👋 Good Wednesday morning!
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is reportedly organizing a congressional delegation trip to Israel for July — Meeks’s first CODEL as chairman — but, in light of recent changes to Israel’s travel restrictions, details are currently unclear, a source familiar with the planning told Jewish Insider.
But Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who were reported on Tuesday to be joining the trip, will not be going, spokespeople told JI. Wagner’s spokesperson cited a “scheduling issue.”
Polls closed across New York City at 9 p.m. last night. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams took an early lead in the mayoral race to succeed Bill de Blasio, taking in nearly 32% of the vote. Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia, both alums of the de Blasio administration, received 22.3 and 19.5, respectively. Andrew Yang, who pulled in just under 12% of the vote, was the first candidate to concede the race. JI’s Matthew Kassel was at Garcia’s watch party last night and reported on the scene. More below.
Is it Miller time in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District?
Former President Donald Trump looms large over the Republican Party, but he may loom even larger in Max Miller’s challenge to Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) in Northeast Ohio. Over the past few months, Miller — who worked as an aide in the Trump administration and was rewarded with an endorsement from the former president immediately after he announced his candidacy — has focused considerable attention on courting donors at Mar-a-Lago while sitting for interviews with national right-wing outlets like OANN, Newsmax and Fox News, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Local Flavor: Miller is the scion of a wealthy Shaker Heights family with deep roots in the city’s political and philanthropic milieu. His grandfather, Sam Miller, a co-chair of Cleveland’s Forest City Enterprises, was a powerbroker whose influence extended well beyond real estate development before his death in 2019. The son of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland, the elder Miller is credited with launching the career of Michael White, Cleveland’s second-longest-serving mayor, while using his considerable wealth and political clout to support a number of causes that were personally important to him, including advocating for Israel. “If you take what we mean when we say ‘Trump country’ and we apply it to this district, I think you’d be pretty close to being on mark,” said David Giffels, the author of Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America. “There are a lot of pick-up trucks in the 16th District.”
Singing Trump’s praises: “Under the Trump administration, what he was able to accomplish for the State of Israel, he did more in four years than any other president could have ever done in the history of this country, bar none,” Miller said enthusiastically, using the kind of breathless rhetoric he often relies on while discussing the former president. “People said if you move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, you’re going to have another intifada. Nothing happened. The Abraham Accords are historic,” he said, referring to the pact that normalized relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. “I mean, you cannot devalue that,” Miller added, “and I think anyone who says different truly doesn’t understand what President Trump and this administration [were] able to accomplish.” Miller emphasized his vehement opposition to the Iran nuclear deal on the grounds that it is against Israel’s interests. “You could go over to Israel right now and you could take the most left-leaning Israeli and that individual would not support the Iran nuclear deal,” he said.
On the other hand: Still, a number of Jewish community members and pro-Israel advocates in Cleveland and the surrounding area are standing by Gonzalez, one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president after the violent Capitol riot on Jan. 6. “He showcases to us that he takes our community very seriously,” said Howie Beigelman, executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities. “On the record side,” Beigelman added, “because he has a record to run on at this point, he’s been there on the things we’ve asked him for.” Gonzalez visited Israel in 2019 on a trip sponsored by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation and has made clear to Jewish leaders in the Cleveland area that he is strongly devoted to safeguarding the U.S.-Israel relationship, according to Beigelman, who characterized the congressman’s commitment to the Jewish state as “from the heart.”
Why Israel’s move to CENTCOM matters
When Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi traveled to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., yesterday, the visit marked the beginning of a new phase in a military relationship between the U.S. and Israel that is already strong and extensive, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Strategic shift: The U.S. military has 11 combatant commands, each of which has a specific geographic or functional mission. Kochavi’s visit marked the first time the top IDF official had visited CENTCOM’s Tampa headquarters since former President Donald Trump announced in January, days before leaving office, that Israel would soon fall under CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, a shift from its current status as part of European Command (EUCOM), which works closely with NATO on security issues in Europe. The announcement marked the culmination of years of unofficial cooperation between Israel and CENTCOM, whose mission is to “build cooperation among nations throughout the Middle East.”
New relationships: The main reason for the longstanding arrangement was the icy relationship that historically existed between Israel and its Arab neighbors. But as Israel has begun cooperating with Persian Gulf nations — including recent diplomatic agreements with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as part of the Abraham Accords, and reported behind-the-scenes coordination with Saudi Arabia — the U.S. made a change to its Unified Command Plan. “The easing of tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors subsequent to the Abraham Accords has provided a strategic opportunity for the United States to align key partners against shared threats in the Middle East,” the Pentagon said when it announced the change in January. Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) — which had advocated for the change — said the move could lay the groundwork for an expansion of the Abraham Accords. “It could facilitate cooperation even with those countries [that the Israelis] don’t have diplomatic ties to,” like Saudi Arabia.
Team in Tampa: So what does the change mean for U.S.-Israel military cooperation? “Military officers are often quick to acknowledge that there is very close and ongoing coordination between Israel and CENTCOM on issues of common concern, but right now, of course, there is no full-time Israeli presence at CENTCOM,” said Michael Eisenstadt, director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Military and Security Studies Program. When Israel is integrated into CENTCOM, the Israeli military will have staff stationed in Tampa. “Having a full-time military representative, or a team of representatives there, first of all, would enable Israel to see where they can contribute to CENTCOM’s mission on a day-to-day basis, rather than coming over for visits and having a set agenda,” like Kochavi did this week, Eisenstadt explained.
Kathryn Garcia sounds note of cautious optimism at Williamsburg watch party
On Tuesday night, Kathryn Garcia, whose late-stage surge in the final months of New York City’s contentious mayoral race represents the most remarkable turnaround of any candidate in the crowded Democratic primary, gathered with supporters at her sister’s event space in Brooklyn after polls closed and early vote counts trickled in. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel was on the scene at the nondescript venue on a dead-end street in post-industrial East Williamsburg, which was in some ways a fitting location for the end of a grueling campaign that until not too long ago was widely dismissed as unviable.
Still in it: Eric Adams, the frontrunner and Brooklyn borough president, had already taken an early lead by the time Garcia took the stage at around 11 p.m. in a white jacket and gray T-shirt with “Feminist” written in gold lettering. Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate who failed to sustain an initially promising campaign, was admitting defeat across the river at a watch party in his home neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen. But Garcia made clear she had no intention of conceding, despite being in third place while trailing Adams by about 10 points with 20% of the vote and the majority of precincts reporting in the first round of counting. “This campaign has been about overcoming expectations,” Garcia, 51, told the modestly populated room, sounding a note of cautious optimism. “When I got into it, people said, ‘Well, I know you would be the best mayor, but I’m just not sure you can win.’ Or, ‘Women haven’t ever won the race for mayor.’”
Ranked-choice boost: Following a New York Times endorsement in early May, polls began to shift, indicating that Garcia was gaining momentum in the final stretch of the race. Speaking to supporters last night, Garcia suggested that she was depending on that dynamic as the city implements its first ranked-choice election system. The new system would seem to benefit a candidate like Garcia, whom voters might be more inclined to pick as their second or third choice rather than their first. “This is going to be about not only the ones, but also about the twos and threes,” Garcia said on Tuesday evening. “To be quite honest with you, we’re not going to know a whole lot more tonight than we know now, and it is going to come down to opening up those ballots and making sure that every single New Yorker’s voice is heard.”
Setting the scene: At the event, an intimate, low-key affair, campaign volunteers wore green shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Garcia Gets it Done” as attendees munched on fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, tater tots and gourmet sandwiches from Court Street Grocers. The soundtrack included thematically appropriate numbers such as Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” Starship’s “We Built This City” and Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” whose lyrics Garcia wrote on the walls of her childhood bedroom in Park Slope. David Freedlander and Ross Barkan, local political reporters who had both been denied entry to Adams’s event nearby at a Williamsburg dance club, could be seen lingering on the sidelines at Garcia’s shindig — their apparent number-two choice for watch parties.
💻 Rewarding Aggregators: In Popular Information, Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria dissect how Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes information shared on newsfeeds, ranking high-engagement news aggregators like Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire over hard news reporting by outlets from the Chicago Tribune to The New York Times. “For this minimal effort, The Daily Wire is rewarded with massive engagement on Facebook while the source of the journalism, quite often a local media outlet, gets a tiny fraction of engagement. Beyond distorting the content of the news, this dynamic has real financial consequences. The Daily Wire gets showered with traffic and the attendant advertising revenue while local outlets, who have to pay for the costs of the reporting, get practically nothing.” [PopularInfo]
🐎 Wandering Jews: In Tablet, Alan Grabinsky talks to nomads — including a sizable contingent of Israelis who have finished their army service — who have eschewed creature comforts to explore South America on horseback. “Many of these Israelis hear about the caravan through word of mouth, but some join it after attending an event called a Rainbow Gathering while traveling through Central America. These annual gatherings, celebrated worldwide, are spin-offs of a one-month hippie festival camp in Colorado in the early 1970s that sought to inaugurate a new human consciousness rooted in the ecological and pacifist values of the time.” [Tablet]
📱 Over It: The Financial Times’ Elaine Moore argues that Instagram might be manufacturing its own decline by creating feelings of inadequacy, overloading its once minimalist appearance with ads and ceding social relevance to TikTok and YouTube. “In retrospect, 2018 may have been the app’s high point. That same year, Instagram’s founders left Facebook, unable to agree about its future. Facebook took the opportunity to clutter the app up with more video and shopping links, all with an eye to monetisation. Instagram’s minimalist design has been replaced by a grab-bag that looks more like Facebook’s own app. It has not provided an update on user numbers in three years, suggesting growth has been slowing.” [FT]
Around the Web
👑 Game of Thrones: As current Jewish Agency Chair Isaac Herzog prepares to assume the Israeli presidency next month, a battle among institutional factions to name his replacement — even temporarily — is becoming heated.
🍎 Welcome Aboard: Asaf Zamir, the former tourism minister and deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, was named this week as Israel’s next consul general in New York.
🇨🇳🇮🇱 Diplomatic Dealings: Israel joined a U.N. Human Rights Council statement criticizing China for its human rights violations of the Uighur population following American pressure to join the diplomatic initiative.
💸 Cancelled COVID Checks: The Israeli government announced it will cease pandemic unemployment benefits after June.
💪 Need for Speed: Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecom group, is offering fiber-optic internet speeds of up to 2.5 gigabits per second as a competitive move following its March entry into the high-speed internet market.
🍔 Fake Meat Proliferation:An Israeli startup, Future Meat Technologies Ltd., opened what it’s referring to as the world’s first industrial meat facility in Rehovot and is in talks with the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell its products produced in bioreactors to American restaurants by next year.
💉 Pfizer, Stat: Following a steep rise in daily coronavirus infections this week, led by outbreaks of the Delta variant in two schools, Israeli teeanagers are being vaccinated in increasing numbers.
🇸🇦 Implicated: Four Saudi men involved in the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi received State Department-approved paramilitary training from an Arkansas-based security company in the year before the attack, according to The New York Times.
🇮🇷 Shut Down: The Biden administration seized the domains of dozens of Iranian websites, including the state-owned Press TV and a site linked to Houthi militia in Yemen.
⭐ Small Screen: Actress Glenn Close is slated to join the second season of Israeli hit TV drama “Tehran.”
🔯 Silver Screen: Global Screen sold Menemsha Films North American rights to “Plan A,” a drama about Jewish Holocaust survivors attempting to secure revenge for their treatment during the Shoah.
📦 Trend Setter: Marcos Galperin’s MercadoLibre leveraged the pandemic to shift Latin Americans to online purchasing, as well as MercadoLibre’s payment and financing solutions.
🚆 Dual Meaning: John Sedgwick’s new book about the commercial rivalry that built the U.S.’s transcontinental railroad is confusingly named From the River to the Sea but has no tie to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik notes.
📕 Nostalgia: Sydney Taylor — the author of the All-of-a-Kind Family children’s books, which were rare in the genre for centering on a Jewish family — is the subject of June Cummins’s new book From Sarah to Sydney, which she wrote with Alexandra Dunietz.
🎨 Historic Art: A Great Depression-era mural depicting Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and their immigration to America faces an uncertain fate as the Roosevelt Public School in Monmouth County, N.J., which houses the painting, may close.
🏫 Data-Driven Divide: Economist Dr. Emily Oster, known for her data-driven parenting books, takes flak for her mid-pandemic pushes to return to in-person learning.
🕯️ Remembering: Sylvia Deutsch, the first woman to head the New York City Planning Commission and the Board of Standards and a former national director of field operations and membership at the American Jewish Congress, died at age 96.
Pic of the Day
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Director of the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe Uwe Neumärker at a ceremony, yesterday, marking the 80th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Germany during World War II.
Ethiopian-born Israeli model who won the title of Miss Israel in 2013, Yityish Aynaw turns 30…
Professor emeritus of medicine and health care policy at Harvard, he was previously president of Brandeis University and president of Massachusetts General Hospital, Samuel O. Thier, M.D. turns 84… Real estate developer and co-founder of Tishman Speyer, Jerry Speyer turns 81… Consultant at Citizenship Education Clearing House, Marvin Beckerman turns 81… Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Clarence Thomas turns 73… Managing director at Eurasia Group and the author of 18 books on foreign affairs, global politics and travel, Robert D. Kaplan turns 69… Novelist and journalist born in Mobile, Alabama, Roy Hoffman turns 68… Los Angeles-based activist, restaurateur and breast cancer fundraiser, a 2008 Lifetime Television movie starring Renée Zellweger portrayed her cancer fighting efforts, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz turns 68… Klezmer violinist, composer, filmmaker, writer, photographer and playwright, Yale Strom turns 64… Co-founder of the Center for Contemporary Political Art, Robin Strongin turns 62… President of the Harrington Discovery Institute at Case Western Reserve, Jonathan Solomon Stamler turns 62…
Sports memorabilia marketer, in 2009 his firm sold all of the seats, signs and lockers from the old Yankee Stadium, Brandon Steiner turns 62… Former member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, Daylin Leach turns 60… Associate editor at the New Jersey Jewish Standard, Lawrence Yudelson turns 57… Former teacher at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., Stephanie Z. Bonder turns 56… Israeli-American professor, journalist and filmmaker, Boaz Dvir turns 54… Actress whose Hebrew name is Bat-Sheva, Selma Blair turns 49… EVP and general manager of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Howie Roseman turns 46… President of D1 Capital Partners and former deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, Jeremy Katz turns 44… Founder of Innovation Africa, which uses Israeli solar technology to bring electricity and solar-powered water pumps to impoverished African villages, Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari turns 43… Actress and comedian, best known for playing Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on CBS’s sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Melissa Rauch turns 41… Actress, singer and model, Marielle Jaffe turns 32… Client services specialist at Shootsta in Hong Kong, Josh Lauder turns 26…