Good Tuesday morning!
Today in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, who visited the United Arab Emirates over the weekend.
In an apparent jab at Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Netanyahu said there are “serious issues to discuss” with Hook. “They are so serious that they can’t even wait for COVID-19.” The prime minister added regarding Iran: “I believe it is time to implement, now, snapback sanctions. I don’t think we can afford to wait.”
Hook said that he and Netanyahu “see eye-to-eye on the dangers of letting the arms embargo expire on Iran.” The expiration “is not only a danger to Israel’s security, it is a danger to Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Bahrain… and they are saying the same thing.”
In an interview with Yediot Aharonot this morning, Gantz said that “millions of unemployed Israelis” are not concerned with annexation. Likud Minister Ze’ev Elkin told Army Radio today that Israel is still awaiting a green light from the U.S., and on July 1, “the clock will start ticking.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority sent a letter to the Mideast Quartet saying they are “ready to resume direct bilateral negotiations where they stopped.”
On Capitol Hill, four progressive members of Congress — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) — are circulating a letter among their colleagues warning of the political implications that could result from Israel’s planned annexation of portions of the West Bank.
In a rare preemptive statement on Twitter — presumably directed at other members of the Democratic caucus — AIPAC said it “opposes the letter” and issued an action alert on what they describe as a “one-sided, anti-Israel letter.”
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HEY BATTER BATTER
Chaim Bloom is ready for whatever curve balls are thrown his way
If jars of gefilte fish have expiration dates, Chaim Bloom does not want to know. The new chief baseball officer of the Boston Red Sox arrived at Fenway in October with the decade-old Jewish food staple — which Bloom and his colleagues at the Tampa Bay Rays promised to share should they win the World Series. Bloom spoke with Jewish Insider’s Sam Zieve-Cohen about the many challenges ahead this season, and the prospects of ever opening up that jar.
Background: A Philadelphia native, Bloom attended Jewish day school before matriculating at Yale University, where he graduated in 2004 with a degree in Latin Classics. “I’m not going to lay claim to being any kind of advanced mathematician. I would say it started with a passion for baseball and took a lot of persistence and a whole lot of good fortune,” Bloom explained of his path. He joined the Rays, then known as the Devil Rays, after graduating college during a successful run that saw the team reach its first World Series in 2008. All the while, Bloom rose through the ranks, garnering the respect of his colleagues and the baseball world.
Parallel stories: Though Bloom declined to name his favorite Jewish baseball player — saying he does not “like to play favorites” — he observes the importance of the American pastime when it comes to the American-Jewish experience. “I do think when you look at the rise of baseball in this country in our society, I think it parallels the story of a lot of Jewish immigration into the country and establishing a larger foothold in the U.S.”
Priorities: Despite prior reports, Bloom says he is not Shabbat observant. But the father of two prioritizes coming home for the start of each Shabbat before returning to the ballpark for any night games. In 2011, Bloom notably chose to skip the final game of the season, which coincided with Rosh Hashanah, even though it would decide if the Rays made the playoffs. The Rays ultimately won the game on a dramatic walk-off home run.
Bouncing back: The major league season is scheduled to begin in July, with a season shortened from 162 games to 60 due to COVID-19. The coronavirus also shut down the start of spring training in March. “There’s no question that it is really hamstringing us and all 30 organizations,” Bloom explained. Still, despite the challenges, Bloom professes optimism for the upcoming season. “I’m looking forward to watching this group compete because then I do get a chance to surprise people.”
Experts weigh in on the Colorado primary races to watch
Voters cast their ballots in Colorado today following a long primary season, with a handful of intriguing races to watch as returns trickle in. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reached out to Seth Masket, a political scientist at the University of Denver who regularly contributes to FiveThirtyEight; Marianne Goodland, chief statehouse reporter at Colorado Politics; and Kyle Saunders, a professor of political science at Colorado State University, to share their insights on election day.
David vs. Goliath: In the Democratic Senate primary, John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado who briefly ran for president last year, is hoping he can prevail and go on to defeat Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in November. Goodland said Romanoff has “done well at times, but the money favors Hickenlooper and so does the support.” Masket opined that “once in a rare while you’ll see a candidate kind of take on the establishment figure and win but those cases are very rare and it’s not looking like this is going to be one of them.”
Close call? More than a week ago, Romanoff’s campaign released internal polling that suggested he was 12 points behind Hickenlooper, putting him in competitive territory. But a new SurveyUSA poll published Friday indicated that the gap has widened, putting Hickenlooper 30 points ahead of his opponent, with 58% of likely Democratic primary voters opting for the former governor. Saunders was skeptical that Hickenlooper would win by such a big margin. “I tend to think that it’s probably a little tighter than that,” he told JI.
‘Odd challenge’: Another Republican who is facing a challenge — though in this instance from his own party — is Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents Colorado’s 3rd congressional district. In the primary, he is going up against Lauren Boebert, a gun rights activist who is running significantly to the right of her opponent in the only contested primary in the state. Goodland said Tipton would probably win, observing that the Western Slope was more independent-minded than far-right. Saunders seconded her prediction. “It’s an odd challenge,” he said. “Tipton will likely survive that on the fundraising side.”
Keeping an eye on Oklahoma and Utah
Primary voters will also head to the polls today in Oklahoma and Utah, where candidates for Congress and governor are on the ballot.Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod spotlighted two races to watch as the ballots are counted up.
UT-4: In Utah’s 4th district, a wide range of candidates are competing for the Republican nomination, hoping to take on freshman Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT) in November. The contenders include former NFL star Burgess Owens, state legislator and charter school founder Kim Coleman, former radio host Jay “JayMac” McFarland and fundraiser Trent Christensen. Coleman is the favorite of hard-line conservatives and party activists, according to Michael Lyons, a political science professor at Utah State University. University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank, meanwhile, sees Owens as the likely frontrunner, due in part to his high name recognition. Read more about the candidates and their position papers here.
OK-5: A crowded field is looking to take on first-term Rep. Kendra Horn, the only Democrat in the state currently holding federal office. State Senator Stephanie Bice is the frontrunner, due to her name recognition in Oklahoma City, sizable war chest and reputation as a moderate — which experts believe will go far in the purple district. Experts predict that Bice will lead the pack today but fall short of the votes needed to avoid a runoff, pitting her against a more conservative candidate in August. Read more about the candidates and their chances here.
Former U.S. ambassadors recall memorable moments at Herzliya residence now for sale
Former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel Martin Indyk and Dan Shapiro shared with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh their memorable moments at their official residence in Herzliya as the property goes on the market.
Details:Globesreported on Monday that the compound — built in 1960 and purchased by the U.S. government in 1962 — is up for sale for $87 million (NIS 300 million) as part of the embassy’s formal relocation to Jerusalem. The embassy noted in a statement that most official activities have already been transferred to Jerusalem and that Ambassador David Friedman spends the majority of his time at the new residence on Jerusalem’s Agron Street. “We expect that the sale of the property will take place in the coming months,” the embassy said.
Short commute: Friedman’s predecessor Dan Shapiro said “it makes sense” to have the ambassador’s official residence in the same city of the embassy, and predicted that the Herzliya compound would sell quickly despite its sky-high price tag. “Its value is in its position,” said Indyk. “It’s a unique piece of property.”
By the book: In an interview with JI, Indyk recalled the first Passover Seder he hosted as ambassador — in 1996, several years after the signing of the first Oslo Accords. Indyk invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, then the deputy to PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed Bassiouni and chief Oslo negotiator Uri Savir. “We proceeded to read the Haggadah, the story of the Exodus from Egypt — to some embarrassment for the Egyptian ambassador, who kept on saying, ‘This is not the way we treat Jews today’ — and Abu Mazen sat there and quietly read the whole thing in English,” Indyk recounted. “And then at the end, he said to me, ‘I see that Jews celebrate freedom from occupation.’”
🕵️ What Happened? Jeffrey Toobin explores in The New Yorker how Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump failed to prove the president’s obstructions of justice. “Mueller’s investigation was no witch hunt; his report was, ultimately, a surrender.” [NewYorker]
☎️ Direct Line: CNN’s Carl Bernstein spoke to a number of former Trump advisors who thought the president was “consistently unprepared” and “delusional” in highly classified phone calls with foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the report, Erdogan used to call Trump directly at least twice a week. [CNN]
🏙️ On the Ground:The Washington Post’s Ruth Eglash visits Jericho, the Palestinian city once considered a “vision for peace” — and the most populous town in the Jordan Valley — where talk of annexation has left its residents deeply concerned for the future. [WashPost]
🕍 Real Story:The Times of Israel’s Raphael Ahren takes a close look at the much-touted breakaway “Jewish Community of the U.A.E,” where the social media push by a young Chabad rabbi attempting to supplant the more established Jewish community has sparked pushback, prompting Dubai authorities to order the accounts shut down. [ToI]
Around the Web
↘️ Deep Dive:The Guardian’s Adrian Horton takes a closer look at how Quibi crashed so fast after a rocky start in early April.
🚫 Shut Down: Reddit has closed down its pro-Trump community page “The_Donald” for violating its rules on hate speech.
👋 Goodbye: YouTube has banned white nationalist Richard Spencer and former KKK grand wizard David Duke from its platform.
🏥 Rename: The supervisor of the San Francisco General Hospital is pushing to remove the name of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from its building over his failure to police hate speech on the platform.
🏗️ Big Plans: Developer Beny Alagem is overseeing a $2 billion plan for a condo-hotel complex in Beverly Hills.
🧑⚖️ Time Out: A U.S. District Court judge has rescheduled a trial date in the case against Richard Holzer, an alleged white supremacist accused of plotting to bomb a Colorado synagogue last year, after the defense requested additional time.
💭 Think Tank: The Center for a New American Security has launched a new task force on “developing a new U.S. agenda toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
🏺 Retain Ruins: An advocacy group in Israel is lobbying the government to include archeological ruins in its annexation plans.
💻 Tune In: French Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur is drawing tens of thousands of viewers of all religions to her weekly discussions on racism, antisemitism and the modern plague.
🚃 Allocating Funds:Jewish organizations criticized the Dutch national railway company for donating more than $5 million to several memorial centers as a gesture of recognition for Holocaust victims transported to camps in the Netherlands — without consulting the Jewish community or survivors.
🎶 Musical Recovery: Despite a cyber attack on the event, the fundraising global gala of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra — hosted by Helen Mirren — is now available to viewers.
🕯️Remembering: Ilia Salita, president and CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group, died after a battle with cancer. Betsy Rothstein, a media gossip columnist at The Daily Caller and former editor of FishbowlDC, died after a long battle with cancer.
Gif of the Day
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a massive styrofoam mountain during a briefing yesterday to mark the sharp decline in coronavirus cases in the state.
Senior editor at The Atlantic, author of nine books and former Bush 43 speechwriter, David Frum turns 60…
Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry and professor emeritus at Stanford University, Paul Berg turns 94… Rapid City, South Dakota resident, Leedel Chittim Williamson turns 76… Palm Beach Gardens podiatrist, Dr. David Peter Bartos turns 75… Executive coach to nonprofit leaders, David Altshuler turns 71… Former New York State assemblyman, Dov Hikind turns 70… Former Harvard professor and author of books on the Holocaust and antisemitism, Daniel Goldhagen turns 61… Chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Stuart Jeff Rabner turns 60… Professor of astrophysics at McGill University, Victoria Michelle Kaspi turns 53…
Columnist, author, poet and screenwriter, Matthew “Matthue” Roth turns 42… Reggae and alternative rock musician, Matisyahu (born Matthew Paul Miller) turns 41… Chief of staff for U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Kyle Justin Plotkin turns 38… Actress Elizabeth Anne (“Lizzy”) Caplan turns 38… Senior software engineer at Bloomberg LP, Noam Lustiger turns 37… Interim director at Israel Action Network, Stephanie Hausner turns 36… Rhythmic gymnast who represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games, Julie Ashley Zetlin turns 30… Michal Adar turns 29… Associate area director for the North Shore of Long Island at AIPAC, Abbey Taub turns 27…