Good Tuesday morning!
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson donated $25 million to the Republican’s Senate Leadership Fund Super PAC in June, according to new FEC filings. Observers noted that the Adelsons typically donate later in the election cycle.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who was recently unseated by a progressive challenger after 16 terms, spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill and cautioned his Democratic colleagues against backing primary challengers against incumbents, calling it “very dangerous.”
A group of Israeli former security officials sent a letter of appreciation to Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and David Price (D-NC), the authors of a letter signed by 191 House members and sent to Israeli leaders expressing opposition to annexation.
Oil giant Chevron is purchasing Noble Energy — which owns stakes in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan offshore natural gas platforms — for $5 billion.
The trial of the man who attempted to carry out a shooting attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur last year opens today.
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FROM DETROIT DOWN TO HOUSTON
Exploring the soul of America, one mile at a time
Two young men, friends from law school with diametrically opposing political opinions, embark on a series of road trips through the United States, stopping in big cities and small towns, interacting with strangers and sharing the lessons they learned along the way. That mental picture couldn’t be further from the reality of the present. But that was exactly what Chris Haugh and Jordan Blashek did for several years, visiting 44 states and logging nearly 20,000 miles. Haugh and Blashek spoke toJewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss about the extensive and eye-opening travels that led to their debut book.
Background: The book, Union: A Democrat, a Republican, and a Search for Common Ground takes the two — Blashek, a Republican with five years in the Marines and tours in Afghanistan and the Middle East under his belt, and Haugh, a Democrat and former State Department speechwriter under Secretary of State John Kerry — from Phoenix, Ariz., where they attended a Trump rally, to the coast of Maine, where they shadowed lobstermen for a day, to Tulsa, Okla., where they grappled with the history of the infamous massacre that destroyed the city’s “Black Wall Street.”
State of the nation: Blashek and Haugh set out on their travels after the 2016 election. Haugh compared the current political environment to an earthquake. “What you learn is that after an earthquake, especially out here, you’ve got to go around and the pictures are out of whack. And you know, sometimes much worse things have gone on, like foundations have been cracked, and you have to do a lot of work to repair,” he said. “It feels like we’ve been through some of this, and it feels like our institutions are a little unsettled, and in some cases very unsettled.”
The big issue: The public debate over racial inequality that followed George Floyd’s death reflected conversations the two men had been having for years, Blashek explained. “We had identified in the book that wrestling with our history is one of the hardest things and that that’s a big deal for us right now. Because it’s hard to know who we are and where we’re going if we have such different views on our history, and so it makes sense that this would be sort of the big debate of the moment,” he said. “I think we also feel that you can’t have a shared sense of who you are if you can’t talk about history honestly. And so a lot of what we see going on right now is this effort to try to be very brutally honest about America’s legacy of slavery and how it impacts who we are today.”
DEBATE OR NOT
Rep. Ilhan Omar skips debate against primary challengers
Three of the five candidates running in the August 11 Democratic primary for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district participated last night in a live-streamed debate hosted by the League of Women Voters. The incumbent, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), skipped the debate due to votes on the defense bill in Washington, and instead sent a prerecorded opening statement.
No fireworks: The candidates — Antone Melton-Meaux, Les Lester and Daniel Patrick McCarthy — answered a list of questions posed by moderator Patty Robles, a member of the local LWV chapter, who routinely mixed up her notes and at times repeated her questions. Another candidate, John Mason, bailed because he wasn’t feeling well. Robles said Omar “offered to participate remotely” in the debate, but “there were too many potential failures during a hybrid virtual studio meeting.” This gave the first-term congresswoman a chance to avoid drawing fire or being put on the defensive by her main challenger Melton-Meaux, who has a fundraising upper hand over Omar.
Drawing a contrast: In his closing statement, Melton-Meaux said he won’t miss votes on the Hill, “unlike our current congresswoman.” He also pledged to hold 12 town hall meetings “with the people… in a public space. I will stand at a podium, I will let you know what I am doing, how I am doing it, and then I will answer every single one of your questions.” Omar’s spokesman Jeremy Slevin tweeted in response that Omar has held 32 such events in her first term.
‘Jewish’ money question: In a FAQ sent out in an email to supporters and circulated on social media, Melton-Meaux said the campaign contributions he has “received from the Jewish community” won’t “influence” his policy decisions. “I have been clear from the beginning of this campaign that I disagree with a number of [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions, including the unilateral annexation of Palestenian territory,” the candidate stressed. “I have also made it clear that I support more humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and that I believe the U.S. must work towards strategic reforms of Israeli policy that will ease the pressure of the occupation on Palestinians. More importantly, I’ve always been clear that my policy decisions will always be based on what’s in the best interests of the people in our district.”
Double standard: Democratic strategist Joel Rubin, who served as director for Jewish outreach for the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign, told JI that in his answer, Melton-Meaux “repeated the lie that American Jews only care about Israel… He compounded this dual-loyalty trope by stating that the American Jewish political money he received wouldn’t guide his policy choices. Yet to prove his point, he stated that he ‘disagrees’ with Bibi Netanyahu, implying that American Jewish donations are all about Israel.” Rubin added, “For someone who’s claiming to be a unifying figure that will bring people together on Jewish issues like these, he has a long way to go.”
Biden talks two-state solution and Gaza in remarks to Muslim-American voters
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution and to resolve the humanitarian situation in Gaza during an address to Muslim American supporters on Monday.
Worth repeating: “I’ll continue to champion the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to have a state of their own — as I have for decades — each of them a state of their own,” Biden told the Emgage Action’s virtual Million Muslim Votes Summit. Biden also pledged to “work in close cooperation with our partners to meet the moral demands of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, Yemen and Gaza.”
Surrogate objection: Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) pushed back against comments made by former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on Sunday, in which she accused Biden of remaining silent “when Hamas was attacking Israel” during his tenure as vice president. “To ask where Joe Biden was when Hamas attacked Israel with rockets reflects either ignorance, short memory or partisan desperation,” Israel told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh. “I was in Congress at the time. [Israeli] Ambassador Ron Dermer requested emergency assistance to restock Iron Dome batteries late on a Thursday night. The White House — including Joe Biden — responded swiftly. Biden began working with Congress, and $250 million was appropriated. He was visibly leading the effort.”
No worries: Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes in Haaretz that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no reason to panic about a possible rift with the Biden administration over the Israeli-Palestinian issue because at present there is no peace process worth fighting about, and Biden’s prime focus will be on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
🏈 Worthy Watch: The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Zach Banner spoke to Fox News about the outpouring of support he received from the Jewish community after speaking out on antisemitism, including $60,000 in donations to his foundation in increments of $18. “That’s the most money I’ve ever made going into my fourth year in the NFL. Why is it coming from someone else?” [FoxNews]
🗳️ Quiet Run: In Vox, Ezra Klein explores how Joe Biden is “for now, winning” the presidential election by “executing a careful, quiet campaign” that stays away from both the fiery rhetoric of the president and the “excitement and collisions that structure modern politics.” [Vox]
💳 Making Ends Meet: In The Associated Press, Isaac Scharf and Tia Goldenberg spotlight the growing underemployment in Israel, where tens of thousands of people are seeking new sources of income in different fields after their jobs were wiped out by COVID-19. [AP]
🤐 Tongue Tied:The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf dives deep into a recent attempt by hundreds of academics to professionally sanction famed linguist Steven Pinker over his past stances, including his review of research on Ashkenazi Jewish IQs. The desire to “significantly narrow the bounds of acceptable speech” will have a “chilling effect” on the field, Friedersdorf posits. [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🛍️ Closing Down: Tati, a famed French discount department store founded by a Jewish immigrant from Tunisia, is closing after 72 years in operation.
📱 Big Brother: The Knesset approved allowing the Shin Bet to track Israelis exposed to COVID-19 through January 2021.
🚫 Summer Ban: Israel extended its entry ban on foreign nationals until at least September 1 due to coronavirus uncertainty.
🧑⚖️ Convicted: A Tel Aviv court has convicted Israeli model Bar Refaeli on four counts of tax offenses after signing a plea deal that would send her mother to prison.
⚖️ Seeking Justice: Malka Leifer, who is facing multiple charges of child sex abuse in Australia, appeared via video in a Jerusalem court yesterday for the start of her extradition hearing.
👋 Stepping Down: Daniel Maté, Glencore’s fifth-largest shareholder and its zinc executive, is leaving the company at the end of the month.
💰 Price Tag: Bill Ackman is aiming to raise $4 billion today with the IPO of his new company, Pershing Square.
💲Trending: Former Citigroup banker Michael Klein has raised $2.5 billion since 2018 through three special purpose acquisition companies, otherwise known as Spacs. Last week, he filed plans to raise a further $1 billion from the launch of a fourth.
⛓️ Behind Bars: Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver received a six-and-half-year sentence during his resentencing on five-year-old corruption charges.
🇨🇱 Not Running: Jewish philanthropist and businessman Leonardo Farkas is polling in second place to become Chile’s next president despite not currently running.
🇩🇪 Rebuilding: The Central Council of Jews in Germany is marking 70 years since it was founded in the wake of the Holocaust.
💼 Transitions: The Jewish Federations of North America has tapped Elana Broitman, a former Pentagon official, to succeed William Daroff as senior vice president for public affairs. Treasury aide Brian Morgenstern is joining the White House as deputy press secretary.
🥪 Place Your Order:A new Jewish deli named The Hayden is slated to open this summer in San Antonio, Texas.
🍲 Kitchen Closed: Popular Bay Area Jewish caterer Mangia/Nosh has shut down after 30 years in business.
Pic of the Day
San Francisco Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler kneels during the national anthem before his team’s exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics yesterday in Oakland, California.
President at Admar Group, Henry Dean Ostberg turns 92… Chilean-born classical music composer, Leon Schidlowsky turns 89… Escondido, California resident, Leonard Simon Zoll turns 84… Retired CEO of Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing Worldwide, Martin Bandier turns 79… Professor emeritus in the Department of Physics at Bar-Ilan University, Shlomo Havlin turns 78… Director of the Center for the Political Future at USC, Robert Shrum turns 77… Criminal defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman turns 72… Former member of the UK Parliament, now in the House of Lords, Baroness Susan Veronica Kramer turns 70… Professor at Columbia Law School and daughter of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jane Carol Ginsburg turns 65… Credit manager at NYC’s Louis Glick & Co., Irene Ostrovsky turns 64… Comedian and actor, best known for his five seasons on “Saturday Night Live” from 1985 to 1990, Jon Lovitz turns 63…
President of the Conference of European Rabbis and Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt turns 57… Literary agent and the co-head of the WME Book Department, Eric Matthew Simonoff turns 53… Actress and producer, Alysia Reiner turns 50… Professor of astronomy at MIT and winner of MacArthur genius award, Sara Seager turns 49… Founder and CEO of Securing America’s Future Energy, Robbie Diamond turns 46… Rabbi of Congregation Bais Naftali in Los Angeles, Rabbi Yoel Gold turns 39… Online media personality and product manager on the Adobe Spark team, Veronica Belmont turns 38… Writer and political activist, Chloé Simone Valdary turns 27… Research intern at INSS Israel, Zachary A. Marshall turns 27… Talent acquisition partner at Drizly, Rachel Elizabeth Nieves turns 26… Secretary general of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, Elias Cohen…