Good Tuesday morning!
On Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they are “very close” to a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, which could come to a vote as early as today.
Activist investor Bill Ackman says he’s removed hedges and is making a $2.5 billion “recovery bet” on the economy, while Leon Black’s Apollo has placed a “sizeable short bet” against bonds issued by SoftBank. For its part, SoftBank plans to sell $41 billion in assets to help pay for a $20 billion buyback that Paul Singer’s Elliott Management has reportedly been asking for.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) notched out a win in the Democrats Abroad presidential primary, picking up nine delegates, and even narrowly beat out former Vice President Joe Biden among voters in Israel. More below.
Yesterday, the American Zionist Movement released the preliminary results of this year’s election for delegates to the World Zionist Congress.
In Israel, Likud Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein vowed to defy a Supreme Court ruling ordering him to convene the full parliament to vote on a new speaker, setting the stage for a constitutional crisis. At least two senior Likud members have urged Edelstein to respect the court ruling, while others have implored him to ignore it.
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The 11 candidates running for Joe Kennedy’s Massachusetts seat
Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) sent shockwaves through local political circles in August 2019 when he announced a primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). Now 11 candidates are competing to succeed Kennedy in the race to represent Massachusetts’s fourth congressional district. For Jewish Insider, Ian Deitch examines the state of the race.
Crowded field: Among the declared candidates fighting to take Kennedy’s place on Capitol Hill are Becky Grossman, a local elected official whose father-in-law, Steven, was formerly state treasurer and has served as a former DNC chairman and AIPAC president; Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss; City Year founder and two-time Senate candidate Alan Khazei; former Massachusetts comptroller Thomas Schack III; social justice activist Ihssane Leckey; former Obama administration speechwriter and Massachusetts assistant attorney general Dave Cavell; attorney Ben Sigel, who sits on the American Jewish Committee’s New England board of directors; Jesse Mermell, who served as an aide to former Governor Deval Patrick; entrepreneur Chris Zannetos; Nick Matthew; and engineer Herb Robinson.
The AOC approach: While the centrist contenders — who comprise most of the field — compete for the same voters, the more progressive lane is wide open, in this case, for someone like Leckey. When Leckey, an immigrant from Morocco, first entered the race in May 2019, she intended to challenge Kennedy, who had not yet announced he’d be seeking the Senate seat. Her entry into the race echoes a strategy seen in New York’s 14th congressional district, where progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ousted Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in the 2018 primary and coasted to victory that November. Some of her primary rivals, including Grossman, Auchincloss, Khazei and Schack, enjoy broad name recognition in the district.
What the experts say: “You are seeing this in a bunch of races around the country, that there is a lot of energy on the left wing of the Democratic Party,” Robert Boatright, professor of political science at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, told JI. “The left wing of the Democratic Party is a little bit more strategic in running candidates in places that they could possibly win than going after Republicans in conservative places.”
Situational awareness: The 4th district, which includes Brookline and Newton, has a large Jewish population and a number of the candidates themselves are MOTs.
Former Obama Ebola czar discusses the coronavirus impact on 2020
Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Joe Biden and later as Ebola czar in the Obama administration, discussed the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the 2020 election on “The Axe Files” podcast with David Axelrod.
Replacing Trump: Klain, who has criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the outbreak, suggested that a successful end to the crisis won’t necessarily benefit the incumbent in November:
“Look, I want Joe Biden to win really badly, but I want Donald Trump to do better things and save more lives. And if he gains politically by doing that, I’ll be the first one to cheer. If he makes the right decisions, stops having this chaos in the White House, sorts things out, puts science first, stops bickering with the [nation’s] governors, starts getting things done, I’ll applaud as loudly as the next person. Will that help him politically? I mean, it might. I will also say that George H. W. Bush won a big war in Iraq and lost in 1992. Winston Churchill beat the Nazis and lost in that last election. As you have taught me many times, David Axelrod, elections are about the future, they’re not rewards for past performance… We’re not here rooting for Trump to fail. We’re rooting for Trump to succeed and we’ll have the election either way.”
New challenge: Klain, who has been assisting the Biden campaign with debate preparations, acknowledged that the new dynamics — campaigning in an age of social distancing — pose a challenge for the former vice president:
“Compared to almost anyone else, we know there’s no one who loves to get out there and interact with people and shake hands and really talk to people directly and personally as much as Joe Biden does. [He] can’t do it right now. So obviously it’s taking away the principal tool in his toolkit… We’re also at a time of great enthusiasm for the Biden campaign, consolidating support in the party, and we can’t send organizers door to door to identify voters. We can’t do a lot of the basic things you’d want to be doing in the months of March and April to get ready for the fall.”
General election appeal: Klain, who is currently executive vice president and general counsel at the investment firm Revolution, maintained that despite the difficulties, Biden is an appealing candidate for the moment and can appeal to a broad range of the electorate — including the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
Bernie wins the Democrats Abroad primary: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) scored a small primary victory in his presidential bid, receiving 9 of 13 pledged delegates to the convention in the primary for Americans living abroad, which took place March 3-10. Sanders also beat out Biden among the votes cast in Israel — by just a two-vote margin. While turnout in Israel was up compared to 2016, Sanders received a lower percentage of the vote than he did in the country four years ago.
Vote count: According to the results published on Monday, Sanders received 58% of the 39,984 votes cast by Democrats living abroad, while Biden received 23%. While turnout was 15% higher than in 2016, Sanders’s vote total was slightly lower — the Vermont senator received 23,139 votes this year, compared to 23,779 in 2016. Get the full results here.
Publisher Jeannette Seaver defends decision to release Woody Allen’s memoir
Until recently, it looked as if Woody Allen’s new book, Apropos of Nothing, would never see the light of day. In early March, publishing house Hachette nixed plans to release the autobiography after employees staged a walk-out in protest of the controversial director, who is alleged to have molested his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, in 1992. But Jeannette Seaver, founder of the Arcade imprint, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel that she couldn’t let that happen.
Publishing imperative: When Seaver discovered that Hachette had dropped Allen’s book, she saw an opportunity, making every effort to get in touch with the director to secure the title. Two days later, she was in his house as he signed the contract, she recalled. The decision to publish Allen’s memoir, she said, was simple. “It was really about freedom of speech,” Seaver told JI. “The idea that a corporation or a powerful, wonderful publishing house would simply drop a world-known, great artist because they don’t agree with whatever. It just was unacceptable to me.”
Background: Originally from Paris, Seaver founded Arcade more than 30 years ago with her late husband, Richard Seaver, an editor who made it his life’s mission to fight censorship, most notably at Grove Press, where he helped publish such controversial authors as Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, Hubert Selby and William S. Burroughs.
Book review: Seaver is a longtime fan of Allen’s work, and she offered a glowing review of his new book, describing it as “wonderful, very well-written, extremely entertaining and so honest.” Of Allen, she added, “He’s so self-deprecating and charming and unpretentious and really intelligent.”
Potential pushback: So far, Seaver has not heard of any pushback from employees at Skyhorse — and there are no walkouts to speak of. “Don’t forget, everybody’s home,” she said, referring to the fact that most New Yorkers are self-isolating. “It might happen with time.” Either way, Seaver believes she did the right thing in publishing Allen’s memoir. “What can I tell you?” she said. “I believe in fairness and justice and the democratic process — and again, I find it critical to hear more than one side of the story and not to squelch a writer’s right to be heard.”
👩🏼💼 Joint Force: In The New Yorker, Susan Glasser profiles Sarah Longwell, a prominent NeverTrump voice, who talks about the collaboration she developed with Bill Kristol after attending a meeting of disaffected Republicans strategizing on how to steer the future of their party. [NewYorker]
🇱🇾 Profile: In OZY, Mat Nashed spotlights Raphael Luzon, a 65-year-old Libyan Jew who is fighting for the rights of the once-vibrant community to return home, despite widespread antisemitism and opposition from many politicians in the country. [OZY]
🥃 Take a Sip: In Atlas Obscura, Dan Nosowitz explores the history of Canadian whisky, including the success of the Bronfman family of Montreal, who are “generally credited with creating the technique of making what we now know as Canadian whisky.” [AtlasObscura]
Around the Web
🇸🇦 Transition: Victoria Coates, a former deputy National Security Advisor to Trump who moved to the Energy Department last month, has been appointed as special energy representative to Saudi Arabia.
🏦 Big Spender: The Bank of Israel has committed to purchase NIS 50 billion in government bonds as it works to keep the economy and markets afloat amid the coronavirus outbreak.
🏖️ Saving Lives:Rabbis and Jewish community leaders in Florida issued a letter urging people not to travel to the state for Passover this year.
🚘 Talk of the Town: The ADL is investigating after a Hasidic man was kicked out of a Toyota service center in New York because he was accused of “spreading the virus.”
⛓️ Iron Wall: Prosecutors argued on Monday against a request by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen for early release because he and other inmates were at “enhanced risk of catching coronavirus.” Meanwhile, convicted rapist and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for the virus at the maximum-security Wende Correctional Facility.
🏨 Talk of the Region: Barred from returning home to the West Bank due to a coronavirus border shutdown, thousands of Palestinian construction workers have found temporary accomodation in Israeli hotels and rental apartments.
🛩️ In the Skies: A joint military exercise between Israel and the U.S. launched today in southern Israel, but will include no on-the-ground physical contact between the two militaries.
⚾ Sports Blink: If and when the Summer Olympics in Tokyo take place, recently retired MLB player Ian Kinsler will be joining Team Israel in its pursuit of baseball history.
🔓 Revealed: A newly revealed archive details how hundreds of Polish resistance fighters forged passports to save hundreds of Jews from the death camps.
📺 Small Screen: A collaboration between 12 Israeli and French screenwriters resulted in five projects to be presented at the now-digital SeriesMania TV forum.
🥪 Last Bite: The Mile End Deli in Birmingham, Alabama — a branch of the Brooklyn location that opened last year — is shutting its doors for good.
🕯️ Remembering: Boston-based PR guru Larry Rasky, a trusted advisor and friend of Joe Biden, passed away at age 69.
🕯️ End of an Era: Eli Miller, one of the last of the old-fashioned seltzer men in Brooklyn who hoped to “die on the route,” passed away at age 86, three years after his retirement.
🕯️ Too Soon: The most senior rabbi in Leeds, England, Dayan Rabbi Yehuda Yaakov Refson, died of the coronavirus at age 73.
Pic of the day
A caterer in Brooklyn is continuing to deliver dozens of kosher meals for elderly Holocaust survivors despite not being paid.
Retired NASA astronaut and a veteran of four space shuttle missions, he had a mezuzah on his bunk in the space shuttle, Scott Jay “Doc” Horowitz turns 63…
Award-winning classical pianist, Byron Janis (family name was Yankilevich) turns 92… Beverly Hills-based estate planning attorney, Ronald M. Kabrins turns 82… Member of the House of Lords and star of the UK’s version of “The Apprentice,” he was the chairman of Tottenham Hotspur from 1991 to 2001, Baron Alan Sugar turns 73… Former CEO of Microsoft, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer turns 64… Attorney in Tarzana, California, Paul Marshall Leven turns 64… Deborah E. Rudy turns 64… Managing partner at Joslynda Capital, Michael Weiss turns 64… Poet and professor of fine arts, design and art history at Hofstra University, Martha Hollander turns 61… Professional wrestler under a series of ring names including “The Star of David,” his wrestling career spanned from 1979 until 2000, Barry Horowitz turns 60…
President of American Jewish University, Jeffrey Herbst turns 59… Formerly at UJA-Federation of New York and JDC, now at the 92nd Street Y, Laura Spitzer turns 57… Actor who is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Chris Taub on the Fox medical drama series “House,” Peter Jacobson turns 55… Director of business development and university partnerships at HackerU, Fred Menachem turns 48… Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel — West Side Jewish Center on 34th Street in Manhattan, Jason Herman turns 43… Actor best known for his role as FBI Special Agent Aram Mojtabai in NBC’s “The Blacklist,” Amir Arison turns 42… Director of marketing at Window Nation, Eric Goldscher turns 41… Digital news editor at Bloomberg, Aaron Rutkoff turns 40…
Famed NYC photographer, known for wearing vintage suits and hats daily, now working at MTA New York City Transit, Marc A. Hermann turns 38… Retired MLB pitcher, now a pitching analyst for the Chicago Cubs, pitched for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Josh Zeid turns 33… Deputy chief of staff and legislative director in the U.S House of Representatives, Joshua D. Cohen turns 33… Venezuelan-born featured celebrity chef on NBC’s “Food Fighters,” Deborah Benaim turns 32… Founding director of the Orthodox Union’s Impact Accelerator, Jenna Nelson Beltser turns 29… Senior project manager of Israel Diaspora Initiatives at Genesis Philanthropy Group, Justin B. Hayet turns 26… Competitive pair skater who was part of the first pair representing Israel to qualify for an Olympics, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Andrea “Anya” Davidovich turns 23..