Good Friday morning!
Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) are meeting today with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky in Kyiv to show bipartisan support for the U.S.-Ukraine alliance.
In Germany, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a congressional delegation led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are attending the annual Munich Security Conference. World leaders expected to be on hand include French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In Dallas, Texas, more than 3,000 Jewish teenagers from over 45 countries are attending the BBYO International Convention over the weekend. Speakers include Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), NYTimes opinion editor Bari Weiss, author and former Obama speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz, and Knesset Member Stav Shaffir, among others.
On Sunday in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the annual Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ national leadership mission. Earlier this week, a delegation of the group’s leadership visited Saudi Arabia.
Yesterday, the Senate passed the Iran Powers resolution, limiting Trump’s options for military action against Iran in a 55-45 vote.
Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the day, GLG co-founder and United Hatzalah chairman Mark Gerson penned an essay on a Jewish approach to the American celebration of love.
Enjoy the long weekend, the Daily Kickoff will be back on Tuesday morning.
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Meet Evelyn Farkas, the former Defense Department official running to succeed Nita Lowey
Rep. Nita Lowey’s (D-NY) announcement that she would not seek re-election prompted more than a dozen Democrats to jump into the primary race to succeed the longtime congresswoman in New York’s 17th district. But few on the June 23 primary ballot have resumés like Evelyn Farkas. The former MSNBC contributor and deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia under President Barack Obama recently sat down with Matthew Kassel for Jewish Insider to talk about her candidacy.
Crowded field: Among those vying for the primary nomination are New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald; New York State Senator David Carlucci; former NARAL chairwoman Allison Fine; Westchester County Board of Legislators member Catherine Parker; and Mondaire Jones, an attorney who served in the Justice Department and has been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
High-profile endorsements: Farkas has already garnered a number of noteworthy endorsements from former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), former Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ).
Frontrunner status? Despite the crowded field, Farkas is an early frontrunner according to Mark Lungariello, an investigative reporter who closely follows the Lower Hudson Valley political scene for The Journal News. Because a number of local elected officials won’t be making endorsements in the race, he told JI, campaign money and advertisements will likely determine which candidates are able to amplify their message. Farkas’s formidable war chest, he said, “could go a long way to getting recognized in a field with so many people.”
What she’s about: Farkas’s platform centers on a mix of local and national issues such as taxes, climate change, health care, women’s reproductive rights and the rise of antisemitic violence — of particular concern to residents in the 17th district, which includes all of Rockland County. Rockland is home to the largest Jewish population per capita of any county in the U.S. and includes the town of Monsey, where in December an assailant charged into the home of a Hasidic rabbi and stabbed five people with a machete. The surge in antisemitic hate crimes in New York and across the country is a trend that Farkas said she intends to spotlight in office. “All we have to do is look back at history to understand it can very easily get worse,” Farkas said.
No to BDS: “All too often, it seems to have potentially antisemitic underpinnings,” Farkas said of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. “Israel is a multicultural democracy that shares our values and is our closest ally in the region. They have been invaded multiple times in living memory and live with a uniquely threatening security situation. We should not be supporting a movement that seeks to undermine their economic vitality or the rights of Israelis to travel freely in the world.”
She’s aiming to be the next Republican Jewish woman in Congress
Congressional candidate Randi Reed discussed her bid to nab the Republican nomination and unseat Rep. Steven Horsford (D) in Nevada’s 4th district during an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh. Reed, a first-time congressional candidate, wants to become one of the next two Republican Jewish women elected to Congress. To do so, she’ll have to win a nine-way Republican primary and then a general election in a blue-leaning district.
Bio: Reed, 40, grew up in a Conservative Jewish household in a suburb of Los Angeles. She moved to Las Vegas at age 22, where she says she became involved in the local Chabad community. Over the past two decades, Reed has worked in the development and construction industry and recently started a small business making custom furniture out of her garage.
Why now? In an interview with Jewish Insider, Reed said that she never had any prior political aspirations but decided to seek public office after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh. “I was walking my then five-year-old to shul where we were joining a community vigil for the Pittsburgh shooting victims, and when we turned the corner after parking our car we saw 14 police cars, SWAT units, K9 units, and at that point I had to explain to my five-year-old what antisemitism was while tears were streaming down my cheeks,” she recalled. “It was that moment that I reached out to a friend of mine, Stefanie Tuzman, who is the current CEO of the Jewish Federation in Nevada, and I said, ‘I want to do more, I want to be more involved.’ So I became a board member. And here I am, I’m getting really involved.”
Foot soldier: Reed, who would join the two serving Jewish Republicans in Congress if elected, argued that there hasn’t been enough action from Jewish House members in response to the rise in antisemitism. “Either they’re not talking about it, or we’re talking about it too much, and there’s no action. You continue to see article after article written, but no one’s doing anything,” she said. “And being a female in construction development, I’ve been successful in building coalitions, I’ve been successful in bringing people to the table of all walks of life and finding consensus, and we’re not seeing that in today’s climate at all. That’s something I want to bring.”
on the hill
House Dems push resolution on firing Stephen Miller
A group of House Democrats introduced a resolution condemning White House senior advisor Stephen Miller and calling for his resignation, after a recent leak of his emails indicated white nationalist leanings.
Details: The measure, introduced by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), is co-sponsored by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA) and Don Beyer (D-VA). The resolution condemns Miller for “trafficking in bigotry, hatred, and divisive political rhetoric and policies” and directs the president to fire him if he refuses to resign. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced a similar Senate resolution.
Taking action: On December 25, Jewish Democratic House members sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to fire Miller from his position as a senior advisor after his leaked emails were published.
Wasserman Schultz tells JI, “Stephen Miller has used his privileged White House position to choke off access to the American dream, slam the door behind him, and inflict untold cruelty and harm on people who don’t fit into his hateful, white supremacist vision for America. Miller’s brutal, racist policies have no place anywhere in the government of our diverse, multicultural republic. He must be excised now.”
In an email, Chu said, “Stephen Miller is a bigot… It’s clear he is intent on dividing our country along racial and ethnic lines. There’s simply no justification for keeping him in the White House except to promote and propagate white nationalism. For the sake of our nation, he has to go.”
Security first: In New York City yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) hosted a workshop at the UJA-Federation of New York to assist faith-based and nonprofit organizations in applying for new grants under the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. In the recently passed federal spending bill, Democratic leaders managed to secure a 50% increase to last year’s $60 million for grants to protect places of worship. In the wake of the recent rash of antisemitic attacks in Jersey City and New York, Schumer announced his initiative to quadruple that amount to $360 million.
The Oracle lobbyist who pushes the government to probe rivals Google and Amazon
Ken Glueck, Oracle’s executive vice president and the company’s top D.C. lobbyist, has been a major driving force in recent federal scrutiny of the company’s major rivals, according to a detailed profile published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “When it comes to sway in Washington, Oracle punches above its weight.”
Longtime bulldog for Oracle: Glueck got his start as an advisor to former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), before being hired at Oracle in the mid-1990s. Early on, he worked behind the scenes to help push federal antitrust action against Microsoft. Now he’s turned his focus toward encouraging U.S., E.U. and Australian regulators to reign in Google, and helped block Amazon from receiving a Department of Defense cloud computing deal.
Administration connections: Oracle, in particular founder Larry Ellison and CEO Safra Catz, have flexed their Republican connections during President Donald Trump’s presidency. In late 2016, the WSJ reports, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner held a meeting with tech executives, including Catz and Google co-founder Larry Page. Kushner asked if they knew each other: “Yes, she sues me,” Page said. “Well, he steals from me,” Catz replied. Kushner reportedly encouraged Page to settle a copyright-infringement lawsuit.
Bonus: Oracle employees are reportedly furious that Ellison is slated to host a fundraiser for Trump next week. “This fundraiser is a slap in the face to all of us, especially as Larry champions the environment and is building a hospital,” an employee told Vox. “This shows that he cares about money over all else.”
⏲️ Useful Resources:In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, John Chisholm explains why he advises professional service firms to end the practice of charging clients by the hour and start paying attorneys for their expertise and value. [Bloomberg]
Around the Web
💵 Being Generous: Larry Fink’s Blackrock announced on Thursday the launch of its new corporate foundation, moving nearly $300 million worth of its shares in the mortgage company PennyMac to fund nonprofits.
👩💼 Revolving Door: Hope Hicks, who left the White House two years ago and joined Fox as its chief communications officer, is returning to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to serve as an aide to Jared Kushner and counselor to the president.
💽 Start-Up Nation: Data storage firm Seagate has opened an innovation lab in Tel Aviv.
🎁 Promotion:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that if he wins the next election he will appoint Knesset Member Nir Barkat, former Jerusalem mayor, as finance minister.
🏴☠️ Caught Red-handed:The USS Normandy seized suspected Iranian weapons, including more than 150 anti-tank guided missiles and three surface-to-air missiles, in the Arabian Sea.
🗣️ Threats: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander said yesterday that it would strike the U.S. and Israel “if you make the slightest error.”
💪 Fighting Back: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the U.N. settlement blacklist “only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations,” and urged U.N. member states to reject it.
📺 Charm Offensive: In an interview with CNN’s Oren Liebermann, former Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a “historical figure” who could be a “serious partner” for peace. But he cautioned that if the Palestinians choose not to engage in peace talks with Israel, things are going to change on the ground: “You can’t keep land empty forever.”
🤝 On Hold: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said there’s no meeting scheduled between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Netanyahu.
💖 Value Adjustment: Jewish Currents editor-at-large Peter Beinart suggests that if elected president, Michael Bloomberg “would halt the Democratic Party’s tentative shift toward a more progressive perspective” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
🛍️ Final Sale: Barneys New York will finally shut all of its stores on February 23.
🧠 Mind Reader: Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard is getting his own show on the soon-to-be-launched streaming service Quibi.
🏓 Ping Pong Penalty: Estee Ackerman, an Orthodox Jewish teenager from Long Island, qualified for the table tennis Olympic trials, but can’t compete because they fall on Shabbat.
🍿 Curtain Call: Playwright Tom Stoppard says his new show “Leopoldstadt,” a portrait of Jewish life in Vienna in the 20th century, will likely be his last work.
⚔️ Family Feud: Actor Nick Kroll joked to BuzzFeed’s AM to DM morning show that he and fellow actor Dan Levy “are always fighting over who has the best glasses and who’s the most Jewish.”
🤖 Poor Judgment: A judge at a Long Island high school robotics contest over the weekend was overheard complaining about the “Goddamn Jews.”
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews Ramat Negev Exodus 2014:
“Israeli wine makers are known for being bold and experimental, often deploying unique blends. This past Saturday night, while a group of friends were learning how to create scratchboard art, my wine-making friend Dan and I were doing some of our own learning, courtesy of the Ramat Negev Winery. In particular, we tasted the 2014 Ramat Negev Exodus which is a spectacular blend of Malbec and Petit Verdot.”
“These varietals are usually used as blending grapes and can dominate a bottle even in small quantities. Blending them together, and only them, took guts. The outcome was explosive on the palate, numbing in its power and beautiful to drink. The grapes are blended after a year in separate barrels and then spend and additional 18 months together in new French oak. Enjoy with beef carpaccio.”
2020 presidential candidate, owner of Bloomberg LP, former chairman of Johns Hopkins University (1996-2002) and Mayor of NYC (2002-2013), Michael Bloomberg turns 78 today…
The photo above is from October of 2007 when then-NYC Mayor Bloomberg celebrated Simchat Torah in Brooklyn by visiting two synagogues on Remsen Street — Congregation B’Nai Avraham and Brooklyn Heights Synagogue — after swastikas were found graffitied on the exterior of both buildings.
FRIDAY: Former president and CEO of Bear Stearns, also a renowned bridge player, James Cayne turns 86… Award-winning investigative journalist for The Washington Post and author, who together with Bob Woodward did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal, Carl Bernstein turns 76… British businessman and founder of WPP, now running S4 Capital, Sir Martin Stuart Sorrell turns 75… Former borough president of Brooklyn, Marty Markowitz turns 75… Chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, Stephen A. Schwarzman turns 73… Born in Lakewood, N.J., film producer and chairman of the New York Giants, Steve Tisch turns 71… Host and co-executive producer of “Fresh Air,” Terry Gross turns 69… Sports executive and former All Star basketball player, she served as president of the WNBA for 6 years and SVP of the PGA Tour for 17 years, Donna Geils Orender turns 63…
Board member at the Los Angeles Museum of The Holocaust, Paulette Nessim turns 60… Attorney, venture capitalist and executive chairman of Townsquare Media (owner of 321 radio stations), previously a deputy assistant secretary of defense (2001-2003), Steven Price turns 58… Volleyball and beach volleyball star, she is the only Brazilian athlete in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Adriana Brandão Behar turns 51… Government affairs director for the National Insurance Crime Bureau and elected trustee of the Deerfield (Illinois) Public Library, Howard Handler turns 42… Financial advisor in the Boca Raton office of Morgan Stanley, Alan Feinberg Jr. turns 41… Jewish hockey player selected in the first round of the 2002 NHL draft, Eric Nystrom turns 37… Co-founder of Run for Something, a PAC dedicated to helping young progressives run for office, Amanda Litman turns 30… Actress best known for her role as Charlotte on the CMT comedy television series “Still the King,” Madison Iseman turns 23…
SATURDAY: Professor emeritus of American Jewish history at Columbia University, Arthur A. Goren turns 94… British actress’ Claire Bloom turns 89… Professor emeritus of Jewish studies at Arizona State University, Norbert M. Samuelson turns 84… Professor of cognitive science at both the University of Michigan and Indiana University, Pulitzer Prize winner, Douglas Hofstadter turns 75… Former Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives, Elliott Naishtat turns 75… Cartoonist and long-time contributing artist for The New Yorker, Art Spiegelman (born Itzhak Avraham ben Zeev) turns 72… Pioneer of Israel’s hi-tech industry, four of his companies currently trade on the NASDAQ, Zohar Zisapel turns 71… Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and actress, Melissa Manchester turns 69…
Host of the radio program “Jewish Moments in the Morning” since 1983, Nachum Segal turns 57… Principal at Catalyzing Philanthropy, Karen Paul turns 57… Managing director of strategic initiatives and development based in the DC office of CARE, Elizabeth Ives (“Beth”) Solomon turns 54… Founder of Talking Points Memo, he earned a Ph.D. in American history from Brown University, Josh Marshall turns 51… Actress, she won two Primetime Emmy Awards for playing Susie Myerson in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Alexandrea Borstein turns 47… Director of business development at Treetop Development, Eric Distenfeld turns 40… Director of hate prevention and Jewish enrichment at Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, Sheri Rosenberg turns 36… Deputy executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Alex Siegel turns 34… She represented Israel at the Miss Universe pageant in 2016, Yam Kaspers Anshel turns 22… Yogi Sanders…
SUNDAY: Financial titan and activist shareholder, Carl Icahn turns 84… Founding national director of American Friends of Lubavitch and the director of Chabad activities in Greater Philadelphia, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov turns 83… Professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, Michael Joseph Shapiro turns 80… Ecuador-born, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Howard County (MD), Ralph Grunewald turns 64… Secretary-general of the World Council of Religious Leaders, Bawa Jain turns 63… Editor of the Talent Network at The Washington Post, Susan K. Levine turns 62…
Marrakech, Morocco-born co-founder and managing partner of Avenue Capital Group, Sonia Gardner turns 58… Co-director of Women for Israel’s Tomorrow, Nadia Matar turns 54… Past president of Hebrew Free Loan in Detroit and founder of Brilliant Detroit, Carolyn Glaser Bellinson turns 53… Head of communications for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Media Group, Ty Trippet turns 49… Regional director of the Northeast Region of Birthright Israel Foundation, Marissa Schaevitz Levey turns 36… CEO of PR firm FinePoint, Meredith Fineman turns 33… Candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia, Jon Ossoff turns 33… Singer-songwriter and guitarist, Danielle Haim turns 31… Executive director of Council of Young Jewish Presidents, Zach Schaffer… Amy Kurtz… Rachel Rubenstein… Eric McDonald…