👋 Good Monday morning!
Of note: The second volume of SAPIR is debuting over the coming week. More details below.
New Jersey became the fifth state to announce it is looking into whether Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, violated state law against boycotts of Israel.
Jen Sciortino, director of communications in the state’s Office of the Treasurer, told JI that “the Division of Investment is aware of the situation and is working to determine whether any actions must be taken to ensure continued compliance with the State’s anti-BDS law.” New York, Texas, Illinois and Florida have also begun to explore whether Unilever is in violation of laws in those states.
In back-to-back tweets on Friday, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) called the ice cream company’s decision “misguided” and said it was “wrong, biased, & it’s a double standard.”
The head of governance for New York State’s pension fund gave Unilever CEO Alan Jope 90 days to respond to a letter raising concerns over Ben & Jerry’s announcement that the company would no longer sell products in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
The letter gives Jope close to three months to “confirm or deny whether Unilever or its subsidiaries have undertaken any activities with the intent to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with, the State of Israel.”
Gristedes owner and CEO John Catsimatidis announced that his grocery stores would cut back on the amount of Ben & Jerry’s products sold in his stores, calling it a “tragedy” that the company “politicized ice cream.” Catsimatidis threw his support behind Häagen-Dazs, which he wrote was “created by a South Bronx family who is pro-Israel.”
on the trail
Jim Clyburn heads to Cleveland
With just over one week remaining until Ohio’s 11th Congressional District special election, prominent Democrats are descending on Cleveland. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) will be campaigning for Shontel Brown, a Democratic Party establishment favorite and a Cuyahoga County party chair, next weekend before voters head to the polls on August 3. Brown had been trailing Nina Turner by double digits before Clyburn backed her. “When I first got the frantic call, they told me she was polling at about 15, 20%,” he said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Friday. “If it means anything,” he recalled concluding, “it means I need to up my involvement, and so I think that’s why I did.”
Ringing endorsement: Clyburn, who is credited with clinching the nomination for President Joe Biden in last year’s presidential primaries, expressed optimism that his endorsement of Brown would have a similar impact. “I hope so,” he told JI. “I also hope that people know that she is a good person who would make a great congressperson.” “I’ve always found her very pleasant to work with,” said Clyburn, adding that he had campaigned with Brown in previous races. “I’ve been involved with her for some time now,” he noted. “This is not my first involvement.”
Progressive pushback: The 15-term representative, who has locked horns with the far left over issues like defunding the police and Medicare for All, rejected calls that he stay out of the open-seat race to succeed former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). “I saw something the other day from one of Ms. Turner’s supporters saying I need to stay out of their district,” Clyburn told JI, referring to comments made by Juanita Brent, an Ohio state representative who is supporting Turner. “But the same person welcomed Bernie Sanders into the district.”
Eye on Israel: Clyburn said the candidates’ contrasting foreign policy approaches factored into his endorsement. “I think Shontel would be a moderating voice,” the congressman said, in House disputes over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which have become increasingly contentious following May’s violent conflict in Gaza. “My view when it comes to foreign aid is that no two requests are the same,” he said, “and I think that all requests ought to be based upon existing relationships as well as future consideration for whatever the relationship might be.”
Weekend plans: The congressman had yet to see a finalized campaign schedule when he spoke with JI. But he said his plans for the upcoming weekend in Cleveland include meeting with faith leaders as well as Black fraternities and sororities in the district. He was also tailoring his schedule, he said, to accommodate Jewish community members and Seventh-day Adventists who observe the Sabbath on Saturdays. “I’m very sensitive about that,” he noted.
Jordan’s relations with Israel have improved under Bennett, Jordan’s king tells Congress
Jordan’s relations with Israel have improved since the new Israeli coalition government took office, Jordanian King Abdullah II told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a meeting last Thursday, according to a committee member at the meeting.
In the room: Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), a longtime member of the House committee, recounted the committee’s conversation with Abdullah in an interview on Friday with Jewish Insider. “He was quite favorable to the new government,” which is made up of an ideologically diverse coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Sherman said. “In general, the theme was that he was able to work things out with the new government better than he had in the prior two years under what turned out to be the last two years of the Netanyahu administration.”
Bone of contention: Sherman said he questioned Abdullah about the U.S.’s efforts to extradite Ahlam Tamimi — a Jordanian national convicted by an Israeli court in the 2001 bombing of a Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two Americans, who was released in a 2011 prisoner swap — but said the king “didn’t give a substantive response.”
Making friends: “It went well,” Sherman said of the meeting overall. “I’ve been in so many meetings with King Abdullah. [I] kind of regard him as an old friend.” The California congressman emphasized that Jordan maintains broad bipartisan support in Washington. “One comment I made is that support for King Abdullah and Jordan is like the last bipartisan thing in Washington. I mean — make a list of everything that has more bipartisan support than support for Jordan. I wish support for Israel were quite at that high a level,” Sherman added.
Next in line: Sherman noted that Abdullah’s son, the 27-year-old Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, was present in the meeting — as he was in all of the king’s meetings on Capitol Hill last week — although he was not an active participant in the discussions. The crown prince “is clearly being educated at a young age,” Sherman said. “Perhaps only in a monarchical system does anyone as young as the crown prince sit in on such a meeting… It’s a different system. And it doesn’t always work well, but it’s working well for Jordan right now.”
Bonus: Asked on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” if he expects more countries to normalize relations with Israel, Abdullah said that Arab countries “see the option of having a relationship with Israel in their best of interest,” citing the threat posed by Iran, but that further normalization efforts cannot happen at the expense of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
lone star runoff
Despite Ellzey gains, Wright still favored to win Tuesday’s special election in Texas
Texas State Rep. Jake Ellzey, one of two candidates in tomorrow’s special election runoff in Texas’ 6th Congressional District, has significantly narrowed the gap between himself and presumed frontrunner Susan Wright in the race to succeed Wright’s late husband, some political observers in the region told Jewish Insider‘s Marc Rod. But, analysts say, Wright, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is still likely to prevail. The Dallas-area seat has been open since early February, when Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) died of COVID-19 complications. Wright finished first in the all-candidate, all-party special election on May 1 with 19% of the vote to Ellzey’s 13.8%.
Surging ahead: “Susan Wright is still the favorite, but this race is much closer and more competitive, and more uncertain than a lot of people thought,” Matthew Wilson, a political scientist at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University told JI. “Ellzey is probably the stronger of the two candidates, just in terms of background and experience and candidate skills. He has picked up some important local endorsements, to kind of counterbalance the Trump endorsement of Susan Wright. And so I think this really is a race that could go to either candidate.”
Flip side: “I do not think the trajectory has been changed. The trajectory was that she was going to win, and I think that’s probably still correct,” a political consultant close to the Texas congressional delegation told Jewish Insider. “The question that I don’t think anyone can answer… is what turnout’s going to look like.”
By the numbers: Wright released a poll — conducted from July 19 to 21 — on Thursday showing her 10 percentage points ahead of Ellzey among 400 voters in the district, although it’s unclear what percentage plan to vote on Tuesday. That’s also a notably smaller lead than an early June poll, which put Wright 15 points ahead. One sign of possible weakness for Wright is that Ellzey, who represents Waxahachie, has significantly outpaced her in fundraising — pulling in $1.7 million to Wright’s $741,000 as of earlier this month.
The Trump factor: If Ellzey does manage to pull off a win, or even come closer than initially expected to Wright on Tuesday, his election would likely set off a wave of questions about the continued power of former President Donald Trump’s endorsements. But local analysts said they feel that Wright will likely sink or swim based on her own candidacy, rather than Trump’s endorsement. “It’s not as if Trump has been an active, visible presence in this district,” Wilson said. “Moreover, it’s not as if Ellzey is running as an anti-Trumper. The race is really not a referendum on Trump’s role within the Republican Party.”
Turnout game: As with most special elections, this race will ultimately come down to turnout, observers say. As both candidates are ideologically similar, the divisions in their support bases are largely geographic, analysts said. Wright is stronger in Tarrant County, in the northern part of the district — where more voters live — while Ellzey has more support in and around the Waxahachie area in the southern portion of the district. The biggest wildcards in the race will be how voters who supported other candidates in the first-round election vote — if they turn out at all — and whether Democrats show up to support Ellzey as a move to oppose Wright, and by extension, Trump.
Presented by SAPIR
New Issue: We are pleased to announce the second issue of SAPIR: A Journal of Jewish Conversations. Centered around the theme of power, articles will be released this week and next via Jewish Insider. For a sneak preview, visit the Table of Contents page. Publisher Mark Charendoff introduces the volume, writing that “a more substantive and thoughtful reckoning with the complexity of power seemed a worthy endeavor for our second issue.” Read more.
Stay Tuned: Author events have already been scheduled – for more details and to register, visit SAPIR’s Conversations page (where you can also view recordings of interviews from Issue One).
👩 Woman of Valor: In Vogue, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt describes the pressures associated with being a rabbi’s wife, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused her to reimagine many parts of the role. “It’s still hard, it’s still a sacrifice in time and energy, but a year of isolation has made me realize that it’s necessary. The very role that I had chafed at now seems like the most important thing I could be doing; it is about being a community organizer, gathering people around ideas, and doing it on one’s own terms.” [Vogue]
💸 In Defense of Philanthropy: In Tablet, Felicia Herman, who heads the Natan Fund and the Aligned Grant Program of the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund, offers a scathing review of Lila Corwin Berman’s recently published book, The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution, which Herman says omits key factors and players and “distorts the extraordinarily complex and diverse story of American Jewish philanthropy.” Herman concludes, “In writing the story in this fashion Berman does a disservice to the millions of Jewish givers who have allocated billions of dollars for charitable purposes and supported countless Jewish philanthropic efforts to make the world a better place. Jewish philanthropy—a system that belongs to all of us—deserves better.” [Tablet]
⛔ No Bueno: After approving more than 32,000 applications for citizenship from the descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain, The New York Times’s Nicholas Casey writes, the country has begun to reject a majority of the applications it receives, confusing applicants who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on the associated legal fees and paperwork. “Some saw citizenship as a way to make peace with the persecution of their ancestors by forming a link to their ancestral land. Others had more immediate concerns, seeing a Spanish passport as the best hope to escape dire situations in their own countries.” [NYTimes]
🤣 Laugh Track: On the anniversary of the break-up of comedy duo Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Tevi Troy writes in the Wall Street Journal about the unlikely pairing. “Martin was a singer, traditionally handsome, Italian, a classic straight man. Lewis was a rubber-faced, hyperkinetic Jewish comedian who seemed as if he couldn’t stand still for a moment. Their act played off these contrasts, with Martin trying to get through a song or a bit and Lewis constantly interrupting and exasperating him, doing a medley of voices, imitations and emotions while Martin tried to maintain his considerable cool. Lewis felt that their contrasts broadened their appeal. As Lewis put it, ‘Who were Dean’s fans? Men, women, the Italians. Who were Jerry’s fans? Women, Jews, kids. Who were Martin and Lewis’s fans? All of them.’” [WSJ]
Around the Web
🍨 Scoop Wars: The Shurat HaDin Law Center in Israel announced it will partner with a manufacturer to produce Ben & Jerry’s-like ice cream to be sold in areas where it claims the company forfeited its trademark, hoping for a lawsuit.
🕺SoCal Scuffle: Demonstrators and members of extremist groups clashed outside a pro-Israel rally in Southern California featuring former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and California GOP gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder.
💔 Still Missing: A month after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Fla., just one person remains unaccounted for — businesswoman and blogger Estelle Hedaya.
👮 Show Me the Security: “Jerry McGuire” star Jonathan Lipnicki — who is trained in jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts — is part of a volunteer group in Los Angeles that helps Jewish families safely go to and from their synagogues following an uptick in antisemitic activity.
🛡️Safety First: The Canadian government will provide $5 million for security for Jewish institutions as part of the country’s Security Infrastructure Program to help protect at-risk communities.
💥 One Step Closer: Poland’s Senate approved amendments to a contentious law that would complicate Jewish restitution claims for compensation for Holocaust-era Polish persecution, bringing the bill one step closer passing.”
⚔️ Fiery Balloons: Militant groups in the Gaza Strip launched incendiary balloons towards Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza border, causing large blazes over the weekend. In response, the IAF struck targets in the Gaza Strip.
🛫 Taking Off: Israir and El Al began their first direct flights between Israel and Morocco Sunday.
⚾ Last Hurrah: Ian Kinsler, the former MLB player and current second baseman for Team Israel at the Olympics, spoke with Yahoo! Sports about the physical and mental challenges of coming out of retirement to join the team in Tokyo.
🥋 Civil Games: Iranian defector Kimia Alizadeh, playing on Germany’s Olympic team, defeated fellow Iranian Nahid Kiyani in taekwondo at the Tokyo Games.
✡️ Facebook Faith: Facebook is partnering with religious groups for an effort to bring new users to its platform and provides a virtual venue for synagogues, churches, and mosques.
💸 Big Backers: Tailor Brands, headquartered in Tel Aviv and New York, announced it raised $50 million in Series C funding.
💻 Blame Game: NSO CEO Shalev Hulio said the backers of the BDS movement and Qatar were behind the story that NSO sold spyware to foreign governments, which used the information to track tens of thousands of journalists, activists and others.
☎️ Phone-a-Friend: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed al Nahyan on Friday to send Eid al-Adha well wishes and discuss bilateral relations.
💉 Test Case: The Pfizer vaccine has shown waning protection against contracting COVID-19, according to Israeli government statistics, though it still provides significant protection from the more severe effects of the virus.
🕯️Remembering: Comic Jackie Mason, a trained rabbi who got his start on the Borscht Belt comedy circuit and went on to a decades-long career in entertainment, died at 93. Theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg died at 88. Israeli journalist Roni Daniel died at 73.
Gif of the Day
American singer Benny Friedman released a highly-stylized music video to his song “Charasho,” two years after it became a runaway hit.
Former administrator at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston, chancellor of the California State University system and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Barry Munitz turns 80…
Photographer and documentary filmmaker, Elliott Erwitt turns 93… Retired member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Sally Oppenheim-Barnes turns 93… Former mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman turns 82… Author, podcaster, columnist and rabbi, Shammai Engelmayer turns 76… Former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Richard Stark turns 69… Sports columnist, author, television and radio personality, he works for ESPN’s Charlotte-based SEC Network, Paul Finebaum turns 65… Health care consultant, Alan H. Spiro, MD, MBA turns 69… Film and television director, she is best known for her work on the Showtime drama series “Homeland,” Lesli Linka Glatter turns 68… Venture capitalist, he is a brother-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, James W. Breyer turns 60… Actor, comedian and producer, Jeremy Samuel Piven turns 56… Correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for “Nightline” and co-anchor the weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” Daniel B. “Dan” Harris turns 50…
Founder of Stonington Global, Nicholas Muzin turns 46… Actress best known for her role in the “Spider-Man” trilogy, Mageina Tovah Begtrup turns 42… Israeli born classical music composer, Gilad Hochman turns 39… Israeli born R&B singer and songwriter, Hila Bronstein turns 38… Associate director at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Lauren Garfield-Herrin turns 37… Actress and filmmaker, Hallie Meyers-Shyer turns 34… Member of the comedy quartet “The Try Guys,” with over two billion social media views, Zachary Andrew “Zach” Kornfeld turns 31… Intern at D.C.-based Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Drew Gerber turns 26… Running back for the NFL’s Chicago Bears, Tarik Cohen turns 26… Pitcher on the Israeli Women’s National Softball Team, she was an Academic All-American standout player at the at the University of Arizona, Tamara “T” Statman Schoen turns 24… Political correspondent at Israel’s Walla News, Tal Shalev… Texas-based editor at Sports Illustrated, Tomer Barazani…