👋 Good Thursday morning!
Ed note: In honor of President’s Day weekend, the next Daily Kickoff will arrive on Tuesday.
At the trial of former President Donald Trump yesterday, House impeachment managers laid out their case connecting Trump’s rhetoric and activities in the months leading up to and during the Capitol riot to the actions of the insurrectionists.
Dozens of videos from January 6 were played, including some never-before-seen surveillance footage that revealed just how close rioters came to Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers.
But many prominent Republicansindicatedtoreporters that the footage was unlikely to sway their votes, while some drew equivalences between the Capitol rioters and Black Lives Matter protests that turned violent.
The second and final day of arguments from the House impeachment managers is slated to begin today at noon. Trump’s lawyers will then present their case on Friday and Saturday, followed by questions from senators on Sunday and a potential debate over witnesses.
Trump’s defense attorney David Schoen, who told CNN on Tuesday that he “wasn’t sure if it was appropriate” to wear a yarmulke in the Senate, showed up yesterday with his kippa in place.
For the land
An Ohio special election highlights the Democratic divide
As Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) awaits confirmation to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the race to claim her seat is intensifying by the day. Five candidates have lined up to compete in the crowded Democratic primary — and more are likely to declare ahead of the special election, which hasn’t yet been scheduled but is expected to be held May 4. Two candidates, Shontel Brown and Nina Turner, have emerged as frontrunners in Ohio’s sapphire-blue 11th district, and their differences typify a growing divide within the Democratic Party between moderates and progressives. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel spoke to both candidates about their approaches to the race.
Showdown: Brown, a Cuyahoga County councilwoman, is a center-left consensus-seeker who, as chairwoman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, has developed strong mainstream party connections thanks to her close mentor relationship with Fudge. “I want to go to D.C. to be a partner to the Biden-Harris administration and help Speaker Nancy Pelosi pass an agenda that will help the people in this district,” Brown, 45, told Jewish Insider in a recent interview. Turner, on the other hand, is an outspoken progressive who served as a Cleveland City councilwoman and an Ohio state senator before raising her national profile as the president of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) political group, Our Revolution and a national co-chair of his 2020 presidential campaign. “I’ve been able to build a relationship with each one of the Squad members, some deeper than others,” Turner, 53, told JI this week. “We have an affinity for each other.”
Backing Brown: As the race heats up, the Jewish community appears to be coalescing around Brown. Michael Siegal, a Cleveland resident and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s board of trustees, said he spoke with Brown personally before deciding to support her. “She wants to learn, she is inquisitive and she has a track record of being collaborative,” he told JI. “She is concerned about the issues of the Jewish community.” Pro-Israel America told JI that it is planning to back Brown. “We need leaders in Congress who value the U.S.-Israel relationship and will work to strengthen security, economic, scientific and cultural relationships between our two nations,” said Jeff Mendelsohn, Pro-Israel America’s executive director, “and that candidate in the 11th district race is Shontel Brown.”
Local issues: Turner emphasized to JI that she developed a “very strong relationship” with the Jewish community in her old senate district. “That will continue,” she said. Looking back on her time in the state legislature, Turner pointed to her support for allocating funds to religious schools. “All Jewish people are not wealthy,” she said, “and it was important that the state helped to fund some of that.” A.D. Motzen, who worked closely with Turner when he was Ohio regional director at Agudath Israel, recalled the former state senator being attentive to the Orthodox Jewish community’s needs, particularly around school choice. “This came from her belief in helping struggling families in her district to get the education they needed,” said Motzen, who is now Agudath Israel’s national director of state relations.
On Israel: While Brown is quick to cast herself as a strong supporter of the Jewish state, having recently visited on a trip sponsored by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation, Turner calls for conditioning aid to Israel and avoids clarifying her own personal position on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. “From a foundational perspective, it’s just a free speech issue for me,” Turner said of BDS. “I haven’t taken it any further than that.” Brown said her 2018 trip to Israel provided her with “a much greater and tangible and realistic appreciation for the vulnerability of this state.” While Brown opposes conditioning aid to Israel, Turner sees things differently. “For 60 years,” she told JI, “the Congress has said that our foreign assistance should respect human rights in any country.” But she was ambiguous as to how conditioning aid would be accomplished. “The will of the American people has been that our money is used for humanitarian causes,” she said.
Can Merav Michaeli right the Israeli left?
Merav Michaeli refused to let the Labor Party die without a fight. Michaeli, who was elected head of one of the oldest and once-iconic political parties in Israel last month, battled it out just to be able to hold the primary race that led her to victory. Now, she is fighting to bring Labor back from the brink of irrelevance and turn it once again into the home of the Israeli left. “The party was already considered to be dead and over and done with,” Michaeli told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro this week. “The fact that it’s alive again is something that helps bring people together.”
Background: Michaeli, 54, is now the only female party leader in Israel. A well-known figure in Israel, she was a regular on Israeli television screens as a journalist and TV host before being elected to the Knesset in 2013. A longtime feminist crusader, Michaeli is now tasked with resurrecting Labor, the once-dominant force in Israeli politics, which has dwindled to single digits in the Knesset, and appeared on the verge of extinction over the past three elections. “Members of Labor are yearning for someone that they can trust, who is speaking the truth and is standing where they believe they should be standing,” she said.
Unlikely allies: The Labor leader doesn’t rule out sitting in a future government with ideological foes including Gideon Sa’ar, or with the haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism. “I cannot rule it out, because it’s obvious that if the outcome of the election is such that it will be a possibility to replace Netanyahu, I think everybody understands that this is a very, very important step for Israel.” In order to accomplish that, she said, “concessions will have to be made, and I may have to be a part of a coalition that contains parts of Israeli politics that I deeply, deeply disagree with.”
U.S.-Israel ties: Michaeli told JI she was happy to see President Joe Biden win the U.S. presidential election, and believes he has a “deep commitment to security and sustainability and [our] interest,” she said. “I can only hope that as long as Netanyahu is prime minister, he does not repeat the damage that he caused to the relationship with President Obama.” She still hopes that many of former President Donald Trump’s gestures remain in place. “I wouldn’t want anything that is considered to be good for Israel to be retracted,” she said. “But what I want is the things that I consider to be good for Israel achieved, and that is advancement towards a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, [and] dealing much better with the threat of a nuclear Iran and the rest of the challenges that Iran poses for us.”
Religion and state: Michaeli also hopes to “start rehabilitating the trust between Israel and American Jews.” Under Netanyahu, she claimed, “the delegitimization and the exclusion and the lack of rights that the Jews from America experienced is completely inconceivable and intolerable.” Dealing with issues of religion and state in Israel, including recognizing conversions carried out abroad and allowing non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall, “is an Israeli interest long before it is an interest of American Jews,” said Michaeli, decrying the ultra-Orthodox control of the Chief Rabbinate. “If we ever want to have a government in Israel which really achieves pluralism and freedom of religion and genuine equality for all of its citizens, and all of the Jews inside and outside of Israel, then we have to build the political power of the center-left in Israel.”
‘Free Beacon’ editor Eliana Johnson discusses media bias
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s Limited Liability Podcast, hosts Jarrod Bernstein and Rich Goldberg are joined by Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon, to discuss covering the White House, the current media landscape and her husband’s conversion to Judaism.
Staying relevant: “I’ve had experiences across a range of different mediums and different outlets,” said Johnson, who previously worked for Politico, The National Review and Fox News. “I would say my main takeaway is that you’ve gotta break news to be relevant.” At the same time, she said, “we know the political affiliations of mainstream reporters are that 90-95% lean to the left… I don’t think it’s an issue of blind ideological bias, I just think it has more to do with social circles and the way reporting works,” said Johnson, who described the Free Beacon as “a conservative website dedicated to reporting,” whose goal is “to cover Democrats the way that the mainstream media covers Republicans, which is aggressively and holding them to account.”
Trump effect: “Before Trump, mainstream reporters at the Times, at the Post, at the Journal, there was a sense that you should strive for impartiality, and that even if they knew that they had biases, there was an effort to conceal them,” posited Johnson. “And I think Trump did away with that,” she said, citing reporters being “attacked by the left for making efforts to cover the administration impartially” as well as the incentives for journalists who became famous for being “viewed as opponents of the president.” Johnson said that today, “the smart young reporters who come in and work for me now… there’s a sense among smart young conservatives that there is no place for them in the mainstream.”
Team of rivals: Johnson suggested there is a “real concerted effort on the part of the left to strong-arm team Biden into including” progressives in the administration, referencing reports that former Bernie Sanders advisor Matt Duss may join the State Department. “Tony Blinken, the secretary of state and Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor, are seen as center-left Democrats who are broadly acceptable to the right,” she said. “And I think there was a lot of frustration on the left, that, particularly in the realm of foreign policy, they were not getting more of a voice in shaping the policies of the nascent Biden administration.”
Lightning round: Favorite Yiddish phrase? “Shpilkes.” Favorite Jewish food? “Potato knish and noodle kugel.” Favorite book? “Anything by Jane Austen.” What are you reading right now? Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker. Favorite journalist of all time? “Andy Ferguson of the late great Weekly Standard and The Atlantic.”
🎓 Campus Beat: Jewish students at British universities tell Bethany Dawson in Vice that the crisis of antisemitism on U.K. campuses is not being addressed by university officials. “The university doesn’t know what Jewish students need, they don’t try to know,” said one student. “We’ve been left in the dark.” [Vice]
🕎 Travel Trinket: Amar’e Stoudemire — who just placed his Florida home on the market — told Bloomberg’s Mark Ellwood that the one item always with him on his travels is an antique gold menorah. “I bought it in Jerusalem, and it’s kind of a small, travel-sized one,” he said. “It’s traveled with me to multiple countries and is always on display, wherever I am staying, to remind me of the strength that can be found in struggle.” [Bloomberg]
🎯 Plan of Attack: A detailed report in The Jewish Chronicle by deputy editor Jake Wallis Simons, citing unnamed intelligence sources,claims that Iranian chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated by a one-ton remote-controlled gun smuggled into Iran by the Mossad piece by piece over a period of eight months. [JC]
Around the Web
☎️ Gimme a Ring: Three weeks into President Joe Biden’s tenure, some — including former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon — are wondering why he still hasn’t called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
🤝 Teamwork: Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is in discussions with leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to co-produce additional shots for distribution.
🟢 Green Light: Israel plans to launch a “green pass” for individuals who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 to access gyms, hotels and other facilities. Meanwhile, proposed legislation would require unvaccinated teachers to be tested every 48 hours.
🗳️ GOTV: Palestinian poll workers in Gaza have begun registering people to vote, as Gazans are hopeful an agreement between Hamas and Fatah to hold elections this year will bear fruit.
🇾🇪 Mistakes: John Bolton criticized the Biden administration’s measures in Yemen, including pausing arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
✍️ First Person: Hank Kronick, the son-in-law of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), offered his first-hand account of being inside the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection.
🏆 Award Goes To: Filmmaker Steven Spielberg was announced as the winner of this year’s Genesis Prize.
🍕 Bon Appetit: The newest viral food trend of 2021 is the pizza babka, baked up by Brooklyn-based chef Bill Clark.
👩 Transition: CNN commentator Samantha Vinograd, a veteran of Barack Obama’s National Security Council and George W. Bush’s Treasury Department, is joining the Department of Homeland Security.
👋 He’s Out: Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, announced that he officially left the Republican Party after 40 years.
👋 Dismissed: Gina Carano, an actress on “The Mandalorian,” was fired for a social media post comparing Jews in the Holocaust to Republicans today.
📰 Media Watch: Guardian columnist Nathan Robinson claims he was fired by the newspaper for a joke tweet criticizing Israel, while the Guardian told Mediaite that Robinson was never an employee or under contract.
🕯️ Remembering: Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger, the president of Ner Israel Rabbinical College, died on Tuesday at 77.
Pic of the Day
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met yesterday with members of the IDF Alpinist Unit atop the snowy slopes of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights.
VP of programming at City Winery, he is also a pitcher for Team Israel who secured the final out in the team’s 2019 qualification for the 2021 Olympics, Shlomo Lipetz turns 42…
Los Angeles attorney, Shirley Cannon Munch turns 91… Journalist and author of a Passover Haggadah co-written with his late wife Cokie Roberts, Steven V. Roberts turns 78… NYC-based gastroenterologist, Julio Messer, M.D. turns 69… Second son of the late former President George H. W. Bush, former Governor of Florida, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush turns 68… Former Knesset member for the Jewish Home and Likud parties, Eliyahu Michael “Eli” Ben-Dahan turns 67… ProPublica’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Engelberg turns 63… Victorville, Calif., resident, Tricia Roth turns 63… National medical director of Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, Gary E. Applebaum, MD turns 62… Principal at Buck Global, LLC, Alan Vorchheimer turns 61… U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) turns 59… Admin and special project coordinator for Jewish Renewal programs at JDC, Debbie Halali turns 57… Founder and president of RAINN, Scott Berkowitz turns 52… Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, Joshua B. Green turns 51…
Elected as a member of the Broward County (Florida) School Board in the months following the death of her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Lori Alhadeff turns 46… Executive producer at The Atlantic, Rob Hendin turns 44… SVP of global public affairs at Blackstone, Ilana Ozernoy Mouritzen turns 43… Former tight end for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for four seasons, Mike Seidman turns 40… Republican strategist and president of Somm Consulting, Evan Siegfried turns 38… VP of global healthcare banking at Bank of America, David B. Stern turns 37… Deputy director of project management for Politico, Michelle Zar turns 32… Senior account manager at Politico, Rachel Kosberg turns 31… Director of baseball development for MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, Eve Rosenbaum turns 31… M&A associate at the NYC office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Alix Simnock turns 30… Recent graduate of Yale Law School and author of two books on origami, Scott Wasserman Stern… and his twin brother, political operative, Eric Wasserman Stern, both turn 28… Student at Johns Hopkins University, Joy Neuberger…