Good Monday morning!
President Donald Trumpindicated that the U.S. will impose snapback sanctions on Iran after the U.N. Security Council rejected the U.S. proposal to extend the arms embargo on Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that allowing the expiration of the arms embargo in October would be “just nuts.”
The Trump administration is also preparing to impose a new round of sanctions against Syria, designed to force the Assad regime into negotiations.
The Democratic Socialists of America in New York City clarified their suggested Israel travel ban on Friday following backlash and widespread condemnation. “We are in no way opposed to trips in a personal capacity to visit family or for other personal reasons,” the DSA said.
The Democratic National Convention kicks off today in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Speakers on tonight’s virtual program include former First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
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Money in politics is not like it once was. Will pro-Israel donors adapt?
The pro-Israel political world is facing a challenge. Its donors have long relied on the simple and time-tested model of bundling maximum contribution checks to provide their preferred candidates with a fundraising edge. But a slew of key races this cycle have demonstrated that this model is not as effective as it once was. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel and Jacob Kornbluh spoke to two dozen strategists, operatives and candidates about the changing political landscape — and whether pro-Israel donors can adapt to the new paradigm.
New reality: Already this cycle, a number of progressive congressional candidates, including first-timers and fresh incumbents backed by Justice Democrats and other far-left political groups, have won despite often being outspent by opponents who, in many cases, had garnered significant support from the pro-Israel community. The races underscore a nascent new reality of political campaigning as free social media attention gains a currency of its own and as grassroots strategies like canvassing, door-knocking and phone-banking have often proven more valuable than large television ad buys and other costly expenditures.
Different angle:The latest example of this trend is the 2020 Democratic primary election in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district. In the race to defeat Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Antone Melton-Meaux raised more than $4 million, in addition to over $2 million spent by independent pro-Israel groups, yet lost by an 18-point margin. “Omar was able to compete by coming at it from a different angle,” said a Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity so he could speak freely. “She didn’t have to raise $2,800 checks at a time — $100 contributions added up.” The strategist added, “A candidate no longer has to exclusively fly to City A to attend a fundraiser or sit on the phone all day making one call after another. Those things still exist but the rise of the small-dollar donor has helped level the playing field.”
On the ground: “The best persuasion out there is still canvassing,” said Joel Rubin, a Democratic strategist who served as director of Jewish outreach for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) presidential campaign. “Money can’t buy you love. It can’t even buy you votes,” added Frank Luntz, a political pundit and Republican pollster. “And money late in the election contest is a lot less consequential than money six months earlier.”
Power of persuasion:The ways in which candidates are making their voices heard in 2020 are dramatically different from past campaigns, as the primacy of Twitter, Facebook and other services have allowed candidates to amplify their messages on the cheap rather than relying on broadcast television. “People aren’t watching network news anymore or local news,” Democratic strategist Stu Loeser told JI. “And when people watch TV, other than sports, they don’t watch the ads. So advertising is less important in crafting a persona. Hitting it again and again by what you say and do and think, explicitly in writing, in social media — that matters a lot.”
The candidate matters: “There’s more evidence every cycle that more money isn’t making a big difference in the outcome,” said Democratic campaign strategist Joe Trippi. “The candidate still really matters. Somebody with less money but a more powerful message can beat a weak message with millions and millions of dollars.”
Smart spending: “The progressives are spending more money on people rather than ads, and guess what, they’re winning elections,” said Democratic campaign strategist Hank Sheinkopf, adding that such tactics as organizing and distributing campaign literature can help personalize a campaign and lend it more emotional depth than a quickly tossed-off TV hit. “There’s a divide between those in the Beltway and those outside the Beltway,” he told JI, “and those outside the Beltway are spending their money more wisely than those inside.”
Another explanation: There may be another explanation for the success of new far-left candidates who are less friendly to the pro-Israel community. According to Loeser, they are running in one of the few lanes open for new candidates. “You can’t challenge Eliot Engel or Nita Lowey from the right,” Loeser told JI. “You have to run a more progressive campaign against them.” If Engel had chosen to retire at the end of his term, as Lowey did, the 16th district “could have had a progressive, interesting, magnetic candidate who was not necessarily allied with people who are more skeptical of Israel,” Loeser added. Though Jamaal Bowman does not support the BDS movement, he still worked with advocates who did because “the left lane was the only way you could see him win like this.”
The Catch-22 of Antone Melton Meaux’s failed bid
Over the past few months, first-time congressional candidate Antone Melton-Meaux highlighted his background as a mediator and presented himself as a bridge-builder looking to end the era of divisive politics that had come to define his opponent’s first term in Washington. Perhaps because of that image as a peaceful mediator, throughout the campaign and in multiple interviews with Jewish Insider, Melton-Meaux refrained from directly attacking Omar. Last Tuesday, the first-term Omar defeated Melton-Meaux by almost a 20-point margin.
Mismatch: “The mediator thing is a very nice intellectual argument,” strategist Hank Shienkopf explained to JI’s Jacob Kornbluh. “But here’s the bottom line: They played to the emotions, [the pro-Israel groups supporting Melton-Meaux] played the intellect, and the reality is that no one votes out of their head. They vote out of their gut.”
The turnout factor: The national focus on the race also drove up turnout, with Omar receiving 27,000 more votes than she did in 2018. According to campaign insiders, the anticipation was that if Melton-Meaux could come close to Omar’s share of the vote in 2018 — 65,237 — he could pull off an upset. In the end, the candidate received a little over 63,000 votes in last week’s primary but that wasn’t enough to overcome the large gap created by a 19% increase in turnout.
Floodgates open on UAE-Israeli collaboration
The United Arab Emirates opened up direct phone lines with Israel on Sunday and unblocked Israeli news sites in the Gulf country as a first step in the implementation of the U.S.-brokered normalization deal announced last week.
In broad daylight: Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his United Arab Emirates counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, spoke on the phone Sunday and agreed “to meet soon.” This was the first time the UAE publicly acknowledged its communications with Israeli diplomats. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent a letter to Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed on Monday and invited him to visit Jerusalem.
Step by step: Israeli airline Israir has already begun applying for a permit for landing rights in Dubai, though hurdles remain to gain clearance to fly over Saudi Arabia. Israeli company TeraGroup has signed a deal to cooperate on coronavirus research with the UAE’s APEX National Investment. Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said publicly yesterday that Oman and Bahrain are “on the agenda” for forthcoming peace deals, in addition to Sudan. In an interview with Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said he hopes the deal will be finalized “as soon as possible.”
Narrative battle: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintained that his plan to annex parts of the West Bank remains part of the Trump peace plan, but that he had agreed to postpone it at the behest of the U.S. However, Hend Al Otaiba, director of strategic communication at the UAE Foreign Ministry, toldHaaretz that stopping annexation was her country’s main concern in finalizing the deal.
Musical diplomacy: Israeli Mizrahi pop singer Omer Adam is reportedly in negotiations to perform in the UAE after receiving a personal invitation from a member of the Emirati royal family — months after he sent a message of thanks to the country’s leaders for supporting its small Jewish community.
Making waves: Lebanese President Michael Aoun declined to rule out the prospect of Lebanon one day reaching its own peace deal with Israel during an interview with a French TV station over the weekend. Asked about making peace after decades of conflict, Aoun said “that depends. We have problems with Israel, we have to resolve them first.” The recent Beirut blast and the Israel-UAE deal have dealt a one-two blow to Iran’s regional dealings.
ON THE hill
McCollum introduces anti-annexation bill despite Israel-UAE accord
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced on Friday the Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, legislation that would prohibit the U.S. from recognizing Israeli annexation of the West Bank or allow any U.S. assistance to fund areas annexed by the Israeli government.
List of signatories: The bill is co-sponsored by the four members of ‘The Squad’ — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — as well as Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Andre Carson (D-IN).
Why now? McCollum said in a speech on the House floor that the recently announced Israel-UAE accord that shelved a plan to annex parts of the West Bank “changes nothing.” The Democratic lawmaker maintained that President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “have taken nothing off the table. Their promises and commitments are worthless because they have both proven, time and time again, that they cannot be trusted.”
Read more here.
Heard last night: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said during a Zoom call hosted by J Street on Sunday that she remains “concerned” that Israel will still try to push annexation. The congresswoman pointed to Netanyahu’s remarks that he agreed only to temporarily postpone the plan at the behest of the Trump administration. “Now I think the one hopeful thing is that there’s not a lot of time left,” Schakowsky added. “We hope that we are going to have a very different administration that will begin… with-a two state solution and be able to incorporate the UAE and the new developments that we’re having in the region and make hay out of that and make it as a really positive thing. And so when [Netanyahu] says it’s temporary, so is the presidency — I believe Donald Trump — temporary.”
💲On the Fence: New York Times reporters Glenn Thrush, Rebecca Ruiz and Karen Yourish highlight the GOP mega donors, like Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who are delaying or holding back on big contributions to Trump’s reelection. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have told party officials they are concerned about the optics of campaign giving while their employees are facing financial hardship. Meanwhile, a spokesperson insisted the Adelsons are “110%” behind the president. [NYTimes; Axios]
👨💼 Pulling the Strings: In New York magazine, Olivia Nuzzi takes a closer look at the role Brad Parscale played as campaign manager for the Trump reelection campaign, covering for Jared Kushner, before the recent reboot that saw Parscale ousted in favor of Bill Stepien. [NYMag]
🍔 Chow Down:New Yorker food critic Hannah Goldfield offers up her pandemic guide to dining on the boardwalk in the Rockaways, after inviting Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel along for the behind-the-scenes experience. [NewYorker]
Around the Web
👴 Glass Half Full: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) touted the “enormous progress” the progressive movement has made already this year, even with Joe Biden at the top of the ticket.
🎒 Feeling Protected: Jared Kushner said he has “no fear” in sending his kids back to their Jewish day school in Washington despite the pandemic.
⚖️ Cut a Deal:Ari Harow, a former Likud operative turned state’s witness in Netanyahu’s corruption trial, was indicted this morning for fraud and breach of trust as part of his plea deal.
💥 Clashes: Israeli tanks hit targets in the Gaza Strip early this morning following days of rocketfire, incendiary balloons and border riots.
🎧 Buy Off: Warner Music has acquired IMGN Media, a Tel Aviv and New York-based startup that tracks viral social media content.
📡 Dealmaking: Israel and the U.S. are close to signing a memorandum of understanding that would cut China out of building Israel’s 5G networks.
🛬 Easy Entry: Israel’s Health Ministry has waived its mandatory 14-day quarantine for Israelis returning from 20 “green” countries, including the U.K., Canada and Germany.
✈️ Hand Over: El Al Chairman Eli Defes has stepped down due to an undisclosed medical condition.
📈Cash In: Entrepreneur Michael Rubin’s Fanatics has increased its value by close to 40% — from $4.5 billion to $6.2 billion — after raising $350 million in the Series E funding round.
👨💻 Promoting Hate: An investigation by the U.K.-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that Facebook’s algorithm actively promoted Holocaust denial pages.
◀️ Under Fire: Washington state GOP gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp is facing criticism for past comments comparing gun rights to the Holocaust.
🧑⚖️ Talk of the Town: A Florida judge ruled that Boca Raton high school principal William Latson was wrongfully terminated after refusing to call the Holocaust a fact.
🤵👰 Mazel Tov:Mark Botnick, a principal at MDB Strategies and a Mike Bloomberg alum, and Jeanette Salem, a middle school office manager at the Ramaz School, got married in Deal, N.J., on Sunday.
🏺 Art in Motion: Iraqi Jewish sculptor Michael Rakowitz is exploring his family’s roots in an artistic attempt to reclaim looted artifacts from his grandfather’s homeland.
🕯️ Remembering:Former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, whose daughter, Ellen Baker, flew several times to space, died at age 94. Rabbi Samuel Karff of Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, Texas, died at age 88. Israeli legal scholar and professor Ruth Gavison died at age 75.
Gif of the Day
Food writer and social media star Jake Cohen shows off his Saturday morning breakfast sandwich on slices of his leftover challah.
CEO of Bridgewater Associates, he was previously under secretary of the Treasury for international affairs, David Harold McCormick turns 55…
Co-founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison turns 76… Head of Drexler Ventures, Millard “Mickey” S. Drexler turns 76… Former U.S. senator from Minnesota and chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Norm Coleman turns 71… Audiologist in the Boston area, Louise Citron turns 70… Former chairman, president and CEO of both Continental Airlines and United Airlines, Jeff Smisek turns 66… Venture capitalist and a past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, Jordan Levy turns 65… Co-owner and founding partner of The Jackal Group, a television and film production firm, Gail Berman turns 64… Communications coordinator at Temple Beth El in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Deborah Peskin turns 59… Former member of Knesset and a leading Israeli criminal defense attorney, Revital Swid turns 53…
Former MLB baseball player, now an insurance advisor in Baltimore, Brian Kowitz turns 51… Israeli journalist focused on Arab affairs, Zvi Yehezkeli turns 50… SVP for communications at The Madison Square Garden Company, Glen Caplin turns 48… Former Obama White House staffer, now a podcast executive and comedian, Jon Lovett turns 38… Senior director at the Corporate Citizenship Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Elyse Cohen turns 37… Comedian and actor, Raphael Bob-Waksberg turns 36… Tech lobbying reporter at Bloomberg, Ben Brody turns 33… One of the Sprout Brothers from Great Barrington, Mass., Ari Meyerowitz turns 30… Investor relations staffer at MSD Partners, Amanda Horwitz turns 28… Government and public affairs director at Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles, Aaron Taxy… Eli Diamond… Gabriel Berger… John Kohan…