Good Wednesday morning!
Full results in the highly competitive primary races in New York and Kentucky are not expected until at least early July due to record-breaking mail-in ballots. More below.
Yesterday, former President Barack Obama hosted a virtual small-dollar fundraiser for Joe Biden that brought in more than $7.6 million for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. An additional $3 million was raised in a private online event that was closed to the media. The Trump campaign boasted later that it raised more than $10 million over the weekend of the Tulsa rally. A new national New York Timespoll shows Biden with 50% of likely voters in November, Trump with 36% and 14% of voters undecided.
Today, President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House, days before voters decide Duda’s fate in his first re-election bid.
The United Nations Security Council is holding the first round of talks today on a U.S. proposal to extend an arms embargo on Iran, ahead of its October expiration date.
In Israel, Defense Minister Benny Gantz indicated he would support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unilateral annexation efforts, saying: “We won’t continue to wait for the Palestinians. If they say no forever to everything, then we’ll be forced to move forward without them,” adding that Israel won’t get dragged into the Palestinians’ “deep shit.”
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EVERY VOTE COUNTS
Election results a waiting game in NY, KY
There are few conclusive results after yesterday’s primary races in New York, Kentucky and Virginia, with millions of absentee ballots left to count. In New York, mail-in ballots won’t be opened until a full week after the primary, and could represent the majority of votes cast in some districts.
Patience needed: Ashley Dittus, the Democratic commissioner of elections for the Ulster County Board of Elections in New York, explained to JI why the mail-in votes won’t be tallied this week. “State election law has us wait until July 1 to count for a primary which is actually a shorter wait time than for the general,” Dittus said. “It’s to ensure no double voting and was part of the reforms of last year.” Dittus said the change was made long before COVID-19. “[I] don’t think they expected a pandemic that would put vote by mail via absentees at the forefront.”
Not too close to call:The Associated Press had only called a handful of primary races by Wednesday morning. In the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, AP said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) had won the nomination, easily fending off a primary challenge from Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) was also predicted to beat her challenger in the 6th district. In Kentucky’s 4th district, Republican Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was predicted to hold on to his seat, taking 88% of the votes counted against challenger Todd McMurtry. In Virginia’s 5th district, Cameron Webb won the Democratic nomination, and will face off against Republican Bob Good in November.
Jonesing for a win: Tens of thousands of ballots still remain to be counted in the crowded race to replace outgoing Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) in the 17th district. In-person vote tallies show Mondaire Jones ahead in the race with 45% of the ballots counted, trailed by former L.A. prosecutor Adam Schleifer with 21% of the vote and David Carlucci with 13%.
Close match: In New York’s 12th district, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and her challenger Suraj Patel appear to be locked in a dead heat in her 14th re-election bid. With all 38,000 in-person votes counted, Maloney held onto a narrow 42%-40% lead against Patel. But with more than 15,000 absentee ballots returned to the Board of Elections, the race will not be determined until next month.
Still counting: In New York’s 15th district, Councilman Ritchie Torres is leading the pack for the open seat with 30% of the in-person votes. Councilman Rubén Díaz, Sr. was seen as a strong contender, but so far is ranked third with 15%. In New York’s 10th district, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) appears to have secured a 16th term in Congress with over 60% of the vote, and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) seems to have warded off a challenge from Adam Bunkeddeko and Chaim Deutsch in the 9th district, with 62% of in-person votes.
Elsewhere in NY: In New York’s 11th district, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis declared victory in the GOP primary to challenge incumbent Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) in November. In the 24th district, Dana Balter holds a significant lead over Francis Conole in the Democratic bid to take on Rep. John Katko (R-NY) this fall. In the state’s 1st district, Perry Gershon and Nancy Goroff are neck and neck in the Democratic race to challenge Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), with 36% and 34% of the vote respectively. In the third district, incumbent Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) has garnered 59% of the votes counted so far against two progressive challengers.
Eyes on Kentucky: The mercurial race for the Democratic nomination for Senate in Kentucky appears to have record turnout, with 80% of the ballots turned in by mail. In very early results, Amy McGrath is leading Charles Booker with 45% of voters compared to his 37%.
Bowman holds double digit lead over Rep. Eliot Engel
The highly watched race in New York’s 16th district was too close — and too early — to call by Wednesday morning. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) is trailing his progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman by double digits, with current results showing Bowman at 61% compared to Engel’s 35% with 33,000 votes cast in person.
Election night statements: Speaking to supporters last night, Bowman was confident that he would emerge victorious once the absentee ballots are counted. In a statement released Tuesday night, Engel noted that “every primary ballot must be counted” to know the full results. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Reportsuggested there could be up to 60,000 mail-in votes to count.
Troublemaker: In his remarks, Bowman said he “cannot wait to get to Congress and cause problems — for the people there who have been maintaining a status quo that is literally killing our children.” Bowman said that if sent to Washington, he would advocate for a strong America “to create peace all over the world, to become a humanitarian leader on this planet.”
Turning the page: New York City Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) told Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh after attending the Bowman election night party, “Of course we must take the time to count every vote, but I’m feeling very optimistic about Jamaal’s lead. He won by big margins throughout this diverse district, even in the heart of Riverdale. It’s an impressive election night lead that will be hard to overcome on paper, even with a lot of paper.”
Writing was on the wall: Stu Loeser, a political consultant and Riverdale resident, told JI that Engel has himself to blame for his presumed loss, refusing to learn from former Rep. Joe Crowley’s defeat in 2018. Engel’s absence during the coronavirus outbreak was a driving factor in Bowman’s rise. “Crowley lost the next seat because his smart opponent emphasized how he didn’t live in the district anymore,” Loeser noted. “Engel could’ve run a perfect race and still lose. But he didn’t run a perfect race.”
Is 2020 the year cell-cultured meat arrives?
Journalist Chase Purdy thinks cell-cultured meat will soon be having its global moment. Lab-grown meat, created from animal cells, can produce products that are remarkably similar — in taste, texture and preparation — to what is currently found in grocery stores around the world. And there’s a chance, the author of the recently released Billion Dollar Burger: Inside Big Tech’s Race for the Future of Food suggests, that the meat could be determined to be kosher — pareve, in fact. Purdy spoke with Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss about what he predicts will be the next big food trend.
To the experts: Purdy consulted the experts — in this case, Rabbi Menachem Genack, the head of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division. Genack, Purdy writes, was enthusiastic about the possibility of kosher cell-cultured meat, though “he stops short of saying cell-cultured pork could be kosher. He lauds it as an innovation that is especially promising for the environment during a time when climate change has understandably become a source of anxiety.” He compares Genack’s excitement to “the excitement of the people making cell-cultured meat, for whom religious dietary restrictions could be lucrative,” noting the $24 billion kosher food industry and the $1.6 trillion halal market.
Blast from the past: Purdy opens one chapter, which explores the kashrut of cell-curated meat, with a story about Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, who traveled from Morocco to Jerusalem in the 18th century, stopping for years in Italy, where he received community funds enabling him to print his religious commentary. Included in his published writings was the idea that in the future, the physiology of a pig would be altered enough to make it permissible to be eaten by Jews.
Start-up nation: Purdy traveled the globe, visiting labs and meeting with researchers, religious authorities, chefs and other experts. He made several trips to Israel, which — along with Singapore and the United States — is at the forefront of the industry. “Israel is one of those countries in the world that has had to be extremely conscientious of its own sort of national security, and food security is part of that,” Purdy said, pointing to the advances Israel has made in water technology. “Think about the desalination plants that are turning seawater into potable water. The world is taking its cues from Israel when it comes to desalination of water, and so I think that it’s not a huge leap to think that the world will take a lot of its cues from Israel when it comes to sustainably producing cell-cultured meat.”
Former Obama official: Netanyahu ‘playing with fire’ by ignoring opposition to annexation
Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy warned Israeli leaders not to ignore the objections to West Bank annexation plans from nearly 150 Democratic senators and members of Congress. During a panel discussion on the issue hosted by Israel Policy Forum, Flournoy suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “playing with fire, not only in terms of fracturing the region and their relationships with Israel, but also fracturing American political support, which would be terrible and disastrous.”
Critical matter: Flournoy, who has been floated as a possible secretary of defense in a Democratic administration, said she worries that if Israel moves ahead with annexation in the coming weeks, some Democratic lawmakers may try to hold up the implementation of the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel and “decide to hold hostage our security assistance to Israel as a way of protesting Israel’s policies” in the West Bank. “That may not be the most likely outcome, but it’s not unlikely either,” she suggested. Such attempts, Flournoy cautioned, would undermine long-standing bipartisan support “for critical pillars” of the security relationship with Israel. “That’s what really worries me,” Flournoy said.
Glass half-full: Matt Duss, who served as a foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) 2020 presidential campaign, pushed progressive activists to be optimistic about former Vice President Joe Biden’s approach to the Middle East on Tuesday. “One very positive aspect here… is Biden’s commitment to rejoining the Iran nuclear agreement, which is a commitment he shared with every Democratic primary candidate,” Duss said during a panel discussion hosted by Jewish Currents and moderated by the publication’s editor-at-large, Peter Beinart.
Open eyes: Duss said he hoped the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, if elected, would not compromise his approach to Iran and would moderate his position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of concern that Israel could openly oppose new talks with Tehran. “We’ll need to work hard and make sure that the Palestinians are not the ones who have to pay a price for the broader effort at regional diplomacy that I expect Biden would pursue as president,” he said.
Bonus: The Biden campaign is restricting staffers and volunteers “from engaging in substantive conversations with foreign government officials” to avoid the perception of outside interference in the presidential election. A Middle Eastern diplomat called the move “frustrating” because it complicates building a relationship with future senior officials before they take an administration role.
🇪🇺 Behind The Scenes: Reuters’s Robin Emmott, Luke Baker, John Irish and Maayan Lubell explore the deep, ongoing battle among E.U. officials on how to approach Israeli annexation efforts. The unity that European countries once had on foreign policy issues is splintering, said one diplomat: “It’s hell in the EU to try to get a common position on this.” [Reuters]
🎥 On Screen:Television critic Daniel Fienberg dives deep in The Hollywood Reporter into the heavily Jewish nature of shows like “Unorthodox,” “The Plot Against America” and “Hunters,” where characters wear yarmulkes, quote from the Talmud and even bend their knees for “Aleinu” in synagogue. [THR]
🏖️ Life’s a Beach: In New York magazine, David Gauvey Herbert takes a close look at the New York City lifeguard corps, which has been overseen for 40 years by Peter B. Stein. Herbert charges that Stein has maintained his tight control by relying “on a playbook of patronage, power brokering, and intimidation.” [NYMag]
✍️ Changing Times: Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Wesley Lowery writes in The New York Times about the “breaking point” many U.S. media outlets are facing over issues of race and the changing view of objectivity. “No journalistic process is objective. And no individual journalist is objective, because no human being is.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🏠 Buy Now:Bloomberg reports that prices of homes in West Bank settlements are rising as talks of annexation grow, but haven’t changed in Palestinian-controlled territory.
🚫 Cut Off: Qatar is reportedly suspending payments to Gaza in an effort to pressure Israel over annexation.
🛂 In Limbo:Tens of thousands of Israeli tech workers employed in the U.S. are now stuck due to Trump’s new executive order that expands restrictions on L-1 visas until the end of 2020.
😷 Stay Home: Israel has renewed lockdown orders on the city of Elad and neighborhoods in Tiberias — and raised the fine for not wearing a mask — due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
💳 Virtual Exchange:Facebook has selected Israeli startup Rise.ai to provide gift cards to small businesses on its social media platforms.
🛍️ Buy Local: Israeli officials are looking to remove the tax exemption on personal online purchases from abroad below $75, a move that would anger consumers.
🚗 Conflict: A Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli police in a suspected car ramming at a military checkpoint east of Jerusalem. The suspect is a relative of chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
💰 Seize the Day: Billionaire investor Bill Ackman is looking to raise up to $6.5 billion for his “blank check” company aimed at seizing opportunities created by the coronavirus pandemic.
✈️ Air Mail: Iran is sending the black boxes from the Ukrainian airplane downed on January 8 to France for analysis.
🥆 Taking Action: The California State Senate approved legislation that would increase background checks on hunting licenses, a measure introduced after last year’s deadly attack at the Chabad of Poway.
🧨 Making Noise: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday the creation of a new task force to address complaints over illegal fireworks. On Monday night, a group of Orthodox Jews, led by Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn) honked their car horns outside Gracie Mansion to get de Blasio’s attention.
⚖️ In Court: John Michael Rathbun has been indicted by a federal grand jury for plotting to blow up a Jewish old age home in Massachusetts.
😢 Deep Cut:The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York has laid off 40% of its staff due to its financial struggles over COVID-19.
📱 Belated Apology: Comedian Chelsea Handler told The Daily Beast that she was sorry for posting a video of antisemite Louis Farrakhan, adding: “I didn’t consider the context… I was wrong. It was offensive, and I apologize.”
📺 L’Chaim: The “Saturday Night Seder” web musical is mounting an underdog bid for the outstanding variety special award at this year’s Emmys.
😷 Mask Up: Israeli Paralympian gold medalist Noam Gershony has launched a PSA, along with Ziv Shilon and other individuals with disabilities, to encourage people to wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
🕯️Remembering: Shirley Siegel, a leading human rights lawyer who served as New York State’s first female solicitor general, died at age 101.
Pic of the Day
The Israel Defense Forces inaugurated the largest IDF synagogue yesterday at Camp Ariel Sharon, an IDF training campus in southern Israel.
Member of Knesset, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon turns 70…
Former chief rabbi of Denmark, Rabbi Bent Melchior turns 91… Former congressman from New Jersey and real estate investor, Herbert C. Klein turns 90… Ruth Weinstein turns 81… Co-founder of Trian Fund Management, Nelson Peltz turns 78… Professor emeritus in the College of Business at San Francisco State University, Sam Gill turns 78… Former Chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company, Seymour “Sy” Sternberg turns 77… Professor of Jewish philosophy at American Jewish University, Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff turns 77… Founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Rabbi Avi Weiss turns 76… Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich turns 74… EVP at Edelman, Kevin Goldman turns 66… CEO of public relations firm Steinreich Communications, Stanley Steinreich turns 60… U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Florida, Beth Bloom turns 58…
Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College in Melbourne, Australia, Rabbi James Kennard turns 56… The NFL Network’s first on-air talent and still the face of the network, Rich Eisen turns 51… Israeli businesswoman and owner of Hapoel Beer Sheva soccer team, Alona Barkat turns 51… Author and columnist, Shulem Deen turns 46… Singer and songwriter Ariel Pink turns 42… Resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Matthew Continetti turns 39… Senior digital producer at WSB-TV in Atlanta, Brett Rosner turns 35… One-half of the duo known for their YouTube channel h3h3Productions, Ethan Edward Klein turns 35… VP of Houston-based RIDA Development, Steven C. Mitzner turns 34… A 2015 contestant on “Jeopardy!” who earned $413,612 by winning 13 consecutive episodes, Matt Jackson turns 28… Actress and singer, Elizabeth Greer (“Beanie”) Feldstein turns 27… Tax associate at Mazars USA, Moshe Gruber CPA turns 26… Lois Charles…