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Outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will visit President Joe Biden at the White House a week from today, ahead of the end of Rivlin’s seven-year term next month.
Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid is expected to visit the United Arab Emirates in the coming days, the first visit by an Israeli minister to the UAE since the countries normalized relations in last year’s Abraham Accords.
The Palestinian Authority is renegotiating a deal for 1.4 million Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccines from Israel, days afterPA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh ordered his government to cancel the deal, claiming the doses were too close to their expiration to be distributed in time. An additional three countries are in discussions with the Israeli Ministry of Health to swap vaccines, should the deal with the Palestinian Authority be formally canceled.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi is expected to travel to Washington this week for meetings with senior Biden administration officials, including: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, head of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Gen. Kenneth McKenzie and head of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Gen. Richard Clark. Kochavi is expected to discuss regional issues and to argue against the Biden administration reentering a nuclear deal with Iran.
Preliminary investigations into a car accident at a South Florida Pride parade determined that the incident, which left one person dead, was unintentional. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was nearly hit by the car, and several other legislators were present at the time of the accident, but uninjured.
taking to the council
Democratic Socialists of the New York City Council?
Last August, the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America distributed a controversial questionnaire asking that City Council candidates pledge not to visit Israel. Nearly a year later, the survey remains a charged topic among those who fear that support for Israel is waning. Those concerns have grown in the lead-up to tomorrow’s primary, where six DSA-backed candidates are competing in open-seat City Council races ahead of a massive turnover in the legislative body. “The questionnaire was a harbinger of things to come,” Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “We’re now going to discover that supporters of Israel are going through increasing challenges on the City Council.”
Paradigm shift? While local politicians in New York wield no meaningful influence over foreign policy, pro-Israel sentiment was once something of a prerequisite for building a successful political career in a city that is home to the largest Jewish population in the country. But the DSA is now testing whether that supposition still holds. All of the DSA-backed Council candidates — running in districts across Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx — spoke out on social media last month as tensions escalated in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, voicing their exclusive support for the Palestinians — messages the DSA vociferously retweeted.
Support for BDS: The DSA, which formally endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel in 2017, seems eager to back candidates who agree with the vote. According to Michael Whitesides, a spokesperson for the New York City branch of the DSA, all of the candidates the organization has endorsed this cycle support BDS. “We believe in the human rights of all people and the right of people to live free from occupation,” Michael Hollingsworth, a tenant organizer who is running for Council in Crown Heights, said in a statement to JI. “That’s why our campaign supports BDS and stands in solidarity with Palestinians who are protesting military occupation.”
Beyond the DSA: BDS isn’t supported only by the DSA’s candidates. John Choe, a Democratic City Council candidate in Flushing, supports the movement despite never appearing to have commented publicly about it, according to a woman who applied to work on his campaign and asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the discussion. During the interview in December, she told JI, Choe brought up his support for BDS unbidden, wondering aloud if his views on Israel would, given her Jewish identity, be a problem for her as a potential member of his staff.
Potential ramifications: Though the City Council passed a resolution condemning BDS in 2016, KC Johnson, a professor of American history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, predicts that calls to boycott and impose economic sanctions on Israel will become increasingly common if a DSA-endorsed candidate wins any of the races. “My sense is that questions related to Israel will become more politicized,” he said in an email to JI, envisioning possible scenarios in which the City Council pressures New York City colleges and universities to endorse BDS while passing “resolutions condemning Israeli security actions.”
on the hill
Senators re-introduce bill supporting state, local anti-BDS measures
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) reintroduced a bill providing congressional support and guidelines for state- and local-level efforts to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, after efforts to move the legislation forward in 2019 divided Democrats, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. The legislation provides congressional approval for state and local governments to divest funds from, or prohibit contracting with, entities that engage in boycott, divestment or sanctions activity targeting Israel for political purposes, stating that no existing federal laws override anti-BDS measures that are otherwise compliant with the bill.
Rules of the road: The bill lays out guidelines that states must follow in implementing anti-BDS initiatives, requiring them to provide notice to all entities governed by the anti-BDS initiative; provide them a 90-day warning period; allow impacted entities to comment in writing; make “every effort” to avoid erroneous targeting; and to verify that targeted entities are in fact engaging in BDS-related activity. The bill also requires any state or local government with existing anti-BDS measures in place to provide written notice to the U.S. attorney general within 30 days of the bill’s passage. The same notification requirement applies to any future anti-BDS measures.
Looking back: Similar legislation was previously introduced in the Senate in 2016, when it gained 45 cosponsors and again in 2017, when it gained 48. It passed the Senate in 2019 as part of a broader U.S.-Israel security assistance bill by a vote of 77-23, splitting the Democratic caucus. Opponents of the legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that the bill unconstitutionally infringed on free speech rights.
Quotable: “The boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement is the single most destructive campaign of economic warfare facing the Jewish state of Israel today,” Rubio said in a statement to JI. “Amid a rising tide of anti-Semitism, it’s critical that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our closest democratic ally in the Middle East. This bipartisan bill, which previously passed the Senate, would mark an important step toward bringing an end to the BDS movement’s discriminatory efforts.”
How will election of hardliner Raisi affect nuke talks?
Hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi was declared the winner of Friday’s controversial presidential election in Iran, which saw low turnout as Iranians discouraged by the legitimacy of the vote — Iran’s top clerical body cleared the field of a number of candidates in the weeks before the election — opted to stay home or cast blank ballots.
Background: Raisi, the country’s judiciary chief, was viewed as the favored candidate by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for whom he is seen as a possible successor. The cleric — who is currently under U.S. sanctions — was named as one of the key figures in the killings and disappearances of thousands of Iranian dissidents in 1988. Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Rich Goldberg described described Raisi as “a modern-day Torquemada — one of the worst human rights abusers of our time.”
What to expect: Elliott Abrams, formerly the Trump administration’s special representative for Iran and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told JI, “Whether Raisi tries to reduce the independence of the Quds Force or the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] is an interesting question, but there’s no reason to believe he wants to reduce aid to Hamas, Hezbollah, Shia militias in Iraq or the Houthis in Yemen. Nor is there the slightest reason to think he wants Iran to abandon the nuclear weapons program the Islamic Republic has always maintained.” Abrams argued that Washington’s Iran policy “should now be the policy Ronald Reagan outlined toward the Soviet Union: call for, and work quietly for, its end.”
Effect on nuke talks: The six-week interim between Raisi’s election and inauguration might be an opportunity to force a finalization of the nuclear deal. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that it was “hard to speculate” on how Raisi’s election would impact the ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna, noting that “the ultimate decision” on whether Iran will reenter the deal lies with Khamenei. Goldberg told JI that Khameni “is hoping the Biden administration rewards this presidential selection by lifting sanctions and rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal — thereby not only bailing out the IRGC and legitimizing Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons but also betraying American values and abandoning the Iranian people in the process.” Raisi said Monday that he was not open to meeting with Biden, and expressed an unwillingness to negotiate over Iran’s ballistic missiles program or support for militias in the region. Abrams added that it is in Iran’s “interest to stretch the negotiations out so they have more time now to violate every provision. But with sunsets occurring regularly in the next decade and Iran stiffing IAEA efforts to inspect on the ground, Iran’s nuclear program will advance under Raisi. The question will be what we, and Israel, ultimately do about it.”
Reaction in Israel: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addressed Raisi’s election during the new Israeli government’s first cabinet meeting on Sunday. In a statement read and televised in both Hebrew and English, Bennett urged Western powers to recognize Raisi as “the hangman of Tehran” and to perceive his election as a “wake-up” call, before signing the nuclear agreement. “Raisi’s election is, I would say, the last chance for world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement, and understand who they are doing business with,” Bennett said. Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted that the election of Raisi called for “renewed determination to immediately halt Iran’s nuclear program and put an end to its destructive regional ambitions.”
🏀 Barstool Politics: Writing in Politico, Derek Robertson connects media company Barstool Sports and its founder Dave Portnoy to cultural trends in the Republican Party. “A half-decade ago, the originally Boston-based site and its rabid fan community wouldn’t have scanned as ‘political’ at all. But now, its proudly Neanderthal, reactionary ethos aligns perfectly with the side of our political binary that [former President Donald] Trump reconfigured: the one whose common denominator is a tooth-and-nail, middle-finger unwillingness to accept liberal social norms.” [Politico]
🛢️ Social Lubricant: The Financial Times‘ Farhan Bokhari and Stephanie Findlay report that Saudi Arabia has offered to restart $1.5 billion in oil aid to Pakistan, amid Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic push to “build a front” against Tehran. “Pakistan had shifted closer to Saudi Arabia’s regional rivals Iran and Turkey, which, along with Malaysia, have sought to establish a Muslim bloc to rival the Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.” [FT]
🎥 Casting Call: Writing in Variety, Malina Saval explores “the watering-down of Jewish representation in TV and film,” with stories of Judaism either covered up or overtly caricatured on-screen. Ultimately, Saval argues, “Hollywood has a social responsibility to reflect with unflinching accuracy the experience of being an ethnic minority in America, whether Asian or Black or Muslim or Indigenous, and that same social imperative holds true for the Jewish community.” [Variety]
🤝 Careful Coalition: Though former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is no longer in office, his legacy continues to define Israeli politics, writes Anshel Pfeffer in The New York Times. The current government is primarily built in opposition to the former prime minister and his style of divisive politics. But this fragile coalition dependence on anti-Netanyahu collegiality makes it wary of going too far in reversing his legacy, argues Pfeffer, a senior correspondent for Haaretz. “For the new government to have any realistic chance of survival, it can’t completely dismantle Mr. Netanyahu’s legacy, lest it unravel its fragile coalition. The clock cannot be turned back on the 12 years of his long rule. And though Mr. Bennett and his colleagues will not admit so openly, in some aspects they don’t want it to be.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
💉 Come on in: Vaccinated tourists and children 6 and under will be able to enter Israel beginning July 1.
🖥️ Startup Nation: Israel ranked third in a recent report on countries with largest tech startup sectors, narrowly finishing behind the U.K.
✈️ Add-on: Boeing plans to incorporate an anti-jamming system designed by Israel’s Elbit Systems into new F-15 fighter jets for an unknown customer.
🕌 Unrest: At least three demonstrators were injured in clashes between Palestinian protestors and police at the Al Aqsa complex in Jerusalem.
👮 Eight Suspects: Israeli police arrested eight suspects for the murder of a man during last month’s riots in Lod.
🔌 Power Down: Iran’s only nuclear power plant shut down without explanation on Sunday for emergency repairs expected to last several days, with power outages likely to follow.
🇨🇳 Dodge: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan repeatedly refused to address China’s treatment of its Uighur population during an interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan.
🇮🇱Business Principles: Mathias Dopfner, CEO of German media company Axel Springer, said workers who complained about an Israeli flag erected outside the building headquarters in response to recent antisemitism should find alternative employment.
🇩🇪 Historic Role: Rabbi Zsolt Balla, the son of a Holocaust survivor, will become the German military’s first chief rabbi since Hitler’s removal of Jews from the military in the 1930s.
👋 Internal Divisions: Former Vice President Mike Pence privately praised former White House Economic Advisor Gary Cohn for standing up to President Trump after the president’s equivocation in condemning the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Va., according to an excerpt from Michael Bender’s upcoming book Frankly We Did Win This Election.
🔀 Switching Sides: Former U.K. Parliament Speaker John Bercow, a longtime member of the Conservative Party, announced he has joined the Labour Party, calling the Tories “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic.”
📘 Netanyahu Patriarch: In The New York Times, Taffy Brodesser-Akner reviews Joshua Cohen’s new book The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family, a highly fictionalized account of Benjamin Netanyahu’s father’s search for employment in America.
🖼️ The Art of the Steal: The opaqueness of the art world has created opportunities for illegal money-laundering and selling items at a significant markup, as was the case with a Modigliani sold by hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, which art advisor Yves Bouvier sold at a $25 million markup.
👨👧 Father’s Day: In an interview with CBS News, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg and his daughter, journalist and author Ali Rogin, reflect on how discovery of their shared BRCA1 gene strengthened their relationship.
🥣 Now Open: The Borscht Belt Delicatessen, a New York Jewish deli-style restaurant, opened in Stockton, N.J., over the weekend, donating a portion of its opening weekend sales to Leket Israel, the National Food Bank.
🚚 Canceling the Cancelers: Eat Up the Borders, a Philadelphia event showcasing immigrant chefs, deleted its online presence following contentious public controversy over its decision to remove an Israeli food truck from the venue.
🤵 Under Investigation: The New York City Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating an incident in which a Hasidic man was harassed in Midtown Manhattan last week by teenagers who grabbed his hat and demanded he yell, “Free Palestine.”
📸 Spotted by a JI reader: Michael Cohen walking with his family on Madison Avenue in the 80s in New York City on Sunday.
🎊 Mazel Tov: The New York Times spotlights the wedding of Amanda Winer and Nathan Friedman, who met on a Birthright Israel trip in 2015.
🕯️ Remembering: Saul B. Cohen, the president of Queens College who raised academic standards in New York’s CUNY school system, died at 95.
Gif of the Day
At a brunch reception hosted for family and friends of Lisa and Charlies Spies yesterday, Rabbi Mordechai Newman marked the dedication of Jewish ritual objects donated by the Spies family to Chabad Alexandria-Arlington’s new location in Clarendon.
Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party since 2013, he was appointed as speaker of the Knesset one week ago, Mickey Levy turns 70…
Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and mother-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, Marjorie Margolies turns 79… Institutional investment banker and a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Charles L. Glazer turns 78… Philanthropist and the vice-chair of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Ingeborg Rennert turns 78… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Charles of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, appointed to the House of Lords in 1996, Baron Maurice Saatchi turns 75… U.K. cabinet minister in both the Thatcher and Major governments, Sir Malcolm Leslie Rifkind turns 75… Creditors rights’ attorney at Chicago-area Blitt & Gaines, David Stephen Miller turns 71… Retired managing editor and writer at the Washington Post for 33 years, Peter Perl turns 71… Susan Gutman turns 67… CEO of Amir Development Company in Beverly Hills, Keenan Wolens turns 63… Punk rock singer and songwriter, known as the Gangsta Rabbi, Steve Lieberman turns 63… Washington Institute fellow and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS, David Makovsky turns 61… Senior editorial manager at the Aspen Institute, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, David L. Marcus turns 61…
Co-founder and executive editor of Axios, Mike Allen turns 57… National education policy reporter at the Washington Post, Laura Meckler turns 53… Green Bronx Machine’s Tanya Rebecca Singer turns 48… Yale Law School graduate and author, Abigail Krauser Shrier turns 43… Public affairs consultant based in Manhattan, Sam Nunberg turns 40… The first Druze woman to become a Member of the Knesset, she has served since 2019, Gadeer Kamal Mreeh turns 40… Co-founder and CEO of Kaggle, a data science platform acquired by Google in March 2017, Anthony Goldbloom turns 38… Manager of publicity at Netflix, she was previously a communications officer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jacqueline “Jackie” Berkowitz turns 37… Director at Saban Capital Group, Amitai Raziel turns 37… Executive director at Hunter Hillel, Merav Fine Braun turns 35… Editor for programming and social media at CNN Politics, Madeleine Morgenstern turns 32… Singer-songwriter known as ‘Jeryko,’ Yaniv Hoffman turns 30… Singer-songwriter and actor, Max Schneider turns 29…