Good Thursday morning!
Tonight, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are set to appear at separate town halls, on NBC and ABC respectively, after the second scheduled debate was canceled following the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis earlier this month.
Two American citizens held hostage by Iranian-backed militants in Yemen were freed in an exchange that was yesterday reportedly “reluctantly” backed by Saudi Arabia.
The Knesset is voting today to formally approve the Israeli normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates. Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he will boycott the vote because legislators haven’t been privy to the accord’s full details, and the Arab Joint List said it will vote against the deal.
Under a new agreement with the Claims Conference, Germany will provide upwards of €500 million to support 240,000 Holocaust survivors around the world.
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carolina crunch time
Is Lindsey Graham in trouble? His closest allies aren’t sweating it
As Election Day nears, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is facing what may be the most challenging race of his 27-year political career. Graham’s Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison, has outraised him by orders of magnitude. The Cook Political Report has moved the race to a toss-up, and a number of polls suggest the two candidates are tied. But Despite Graham’s handicaps, a number of his allies told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel that the 65-year-old Republican — who has represented South Carolina in the Senate since 2003 — will still emerge victorious.
Money shmoney: “Could he be in trouble?” Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based GOP donor and Graham confidante, mused in an interview with JI. “If money is still the determinant, he could be in trouble, but I just don’t see that at all.” Zeidman posited that the media has overplayed Harrison’s fundraising prowess. “Unless this guy is going to pay for every TV commercial on every station, I don’t know what he’s going to do with $60 million,” Zeidman averred. “I mean, to try and money-whip a guy that has been as devoted a patriot as Lindsey Graham — it ain’t right.”
South Carolina values: Norm Coleman, the former Republican senator from Minnesota and current chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, echoed that view. “In the end, I’m confident the people of South Carolina are going to choose somebody who represents their values, and that’s Lindsey Graham,” he told JI. “No amount of money is going to overcome that.” He added that Graham, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would earn points with South Carolina voters for his effort to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s pick to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
Praiseworthy run: The hedge fund manager Sander Gerber is another strong supporter of Graham’s. “Lindsey is the best value for public money,” said Gerber, who was instrumental in convincing Graham to support the Taylor Force Act, which withholds U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority on the condition that Ramallah ends payments to families of terrorists. “No senator works harder than he does,” Gerber said of Graham. “He deserves to be in the Senate.”
Optimistic outlook: Deserving or not, Graham’s position suggests he is slightly more susceptible to defeat than his supporters would like. Gerber recognized that Graham is on the defensive as he seeks to hold onto his seat, noting that the incumbent’s biggest weakness may be his close connection with the president, who is lagging in the polls. “That’s the question mark,” Gerber said, though he posited that Graham would most likely come out on top thanks in part to strong name recognition in the solidly conservative state.
As Seen On TV
Rep. Max Rose and Nicole Malliotakis clash in heated debate
Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) debated his Republican rival, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, in the first and only televised debate last night in the close race for New York’s 11th district, considered the most conservative in the city, which includes Staten Island and parts of south Brooklyn.
No labels: During the hour-long debate, Rose pointed to his support of Trump’s executive order to combat antisemitism on campus last December to highlight his independent approach. “When Donald Trump announced his executive order on antisemitism, I was one of the few people to stand right there with him — right during the height of the impeachment,” he stated. “So I have had no problem holding Donald Trump accountable, as I did during impeachment, saying that he was wrong for things like Russian bounties, wrong for abandoning our national guardsmen during the height of COVID, but also standing with him when he did the right thing.”
Back and forth: The two candidates clashed over police reform efforts, with Malliotakis accusing Rose of supporting calls to “defund the police,” something Rose repeatedly denied. The Republican said she “would never turn my back on NYPD as our congressman did,” while Rose proclaimed: “I would never vote to defund police, in fact I have only fought for more money for law enforcement.”
PA07: On Tuesday, Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) and her Republican challenger, Lisa Scheller, debated their stances on Israel and combating antisemitism during a candidate forum in Pennsylvania’s 7th district, hosted by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. A recent poll showed Wild with a 13-point lead (52%-39%) over Scheller.
At odds: On Israel, the two candidates highlighted their longstanding ties and support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, but differed on U.S. policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I support a two-state solution,” Wild said. “The United States has and must play an important role in any negotiations… being a moderator from a position of strength and [using] the strength that we have as the biggest supporter of Israel worldwide to help bring the parties to the table.” Scheller, who owns a home in Beersheba, suggested that by advocating for a two-state solution, the Democratic congresswoman “is going to require Israel to negotiate with parties that have no respect for Israel, that in fact don’t even believe that Israel has a right to exist. How are we going to prevent antisemitism and stand up to antisemitism and [defend] Israel when we are mandating Israel to negotiate with enemies?” she asked.
Speaking out: When the candidates were asked by a moderator to condemn the BDS movement and the far-right Proud Boys group, Scheller and Wild each used the bulk of their time to take shots at each other. “The guards at our synagogues, they’re not there to protect us from BDS supporters, though I do condemn that movement,” Wild said. “They are there to protect us from the violent, right-wing extremists who murdered Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue.” Scheller — after denouncing all forms of hate, including white supremacy — accused Wild of speaking out against Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) for their comments on Israel and Jewish Americans only after facing a “huge amount” of pressure to rebuke them. “She claims to have admonished [them] in the privacy of her office, but that’s not good enough,” said Scheller. “Susan Wild doesn’t stand up to antisemitism when it’s coming from her own party.”
on the hill
Brad Schneider: Resolution will ‘remind’ lawmakers of QME guarantee to Israel
Amid discussion on Capitol Hill over the potential sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) is working to remind lawmakers of Washington’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge.
Reminder:In a webinar with the Jewish Institute for National Security of America yesterday, Schneider elaborated on the reasoning behind the resolution he introduced earlier this month that reinforces the legal guarantees for Israel’s qualitative military edge. “A lot of my colleagues in Congress are relatively new… 100 new members came in in the last Congress, and 80 in the one before that. There’s been quite a bit of turnover,” he said. “I thought it was important to remind not just the administration, but my colleagues as well that Congress has an important role to play here.”
Promises made:Schneider said that, in considering an F-35 sale, the U.S. should carefully examine the UAE’s needs, as well as the U.S.’s own principles and obligations. The Democratic lawmaker seemed skeptical of the Trump administration’s negotiations over the sale. “I fear that that conversation was had in a very different way and that promises were made,” he said. “The news about it seems to be reinforcing that there was a promise to the UAE, concurrent if not dependent on the Abraham [Accords] that they would get F-35 jets.”
Info needed:Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), an original cosponsor of Schneider’s bill, also recently emphasized to JI that Congress will need to thoroughly vet the sale. “I’ve been clear throughout that we will not allow Israel’s qualitative military edge to be threatened,” Deutch told JI in late September. “We don’t know the background story here. We don’t know what was promised, what the deal was, what is exactly that we ought to be focused on… There’s a lot of information that Congress needs to receive from the administration and we will carefully review [it] when we receive it.”
📝 No Surprise: In Tablet magazine, former New York Times editor Bari Weiss urges readers to “stop being shocked” by antisemitism seeping into so-called “woke” movements. “Jews who refuse to erase what makes us different will increasingly be defined as racists, often with the help of other Jews desperate to be accepted by the cool kids.” [Tablet]
🛍️ Under the Radar: The Wall Street Journal’s Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber detail how many Israeli businesses are seeking creative workarounds to continue working amid the country’s second COVID-19 lockdown, including operating illegally, disguising products and offering “delivery” service to right outside the store. [WSJ]
💰 War Chest: The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay spotlights a series of super PACs linked to former Bernie Sanders aides that are quietly funneling millions of dollars into anti-Trump efforts, “by people ostensibly committed to rooting out undisclosed political money in politics.” [DailyBeast]
Around the Web
🤝 Open Window: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Saudi Arabia to consider normalizing ties with Israel during a meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, at the State Department yesterday.
✈️ Open Skies: Outgoing flights from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport will reopen Thursday night as the government begins to ease its COVID-19 restrictions, and El Al is resuming flights to Europe and North America.
👰👮 Nuptial No-No: A large wedding in Givat Ze’ev was broken up by police enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown Wednesday night, resulting in a scuffle between guests and law enforcement.
🏗️ Back to Building: Israel approved more than 1,300 new West Bank homes yesterday, the first such approval since it agreed to halt annexation efforts in exchange for a peace deal with the UAE.
☀️ Sun Rays:Israel’s OPC Energy firm announced it will invest more than $200 million into rapidly expanding the U.S.-based Competitive Power Ventures solar energy company it just purchased.
💵 Startup Nation: Israeli-based Nym Health raised another $16.5 million to roll out its auditable machine learning tools for automating hospital billing.
🏞️ Going Green: Israeli environmental activists are taking advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown to clean out pollution from rivers.
🏥 Paying Tribute: The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will name its newest hospital after Falcons owner and philanthropist Arthur Blank after his generous $200 million donation.
💸 Family Feud: Jennifer Pritzker, the cousin of Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, has donated $500,000 to an effort opposing the income tax proposal put forth by her cousin.
✍️ Big Backer: In a Florida Sun-Sentinel op-ed, major Democratic donor Haim Saban touts Joe Biden as an “an unfailing supporter of Israel’s safety and security.” Asked why he picked this particular publication, a source close to Saban tells JI, “Haim wanted to specifically address South Florida’s Jewish electorate, many of whom care deeply about a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
🎤 Doors Closed: Dangerfield’s, the famed comedy club opened by actor and comedian Rodney Dangerfield in 1969, has permanently closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
🙌 Earning Praise: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is being praised by many Orthodox residents of the state for his COVID-19 approach, in sharp contrast to the situation in neighboring New York.
🙇♀️ Sorry: Former Wing CEO Audrey Gelman issued a public apology to ex-employees for “mistreatment and harm” inflicted on workers left unprotected by the company.
⛓️ Behind Bars: Dozens of leaders of the Greek neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn were sentenced to 13 years in prison each for a variety of criminal activity, with one life sentence for murder.
📙 Sequel:Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen said he is writing another book, this time about the politicization of the Justice Department.
🎥 Film Feud: The estate of the late Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans has sued Sacha Baron Cohen to prevent the appearance of Evans “under false pretenses” in Cohen’s upcoming “Borat” film.
👶 Mazel Tov: Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and his wife, Jaclyn, welcomed their second child, Stasha Mae, whose Hebrew name will honor Fulop’s grandmother, Elizabeth, who died of COVID-19 in May.
Pic of the Day
UAE’s Ambassador to Rwanda Hazza Alqahtani hosted his Israel counterpart, Ambassador Ron Adam, yesterday to discuss “bilateral relations between the two countries.”
Media mogul, major donor to the Democratic Party and producer of “Power Rangers,” Haim Saban turns 76…
Real estate developer and owner of MLB’s Washington Nationals, Theodore N. (Ted) Lerner turns 95… Retired from the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1996, he is a mediator and arbitrator, Judge Jack Newman turns 81… Founder and rosh yeshiva of the Talmudic University of Florida in Miami Beach, Rabbi Yochanan Zweig turns 78… Former vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve (2014-2017), after an eight-year term at the helm of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer turns 77… Miami-based mental health counselor, Mindy Hersh, Ph.D. turns 65… Born in Tunisia and raised in Paris, owner of Los Angeles’s Harissa Restaurant, Alain Cohen turns 65… Founder and CEO of Refinement Services, Neil Kugelman turns 60…
Assistant secretary of the Treasury for international markets, he is reported to be the first Hasidic Jew to hold a Senate-confirmed administration position, Mitchell Allen Silk turns 59… Founder and CEO of Olam Corp. and founding partner of Equalitas Capital, Andrew Fawer turns 56… Founder and chief executive of the global investment firm Citadel, Ken Griffin turns 52… Former mayoral press secretary during the Bloomberg administration in NYC, now a political communications strategist, Stu Loeser turns 47… Director of tennis at Boca Bridges, he was a professional tennis player who ranked 69th in the world during 2012, Jesse Levine turns 33… Second baseman on Israel’s National Baseball Team, Mitch Glasser turns 31… Director of strategy at Jersey City-based Mana Contemporary, a contemporary arts organization with satellite facilities in Chicago and Miami, Heiko Stoiber…