Good Tuesday morning!
Last night at the Republican National Convention, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said “‘nice’ guys like Joe [Biden] care more about countries like Iran and China than the United States of America.” More below.
The lineup at tonight’s RNC includes First Lady Melania Trump, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a pre-recorded speech for this evening’s RNC event, filmed on the rooftop of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The speech, recorded during a taxpayer-funded trip to Israel, drew backlash from former diplomats and Jewish groups on the left.
A State Department memopublished by Politico yesterday, signed by Pompeo, prohibits Senate-confirmed appointees from attending “a political party convention or convention-related event.”
U.K. Foreign Minister Dominic Raabarrived in Israel yesterday, and met this morning with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Raab praised the recent UAE-Israel peace accord, and lauded the “very important suspension of annexation.”
Ashkenazi told Raab that Israel was disappointed with the U.K.’s decision to oppose the U.S. move to impose snapback sanctions on Iran in the U.N. Security Council.
Gerald Hines, a prominent real estate developer from Houston and supporter of Jewish causes, died on Sunday at age 95. More below.
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Jeremiah Ellison is more artist than politician
Before he was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2017, Jeremiah Ellison had carved out a niche for himself as a freelance muralist and aspiring comic book artist. Now, the representative of the city’s Fifth Ward is devoted to public service — but still dreaming of a return to his old gig. “I’ll tell you, as much as I am honored to do this job,” Ellison, 30, reflected in a series of interviews with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, “I do like painting murals more.”
Rising up: The artist-turned-politician, who is the son of Minnesota attorney general and former Congressman Keith Ellison, first came to prominence on his own five years ago, when he appeared in a viral photo while protesting the police killing of Jamar Clark, a young, unarmed Black man. When he was elected, Ellison hoped to focus on housing equality and economic development at the hyperlocal level. “That’s sort of where I really wanted to stake my claim,” he said. But he has shifted his priorities as the pandemic has taken its toll — his grandmother died from the coronavirus — and as mass protests against George Floyd’s murder have set off a national reckoning over the role of the police. In Minneapolis, Ellison has led the charge to introduce a charter amendment that would replace the city’s police department with a new public safety system, but those plans were put on hold when the city’s charter commission blocked the proposal from appearing on the ballot until next year.
Forging allies: Ellison, who is Muslim, has become close with Lisa Goodman, a Jewish city councilmember. Though they disagree on several policy issues, Goodman said she has managed to find common ground with her young colleague. In the fall of 2019, Goodman invited Ellison to a Friday night service at her Reform synagogue, an experience Ellison appreciated and learned from as he has worked to find common ground with members of the Minneapolis Jewish community. “It was very social justice-centered,” he said, “and there was this strong sense of solidarity that I felt.”
Detecting antisemitism: Steve Fletcher, another Jewish Minneapolis city councilmember who was elected the same year as Ellison, described Ellison as a strong ally who was capable of detecting instances of antisemitism when they entered the public discourse. “I’m an advocate for smart housing and density in the urban core, and every once in a while somebody who opposed adding more dense housing would say to me, ‘Go back to New York,’ and I’m not from New York,” Fletcher recalled. “It just felt a little coded. It was something that I noticed, and that Jeremiah noticed. He picked up on it right away.”
Abrahamic ties: Ellison believes Judaism and Islam are “incredibly compatible,” given, for one, that they are both Abrahamic religions. “I also think that, politically, the two religions sort of exist under a certain level of threat in America,” he said. “It can be difficult to recognize that when you have prominent sort of, quote unquote, Islamic figures who are openly antisemitic.” He was referring, in large part, to the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is widely viewed as an antisemite. But Ellison’s appraisal is complicated by the fact that his father once supported Farrakhan and defended him in law school newspaper columns.
Father’s shadow: Ellison is, of course, aware of his father’s uneasy relationship with some members of the Jewish community, but he doesn’t feel constrained by it. “I have a level of urgency to remember that I don’t know everything,” he said. “At 21, I probably would have very decidedly spoken about my support for Palestine, which I still hold, without much regard for any understanding of antisemitism. Now, I’m building relationships with people in my community. I’m building relationships with my colleagues who are helping me consider things that I just quite honestly hadn’t considered before.”
Measured critique: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who has been accused of making antisemitic remarks, is a friend of the young city councilman. “Ilhan has had to learn the hard way what that line is between being, I think, appropriately critical of a government’s policies versus saying things that are antisemitic,” he said of the congresswoman, who endorsed Ellison during his run for city council. “While I still unequivocally support Ilhan and her reelection, and want to support her in her growth as a young congressperson, I also think I understand that there’s probably still some learning and a little bit of remedy that needs to occur between her and a lot of folks of Jewish faith here in Minnesota.”
Working out his beliefs: “I’m Muslim, so solidarity with people in Palestine is something that has been a crucial part of my politics,” he stated. Ellison said he is still working out some of his beliefs when it comes to Israel. He declined to take a stand, for instance, on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. “To be fully honest, I wouldn’t condemn the BDS movement just because I understand, I think, the impulses of a lot of the people I know who are participating in it and who do believe in it,” he said. Still, he expressed a strong desire to visit Israel as well as the Palestinian territories, if given the chance to do so. “It’s just an important part of the world to engage with,” he said, “and I think it’s important to sort of be on the ground. I think that you always learn more on the ground.”
Plans for the future: Despite his promising nascent political career, Ellison expressed a strong and persistent desire to give it all up and return to his old artistic vocation, even if he is the scion of one of the more powerful politicians in Minnesota politics. “Without putting a date on it, I think me deciding to wrap up this position will have less to do with whether or not I think I’m ready, and I think it’ll have more to do with how good of a job I do in fostering new political talent,” he said. “Certainly, when I’ve wrapped here, my plan, my hope,” he said matter-of-factly, “is that I can go back to drawing comics.”
Nikki Haley at Republican convention: ‘Joe Biden is good for Iran and ISIS’
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley suggested in remarks at the Republican National Convention last night that electing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in November would benefit Iran and other American adversaries.
On the record:Pointing to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Haley claimed that the former vice president “has a record of weakness and failure.” Biden and former President Barack Obama, she suggested, “let Iran get away with murder” and “literally sent [Iran] a plane full of cash.” Haley proclaimed that, “Joe Biden is good for Iran and ISIS… and he’s a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologize, abstain and abandon our values.”
Friend to Israel: The former ambassador also reminded viewers that the Obama administration, in abstaining from UNSCR 2334, “led the United Nations to denounce our friend and ally, Israel.” Haley said that by contrast, President Donald Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and directed her to veto a U.N. resolution condemning the move. “This president has a record of strength and success,” she stressed.
Squad sway: Echoing recent comments by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Sunday, Haley suggested that a Biden-Harris administration “would be much, much worse” than the Obama administration. “Last time, Joe’s boss was Obama. This time, it would be [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, [Sen. Bernie] Sanders and ‘the Squad,’” Haley said. “Their vision for America is socialism. And we know that socialism has failed everywhere.”
Lee Zeldin claims he’s never experienced antisemitism from within the GOP
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) defended the Republican Party against allegations of antisemitism in its ranks during a web event hosted by the American Jewish Committee, held in conjunction with the Republican National Convention, which kicked off yesterday in Charlotte, N.C.
NIMPY, Not In My Party: “I, personally, haven’t encountered any antisemitism within the Republican Party,” said Zeldin, who is one of two Jewish Republican members of Congress. “From a personal perspective, I can tell you — from kindergarten through 12th grade, college, law school and four years of active duty, I never once experienced antisemitism at all.” The New York congressman said he’s only faced antisemitism in recent years, something he attributes to the current political atmosphere, including “several thousand” instances of being called a Nazi but added: “I’m not aware of any of it coming from within the Republican Party.”
Shifting blame: Zeldin instead assigned blame to the Democratic Party, pointing in particular to comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in 2019. “I spent four years in the New York State Senate, and through my first four years in the U.S. House of Representatives, I didn’t experience it inside the actual chamber until the beginning of 2019,” Zeldin said. The New York congressman suggested that if Omar’s statements had been made by a Republican legislator, “I guarantee you that we would have passed a resolution that singularly, emphatically and forcefully condemned antisemitism… that member would have been removed from her committee assignments, and it would have been basically a unanimous effort in doing so.”
Low priority: Zeldin also suggested that the reason Jewish voters aren’t shifting in great numbers to support President Donald Trump is because Israel is “not popping at the top of their list” of priorities. “I’ll talk to a Jewish voter, and it’s possible that if I ask them for their top 15 issues, they might just not mention Israel.”
Read more here.
Heard last night: Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who gave the closing address at the RNC, claimed the Democrats “want to take more money from your pocket and give it to Manhattan elites, and Hollywood moguls.”
🎶 Notes of Hate: In The New Yorker, Alex Ross examines the ubiquity in Hollywood of the works of racist and antisemitic composer Richard Wagner. “The chief lesson to be drawn from the case of Wagner is that the worship of art and artists is always a dangerous pursuit.” [NewYorker]
🗽 Not So Fast: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld writes in The New York Times in defense of his beloved New York City, which he vows will bounce bank from the coronavirus pandemic, “because of all the real, tough New Yorkers who… loved it and understood it, stayed and rebuilt it.” [NYTimes]
📜 Ancient Hatred:The Atlantic’s Steven J. Zipperstein dives deep into the endurance of “the world’s most consequential conspiracy text”: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “It is endlessly versatile, a Rorschach test onto which a great assortment of convictions can readily be sketched.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🕊️ High Expectations:In an interview with The Jerusalem Post yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hopes “one day” Iran will also “normalize” relations with Israel. Pompeo landed in Sudan today to encourage normalization talks with Israel.
😠 Not Going Well: The UAE canceled a planned trilateral U.N. meeting with ambassadors from the U.S. and Israel to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the sale of F-35 jets.
🤝 Buying Time: With just hours to spare, the Israeli Knesset passed a measure yesterday delaying the budget deadline and narrowly averting early elections.
🚫 Lock Down: Hamas announced a 48-hour curfew across the Gaza Strip in response to several new cases of COVID-19.
📦 Planning Ahead:Israeli shipping company Zim is weighing launching an IPO in either London or New York.
💰 Big Promises: Oracle founder Larry Ellison has vowed to reboot his foundation, but a Recode investigation finds the billionaire has a distinctly spotty charitable track record.
✈️ Reaching High: Eli Rozenberg, the 30-year-old son of nursing home chain owner Kenny Rozenberg, raised his bid to buy a controlling stake in El Al.
🏈 Fumbling: Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Football Team, is facing turmoil on every front as the team encounters a wave of crises.
🤯 Say What: A Jeremy Corbyn advisor suggested the former Labour leader did not have empathy for antisemitism because the British Jewish community is “relatively prosperous.”
🥯 Win-win: San Francisco-based Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen has merged with Beauty’s Bagel Shop in Oakland, expanding its reach to the East Bay.
🤳 Kids These Days:Jewish groups are horrified by the latest Tik Tok trend among teens: pretending to be victims of the Holocaust.
😞 Remembering: Houston billionaire property developer and philanthropist Gerald Hines died at age 95. As of 2019, his company had properties in more than 200 cities around the world. Hines is survived by his wife, Barbara, and four children, including Serena and Trevor.
Pic of the Day
Jeff Miller (right), founder and CEO of Miller Strategies, who is serving as finance chair for the 2020 Republican National Convention, holding up a gavel with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on the first day of the RNC in Charlotte, N.C.
Actress and musician best known for playing Melanie “MelRose” Rosen on the Netflix series “Glow,” Jaclyn Tohn turns 40…
Phoenix-based journalist, Leni Reiss turns 81… British novelist known for writing comic novels that revolve around the dilemmas of Jewish characters, Howard Jacobson turns 78… Boston resident, Nancy Faneuil King turns 73… Retired hotel sales and marketing executive, Harley Mayersohn turns 71… Bass guitarist and co-lead singer of Kiss, Gene Simmons (his birth name is Chaim Witz) turns 71… Chairman of the board emeritus at the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Lorin Fife turns 67… Member of the Knesset for the Blue and White party, he served as a Major General in the IDF, Elazar Stern turns 64… Former program director at the St. Paul, Minnesota JCC, Manfred “Fred” Haeusler turns 61… Former Trump Organization attorney, he has since pled guilty to multiple felonies and is subject to home confinement while he works on new book set to publish next month, Michael D. Cohen turns 54… Former Canadian MP, now VP for external affairs at Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Richard Marceau turns 50…
Founder of NYC-based 5W Public Relations, Ronn D. Torossian turns 46… Assistant director of marketing at UJA-Federation of New York, Suzanne Schneider turns 44… Director of prospect research and pipeline development at Birthright Israel Foundation, Sarah Schreiber turns 36… VP at venture capital firm Camber Creek, Nathaniel Loewentheil turns 35… Director of state and local government relations at multinational conglomerate Philips, Evan Hoffman turns 33… Canadian actress, Stacey Farber turns 33… Partner manager at Facebook, Ryan Kuhel turns 30… Founder and CEO at the Center for Intimacy Justice, Jackie Rotman turns 29… Director of audience and growth at Axios, Neal Rothschild turns 29… Deputy policy director at the House GOP Conference, Jenna Lifhits turns 27… Adam Friedman turns 26… Israeli singer-songwriter, Eden Hason turns 26… National program and communications director at the American Zionist Movement, Alicia Post… Carina Grossmann…