Good Thursday morning!
We tried something new. Jewish Insider teamed up with bipartisan polling firm RABA Research to poll Massachusetts voters ahead of their September 1 primary. First up is our poll on the 1st district congressional primary between Democrats Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. Results below.
Yesterday, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris told 1,800 Jewish Democrats that a Biden-Harris administration would “not tie security assistance to any political decisions that Israel makes.” Read highlights of the event here.
Last night at the Republican National Convention, Vice President Mike Pence vowed to “have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.” More below.
The lineup at the RNC tonight includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Ivanka Trump and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. President Donald Trump will take the stage to deliver his acceptance speech on the White House’s South Lawn.
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Neal leading Morse 49-40 in Massachusetts 1st
Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) leads his progressive challenger, Alex Morse, by nine points ahead of the heavily contested September 1 Democratic primary in Massachusetts’s 1st congressional district, according to a new Jewish Insider poll.
Data:The poll, based on 518 voter surveys conducted by RABA Research on August 23 and 24, puts Neal on relatively comfortable footing with 49% of the vote, placing him outside the ±4.3% margin of error. Morse pulled in 40% of the vote among those surveyed, with 12% of likely voters reporting that they were “not sure” who they would choose. At the same time, Neal’s failure to clear the 50% threshold could be a sign of trouble for him, as incumbents polling below 50% are often considered at risk of defeat.
Markey boost? Analysts speculated that left-leaning enthusiasm for another candidate in Massachusetts, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) — who is running against a younger challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), but has been backed by progressives in and outside of the district — could perhaps buoy Morse in his own race. But in Massachusetts’s 1st congressional district, Kennedy leads Markey 44% to 37% among Democratic and independent voters, according to JI’s poll. Nineteen percent of respondents said they were undecided.
Israel issues:Morse, who is Jewish, believes the U.S. should condition aid to Israel, something Neal opposes. According to the poll, a plurality of voters in the district — 48% — think aid to Israel should be conditioned, while 34% want assistance to continue without conditions. Eighteen percent — including 29% of voters who identified as “very liberal” — were not sure or expressed no opinion on the matter.
Battle ahead: Over the past year, Morse has built a formidable campaign operation, raising more than $1.3 million, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission. Neal, who entered Congress in 1989, has vastly outraised his opponent, raking in nearly $3.8 million in his reelection effort. While the polling indicates Morse has been gaining momentum, he’ll still have to overcome the gap if he wants to pull off an upset in the district, which includes a large swath of western and central Massachusetts. Even if Neal manages to defend his seat, his falling short of 50% in the poll signals a tough political environment for established longtime members of Congress.
New RJC digital ad features Jewish Democrats supporting Trump
The Republican Jewish Coalition is launching a new digital ad targeting Jewish voters in key swing states ahead of President Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention tonight.
Lineup: The ad, titled “Wake Up Call,” spotlights four lifelong Jewish Democrats who are supporting Trump’s reelection, according to a clip shared exclusively with Jewish Insider. It features Rabbi Alan Sherman, a Reform rabbi and former president and executive vice president of the Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis; Cantor Sagee Goldenholz, an Ohio native who now lives in Coral Springs, Florida; Marc Dunes, a former congressional candidate in New Jersey’s 11th district; and Caryn Borger, a doctor from New Jersey.
The script: The four cite the policies of the Obama administration and the rise and influence of ‘the Squad’ — a quartet of progressive freshman Democratic congresswomen — as reasons to switch their support to Trump. The ad ends with Sherman blowing the shofar, a custom during the Hebrew month of Elul and the High Holy Days, “as a wake up call to all Jews to wake up and vote for Donald Trump.”
Target audience: The three-minute clip will target Jewish voters in the key swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and Arizona. The ad is part of the RJC’s $10 million spending strategy and the group’s third online ad of this election cycle. “The choice before voters this year is very clear,” RJC executive director Matt Brooks told JI. “More and more Jewish Democrats are realizing that today’s party isn’t their grandparent’s Democratic Party and are leaving the party to support President Trump. We welcome them with open arms.”
MAKING THE CASE
Republicans praise Trump on foreign policy at RNC
President Donald Trump’s foreign policy record was repeatedly touted by speakers at the Republican National Convention last night. The convention’s third night of events was opened with a prayer by Rabbi Aryeh Spero.
Paving the way: Delivering his acceptance speech, Vice President Mike Pence suggested the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is what opened the door for Israel to normalize relations with the Arab world despite not resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We’ve stood with our allies — like when President Trump kept his word and moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel,” Pence said, “setting the stage for the first Arab country to recognize Israel in 26 years.”
At a crossroad: Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell devoted most of his remarks to defending Trump’s foreign policy approach and blasting those who criticize it as driven by “nationalist” views. Grenell also suggested that a victory for Joe Biden is a return to the policies of the Obama administration, in particular regarding Iran. “A return to the Biden way of thinking means America gives the radical terrorist regime in Tehran a plane load of cash in the middle of the night,” he said. In contrast, he said, “Trump also sent an aircraft in the middle of night to deal with Iran. But that plane was on a different mission — an air strike to take out the head of Iran’s terror machine who plotted the deaths of Americans.”
Israel card: In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh yesterday, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) — one of three Republican House members selected to speak at the RNC last night — said there has “never been a president who is more supportive of the U.S.-Israel relationship than President Trump,” citing the embassy move, the withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and his fight against global terror. “That is a record that this president is proud of and every American should be proud of,” she said.
Case to voters: Stefanik, who served as recruitment chair for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in 2018, said it’s important “to continue to work in primaries to support pro-Israel candidates in both parties because that important tradition of bipartisanship is absolutely critical.”
Rebuttal: Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) told JI that he’s “deeply concerned” about Israel being used as a theme at the RNC. “They’re using Israel as a political football, not in order to secure the votes of the American Jewish community,” Israel explained. “This is about an assessment that President Trump and his campaign has made that they don’t need Jewish voters, they’re not going to get a majority of Jewish voters. They’ve got to focus on the evangelical community. Israel should not be a political tactic, and under this administration it is one.”
Bonus — Spotted: Ambassador to Israel David Friedman enjoying dinner last night with his wife at Cork & Slice in Cedarhurst, N.Y., while the Republican convention speeches were getting underway. He left a half hour after the start of the RNC programming according to our tipster.
⚔️ Bumpy Road:Bloomberg’s James Rowley takes a look at the race to succeed Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and explores how the debate on Israel-related issues could alienate some older and more conservative Jewish voters in key swing states. [Bloomberg]
👨💼 Reboot: Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, is fighting its way back from a rough patch with new CEO David McCormick — a West Point grad, war veteran, tech CEO and former Treasury official — at its helm, reports Institutional Investor in a detailed profile. “There is a shift coming,” McCormick said, whose resume the story describes as “a caricature of a mother-in-law’s dream.” [InstitutionalInvestor]
📜 Living History: Genealogy site Ancestry has promised to make millions of digitized Holocaust records free to all. But some Holocaust survivors and their families are not comfortable with wide access to personal and sensitive information, reportsThe New York Times. “It is not only a painful record, it is a private record,” said one survivor’s daughter. “It should not go outside of the family.” [NYTimes]
😡 No Answers: In Politico, Betsy Woodruff Swan reveals the struggles law enforcement and government officials have faced in trying to convince the Trump administration to devote attention to domestic terrorism fueled by white supremacy. One state official said he received more information from the ADL than from the Department of Homeland Security. [Politico]
Around the Web
⏰ Time to Choose:Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to further cool relations with China due to Beijing’s new pact with Iran.
⛔ Hold Up:Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa told Pompeo yesterday that his country won’t normalize relations with Israel without a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
🇵🇸 Stay the Course:Despite a series of setbacks, including the UAE-Israel accord, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remains committed to pushing for international pressure on Israel.
🛂 Docs Dox: Israel accused Turkey of providing a dozen Hamas members with passports and identity documents.
🏠 Stay Home:Hamas extended its coronavirus lockdown in the Gaza Strip amid fears of the virus spreading in the densely populated territory.
🕍 Sanitized Study: Reutersspotlights how one yeshiva in Sderot is setting up plastic dividers and cubicles to continue safe Torah study.
📖 Ready to Learn:Despite the coronavirus, thousands of American yeshiva and seminary students are beginning to arrive for a gap year in Israel — and heading straight to quarantine.
💸 On the Move:A Bloomberg investigation shows how the Sackler family shifted $10.8 billion over a decade amid years of litigation over its role in the opioid crisis.
🧯Burning Hatred: Investigators revealed that a fire this week at the University of Delaware Chabad was intentionally set by an arsonist.
⏪ Fresh Start: The national leadership of the NAACP will take control of the organization’s Philadelphia branch, replacing all top leadership, a month after its president, Rodney Muhammad, shared an antisemitic Facebook post.
⛓️ Behind Bars: Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver finally began his 6.5-year prison sentence yesterday after years of appeals and a retrial on corruption charges.
🏀 Taking a Stand: The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their playoff matchup with the Orlando Magic following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI. Fellow athletes and teams across the sports world followed soon after. Bucks co-owners Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan released a short statement acknowledging their lack of foreknowledge of the boycott, but adding they “fully support our players and the decision they made.”
⛹️♂️ Slam Dunk: Former NBA star and current Maccabi Tel Aviv player Amar’e Stoudemire announced yesterday that he has fully completed his conversion to Judaism.
👟 Sole Purpose: Adi Topolosky, an 11-year-old Jewish day school student, sparked a wave of solidarity after speaking out about the frustration of shopping for women’s athletic apparel.
📸 Capturing Life:The Washington Postspotlights the photography project of Israeli photographer Daniel Rolider, who chronicled Israelis seeking refuge in nature amid the coronavirus.
👩💼 New Boss:Hetty Berg, who took over as the new director of the Jewish Museum Berlin after a year of controversy, vowed to “address the dynamic and complex discussions” in Judaism today.
🎻 Master Stroke:The New York Times revisits the “sheer brilliance” of violin legend Itzhak Perlman ahead of his 75th birthday.
Song of the Day
Israeli pop singer Yuval Dayan released a new single titled “Just Smile” dedicated to the couples getting married with limited guests due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Former director of the White House National Economic Council and former president and COO of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn turns 60…
Chatsworth, Calif. resident, Ruth Ann Kerker Hapner turns 73… Author Michael Wolff turns 67… President of Cornell University, Martha Elizabeth Pollack turns 62… Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari turns 61… Director of international affairs at the Peres Center for Peace, Nadav Tamir turns 59… Editor-at-large of The Hill, Steve Clemons turns 58… Israeli-born professor of computer science at Stanford University focused on artificial intelligence, Daphne Koller turns 52… Co-founder of the 2017 Women’s March which she eventually left citing concerns over antisemitism, Vanessa Wruble turns 46…
Portfolio manager and founder of NYC-based G2 Investment Partners, Joshua Goldberg turns 45… Former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Finance, Shai Babad turns 44… Campaign consultant at the Energy Foundation, Daniel Kalman Biss turns 43… Senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Richard Goldberg turns 37… Co-founder of theSkimm, Danielle Merriah Weisberg turns 34… Member of AJR, an indie pop multi-instrumentalist trio, together with his two brothers, Adam Metzger turns 30… Michael Weiss turns 26… Director of national initiatives at the Jewish National Fund, Nelson France… Yuval Sapir… Talia Rubin…