Good Thursday morning!
A week ahead of the August 11 Democratic primary for Minnesota’s 5th district, The Star Tribuneendorsed mediator Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). The publication noted that Omar’s early missteps, statements on Israel and campaign finance issues were a distraction for the district.
Last night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) held a virtual town hall with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and congressional candidates Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) and Cori Bush (MO-01) to discuss their recent primary victories.
Bowman said in an interview with City and State New York that part of his foreign policy focus is to be “more involved” in the humanitarian needs of Palestinians. “As a humanitarian leader, we need to be more involved to say more about what’s happening in Kashmir, what’s happening in China with the Uighur Muslims and what’s happening in Palestine with the Palestinians,” Bowman declared.
Bowman added that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he differs with his predecessor, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), on “occupation, annexation and detaining Palestinian children… It doesn’t mean that… I’m not pro-Israel. I am in full support of Israel. I’m also in full support of the human rights of the Palestinian people.”
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), one of 13 signatories on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) letter threatening to condition aid to Israel over annexation, sent a letter of her own to pro-Israel constituents in her district, pledging to remain committed to supporting security funding to Israel.
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GOP Senate candidates in Tennessee battle over conservative bona fides
In Tennessee, a proxy battle between Republican Party heavyweights is coming to a head as voters head to the polls today in the GOP primary for an open Senate seat, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Background: The unexpectedly competitive race pits a candidate with longtime ties to the GOP establishment against a political neophyte. Bill Hagerty, the former U.S. ambassador to Japan, has encountered unexpected competition from Dr. Manny Sethi, with recent polls putting them neck-and-neck for the nomination. The candidates are seeking to replace retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who announced in late 2018 that he would not seek reelection.
Proxy battle: The race has divided prominent members of the Republican Party. President Donald Trump, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) are backing Hagerty, while Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have endorsed Sethi. Trump, however, has been unexpectedly silent in the final days of the race, Vanderbilt University political science professor John Geer told JI, a possible indication that the president’s staff is unsure which candidate will emerge victorious.
Similar stances: In a position paper provided to JI, Hagerty said the U.S. must remain firm in its support for Israel, including working to achieve Palestinian disarmament, continuing aid to Israel and resisting BDS, including within Congress. Hagerty also supports Israel’s proposed annexation of portions of the West Bank. Sethi takes a similar stance: “Israel has consistently shown that it is willing to make tough sacrifices to reach lasting peace with Palestine. However, each time Israel openly comes to the negotiating table, the Palestinians have shown stubborn unwillingness to work towards peaceful solutions,” Sethi said. “The only way that lasting peace can be achieved is if the Palestinians agree to negotiate a two-state solution in a mutually agreeable manner.”
Getting personal: There’s “not much daylight” between Sethi and Hagerty’s positions overall, Geer said, attributing the personal attacks between the candidates to a lack of policy disagreements. Sethi has linked Hagerty to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), a former friend of Hagerty’s who has been at odds with the Trump administration. Hagerty falsely accused Sethi of supporting an organization bankrolling rioters, as well as supporting socialized medicine. Tom Ingram, a political consultant and Alexander’s former chief of staff, told JI that the negative campaign rhetoric could end up backfiring on Hagerty.
TAKING A STAND
Despite acrimony, Loeffler and Collins walk in virtual lockstep on Israel
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) are locked in an acrimonious battle ahead of the U.S. Senate special election in Georgia in November. Collins entered the race to compete against Loeffler shortly after she assumed office in early January, having been appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp against the objections of President Donald Trump, who favored Collins for the seat. But when it comes to Israel, the two Republican candidates hold virtually indistinguishable views, according to questionnaires solicited by Jewish Insider.
In agreement:Loeffler and Collins both support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, endorse Trump’s Middle East peace plan, back continued foreign aid to the Jewish state and believe that the administration was right to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal brokered by former President Barack Obama.
No to the JCPOA: “We knew from the beginning that any deal negotiated by the Obama Administration would not go far enough to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon or to protect Israel from a nuclear Iran,” Collins wrote in response to questions from JI, echoing Loeffler, who said that Iran had “only become more emboldened in its efforts to attack U.S. interests and U.S. allies like Israel” during the time that the deal was in place.
Yes to two states: “I agree with President Trump that, especially given Israel’s agreement to terms for a potential Palestinian state, a two-state solution is a pragmatic approach that respects the validity of Israel and its people while giving Palestinians the opportunity to self-govern and remain in their communities,” Collins wrote. Loeffler’s response was similar. “It has become increasingly clear that a two-state solution is the best path to peace in the Middle East, and I support President Trump’s historic efforts to deliver Israel the security and autonomy it needs to prosper,” she said.
Alert to antisemitism: The candidates agree that there is a concerning rise of antisemitism in the U.S., but reserve judgement only for the Democratic Party. “Sadly, we have witnessed this rising tide of antisemitism in Congress over the last several years,” Collins said, “with a growing number of members in the Democratic Caucus voicing their support for the BDS movement.” Loeffler went further, calling out Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) who, the senator said, “has repeatedly called Israel evil and openly called for the dissolution of the nation state of Israel.” She was also critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, which, she wrote, “continually endorses the BDS movement and has called Israel an ‘apartheid state.’”
ON THE HILL
In Senate hearing, Ken Weinstein gets boost from former Sen. Joe Lieberman
Before Ken Weinstein spoke a word to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing on ambassadorial nominations, President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Japan had a vocal supporter in his corner — former Democratic vice presidential candidate and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT).
Shepping nachas: “Frankly, I can’t think of a better nominee than Ken Weinstein,” Lieberman told the Senate panel during a videoconference Thursday morning, adding that Weinstein, the current president and CEO of the Hudson Institute, ”has developed not only a great knowledge of [the] U.S.-Japanese relationship, but very deep friendships and trusting relationships within Japan, both in the government and in the business community.”
This town: Lieberman said he knows Weinstein from his time in Washington. “I know Ken personally. He’s a friend. During my years in Washington, we went to the same synagogue together, the Georgetown synagogue, [and] his family and mine have become friendly,” Lieberman said. “So this is a person of real honor and integrity who meets people well, who is a real American patriot based on his own life story, and also is devoted to strengthening U.S.-Japanese relations.”
Bipartisan backing: Lieberman noted that Weinstein’s nomination in March was applauded across the political spectrum, including by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), as well as Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James and American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris.
Family ties: Weinstein later spoke and fielded questions from committee members on issues ranging from threats from North Korea to the U.S. troop presence in Japan. In his opening remarks, he referenced his family history: “Dad, a physician in Brooklyn, made house calls until he was in his 70s. My mom, a refugee from Nazi Germany, taught in public schools and underserved communities. Mom knew totalitarianism firsthand and cherished the promise of America. She imbued this love in her students and in her five sons, and it is this dedication to service and love of country that I will bring with me to Tokyo.”
⚕️ Behind the Mask: In The New York Times Magazine, Susan Dominus explores the intense disagreements and rapid decision making among doctors at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, an epicenter of coronavirus treatments, over the best drugs to battle COVID-19. [NYTimes]
🎖️ Unthinkable:In Tablet magazine, Ellen Feldman highlights the improbable tale of the thousands of Jews who fought for Nazi Germany. “Jewish allegiance to Germany in the early days of the Third Reich is one of the great unrequited love stories of history.” [Tablet]
🙏 Faith Matters:Avi Schick, former deputy attorney general of New York, writes in The Hill that the Biden campaign should welcome religious Americans into the Democratic Party. “Biden should push back against the notion, as pervasive as it is pernicious, that someone who pledges fealty to God is a bigot.” [TheHill]
Around the Web
💥 Bearing Responsibility: Hussein Ibish, a senior scholar at the Arab Gulf Institute in Washington, writes that the ultimate blame for the Beirut blast will lie with Hezbollah.
💊 Desperate Times:U.S. and Mideast analysts believe a sanctions-strapped Hezbollah is behind a spike in international drug trafficking.
👰 Wedding Belz:Israeli police issued fines for the organizers of a Belz Hasidic wedding in Jerusalem last night attended by thousands of people against coronavirus restrictions.
🏖️ Feeling at Home: Turkey has become a hot destination for Israeli tourists in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic limited vacation options.
📉 Scaling Back:Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans has slashed the price and size of its IPO by more than $1 billion.
☕ Pay Off: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz urged Congress to provide more relief to small businesses so that they can pursue their dreams of becoming “the next Starbucks.”
💄 Guessing Game:Amid a major shakeup of his holdings, observers wonder if billionaire Ron Perelman could sell off Revlon next.
💰 Startup Nation: Israeli startup Zencity, a platform that meshes AI with big data, raised $13.5 million from a number of prominent investors.
🌿 Growing Green: A growing number of Jews are using their recently restored German citizenship to work in the country’s cannabis industry.
📚 Closed Book:The National Library of Israel is placing all 300 employees on unpaid leave and suspending its services over the COVID-19 economic crisis.
🎥 Rising Star: “Unorthodox” actress Shira Haas, named one of Variety’s 2020 Power of Young Hollywood, told the magazine that being stuck in Israel during the show’s publicity tour helped her “to take it in, to appreciate it.”
🥪 Pastrami Push: David Axelrod, a former top advisor to former President Barack Obama, has taken to social media to drum up business for Chicago’s famed Manny’s Deli, which has seen a steep decline in business amid the pandemic.
🌭 To Be Frank: In Chowhound, Amanda Balagur looks back at how kosher hot dogs became the king of American frankfurters.
🕯️Remembering: Emmy-winning composer and songwriter Billy Goldenberg died at age 84.
Pic of the Day
The facade of the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality building was lit up with the Lebanese flag last night to express Israel’s solidarity with the Lebanese people following the huge blast in Beirut on Tuesday.
Former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Tara D. Sonenshine turns 61…
Century City-based partner at the Jaffe Family Law Group, Daniel J. Jaffe turns 83… E-sports executive and casino owner, Lyle Berman turns 79… Founder and spiritual leader of The Elijah Minyan in San Diego, Wayne Dosick turns 73… Professor emerita and former dean at Bar Ilan University, Malka Elisheva Schaps turns 72… Austrian businessman with many U.S., Israeli and Eastern European investments, Martin Schlaff turns 67… Candidate for mayor of Virginia Beach in November, Jody Moses Wagner turns 65… Professor of psychiatry at The George Washington University Medical Center, Alan J. Lipman, Ph.D. turns 60… NASA astronaut, Gregory Chamitoff turns 58… Famed computer hacker, now a computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick turns 57… AVP of public affairs at the American Council on Education, Jonathan Riskind turns 57…
Chair of the governance committee of the board of directors at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Susie Sorkin turns 55… Television and radio sports anchor on ESPN and ABC, Mike Greenberg turns 53… VP for labor markets at The Conference Board, Gad Levanon Ph.D. turns 49… Boxing commentator and co-host of ESPN’s First Take, Yiddish-speaking Max Kellerman turns 47… Co-founder and former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick turns 44… CEO at a workforce cooperative called Climb Hire, Nitzan Pelman turns 44… Actress, director and screenwriter, Soleil Moon Frye turns 44… PR consultant, Jeffrey Lerner turns 43… Creative director at Godfrey Dadich Partners, Rachel Gogel turns 38… Winner of two gold medals in swimming at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Garrett Weber-Gale turns 35… Legislative director for Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Corey A. Jacobson turns 31… Senior producer at 10% Happier, Jessica I. Goldberg turns 29… School safety activist and former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Hunter Pollack turns 23…