👋 Good Thursday morning!
Democratic congressional candidates Shontel Brown and Nina Turner,who are competing in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District’s Aug. 3 special primary, are tied for support among eligible voters in the district, according to a new independent poll out this morning commissioned by the Washington Free Beacon and conducted by TargetPoint Consulting.
Brown — who is running with the backing of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the Congressional Black Caucus’s political arm, pro-Israel House Democratics, the JDCA and DMFI — has overcome a polling deficit in recent weeks against Turner, who served as the national co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) presidential campaign and has been backed by Sanders, Justice Democrats, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY).
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) will be going on the American Israel Education Foundation trip to Israel for freshmen Republicans next month, the senator told Jewish Insider on Wednesday. From the House side, Reps. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Pat Fallon (R-TX), Young Kim (R-CA), Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) — who was initially planning on joining a Foreign Affairs Committee trip last week that conflicted with another delegation to South Korea — will also be also traveling.
on the hill
New Iran deal not expected to happen ‘anytime soon,’ Menendez says after classified briefing
A new nuclear agreement with Iran or a return to the 2015 deal is not likely to happen “anytime soon,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said on Wednesday following a classified briefing with Secretary of State Tony Blinken and other senators, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
No deal: Menendez described the briefing as “good — in terms of informative,” but said a deal appears unlikely in part because there is “clarity that beyond returning to the JCPOA there has to be a follow-on agreement and that seems to be a problem for the Iranians,” noting that it was unlikely that negotiations would resume before August.
On hold: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also said the talks appear to be on hold in light of last month’s presidential elections in Iran that saw hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, an ally of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, win with nearly 63% of the vote. Critics in and outside Iran have argued that Khamenei had rigged the election in favor of Raisi. “My personal sense based on everything I know is that given the fact that they had this fake election in Iran… at this point [a nuclear deal is] probably going to wait until that shakes itself out and the new president takes over,” Rubio said. “But in the end, the supreme leader is the final decision-maker.”
Bad faith: Menendez said that therecently revealed Iranian plot to kidnap a U.S.-based journalist raises questions about whether the Iranians are acting in good faith, suggesting that legislators would “have questions” about how the uncovered plot would impact negotiations. Rubio said that the kidnapping attempt is further proof that the U.S. should not be negotiating with Iran. “How can you negotiate anything in good faith with a country that’s willing to come here and try to kidnap someone out of Brooklyn, take [her] to Venezuela and then onto Iran?” Rubio said.
Brush off: Menendez also dismissed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent claims — reported earlier Wednesday — that the Biden administration had agreed to lift nearly all U.S. sanctions in exchange for reentry into the deal as inconsistent with what he’s heard from the administration.
In the room: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sens. Chris Coons (D-CT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jack Reed (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mark Warner (D-VA) were also spotted heading into the meeting room.
Bonus: Amichai Stein shares with JI readers that Israeli defense officials are concerned that Iran has used the drawn-out talks — first expected to take weeks when they began in April — to advance its nuclear program. “Let’s say there will be some compromise on this, and they will be allowed to stay even with some of the advancement they have right now,” one official said. “Some would argue that if the [West’s] goal is to sign an agreement at all costs… maybe the sooner they sign might be better.”
as seen on tv
A Black Jewish filmmaker brings her dual identities to BET
The filmmaker Lacey Schwartz Delgado believes conversation — the tougher the better — can bring about change. She directed “Black x Jewish,” a 30-minute TV special that premieres tonight on BET and explores the intersections of antisemitism and racism, along with the decades-long relationship between Black and Jewish communities to confront hate. “It was really exciting and interesting to think through how to have that conversation in that space for that audience,” Schwartz Delgado told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch. “Obviously, there are people of all different backgrounds who are going to be tuning into BET — but it was really created for a Black audience.”
Highs and lows: “Black x Jewish” starts with an exploration of the contrasts of January 6: The night before, Georgia elected its first Black and first Jewish senators; several hours later, white supremacist rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol. “I think that framework really sums up the highs and lows. The high is when these communities come together and can achieve incredible things, and then the lows are when the hatred against both communities collectively comes out,” said Schwartz Delgado.
Not political: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, is the only politician to appear in the film, but that’s less about politics than it is the unique demographics of his Brooklyn district. “All roads lead to Brooklyn,” Jeffries jokes. Schwartz Delgado observes that he “successfully navigates a place where Black folks and Jewish people have both lived for generations,” and that Jeffries is “on a mission to see how Black and Jewish communities can look at their own experiences to find common ground and build alliances.” (Schwartz Delgado is married to Rep. Antonio Delgado [D-NY], who represents parts of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.)
Making progress: Schwartz Delgado has worked on issues relating to diversity in the Jewish community for many years, including a long stint as national outreach director for Be’chol Lashon, a San Francisco-based organization that fosters discussion of inclusion and race in the Jewish community. Fifteen or so years ago when she started working in this field, “we were still constantly doing panels where it was just even talking about the existence of people of color who are also Jewish,” said Schwartz Delgado. “I’m not saying that never happens in any spaces anymore, but now we are evolving into having more of a conversation about what actually needs to happen in the Jewish community to be inclusive.”
Family secret: All of this is personal for Schwartz Delgado. At age 18, she learned that her biological father was not the Ashkenazi Jewish man who raised her but actually a Black man with whom her mother had an affair. It had been explained to her throughout childhood that she was simply dark-skinned, a trait she was falsely told she inherited from her Sicilian Jewish grandfather. She chronicled the journey of racial self-discovery that followed this revelation in her acclaimed 2014 documentary “Little White Lie.”
Michael Miller reflects on three decades of service to New York’s Jewish community
On July 1, Rabbi Michael Miller, the longtime CEO and executive vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, quietly stepped down from the organization to which he has dedicated half his life. Over more than three decades, the mild-mannered rabbi, 72, established himself — largely behind the scenes — as a deeply respected faith leader, writes Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. But a week before his departure, Mayor Bill de Blasio saw to it that Miller got his due. Holding up a proclamation at a recent media briefing, the mayor proudly decreed “Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the City of New York as ‘Michael Miller Day.’”
Commanding influence: While Miller is hardly a household name in New York City, de Blasio’s enthusiastic tribute was a testament to the rabbi’s commanding influence in Jewish communal life and beyond. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Miller helped transform the JCRC into the city’s leading mainstream Jewish group. At a certain point, however, Miller concluded that it was time to move on. “I think that it’s the right time for a younger person to step in,” he said in a recent Zoom interview with JI from his office in Manhattan, shortly before retiring. His successor is Gideon Taylor, a commercial real estate executive who served as executive director of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Miller now holds the title of CEO emeritus.
Rising progressivism: “The rise of political progressivism has been a significant challenge to the mainstream Jewish community, and part of what I believe we need to engage in is communication with influencers who are progressive,” Miller told JI of some of the organization’s more immediate concerns. “That’s one of the reasons why I’ve decided to step aside, because the vast majority of those progressive political figures and communal figures are much younger than I am and are going to be on the scene, most likely, for decades to come.”
Community engagement: Miller’s tenure at the JCRC ran parallel with five mayoral administrations. He recalled a meeting with Ed Koch, New York City’s former mayor, in the late ’80s. “The discussion was around Crown Heights,” Miller said, adding: “I said, ‘Mr. Mayor, Crown Heights is a tinderbox, and it’s not going to take very much for Crown Heights to explode.’” Koch, however, was the one who exploded. The mayor “tore into me for using that expression of ‘tinderbox’ because it was on his watch,” Miller told JI. “Well, it was just a couple of years later that yes, indeed, it was a tinderbox, and the place did explode,” referring to the three days of rioting that engulfed the Brooklyn neighborhood in the summer of 1991 and resulted in the death of a yeshiva student.
Looking back: In 1983, Miller, then a working rabbi, visited with refuseniks in the Soviet Union, smuggling in Judaica. “It was daunting,” he said of the trip, which he took alone. It was after that experience that Miller decided he wanted to dedicate his life to the Jewish community, not as a pulpit rabbi but as a Jewish organization professional. He was hired by the JCRC the following year and took over in 1986. Now 35 years later, Miller is the one handing the reins to his younger charge. “People say you love your job,” Miller said. “It’s impossible to love this kind of a job. The weight of the responsibility isn’t enjoyable. But it’s more of a mission, and that’s what I’ve committed myself to.”
Power emphasizes Israeli role in clearing Gaza aid during latest congressional hearings
In consecutive hearings on Wednesday, Samantha Power, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, emphasized the Israeli government’s role in approving future aid to Gaza, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
On replay: Power said on multiple occasions across the two hearings, held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that Israel’s department for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) must approve any materials that are sent through the border crossing into the Gaza Strip, and that grantees, sub-grantees and sub-sub-grantees must pass “the most elaborate set of vetting procedures that [U.S. has] anywhere in the world.” Power said, “Anything that goes into Gaza… goes through that very stringent vetting process that the Israeli government itself presides over.”
Holdup: She also indicated that the Biden administration had been working to convince Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) to lift his hold on millions in what she described as humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. Risch spokesperson Suzanne Wrasse denied that any of the aid Risch is holding is humanitarian aid as described by Power. “Despite suggestions to the contrary, Congress cannot hold humanitarian assistance… Any and all funds that were notified to meet urgent needs for food and medical necessities have been released. Senator Risch will continue to hold any funds to the Palestinians that could be used for their ‘pay to slay’ program,” Wrasse said.
Moving ahead: During the House hearing, Power detailed the status of the implementation of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, a program passed into law last year to foster people-to-people partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians. USAID designated Meghan Doherty, deputy assistant administrator of the Bureau for the Middle East, as the USAID official to oversee the program on a day-to-day basis, Power said, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) picked former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) as the first MEPPA board member. The chair and ranking member of each of the four committees that oversee USAID, as well as the majority and minority leaders of each chamber, must now also select board members. USAID cannot begin distributing MEPPA funding until December.
Making progress: Powerfurther discussed ways in which USAID can contribute to U.S. efforts to strengthen and expand the recent normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab states. She suggested USAID could pursue trilateral international development projects in third countries through the memorandums of understanding USAID has with Israel, Qatar, Tunisia, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
✍️ Speaking Out: In a longform piece for The Atlantic, Tahir Hamut Izgil, a leading Uyghur poet, writes a jarring first-person narrative about life for the Uyghur community in Urumqi, a city in Northwest China with a sizable Uyghur population that has been the target of arrests and forced internment. “Every day, hundreds of Uyghurs who had moved here over the decades — finding work, starting families, buying houses, coming to consider themselves locals — had been shipped out to concentration camps known as ‘study centers.’ Nearly everyone I knew from the labor camp where I’d been imprisoned two decades earlier had already been rearrested. My turn would clearly come soon.” [TheAtlantic]
🤝 Shrinking the Conflict: In the Wall Street Journal, author Micah Goodman suggests that Israel’s new hybrid government, representing elements of Israel’s left, right and center, is uniquely positioned to support Palestinian self-governance in the West Bank without threatening Israel’s security, an idea known as “shrinking the conflict.” Goodman writes, “Boosting Palestinian autonomy would achieve the seemingly impossible. It would answer the Israeli public’s two contradictory wishes: Israel would exercise much less control over the Palestinians than it does now, but it would not become more threatened by them than it is now. An initiative to shrink the conflict would give expression to Israel’s invisible and unspoken ideological consensus.” [WSJ]
🕍 Survey Says: The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin looks at the Jewish community’s political affiliations. While a majority of Jews identify as liberal, an overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews identify as conservative. Among politically conservative Jews, a majority approve of new voting laws in states like Georgia and Florida, a view Rubin specifically calls out. “Today’s Jews mostly reflect the overwhelming concern for the protections a diverse democracy offer them, as their community did when Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel joined the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his fight for civil rights. But that is not a uniform phenomenon. Politically and religiously speaking, there are two American Jewish communities — one Orthodox/Republican and another that is a much larger group and is made up of diverse religious groups,” Rubin argues. [WashPost]
🤣 Tough Crowd: In Vanity Fair, Donald Liebenson interviews septuagenarian stand-up comedian and former rabbinic student David Steinberg on his new book, Inside Comedy, and his famous comedy friendships and career working on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Tonight Show.” “When I was a kid, I looked around and [comedians] were all Jews. In the ’50s, I can’t think of that many comedians who were not Jewish. They were the jazz musicians of comedy for me. They were the outsiders,” Steinberg said of his idols growing up. Once in comedy, he made instant friendships with some of the most important Jewish comedians of the time. “You can’t slough off the comics from the Catskills. They were some of the funniest who ever lived. Mel Brooks, Shecky Greene, Buddy Hackett, Mal Z. Lawrence, and many, many more. These comedians honed their craft with some of the toughest audiences.” [VanityFair]
Around the Web
🥼 Transition: Former Israeli chief scientist Avi Hasson was named the next CEO of Start-Up Nation Central and will begin in the role in September.
🦠 Containing the Contagion: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he believes Israel can beat the COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak without resorting to a fourth national lockdown.
☎️ Private Call: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-NY) reportedly called Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to discuss the demolition of a West Bank home owned by a Palestinian American whom Israeli officials accused of carrying out a terrorist attack. The demolition occurred while a delegation of U.S. legislators was visiting Israel.
📸 Fact Check: A viral picture of President Joe Biden kneeling before Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is taken out of context, according to USA Today’s fact-checker, which says the picture depicts Biden kneeling to show respect for Rivlin’s chief of staff, Rivka Ravitz, for raising 12 children.
☢️ Full Steam Ahead: The Biden administration will move forward with nuclear talks with Iran despite the indictment of five Iranians involved in an alleged government plot to abduct a U.S.-based Iranian journalist.
💵 Defrosted: The U.S. said it will allow Iran to use frozen funds to settle debts with South Korea and Japan.
⚖️ Justice Day: A district court in Washington, D.C., ruled that Syria, as well as Iran, its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and three banks are liable for the killing of a U.S. citizen and his wife in a 2015 West Bank attack attributed to Hamas.
🤝 Building Back Better: Israel and Turkey agreed to work on improving their relationship after a call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and new Israeli President Isaac Herzog, according to a spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling AK party.
🇷🇺 Unveiled: CNN identified Jared Kushner as the senior Trump transition official who directed then-incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to contact Russia’s ambassador in the U.S. about a U.N. Security Council vote on Israeli settlements.
🪖 Comparisons: In a new book on former President Donald Trump’s final year in office by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley is reported to have likened Trump to Adolf Hitler.
🎙️ Scapegoating: Podcast host Recho Omondi accused Jews of widespread complicity in the U.S. slave trade and referred to a Jewish guest as a “Jewish American princess,” in what listeners considered an antisemitic dog whistle, before quietly removing the offending portions of the recording.
🗳️ Primary Politics: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is leading an effort to defend vulnerable incumbent Democrats facing primary challenges from the far-left faction of the party and curry favor to potentially mount a future bid for the speakership.
🧑⚖️ Duper-in-Chief: A federal judge dismissed former Senate candidate and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s defamation lawsuit against comic Sacha Baron Cohen, who interviewed the politician while posing as an Israeli intelligence agent. Separately, the comedian filed a lawsuit against a Massachusetts cannabis dispensary for using his Borat character without permission.
🏙️ Stop Hate: JewBelong is raising awareness about antisemitism through a publicity campaign that includes billboards in Times Square as well as Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Miami.
🖥️ Investment: American-Israeli cybersecurity firm Cybereason raised $275 million, with the funding led by former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s Liberty Strategic Capital.
🎞️ Let it Go: Disney’s Alan Braverman and Zenia Mucha will retire at the end of this year along with their boss, Bob Iger.
⚾ Closer to a Minyan: CatcherElie Kligman was drafted by the Washington Nationals, the second Orthodox player to be drafted by a major league team, after hard-throwing pitcher Jacob Steinmetz was picked by the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this week.
📱 Making a Plan: The Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism issued a report recommending that governments consider establishing oversight and regulation of social media companies to combat online antisemitism.
Gif of the Day
UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja, right, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog, left, at the ribbon cutting for the UAE embassy in Tel Aviv, the first Gulf embassy to open in Israel.
Former congresswoman, she was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen turns 69…
President and chairman of the board of the Annenberg Foundation, Wallis Annenberg turns 82… Member of the British House of Lords, he is a professor, medical doctor, scientist, television anchor and Labour Party politician, Baron Robert Maurice Lipson Winston turns 81… Professional sports bettor and poker player, he is a four time winner of the World Series of Poker, Mickey Appleman turns 76… Physician and life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, father of Politico‘s Daniel Lippman, Dr. David H. Lippman turns 76… Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ, Rabbi Dovid Schustal turns 74… EVP at the Aspen Institute responsible for its policy and public programs, he was a Rhodes Scholar and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Elliot Gerson turns 69… California-based appellate attorney, Feris M. Greenberger turns 65… National grassroots director of the Orthodox Union’s Teach Coalition, Miriam Baron “Mimi” Jankovits turns 65… Recent board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, she is also the national campaign chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, Julie Beren Platt turns 64… Professor at the UCLA School of Law, expert in human rights, international criminal law and international trade, Richard Harold Steinberg turns 61… Political news director at Bloomberg, Jodi Schneider turns 61… Member of Congress since 2011 (D-RI), previously mayor of Providence, his mother is Sabra née Peskin, David Nicola Cicilline turns 60… Anchorage-based attorney, a member of the Alaska House of Representatives since 2012, Andrew Lewis “Andy” Josephson turns 57… Former U.K. Labour Party member of Parliament, including three years as secretary of state for foreign affairs, now CEO of NYC-based International Rescue Committee, David Miliband turns 56…
Co-founder and chief investment officer of Toronto-based EdgeStone Capital Partners, one of Canada’s leading private equity firms, Gilbert S. Palter turns 56… Israeli actress and singer, she was the 1991 and 1998 winner of the Ophir Award (Israel’s Academy Award) for Best Actress, Dafna Rechter turns 56… Founder and CEO of Allera Strategies, Amy M. Goldman turns 47… Senior advisor at investment bank Greif & Co., he is also the CFO of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, David S. Felman turns 43… On-boarding specialist at MyChargeBack, he served for eight years as the Florida synagogue initiative director of AIPAC, Sam Kalmowicz turns 43… Rabbi, blogger and attorney, Eliyahu Fink turns 40… Senior correspondent at New York Magazine and a CNN contributor, she is a co-author of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Irin Carmon turns 38… Israeli actor, he played Boaz in Season 1 of “Fauda,” Tomer Kapon turns 36… Bloomberg reporter and team leader covering mergers and acquisitions, Liana Balinsky-Baker turns 34… SVP of the Milwaukee Bucks and a 2022 candidate for U.S. Senate from Wisconsin, Alex Lasry turns 34… Denver-based senior Israel education director at Hillel International, Jonathan Steven “Jon” Falk turns 33… Fund director of the Membership in News Fund at the Membership Puzzle Project, Ariel Zirulnick turns 33… USA Today NFL reporter covering the Dallas Cowboys, she is also the author of a biography of a Holocaust survivor, Jori Epstein turns 27…