Good Tuesday morning!
Israel and Sudan announced a normalization agreement Friday afternoon brokered by the United States. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a delegation of Israelis will travel to Khartoum this week to discuss trade and migration issues.
During the joint call announcing the deal, President Donald Trump asked Netanyahu: “Do you think ‘Sleepy Joe’ could have made this deal?” Netanyahu diplomatically replied, “One thing I can tell you, is… we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America.”
Sadiq al-Mahdi, the former prime minister of Sudan and the head of its largest political party, slammed the deal, calling Trump a racist, Israel an apartheid state and suggesting the normalization pact would lead to “the ignition of a new war.”
Israel’s Mossad chief Yossi Cohen reportedly suggested privately that the Saudis will openly embrace a normalization deal with Israel — but only after the U.S. presidential election.
The Jewish Federations of North America’s first all-digital General Assembly kicked off yesterday and continues through tomorrow evening.
A new poll conducted for the American Jewish Committee — and published this morning ahead of tomorrow’s second anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh — shows 43% of American Jews believe the status of Jews in the U.S. is less secure today compared to a year ago.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett is poised to be confirmed to the Supreme Court by a Senate vote today, after a bitter all-night session showcasing the sharp partisan divide over the timing of her nomination.
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SAN DIEGO DISPATCH
Justice Dems boosted this candidate until she spoke favorably of Israel
At the beginning of 2020, Georgette Gómez, the San Diego City Council president who is running for a seat in California’s 53rd congressional district, earned a trio of coveted endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the progressive group Justice Democrats. The group’s imprimatur was a stamp of approval from one of the nation’s most influential progressive organizations, but it turned out that Gomez wasn’t fully aligned with them on one issue: Israel. Now that support appears to have disappeared, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Background: In mid-April, Gómez went public with her views in an interview with Jewish Insider, stating that she disagreed with Justice Democrats on matters relating to the Jewish state. The group has previously labeled Israel a “human rights violator,” a characterization Gómez rejects. Since then, Justice Democrats has all but revoked its endorsement. A source close to the Gómez campaign, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, tells JI that Justice Democrats is no longer actively fundraising for Gómez because of disagreements over Israel. Its last contribution, for in-kind texting services, was on April 15, according to the FEC, and it has made no independent expenditures as it has in several other races. The group has also stopped directly boosting Gómez on social media.
Unlike elsewhere: By contrast, Justice Democrats has been furiously promoting Kara Eastman, a progressive congressional candidate in Nebraska, on its social media channels. And on Sunday, the group announced that it had launched a $350,000 independent expenditure to boost Eastman against Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE).
Tough race: The group’s decision comes at an inopportune moment for the candidate, who is lagging behind her opponent, fellow Democrat Sara Jacobs, by double digits, according to recent polls. Jacobs, the 31-year-old Qualcomm heiress, has vastly outspent Gómez, having personally contributed $5.4 million to her campaign. Gómez, meanwhile, has only pulled in $1.6 million, and she has struggled to compete in San Diego’s expensive media market. “The problem for Gómez isn’t that Jacobs is spending a lot of money,” said Evan Crawford, an assistant professor of political science and international relations at the University of San Diego. “It’s that she doesn’t have much money of her own.”
Other support: Democratic Majority for Israel is attempting to help Gómez overcome that impediment. DMFI, which endorsed Gómez in April, recently launched an ad through its PAC that will run until Election Day, according to the group’s president, Mark Mellman, who also works as a pollster for Gómez. The mid-six-figure ad buy, which will run on TV and digital, is supported by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s BOLD PAC and LPAC, which supports LGBTQ women. According to the campaign source, DMFI’s presence in the race has also contributed to the tension between Gómez and Justice Democrats.
Sanders split: This summer, more than 60 Sanders delegates distributed a letter urging Justice Democrats and other progressive organizations to unendorse Gómez over her views on Israel, according to a recent report. But Sanders himself appears more confident about the San Diego City Council president. The Vermont senator is still boosting Gómez, whom he endorsed in late January. Last Tuesday, Sanders tweeted out a video in support of the candidate to his more than 13 million followers, declaring that Gómez “will fight for a progressive agenda and help transform our nation so it works for all of our people.”
Weighing in: Sean McElwee, co-founder of the polling firm Data for Progress, believes that the group is erring in its effort to distance themselves from Gómez over Israel. “I really think that progressives are making a strategic miscalculation,” McElwee told JI, “when they’re not backing a queer woman of color for holding views that, for many other politicians who hold similar views, they would give a pass.”
Read the full story here.
Elsewhere: Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper yesterday. Tapper did not ask Ocasio-Cortez about pulling out of a recent event honoring the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, but the New York congresswoman remarked that when it came to the Obama administration’s foreign policy, “there was much to be desired” and that “it wasn’t as progressive as perhaps many in this country would have liked.”
PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN
Warner boasts his bipartisan credentials on the campaign trail
In a highly polarized political environment, the divides between Republicans and Democrats can at times seem insurmountable. But according to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), there is a great deal of collaboration happening behind the scenes on Capitol Hill. “I think there is a lot more bipartisanship in Washington than what people acknowledge,” Warner told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh in a recent interview while traveling between campaign stops in Virginia’s Northern Neck Peninsula and Hampton Roads. “I’ve got 55 bills and they are all bipartisan.”
Behind closed doors: Warner pointed to “growing consensus” around the need to confront China, backing the semiconductor industry and support for Israel as issues that have remained relatively bipartisan. “You get sometimes, at the leadership level, sniping back and forth, but where real legislation is passed it’s almost always bipartisan,” the Democratic senator explained. “It’s like the people who get the most news are not often the people who pass the most laws.”
Comfortable lead: The two-term incumbent is being challenged by Iraq War veteran Daniel Gade. A new Washington Post/Schar School poll shows Warner leading his Republican opponent by 18 points — 57% to 39% — while also outperforming Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the commonwealth. It’s a much more comfortable margin than Warner had in his first reelection bid in 2014, when the senator eked out a thin 0.8-percentage point win over former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie. Despite his presumed victory, Warner told JI, ”I don’t take anything for granted,” and described life on the campaign trail as “living the dream.”
Read the full interview here.
Jewish figures wage endorsement battles ahead of Election Day
In the lead-up to Election Day, a range of factions and individuals within the Jewish community are vocally pushing their preferred presidential candidate. In op-eds, webcast events and letters, rabbis and other activists have argued over support for either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden. The uptick in demonstrated support for both campaigns — seen acutely in the Orthodox Jewish community — comes amid successive polls demonstrating a tight race in Florida, where more than 500,000 Jews are expected to cast their ballots.
Anger erupts: Fights broke out in Manhattan on Sunday during a “Jews for Trump” rally, when anti-Trump protesters clashed with rallygoers — at one point interacting with the motorcade of Rudy Giuliani.
In one corner: Mishpacha Magazine published a letter yesterday from 13 Orthodox rabbis that had been circulating since early summer supporting the president. After receiving more than 3,000 retweets, Mishpacha clarified that the letter was not intended to be an endorsement. One of the letter’s signatories, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, said in a video circulated on Friday that he hopes “every yid (Jew) and every goy (non-Jew)” will vote for Trump. The president tweeted his thanks to the rabbis who signed the letter on Sunday afternoon. In the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Jay Starkman questioned overwhelming Jewish support for Democratic candidates, touting the president’s diplomatic achievements and calling Democratic policy objectives “often inimical to Jewish interests.”
In the other corner: Rabbi Daniel Landes, an Orthodox rabbi based in Israel, argues in Haaretz that while the president’s diplomatic achievements vis a vis Israel are positive, some — like moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem — have been sensationalized and largely symbolic. Both Landes and Rabbi Barry Kornblau suggest that the Democratic Party has, with some fringe exceptions, been largely supportive of Israel. The “Jewish Republicans for Biden” group is holding an event this week with former Ambassador Eric Edelman and former Bush State Department official Eliot Cohen. And Jewish celebrities including Jeff Goldblum, Judy Gold, Beanie Feldstein and Adam Kantor are holding a “Jewish Americans GOTV Rally” later today in support of Biden. In a Jewish Women for Joe video posted last week, actress Mayim Bialik argued that “the ethical soul of this country” is at stake.
🕍 Never Forget: In The Associated Press, David Crary examines how Pittsburgh’s Jewish community is working to commemorate two years since the murder of 11 Jews in the Tree of Life synagogue amid the ongoing pandemic. “Once you can’t do everything in-person, there aren’t as many opportunities for healing,” said one rabbi. “Last year we had chaplains, therapists helping people face-to-face. That can’t happen this year.” [AP]
👩💼 Long Haul: Politico’s Tim Alberta interviews freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who — despite her own expected reelection — expressed deep concerns over the prospects of election interference and disputed results nationwide. “There’s not a lot of patience to actually let the process play out, to see who actually freely and fairly wins the election.” [Politico]
💽 Tech Titan: For The New York Times magazine, Michael Steinberger interviews Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir, the tech giant that utilizes big data for counterterrorism, public safety and lately to track COVID-19. Karp, whose father is Jewish and mother is African-American, said he established a deep connection to Germany “even as he recognized that his Jewishness would always set him apart.” [NYTimes]
✊ Fighting Fascism: In The New Yorker, Luke Mogelson digs deep into the Antifa movement emerging in Portland, Oregon, modeled in part on the 43 Group, made up of Jewish World War II veterans who attacked and de-platformed fascists and Nazis in the late 1940s. “It’s the Trump effect,” said one activist. “Nazi rallies have merged with the Republican base, and now they’re in the same space together.” [NewYorker]
Around the Web
⛔ Not on Board: Rep Ted Deutch (D-FL) told Jewish Insider that the Trump administration’s reported plan to label certain human rights NGOs as antisemitic is misguided and politicized.
💉 Race to a Vaccine: Israel announced it will begin human trials for a COVID-19 vaccine on November 1.
🛫 Arm Wrestling: Netanyahu indicated Friday that Israel will not oppose the sale of F-35 jets to the UAE, while Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused Netanyahu of hiding weapons deals and negotiations from defense officials.
🤷♂️ No Veto: Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz admitted that Qatar may receive F-35 jets from the U.S. even if Israel objects to the sale.
🇧🇭🇮🇱 Pursuing Peace: The Israeli government formally approved the peace deal with Bahrain, paving the way for a vote in the Knesset.
🕊️ More on the Way: White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said four or five more countries could make peace with Israel in the near future.
📊 Mixed Results: A survey across 13 Arab countries from November 2019 to July 2020 — not including the UAE or Bahrain — conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies found that the vast majority of gulf citizens oppose normalization with Israel — though 29% of Saudis refused to answer the question at all.
✈️ Big Buy: Israeli businessman Naum Koen, who is based in the UAE, is in talks to buy Israir Airlines after Emirati billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor said he wasn’t interested.
🚪 Door Ajar: Israel is poised to slightly ease its foreign entry restrictions and allow foreign businesspeople from “green countries” to obtain a one-week visa permit.
📈 Up for Grabs: Houston businessman Fred Zeidman announced that his SPAC, Good Works Acquisition Corp., has closed its $150 million in IPO at $10 each and will now seek to merge with a company that has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
⚖️ Square Off: Attorney Marc Kasowitz, representing Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, has threatened to sue The Lincoln Project for placing billboards in Times Square featuring the couple alongside COVID-19 stats.
💰 Switching Course: Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker, a former Trump donor, has given $100,000 to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project.
🕵️ Special Ops: New York Times media columnist Ben Smith details how Arthur Schwartz, a New York public relations personality close to Donald Trump Jr., worked unsuccessfully to plant the Hunter Biden story in The Wall Street Journal.
😠 Ancient Hatred: The campaign poster of a Jewish state Senate candidate in Arizona was vandalized with a swastika.
⚾ Foul Ball: New York City officials could hamper Steve Cohen’s bid to buy the New York Mets over the insider trading conviction of his former hedge fund, S.A.C. Capital.
🏀 Sports Blink: Amar’e Stoudemire has reportedly signed a deal to become an assistant coach to the Brooklyn Nets.
🧎♂️Holy See: Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa has been named the new Patriarch of Jerusalem by Pope Francis.
📉 Across the Sea: A new study reveals that the population of European Jewry has dropped 60% over the past 50 years.
💻 Virtual Visit: The Museum of Jewish Heritage is launching virtual field trips for teachers and students unable to visit in person.
🖼️ Art Argument: The Islamic Art Museum in Jerusalem is slated to auction off 250 works at Sotheby’s this week, despite opposition from museum professionals and government officials.
🕯️ Remembering: Tom Maschler, a Jewish refugee from Vienna who became a prominent book publisher and helped establish the Booker Prize, died at age 87.
Pic of the Day
On Saturday, Israeli athletes Anna Vernikov and Evgeni Krasnopolski competed during the pairs free skating program in the International Skating Union Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series in Las Vegas.
Staff writer for The New York Times, author of the 2019 bestseller “Fleishman Is In Trouble” and an upcoming novel “Long Island Compromise,” Taffy Brodesser-Akner turns 45…
Former chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, the first woman to serve in that position, Deborah Tobias Poritz turns 84… South African judge who led the controversial 2009 UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Richard Goldstone turns 82… Actress best known as one of Charlie’s Angels, Jaclyn Smith (family name was Kupferschmidt) turns 75… Evie Sullivan turns 74… Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turns 73… Media critic at The Baltimore Sun since 1989, assistant professor at Goucher College and the author of The Jews of Prime Time, David Lee Zurawik turns 71… National director of development at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, Janice Prager turns 65…
Rabbi of Congregation K.I.N.S. and dean of the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, he is a past president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Leonard Matanky, Ph.D. turns 62… Democratic staff director and chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, Perry Howard Apelbaum turns 62… Director of communications at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Jeffrey Rubin turns 61… Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Stacy Schiff turns 59… Founding partner and president of Global Strategy Group, Jefrey Pollock turns 49… Screenwriter, producer and editor, Jessica Sharzer turns 48… Figure skater who won a 2006 Olympic silver medal, plus three World Championship medals and the 2006 U.S. Championship, Alexandra Pauline “Sasha” Cohen turns 36… Senior product manager at CoStar Group, Danielle Feldman turns 36… U.S. Army Ranger, Second Lieutenant Evan May turns 25… Tel Aviv resident, Dr. Alberto Calo…