👋 Good Tuesday morning!
The 2020 census results confirmed thatTexas will gain two congressional seats in 2022, and Florida, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one. California, Illinois, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will each lose a seat.
According to census officials, New York was just 89 residents short of keeping all its congressional seats. Analysts noted that many of the states losing seats have large Latino populations, fueling speculation about a potential undercount of the community. Experts believe the reapportionment— which also affects electoral college votes —will likely make it marginally more difficult for Democrats to win future presidential elections.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, denied claims made in a leaked recording of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that he notified Iran of Israeli military actions. Zarif claimed that Kerry “informed him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times.”
The report led to condemnation from a range of prominent Republicans, though Bloomberg’s Eli Lake noted that Israeli officials had themselves publicly disclosed these strikes in 2018, but pointed out, “We don’t know when Kerry relayed this to Zarif.” Kerry denied the conversation ever took place, tweeting: “I can tell you that this story and these allegations are unequivocally false. This never happened — either when I was Secretary of State or since.”
Talks in Vienna between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — with the U.S. participating indirectly — over the 2015 nuclear deal are set to restart today.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Susan Wright, the widow of former Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX), who is running to fill her late husband’s seat in Texas’s 6th congressional district.
The Senate will vote today on whether to close debate on Colin Kahl’s beleaguered nomination to be undersecretary of defense for policy. If that vote passes, a final confirmation vote may also occur today, with tied votes likely for both measures.
The government of France intends to introduce a bill to close the legal loophole that led a French court to rule that Kobili Traoré should not stand trial for the 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi.
Meet Carolyn Maloney’s mixed martial arts challenger
Earlier this month, Rana Abdelhamid, a 27-year-old community organizer who works at Google, drew on a now-familiar maneuver in the progressive playbook when she launched her campaign to unseat a long-serving New York congresswoman, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), in the upcoming 2022 Democratic primary. “It’s clear that the majority of voters want a progressive change,” Abdelhamid, who is mounting her first bid for public office, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview. “They’re ready for a new generation of leadership.”
Compelling story: Backed by Justice Democrats, the formidable left-wing political organization, Abdelhamid is betting that she can replicate what several progressive challengers have accomplished in recent years. The Queens native weaves a compelling personal narrative in her slickly produced first video ad, detailing the financial struggles of her Egyptian-born parents while recounting a traumatic incident from her teenage years when a man tried to snatch her hijab as she was walking down Jamaica Avenue. “I remember the hate in his eyes,” Abdelhamid told JI. “I remember feeling completely isolated and alone.”
Crowded field? Abdelhamid believes that Maloney’s failure to clear the 50% threshold in last year’s primary makes her uniquely vulnerable. Suraj Patel, the former Obama staffer who fell short of unseating Maloney by just under four percentage points in 2020, intends to run again this cycle, but has yet to announce his candidacy. “Rana’s announcement just further solidifies the fact that a majority of people in our district are ready for change in our representation,” Patel told JI in an email, adding: “I welcome Rana’s voice to the race but I plan to continue to fight for my district and represent it.” Abdelhamid, however, suggested that Patel should stay on the sidelines this round. “I really think that there is a desire for someone new and someone who’s going to be able to consolidate progressives and excite progressive organizations, which is what I’ve been able to do with the backing of Justice Democrats,” she said, “and what I hope to do as I continue to build relationships with organizations across the district.”
Conditioning aid: Abdelhamid and Maloney are in alignment on several significant domestic issues, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. There are sharp contrasts, though, on foreign policy matters. Maloney, for example, voted against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, whereas Abdelhamid supports rejoining the agreement. While Maloney is regarded as a stalwart in the pro-Israel community, Abdelhamid, who supports conditioning aid to Israel, positions herself as a critic of the Jewish state. “I’m someone who would support conditioning aid to any country that’s in violation of our values, whether that’s Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Israel,” Abdelhamid said, speaking approvingly of a new bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that seeks to restrict U.S. aid to Israel. “The Israeli government has made it more difficult for us to see our goal for a two-state solution.”
Local focus: Abdelhamid, who visited Israel and the West Bank while a graduate student at Harvard, said she was open to visiting Israel again as an elected official. She made clear that she does not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, while expressing her opposition, on First Amendment grounds, to legislation that suppresses such political expression. “I have a different set of tactics for addressing the occupation,” she said. But Abdelhamid also sought to emphasize that she was more concerned with local issues. “It’s important for us to also amplify the general progressive issues that matter from a domestic perspective to our constituents, including safety and security,” said Abdelhamid, who has worked with groups like Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, which fosters ties between Muslim and Jewish women. “When I talk to Jewish voters, a lot of them also care about housing, education, health care,” Abdelhamid added. “Israel oftentimes doesn’t even come up.”
Virginia GOP alters rules to allow observant Jews to vote in primary convention
After an intense backlash, the Republican Party of Virginia voted unanimously on Sunday night to expand the voting options in the party’s state nominating convention so that observant Jews can participate, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. The move came days after the party’s State Central Committee initially voted to limit voting to Saturday, May 8, over the objections of Orthodox Jews in the state and their supporters. The new plan will allow Republican delegates, who must submit a form several days prior explaining that they are religiously observant and cannot vote on Saturday, to vote on Friday afternoon instead.
Overlooked: In early April, four Orthodox rabbis wrote a letter asking that the Republican Party’s State Central Committee allow observant Jews to vote absentee in the nominating convention. Virginia Republicans characterized the initial vote as a bureaucratic misstep, having more to do with confusion around the rules of the Republicans’ convoluted nominating convention than any antisemitic sentiment. “For the convention, everybody started to scramble, and I think it was just one of those things where we were running in so many directions, [and] people were just so focused on the basics, [like] how are we going to do this, that we didn’t think about some of these collateral issues,” said Mike Ginsberg, a member of the Republican Party’s State Central Committee.
Community support: After Thursday night’s vote, other Jewish figures and organizations got involved. The Maryland-based Coalition for Jewish Values, a right-leaning advocacy organization, wrote to the Republican Party of Virginia that Orthodox Jews are “at risk of being disenfranchised in this situation.” Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), told JI that he reached out to the Republican Party of Virginia after hearing about the controversy over the weekend. “You cannot avoid political meetings on the weekend,” Shemtov said, “but there should be accommodation for participation for those who can’t physically be in the room, but wish to be part of the process.”
Taken for granted: Jewish Republicans said that even if the initial decision was quickly rectified, it suggests a tendency to take Orthodox Jews for granted. Orthodox Jews are “conservative voters, and there’s an opportunity to reach out to them. This is what they do. They tell us that we can’t vote,” said Ken Reid, a Republican who spent more than 10 years as a local elected official in Loudoun County and now lives in Norfolk. “There’s no outreach” to Orthodox Jews, he added.
heard last night
David Axelrod says Orthodox voters were Obama’s opposition in Jewish community
David Axelrod, the former White House advisor to President Barack Obama and a current CNN contributor, attempted to draw a correlation between religious observance and political views among Jewish voters during a Zoom conversation yesterday evening.
Political lens: “The American Jewish community is not a monolithic community…but the vast majority of the American Jewish community is a progressive community, very much in keeping with the values of the Jewish community,” Axelrod said. “And the opposition that [Obama] received, and frankly, Hillary Clinton received, [that] Joe Biden received, comes from an Orthodox community that is viewing the entire American political scene through the lens of ‘a two-state solution is not in the interest of Israel,’ and that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s program is the program that should be followed.”
Divisions: Axelrod, a top strategist during both Obama’s 2008 presidential run and his 2012 reelection bid, made the comments at an event hosted by the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University. He suggested that the Orthodox faction is “a quarter, maybe as much as 30%” of the Jewish community, adding: “It does not represent the whole American Jewish community, and there are many, many people in the American Jewish community who love Israel, and share the concerns about how this Palestinian issue is dealt with.”
Elsewhere: During a press conference with Jewish media outlets last night, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) acknowledged the difficulties the GOP faces in attracting Jewish voters. “With regard to Israel, traditionally, Republican presidents have received more support than Democratic presidents from Israel and in terms of their policies,” Portman said. “There’s also a concern on so many other issues where the Republican Party has become more populist, in some cases more difficult for the Jewish community to support some positions.”
🛂 High Stakes: In The New York Times, Daniela Gerson writes about the experiences of her father, noted attorney Allan Gerson, who came to the U.S. as an illegal immigrant under a fake identity in the years following World War II, and how it influenced his stance on immigration. “My father had come to recognize that, in contrast to what so many of today’s most vulnerable immigrants face, the system his family encountered ultimately supported them. He also knew intimately that lives are at stake.” [NYTimes]
🤝 Diplomatic Approach: In Foreign Affairs, Daniel Kurtzer, Aaron David Miller and Steven N. Simon argue that “tough diplomacy” can put a halt to the “spiraling escalation” between Iran and Israel. “The Biden administration… can step in now, on the assumption that the near-term consequences of a political confrontation with Israel and muscular diplomacy with Iran will be more manageable than the consequences of a war within the next two years.” [ForeignAffairs]
🎥 Film Rec: In The New York Times, former CIA director John Brennan, who recently alleged that Israel’s killing of Iran’s chief nuclear scientist was a ‘criminal act and highly reckless,’ suggests and questioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s morals, suggests that President Joe Biden watch “The Present,” the Oscar-nominated short film about Palestinians passing through Israeli checkpoints. “The Palestinian quest for statehood deserves the early engagement of his national security team,” said Brennan. “The United States needs to tell Israeli leaders to cease provocative settlement construction and the sort of oppressive security practices depicted in ‘The Present.’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🥶 Cool Down: The UAE issued a rare rebuke of Israel yesterday, calling for an end to the violent clashes over the weekend between police and Palestinian protesters.
🗳️ Blame Game: Egyptian officials said the Palestinian Authority intends to call off national elections, blaming Israel’s refusal to allow in-person voting in east Jerusalem.
✈️ Think Twice: Days after raising the travel advisory for Israel to “do not travel,” the U.S. State Department lowered it to “reconsider travel.”
🛫 Not Welcome: The Israeli government is preparing to deport dozens of members of the African Hebrew Israelite community living in the country illegally. The group began settling in the south of Israel in the 1960s.
🛬 Time to Fly: Taglit-Birthright Israel announced it plans to resume trips to Israel this summer for vaccinated or recovered Americans.
📝 Allegation: A new report from Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of “the crime of apartheid” against Palestinians, which the Israeli government called “preposterous and false.”
😡 New Report: The Anti-Defamation League’s new audit of antisemitic incidents in 2020 found that a majority of physical assaults on Jews occured in New York City, with one-third of all assaults nationwide happening in Brooklyn.
🚓 On the Lam: A vandal who targeted four Bronx synagogues over the weekend returned to the Riverdale Jewish Center early Monday morning and broke several windows.
⛏️ Big Dig: Archeologists in Israel discovered a Byzantine-era tile mosaic in the city of Yavneh.
🏕️ Pilgrimage: The annual Jewish pilgrimage to Tunisia’s Djerba island for Lag B’Omer began yesterday in a COVID-restricted fashion.
📜 Late Edition: A July 1790 issue of the Worcester Gazette featuring an address by George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation of Savannah, Ga., is set to be auctioned off.
📰 Transition: Craig Silverman is leaving BuzzFeed News to join ProPublica, where he will cover voting, platforms and disinformation.
🕯️ Remembering: Journalist Aviva Okeson-Haberman, 24, was killed by a stray bullet inside her apartment in Kansas. Internet security researcher Dan Kaminsky died at age 42. Bernie Kahn, a veteran screenwriter and Maccabiah-winning swimmer, died at 90.
Pic of the Day
A plane carrying 104 new immigrants from North America — ranging in age from 4 months to 98 years old — landed in Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport yesterday.
Former refusenik in the Soviet Union, she made aliyah in 1987 and is now a political activist in Israel, Ida Nudel turns 90… Financial executive, formerly at Van Eck Global, Harvey Hirsch turns 80… Turkish preacher and former imam now living in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gülen turns 80… Non-profit executive who has managed the 92nd Street Y, the Robin Hood Foundation, the AT&T Foundation and Lincoln Center, he is also the lead director of First Republic Bank, Reynold Levy turns 76… Physician and a NASA astronaut, Chief of the Education/Medical Branch of the NASA Astronaut Office, Ellen Louise Shulman Baker, M.D., M.P.H. turns 68… Director-general of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Yisrael Hasson turns 66… VP at Covington Fabric & Design, Donald Rifkin turns 63… Biologist and professor of pathology and genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine, he won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Andrew Zachary Fire turns 62… Entertainment and tequila executive, Rande Gerber turns 59… Partner in 100 State Street Development, Elliot Mayerhoff turns 55… Showrunner, director, screenwriter and producer, Brian Koppelman turns 55…
Founder and CEO of NYC-based Gotham Ghostwriters, Daniel Gerstein turns 54… Author and op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, Dana Milbank turns 53… U.S. Senator (D-NJ) and Torah scholar, Cory Booker turns 52… Professor of science writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Seth Mnookin turns 49… Cinematographer and director, Rachel Morrison turns 43… Identical twin brothers, between the two of them they won 11 Israeli championships in the triathlon between 2001 and 2012, Dan and Ran Alterman both turn 41… Deputy regional director for AIPAC, Leah Berry turns 39… Television and film actress, Ariel Geltman “Ari” Graynor turns 38… Basketball coach, analyst and writer, profiled by Sports Illustrated in 2018 as “the smartest basketball mind outside the NBA,” Benjamin Falk turns 33… Senior digital strategy manager at Trilogy Interactive, Jessica Ruby turns 32… Research fellow at Harvard Law School, David Jonathan Benger turns 30… Founder & CEO at EREM, a consumer outdoor footwear and apparel company, Noah Swartz turns 28… Jonathan H. Glidden…