👋 Good Tuesday morning!
Secretary of State Tony Blinken arrived in Israel this morning and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
In remarks following their meeting, Blinken said that President Joe Biden sent him to Israel to “demonstrate the commitment of the United States to Israel’s security” as well as “to rebuild our relationship with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority.”
In his own comments, Netanyahu thanked Blinken for the administration’s support and reiterated his opposition to the U.S. return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Blinken stated that the U.S. is “consulting closely with Israel, as we did today, on the ongoing negotiations in Vienna, around a potential return to the Iran nuclear agreement.”
Blinken is slated to meet this evening with Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, who currently holds the mandate to form the next government. More below.
Biden issued a statement yesterday morning condemning a recent wave of antisemitic attacks: “The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop,” he wrote. “I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad — it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.”
Vice President Kamala Harris later issued her own statement, saying: “The surge in anti-Semitic attacks against the Jewish community in the U.S. and around the world is despicable — it must be called out, condemned, and stopped.”
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), who has butted heads with left-wing colleagues over antisemitism in the past, tweeted: “I’ll say the quiet part out loud; it’s time for ‘progressives’ to start condemning anti-semitism and violent attacks on Jewish people with the same intention and vigor demonstrated in other areas of activism. The silence has been deafening.”
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens writes that the lack of outcry over antisemitic attacks “is a curious silence. In the land of inclusiveness, Jews are denied inclusion.”
It remains unclearwhether Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will be able to bring his resolution attempting to block a $735 million arms sale to Israel for a Senate floor vote before the congressional review window for the sale expires and/or the Senate recess next week.
Sanders said the Senate parliamentarian has responded to an inquiry about such a vote, but said “it’s complicated” and the issue is “something we’re looking at right now.” His office did not respond to a request for more information.
race to watch
How one congressional candidate evolved her position on Israel in recent weeks
Until recently, Melanie Stansbury, the Democratic candidate in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District special election, had little knowledge of U.S.-Israel relations. In a March interview with Jewish Insider, Stansbury said she was unfamiliar with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and declined to comment on the 10-year memorandum of understanding with Israel. But within the span of just two months, Stansbury’s views have evolved considerably. While Stansbury now says she rejects BDS, she tells JI’s Matthew Kassel that she “would support divestment or sanctions initiatives that work towards the goal of a two-state solution,” and she claims to support continued security assistance for Israel, with some caveats.
‘Restricting aid’: “I also believe that any U.S. aid must only be used for security and defense and never for actions against Palestine,” Stansbury, 42, who is now a New Mexico state representative, told JI recently. “U.S. aid and funding must especially not be used to aid annexation in the West Bank. I support restricting aid if it is indeed being used in any way that goes against U.S. interests and values, endangers Palestinian people or threatens the basic human rights of Palestinians.”
J Street’s push: If Stansbury’s carefully worded statement on restricting aid seems familiar, it is likely because the policy proposal is now being pushed by J Street, the left-leaning Israel lobbying group. The organization, which endorsed Stansbury this week, recently began advocating for this approach, having backed a new bill from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that seeks to regulate aid to Israel. It is a new path for J Street, which has long opposed conditioning aid to Israel. But a spokesperson for the organization argues that this new policy objective is different, maintaining that J Street supports “end-use restrictions” that would ensure Israel uses U.S. aid only for “legitimate security purposes.”
Prominent platform: The New Mexico race represents the first major election in which the group’s new approach to foreign aid is being given a platform by a viable candidate. “We believe that Melanie, much like this seat’s former occupant Secretary Deb Haaland, will be a champion for diplomacy, democracy, and human rights,” said Ilya Braverman, J Street’s national political director, adding: “It’s clear from our conversations with the candidate that she shares our commitment to diplomacy-first, pro-Israel, pro-peace policies, including a commitment to addressing the occupation and other root causes of the conflict.”
Heading for the Hill? Stansbury, who was nominated over seven other candidates by the state party’s central committee, is a favorite to prevail in the heavily Democratic district, which encompasses most of Albuquerque. Her Republican opponent, Mark Moores, 51, is a Hispanic former college football player who has been a member of the New Mexico Senate since 2013. He drew a contrast with Stansbury on his support for Israel. Last week, as violence escalated between Israel and Hamas, Moores expressed his firm support for the Jewish state. “I stand with Israel and support their right to defend themselves,” he told JI. Stansbury’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding the recent conflict.
Meet the candidates vying to make history as Boston’s next mayor
Nearly 200 years after Boston elected its first mayor, the city recently swore in its first female mayor and its first mayor of color, almost by accident. Mayor Marty Walsh left his post in March to serve as secretary of labor in President Joe Biden’s administration, leading then-City Council President Kim Janey to become acting mayor. Now, Janey and five other candidates, all of whom are people of color and self-described progressives, are running to serve a full four-year term as mayor in a race widely seen as the christening of the “New Boston”: The city is close to becoming a majority-minority city, and all six candidates are quick to point out that Boston is no longer a mostly white, mostly Catholic city. A primary is scheduled for Sept. 14, with the top two vote-getters heading to a November general election. Four of the six candidates in the race spoke with Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch about their campaigns.
It’s personal: While the candidates hail from diverse backgrounds, most have relatively similar electoral histories and political views, leading to questions of how voters will ultimately differentiate between them. Five of the six major candidates serve in city government, and three — Michelle Wu, Andrea Campbell and Annissa Essaibi George — currently serve on the Boston City Council, as did Janey until earlier this year. A fifth candidate, John Barros, served as chief of economic development under Walsh. The final candidate, Jon Santiago, is a state representative and emergency room doctor. “If you’re a progressive Democrat or a liberal Democrat, you by and large like all these candidates,” said Erin O’Brien, associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Multiple communities: “To the extent that [the Jewish community] settle[s] on candidates, they are sort of all over the place, so nobody has emerged yet as a clear favorite candidate,” said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. In part, this has to do with the diversity of the city’s Jewish community, which Burton described as three-pronged: an Orthodox immigrant community in Brighton; a more secular, older community downtown comprised of empty-nesters; and a younger, progressive, LGBTQ-friendly community largely residing in the southern part of the city. “They are not necessarily seen as one distinct, highly visible community,” Burton noted.
BDS next door: Unlike the ongoing mayoral race in New York City, where all eight Democratic candidates have weighed in on the recent violence in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not crossed into the Boston race. But across the Charles River, the Cambridge City Council held a seven-hour meeting last night on a resolution that Burton described as aligned with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. A vote on the resolution is slated for this evening. The only candidate who responded to questions from Jewish Insider about the resolution — and how they would vote if it came before them as mayor — was Barros, who did not answer the question. “The City of Boston is a diverse and inclusive community, and as mayor I would work to make sure our purchasing power reflects our values,” Barros said.
Key constituencies: Many of the candidates have engaged with the organized Jewish community in some form, either by speaking at panel discussions hosted by Jewish groups or appearing at events including Holocaust remembrance ceremonies. Two candidates — Janey, the current mayor; and Campbell, a city councilor — have traveled to Israel with the Boston JCRC, and Barros participated in a trade mission to Israel as a member of Walsh’s administration in 2014.
- Wu: “I feel very grateful for the efforts and the work that has been done with civil rights and antisemitism that has really laid the groundwork and continues to be the foundation for so much anti-racism work here in our city.”
- Essaibi George: “A number of years ago, the Holocaust memorial in Boston was damaged, and as a city we came together to support our Jewish community and to support and honor what that memorial recognizes, remembers and reflects upon.”
- Santiago: “I’ve developed relationships with them. I’ve knocked on their doors and spoken with their community leaders, and will continue to do so.”
- Barros: “The Jewish community has seen an increase in crime, and we have to stand up against that and be firm in a zero-tolerance policy.”
After cease-fire, Israeli attention turns to political ticking clock
With a little over a week until Yair Lapid’s mandate to form the next government expires on June 2, the Yesh Atid leader has vowed to continue his efforts until the very last minute, despite his shrinking chances. Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro breaks down the latest developments from Jerusalem.
Marathon talks: Lapid restarted coalition negotiations yesterday, three days after the cease-fire between Israel and Gaza took effect. He admitted that his chances of forming a government are not high, but that he would “leave no stone unturned,” adding: “In the coming days I’ll do everything to form a government.” Yamina leader Naftali Bennett has not fully ruled out joining Lapid, but the chances of such a government appear slim after the recent round of violence. Yamina No. 2 Ayelet Shaked told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that “I don’t see it happening.” Still, Bennett himself wrote on Facebook over the weekend that: “There remain a number of options for forming a government.”
First steps: Lapid signed his first coalition deal this morning with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, promising him the post of finance minister. In the coming days, Lapid will continue negotiations with Blue and White, Labor, Meretz and New Hope and will seek to gain the backing of Ra’am, the Joint List or both. New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar reiterated once again yesterday that he has no intention of joining a coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Israel does not need more days and years of rule by Netanyahu,” he said. “Quite the opposite.” Some Likud lawmakers have continued to suggest that members of New Hope could defect from the party to join Netanyahu, a move the party’s lawmakers quickly rejected — again.
Ticking clock: If Lapid is unable to form a government by June 2, he cannot request an extension from President Reuven Rivlin. The mandate would instead pass to the Knesset, where any lawmaker would have 21 days to win the backing of the majority of 120 MKs. If no candidate can do so, a new election — the fifth in less than three years — would automatically be triggered, and likely scheduled for September or October.
New numbers: A poll from Channel 12 News released on Sunday indicates that the political deadlock would remain largely unchanged in an upcoming election. The poll shows Likud staying at 30, Yesh Atid and Blue and White gaining a few seats each, and Yamina dropping to just 5 seats. A poll from Channel 13 News put Likud at 29, predicted Yesh Atid and Blue and White would each gain multiple seats and that Yamina would rise slightly to 8. But neither poll shows a clear path toward a future government.
🪞 Broken Mirror: In The Atlantic, Matti Friedman explains why Americans attempt to view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the lens of U.S. racial politics — and why the framing doesn’t fit. “The story of the Jewish minority in Europe and in the Islamic world, which is the story of Israel, has nothing to do with race in America,” he writes. “Although Israel, like America, is deeply messed up, it’s messed up in completely different ways.” [Atlantic]
🇮🇱 Self Sufficient: New York Times reporter Max Fisher explores how Israel is increasingly less dependent on U.S. support, which in turn minimizes American leverage on the Jewish state. “Once reliant on American arms transfers, Israel now produces many of its most essential weapons domestically… In 1981, American aid was equivalent to almost 10 percent of Israel’s economy. In 2020, at nearly $4 billion, it was closer to 1 percent.” [NYTimes]
💪 Setting an Example: Politico’s Eugene Daniels looks at Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff’s transition to his new life in Washington — and how he views his position as a role model for others. “How he adds his own ‘Douggie’ flair to the gig will set the template not just for future second gentlemen, but also for male spouses of powerful women across the country.” [Politico]
🎧 Viral Voices: NPR’s Matt Adams spoke with participants in a recent Clubhouse room titled “Meet Palestinians and Israelis” that lasted for six days and reached more than 150,000 listeners. “There were literally two people, two mothers — an Israeli mother and a Palestinian mother — speaking to each other, who were both emotional and raw in their conversation,” one moderator said. “These two probably wouldn’t be able to speak to each other without this platform.” [NPR]
⚔️ Political Problem: In The New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg suggests that recent attacks on American Jews by pro-Palestinian demonstrators harms the cause of Palestinian rights while emboldening forces on the political right. “Some people on the left find talking about violence by Palestinian sympathizers embarrassing; it certainly doesn’t receive the same sort of attention as white nationalist attacks. But it should be treated as a crisis, both as a matter of basic human solidarity and because it’s a political danger.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🔪 Terror Incident: A Palestinian man stabbed two Israelis and was then shot and killed near a light rail station in East Jerusalem yesterday.
🕵️♂️ Promotion: Mossad Deputy Director David Barnea will assume the agency’s top role next week, succeeding outgoing chief Yossi Cohen.
🛬 Incoming: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reportedly planning a visit to Israel this week to celebrate the retirement of Cohen as head of the Mossad.
🚀 Side Effect: In The Atlantic, Anshel Pfeffer explores how Israel’s Iron Dome saves lives but removes the immediate urgency for a long-term solution to violence with Gaza.
📉 Cease-Buyer: Israeli businesses lost $368 million in revenue during the latest round of fighting with Hamas.
🛢️ Blame Game: Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad blamed Israel for a series of attacks, which have been occurring for more than a year, on oil tankers headed to Syria.
⛔ Poor Prognosis: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he sees little chance of Israeli-Palestinian peace and that the Abraham Accords “basically leaves the Palestinians out in the cold.”
💣 In the Details: Part of President Joe Biden’s new arms deal with Israel includes a small bomb that the administration says “allows for an effective munition with less collateral damage.”
📝 Inbox: More than 500 ex-Biden campaign field organizers and junior DNC staffers urged the president to “hold Israel accountable for its actions” in a new letter.
🖥️ Inked: Israel signed a 10-figure agreement with Amazon Web Services and Google to provide cloud services for the Israeli military and public sector.
🏦 SPAC Ready: The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange is establishing rules to enable SPAC IPOs, following the boom in such deals in U.S. markets.
🖼️ Avant-Garde: Artist Sarah Meyohas, who explores the intersection of art, cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens, is relaunching a new project today, titled Bitchcoin.
🍕 Vandalized: A brick was thrown at the door of Saba’s Pizza on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, causing some damage to the business’s storefront.
🪦 Rest in Peace:Washington Post columnist John Kelly gets to the bottom of the eye-catching cemetery plot of Evelyn Y. Davis, an eccentric Dutch Holocaust survivor.
📱 Media Matters: The BBC is investigating one of its journalists after it was revealed she tweeted “Hitler was right” and other antisemitic statements prior to her employment.
🥪 Food Fight: Lower East Side appetizing icon Russ and Daughters accused a new deli in New Jersey of plagiarizing its design, sparking a back-and-forth firestorm.
👩🍳 Noms: Newly opened Yuki’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey has gained an instant following for its Nutella babka.
👨💼 New Gig: Former Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, former chair of the Union for Reform Judaism Daryl Messinger and former president of the American Jewish Committee and UJA-Federation of New York John M. Shapiro are joining the Israel Policy Forum board of directors.
💼 Transitions: Elan Carr, the former special envoy on antisemitism in the Trump administration, is joining The Heritage Foundation as a visiting fellow. Brian Hook, who served as special envoy for Iran in the Trump administration, is joining Cerberus Global Investments as vice chairman.
Song of the Day
Israeli singer/songwriter Idan Raichel has released a new single, titled “Kacha Mi’Yom Le’Yom” (Like this from Day to Day).
South Florida resident Marjorie Moidel turns 93… Academy Award winning film producer and director, responsible for 50 major motion pictures, Irwin Winkler turns 90… Holocaust survivor as a young child, he is now a professor of physics and chemistry at both Brooklyn College and the City University of New York, Micha Tomkiewicz turns 82… Co-founder and CEO of Calvin Klein Inc., which he formed with his childhood friend Calvin Klein, he is also a former horse racing industry executive, Barry K. Schwartz turns 79… Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1986 (including 7 years as Chief Judge), he is now on senior status, Douglas H. Ginsburg turns 75… The City Editor of the Daily Mail (London) since 2000 and a past VP of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Alex Brummer turns 72… Of counsel in the Chicago office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, Joel M. Hurwitz turns 70… Screenwriter, producer and film director, Bob Gale turns 70… Los Angeles resident, Robin Myrne Kramer turns 68… CEO of Velocity Healthcare Consultants and principal of the Leadership Advance, Kenneth Feiler turns 68… Actor and stand-up comedian sometimes referred to as “Yid Vicious,” Bobby Slayton turns 66… U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) turns 61…
EVP at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, she was previously chief of staff for Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Laurie Rubiner turns 59… Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania, Yossi Avni-Levy turns 59… Actor, producer and writer, Joseph D. Reitman turns 53… Cape Town native, the original COO of PayPal and founder/CEO of Yammer, David Oliver Sacks turns 49… Member of the Australian Parliament, Julian Leeser turns 45… Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, she is the first-ever Haredi woman cabinet minister, Omer Yankelevich turns 43… Political reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Greg Bluestein turns 39… VP of sales at Maryland-based HealthSource Distributors, Marc D. Loeb turns 38… Communications manager at Kaplan, Inc. and director of communications and marketing for the Royal Star Theatre, Alison Kurtzman turns 31… Pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization who had two effective appearances for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers, Ryan Sherriff turns 31… Olympic Gold medalist in gymnastics at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, Alexandra Rose “Aly” Raisman turns 27… Laura Goldman…