Good Wednesday morning!
The Associated Press has declared that Mondaire Jones is the winner of the Democratic primary in New York’s 17th district, and is expected to succeed Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). Several other races in the state are still undecided as mail-in ballots continue to be counted.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who is running to succeed Lowey as chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, is recommending creating a congressional spending advisory panel on equity and justice.
Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in the August 11 primary for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, has outraised the first-term incumbent, raking in a whopping $3.2 million in the last three months.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore yesterday after experiencing fever and chills, and is receiving treatment for a possible infection.
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin has reportedly acknowledged in private conversations that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has postponed a plan to annex parts of the West Bank since the Trump administration “is not listening” to Israel on the matter amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
ViacomCBS announced yesterday that it was ending its long relationship with TV host Nick Cannon after his extensive antisemitic comments, noting that it reached out to Cannon and was “deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating antisemitism.”
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Driving the day
DNC platform on Israel expected to reflect Biden, not Bernie
The Democratic National Committee is expected to unveil and vote on the party’s 2020 platform in the final meeting of the drafting committee today, a month ahead of the party’s convention. While specific details have not yet been released, party insiders with knowledge of this year’s drafting process told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh that the platform’s Israel plank will include language that seeks to balance Palestinian aspirations with a commitment to security funding for Israel.
Details: The committee consists of 15 members appointed by DNC chairman Tom Perez, and is chaired by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is on the shortlist of possible vice presidential candidates. The committee has held a series of online forums in recent weeks before finalizing the draft platform, which will be approved by the full platform committee at the end of July. Last week, allies of both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled a set of joint policy recommendations, submitted by six policy task forces, in an effort to preserve party unity, but none were related to foreign policy.
Tactical move: The bulk of the three platform hearings focused on the government’s response to COVID-19 and domestic issues, with no public discussion on foreign policy, a shift from prior years. “As our friends in the former Soviet Union used to say, It is not a coincidence that there was not a task force on foreign affairs,” Mark Mellman, president and CEO of the Democratic Majority for Israel, said on a Zoom call hosted by the American Jewish Committee on Tuesday. “I think it’s fair to say that it was felt that that would not be productive with respect to foreign policy and so it was not done, with reason.” Greg Rosenbaum, a former chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council who served as a vice chair of the platform committee in 2016, told JI that the fact there was no public discussion about foreign policy makes it unlikely that committee members will clash on the Israel plank.
The Biden platform: An individual with knowledge of the internal process told JI that while the committee discussed including a reference to “occupation” — a proposal from J Street — the panel drafted language that more closely mirrors the views expressed by the Biden campaign in recent weeks: a commitment to the two-state solution, concern regarding Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, support for the U.S. commitment to the 10-year MOU signed between the Obama administration and Israel in 2016, and opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, told JI that she’s “confident” the platform “will continue the party’s longstanding support for Israel.”
Expectations from the left: Arab American Institute President James Zogby, who was appointed by Sanders to the 2016 platform committee, told JI that he expects Sanders representatives to succeed this year in including language “that creates a balance between Israeli and Palestinian rights.” Zogby also anticipates that the final platform will include references to “occupation” and settlements, as well as conditioning aid to Israel over its efforts to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank. “After 53 years, there’s no reason for us to continue to lag behind where Democratic public opinion is on this question,” Zogby said.
Bonus: Bill Burns, a career diplomat who was deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, writes in The Atlantic that the present global challenges, including the situation in the Middle East “screams for leadership to help forge a sense of order.”
Bari Weiss resigns from the ‘NYTimes’
New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss resigned from her position yesterday in a scathing letter to publisher A.G. Sulzberger, decrying the toxic atmosphere of the workplace and the paper’s refusal to accept dissenting viewpoints.
From the inside: “A new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else,” Weiss wrote in the letter, posted on her website. The New York Times, she claims, “has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences.” And while “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times,” she wrote, “Twitter has become its ultimate editor.”
Hostile environment: Weiss said during her three years at the paper, she was subject to harassment from her coworkers. “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m ‘writing about the Jews again,’” Weiss wrote. “My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in… other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.”
Double standard: The writer and editor slammed the double standard she said she saw in the paper’s approach to editing. “It took the paper two days and two jobs to say that the Tom Cotton op-ed ‘fell short of our standards.’ We attached an editor’s note on a travel story about Jaffa shortly after it was published because it ‘failed to touch on important aspects of Jaffa’s makeup and its history,’” Weiss noted. “But there is still none appended to Cheryl Strayed’s fawning interview with the writer Alice Walker, a proud anti-Semite who believes in lizard Illuminati.”
Farewell note: Kathleen Kingsbury, the acting editorial page editor for the Times, told JI in a statement that “we appreciate the many contributions that Bari made to Times Opinion. I’m personally committed to ensuring that the Times continues to publish voices, experiences and viewpoints from across the political spectrum in the Opinion report.”
Rumor Dept: Longtime columnist and blogger Andrew Sullivan announced yesterday that he is leaving New York magazine, and said he would elaborate on his reasoning in his final column on Friday. Reporter Yashar Ali tweeted that he’s heard rumors that Weiss and Sullivan “were going to work on a project together…”
BACK TO SCHOOL
Sefaria releases new ‘Democracy’ project
Sefaria, a non-profit that provides public domain access to Jewish texts and commentary, has developed a prototype to bring its technology to other bodies of work — starting with the U.S. Constitution. Jewish Insider’s Sam Zieve Cohen spoke to Sefaria co-founder and chief technology officer Brett Lockspeiser about the platform’s unlimited potential.
Divine inspiration: Sefaria, founded in 2013 by Lockspeiser and author Joshua Foer, maintains a user-friendly interface and software to highlight interlinking references and citations throughout Jewish scripture. “I think we were really inspired by the shape of Torah itself. The Torah tradition has this texture and shape that the printed ‘Vilna Shas,’ the printed Talmud, really has this visual sense of,” Lockspeiser told JI. “All along, we’ve had in the back of our heads that the software that we’re building isn’t necessarily specifically about Jewish content,” he continued. “It’s something that applies to any body of text where you have lots of voices kind of in communication and dialogue with one another.”
New project: Sefaria, working with a grant from the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, developed a prototype of its model with texts related to the birth of American democracy. The group chose the United States Constitution as an example, partly for its robust links to other noted texts but also because the Constitution and related texts already existed in the public domain. Lockspeiser emphasized this was only an initial example, mentioning the works of Shakespeare, Greek and Roman literature, medical texts, and texts of other religions as potential future applications.
Positive reviews: “The project will benefit teachers and students across the country by allowing them to access their rich democratic inheritance and converse with the great political and literary minds who have helped build that inheritance,” Tamara Tweel, a professor in Columbia University’s American Studies Program, told JI. “Sefaria took the infrastructure built for our Jewish textual tradition and gave it to our democratic one.”
Primary races decided in Alabama, Maine and Texas
Many of the primary races in Alabama, Maine and Texas were called shortly after polls closed, while a few remain too close to call. Here’s a breakdown of the results so far:
Alabama: Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions will not have a chance to reclaim his seat in the Senate after losing to former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the GOP runoff in Alabama. Tuberville will now challenge Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), who won a special election in 2017 to fill the seat after Sessions was tapped to serve in the White House.
Maine: Sara Gideon, backed by both J Street and Democratic Majority for Israel, easily won the Democratic Senate primary in Maine. She will go head-to-head against Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in November.
Texas: Air Force veteran M.J. Hegar narrowly won the Democratic Senate primary in Texas, and will face longtime incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in November. In the 13th district, former White House doctor Ronny Jackson won a runoff in the GOP primary and is expected to replace retiring Rep. Mac Thornberry. In the 10th district, Mike Siegel won the Democratic primary and will try again to unseat Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) this fall. In the 17th, former Rep. Pete Sessions picked up the GOP nomination; in the 24th, young progressive Candace Valenzuela won the Democratic runoff; and in the 22nd, Sheriff Troy Nehls easily beat Kathaleen Wall, who self-funded her campaign, in the Republican primary.
Too close to call: In the Republican runoff in Texas’s 23rd district, the proxy war between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and President Donald Trump remained neck and neck as of Wednesday morning. Tony Gonzales, who picked up Trump’s endorsement, was just seven votes ahead of Raul Reyes, who was backed by Cruz. The race will be decided after mail-in ballots are counted, and whoever emerges victorious will face Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who narrowly lost her 2018 bid, in the general election.
😡 Double Standard?NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar asks in The Hollywood Reporter why there is a “shocking lack of massive indignation” toward antisemitism in sports and Hollywood. “If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.” [THR]
👨⚕️ Shrink Next Door: In Bloomberg, Joe Nocera reveals further accusations against disgraced celebrity therapist Ike Herschkopf — who is still practicing despite an ongoing medical misconduct hearing. [Bloomberg]
💸 Cashing Out:Miles Kruppa writes in The Financial Times that many investors are cashing out of Peter Thiel’s Palantir instead of waiting for its IPO, while others, including co-founder Joe Lonsdale, have recently been trying to build up their stakes. [FT]
Around the Web
💥 Bibi Backlash: Thousands of Israelis protested against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night in Jerusalem, and 50 were arrested during clashes with police trying to break up the rally.
⛓️ Back Behind Bars: Lobbyist and ex-con Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty yesterday to illegally promoting a cryptocurrency and could face up to 5 years in prison.
⚖️ Guilty:Chabad of Poway Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was wounded in the 2019 shooting attack at the California synagogue, pleaded guilty yesterday to decades of tax fraud.
✍️ Justice Now: Eighteen American Jewish groups including AIPAC, JFNA and the Conference of Presidents signed a letter urging the U.S. to pressure Jordan to extradite Palestinian terrorist Ahlam al-Tamimi for her role in the 2001 Sbarro bombing.
🗣️ Speaking Out: Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman has began publicly criticizing President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper over the way he and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, were treated by the White House.
👎 Team Trump:Dan Scavino, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, shared a cartoon critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci that was drawn by Ben Garrison, an artist barred from the White House last year for antisemitic imagery. Meanwhile, Garrison is suing the Anti-Defamation League for what he described as defamation.
🏠 Revenue Hit:New York City could lose a significant amount of tax revenue from hedge fund managers working from their second or third homes because most of their income is being earned outside of Manhattan.
🎓 Protesting: The chairman of Israel’s Association of University Heads, Prof. Ron Rubin, announced his resignation in protest of the government’s “political takeover” of academia.
⛰️ Discovery:Mysterious rock art, believed to be more than 4,200 years old, was discovered at burial sites in northern Israel.
⛔ Not This Year: The Ukrainian Interior Ministry will bar entry to foreigners planning to visit the gravesite of Reb Nachman of Breslov in Uman for Rosh Hashanah due to the coronavirus outbreak.
🚨 Hate Continues: The Baltimore County Police Department is investigating the robbery of four Jewish teens at a mall last week as a bias incident.
📺 Hollywood: Jennifer Weiner’s bestselling novel Mrs. Everything, about two Jewish sisters growing up in Detroit in the 1950s, is being developed as a TV show.
📚 Book Shelf: The New York Times reviews Norman Ohler’s new book The Bohemians, a nonfiction work about a pair of young German lovers who actively resisted the Nazis.
Song of the Day
Rapper Nissim Black released a new music video, “Best Friend,” today, co-starring L’Chaim OG. Black has been hospitalized with COVID-19 this week and said he is not in critical condition, but “still need Teffilos for a speedy recovery.”
Former congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen turns 68…
President and chairman of the board of the Annenberg Foundation, Wallis Annenberg turns 81… Member of the British House of Lords, Baron Robert Maurice Lipson Winston turns 80… Four-time winner of the World Series of Poker, Mickey Appleman turns 75… Physician and life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. David H. Lippman turns 75… Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ, Rabbi Dovid Schustal turns 73… EVP at the Aspen Institute, Elliot Gerson turns 68… California attorney, Feris M. Greenberger turns 64… Executive director of Teach Florida, Miriam Baron (Mimi) Jankovits turns 64… Immediate past board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, she is also the Board Secretary of The Jewish Federations of North America, Julie Beren Platt turns 63… Professor at the UCLA School of Law, Richard Harold Steinberg turns 60… News editor for Bloomberg, Jodi Schneider turns 60…
Member of Congress since 2011 (D-Rhode Island-1), David Nicola Cicilline turns 59… Member of the Alaska House of Representatives, Andy Josephson turns 56… CEO of NYC-based International Rescue Committee, David Miliband turns 55… Chief investment officer of Toronto-based EdgeStone Capital Partners, Gilbert S. Palter turns 55… Senior advisor at investment bank Greif & Co., he is also the CFO of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, David S. Felman turns 42… Funding specialist at Premium Merchant Funding LLC, Sam Kalmowicz turns 42… Rabbi, blogger and attorney, Eliyahu Fink turns 39… Senior correspondent at New York magazine and a CNN contributor, she is a co-author of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Irin Carmon turns 37… SVP of the Milwaukee Bucks, Alexander Lasry turns 33… Denver-based senior Israel Education Director at Hillel International, Jonathan Steven (“Jon”) Falk turns 32… Fund director of the Membership in News Fund at the Membership Puzzle Project, Ariel Zirulnick turns 32… Bloomberg reporter and team leader covering mergers and acquisitions, Liana Balinsky-Baker…