👋 Good Thursday morning!
A week and a half after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) caused an uproar on Capitol Hill for comparing the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban, the Minnesota congresswoman appears increasingly unlikely to face a rebuke from her colleagues.
Some of the Jewish House Democrats who penned a statement last week voicing concern over her comments are wary of moves to penalize her, a senior Democrat told Jewish Insider on Wednesday, explaining, “We don’t want to martyr her. We throw her off the [Foreign Affairs] committee, it’s a gift. It’s what she wants. She’ll raise more money than God. Just like [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene [R-GA].”
The Congressional Black Caucus also rallied behind Omar, saying the incident “is another example of Republicans taking it out of context to shift the real attention from the abhorrent, disrespectful, and intemperate remarks of members of their own Conference.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed Shontel Brown over Nina Turner in the heated congressional race in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will testify this morning before the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding the 2022 Defense Department budget. Also today, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will testify before the House Homeland Security Committee.
The Israel Defense Forces struck a Syrian army outpost in the Golan Heights early this morning, the first airstrike on Syrian soil since the Bennett government was sworn in.
on the trail
On the streets of Manhattan with two leading DA candidates as concerns over crime spike
Most of the eight Democratic candidates running for Manhattan district attorney in New York City’s June 22 primary election believe the office is in need of a makeover, even as they have put forth competing visions. With just under a week remaining until the primary, voter enthusiasm appears to be coalescing around two center-left establishment candidates: Tali Farhadian Weinstein and Alvin Bragg, former federal prosecutors with years of experience working within the criminal justice system, as Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Positive polling: In one of the few publicly available polls on the race, released Monday by the progressive think tank Data for Progress, the two were tied for first place with 26% among likely Democratic primary voters in Manhattan surveyed between June 7 and 13. Though 21% of respondents were undecided, suggesting that the race is somewhat fluid, the third-place candidate, Lucy Lang, a former assistant district attorney for Manhattan, was trailing by double digits with just 8% of the vote. Tahanie Aboushi, the left-leaning attorney who recently earned a major endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), was a point behind Lang in fourth place.
‘Inextricably interwoven’: “My whole life has been talking about both safety and fairness,” Bragg, 47, told JI on Tuesday afternoon in Harlem, where he lives with his wife and two children, as he campaigned on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 116th Street, just a block from a group of volunteers distributing flyers for Farhadian Weinstein. “More people started talking about police accountability this past year because of the uptick in gun incidents,” he said. “So I’ve talked to people about them, but about how they’re inextricably interwoven. Places where we have the most acute police accountability issues are also where we have the most acute public safety issues, and everyone wants both.”
Safety agenda: Farhadian Weinstein, who most recently served as general counsel to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, has sought to allay such fears, casting herself as one of the few candidates in the race who is willing to address crime with a sense of practicality. “People want to feel safe, and they know that safety is connected to the recovery of the city,” the 45-year-old candidate told JI last Friday afternoon at a campaign stop outside a kosher market on the Upper West Side. “There’s just this sense of insecurity that is affecting people’s choices and is really degrading, and we have to do something about that.”
Rubio, Cantwell push for U.S.-Israel AI cooperation
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) plan to introduce a bill on Thursday to establish a joint U.S.-Israeli artificial intelligence research center, with the aim of countering Chinese advancements in the field, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rodhas learned.
By the numbers: The bill would provide $50 million over five years to allow the State Department, Commerce Department and National Science Foundation to establish a joint artificial intelligence research facility in the U.S.
Countering China: “America, and the world, benefit immensely when we engage in joint cooperation and partnerships with Israel, a global technology leader and our most important ally in the Middle East,” Rubio said in a statement. “I’m proud to lead this legislation to build on current, highly successful bilateral research ties between the U.S. and Israel, as well as help both nations stay ahead of China’s ever-growing technology threat.”
Bonus: Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) attempted to fast-track passage of a bill on Wednesday blocking any aid to Gaza until the president certified to Congress that the funding will not benefit terrorist organizations. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) blocked the move, arguing the bill should pass through his committee first and that Scott’s legislation is so broad as to “ensure that nobody in Gaza could ever receive any of this support.” He also claimed that Scott’s move was a partisan ploy to cast Democrats as anti-Israel or pro-Hamas — as Scott did in a press release — adding, “Enough of using the U.S.-Israel relationship for partisan political purposes. It does damage to the United States. It does damage to the State of Israel.” Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) said he would continue blocking part of the relief aid the administration is seeking to send to Gaza.
on the hill
Thomas-Greenfield commits to reforming UNRWA and U.N. Human Rights
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told legislators that the Biden administration is conducting strict oversight and pursuing reforms of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as well as the U.N. Human Rights Council, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Oversight: Speaking in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday, Thomas-Greenfield said that the State Department has formulated a memorandum of understanding with UNRWA about “all of our requirements that we have” for the agency to fulfill. She also emphasized that the department monitors “every dime that goes into that organization.”
Hit the books: She also praised UNRWA for what she described as unilateral actions to stop distribution of textbooks containing antisemitic and anti-Israel material. “It’s my understanding that UNRWA itself is pushing back and acting promptly to remove this material from the textbooks,” Thomas-Greenfield said. Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, an Israel-based NGO that monitors UNRWA educational materials, was skeptical of the U.N. agency’s efforts to reform its curricula, but praised the U.S. for “working hard to deal with” the issue.
Back to the table: The ambassador also defended the Biden administration’s decision to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council, “I’m… appalled that we have to sit next to some of the world’s worst human rights abusers when we’re sitting in the Council. But I know that when we’re sitting there at the table we have much more influence and power to push against their efforts to push the Council in the wrong direction,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “They feel the discomfort as well because we are pushing back against them as well.”
In the room: The ambassador told lawmakers she believes some members of the Human Rights Council are antisemitic, but that Michelle Bachelet, the body’s commissioner, is not. She argued that the Council proposes fewer anti-Israel measures when the U.S. is a member and insisted that the U.S. can reform the body. “We know it’s tough. We’re not going into this with any starry eyes,” she said. “It’s going to take hard work, but it’s going to take the work of linking and being flanked by our allies to push back on these efforts,” she said.
🤾♀️ Playtime: In The Atlantic, Matti Friedman writes about the junkyard playground at Kibbutz See Eliyahu, where educator Malka Haas created a new way for children to learn. “What seems at first like a haphazard jumble in the yard at this kibbutz, and in hundreds of similar yards across Israel, is in fact the expression of a theory about how children should learn and a sharp critique of the way they’re usually taught. The kindergarten junkyard is countercultural at a moment preoccupied with safety and litigation—but may have something to teach parents who’ve just been through a yearlong education on the limits of education itself.” [TheAtlantic]
🙎 Living History: In Maclean’s, Paul Wells sits down with Rosie Abella, the longest-serving member of Canada’s Supreme Court, who attributes her efforts to reshape the country’s definition of equality to her upbringing as the daughter of Jewish refugees from Europe. “When we came to Canada in 1950, my father went down to the Law Society almost immediately. He had learned English because the Americans let him practise law in Germany. He said, ‘What tests do I have to write to become a lawyer?’ And the law society said, ‘There is a rule, it’s a law, you cannot be a lawyer if you are not a citizen.’ I remember him coming home and saying, ‘I can’t be a lawyer.’ And I said, ‘Okay, then I’m going to be a lawyer.’” [Maclean’s]
📊 Blatant Bias: Morning Consult’s Eli Yokley reviews Morning Consult/Politico poll results, which show that voters across the political spectrum ascribe different intentionality to identical comments, based on the identity of who made the comment. “The share of GOP voters who see antisemitism in Rep. Ilhan Omar’s remarks comparing U.S., Israeli and Afghani actions to those taken by Hamas and the Taliban increases 11 percentage points when the Minneapolis Democrat’s name is attached.” [MorningConsult]
🙊 Bad Blood: Yossi Verter writes in Haaretz, revealing that the anemic transition that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave to his successor, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, has been a “severe shock,” leaving the incoming government with no institutional memory. “Dozens of private diplomatic conversations with world leaders, agreements and understandings that go unmentioned in meeting minutes, the Iranian nuclear issues or strategic ties with the American government about which private conversations were held with Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump: All of these remain in Netanyahu’s notebooks and his memory, as if they were his private possession.” [Haaretz]
Around the Web
🇮🇷 More of the Same: The outcome of Friday’s presidential election in Iran is not expected to have a serious effect on Tehran’s relations in the region or around the world, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holding much of the decision-making power in the country.
☢️ Joint Statement: Foreign ministers representing the Gulf states called for any deal negotiated with Iran to address the country’s destabilization of the Middle East and support for terror organizations, as well as its ballistic missile program.
📉 Survey Says: A poll conducted last week of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza found significant support for Hamas and dwindling support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah party.
🛂 Misprint: A British citizen born in Israel has received an apology after the Foreign Office listed the country of birth on his passport as the “occupied Palestinian territories.”
🇩🇪 Sent Packing: A platoon of German soldiers stationed as part of a NATO mission in Lithuania was recalled after allegations of misconduct, including sexual harassment and racist and antisemitic insults.
🔥 In the Courts: A Massachusetts man was convicted for placing a lit firebomb at the entrance to a Jewish nursing home in April 2020.
🏫 School Blues: Administrators at a Massachusetts middle school are conducting an investigation after antisemitic imagery was found in more than a dozen yearbooks.
💼 Office Grind: Jewish organizations are reevaluating how and when staffers will balance remote and in-office work following the loosening of COVID-related safety protocols.
📺 Making It Big: Dave Burd — a Jewish rapper known to fans as Lil Dicky — found unexpected success in “Dave,” his autobiographical comedy show, which premiered at the onset of the pandemic and developed a cult following.
🏢 Ivory Tower: Hotelier Beny Alagem’s One Beverly Hills project — a $2 billion planned pair of condo towers and boutique hotel — was just greenlit by the Beverly Hills City Council, despite no inclusion of affordable units.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Michael Ratney yesterday.
Member of the U.S. Ski Team’s alpine skiing program, Jared Goldberg turns 30…
Former undersecretary of state for international security affairs in the Carter administration, Matthew Nimetz turns 82… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics and a professor at Georgetown and UC Berkeley, he is married to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin, George Akerlof turns 81… One of the world’s best-selling singer-songwriters, Barry Manilow, born Barry Alan Pincus, turns 78… Former member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Eitan Broshi turns 71… Former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, now counsel at the law firm of Davis Polk, Jon Leibowitz turns 63… Deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Stephanie Pollack turns 61… Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Aaron Dan Peskin turns 57… Fashion designer Tory Burch turns 55… Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen turns 54… Founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, Michael Freund turns 53… Deputy editor of the World edition of The Spectator, Dominic Green, Ph.D. turns 51…
Counsel at Chicago-based Beyond Advisers, David Elliot Horwich turns 45… SVP for the economic program at Third Way, Gabe Horwitz turns 45… Director of government affairs for the Conservation Lands Foundation, David Eric Feinman turns 42… Rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, N.J., Rabbi Michael Bleicher turns 37… Writer for The Hollywood Reporter, Alexander Weprin turns 37… Founder and executive director of the Zioness Movement, Amanda Berman… Manager of strategic partnerships at Avodah, Alexander Willick turns 34… Award-winning college football reporter for The Athletic, Nicole Auerbach turns 32… Art director at HuffPost, Rebecca Zisser turns 29… Shortstop in the Colorado Rockies organization, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Scott Burcham turns 28… D.C.-based freelance foreign media consultant, Mounira Al Hmoud…
BIRTHWEEK: Associate portfolio manager at One8 Foundation, Alyssa Arens turned 32 on Wednesday…