Good Wednesday morning!
U.K. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis shares his message to American Jews in an exclusive op-ed for Jewish Insider following his address at AIPAC’s policy conference on Tuesday.
Former Vice President Joe Biden cruised to a victory in nine of the 14 Super Tuesday states yesterday — and has a slight lead in Maine — surpassing the delegate count of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who picked up California, the biggest prize of the night. More below.
In Texas’ 28th congressional district, incumbent Congressman Henry Cuellar — backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Pro Israel America — fended off a primary challenge from 26-year-old Jessica Cisneros, who was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and J Street.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s shot at building a government appeared to narrow after the vast majority of the votes were counted. More below.
A case of coronavirus has rocked Westchester’s Jewish community, and an uptick in cases in Israel has sent thousands to mandatory home quarantine. More below.
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the comeback kid
Biden wins 9 of 14 Super Tuesday states
Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to overtake Sen. Bernie Sanders as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination after winning a significant number of primary states and taking the lead in the delegate count.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who failed to meet expectations in his first contest for the nomination, is meeting with his senior advisors today in New York and is considering stepping out of the race. Bloomberg did not win a single state, only taking home the top prize in the American Samoa caucus, which has six delegates.
Delegate count: As of early Wednesday morning, Biden appeared poised to take home 337 delegates from Super Tuesday, bringing his total count to 390, topping the 330 amassed so far by Sanders.
Poor showing: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had a disappointing night, coming in third place in her home state of Massachusetts and finishing in fourth place in the majority of the primaries held yesterday. She vowed to remain in the race, saying “It’s about the fight, but it’s also about the hope.”
Why it matters: Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said during a Super Tuesday watch party in New York City that, “assuming that we don’t have the full picture of California, which we probably will not have for several days, I think you have a narrative that Biden had a better than expected night and Bernie [Sanders] had a worse than expected night.”
Changing dynamics: Israel explained that Biden’s poor showing in the first three primary contests opened the door for a candidate like Bloomberg to make the case that “Biden was weak” and that he’s the only moderate candidate who could beat Donald Trump. “Those two premises fade after tonight,” Israel said. “Biden is now strong and has consolidated support and Biden is a better candidate than Bernie against Trump.” Israel predicted that while Biden is now the favorite, the nomination will be decided in a second ballot at the convention in July.
Defiant or frustrated? Campaigning in Florida yesterday, Bloomberg acknowledged that his only path to the nomination is through a contested convention but insisted – during a testy exchange with the media — that he is staying in the race. “Joe’s taking votes away from me,” Bloomberg, described as being “visibly irritated,” said. “Have you asked Joe whether he’s going to drop out? I have no intention of dropping out.”
Catching up on key congressional primary races across the nation
In Texas’s 28th district, moderate incumbent Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar — a favorite of the AIPAC crowd who was endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — eked out a narrow win, 52% to 48%, against his former intern Jessica Cisneros, who had the backing of J Street, Justice Democrats and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Despite an endorsement from outgoing Rep. Pete Olson in Texas’s 22nd district, Pierce Bush failed to make the May run-off for the GOP nomination. Bush’s loss underscores a political sea change where his family once reigned.
In Texas’s 23rd district, Gina Ortiz Jones, who lost by a razor-thin margin in her 2018 attempt at the seat, was the runaway winner in the Democratic primary, taking home 68% of the vote.
In California’s 25th congressional district, Democrat Christy Smith appears poised to head to a special election runoff in May against Republican Mike Garcia to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Katie Hill after her resignation. Both progressive challenger Cenk Uygur and former GOP Rep. Steve Knight were knocked out of the race.
Last night in California’s 53rd congressional district, where Rep. Susan Davis opted not to run for reelection, the crowded primary field narrowed to two Democrats: Sara Jacobs, a former Hillary Clinton aide and State Department contractor who is leading with 29.5% of the vote, and San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez, who has claimed 18.6% of the vote.
In North Carolina, Kathy Manning, a former Jewish Federations of North America chair who lost her 2018 congressional bid, coasted to victory in the Democratic primary in the newly redrawn, deep blue sixth district. In the Republican primary in the state’s 11th district, Dan Driscoll trailed a number of his competitors, finishing in a disappointing 6th place with just 8.6% of the vote.
In a much-watched Alabama Republican primary for the Senate, former Sen. Jeff Sessions and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville — having each failed to win a majority of the GOP vote in the state — will head to a run-off to decide who will face off against Democratic Rep. Doug Jones in November. Tuberville picked up 33.4% of the vote compared to 31.6% for Sessions, with 91% of precincts reporting.
In the race for a California State Senate seat that covers part of Silicon Valley, Democrat Josh Becker is slated to head for a head-to-head match in November against Republican Alex Glew.
Danon optimistic about Netanyahu government despite 58-seat bloc
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon shared his thoughts about the Israeli election during a panel discussion hosted by the Council for a Secure America in New York last night. Danon said he’s “optimistic” about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chances to form a government because people are “fed up” with the political instability.
Final unofficial results: With 99.9% of ballots counted by Wednesday morning, the makeup of seats in the 23rd Knesset appeared as follows: Likud 36, Blue and White 33, Joint List 15, Shas 9, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beitenu 7, Labor-Gesher-Meretz 7 and Yamina 6. That gives Netanyahu’s bloc 58 seats, three short of the 61-seat majority needed. Final counting could change up until March 10, when the official results will be presented to President Reuven Rivlin.
Options: Channel 12 political analyst Amit Segal tweeted that he sees only three options moving forward if the seat counts don’t change. 1. A rotation government brokered by President Reuven Rivlin; 2. A new law barring Netanyahu from governing under indictment, leading to a new Likud leader who can form a government; 3. A fourth round of elections.
Bibi’s options: Danon, a member of the Likud Party, said the prime minister is now focused on getting three members of the Labor/Gesher factions to join the coalition to form at least a narrow government. “They will get whatever they want,” Danon said. The Israeli diplomat suggested that if the final results end up with 58 seats for Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc, “it means that we might have to go for another cycle in September, God forbid.”
Hot takes: Israeli New York Times columnist Shmuel Rosner posits that Netanyahu “is likely to remain prime minister for at least a few more years,” but cautioned that the legacy of his campaign will make Israel more polarized moving forward. Shalom Lipner, a 26-year veteran of the prime minister’s office, suggests in the Washington Post that “the larger problem confronting Israel is that… the rifts within its famously cohesive society will not be healed any time soon.” Israeli historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg wondered whether Netanyahu’s opponents will ever “learn from their mistakes.”
Jordanian PM warns that peace treaty with Israel at risk over annexation bid
Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz warned that Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank risks putting the country’s long-standing peace treaty with Jerusalem in “deep freeze mode.” Jordanian relations with Israel are at their “lowest level” since the 1994 treaty between the two countries was inked, Razzaz told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
Campaign promise: Annexation was a talking point on the campaign trail for the embattled prime minister, whose party last night emerged with a plurality of the vote in Israel’s threepeat election. Over the coming months, the joint U.S.-Israel committee is expected to finish mapping all Israeli settlements in the West Bank based on the White House peace plan.
Target audience: Middle East analyst Shimrit Meir told JI’s Melissa Weiss that the demographics in Jordan contributed to the Hashemite kingdom’s reaction to threats of annexation. “The Jordanian reaction was much more critical than the Palestinian [reaction] because of the nature of the population in Jordan,” Meir said, noting the internal opposition from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian population in the country.
Tough choice: Meir added that U.S. officials had a choice to make. “I think the Americans — [Jared] Kushner to be more accurate — had to make up their minds,” Shimrit Meir told JI. “Are they going to give up or risk a real peace treaty for an imaginary one?”
Annexation watch: Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danon suggested that applying Israeli law on all Jewish settlements in the West Bank will depend on the makeup of the next government. “If it’s going to be a narrow right-wing government, it would take much faster because the parties on the right will have to show results, and one of the demands will be a timetable for applying sovereignty,” Danon told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh. “If it will be a unity government with Benny Gantz, it will take much longer.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Tuesday he hopes to see a new government formed in Israel to “fully maximize and actually do all the things” the Trump administration wants to do for Israel. “A transitional government doesn’t have the full range of options and opportunities that a regular government has,” Friedman said during an appearance at the World Values Network annual gala in New York. “We have an incredible president who really wants to help Israel… and the more Israel can do on its own — through a fully formed government — the more we can roll up our sleeves and get to work together.”
🖋️ Never Forget: Politico’s Bryan Bender offers a close look at a one-sentence bill in Arizona — led by Democratic state Rep. Alma Hernandez — that would require public schools to teach about the Holocaust. The legislation, part of a push in recent years to pass such bills in Republican-leaning states, has gained some surprising supporters. [Politico]
🎧 Worthy Listen: In a wide-ranging interview on “The Byers Market Podcast,” Hollywood mogul Barry Diller shared his thoughts on his onetime assistant Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new venture, Quibi (“He’s so naked out there with this”), Google (calling it a monopoly, he said regulation of the company was “not going to be brought to its knees, but it probably will be brought to its ankles”), and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (“the opposite of evil”). [ByersMarket]
Around the Web
😷 Wash Your Hands: A case of coronavirus in a Jewish man from Westchester has reverberated across the community, causing the closure of three Jewish day schools in the area as well as his synagogue, Young Israel of New Rochelle. Yeshiva University, where one of the man’s sons is enrolled, said it is taking heavy precautions.
🏠 Stay Home: More than 1,000 high school students in Israel have been ordered confined to home quarantine after a vice principal and a fellow student tested positive for coronavirus, as well as thousands more who attended a soccer game with the student. The number of confirmed cases in Israel has risen to 15.
💪 Elbow Shake: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she is bumping elbows amid coronavirus fears, but “I’m the last person that will swear off hugging and handshaking,” she said. “I’m Jewish. We hug.”
🎰 What Happens in Vegas: After skipping AIPAC, President Donald Trump will address the Republican Jewish Coalition next weekend in Las Vegas.
💸 No More: Tech billionaire Marc Benioff is swearing off future political donations after he purchased Time magazine, and is looking to project an unbiased position.
🛩️ Big Deal: The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of eight KC-46 refueling tanker jets to Israel for $2.4 billion.
💣 March to the Bomb: International inspectors reported yesterday that Iran appears to have amassed enough enriched uranium to produce a single nuclear weapon.
🤐 On the Hill: Several senators are pushing for Washington’s intelligence establishment to declassify information related to the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
📖 New Date: The publication date of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book has been delayed by two months due to the government’s ongoing review of the manuscript.
🎓 Campus Beat: Tulane University in New Orleans has received an anonymous $2 million grant to support its Jewish studies program.
⚖️ Hands Tied: Prosecutors in Brooklyn said yesterday that the only reason they are not pursuing bail for Tiffany Harris, the New York woman accused of assaulting multiple Jewish women, is the new bail reform laws.
🤼♂️ Sports Blink:Jewish Hall of Fame wrestler Bill Goldberg won the WWE universal title last week in Saudi Arabia at age 53.
📺 Boob Tube: Jewish rapper Lil Dicky has a new comedy on FXX, called “Dave,” which The Washington Post calls “subversively endearing.”
👴🏻 Stay or Go: Lawyers for 95-year-old Nazi translator Helmut Oberlander claim their client is too old and frail to be deported from Canada, amid an ongoing decades-long bid to do so.
👋 Stepping Down: Caren Goldberg is retiring as chief development officer of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s and as executive director of the federation’s foundation after 24 years at the federation.
🕯️ Remembering: Eva Szekely, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who later became a Olympic gold medal winner in swimming, died last week at age 92.
Pic of the day
Former Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) and Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based GOP donor, discussed the 2020 race at a Super Tuesday watch party hosted by the Council for a Secure America in New York City. Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon also took questions about the Israeli election at the event.
Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and a former NYC Council member, Eva Moskowitz turns 56…
Tennis player who in 1951 won both the Australian and Wimbledon men’s singles championships and was ranked World No.1, the first-ever Jewish athlete to appear on the cover of Time magazine, Dick Savitt turns 93… Composer and conductor, founder and initial conductor in 1950 of the U.S. Army’s Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra, Samuel Adler turns 92… U.S. District Court Judge (on senior status since 2016) for the northern district of Illinois, he was appointed by President Reagan in 1987 and has published a novel and appeared in two movies, Judge James Block Zagel turns 79… Broadcast journalist and author, Lynn Sherr turns 78… Board member at New York City Center, Ballet Hispánico and other non-profits, Perry Granoff turns 77…
British promoter of rock concerts, charity concerts and television broadcasts, Harvey Goldsmith turns 74… Screenwriter and director, she is the mother of actors Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal turns 74… CEO of LCH Clearnet LLC, a clearing house affiliated with the London Stock Exchange, David A. Weisbrod turns 73… Director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi Avi Shafran turns 66… President of the New England Patriots, Jonathan Kraft turns 56… Member of the New York City Council, Rory I. Lancman turns 51… Evan L. Presser turns 50… Staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and a senior fellow at Yale Law School, Emily Bazelon turns 49… One of the youngest members of Knesset, 30th on the Likud list for this week’s election, Sharren Haskel turns 36…
Director of public policy and best practices for the International Council of Shopping Centers, Abigail Goldstein “Abby” Jagoda turns 35… Brazilian entrepreneur and software engineer who co-founded Instagram in 2010, Michel “Mike” Krieger turns 34… Singer, music producer and composer, Aryeh Kunstler turns 34… Israeli-born basketball player who starred at Wichita State (2006-2008), played for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans, now playing for an Italian team, Gal Mekel turns 32… Model and actress, Erin Heatherton turns 31…