👋 Good Wednesday morning!
The White House announced President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will visit Surfside, Fla., on Thursday to tour the damage of the Champlain Towers collapse and meet with survivors and their families.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who represents Surfside, told JI that the scene on the ground is “the stuff that fuels your nightmares from hell. There is just no way I can describe to you the enormity of the tragedy… We have devastated families. We have a community that has been completely overtaken by this event.”
Wasserman Schultzalso said that she has discussed with House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) potential emergency federal funding to help the community recover, explaining, “Communities like this don’t put disasters like this in their budget… There’s a decent chance we’re going to need an emergency supplemental.” She also praised Biden for dispatching an investigation team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava praised global Jewry for its support of the Surfside community. “Since the morning of June 24th, the deep bonds that unite the international Jewish community have been on full display here in Surfside,” Levine Cava, the county’s first Jewish mayor, explained to JI. “In the days since this unthinkable tragedy, local rabbis have answered the call for help by devoting their days to maintaining a presence at the site, doing all they can to assist our first responders and offering shelter and comfort to the families. Highly skilled Israeli teams were deployed to the building site and embedded with our first responders in the search for survivors. I continue to be deeply moved by the tangible solidarity, compassion and strength that unites this community and by the ways the teachings of our faith guide us and give us strength during this impossibly difficult time.”
The outcome of New York City’s mayoral electionremains hazy as the city’s Board of Elections released a new tally of votes — which showed former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia closing the gap with frontrunner and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — only to take down the numbers later in the day, admitting to a “discrepancy” in which 135,000 test ballots were erroneously counted alongside actual votes. On Twitter, Dave Wasserman, editor of the Cook Political Report, called the mistake “the most botched election results reporting by an official agency I’ve ever seen in the U.S.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)said in a CNN interview that she does not regret previous comments appearing to equate Israel and the U.S. with terrorist groups — comments she had previously walked back, reiterating, “the point that I was trying to make” was that International Criminal Court investigations of these countries and entities should be allowed to proceed.
Asked by CNN anchor Jake Tapper if she understands why Jewish House Democrats have found her past comments antisemitic, Omar responded, “I have welcomed any time my colleagues have asked to have a conversation, to learn from them, for them to learn from me. I think it’s really important for these members to realize that they haven’t been partners in justice. They haven’t been equally engaging in seeking justice around the world. I will continue to do that.”
Omar added, “I have obviously clarified and apologized when I have felt that my words have offended and it’s really important, as I’ve explained to my colleagues, they have engaged in Islamophobic tropes. I have yet to receive an apology.”
Pro-Israel House Democrats endorse Shontel Brown in heated Ohio race
Four pro-Israel House Democrats are collectively endorsing Shontel Brown, a Cuyahoga County councilwoman and party chair, in the heated open-seat race to represent Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, which includes Cleveland and a sliver of Akron. The group of lawmakers — including Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ted Deutch (D-FL), David Trone (D-MD) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) — will each announce this week that they are throwing their support behind Brown with just over a month remaining until the Democratic primary on August 3, a spokesperson for Brown’s campaign told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Boost for Brown: The endorsements represent a significant boost for Brown, a moderate Democrat widely viewed as a top contender as she pulls in establishment support. “I am proud to endorse Shontel Brown for Congress, a dynamic leader who is a strong and passionate voice for our Democratic values,” Gottheimer told JI on Tuesday. “She has a distinguished record of bringing people together and delivering for her community, especially during COVID. That will make her an especially valuable partner in Congress as we recover from the pandemic and move our country forward.”
Playing catch-up: In recent months, however, Brown has struggled to keep pace with her main primary opponent, the well-known progressive Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as a national campaign co-chair during the 2020 presidential election. Turner has led the pack in fundraising, and recent polling gave her a commanding lead over Brown. On Tuesday, Turner earned an endorsement from Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who joined a growing list of “Squad” members backing the congressional hopeful.
Democratic rift: The race has come to embody a growing rift between moderates and progressives — particularly on Israel. Brown identifies as a strong supporter of the Jewish state, whereas Turner supports conditioning foreign aid to Israel. Both candidates oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. But the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has underscored their divergent views. During the violence last month, Brown condemned “Hamas’s massive rocket attacks” while emphasizing Israel’s “right to defend its citizens.” Turner, meanwhile, positioned herself firmly on the side of the Palestinians, amplifying an accusation of Israeli apartheid on Twitter.
Ad game: Turner’s approach is a source of concern for pro-Israel advocates nationwide, who are aggressively rallying behind Brown. On Wednesday, Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action committee will release its first ad in Cleveland, a spokesperson said. The 30-second spot, to be distributed on broadcast and cable TV, will highlight the councilwoman’s accomplishments in the district. Brown will “be a tireless advocate for her district,” Mark Mellman, who chairs DMFI PAC, told JI. “She’ll work closely with the Biden-Harris administration and support Speaker Pelosi in advancing the Democratic agenda, which includes strong support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Read the full story here.
Elsewhere: Also on Tuesday, Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the House majority whip whose pivotal endorsement of Joe Biden helped swing the presidential primaries in his favor last election cycle, announced that he was endorsing Shontel Brown.
The hurricane-chasing Jewish chef who is feeding first responders in Miami
The night the Champlain Towers South condo collapsed last week, Daniel Arshadnia was staying with a friend in Surfside, across the street from the disaster site. The next morning, he was at the scene. Arshadnia isn’t technically a first responder, but as a chef whose business involves going to disaster zones — “chasing storms,” as Arshadnia puts it, since he usually travels to places hit by hurricanes — he is often one of the first people at the scene of a crisis, setting up a grill or a smoker to feed rescue workers and survivors of the latest tragedy. “I called all my guys up first thing in the morning, and I said, ‘Everyone, this is a volunteer opportunity. We’re not making any money doing this,’” Arshadnia told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch.
Close to home: Arshadnia’s work has taken him to Tennessee, Louisiana and northern Florida, but this is his first time working a disaster so close to home. “Everybody was there on one site working for the same goal, so it’s nice to see that,” said Arshadnia. “It sucks that it happens in my own backyard.” He lives near Surfside in North Miami Beach, another small municipality in the patchwork of communities that make up Miami-Dade County.
Miami miracle: In his work in Surfside, he has been feeding mostly first responders, not the family members of victims. “I haven’t met anybody yet that was affected by this,” said Arshadnia. But he called a friend of his over the weekend whose brother lived in Surfside to check in. “She said her brother actually lived in the building. Lucky for him, he was in Israel getting engaged,” Arshadnia recalled. “His fiance asked him to stay for two weeks. That two weeks saved his life.”
Make the ask: When not sleeping in his truck in the parking lot of a rural Walmart on the road to an area impacted by a hurricane, Arshadnia serves as a private chef in South Florida. That has helped him this week, as he and his employees are working as unpaid volunteers on the scene. His family and friends have chipped in to help cover costs, but Arshadnia has also been able to call on some of his private clients. “Everything has been done for free, and if I have to raise money from the public, I just reach out to a few clients and say, ‘See what I’m doing — you guys want to fund it? Yes or no?’ I’m lucky to have really cool people around me,” said Arshadnia.
Jewish side: Working in Surfside, a heavily Jewish town where 40 Jews are known to be among the dead and missing, Arshadnia has shown his employees his Jewish side, which they are not used to. “It brings me a lot of joy for my people that work with me to see it, because it kind of defines some of the qualities that I think that I have in myself, but they just don’t get,” Arshadnia said. “Like, ‘Why do you have to be so nice all the time? Why do you have to be so helpful?’ Because [these are] the things that are instilled upon us — when things happen, you stay together, you work together, you support your law enforcement, you support your local officials.”
Bonus: Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin writes in The Washington Post about Israel’s long history of deploying disaster and medical teams to respond to global disasters.
The room where it happened
Inside the meeting between Rivlin and members of Congress
The Monday afternoon closed-door meeting between leading House members and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin focused largely on reaffirming the bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship, lawmakers who participated in the meeting told Jewish Insider on Tuesday. In attendance at the meeting were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Steve Scalise (R-LA), Greg Meeks (D-NY), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and David Kustoff (R-TN).
Across the aisle: “The meeting was terrific,” Deutch said. “We had an opportunity in a bipartisan way… to thank President Rivlin for his service not just to the State of Israel, but to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. We had a strong bipartisan group of members to reaffirm the importance of [the] bipartisan [U.S.-Israel] relationship.”
Personal praise: Wilson likewise called the meeting “so positive” and praised Rivlin personally. “Gosh, what an inspiring individual. And to know his history and his background and his family’s history back to 1809,” Wilson said of the Israeli president, whose family came to Jerusalem in the early 19th century. “He came across very positive and, again, a restatement of the relationship that we have between the United States and Israel.”
Center stage: Wilson told JI that Israeli concerns over Iran’s nuclear program and the ongoing talks between Tehran and the world powers that negotiated the 2015 agreement were major topics of discussion during the meeting. “I agreed with him on the different issues that were addressed and [Iran nuclear deal] concerns, and I appreciate [that] he raised the issue of missile development — intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities,” Wilson said. “I was just so pleased. And it was bipartisan.”
House divided: While the group talked about “the strong bipartisan support that exists” for Israel, Deutch said, “We didn’t talk about any specific members… I think the president of Israel understands that the support that Israel felt during the [recent] conflict and continues to feel… is deep and long-standing. And there were no conversations beyond that,” he added.
Up next: Deutch also previewed the upcoming House Foreign Affairs Committee delegation to Israel, which will take place next week while Congress is in recess. The delegation will meet with members of the new Israeli governing coalition, Deutch said. The lawmakers will also be on hand for the inauguration of former Jewish Agency Chairman and Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, who is succeeding Rivlin. Wilson said he’s also joining the trip.
🏈 Progressive Play: In the Wall Street Journal Andrew Beaton chronicles Dan Snyder’s efforts as team owner to reform the Washington Football Team’s culture, transforming the team from one eponymous with racism to one of the most managerially diverse in the NFL. “Snyder, amid an ongoing investigation overseen by the NFL into allegations of misconduct inside the team, is attempting a difficult maneuver. He says he wants to establish a ‘gold standard’ work culture at a team whose operations had been marred by inappropriate behavior, in-fighting and a team name viewed by many as racist.” [WSJ]
🇮🇷 Two Problems, Not One: Writing in The Atlantic, James Jeffrey and Dennis Ross argue that focus on an Iranian nuclear deal should not derail efforts to counter Iranian support for extremists across the Middle East. “After the recent conflict with Israel, Hamas leaders effusively praised Tehran for what it had provided them. And we know from leaked audio that Iran’s own Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was frustrated by the Iranian regime’s elite Quds Force consistently undercutting what he hoped to achieve with diplomacy. Moreover, [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei will want to show that the return to the JCPOA does not mean he is giving up his resistance ideology, so we can expect more Iranian expansion in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as threats to neighboring states.” [Atlantic]
🗣️ Moon’s Approach: In the Financial Times, former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, criticizing both Israeli actions and the “political cover” provided by successive U.S. administrations, writes that prior efforts to achieve peace, like the Oslo Accords, have been unsuccessful. “It is time to acknowledge that the longstanding approach taken to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the international community has failed and a new one is required….Political cover provided by successive US governments to Israel is partly to blame for this lack of accountability. What is encouraging though is the pushback from new coalitions in the US.” [FT]
Around the Web
🔍 Holding to Account: The U.N.’s investigator on human rights threw his support behind an independent investigation into Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi’s role in the murders and disappearances of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
🔒 Under Lock: U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken called the number of ISIS fighters and family members locked in Kurdish prisons in Syria “untenable,” advocating a repatriation scheme where individual countries would either prosecute or rehabilitate prisoners.
🫂 Growing Relationship: UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said that the country’s bourgeoning ties with Israel will continue under the new Bennett-Lapid government.
🤝 Terror Summit: Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah met in Beirut to discuss last month’s escalation of tensions with Israel and efforts to rebuild Gaza.
👮♀️ Silwan Skirmish: Palestinians in East Jerusalem clashed with Israeli police after Israel began demolishing Silwan structures that it claims were built illegally.
🇺🇳 Looming Shutdown: U.N. peacekeeping missions globally are preparing to shut down if members of the multilateral institution fail to agree upon a $6 billion budget by June 30.
💻 Next Step: Israeli clickbait ad company Outbrain filed for an IPO, expecting to raise more than $100 million.
💰 New Ventures: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s chairman, Amnon Neubach, plans to retire on August 1.
🏖️ Beach Buy: The Malibu Beach, Calif., home put on the market by Eli Broad before his death in April sold for $52 million, down from the $75 million listing price when it first went up for sale in February 2020.
👁️ Seeing Green: Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sam Altman’s latest startup, Worldcoin, backed by Andreesen Horowitz and Reid Hoffman, aims to create a cryptocurrency registered to an individual’s iris.
👋 Jumping Ship: A number of staffers on Josh Mandel’s Senate campaign in Ohio have quit, citing a toxic work environment created by the campaign’s finance director, who is also in a relationship with Mandel.
🥡 Food Fight: The fallout from the battle between the founders of trendy cookware company Great Jones led to the resignation of all six employees on Monday.
🇦🇺 Down Undah: A Jewish cemetery in Goulburn, Australia, where a thriving Jewish community existed in the mid-19th century, was listed on a State Heritage Register, protecting it from future development.
🇺🇸🇩🇪 Gutmann to Germany: Der Spiegel’s Rene Pfister reports that University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, will be the next U.S. ambassador to Germany.
🛒 Hometown Hero: The town of Hempstead in Long Island dedicated a street and shopping mall to native son and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman on Tuesday.
#️⃣Mob Critique: April Powers, formerly the chief equity and inclusion officer at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, resigned following outcry that a post condemning rising antisemitism did not also condemn Islamophobia.
🏥 You’re Fired: Phoenix Children’s Hospital fired a pediatric radiologist after she accused Israel of “cannibalism” in a social media post.
🎥 Small Screen: ‘Gilmore Girls’ veteran Kelly Bishop will join season four of the Emmy-winning series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which tells the story of a Jewish family living in New York City in the 1950s.
⚾ Fair Ball: Sixty years after Gwen Goldman had her request to be a bat girl for the New York Yankees denied, the team welcomed her to the dugout to live out her dream.
👩🏽🍳 Kosher Cooking: Anna Rahmanan reviews 13 kosher-friendly cookbooks in the Huffington Post.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
Actress, Elizabeth Anne “Lizzy” Caplan turns 39…
Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry and professor emeritus at Stanford University, Paul Berg turns 95… Rapid City, S.D., resident, Leedel Chittim Williamson turns 77… Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident and podiatrist, Dr. David Peter Bartos turns 76… Executive coach to nonprofit leaders, he was the founding director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, David Altshuler turns 72… Former New York State assemblyman, Dov Hikind turns 71… Former Harvard professor and author of books on the Holocaust and antisemitism, Daniel Goldhagen turns 62… Staff writer at The Atlantic and author of ten books, David Frum turns 61… Chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Stuart Jeff Rabner turns 61… Professor of astrophysics at McGill University, Victoria Michelle Kaspi turns 54… Professor at Penn State University, he is the co-editor of a handbook on 25 different Jewish languages, Aaron David Rubin turns 45… Columnist, author and screenwriter, Matthew “Matthue” Roth turns 43… Reggae and alternative rock musician, Matisyahu (born Matthew Paul Miller) turns 42… Chief of staff for U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), Kyle Justin Plotkin turns 39… Senior software engineer at Bloomberg LP, Noam Lustiger turns 38… Chief program officer at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Stephanie Hausner turns 37… Rhythmic gymnast who represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games, Julie Ashley Zetlin turns 31… Planner analyst at The TJX Companies, Michal Adar turns 30… Associate area director for the North Shore of Long Island at AIPAC, Abbey Taub turns 28…