Good Wednesday morning!
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will headline a virtual fundraiser for members of the Jewish community later today. Co-hosts include Anita Friedman, Amy Friedkin, Sam Lauter, Jesse Gabriel, Julie Platt, Sam Yebri and Marc Stanley.
Emhoff will also headline the launch of the Biden campaign’s Jewish outreach effort in Florida on Friday, along with Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL).
In the Republican primary runoff in Oklahoma’s 5th congressional district yesterday, State Senator Stephanie Bice beat out Terry Neese, and will face incumbent Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK) in November.
Last night at the Republican National Convention, First Lady Melania Trump offered her condolences to Americans who lost loved ones to the coronavirus: “You are not alone.” More below.
The lineup at tonight’s RNC includes Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell, Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), as well as Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).
Israel struck several Hezbollah-linked sites in Lebanon overnight after shots were fired across the border at Israeli soldiers.
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Rep. Joe Kennedy vows to bring progressive, pro-Israel values to the Senate
It bothers Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) that he has been cast as the establishment candidate in next week’s Massachusetts Democratic primary, in which he is running to unseat Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). “By any stretch here, both of us are progressives,” Kennedy told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview.
Battle lines: Kennedy’s objections notwithstanding, Markey has largely succeeded in shoring up support from progressives in and outside of the district. Markey, a 44-year congressional veteran, touts his co-sponsorship of the Green New Deal among his progressive credentials, which have earned him endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as well as groups like Indivisible, the Working Families Party and Massachusetts Peace Action, a local nonprofit organization that actively supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Communal support: Many Democratic members of the state’s pro-Israel community view the young political scion, who is a grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy and a son of former Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, as their candidate. In an early August letter, around 80 Massachusetts Jewish leaders endorsed Kennedy over Markey. “At a time when some work overtime to delegitimize Israel, Joe has been unyielding in making Israel’s case to those who may be reluctant to listen to it,” read the note. “He has never ducked and run when it comes to support for Israel.”
Drawing a contrast: Kennedy, who announced his Senate bid last September, drew a strong contrast between himself and Markey in the interview with JI. “A number of the people who have decided to endorse Sen. Markey, whom he has highlighted as his surrogates and as his supporters, have consistently sought to undermine the relationship, I think, between the United States and Israel,” Kennedy said, rejecting BDS as a threat to Israel. “Israel needs to know that their friends stand strong,” he elaborated. “Having the senator highlight some of those organizations and individuals gives a lot of people pause.”
Family tradition: The Kennedy family has for generations maintained strong bonds with Israel, going back to RFK, who reported on the country’s founding in 1948 as a young correspondent for the now-defunct Boston Post. “I’ve often interpreted his support for the State of Israel as his consistent support for people that have been subject to extraordinary oppression and repression,” Kennedy said of his grandfather, who was later assassinated in 1968 by a Palestinian radical. “It’s about people asking for nothing more than the right to exist and a home.”
Home district: The eight Democratic candidates who are vying to succeed Kennedy in the 4th district are locked in a heated battle for the seat. Kennedy declined to make an endorsement but said he felt the district would be left in good hands when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship. Still, he expressed some hesitation with regard to one candidate, Ihssane Leckey, a progressive who has put forth mixed messages on BDS. For the most part, though, Kennedy is keeping an eye on his own Senate race, in which recent polling has put him in close contention.
To be honest
Kraft Philanthropies reveals its first antisemitism initiative: ‘Together Beat Hate’
In the first major initiative since the Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism was formed more than a year ago, Kraft Family Philanthropies has launched [Together Beat Hate] — or [TBH] — a program aimed at educating American youth on the growing issue of antisemitism. Through strategic partnerships and creative social media campaigns, the foundation aims to help young Americans understand antisemitism as a subset of other forms of racism and hatred. “We’ve been saying all along, it’s not a Jewish issue, it’s a community and a society issue,” Josh Kraft, president of Kraft Philanthropies, told Jewish Insider’s Sam Zieve Cohen.
Oy vey: A study commissioned by the foundation in January found a particular lack of familiarity with the terminology and history of antisemitism among those aged 13-17. “They truly just don’t know what we’re talking about when we say antisemitism,” said Rachel Fish, the executive director of the Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism. “They say things like, well, ‘what’s a Semite?’ and ‘I’m not really sure what that is, but I’m anti-racist, I’m also against homophobia, I’m against Islamophobia, so I’m probably an antisemite,’ and they don’t understand that they’re actually an anti-antisemite. They don’t even understand the terminology.”
#Together: The organizational and educational work — fueled primarily through social media — will be supplemented by a digital command center currently under construction in Gillette Stadium, the headquarters for the Patriots and other Kraft-affiliated organizations. There, a team will track more than 300 million websites and social media platforms across the internet and dark web, compiling data on incidents and trends in antisemitism. Though other longstanding organizations monitor and compile similar information, Fish claims [TBH] will be the first to tie that data directly into social media campaigns aimed at youth. The real-time information gathering will also work as a rapid-response effort, determining which sites and patterns to target.
Framing the fight: The foundation — which has also consulted with experts on youth psychology and the effects of social media — will use the resulting research to furnish its partnerships with similar groups. “What we want to do is understand that messaging,” said Fish, “so that we can refine the way in which we engage with our target audience so that they won’t be seduced by that messaging, but rather, would be positively predisposed to the kind of framing that we’re putting out there.”
Driving the convo
Pompeo’s Jerusalem RNC speech draws extensive backlash
At last night’s Republican National Convention, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touted President Donald Trump’s foreign policy achievements in a pre-recorded speech filmed on the rooftop of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Monday. The nature of the speech and the location drew backlash from lawmakers, former diplomats and Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
What he said: “The president moved the U.S. Embassy to this very city of God, Jerusalem, the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland,” Pompeo said, describing his venue as the “beautiful Jerusalem, looking out over the Old City.” He continued: “And the president brokered a historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, that our grandchildren will read about in their history books.”
Breaking norms: The appearance of the country’s top diplomat at a political convention is being called a ‘radical break’ from tradition. “Just because the Trump administration has broken norms does not mean that we should be any less outraged when they do it yet another time, particularly a norm as important as the United States secretary of state staying above the political fray,” former State Department official Lauren Baer, who served as a senior advisor to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh. “Our ability to conduct foreign policy around the world depends upon the secretary of state being able to speak for the country as a whole, for his word being trusted as the word of America and not a word of a political party.”
GOP first: Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, posited that Pompeo is seizing on the momentum created by the Israel-UAE accord to benefit Trump’s reelection bid and potentially advance his political ambitions. But a former Trump administration official defended Pompeo’s move. “He is allowed to participate in political activities on his own time — including letting America know that, unlike Biden, Trump sides with Israel over Iran,” the official told JI.
Political football: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the speech “appalling” and stressed that it is also “violating our values in terms of the bipartisanship and our support for Israel.” Baer, founder of the More Like America PAC and a former congressional candidate, told JI that as an American Jew she finds “this kind of flagrant political move deeply disturbing” because it is a “blatant politicization of the U.S.-Israel relationship” that “threatens to undermine the traditionally-enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Washington.”
On the Hill: The speech is now subject to an investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on oversight, headed by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), who is one of three contenders for the House Foreign Affairs chairmanship. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a member of the HFAC, tweeted on Tuesday: “We will see you in committee, Mr. Secretary.”
Bonus: Mary Ann Mendoza, who was slated to address the RNC last night, was booted from the program at the last minute after she shared a Twitter thread suggesting that the “Rothschilds” were part of a Jewish banking conspiracy to enslave non-Jews and promote war.
🤴 Vanished:In an excerpt from their upcoming book, Blood & Oil, Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck spotlight the fate of Saudi Prince Sultan bin Turki II, who in 2016 boarded a plane sent by his first cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and was never seen again. [VanityFair]
✈️ Looking Back: In OZY, Eromo Egbejule explores the story of a failed 1970 attempted hijacking by Russian Jewish refuseniks desperate to make it to Israel. Those involved were arrested, tried and sentenced, but American Jews lobbied for years for their release. “The refuseniks had lost the battle but won the war.” [OZY]
🎶 Hit Pause: Israeli singer Netta Barzilai, who won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, spoke to Reuters about how the COVID-19 pandemic turned the arts and performing world upside down — and how she’s worked to adapt. “There are more barriers now that we’re going to have to learn how to break. We’re going to have to find inspiration within, and look for a deeper content.” [Reuters]
Around the Web
📋 Keeping Track: A new project led by a group of Jewish foundations is aiming to document the impact of COVID-19 on the American Jewish community.
😷 Second Wave: Medical professionals and community leaders are warning New York’s Jewish community to follow health guidelines amid a new uptick in coronavirus cases.
🔪 Under Attack: A Palestinian man stabbed and killed an Israeli man in Petah Tikva this afternoon.
☎️ On the Line: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz held the first phone call with his UAE counterpart, Mohammed al-Bawardi, to discuss cooperation and communication.
⏲️ Not Yet:Abdalla Hamdok, head of Sudan’s interim government, told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that any normalization deal with Israel would have to wait for a permanent government.
⚖️ In Court:An Israeli human rights attorney has filed a court petition to prevent Israeli phone hacking company Cellebrite from selling its technology to Hong Kong.
🛰️ Bird’s Eye View: Israel released the first images from its Ofek 16 satellite yesterday, showing the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria.
🇮🇷 Open Ears: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that Tehran is open to talks if the U.S. returns to the 2015 nuclear deal. Meanwhile, the regime promised to expand its cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
⛓️ Rap Sheet: Salim Jamil Ayyash, a Hezbollah operative convicted in the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, was part of a Hezbollah assassination hit squad.
🇨🇳 Calling Out:The Trump administration is reportedly weighing labeling China’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur population as a genocide.
🤝 Back Channel: Court documents filed in Hawaii reveal that Republican National Committee fundraiser Elliot Broidy lobbied to deport a Chinese businessman at the behest of a Chinese government official.
💊 Facing Charges: Teva Pharmaceuticals has been indicted by U.S. federal prosecutors on charges of conspiring to fix drug prices.
📈 Trading Up: Former Trump advisor and ex-Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn has joined with Clifton Robbins and former Rep. Paul Ryan on a blank check IPO.
👎 On the Hill: Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Denver Riggleman (R-VA) introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.
🎓 Dream Fulfilled:Miriam Schreiber, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor who now lives in Connecticut, received her long-awaited high school diploma last week.
🕯️Remembering: Arnold Spielberg, the father of Steve Spielberg, died at 103. Actor Allan Rich, born Benjamin Norman Schultz, died at age 94. Chicago-based music promoter Joe Segal died at 94. Steve Grossman, a jazz saxophonist who played with Miles Davis, died at age 69.
Gif of the Day
Israeli taekwondo competitor Rivka Baich, who was slated to represent Israel at the Tokyo Olympics this year, is still training and planning to compete when the games return next year.
Israeli Minister for Social Equality and Minorities, Meirav Cohen turns 37…
Rabbi (now emeritus) of Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta, Emanuel Feldman turns 93… Author of more than 40 books on Jewish themes, Naïm Kattan turns 92… Financial advisor in the Baltimore office of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, George Strum turns 82… CEO of Siegelvision, a brand identity consultancy, Alan Siegel turns 82… Owner of You Save On Meds, Martin J. Portnoy turns 77… Mayor of Tel Aviv since 1998, Ron Huldai turns 76… Partner at the DC law firm of Williams & Connolly, Robert Barnett turns 74… Former Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, Irving Slosberg turns 73… Jay Caplan turns 72… Co-owner of Rochester, New York-based August Moon Imports and World Tae Kwon Do Center, Jane August turns 69… Board chair of Gap, Inc., Robert J. Fisher turns 66… Journalist and co-author of the Freakonomics series, Stephen J. Dubner turns 57…
Member of the Maryland Senate, Shelly L. Hettleman turns 56… President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue turns 51… CFO at Cornerstone OnDemand, Perry Wallack turns 51… Canadian technology and media entrepreneur, Lorne Abony turns 51… Partner at Silly Zak’s Gluten Free Bakery in Medford, Oregon, Robert Sacks turns 50… Co-founder and co-CEO of Honeymoon Israel, Avi Rubel is 48… Teacher at the Olin Business School of Washington University in St. Louis, Steven Malter turns 47… Deputy general counsel at ICANN, Samantha Eisner turns 45… CEO of consulting and PR firm Inside Revolution, Ari Ratner turns 40… Rapper, known professionally as Kosha Dillz, Rami Matan Even-Esh turns 39… John Train… Carrie Shapiro…