Good Monday morning!
Ahead of the final day of the 2020 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are barnstorming battleground states.
Axios reported yesterday that Trump has told aides he will declare victory on Tuesday night if it seems like he’s in the lead.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahutold reporters yesterday that he hopes the Trump administration’s approach “that isolates Iran, and brings the fruits of peace — peace grounded in reality to the people of Israel, to the Arab peoples of the region” will “continue in the coming years.”
Alaska Senate candidate Al Gross has accused Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) of antisemitism for running a digital attack ad featuring a doctored image of Gross fanning out a pile of dollar bills.
In a questionnaire solicited by Jewish Insider, Senate candidate and former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock weighs in on antisemitism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iran deal.
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The ‘Tehran’ star bringing Israelis and Iranians together through music
Liraz Charhi has long felt suspended between two worlds. The Israeli-born actress and singer grew up in a Farsi-speaking household with two Iranian-born parents, who raised her on stories of Tehran in a home imbued with Persian culture. “It was pretty tough for me to understand at some point: Who am I? Am I Iranian or am I Israeli?” she told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro in a recent interview. “Because each time I was walking from home to school, I felt like I’m switching countries.”
Two worlds:That dichotomy has played out in her work over the past year. In the new Apple TV+ thriller “Tehran,” Charhi, 42, plays Yael Kadosh, an Iranian immigrant to Israel who works as a Mossad handler, utilizing her fluent Farsi to build connections and operate undercover. And for her new album Zan, out next week, Charhi secretly collaborated with Iranian artists to create the record’s Farsi-language electro-dance tracks. While as a child she was embarrassed of her roots, today she embraces her heritage. “My heritage is my story, and I don’t have to choose sides and to fight over my identity,” she said. “I’m built of layers — I’m both Iranian and Israeli and I don’t have to feel sorry about it. It’s a good thing, it’s not a bad thing.”
Relatable role:Charhi said she related strongly to the character of Kadosh, who also grew up caught in between two worlds. “She moved to Israel when she was 16, and she has pretty much the same story of my parents and myself,” she said. “She’s very complex, she’s very gentle, but at the same time very determined to prove herself in a very masculine world.” Like herself, Charhi said, Kadosh is “asking the question: Who is she? Is she Iranian or Israeli? I felt that this role was actually written for me. And I could identify with her story immediately.”
Breaking borders:For her latest album, Zan, which means “woman” and will be released on November 13, Charhi digitally collaborated with a range of Iranian artists — an experience she said was fraught with tension. “It was like a rollercoaster,” she told JI of working with the Iranian artists. “Some of them were really, really happy to work with me. But some of them disappeared in the middle, changed their profile, they were very afraid that someone would catch them and [discover] that they’re working with an Israeli artist, while some of them couldn’t care less.” Charhi issued a call on social media for Iranian artists who were interested in contributing to the album. Many eagerly replied, sending lyrics, melodies and some even conducting joint recording sessions over Skype.
Peace through art: Charhi said she hopes both her music and her acting career can help show how much average citizens of Israel and Iran have in common. “We are complex countries and it’s a complex issue,” she said. “And I think the ‘Tehran’ TV series and my albums as well are telling the stories behind the big enemy countries. It’s a fact that we’re not living in peace. But you know, we — the simple people — we love each other, and we do live in peace. We are doing art together, which is the most beautiful thing we can do.”
Race to Watch
In New York City’s only purple district, a first-term incumbent is in jeopardy
In New York’s 11th congressional district — the only Republican-leaning portion of the city — the battle between incumbent Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) and Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis is neck and neck. In recent emails to supporters, both campaigns highlighted Rose’s position as one of the most vulnerable sitting members of Congress. Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh spoke to both candidates and to a range of Jewish constituents about the tight race.
Details: The 11th district is considered the most conservative part of New York City — won by President Donald Trump in 2016 by 10 points — and one of the couple dozen districts the Cook Political Report rates as a “toss-up.” Outside political groups have been pouring millions into the race for the swing-district seat — adding to the string of attack ads the two candidates have aired. Rose has outraised his opponent 3-to-1, raking it about $8.3 million, according to recent FEC filings.
Maverick: Rose believes both Republican and Democratic voters will appreciate that, despite his membership in the Democratic caucus, he “has been willing to stand up to both parties” in Washington. Rose also pointed to his support of Trump’s executive order to combat antisemitism on campus, issued last December, and his approval of the targeted killing of Qassim Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, earlier this year, as instances where he chose values over politics. An elected official “can’t be thinking about parties, the polls, the next election and what your donors want,” Rose explained. “That very false commitment is why people hate politics. And when we talk about changing politics, that’s what we have to change.”
Party line:Malliotakis contested Rose’s effort to portray himself as an independent by highlighting his vote to impeach Trump as well as backing he received from a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “It’s very disingenuous to tell the community that you are independent when you turn around and go to Washington and vote [96%] of time with Nancy Pelosi, including for the most partisan measure we’ve seen in years — which is the impeachment vote against the president,” Malliotakis told JI. She further suggested Pelosi’s investment on behalf of Rose — who voted against Pelosi in her bid for House speaker last year — is an attempt to “save him because she wants to keep him as a rubber stamp” in Washington.
Split support:Both candidates have strong ties to the Jewish community and enjoy a nearly even amount of support among members of the large Sephardic segment of the community in the portion of the district that lies in Brooklyn, according to conversations with a handful of constituents. Jack Ashkenazie, a community activist in Brooklyn, told JI that as a member of Congress, Rose “has shown his support for the issues that are important to us, and it’s prudent for us to support moderate Democrats who share our values.” Ashkenazie said he “can vote for President Trump, and I can also vote for Max Rose, because it’s the right thing to do.” Former New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind told JI he endorsed Malliotakis because Rose hasn’t been forceful enough, just “fulfilling the most minimum requirements” to challenge the progressive members of his party. “He has a strong personality, he could have done so much more within the Democratic Party to take a stand against the hate that exists in that party.”
Country first: In his interview with JI, Rose maintained that his support for Israel is absolute, regardless of who sits in the White House or has a majority in the House, pointing out that he’s a lead sponsor of a bipartisan House resolution that expresses support for the recently signed Abraham Accords. “It’s got to be ‘country first.’ You cannot be blinded by partisanship,” he explained. “When we change those two things, we will dramatically fix our politics for the better. And I believe with all my heart and soul, that that is the direction we’re gonna take this country.”
Maria Elvira Salazar is ready for round two in Miami congressional matchup
In 2018, Maria Elvira Salazar, a former TV journalist turned congressional hopeful, ran a formidable campaign to succeed retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in South Florida’s 27th congressional district. That she failed to beat now-Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), losing by six percentage points, does not seem to have deterred her one bit. Salazar is ready for round two this cycle as she vies for a second chance to represent the Miami-based district. “I’m seeing it,” Salazar, 59, said in a recent interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “I know I’m going to get it.”
Reasons for optimism: The Cuban-American Republican has reason to believe she can snatch the seat away from Shalala, a former longtime president of the University of Miami who served as Health and Human Services secretary during the Clinton administration. Outlining her path to victory, Salazar predicts that she will peel away 20% of the vote among Hispanic Democrats while garnering support from a majority of independent voters. The National Republican Congressional Committee also seems to think that Salazar has a fighting chance despite her previous defeat, having added her to its “Young Guns” program and commissioning a recent poll placing Salazar three points ahead of her opponent.
Uphill battle: Still, Shalala is expected to prevail in a district Trump lost by 20 points in 2016. Most polls — with the exception of some outliers — have given her an edge over her opponent. In an interview with JI, the first-term incumbent, 79, trained her attention on the coronavirus pandemic, which has decimated the tourism industry in her district while imperiling the health and safety of her constituents. “If you look at the issues in my race, it’s COVID, COVID, COVID,” she said emphatically, touting her past experience in health policy as evidence that she is best equipped to take on the virus as it continues to spread. “It’s the president’s mishandling of COVID, and it’s the Affordable Care Act and pre-existing conditions.”
Foreign policy flub: Salazar applauded President Donald Trump’s foreign policy approach in broad strokes, but she appeared to be unversed on the Trump administration’s recent involvement in forging peace deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. In conversation with JI, Salazar at first suggested that Trump had brokered a deal between Qatar and Israel, which has not occurred, and then struggled to come up with the popular abbreviation for the United Arab Emirates. “QEA, right?” she ventured. “QEA. Right. QEA.” JI suggested that she was probably referring to the UAE. “Ah, UAE, yes, I got confused with the letters,” she said. “UAE. The UAE.”
Connection to Israel: Shalala estimated that she has been to Israel between 20 and 30 times, boasting that she had received three honorary degrees from Israeli universities. Though she was detained at Ben-Gurion Airport in 2010 while returning from a trip to the Jewish state, Shalala, who is of Lebanese descent, has brushed off the incident as a mere inconvenience. Her visit last August on a trip with the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation was her first as an elected official. “Israel felt more fragile than I’ve ever seen it over the years I’ve gone back and forth,” she said. “I think it’s the fact that the technology has gotten more sophisticated, that the reach of Hezbollah has been more dramatic. As much as we’ve strengthened and supported the military of Israel, they’re still surrounded by people, by enemies.”
📚 Weighing In:Israeli author and academic Yuval Noah Harari speaks to The Times’s Josh Glancy about censorship, COVID-19 and the political polarization plaguing America. “The world has lost faith in American competence,” he said, “it’s a laughing stock.” [TheTimes]
📰 Changes Ahead:New York Times media columnist Ben Smith highlights the major changes expected in the media landscape no matter who wins the upcoming presidential election, including the departure of Los Angeles Times executive editor Norm Pearlstine and the upcoming retirement of Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron. [NYTimes]
👱🏼♀️ Hair Today:In British Vogue, Amy Abrahams explores how her decision to dye her brown hair blonde — prompting many proclamations of “you don’t look Jewish” — tied in to her own feelings of identity. “My blondeness became a follicular kind of code-switching — it challenged people’s expectations, it caused surprise. It seemed to help me slip between two worlds.” [Vogue]
Around the Web
🚨🚨 On Alert: The Anti-Defamation League will track the activities of right-wing extremist groups to prevent them from intimidating voters at polling sites.
⛔ No Entry: The Biden transition team is considering an informal ban on naming senators to the Cabinet if he wins — as a diplomatic way of avoiding pressure to appoint either Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
💢 Shake Up: If Trump wins reelection, he is expected to reshuffle his Cabinet and remove top health officials and intelligence heads who have contradicted him or refused to take his orders.
📚 Book Shelf:Aaron Parnas, the 19-year-old son of convicted Rudy Guiliani associate Lev Parnas, is out with a book, titled “TRUMP FIRST: How the President and His Associates Turned Their Backs On Me and My Family,” tracing his journey from Trump supporter to Biden voter.
⛓️ Seeking Freedom: Family, friends and rabbis of convicted fraudster and comedian Ari Teman are appealing to Trump to pardon him ahead of his sentencing.
🔥 Fire Sale:Shalom Lipner, a 26-year veteran of the Israeli prime minister’s office, posits that foreign leaders are taking advantage of the president’s lagging poll numbers ahead of the election, “turning his political predicament to their advantage, exacting precious concessions that were denied to them previously.”
⚔️ Coalition Conundrum: Three political parties are threatening to withdraw from Sudan’s transitional government in protest over the country’s normalization deal with Israel.
🛫 Return Ticket:Some 6,000 Sudanese migrants in Israel are worried they may be sent home as part of the peace deal between the two countries.
🇩🇴 Talking the Talk: Israel welcomed a declaration by the Dominican Republic on Saturday that it may consider relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
✌️ Round Two:Israel is gradually continuing the reopening process from its second lockdown, as it kicks off human trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, which could be ready by next summer.
✡️ In the Spotlight: Rabbi Yaakov Kanievsky, the grandson of influential haredi arbiter Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, told AFP that his grandfather’s conduct during COVID-19 has been misunderstood.
🏃♀️ Beatie Benched: Beatie Deutsch, the Israeli-American marathon runner, is still battling Olympic officials over the women’s marathon scheduled for Saturday next year.
⚾ Seal of Approval: The full Major League Baseball group’s ownership committee has approved Steve Cohen’s bid to purchase the New York Mets.
🗞️ Media Watch: Journalist Ruth Shalit Barrett — who was hit by plagiarism accusations at The New Republic in the 1990s — is under fire for fabricating parts of a recent Atlantic article.
👮 Training Camp: Training materials for the Kentucky State Police were rife with quotations from Hitler, a revelation uncovered by high school journalists.
🎒 Cracking Down:The New York State Education Department is reviving efforts to ramp up oversight of the curriculums of private schools in the state.
🕍 Targeted Again: Two months after an arsonist targeted the Chabad of Newark in Delaware, the Chabad of Wilmington was damaged by an intentionally set fire.
🇬🇧 Under Attack: Former Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger said she was hit by a new wave of antisemitic abuse after the suspension of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last week.
🥪 Keep Eating: The Gertie eatery in Brooklyn is fighting to stay open despite flagging business under COVID-19 restrictions.
🖼️ Fighting Back:A Jewish family has accused a Dutch restitutions committee of bias for rejecting its petition to reclaim a painting sold in 1940.
Song of the Day
Israeli singer Keren Peles released her new single yesterday, titled “There is no end to the night,” that she composed during Israel’s second coronavirus wave.
Professor of economics at MIT, her primary expertise is in public finance and health economics, she won a MacArthur “Genius” fellowship in 2018, Amy Finkelstein turns 47…
Former NASA astronaut who made five flights in the space shuttle and is currently a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, Jeffrey A. Hoffman turns 76… County executive of Montgomery County, Maryland, Marc Elrich turns 71… Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink turns 68… Community activist, she was the Democratic nominee to be Maryland’s lieutenant governor in 2018, Susan Wolf Turnbull turns 68… Research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Alan D. Abbey turns 66… Head of School at Weizmann Day School in Los Angeles, Lisa Feldman turns 62… Financial planner at Grant Arthur & Associates Wealth Services, he is the author of a book on the complicity of Lithuania in the Holocaust, Grant Arthur Gochin turns 57… President of global content at Viva Creative, Thomas Joseph (Joe) Talbott turns 57… Marc Solomon turns 56…
Managing director of government affairs at Microsoft Azure, John Sampson turns 54… Actor, director and producer, best known for playing Ross Geller in the sitcom “Friends,” David Schwimmer turns 54… Refugee from Iran in 1979, now the assistant attorney general for Antitrust at the U.S. Department of Justice, Makan Delrahim turns 51… Founder and CEO of Spring Hills Senior Communities, Alexander C. Markowits turns 47… Former senior advisor on Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign, he is the publisher of The Daily Poster, David Sirota turns 45… Member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Alexander Kushnir turns 42… Editor of Outlook for The Washington Post, Adam B. Kushner turns 40… Marc B. Rosen turns 39… Director of government relations at the Israel Policy Forum, Aaron Weinberg turns 30… Two-time Emmy award-winning video producer, now working as a front page editor for HuffPost, Celeste B. Lavin turns 30… Eastern director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Michael Cohen…