Iowa caucuses to the Senate kicking off closing arguments in its impeachment trial today and tomorrow. The State of the Union address will be held tomorrow night. And Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is on a historic visit in Uganda.
Tonight in New York City, AIPAC will mark the legacy of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) at its annual Black History Month celebration. Tomorrow is the special election primary for Cummings’s seat: Two of the leading candidates — Kweisi Mfume and Jill Carter — sat down for interviews with Jewish Insider. More below.
Former longtime Time Warner and News Corp exec Gary Ginsberg is officially joining Michael Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign as a senior advisor.
At last night’s Super Bowl, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Fanatics chairman Michael Rubin cohosted a private halftime show by Cardi B in their suite at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Among the VIPs on hand were Rubin’s 76ers co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer.
Also spotted in a private suite at the game was Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, Blackstone’s Eli Miller and Miller Strategies’ Jeff Miller. Photo via NYT’s Ken Vogel.
👉 Received this from a friend? Subscribe to the Daily Kickoff.
Iowa caucuses mark the kickoff of the 2020 Democratic race
This evening, Democratic voters in Iowa will turn up at 1,678 caucus sites across the state to have their say in the first contest of the presidential primary season. Caucus organizers are expecting high turnout in the still crowded race.
Big prize: The candidates have been criss-crossing the state for months, campaigning hard in order to be able to claim victory in the first Democratic primary battleground state. The latest polls published before today’s caucuses show Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) poised to take home the most support tonight. FiveThirtyEightshows Sanders beating Biden by one percentage point in Iowa, while RealClearPoliticshas the Vermont senator up by four points.
Three results: For the first time ever, the Iowa Democratic Party will publish three sets of results after tonight’s caucus: the “first alignment” of voters — i.e. their first choice for the nomination; the “final alignment” — the result after candidates who fell below the 15% threshold were eliminated; and the final delegate count. This system could “allow multiple candidates to claim success” when all is said and done, David Adelman, a prominent Iowa-based Democratic activist, told Jewish Insider.
Biden or Bernie? Adelman said he expects either Sanders or Biden to lead “the delegate count at the end of the night.” Biden might not have the most support overall, but “he is the second choice of many of the lower-tier candidates,” Adelman said. If, under the caucus voting system, “these candidates are not viable, Biden could pick up these participants in the final alignment.” Sanders, he said, “will play very well” in “high-turnout in areas with larger delegate allocations.” He also stands to “get an additional boost from Warren backers, if she were to fall below the 15% viability threshold in some rural caucuses.”
Time to go: With 11 candidates on the ballot in Iowa, tonight’s caucus will likely serve as a wake-up call for some of the more longshot hopefuls who have remained in the race. Unless we see an upset from any of the lower-polling candidates, expect to see several dropouts before the Feb. 11th primary in New Hampshire. On Friday, former Rep. John Delaney, who was the first Democrat to enter the race in 2017, dropped out.
The Never Bernies: NBC News reported on Sunday that former Secretary of State and the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was overheard discussing possibly entering the race to counter “the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole.” In response, Kerry tweeted that he is “absolutely not running” for president, and reiterated his support for Biden.
In the race
“I was the squad before ‘The Squad’ — Meet Jill Carter, running for Congress
In Maryland’s 7th congressional district, two dozen candidates are running to fill the seat left vacant following the October death of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Among the candidates are Cummings’s widow, a former Cummings staffer and Kweisi Mfume, who held the seat for a decade before becoming the head of the NAACP in the mid-1990s. For Jewish Insider, Aliza Friedlander talked to Maryland State Senator Jill Carter, who is rallying progressive voters in the district ahead of tomorrow’s special primary.
Background: The desire to carry on her activist father’s legacy was one of the reasons Carter chose to run for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2002, an election she won. A lawyer by trade, Carter served as a delegate for the 41st district for 16 years before stepping away from politics to serve as the director of the Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement. In 2018, Carter resigned from that post to become a state senator.
Future Squad member? Carter, who was a delegate for presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016, told JI she’s been pushing progressive policies for years. “On a local level, I was ‘The Squad’ before ‘The Squad,’” she said, describing the group of progressive congresswomen that includes Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). “It’s that idea of having an independent voice, protesting and using tactics that are shunned by the political establishment. I believe in their tactics of coloring outside the lines, doing what you have the ability to do with the bandwidth you have. I think we have to use any means necessary to get our points across. I don’t know if I agree with every single thing ‘The Squad’ does, but I do believe in the idea of an independent spirit and pushing against established Democrats.”
Middle East views: “I believe in peace and not war,” Carter said when asked what she thinks what peace in the Middle East could look like. “The United States should make better efforts to bring about some type of solution that works for Israel and Palestine and for Iran and Iraq. As a congressperson, I envision I would vote in a matter that would allow Congress to have more power over what the executive does when it comes to acts that can be construed as triggers for war. I know when we are at war and conflict, there are resources being expended on that. Those resources need to be put back into our communities and that is my priority… I don’t support BDS but I do believe Americans should be able to decide what they want and don’t want to purchase.”
Building bridges: Born and raised in the 7th district, Carter knows first-hand the challenges of the area, which is home to some of Baltimore’s richest and poorest neighborhoods, as well as large African-American and Jewish communities. “I’ve always felt very strongly about bringing Blacks and Jews together,” says Carter. “I believe we need to do a better job teaching our children about everyone’s history. It’s critical for us to have better education about the Holocaust and slavery because I think if we could better understand each others’ struggles, there wouldn’t be so much resentment.”
talk of the region
Palestinians reject Trump administration’s olive branch as Israel debates annexation
The Arab League unanimously rejected President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan on Saturday, despite initial statements of support from some countries in the region last week.
In a statement, the member states said the plan contradicts the principles of the peace process and U.N. resolutions — and they pledged not to cooperate with the Trump administration in its implementation. An Arab diplomat toldHaaretz that the ambassadors of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman only agreed to attend the rollout ceremony at the White House last week because they were not given the full details of the plan.
Crying wolf: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced at the meeting that the Palestinians will cut off all ties with Israel and the United States, “including on security cooperation,” a threat he has made in the past, adding that Israel will have to “bear responsibility as an occupying power” for the territories.
Media blitz: In an interview with Egyptian journalist Amr Adeeb on the “El-Hekaya” news show, Jared Kushner said that the Palestinians are invited to offer changes to the map drawn by the administration. He maintained that the U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank “will take a couple of months,” after the U.S. and Israel survey “every inch” of the West Bank. In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, Kushner explained that if the Palestinians can’t meet certain conditions under the plan, including guarantees of religious freedom, “then I don’t think we can get Israel to take the risk to recognize them as a state.”
On the ground: Washington Post reporters Steve Hendrix and Sufian Taha spoke to Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the West Bank about their emotional reaction to the Trump plan. The settlers expressed gratitude to Trump for endorsing the settlement enterprise, but were not ready to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state on their doorstep. Whereas Palestinians conveyed despair, claiming that this has “diminished their hopes of ever living outside of the shadow of growing Israeli towns.” New York Times reporters Isabel Kershner and David Halbfinger met with Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, who are wondering how the idea of establishing a capital in the village of Abu Dis would cater to their aspirations.
Annexation now or later? The Trump administration’s resistance to immediate action on annexation reveals a strategic battle between the center and right-wing camps over the timing of such a move, but not necessarily its implementation. According to Israeli political analyst Ben Caspit, Netanyahu is determined to aggressively push for a U.S. green light on annexation before the March 2 election because that is his only card left to play to a base that is being told to swallow the acceptance of a Palestinian state under the Trump plan. “Blue and White knows that one photo of Netanyahu annexing territory before the elections will wipe out everything else,” Caspit writes in Al-Monitor. “We hope the Americans will not let this happen,” a Blue and White party leader is quoted as saying.
Hot take: Times of Israel editor-in-chief David Horovitz points out that the two components of the deal — the administration’s offer for the Palestinians to refine the map and the inclusion of isolated settlements in a future Palestinian state — would “threaten its declared best intentions for Israel.”
View of the experts: More than two dozen former senior administration officials and Mideast experts, including former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel Daniel Kurtzer and Daniel Shapiro, released an open statement opposing the Trump peace plan.
Roadblocks: Israeli Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reported yesterday that, in 2013, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a proposal from Oman to broker talks with Iran — against the advice of Mossad officials.
🌍 Skirting Issues: In The New York Review of Books, Jessica T. Matthews wonders if the Democrats really have any foreign policy, as multiple threats to global stability loom on the horizon. “It has become an article of faith for many Democratic politicians that Americans will only support a foreign policy if it is tied directly to their economic well-being,” she writes. [NYRB]
📊 Data Dive: Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, has authored a report on foreign funding of think tanks in the U.S. He found that more than $174 million in foreign funding went to the top 50 think tanks in the country, with the biggest recipients being the World Resources Institute, the Center for Global Development, and the Brookings Institution. [CIP]
Around the Web
🎞️ Reflecting: Former President Bill Clinton spoke Saturday night after a screening in New York City of the Israeli film “Incitement,” which dramatizes the period leading up to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Clinton told the audience he believed that if Rabin had lived, “there would have been a comprehensive agreement by 1998,” and a Palestinian state would exist today.
👮 Safety First: Former FBI agent Shawn Brokos — who was a first responder at the scene of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting — has been tapped as the new director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
👨💼 Hitting Restart: WeWork named real-estate industry veteran Sandeep Mathrani as its new CEO, following a months-long effort to rebuild following a failed IPO attempt and the ousting of co-founder Adam Neumann.
👙 Deep Dive: A New York Times investigation found widespread bullying and harassment of employees and models at Victoria’s Secret under the supervision of L Brands executive Ed Razek, who left in 2019, and Leslie Wexner, founder of the company.
🔒 Startup Nation:Bloomberglooks at Israeli security start-up Gabriel, founded in the wake of a 2016 terror attack in Tel Aviv, which provides security systems to Jewish communities in the U.S.
📈 Confidence Measures: Standard & Poor’s (S&P) credit rating agency reaffirmed Israel’s AA- credit rating over the weekend despite worries about the effect the ongoing political situation could have on its economy.
💸 Fast Growing: Exports from Intel’s operations in Israel surged by more than 69% in 2019 to a total of $6.6 billion.
🛩️ Flying High:Israel’s Aerospace Industries said on Sunday it earned a $240 million contract to manufacture wings for U.S. Air Force T-38 training aircraft.
🥒 Hurt by the Wallet: Israel barred the entry of Palestinian agricultural produce from the West Bank on Sunday in retaliation for a months-long Palestinian Authority ban on importing Israeli calves — part of Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s campaign to economically disengage from Israel.
😷 Retraction: The Chinese Embassy in Israel apologized yesterday after comparing the travel ban on Chinese citizens over coronavirus fears to refugee restrictions on Jews during the Holocaust. The acting Chinese ambassador told reporters at a press conference in Tel Aviv that the current situation reminded him of when “many, many Jewish were refused when they tried to seek assistance from other countries.”
✡️ Talk of the Town: Dozens of members of all faiths donned kippas Friday night at Temple Emanuel in Davenport, Iowa, in a show of support for the Jewish community.
📝 Never Forget: Clive Irving writes in The Daily Beast about Albert Speer, Hitler’s right-hand man who never expressed any regret — and suffered limited consequences — for his role in the Holocaust.
🕯️ Remembering: Joshua Levi, the CEO of the Australian Jewish News, passed away at age 36.
🏈 Game Face: CNN profiles Meir Kalmanson, an Orthodox Jewish online influencer, who hosted 20 Super Bowl parties yesterday for homeless people across America.
🎂 D.C. Scene: Spotted at the Aaron Keyak birthday/Super Bowl party at his corner apartment high above D.C.’s CharBar: Norm Eisen, Mark Mellman, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Rabbi Hyim Shafner, Sara Winkelman, Carly Pildis, Jackson Richman, Merav Ceren, Jeff Mendelsohn, David May, Linda Lourie, Steve Rabinowitz, Laurie Moskowitz, Avi Goldgraber.
Pic of the Day
New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss participated in a book-signing event for her new book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism, at Eichler’s of Boro Park last night. Jewish radio personality Nachum Segal moderated a panel discussion with Weiss.
Longest-serving chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, now a senior adviser at the Carlyle Group and on the board of Bloomberg LP, Arthur LevittJr. turns 89…
President and founder of Rubenstein Associates, Howard J. Rubenstein turns 88… Former president and CEO of clothing manufacturer Warnaco Group, Linda J. Wachner turns 74… Former chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., Fred Hochberg turns 68… Partner at Shipman & Goodwin and a former justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Joette Katz turns 67… Singer-songwriter and winner of the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1991, Julie Gold turns 64… The only Jewish member of the Utah House of Representatives, Patrice M. Arent turns 64…
Professor of biology at MIT, mathematician and geneticist, Eric Lander turns 63… Former CEO of the Chicago Sun-Times, he was an alderman of the 43rd ward of Chicago (1987-1993), Edwin Eisendrath turns 62… Former investment adviser at Morgan Stanley, Steven F. Schlafer turns 61… Founder of Fourth Factor Consulting, Joel Mowbray turns 44… Senior communications advisor at the International Monetary Fund, Josh Lipsky turns 34… Manager of the synagogue leadership initiative at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Joshua Keyak turns 32… One of Israel’s most popular singers, Ishay Ribo turns 31… Executive at NYC’s Brunswick Group, Noam Safier turns 26…