Good Thursday morning!
The Democratic National Committee released its 2020 platform✎ EditSign yesterday ahead of the July 27 vote by the full platform committee. The Israel plank remains unchanged from the language approved last week, though progressives are still pushing for changes.
Twitterhas unlocked frozen accounts that featured Stars of David in their profile or header photos, following backlash from the Anti-Defamation League and from the U.K.-based organizations Campaign Against Antisemitism and Community Security Trust.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly considering calling for an election in November as negotiations with his partner, Benny Gantz, have stalled over the 2020 budget. In a fiery series of tweets this morning, President Reuven Rivlin scolded the government to “get a grip!” The country is “not a rag doll you drag around as you squabble,” he added.
Yesterday, the United Nations voted to allow world leaders to submit pre-recorded speeches for this year’s virtual U.N. General Assembly in September.
Play ball! Defending World Series champions the Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees tonight in the first game of MLB’s long-delayed and shortened 2020 regular season. Read JI’s recent coverage of America’s pastime here and here.
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MAKING THE CASE
Brad Sherman touts ‘bookish’ personality as he competes for Foreign Affairs chairmanship
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) announced yesterday — in a letter✎ EditSign to his colleagues — that he will seek the chairmanship of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, following current chairman Rep. Eliot Engel’s (D-NY) primary defeat. The California Democrat joins Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-TX), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in eyeing the position. In an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh, Sherman said he’s convinced his seniority and his record will bring him the votes he needs.
Seniority and record matters: “I think seniority is a very important factor, it’s always been very important to me in similar decisions,” Sherman, the second-ranked Democrat on the House panel, told JI. “I think that my demonstrated capacity, knowledge and plans for the committee would justify a vote [for me].” Pointing to his record on Israel, Sherman stressed, “This is the most important committee for the U.S.-Israel relationship, and I think I’ve got a strong record of supporting the U.S.-Israel relationship and a two-state solution.”
Progressive label: “I’m a member of the Progressive Caucus. I’ve voted with my party 99% of the time. I have a 100% rating by most of the leading progressive organizations,” Sherman declared as he rattled off his bonafides. “There are some elements of the political world that think that if you support the U.S.-Israel relationship, that is the sole guide to determine whether you’re a progressive on foreign policy. I do support the U.S.-Israel relationship. I, of course, was a strong and early signer of the letter against annexation. I am for a two-state solution… My efforts to get passed into law the War Powers Act enforcement provision, and my efforts to try to de-escalate our naval confrontation with China — these are important steps for progressives.”
By the book: Sherman predicted that the contest will ultimately come down to him and Meeks, although he said Castro “brings a third personality, a third group of friends and a third viewpoint” to the table. Sherman said he’s confident he can overcome the challenge posed by Meeks. “I am a bit bookish and [Meeks] is gregarious,” Sherman told JI. “If this was just a personality contest, obviously gregarious beats bookish. But if it’s a contest for who will have the background knowledge, the reading, the studiousness to do the best possible job on foreign affairs, bookish works well too.”
New order: Sherman said that as head of the committee he would shift away from some of Engel’s issue areas like the Middle East and increase the focus on Africa and Latin America. He also said he would invest less time in building consensus on bills he pushes through the committee. “While I’d like to continue doing a lot by consensus, there are going to have to be times when we pass bills chiefly with Democratic votes,” he said. “We cannot only pass those bills that can pass unanimously.”
Shifting views on Iran deal: Sherman told JI this week that although he opposed the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he was against the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran deal in 2018 and now favors rejoining it without preconditions. “I think that we should stay in the deal and work to renegotiate it in the middle of the upcoming decade,” he said. “You have to rejoin and relimit their program and then go through a process of further actions in order to renegotiate it, not immediately but during the latter part of the upcoming presidential election.”
Meredith Kopit Levien named CEO of The New York Times
Meredith Kopit Levien will take over as CEO of The New York Times, the paper announced on Wednesday. The 49-year-old executive, who currently serves as the company’s chief operating officer, is expected to step into her new role on Sept. 8, succeeding the current CEO, Mark Thompson, who has occupied the position since 2012. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel spoke with several who know Levien to get a sense of what’s in store for the Gray Lady.
Bio: Levien grew up reading the Times as a high school student in Richmond, Va. She went on to work as an ad director and associate publisher for The Atlantic and then as chief revenue officer at Forbes Media. Levien, who is married to Jason Levien — co-chairman and CEO of the pro soccer club D.C. United — is an alumna of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and remains active with the Jewish youth group as a member of its advisory council for the Anita M. Perlman Women’s Leadership Initiative.
BBYO-bred: Earlier this year, Levien spoke at a BBYO event in New York City, “during which she attributed her time as a leader in BBYO as one of the main reasons she developed her confidence at a young age,” said Rachel Krueger, associate vice president of community engagement for BBYO. “Meredith explained that BBYO helped her build important leadership skills such as how to command an audience, work with others, and understand what it means to have and use one’s voice in the world.”
Words of praise: David Bradley, the former owner of The Atlantic, told JI in an enthusiastic email that he had faith in Levien’s abilities. “Of the 5,000 or so colleagues I’ve had across my long career, Meredith Levien is in that top handful of great talents,” Bradley said. “There is a God in heaven; sometimes, the good guys win.”
Experts weigh in: Nikki Usher, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s College of Media, told JI that the hire “is a real signal of faith in internal talent, which is pretty Timesian.” The paper has said it hopes to hit 10 million subscribers by 2025 — a benchmark Levien will now oversee — as it has expanded into international markets including Canada and Australia. Media analyst Ken Doctor believes that the Times, which now has more than six million subscribers, will reach that goal during Levien’s tenure. But a separate challenge, he said, will be diversifying the paper’s revenue stream as it continues to advance into the new millennium.
Rashida Tlaib well ahead of challenger Brenda Jones in new poll
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) appears set for a comfortable win in the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th congressional district, according to a new poll released Wednesday. While Democratic primary challenger and Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones was just nine points behind Tlaib in an April poll, Jones has lost ground in recent months after being hampered by a series of setbacks, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Solid lead: The survey of 500 registered voters, conducted by Michigan pollster and political consultant Ed Sarpolus of Target-Insyght, found Tlaib nearly 30 points ahead of Jones, with 52% to Jones’s 24%. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they were undecided ahead of the August 4 primary. The poll had a margin of error of 4.5%.
Money troubles: Jones was rumored to be in line to receive financial support from some in Detroit’s Jewish community, but that support never materialized, with some observers suggesting that donors were put off by Jones’s ties to controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Jones received just $135,000 in total donations, leaving her far behind Tlaib, who has raised nearly $2.8 million.
Bad to worse: Jones lacks name recognition and funding and has poor favorability ratings, Sarpolus tells JI. “Brenda Jones took no advantage of 2019,” he added, noting the city council president did not actively fundraise or conduct outreach during the non-election year. To make matters worse, Jones’s campaign was also dealt a blow by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which prevented her from conducting the type of door-to-door grassroots outreach Tlaib had done year-round while in office, Sarpolus said. Jones herself became infected with the virus in April, but has since recovered.
😨 On Brand: Vanity Fair’s Jessica Camille Aguirre reports on the “PR meltdown” engulfing corporate America over the Black Lives Matter movement. “People are really fed up with this level of virtue signaling,” said one communications strategist. [VanityFair]
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: The U.K. Labour Party’s apology to antisemitism whistleblowers in court yesterday has thrown the party into a civil war, reports The Guardian’s Jessica Elgot and Lisa O’Carroll. Former leader Jeremy Corbyn publicly condemned the apology and settlement deal, calling it “political decision, not a legal one.” [TheGuardian]
🚔 Gray Zone: In The New York Times, David Halbfinger, Adam Rasgon and Mohammed Najib explore the cost that annexation would exact from Palestinian Authority police, who have quietly cooperated with Israeli security forces to deescalate tensions — leaving them often facing ridicule at home. “Palestinian citizens feel I’m not able to protect them.” [NYTimes]
💸 Monday morning: Tablet’s Armin Rosen does a deep dive into Democratic Majority for Israel’s origins and recent failed effort to boost Congressman Eliot Engel despite spending $2 million on the race. “DMFI’s disastrous intervention showed that pro-Israel Dems couldn’t swing an election, not even for a pro-Israel icon representing a district in metropolitan New York,” Rosen charges. [Tablet]
Around the Web
⚾ Take a Knee:Giants manager Gabe Kapler, who kneeled during the national anthem on Monday, responded to criticism from the president over the move: “I see nothing more patriotic than peaceful protests.”
🏀 New Team:The Wilf family, owners of the Minnesota Vikings, has emerged as a top candidate to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves.
👗 That’s a Wrap: Diane von Furstenberg’s once-thriving fashion company is in a rapid decline, after its existing problems were exacerbated by the pandemic.
👨⚖️ Defying Orders: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said he’s prepared to arrest and criminally charge federal officers sent by the Trump administration to arrest protesters.
💪 Always Ready: The IDF said this morning that it was reinforcing Israel’s border with Lebanon after threats from Hezbollah over reported Israeli strikes in Syria.
👮 Take Down: Foreign journalists covering the growing protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say they were roughed up by police while working.
💉 In the Works: U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visited the Israel Institute for Biological Research this week, where a coronavirus vaccine seeking FDA approval is being developed.
🧫 Startup Nation:An Israeli company’s artificial pancreas, which aims to cure diabetes, is gearing up to begin human clinical trials in the U.K.
😷 Strong Measures:The Israeli Knesset approved a bill early this morning allowing the government to implement sweeping COVID-19 restrictions without parliamentary approval.
🇨🇦 Campaign Pledge: Peter MacKay, the frontrunner to become the next Canadian Conservative Party leader, vowed to move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem if elected prime minister.
🛫 New Life:Adham Amin Hassoun, a Lebanese-born Palestinian who was the first person detained under the 2001 Patriot Act, has been released from jail and left the U.S. for an unnamed country.
👎 Oh My:Brenda Forman, who is being challenged by retired Jewish judges Paul Backman and Mark Speiser in her re-election bid for Broward County, Fla.’s clerk of courts, posted a lengthy quote attributed to Adolf Hitler on her Facebook page and defended it before deleting it a day later.
👨🏫 Called Off:The Alaska Bar Association has canceled its annual conference in October after facing backlash for inviting Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to be its keynote speaker.
⚠️ Talk of the Town:Federal prosecutors have warned the village of Airmont in Rockland County that it will face legal action if it doesn’t change its zoning code that discriminates against Orthodox Jews.
🏛️ Empty Pockets: The Tenement Museum in Manhattan has laid off 76 part-time educators, who make up more than 90% of the museum’s education staff.
🦅 Not for Sale: The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging Uruguay to send a Nazi bronze eagle to a museum instead of auctioning it off.
🇪🇸 No Hate: Spain has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.
🎥 Hollywood: Aaron Sorkin and Steven Spielberg’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” a film starring Sacha Baron Cohen about anti-Vietnam War protesters, will be released on Netflix in October.
👨 Transition: Penn Schoen Berland’s Adam Rosenblatt has joined the Washington-based Core Strategic Group as president of its analytics firm, Core Decision Analytics (CODA).
🕯️Remembering: Former Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson died at the age of 89. Stu Cohen, a longtime head of promotion for Warner Bros. Records, died at age 66 after contracting coronavirus and a battle with cancer.
Gif of the Day
The Biden campaign released yesterday a preview of a recent socially distant conversation between former President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden about COVID-19 and the 2020 election. The full video will be released later today.
Activist, entrepreneur, writer and former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky turns 47…
Senior U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Michigan and past president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Judge Avern Levin Cohn turns 96… Pianist and conductor, Leon Fleisher turns 92… Banker who distributed $60 million to his 400 employees when he sold City National Bank of Florida in 2008, Leonard L. Abess turns 72… Chair of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin turns 72… Retired appellate court jurist, Judge Alex Kozinski turns 70… Russian oligarch Alexander Rovt turns 68… Academy Award-winning film producer, Jon Landau turns 60…
Proprietor of Oy Vey Jewish Bakery and Delicatessen in Terre Haute, Indiana, Chavah Stair turns 54… Author and journalist, she is the widow of Daniel Pearl, Mariane Pearl turns 53… Director of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Museum, Rachel Eva Goslins turns 51… Dov M. Katz turns 50… Journalist Joel Stein turns 49… New York psychologist, Lynn Glasman, Ph.D. turns 49… Music producer and songwriter, Jonathan Reuven “J.R.” Rotem turns 45… Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Lawrence Frey turns 39… Reporter for The Washington Post, Perry Stein turns 31… Starting right fielder for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Zach Borenstein turns 30… Joseph Stern…