Good Monday morning!
In D.C., the Jewish Council for Public Affairs is holding its annual conference.
At the U.N., the Palestinians have softened a United Nations Security Council resolution, dropping their initial condemnation of President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan, ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
On Saturday, AIPAC apologized for at least two Facebook ads that claimed “radicals in the Democratic Party are pushing their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies down the throats of the American people.”
New Hampshirites head to the pollstomorrow to cast their ballots for the first-in-the-nation primary.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates responded to a New York Timesquestionnaire on Israel-related issues, published on Friday. Billionaire Tom Steyer said he would condition aid on a settlement construction freeze and move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv. Sen. Elizabeth Warren would “freeze or reverse” the embassy functions that have moved to Jerusalem if Israel moves forward with unilateral steps. Andrew Yang said he was a “yes” on the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Pete Buttigieg did not provide an answer to three questions — aid to Israel, the borders of a Palestinian state and the right of return.
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Is a Schumer-AOC primary showdown in the cards?
During a lunch with journalists ahead of the State of the Union address last week, President Donald Trump predicted that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) will challenge Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when he comes up for re-election in 2022 — and that she will “kick his ass.” This morning, Trump tweeted, “Because of how badly they did with the Impeachment Hoax, AOC will primary Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, and win.”
The rumors: In a recent New York Magazine profile of the freshman congresswoman, longtime political journalist David Freedlander cited comments from people close to Ocasio-Cortez who indicated that she is likely to consider a challenge against Schumer in 2022. Last year, top Democrats told “Axios on HBO” that they expect Ocasio-Cortez to eventually primary either Schumer or the state’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, in 2024.
Bring it on: Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Strategies and a former communications director for Schumer, said in an email that “it’d be an all-time great race” if Ocasio-Cortez goes ahead with such a plan. “Chuck clearly isn’t leaving the Senate until he’s no longer conscious and AOC’s ambition and popularity both keep skyrocketing — so they may be on a collision course for 2022. [It] would be one of the most interesting matchups of establishment vs. reformers in a long time.”
Ain’t happening: A former senior aide to Schumer, who has long been active in state-wide politics, tells JI that “there isn’t a formula or analysis in all of creation that suggests Chuck can be beaten in a Democratic primary.” The former Schumer aide explained that the senior Democrat has “an army of Schumer alum everywhere in New York” that he would “activate on a moment’s notice” if challenged. Democratic campaign strategist Hank Sheinkopf echoed that sentiment, predicting that Schumer would beat AOC “handily.”
The progressive case: Ross Barkan, a New York-based journalist and former New York State Senate candidate, said that if anything, Schumer would be challenged over his support for the financial industry and Wall Street, as well as for his hawkish foreign policy views. Israel, however, would only be a minor issue. “Ocasio-Cortez says little about Israel despite her reputation,” Barkan added.
Rep. Nita Lowey reflects on her career at JCRC congressional breakfast
A large contingent of New York’s congressional delegation attended the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York’s annual breakfast yesterday. Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh reports on the notable moments:
Longtime Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who is retiring at the end of the year, reflected on her three decades in Congress: “For me it has been such an honor to fight with you, for you, all these years,” she said. “For me, it has really been an honor to be on the front lines, because someone comes to me with a problem, I say, ‘Okay, let’s do something about it.’”
Decisions: Lowey explained that she chose to head the state, foreign operations, and related programs subcommittee over a more prestigious subcommittee within the powerful House Appropriations Committee — because the former deals with allocating funds for Israel. “My heart came first,” Lowey said. “This is why I have been the chair all these years of the committee that funds all the money we give to Israel. Some may say it’s not enough. I said, whatever we give is what it is.” Watch Lowey’s full remarks here.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on support for Israel: “This [New York] delegation, in the Senate and in the House, will continue to do everything to see that there is a strong bipartisan U.S.-Israel bond that will never, ever be broken.” Recalling how 15 of his great-grandfather’s 18 children perished in the Holocaust, Schumer said: “I tell anyone who doubts our fidelity to Israel and why we do it. I say I would have had a lot more uncles, aunts and cousins had there been an Israel they would have been able to go to.”
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sought to reassure attendees: “You can go to sleep and not worry about it. As long as I am the chairman, the U.S.-Israel relationship will be paramount in my life,” he said to applause.
Lesson from the past: Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, detailed how his Judaism influenced his views on immigration and slammed the Trump administration for what he called its “disgusting and immoral” tough immigration policies. “I know how during the 1930s this country shut its doors to the Jew… And I know that after World War II, in 1948, the U.S. government did ‘teshuvah’ — had a little repentance under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt and formulated the political asylum laws,” Nadler said. “And it sickens me to see the U.S. government under this administration perverting those laws and doing exactly what was done in the 1930s to the Jews to other people… We are again shutting our doors because of racial prejudice. And it sickens me to see people like Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller who ought to know better.”
Standing united: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, pledged to work “as hard as I can to make sure aid to Israel is maintained by both Republicans and Democrats moving forward — because Israel is not a partisan issue. Our relationship is an American issue and we want to keep it that way.” Asked if Congress should withhold funds from Israel over a possible annexation of the West Bank, Jeffries tells Jewish Insider, “That’s a question that I haven’t really considered at this point, but I think that anything that is done in the context of annexation has to be done in a very sensitive fashion, because we are all committed to a two-state solution.”
Opposition to a political move: Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) explained to JI why he joined 106 House members who signed on to a letter condemning the Trump administration’s peace plan. “I think that the president is playing politics to try to influence an election. Israel should not be a political football to play. That’s basically the reason why I signed this letter,” Meeks said, adding that he would “absolutely not” support leveraging military aid to Israel.
MEET THE CANDIDATE
Kristine Schanbacher is hoping to unseat Rep. Danny Davis after 24 years
House candidate Kristine Schanbacher discussed her bid to unseat 12-term Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) in the March 17 Democratic primary in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh.
Bio: Schanbacher is a Chicago-based litigation attorney and human rights activist. She also served as a volunteer lobbyist in Washington, D.C. on issues including the separation of church and state, combating antisemitism and gun safety regulation. Schanbacher was named one of the top 40 young lawyers in the country by the American Bar Association in 2019.
Uphill: Last cycle, Davis defeated his Democratic primary rival with 74% of the vote. Schanbacher — who is competing in a four-way race in Illinois’s 7th district — out-fundraised the incumbent congressman by slightly less than $10,000, according to her most recent FEC filing.
Case against Davis: Schanbacher decided to challenge the incumbent, she told JI, because she believes he’s been largely absent in Congress and in the communities in the district in recent years. In particular, she said, “he’d become increasingly hostile towards a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” and he also failed “to adequately and swiftly condemn the hateful remarks” by Louis Farrakhan, the notorious leader of the Nation of Islam. “It rightfully scares people, particularly in this climate.”
Saying no to hate: According to Schanbacher, antisemitism and hate are “getting fostered in our current political environment, and it really needs to be stamped out, hard.” She told JI that she believes the Democratic Party “hasn’t done enough to demand that no hate is tolerated. I see it percolating on the left and it needs to be swiftly and strongly condemned. It worries me that there is more tolerance for saying hateful things about people of the Jewish faith.”
A champion against BDS: Schanbacher says that she experienced that hate when she was once booed on stage for calling the BDS movement “inherently antisemitic” — but “I stood my ground.” She added, “I think you need strong champions” to fight BDS and hatred against Israel — “I think that we need some more strong people in the Democratic Party to do that.”
How the Rudermans helped bring disability awareness to the Oscars
Jay and Shira Ruderman may not have met Brad Pitt at the Oscars last night. But they were on hand to witness a meaningful and historic moment: Zack Gottsagen, an actor with Down syndrome, helped present a coveted golden statue to one of the night’s winners. Jay, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, spoke with Jewish Insider’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen immediately after the awards ceremony.
Center stage: “There was an overt effort by the Academy to present disability,” Ruderman told JI. Also last night, a singer in a wheelchair took part in the performance of the Oscar-nominated song “I’m Standing with You” during the ceremony. “We focus on the entertainment industry in order to move the needle forward,” Ruderman added. “People with disabilities have to be seen. Representation is important. It will change attitudes. We focus on the entertainment industry to make it visible.”
Bonus: While he was snubbed by this year’s Academy Awards, Adam Sandler took home the best male lead prize for “Uncut Gems” at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, poking fun at the “snub” and at his directors: “No, those aren’t homeless rabbis, those are the Safdie brothers,” he joked. Meanwhile, at the Oscars, “Jojo Rabbit” — which was nominated for six awards — took home just one: Best Adapted Screenplay for Taika Waititi.
🏀 Hometown Pride:The Baltimore Sun’s Don Markus profiles Adam Neuman, chief of staff of the collegiate sports Big Ten Conference and details his experience at Baltimore Yeshivat Rambam, his first internship with the Minnesota Vikings while at Yeshiva University, and the time Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren forced the chef in a restaurant to go out and track down kosher food for Neuman. [BaltimoreSun]
🖼️ Stolen Art: The New York Times’ Graham Bowley digs deep into the mystery of “The Rape of Tamar,” a 17th-century painting that has hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than 35 years. New evidence suggests the artwork was left behind by a Jewish art dealer when he fled Germany in 1933 — and the museum is now forced to confront it. [NYTimes]
⚖️ Historic Moment: In The Atlantic, Eliot Cohen writes about how Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) speech on the Senate floor explaining his vote to convict President Donald Trump for abuse of power will be remembered in the books of history. “Americans embrace the story of the lone man or woman of conscience who does the right thing, knowing that the risks are high,” Cohen writes. [TheAtlantic]
🎨 Never Forget: Ian Volner writes in Foreign Policy that — despite the country’s revisionist approach — Poland is rapidly becoming a “global capital” of Jewish art reflecting on the Holocaust. For many of them, “uncovering the country’s hidden Jewish heritage is a crucial act of remembrance, an effort to ‘bring back the past.’” [ForeignPolicy]
🤳 Too much of a good thing? Author Ross Douthat explains the current “age of decadence,” which he describes as “economic stagnation, institutional decay and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development,” and how it plays out in American society. [NYT]
Around the Web
🗳️ Israeli Election Watch: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told supporters on Saturday that Israel has begun to draw up maps of land in the West Bank that will be annexed with U.S. support after the election. Netanyahu also called on Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to fire his advisor who compared Trump to Hitler in 2016. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman warned on Sunday that unilateral annexation before the March 2 election “endangers” U.S. support.
🧳 Road Trip: The Daily Beastrecommends Mitzpe Ramon, “Israel’s Grand Canyon,” as a tourist destination that will wow visitors with its “surreal geological formation.”
🚫 No Passage: Israel has blocked Palestinian agricultural exports amid an escalating trade war against the backdrop of renewed violence.
⛹️♂️ Sports Blink: Basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire toldSports Illustrated that “there’s no place like home, being back here in Israel.”
⚾ Say No to Hate:Major League Baseball will not schedule any more advertising on its platforms promoting Roger Waters’ music tour, after a letter sent by B’nai B’rith International to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred highlighted his antisemitic views and support for BDS.
🧢 No Hitter: After a failed bid by Steve Cohen, the New York Mets are still up for sale, and this time, it’s reportedly with no preconditions.
🏨 Room Service: Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick is one of the backers of Habitas, a 3D-printed hotel startup.
🤝 Changing hands: Les Wexner’s deal to sell the Victoria’s Secret brand to Sycamore Partners could be announced as early as this week.
🏫 Talk of the Town: A federal court case this week is weighing how school board members are elected in East Ramapo, after a challenge from the NAACP over Orthodox Jewish dominance on the board.
🗣️ Booted: Vanesa Levine, a Jewish member of the Harvard Club, claims in a lawsuit that she was assaulted by a professor during a pro-Palestinian lecture and then was booted by the Ivy League institution.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: Lisa Nandy, who is campaigning to replace Jeremy Corbyn as U.K. Labour leader, says she recognized a “crisis in the soul” of the party, and promised: “We’re going to change.”
⚽ On the Field: The Chelsea soccer club promised a full investigation after a documentary revealed its supporters making Nazi salutes and singing antisemitic songs.
🐖 Not Giving Up: Michael Düllmann, a member of Berlin’s Jewish community, is vowing to continue the fight after an appeals court rejected his bid to force the removal of a sculpture called “Judensau” (Jew pig) from an ancient church where Martin Luther once preached.
💰 Deep Pockets:The Wall Street Journaldives into the story of the $100 billion fortune quietly amassed by the Mormon Church.
🕍 Living History: Al Jazeeratakes a look at a local government initiative to preserve synagogues in what was once a vibrant Jewish community in Afghanistan.
🤣 Laugh Track:The Wall Street Journal shines a spotlight on up-and-coming Orthodox Jewish comedians, including Ashley Blaker, Talia Reese and Modi.
📚 Book Shelf: The Los Angeles Review of Bookstakes a look at Days of Awe by Atalia Omer, which examines the burgeoning role of religion among the progressive Jewish left.
🔖 Out of stock: The recent pulling of Nazi-authored books from Amazon’s virtual bookshelves has confused some third-party vendors on the website, who say the guidelines for what can and can’t be sold are increasingly vague.
👨⚖️ Unfinished Battle: Judge Claudio Bonadio, who led the battle against officials suspected of covering up Iran’s alleged role in a 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack, has died at the age of 64 after undergoing brain surgery.
Pic of the Day
Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) kicked off his re-election campaign Saturday at the Vanderbilt at South Beach on Staten Island.
Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company since 2005, Robert Allen “Bob” Iger turns 69…
CEO of privately held Metromedia Company and a board member of cruise line operator Carnival Corporation, Stuart Subotnick turns 78… Founding figure of Postminimalism’s conceptual art, Lawrence Weiner turns 78… Rabbi in Berlin, Germany who previously served in Munich and Vienna, Austria, Yitshak Ehrenberg turns 70… Swimmer, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Mark Spitz turns 70… Partner in ThinkLAB Ventures, a family enterprise with interests in aviation, real estate development, agriculture, silviculture, and fixed income, Jayne Harris Abess turns 65… Host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” and a co-founder of TheStreet, Inc., James J. “Jim” Cramer turns 65… CEO of DC-based Jewish Women International, Loribeth Weinstein turns 65…
Ethiopian-born, former member of Knesset for the Likud party, he is an activist for the Falash Mura community, Avraham Neguise turns 62… Journalist and syndicated newspaper columnist whose work has been published on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe since 1994, Jeff Jacoby turns 61… Former NASA astronaut, famous for his mezuzah in the International Space Station, he is currently the director of space operations at Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Garrett Reisman turns 52… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates and chair of its Ways and Means Committee, Anne R. Kaiser turns 52… Founder and principal of The Tool Shed Group, Jason Katz turns 51… Associate director of development at the Midwest regional office of the Anti-Defamation League, Matthew Feldman turns 49…
Columbus-based executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, Howie Beigelman turns 46… Israeli pop star and part of the duo “TYP” also known as The Young Professionals, Ivri Lider turns 46… Co-founder and principal at Klein/Johnson Group, Israel “Izzy” Klein turns 43… Israeli rock musician, Dudu Tassa turns 43… Candidate for Vice President of the United States in the 2016 election as the running mate of Evan McMullin, entrepreneur and digital media strategist, Mindy Finn turns 39… Director of marketing and communications at Greens Farms Academy, Michelle Levi Noe turns 37… Counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of Venable where he leads the firm’s mobility and transportation technology team, Ariel S. Wolf turns 37… Operations associate at Mixtiles in Israel, Avital Mannis turns 27…