👋 Good Thursday morning!
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-8 to repeal the 2002 and 1991 Authorizations for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The vote sets up what will likely be a contentious battle on the Senate floor, as some senators continue to harbor concerns about how repeal would impact the U.S.’s fight against Iranian proxies in Iraq.
Republican Sens. Todd Young (R-IN), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rob Portman (R-OH) voted with Democrats in favor of the repeal. Young and Paul are frequent critics of modern presidential war powers.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) proposed an amendment he said would express Congress’s support of administrative action against Iran when necessary to protect U.S. national interests. Opponents of the amendment argued it would grant additional, largely unrestricted war powers to the administration, and it was voted down 13-9.
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) proposed amendments providing the president the authority to “prevent and respond to” attacks by terrorists and state sponsors of terrorism operating in Iraq, pointing specifically to Iranian proxy groups, which he said would provide the U.S. leverage against Iran.
Opponents argued that the amendments would essentially transform the repeal legislation into a new AUMF, and it failed by a vote of 15 to 7.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), one of the lead proponents of AUMF repeal, told reporters he believes at least 11 Republicans and all 50 Democrats will vote in favor on the floor.
How the Ohio 11 election went against the grain
After an upset in Ohio’s Democratic primary special election in the 11th Congressional District, National Journal political columnist Josh Kraushaar joined Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” co-hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein to analyze the results — including how Jewish voters may have swung the election for Shontel Brown — what the results mean for the Democratic Party and the winning streak of “kingmaker” Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC).
The interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
Jewish vote: “Cleveland’s Jewish community is both large and well organized. And I might even add, it’s more unified, in a sense, where you had more liberal Jews who are not maybe quite as observant in Beachwood, all the way to the more religious Orthodox communities in Cleveland Heights that were all on the same side, were all pretty early on supportive of Shontel Brown. … If you look at the final result in the race and the margin that Shontel Brown won by — about 4,000 votes — just looking at the early numbers and the precinct-by-precinct data, it’s fair to conclude that the Jewish vote may have easily made the difference — a more than 4,000-vote margin for Shontel Brown — than her ultimate winning margin. So it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Jewish community was responsible [and] played a big role at the very least in electing Shontel Brown to Congress.”
The kingmaker: “This was a ballsy move for Jim Clyburn to get involved, to endorse and then eventually campaign for Shontel Brown when this was far from a sure victory. I mean, if Joe Biden looked like an underdog before South Carolina in the presidential primary, Shontel Brown was an even bigger underdog … So Jim Clyburn is the kingmaker, but he’s not just the kingmaker who gets in a race and endorses the candidate who’s ahead. He, in the last year, has now endorsed two underdogs. And really, I think his insight is very important, because he appreciates that despite all this noise on social media that tends to favor left-wing candidates, left-wing activism, he understands that the majority of the Democratic vote in most of these states and districts lies with African Americans — who are much more moderate than your average Democratic voter — and your moderate, center-left White voters….That was the winning coalition for Shontel Brown.”
Where pro-Israel folks go from here: “The biggest question after last night is how does this affect the pro-Israel Democratic community’s strategy in looking ahead to 2022? Is this a one-off? Is this a race that was a perfect storm where, yes, it took a lot of guts to get involved against Nina Turner and to invest so much money early on, but you had Clyburn, you got Hillary Clinton, you got the whole community that had sympathies with her overall message. And it’s a lot different than taking on a sitting incumbent, even if they’re part of The Squad. It’s a much different political calculus both back home in those districts and against leadership. [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi endorsed [Rep.] Ilhan Omar [D-MN], for example, last year during her competitive primary. While I think this is encouraging for the pro-Israel Democratic community that they were able to win a very important race, they’re still playing defense a lot. I think you’re gonna see a lot more emphasis on protecting incumbents that are pro-Israel, rather than going after left-wing Squad lawmakers who have made antisemitic comments. I just think that’s the reality within the party, that there may be a political opportunity to go in an open-seat race against a very left-wing candidate like Nina Turner, but I don’t know if Jim Clyburn and Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats in Congress would welcome Democratic pro-Israel groups engaging against an incumbent. Even if they’ve made antisemitic comments. Even if they have a very left-wing, anti-Israel posture.”
Lightning round: Favorite Yiddish word? Schmuck. Favorite Jewish food? Potato blintzes with sour cream. Recent book recommendation? Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the Twenty-First Century. Favorite campaign to cover? Al Franken vs. Norm Coleman in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race. “If you wrote Al Franken’s name in a story or a blog at the time, that was your ticket. People read it. People wanted to hear what Al Franken was doing. He could have been eating a pastrami sandwich and that was enough to drive traffic to the site.”
Listen to the full podcast here.
Bonus: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chair of the House Democratic Caucus, turned critical of progressive Democrats’ continued use of revolutionary rhetoric and denigrations of the party as broken, in an interview with The New York Times, saying, “The extreme left is obsessed with talking trash about mainstream Democrats on Twitter, when the majority of the electorate constitute mainstream Democrats at the polls … In the post-Trump era, the anti-establishment line of attack is lame — when President Biden and Democratic legislators are delivering millions of good-paying jobs, the fastest-growing economy in 40 years and a massive child tax cut.”
on the hill
ADL’s Greenblatt to discuss rising antisemitism, social media reform at Senate Homeland Security hearing
Anti-Defamation League President and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt plans to discuss the recent upswing in global antisemitism and link it to violence against other minority groups at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing today, the ADL executive told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. He’ll also urge senators to reform a controversial section of the Communications Decency Act that serves as a liability shield for social media companies. Greenblatt is set to testify at a hearing on domestic terrorism and violent extremism, the second such hearing this week.
Called out: Greenblatt said he will tell the Senate panel that two factors are to blame for this trend: elected officials’ embrace of hatred and conspiracy theories, and social media. “We’ve seen elected officials and people in positions of authority who have helped to normalize hatred either repeating conspiracy theories or engaging in tropes and doing so without remorse and creating a pathway for more prejudice to come into the public square,” he said, clarifying that this can be both intentional and unintentional and emanates from both political parties.
Read Greenblatt’s full opening statement.
Overhaul: To address social media’s role in spreading extremist content, Greenblatt plans to advocate for reforms to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which exempts websites from liability for content their users post and undergirds much of the modern internet’s functionality. “The companies have demonstrated an inability to police themselves effectively,” Greenblatt said. They “should be forced… to address issues of hate on [their platforms]” by making them liable for hateful, violent and extremist content on them.
Pushback: Opponents of such changes, including some free speech advocates, argue that federal government’s efforts to force social media companies to modify their content moderation practices constitute an infringement of free speech rights by the federal government itself. Greenblatt pushed back on these criticisms by framing Section 230 as a liability “carveout” not granted to any other company that publishes media, such as news organizations, billboard companies or radio stations. “This is simply about ensuring that they behave by the laws of gravity that dictate how other media companies and frankly other businesses operate,” Greenblatt said.
Raising concerns: Greenblatt weighed in on comments made by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) earlier this week at a Democratic Socialists of America convention that suggested that there are people “behind the curtain” who exploit average Americans. “When cities across the country and communities are reeling from these [antisemitic] attacks, we’d like to think that elected officials on both sides of the aisle would exercise a greater degree of caution,” Greenblatt said. “Because her words echoed long-standing tropes. To the extent that she was misinterpreted, it would be helpful for the congresswoman to clarify on the record what she meant.”
Election blame game: After her loss to Shontel Brown in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, Nina Turner blamed “evil money.” Greenblatt said he had just recently learned about Turner’s remarks when speaking to JI yesterday, and said that ADL’s Ohio office was reaching out to her campaign. “Again, we are concerned about intentionally or inadvertently reinforcing antisemitic tropes,” he said.
Meet the best friends introducing Middle Eastern date syrup to the wider world
As teenagers, David Czinn and Brian Finkel joked that they would go into business together one day. Little did they expect that their pipe dream would become reality, or that their fledgling business — based on an ancient biblical fruit, and with one foot in the very modern startup nation — would grow into a formidable international operation with private backing and products sold in 7,000 stores across the U.S., Jewish Insider’s Jacob Miller reports. D’vash Organics — whose name comes from the word in the Torah used for honey, which in biblical times referred to date honey — specializes in date syrup and date energy bars. Czinn and Finkel serve as president and CEO, respectively, of D’vash, which currently sells goods in the U.S. and South Korea, with plans to expand to Canada.
Remote work: Although D’vash is based in California and Czinn resides in Los Angeles, Finkel has lived in Israel since 2013 and works remotely overseas, traversing a 10-hour time difference to communicate with his partner. With executives on two continents, D’vash lives the premise that it will unite different groups of people: Two Jews from the Midwest working with partners in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, with a business team based in the Philippines, sell their Middle Eastern-influenced products around the world. For Czinn, D’vash bears the legacy of his grandmother’s love of feeding people and the commitment of his parents — who are doctors — to a healthy lifestyle. “I think there’s something very special with food,” Czinn told Jewish Insider. “It bridges a lot of gaps… there’s nothing better than when you sit down at a table and you break bread together. If there’s a good meal, I think it can solve all the problems… [because] you get people comfortable with one another,” explained Czinn.
Sweet story: The origins of D’vash Organics lie in an innocuous phone call — like the numerous phone calls Czinn and Finkel enjoyed as friends — when Finkel described date syrup’s ubiquity in Israel. “One day… I realized I was eating Silan date syrup all the time. And I kind of just had this epiphany. And I called David, who had been in the food industry already for a number of years, and I said, ‘Hey, what do you think about date syrup?’” Czinn was confident that date syrup could take off in the U.S. The two friends were intrigued about bringing the sweet treat to an American audience, and the timing was perfect: Finkel was between jobs and Czinn had just enjoyed success with Fruigees, an organic fruit snack company he had launched earlier. Overcoming the skepticism of friends and family, Czinn and Finkel took the plunge and created D’vash.
Offering peace: With products already sold in three countries, and contracts with major American stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Costco and CVS, D’vash has expanded to the skies in a new partnership with Cathay Pacific Airlines, announced last month. The Hong Kong-based airline will provide D’vash’s energy bars as refreshments on their flights. D’vash’s success illustrates the broader shifting political climate in the Middle East — including the normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirate, and highlights the bridgeable gaps among divided groups. In the company’s early days, D’vash relied on dates grown in the Coachella Valley in California, but as the business expanded, Czinn and Finkel needed a larger date supplier, and stumbled upon the United Arab Emirates-based Al Barakah Dates Factory. “When we started to reach out to alternative suppliers, we did a deep dive — it was probably a Google search — and we reached out to Al Barakah,” recounted Czinn. Although the date company was initially skeptical, its officials were quickly impressed as D’vash’s orders grew in size and frequency, and were eager to enter a formal partnership with Czinn and Finkel.
📰 Media Matters: In Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer looks at why the battle over home evictions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah have captured international attention, while other events, like May’s conflict between Israel and Gaza, have largely been forgotten. “It sounds like a cliché, because in many ways it is. The perfect cliché is one that also happens to be the truth and is easily reached. And it fits in so well with a media Zeitgeist which is trying to apply the fault lines of the current toxic culture wars of the United States to other countries, no matter the difference in their circumstances and histories. Sheikh Jarrah and its avatars are simply made for the stark certainties of racial justice that can be abbreviated into a hashtag acronym.” [Haaretz]
🤳 Digital Distractions: Vox’s Sigal Samuel explores the impact of social media and constant access to the internet on the human ability to empathize and connect. “Think of all the times a friend has called you to talk through something sad or stressful, and you could barely stop your twitchy fingers from checking your email or scrolling through Instagram as they talked. Think of all the times you’ve seen an article in your Facebook News Feed about anguished people desperate for help — starving children in Yemen, dying Covid-19 patients in India — only to get distracted by a funny meme that appears right above it.” [Vox]
Around the Web
🏅 Recognition: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced a bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’s highest award, to the 52 Americans detained during the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis.
🪧 Pressure Tactics: After pushing the White House to act on the expiration of an eviction moratorium this week, far-left Democrats in Congress see a blueprint in public stunts and other pressure tactics to force the Biden administration and congressional leadership to accede their policy demands.
🌐 Bad Connection: The National Security Agency is warning federal employees against using publicly available wifi networks, which put users at greater risk of hacking and other security issues. Iran and Israel were reportedly known to use the method during the Vienna negotiations in 2014 and 2015, NYT’s David Sanger and Julian Barnes report.
📸 Caught on Camera: Newly released footage taken in the immediate aftermath of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Fla., depicts cries for help as police officers struggle to rescue individuals trapped in the debris.
💰 Money Matters: Nicholas Wapshott’s new book Samuelson Friedman explores the debates between famed economists Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman over the free market during the 1960s and ’70s.
💸 Betting Big: Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management is reportedly in talks to raise $1 billion for its Universal Music bet.
🤝 Staying On: WarnerMedia’s Jeff Zucker will stay at the company at least until Discovery closes a merger deal with AT&T’s media division.
🏠 On the Market: Holliswood’s David Luttway and Dana Lowey Luttway are putting their newly renovated Manhattan brownstone on the market for $27.5 million.
🕍 Shul Spotter: A Twitter account — run by a 20-year-old college student in Texas — posts current Google Street View addresses and photos of locations around Manhattan where synagogues once stood.
🧂 Bygone Era: A midtown Manhattan mansion owned at one time by the Vanderbilt family, which in recent years housed two kosher restaurants, is set to be demolished following a yearslong legal battle.
🇮🇱 Eye on Washington: Mike Herzog, the older brother of Israeli President Isaac Herzog who served as senior advisor to four defense ministers after a career in the IDF, is rumored to be the leading choice of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for ambassador to the U.S.
😷 Delta Domination: New restrictions, including masking and vaccination requirements for some gatherings, will begin taking effect in Israel on Sunday to stem the Delta variant of COVID-19 and avert a fourth national lockdown.
🧪 In-flight Testing: Passengers on an El Al flight departing New York for Tel Aviv today will be tested for COVID-19 before and during the flight in an attempt to speed up testing procedures on arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport.
💍 Marriage Woes: The mother of Israeli gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Artem Dolgopyat expressed anger that he cannot marry his fiancée because, as the son of a non-Jewish mother and Jewish father, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate does not recognize him as Jewish.
🏇 Tokyo Time: Israeli-American equestrian Ashlee Bond fell short in the individual jumping competition, but has another chance to medal later this week.
🪖 Brewing Tensions: Israeli Defense Secretary Benny Gantz said international military action against Iran may be needed in retaliation for the attack on an Israeli-managed oil tanker last week by Iranian-backed proxies.
⏭️ Next Generation: Washington Post correspondent Sarah Dadouch looks at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s authoritarian crackdown on religious laws and traditional rules as he attempts to modernize the Kingdom.
👨 Transition: Ben Sax was named the new board chair of the Anti-Defamation League.
🕯️ Remembering: Expressionist painter Louise Fishman died at 82. Scientist Gilbert Levin, who believed he found indications of life on Mars, died at 97.
Pic of the Day
Israel’s David Litvinov competes in the men’s +109kg (240 lbs) weightlifting competition Wednesday during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Actor who starred in “Weekend at Bernie’s,” Jonathan Elihu Silverman turns 55…
Former member of the New York State Senate for 34 years, now of counsel at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, Manfred Ohrenstein turns 96… Chairman of Delphi Capital Management, Robert Rosenkranz turns 79… Author Jon Winokur turns 74… Historian, Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff turns 73… Once known as “Austria’s woman on Wall Street” and founder of Bank Medici in 1994, Sonja Kohn turns 73… Former Soviet Refusenik, he served as speaker of the Knesset for seven years, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein turns 63… Intellectual property and entertainment attorney based in Ithaca, N.Y., Howard Leib turns 63… Member of the British House of Lords, Baron Jonathan Andrew Kestenbaum turns 62… Songwriter, columnist and noted baseball memorabilia collector, Seth Swirsky turns 61… Chair of the department of Jewish history at Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Dahan High School, Neil Rubin Ph.D. turns 58… President at ConservAmerica, Jeffrey Kupfer turns 54… Former member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party, Roy Folkman turns 46…
Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution, Natan Sachs turns 45… Investment and foundation manager at Denver-based Race Street Management and a board member of Jewish Funders Network, Cintra Pollack… Lobbyist for the Wireless Infrastructure Association and an adjunct professor at American University, Matt Mandel turns 44… Publisher of The New York Times, Arthur Gregg “A.G.” Sulzberger turns 41… Comedian, writer, actor and member of the comedy duo Jake and Amir, Jacob Penn Cooper Hurwitz turns 36… Long-time member of the Israeli national soccer team who also played in Europe’s UEFA Champions League, Gil Vermouth turns 36… Baseball pitcher for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Tyler Daschier Herron turns 35… Senior strategic designer at BCG Digital Ventures, Lila Cohn turns 33… Front-end web developer at Platform.sh, Abby Milberg turns 31… J.D. candidate in the 2023 class at Harvard Law School, Michael E. Snow turns 30… State affairs manager at Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Lisa Geller turns 28… Leslie Saunders…