👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Jewish Agency chair Isaac Herzog will be Israel’s next president, following a vote earlier today in the Knesset. Herzog received 87 votes to activist Miriam Peretz’s 27 and will assume office on July 9.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid has until midnight local time to announce a new coalition government to outgoing President Reuven Rivlin. Lapid and other party leaders are reportedly engaged in eleventh hour negotiations over a contentious judicial committee posting that threatens to derail a potential coalition.
An agreement to restore the Iran nuclear deal is unlikely to happen before Iran’s presidential elections on June 18th and, according to Iranian officials, will likely not be finalized before August.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is forming a Black-Jewish coalition in the Senate following a wave of antisemitism across the country. Booker announced that Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have already agreed to join.
A Holocaust education bill passed the New York State Assembly’s education committee after a delay caused by Assemblymember Michael Benedetto. In a leaked recording obtained by JI, Benedetto, the committee’s chair, was heard opposing the bill over complaints that its audit of schools’ Holocaust education curriculums would overburden the state’s department of education. The bill’s passage out of committee, which now progresses to a full vote, was a rare overruling of a committee chair.
Candidates in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary will meet this evening for the second debate in an ever-tightening race ahead of the June 22 primary. The competitive race has tightened as frontrunners — former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and entrepreneur Andrew Yang — jostle for the lead amid the crowded field.
Democratic State Rep. Melanie Stansbury picked up an early win yesterday in the special election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District to replace former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), bringing House Democrats’ majority up to 220-211. Stansbury defeated Republican candidate Mark Moores by a margin of 60.3% to 35.7%.
Nikki Fried, Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, announces bid for governor
Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services and the only statewide elected Democrat, announced her candidacy for governor on Tuesday, setting the stage for a contentious primary battle with 15 months remaining until voters cast their ballots in August 2022. “I’m somebody who has been a fighter my entire life, standing up against injustice,” Fried said in an interview yesterday with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “As I’ve traveled the state, I’ve talked to so many Floridians, and the system isn’t working for them.”
Competitive matchup: Fried, 43, is poised for what is likely to be a costly and competitive race as she becomes the second Democrat to seek her party’s nomination. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), whose district includes St. Petersburg, declared on May 4 that he would seek the state’s top job, currently held by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seeking reelection. Crist, a 64-year-old former Republican who switched parties in 2012, previously served as Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011 and is heading into the primary with significant name recognition.
‘Populist message’: But Fried, a former attorney and medical marijuana lobbyist who has long been expected to pursue the governor’s seat, argues that she is in a strong position thanks to her statewide presence. “Democrats across the state of Florida want someone who can win,” said Fried, who beat her Republican opponent by a razor-thin margin in her first bid for public office three years ago, becoming the first Jewish woman ever to be elected statewide. “We’re going to create a populist message.”
Icy relationship: As a member of Florida’s Cabinet, which includes three elected officials who serve in the state government’s executive branch, Fried works closely with the governor’s office but has nevertheless maintained an icy relationship with DeSantis. “In Ron’s world, I’ve been running since I’ve been elected, which is why he was standoffish,” Fried charged. Still, Fried did little to dispel that impression during her time in office. Over the past year or so, she has expanded her profile while establishing herself as an outspoken critic of the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, among other issues.
Blue revival? If elected, Fried would be the first Democratic governor since 1994, when Lawton Chiles, who was previously a U.S. senator, won a second term in office. Fried said she trusts that Floridians are ready for a Jewish woman to lead their state for the first time in history. “They elected the first female commissioner of agriculture in the state of Florida,” she told JI. “I do believe that the people of this state are ready for this change and are ready to knock down the status quo.”
Bipartisan House group to express support for supplemental aid to Israel
Ahead of an anticipated request from Israel for supplemental aid to replenish the Iron Dome missile defense system following the recent conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, a bipartisan group of House members plan to express support for the additional aid, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz will meet later this week with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and is expected to request $1 billion in supplemental aid to replenish and upgrade the Iron Dome system, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced on Tuesday after meeting with Israeli officials in Jerusalem.
Letter writing: Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is leading a bipartisan group of at least 46 other House members in sending a letter to Austin ahead of the meeting to “express our strong support for the Biden Administration’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s safety and security, including replenishing Israel’s stock of interceptors for the Iron Dome missile defense system and other important matters,” according to a draft of the letter obtained by Jewish Insider.
Standing together: The letter says the U.S. must “remain clear eyed” about the threats Israel faces and ensure that Israel does not run the risk of depleting its Iron Dome interceptor stockpile the next time it is attacked. The lawmakers also point to a 2014 emergency supplemental appropriation that provided an additional $225 million to replenish Israel’s interceptors during the 2014 conflict with Hamas, when terrorists “fired a similar number of rockets,” according to the letter.
Bonus: Seventeen Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), penned a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken asking the administration to take “immediate steps” to address the “humanitarian emergency” in Gaza, including announcing additional funding for humanitarian and development assistance and encouraging other partners to do so as well; pressuring Israel to reopen the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings into Gaza and lift other restrictions on Gazans’ movement; fully funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to $360 million annually; and filling key U.S. posts in Israel, including the ambassadorship.
Graham says Israel will seek $1 billion in additional funding for Iron Dome, anticipates Democratic support
In a press conference from the roof of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the Israeli government plans to seek significant additional funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system and announced a new bipartisan proposal to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Incoming request: Graham said Israel will request $1 billion in Pentagon funding to replenish and upgrade the Iron Dome system. While the new funding will likely have support from the majority of Congress, the request might face opposition from some congressional Democrats. Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and several House Democrats led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) attempted to block a $735 million sale of guided munitions to the Jewish state. Whether they attempt a similar effort with missile defense remains to be seen.
Bipartisan: Graham sought to downplay the extent of any Democratic opposition, despite efforts by some Republicans to accuse Democrats at large — and President Joe Biden specifically — of having abandoned Israel and sided with Hamas. “There’s been a big dustup over the last engagement with Hamas and the State of Israel in the United States, but I’m here to tell you there is a wide and deep support for Israel among the Democratic Party,” he said. “I want to thank President Biden for standing with Israel during this last conflict. I appreciate the administration’s willingness to seek from Congress more money for the Iron Dome system.” Some of the House’s strongest critics of U.S. aid to Israel — including Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) — have expressed support for Iron Dome as a life-saving tool. A number of liberal House Democrats met with State Department officials on Zoom on Tuesday to receive a briefing on the administration’s Israel policy.
Alternative plan: The South Carolina senator also discussed plans to propose an alternative to the Biden administration’s moves to seek a “longer and stronger” nuclear deal with Iran amid ongoing negotiations in Vienna. “If the international community allows the Iranians to enrich, the Arabs are going to want that same capability, and we’re off on the road of a nuclear arms race in the Mideast,” the senator said on Tuesday. “‘Longer and stronger’ is not possible,” he added. Graham said that he — along with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an opponent of the 2015 deal — are planning to propose an alternative deal that would allow Iran and Arab states to develop nuclear reactors to be powered with fuel from an international fuel bank. That proposal would prevent participating states from conducting enrichment.
Standing together: Graham also announced plans to propose a defense agreement with Israel similar to Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization treaty, which would obligate the U.S. to intervene when Israel is attacked.
Read more here.
Bonus: On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN), who were also in the country. “It’s good to be back, it’s good to be with a good friend, the prime minister, to state unequivocally that the United States stands with Israel,” Cruz said. “These are perilous times but Israel has not only a right but a responsibility to defend herself… Thank you for standing up and keeping people safe.”
The company connecting female chief executives
When Lindsay Kaplan was promoted to a vice president position at mattress start-up Casper, she experienced what she called a troubling “inflection point.” In her new role, she had increased responsibilities while also suddenly facing an influx of requests to serve as a mentor to younger women in the company. “I needed more support, more guidance, more mentorship than ever. And yet that’s also the moment that I became the de facto mentor for women in my organization,” Kaplan said. Together with her friend Carolyn Childers, Kaplan conceived Chief, a company that offers women the type of support they felt they lacked at the senior leadership level: a professional support network offering coaching, mentorship and community, available only to women working at the executive level. Kaplan talked to Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch following Chief’s recent expansion to Washington, D.C.
Lonely at the top: “What we determined was that there needs to be some sort of organization for women who are in these senior-level positions where they can come together, and in a really confidential setting, network, share, connect and support one another,” Kaplan, 36, explained. “Because if it’s lonely at the top, it gets lonely a lot faster when you’re a woman.” Women remain vastly outnumbered by men in executive roles. The number of female CEOs at top companies grew last year, but just slightly. In December 2019, 6% of S&P 500 CEOs were women; a year later, at the end of 2020, 7.8% of S&P 500 CEOs were women.
Something new: Chief was born in New York City in 2019, and it has since expanded to six U.S. metropolitan areas. Three of Chief’s hubs — New York, Chicago and San Francisco — have flagship clubhouses where members can schmooze. “We are not a co-working space. We are not an artists’ community. We even designed our three spaces to feel much more like hotel lobbies, so there are bars, there’s couches,” Kaplan explained. Still, as a feminist organization for female professionals, Chief calls to mind The Wing, the women’s co-working space founded by former Democratic political consultant Audrey Gelman that has has struggled amid waves of negative press and pandemic restrictions. But Chief set out from the start to be something different. “When we launched, The Wing was extremely popular. I think there was a question around where we fit in,” said Kaplan, but “I think it was very obvious to our members, many of whom joined both, that this was really about being in a professional network, and less about developing a co-working space.”
Price tag: Chief now has more than 5,000 members, who have an average age of 42 and more than 15 years of professional experience. There is a long waiting list of women hoping to join. The cost is steep, with an annual membership fee of $7,800 for C-suite executives and $5,400 for everyone else, although the fee is typically paid by the members’ employers. The vast majority of members belong to what the company refers to as “core groups,” 10-member pods of women from different fields, industries and functions who meet regularly with an executive coach. Kaplan calls the core groups a “personal board of directors” for Chief’s members.
Washington workforce: As the company expanded to Washington this spring, it set its sights on the capital’s unique base of political consultancies, advocacy organizations and think tanks, while also cultivating ties with more typical business executives in the region. Founding members of Chief’s Washington, D.C., network include executives at the speechwriting firm West Wing Writers, the progressive political organization Swing Left, the Truman National Security Project, and the Nonprofit Alliance. Other founding members include senior employees at major regional employers including Deloitte and Children’s National Hospital. “We deeply value different points of view,” said Kaplan. “The commonality that the community shares is changing the face of leadership, it is being a woman in business, and what it means to carry that weight and to wrestle with all of the changes that have come over the last decade of working in America.”
🇺🇸 Diplomatic Decisions: Foreign Policy’s Robbie Gramer questions the Biden administration’s decision to appoint a large number of special envoys — more than 50 posts to handle diplomatic challenges — which has also raised eyebrows among seasoned diplomats worried that the number of appointees “could have real-world consequences, such as gumming up the works in the policymaking process or opening new internal rifts and fronts for bureaucratic infighting that would ultimately undercut Biden’s foreign-policy agenda.” [ForeignPolicy]
✡️ No Comparison: For the Washington Post, University of Iowa professor Sarah Bond explores the history of forced religious markings — which have recently been appropriated by anti-vaccination activists who have made comparisons to the treatment of Jews during World War II. “They cast about for some touchstone for their perceived injustice, landing on the Holocaust as the ultimate exemplar of persecution in the modern era. In so doing, Holocaust-invokers add themselves to a long and sad history of borrowing the pain of others to lend credence to their own.” [WashPost]
🤝 Learning lessons: David Ignatius writes in The Washington Post that Americans can learn from current Israeli politics how to overcome political differences and unify around shared values. He notes that the “change bloc” aiming to form the new Israeli government includes parties spanning the gamut from left to right, with the common goal of ousting Prime Minister Netanyahu: “This seems to be a moment where Israel’s version of ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states — people who disagree about fundamental issues — have decided to put those divisions aside because of something that’s more important: national survival.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
🌅 City of Gold: Asked to name the most beautiful place she’s ever been to, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice first named Lake Como in an interview with Ozy’s Carlos Watson before adding, “the holy city Jerusalem, sunset or at sunrise, something otherworldly happened there and you feel it.”
😠 Tough Talk: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Israel is willing to risk “friction” with the U.S. over Iran policy disagreements.
↩️ Reversal: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz walked back comments from IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi regarding the relationship between Associated Press journalists and Hamas members in Gaza.
🛫 Work Trip: The Biden administration’s envoy for the Horn of Africa is traveling to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kenya this week.
💵 Big Business: Israeli work management company Monday.com is planning for a $6 billion U.S. IPO, according to a recent regulatory filing.
🦠 Not Easy Being Green: Israel dropped its ‘green passport’ system and capacity restrictions on Tuesday due to a continued decline in COVID-19 cases.
🛩️ Up in the Air: Israeli airline Israir will offer flights to Morocco beginning in July, following the normalization of relations between Jerusalem and Rabat.
🏢 Coming Soon: Israel announced plans to open an economic office in Abu Dhabi this summer.
🐦 Tech Talk: Instagram announced changes to its algorithm amid complaints that the current algorithm suppressed pro-Palestinian posts.
📺 Paying Homage: Media executive David Zaslav announced that the new entity created by the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger will be known as Warner Bros. Discovery, honoring Polish-Jewish immigrants Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner, the brothers who founded the company in 1923.
📤 Wider Audience: Online newsletter delivery service Substack announced plans to expand to an international audience, but currently lacks the ability to support newsletters in languages — like Hebrew — that read right to left.
🗞️ Correcting Course: The New York Times has issued several corrections to its May 26 “They Were Only Children” feature of the Israeli and Palestinian children killed during the recent conflict, including misstating the number of civilian casualties and publishing inaccurate images.
👶 Mazel Tov: Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) announced the birth of his first grandchild.
🥪 On the Menu: Portland, Ore., eatery Ben & Esther’s is expanding to San Diego and revamping its Jewish deli menu to be entirely vegetarian-friendly.
Song of the Day
Israeli singer Amir Dadon released a music video of his latest song “הרוח הטובה” or “The Good Spirit.”
Aerospace engineer and a former NASA astronaut, he flew on three shuttle missions, Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour and took along a memento from the U.S. Holocaust Museum into space, Mark L. Polansky turns 65.
Former member of the British Parliament from Manchester and later a member of European Parliament from Northwest England, David Anthony Gerald Sumberg turns 80… Co-founder of ReelAbilities film festival, Anita Altman turns 76… Israeli entrepreneur and inventor, known as the father of commercial digital printing, Benny Landa turns 75… Johns Hopkins University professor and a pioneer in the field of cancer genomics, Dr. Bert Vogelstein turns 72… Writer-at-large for New York magazine, an executive producer for HBO’s “Veep,” Frank Rich turns 72… Chief development officer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jordan E. Tannenbaum turns 71… Commissioner of the National Hockey League since 1993, Gary Bettman turns 69… Carla Beth Sanchez turns 69… High holiday and weekend cantor at the Los Angeles Jewish Home For The Aged, Ben Zion Kogen turns 68… Board chair of Sapir Academic College in the western Negev, he was one of Israel’s senior peace negotiators at the Camp David summit in 2000, Gilead Sher turns 68… Founder of Newark-based IDT Corp and other companies including an energy exploration corporation, Genie Energy, Howard S. Jonas turns 65… Dinorah Cecilia Baroody turns 63…
General manager of the Harmonie Club in New York, Davina Weinstein turns 55… Radio and television talk show host, producer, and writer, Andrew Joseph “Andy” Cohen turns 53… President of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer for Marvel Comics, Marvel Television and Marvel Animation, Kevin Feige turns 48… Special counsel focused on land use and zoning at NYC-based law firm Goldstein Hall, Jessica Ashenberg Loeser turns 44… Chief development officer for the Obama Foundation, Jordan David Kaplan turns 43… Director of technology at Santa Monica-based Action Network, Jason S. Rosenbaum turns 37… Grandmaster chess player, she won the 2004 Israel Women’s Chess Championship, Bella Igla Gesser turns 36… Equestrian show jumper, she qualified to represent Israel at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Danielle “Dani” Goldstein Waldman turns 36… Co-founder and former CEO of The Wing, Audrey H. Gelman turns 34… Head of growth, product marketing and sales operations at Phantom Auto, Jared R. Fleitman turns 29… Deputy director in the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Benjamin G. Sheridan turns 29… Actor best known for his lead role in “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,” Ethan Slater turns 29… Israeli K-Pop singer, Ella-Lee Lahav turns 18…