Good Tuesday morning!
Today, New Jersey is holding its Republican and Democratic primaries. See below for a full preview of the key congressional races and check out our interactive election map for more details.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg will meet with leaders from the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Color of Change and Free Press this afternoon over the groups’ pressure campaign.
Over the weekend…. A New York Times report, citing an unidentified Middle Eastern intelligence official, claims Israel was behind the explosion at Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant last week. The blast caused “significant damage” to the uranium enrichment facility, setting back its centrifuge program. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz shrugged off any Israeli involvement on Sunday, saying, “not every event that happens in Iran is connected to us.” Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hinted that the Times source was Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, who is said to be a future candidate for prime minister.
Meanwhile, Israel successfully launched its new Ofek 16 satellite into space on Monday. The success of the spy satellite “very much increases our ability to act against Israel’s enemies, near and far alike,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet.
In Fourth of July remarks on Saturday, President Donald Trump compared his goal of stopping the “radical left” and the “angry mob” to the American heroes who “defeated the Nazis.”
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The races to look out for in today’s New Jersey primary election
As primary season continues amid the coronavirus pandemic, New Jersey voters will cast their votes today via mail in a number of key races across the state.Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel asked reporter Matt Friedman, an expert on politics in the Garden State who writes Politico’s daily New Jersey Playbook newsletter, to weigh in on the congressional contests of note.
NJ-2: One race that has garnered national attention is the matchup between Amy Kennedy and Brigid Callahan Harrison, who are competing to unseat Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) in South Jersey’s 2nd district. Drew, who last ran as a Democrat, switched parties last year and pledged his “undying support” for President Donald Trump. Though Harrison has machine backing and has been endorsed by New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, Kennedy appears to be the frontrunner, according to Friedman — though he believes Van Drew is favored to come out on top in November.
NJ-3: In the Republican primary in the neighboring 3rd, another swing district that is now represented by Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), David Richter, a former construction executive, is going up against Kate Gibbs, a millennial and former Burlington County freeholder. Both candidates have expressed loyalty to Trump, Friedman observed, but Richter may have an edge among hard-liners given that he has spoken at a Trump rally.
NJ-5: In the 5th district, Friedman discussed the primary challenge by young progressive candidate Arati Kreibich✎ EditSign against Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). Though Kreibich has the backing of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Friedman noted that she was facing an uphill battle. Gottheimer has outraised Kreibich by orders of magnitude. “He has a ton of money — like just millions and millions of dollars in his war chest — and she really hasn’t been able to raise much,” Friedman said. “I haven’t personally heard a lot of people freaking out about Gottheimer, but that’s not to say progressives don’t strongly dislike him.”
N-8: In the 8th district, the under-the-radar Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) normally skates to re-election, said Friedman. “All of a sudden, he’s going negative on this guy, Hector Oseguera,” a progressive challenger who has only raised a little more than $61,000 but who has been gaining momentum. “The chances of an upset are very small, but they’re obviously not as comfortable as they usually are in the district.” Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod took a closer look at Oseguera’s chances against the seven-term incumbent.
Nita Lowey looks back at her three decade-long career in Washington
In November 1988, a 51-year-old upstart Democratic candidate named Nita Lowey overcame the odds to defeat two-term Republican incumbent Joseph J. DioGuardi in a nail-biter of a congressional election. Last August, she got a taste of that dynamic when Mondaire Jones, a 33-year-old attorney, announced he would challenge Lowey in the Democratic primary. Two months later, Lowey declared that she would not seek re-election. In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, Lowey reflected on her decades-long career in Washington.
Long legacy: “It’s been an extraordinary opportunity for me,” said the 83-year-old congresswoman, rattling off a number of achievements, such as her advocacy on behalf of public television, abortion rights, food allergy labeling, gender equity in preclinical research and environmental protections for the Long Island Sound.
Looking back: Lowey pointed out that nothing she has accomplished came without a fight. “I was one of a small group of women when I got to Congress,” the 16-term congresswoman said. The number of female representatives who now serve in the House, Lowey told JI, gives her faith that the country will be well-served as she prepares to retire. “They come to me and want to learn from me, but I’m continuing to learn from them as I try to help them adjust to this important responsibility.”
Legacy on U.S.-Israel relations: Lowey’s work advocating for pro-Israel causes, she said, is a part of her legacy she views as particularly important. “The work that I’ve done regarding the Israel-United States relationship almost makes me feel as [though] I’m carrying on l’dor v’dor, the tradition,” said the Bronx-born Lowey, who is Jewish and has long felt a kinship with Israel. “I think it’s very important to continue that relationship,” said Lowey, adding her concern that partisan politics have, more recently, interfered with bipartisan support for the Jewish state.
Relationship with Bibi: In the interview, Lowey recalled a frank conversation she had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015 as he was heading to Washington to deliver a joint address to Congress to criticize President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. “I called Bibi on the phone and I said, ‘Your coming here without a bipartisan invitation is a mistake,’” she said. “‘I will make sure that you get another invitation, but please, you’ve got to keep Israel a bipartisan issue.’ He came anyway. He didn’t listen to me.” Still, Lowey speaks affectionately of Netanyahu. Earlier this year, she traveled to Israel in a bipartisan congressional delegation commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. “It was a very emotional — a very emotional time — for me,” said Lowey, who remembers chatting with the prime minister about her first trip to Israel as a member of Congress, during which they rode a helicopter together around the country. “It was just the two of us,” she remembered, “flying over and understanding what this issue was all about.”
ON THE Hill
House advances legislation pushing for Israeli-Palestinian partnerships
A House panel chaired by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) advanced bipartisan legislation on Monday that would establish an international fund to facilitate joint economic ventures and promote people-to-people dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
Details: The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act of 2020, co-sponsored by Lowey and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), which would provide $50 million annually for the next five years, was added to the State and Foreign Operations Funding Bill for fiscal year 2021 and approved by the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The full committee is scheduled to vote on the funding bill on Thursday.
Broad support: The bill was first introduced last year, and in previous years under different titles. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. It is supported by AIPAC, J Street, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League and Americans for Peace Now, among other Jewish groups.
Reaction: Kevin Rachlin, the U.S. director for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, which has been advocating for the bill for the past decade, told Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh he was “ecstatic” to see the legislation advance, positing that “it’s one of the first truly bipartisan positive pieces of legislation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to come out in quite some time.”
My legacy: In an exit interview with JI, published today, Lowey suggested the bill would be one of the crowning achievements of her legacy. “I want to get all these things done before I leave,” she said. “So I’m working very hard.” ALLMEP’s Rachlin told JI: “We’re really excited that Lowey took this as an opportunity of cementing her legacy to really push this idea of long-term peace-building in a conflict that’s very near and dear to her heart.”
In the other chamber: Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) filed an amendment last week to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2021 fiscal year that would prohibit Israel from using U.S. military assistance to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank. The measure is being supported by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
AIPAC vs. J Street: In a statement on Monday, AIPAC said the amendment “contradicts the Obama-Biden MOU and goes far beyond current law in ways that damage American interests, risk Israel’s security, and make peace less likely.” J Street, meanwhile, is backing the Van Hollen measure, claiming “it comports” with the MOU “while ensuring the U.S. is not complicit in a policy” that damages U.S. interests and undermines peace.
🕵️ Deep Fake: Adam Rawnsley writes in The Daily Beast about a network of fake Middle East “experts” who successfully duped a number of publications including The Jewish News Syndicate, The Washington Examiner, The American Thinker, and other outlets. Rawnsley notes how “Mikael Virtanen,” a fake Finnish businessman who wrote about the Middle East for the Jewish News Syndicate, stole his avatar from a free image database. [DailyBeast]
🌟 Rising Star: In Tatler, Ben Judah profiles the “dazzling success story” of Rishi Sunak, the U.K.’s chancellor of the exchequer whose name has been floated as a potential future prime minister — and who could become Britain’s first non-white leader. [Tatler]
🤐 Backlash:The Daily Beast’s Samer Kalaf writes about the reaction among employees of color at Barstool Sports to recently resurfaced videos of founder Dave Portnoy making extensive racist comments about Black people, Latinos, Arabs and Muslims. Portnoy later “kinda-sorta apologized for offending some of his employees.” [DailyBeast]
Around the Web
😷 Hitting Hard: Amid a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases, the Israeli government has ordered event halls, gyms, bars and theaters to close and placed new restrictions on synagogues, buses and restaurants.
✈️ Bail Out: El Al has agreed to a government bailout package that will put the airline back under state ownership.
🇮🇱🇺🇸 Approved: Former Likud Minister Gilad Erdan was approved by the cabinet to serve as Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. and as the country’s next ambassador to Washington after Ron Dermer — whose term has been extended again to January 2021.
🤝 Reaching Out: The Israeli government has approved a “comprehensive plan” to bolster Diaspora Jewry, but provided scant details.
👨👩👦👦 Balfour Court:The Associated Press spotlights Yair Netanyahu, the older son of the prime minister who regularly draws public figures “into bouts of mud-slinging” online.
⚖️ Day in Court: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving the alleged forced sale of artifacts from a Jewish family to the Nazis in 1935.
👨⚖️ Summer Setback: A federal judge denied a request by Orthodox Jewish groups to grant a temporary order allowing the opening of sleepaway camps in the Catskills.
📚 Book Shelf: White House official Katie Miller told the author of a new book that the Department of Homeland Security “sent me to the border to see the separations for myself — to try to make me more compassionate — but it didn’t work.”
📖 Behind the Scenes: Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former friend and advisor to Melania Trump, is writing a book about her relationship with the first lady.
💰 2020 Watch: ‘The Squad’ has launched a joint fundraising committee to support their reelections to Congress.
👴 Friendly Advice: Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus reportedly dined with President Donald Trump last week and raised concerns about the direction his campaign has taken.
🤝 Tight Knit: Brian Ballard, a veteran lobbyist from Florida with close ties to Trump, was picked as co-chairman of the committee raising funds for the Republican convention in Florida.
😊 In Demand: Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings will likely exceed its $3 billion target by another $1 or $2 billion when it goes public this week due to investor demand.
📺 Media Watch: Ben Shapiro is stepping aside as editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, but remaining as co-owner and editor emeritus, and will be replaced by John Bickley.
🤳 Delete: NFL player for the Philadelphia Eagles DeSean Jackson twice posted a fake Hitler quote on Instagram about white Jews oppressing Black Americans, despite a wave of criticism.
🏈 Check Out:The minority owners of the Washington Redskins, including Robert Rothman, are seeking to sell their stakes in the NFL franchise, because they are “not happy” being in partnership with majority owner Daniel Snyder.
⚽ Role Model: Dean Furman, a former midfielder who started his career at Chelsea Football Club, is hoping to inspire other Jewish soccer players.
😱 Never Again: Germany is facing a growing problem of far-right extremists in the military and police that has become “too dangerous to ignore.”
🕯️Remembering:The New York Times spotlighted the loss of Lenora Fay Garfinkel, a groundbreaking female architect who designed buildings for the Orthodox Jewish community and died in April of coronavirus at 90. The Washington Postwrites about the “shiva seen around the world” for career Foreign Service officer Martin Wenick, who died of COVID-19 in May. Jonathan Sackler, one of the owners of Purdue Pharma, died at age 65 after a battle with cancer.
Gif of the Day
HBO Max released a trailer over the weekend for the upcoming film, An American Pickle, starring Seth Rogen as Hershel Greenbaum. In the 1920s, Greenbaum falls into a vat of pickles and is preserved for 100 years. When he emerges, not having aged a day, Greenbaum meets his great-grandson Ben (who is also played by Rogen).
Olympic sports sailor, she competed for Israel in both the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, Gil Cohen turns 28…
Former Lieutenant Governor of New York, Richard Ravitch turns 87… Early collaborator on object oriented computer programming in the 1970s, Adele Goldberg turns 75… Former president of CRIF, the umbrella organization of French Jews, Richard Prasquier turns 75… Israeli business mogul with vast energy and real estate holdings, Yitzhak Tshuva turns 72… Former president of Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a past member of the Knesset, Menachem Ben-Sasson turns 69… Pioneer of Israeli punk rock, nicknamed “HaMeshuga,” Rami Fortis turns 66… Former USAID official who consults internationally on Rule of Law issues, Richard Gold turns 65…
Screenwriter, director, and producer, Akiva Goldsman turns 58… President and CEO of HIAS, Mark Hetfield turns 53… Comic book creator and a cappella singer, Jordan B. Gorfinkel turns 53… Television and film actress, Robin Weigert turns 51… Communications director for the Democratic Majority for Israel, Rachel Rosen… Director of the NYC Global Leadership Society at Hillel International, Amy Handman turns 36… Ethiopian-born Israeli actress, she is active in the movement for social justice, Netsanet Mekonnen turns 32… Figure skater, Megan Wessenberg turns 22… Shalom Klein…