Good Thursday morning!
The Republican National Committeehas voted to replicate the language of its 2016 platform as it looks to scale down the August national convention amid the coronavirus. The Israel plank in the 2016 platform removed mention of a two-state solution.
AIPAChas reportedly communicated that it will not push back against Democrats in Congress who want to speak out against Israeli annexation plans. AIPAC reiterated to JI in an email that it hasn’t taken a position on annexation.
In a solo letter obtained by JI, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) urged Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to block Israeli annexation because it “will diminish future prospects” for peace talks and “could potentially destabilize the region further, undermining U.S. and Israeli security interests.”
Israeli Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who announced today she will accept the position as the next Israeli ambassador to the U.K., said there are still “gaps between the Americans and us” over plans for annexation. “There is still no agreed map on this issue.”
The European Human Rights Courtruled this morning that a 2015 French criminal conviction of BDS activists was baseless and violated their freedom of expression.
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Will Georgia voters keep Kelly Loeffler in the Senate?
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) is bracing for a competitive Senate special election this November, battling a crowded field to hold onto the seat she was appointed to in December and struggling to emerge from a reputation damaging insider-trading scandal. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel spoke to Loeffler and her Republican challenger, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), about the upcoming race.
Moving on: Late last month, Loeffler was vindicated when the Justice Department dropped its investigation into allegations that she had dumped stocks after a briefing on the coronavirus in late January. “I have been completely exonerated,” Loeffler, 49, told Jewish Insider in an interview. “I think it was exposed for what it was, which was a political attack.” Collins, who is well ahead of Loeffler in recent polls, isn’t letting her off the hook just yet. “I’ve not seen anybody so excited about not being indicted since Hillary Clinton,” sniped the four-term congressman, later adding, “There’s just too many coincidences and not enough explanation.”
The Trump card: Collins has positioned himself as a vociferous Trump ally, using his high-profile status as a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee to defend the president during last year’s impeachment inquiry. He spinned it as a bad sign for Loeffler that Trump hasn’t yet made an endorsement in the race. “I know he wanted us to start with,” said Collins. “I don’t think that’s changed very much.” But Loeffler is quick to boast of her ties to the president. “We have a great relationship,” she said, noting that she was chosen to serve on a congressional task force Trump assembled in April to gather advice on re-opening the economy. “I speak with him regularly.”
Strong support: Loeffler told JI that some of her earliest actions in the Senate were to show her support for Israel. She backed Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and made clear she favors Trump’s Middle East peace proposal. Collins holds foreign policy views similar to his opponent’s. He attacked the Iran nuclear deal as “one of the worst foreign policy decisions ever made by the United States,” and called Trump’s peace plan a useful “framework” to bring Israelis and Palestinians into negotiations.
Community split: Eric Tanenblatt, a GOP activist in Atlanta and the global chair of public policy and regulation at the law firm Dentons, praised Loeffler’s commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship, noting that her presence in the Senate was good for Georgian Jews. “As someone who’s a member of the Jewish community in Atlanta and someone who knows Kelly,” he said, “I’m very comfortable and want to see her stay there as long as she can.” Meanwhile, Collins supporters like Doug Ross, a pro-Israel advocate who is active in Atlanta’s Jewish community, tout his pro-Israel bona fides on Capitol Hill. “Doug’s first major legislative achievement as a freshman member of Congress was authoring a bill that strengthened Israel’s qualitative military edge,” Ross explained to JI. “His affinity for Israel derives from moral, ethical, religious, economic and national security imperatives.”
Jungle vote: There is still a long way to go until Election Day, when voters will choose among a roster of candidates that includes Matt Lieberman, the son of former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — both of whom are frontrunners on the Democratic side. All the candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will appear on November’s ballot. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, the race will advance to a runoff slated for January 2021, something analysts predict is likely.
Jewish groups sound alarm over Georgia congressional candidates with ties to neo-Nazi
Jewish organizations are voicing concern following Republican primaries in Georgia’s 9th and 14th congressional districts, where candidates who have ties to a prominent neo-Nazi have advanced to runoff elections, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Details: Winning more than 40% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, Marjorie Taylor Greene moved on to the August 11 runoff in Georgia’s 14th congressional district against physician John Cowan. In the state’s 9th district, current State Rep. Matt Gurtler was the biggest vote getter, with 22%, and is also advancing to a runoff against firearms dealer Andrew Clyde. Both Greene and Gurtler have posed for photos with former KKK leader and neo-Nazi Chester Doles.
Distance: The Anti-Defamation League called on Greene to distance herself from Doles. “No serious candidate for office should be posing for pictures with a prominent white supremacist leader and propagating dangerous, antisemitic conspiracy theories,” ADL Southern Division Vice President Allison Padilla-Goodman said in a statement to Jewish Insider. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the director of global social action agenda of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said “the fact that someone could be with a neo-Nazi and think nothing of it… that’s something that should trouble not only the Jewish community and the Jewish voters, but should trouble [any] potential voter.”
No support: Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks told JI that the organization will not be endorsing Greene. The group, Brooks said, has “no plans to get involved in this primary.” Brooks also told JI that the RJC would not support Greene or Gurtler should either of them advance to the general election. Halie Soifer, the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said “it is unconscionable — yet sadly not surprising — to see Republican candidates in Georgia aligned with antisemites, neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”
Heard last night
Engel charges that opponent is ‘bought and paid for’ by Justice Democrats’
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and his primary challenger Jamaal Bowman had a heated exchange over outside support at a debate on Wednesday, less than two weeks before primary voters in New York’s 16th congressional district head to the polls.
Exchange: During the debate, aired on NY1, Engel attacked Bowman for receiving $500,000 worth of TV spending from groups backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the Justice Democrats PAC, saying the challenger would be beholden to them.
Bowman’s response: “Our critique of Congressman Engel is he’s completely funded by corporate PACs, he’s completely funded by large donors, he’s completely funded by weapons manufacturers, big pharmaceutical companies and big real estate companies. You cannot call yourself a progressive when you’re accountable to corporate PACs and weapons manufacturers. And when you look at his voting record — allowing a sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, opposing Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy, which is the Iran deal. Eliot Engel opposed that deal. So when you look at who funds him, and what he says and what he votes for you, see a conflict of interest in terms of his foreign policy.”
Engel countered: “I cannot believe that Mr. Bowman says what he says with a straight face. He’s bought and paid for by the Justice Dems. That’s the way it is. And to pretend otherwise, it’s just disingenuous.”
Israeli officials connect with American Jewish leaders over Zoom
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi addressed American Jewish leaders during a Zoom call on Wednesday to discuss the challenges their respective communities are facing in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Mutual responsibility’: “We shall build new bridges of understanding and give practical expression to our values of arvut hadadit and achdut — mutual responsibility and unity, among the entire Jewish family,” Rivlin told the participants. “For many years, the American Jewish community has stood with Israel. Today, we are here to hear you, and to see how we can help in any way. Because despite the distance between us, we feel closer today than ever before.”
List of attendees: Jewish leaders on the call included Conference of Presidents CEO William Daroff, Union for Reform Judaism’s Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Jewish Federations of North America President and CEO Eric Fingerhut, Sinai Health System President and CEO Karen Teitelbaum, IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous, President of the Koret Foundation Dr. Anita Friedman, director of Hillel at Georgia Tech Lauren Blazofsky, JCRC San Francisco executive director Tyler Gregory and Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, a spokesperson for the Hasidic community of Monsey, N.Y.
Debut appearance: In a 90-second pre-recorded message shared on social media, Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch told participants that the pandemic has given Israel and the communities in the Diaspora a historical opportunity to “retune our relations and focus on the things that unite us as Jews.” Yankelevitch added: “This unifying power that we have used as Jews in times of crisis should not evaporate, and we need to focus together on things that we can build and create.”
Cutback: The UJA-Federation of New York has laid off or furloughed 54 employees due to the financial strains caused by COVID-19. The organization’s CEO, Eric Goldstein, will also forgo his salary for the coming year to navigate the recovery.
👵 Goodbye to Bubbe: Paula Span writes in The New York Times about how grandparents should talk to young children about the loss of loved ones amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Long before the pandemic, it occurred to me that grandparents can play a role in shaping their beloveds’ understanding of death.” [NYTimes]
🦠 New Frontline: In OZY, Pallabi Munsi explores the role that Islamic militia groups across the Middle East have played in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. In Gaza, Hamas “deployed its military wing to sanitize the streets, and the group has since built two quarantine facilities.” [OZY]
🛍️ Shop Drop: The Ghermezian family, Iranian Jews who immigrated to Montreal in 1960, are facing mounting debt after staking their empire on American Dream, the long-delayed New Jersey supermall that was weeks away from finally fully opening when COVID-19 hit. [Bloomberg]
Around the Web
🏬 Giving Up:The Simon Property Group, the nation’s biggest mall owner, has withdrawn from a $3.6 billion deal to buy the Taubman Centers.
💰 Big Bucks: The Reuben brothers, British billionaire property tycoons, have donated £80 million to Oxford University to establish a new post-graduate school.
💧 Melt Down: The rapper Ice Cube is under fire for repeatedly tweeting antisemitic images, messages and conspiracy theories.
👨💻 Taking Action:Facebook has removed nearly 200 accounts linked to two white supremacist groups that were encouraging members to exploit racial inequality protests.
👸 Royal Snub: Donors are calling for the firing of Wichita State University President Jay Golden for canceling a planned virtual speech by Ivanka Trump for the school’s graduation last week.
👊 Trump vs. Zucker: Trump‘s campaign sent CNN President Jeff Zucker a cease and desist letter demanding an apology after the cable network’s latest poll — which the campaign claims was skewed — showed Biden with a 14-point lead.
😊 Rewarding Allies: Internal GOP polling shows Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is facing re-election, is South Carolina’s most popular elected official among Republican voters due to his close relationship with President Donald Trump.
😡 Double Standard: The deputy director-general of Israel’s Health Ministry is under fire for granting special approval to billionaire Teddy Sagi to skip mandatory quarantine after returning from Cyprus.
💲Startup Nation:Israel-based automotive data service start-up Upstream Security, founded by Yoav Levy and Yonatan Appel, has secured an investment from Salesforce.
💓 Heart Beat:Israel’s Bezeq phone company is working with Magen David Adom, the country’s ambulance service, to convert thousands of empty public phone booths into defibrillator stations.
📉 Long Haul: Israeli employment officials predict it could take six years to recover from the workplace effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
🔥 Hot Take: Richard Goldberg writes in Foreign Policy that European sanctions on Israel over annexation could carry significant business risks.
📒 Take a Look: Israel’s National Library is starting the process of digitizing more than 2,500 centuries-old manuscripts from its Islam and Middle East collection.
🇨🇳🇸🇾 New Alliances: China is showing greater interest in Syria amid heightened tensions with the United States and global isolation after COVID-19.
📰 Media Watch:The Independent, the Ron Perelman-owned weekly publication on Long Island, will end its print edition after a merger with the local Dan’s Papers.
👩 Transition: Rachel Feintzeig, who covers management trends and chief executives for the Wall Street Journal, has been promoted to columnist for the paper’s Work & Life section.
🕯️Remembering: French intellectual Albert Memmi, who described himself as a “Jewish Arab,” died at age 99. Harry Glickman, founder of the Portland Trail Blazers and later general manager and president of the NBA team, died at age 96.
Pic of the Day
Director and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino spotted yesterday dining outside Cafe Zorik in Tel Aviv.
Retail mogul and lead sponsor of ArtScroll’s translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Jay Schottenstein turns 66…
British supermarket heir Sir Timothy Alan Davan Sainsbury turns 88… Former NYC public advocate Elisabeth A. “Betsy” Gotbaum turns 82… Member of the Knesset for Agudat Yisrael, Meir Porush turns 65… Hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen turns 64… Member of the Knesset for the Shas party Yoav Ben-Tzur turns 62… NYC attorney Barry Friedman turns 62… VP of public affairs for Duke University Michael J. Schoenfeld turns 58… President of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami turns 58… Partner in the D.C. office of WilmerHale David S. Cohen turns 57… Quadrant Strategies senior advisor and former White House Jewish liaison Matt Nosanchuk turns 55…
Shabbat[dot]com’s Rabbi Benzion Zvi Klatzko turns 52… Chabad rabbi and former editor-in-chief of the Algemeiner Journal, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (YY) Jacobson turns 48… Budget director at the City Council of the District of Columbia, Jennifer Budoff turns 46… Israeli businesswoman and reality TV personality Nicol Raidman turns 34… Performance artist and filmmaker, Shia LaBeouf turns 34… Senior communications associate at the Academic Engagement Network Raeefa Shams turns 34… Dualis Social Venture Fund’s Dana Naor Mande’el… Jennifer Rubin…