👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Democrats on Capitol Hill say they plan to seek answers from the Biden administration on the chaotic U.S. pullout from Afghanistan. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Warner (D-VA) announced on Tuesday they will conduct hearings in the Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, respectively.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Greg Meeks (D-NY) said he has reached out to Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to ask them to testify before his committee “as early as possible.”
During a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, administration officials revealed that at least 11,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan, but declined to commit to ensuring they are all evacuated safely or to keeping U.S. troops in place until that goal is accomplished.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the Taliban had guaranteed safe passage of civilians to the airport, a statement at odds with guidance reportedly provided to U.S. citizens that “the United States government cannot guarantee your security as you make this trip” to the airport.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East, North Africa and Counterterrorism Subcommittee, told Jewish Insider, “We can never fully guarantee everyone’s safety. But we can and must guarantee that we’re doing everything we can to help every American return safely to the United States. And for the thousands of Afghans who risked their lives to help us, we must be there for them to provide a lifeline when their lives are in jeopardy.”
House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-AL) called Sullivan’s comments “stunning” in a statement to JI. “The Biden-Harris administration will not commit to evacuating citizens stranded in Afghanistan by their decisions,” he said. “Even worse, they have left Americans to fend for themselves as they try to get to the airport. What kind of president and vice president are ok with that? Instead of casting blame on everyone else, the Biden-Harris administration must focus on getting every American safely out of Afghanistan. That is the only course of action.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the situation “completely unacceptable” in a statement and said “Biden should have already had a plan, and now he must reassure the American people that his whole administration is working on creating and implementing one immediately.”
A bipartisan group of 44 House lawmakers, including Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) signed onto a letter led by Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Jason Crow (D-CO) calling on the Biden administration to keep a military presence in Afghanistan until all U.S. citizens and Afghan allies have been evacuated.
Pence confidant Tom Rose on the former vice president’s 2024 prospects
Former Vice President Mike Pence has struggled to regain firm standing within the GOP since he quietly vacated the White House earlier this year. Recent unflattering headlines and unpromising early polls have underscored his seemingly stigmatized status as he emerges, however tenuously, as a possible 2024 presidential contender. But on Tuesday, the 62-year-old Hoosier proved the headlines may have been premature when Politicobroke the news of a star-studded donor retreat he hosted last week to raise money for his recently launched nonprofit. Pence has been kvelling over the well-attended confab. “I just spoke with him this morning,” Tom Rose, a former Pence senior advisor and close confidante, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in an interview on Tuesday. “He was thrilled.”
Due respect: “I think this was his single most successful event on a number of fronts,” said Rose, who had planned to attend but was unable to because he was feeling under the weather. Rose said the gathering “demonstrated the degree to which major American thinkers and funders respect” the former vice president “by virtue of the fact that they were willing to spend a weekend out of their summer” at the donor retreat. “From everything I hear,” Rose, 58, told JI, “it was a very open, very direct and very unequivocal exchange of views and thoughts with some of the leading conservative policymakers in the country.”
‘Serious candidate’: Rose, who has known Pence for decades, no longer holds an official advisory role with the former vice president. But they remain close. While Rose hopes Pence will run for president, he speculated that former President Donald Trump would “have a clean field to the nomination” if he decides to mount a bid. “I would strongly doubt that the vice president would actively run against President Trump in a Republican primary,” Rose said in a phone conversation from his hometown of Indianapolis. “If the president decides not to run,” he added, “I think the vice president is an incredibly serious candidate.”
Point of contention: Pence’s decision to certify the presidential election results in defiance of his former boss, Rose acknowledged, might be a point of contention if he seeks the nomination. “I think that’s a fair analysis,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s correct. I think it’s unfortunate.” But he clarified that the certification in no way amounted to a wholesale rejection of Trump’s presidency. “I’ll say that Vice President Pence was equally proud of his four-year support for the president and his agenda as he was for fulfilling his constitutional duties on the 6th of January,” Rose said, “and they’re not mutually exclusive.”
‘Monumental event’: Rose, an Orthodox Jew and ardent Israel supporter, reserved his most enthusiastic praise for the Trump administration’s Middle East foreign policy agenda, as well as a historic 2018 Israel address in which Pence became the first American vice president to speak before the Knesset. “The preparation of that speech, the reception of that speech was truly a monumental event in the history of American-Israeli relations,” Rose said of Pence’s speech. “I’m unabashedly proud to have played a very small role in helping him craft what even his critics argue was the most pro-Zionist speech ever delivered by a foreign leader from that rostrum.”
Family of slain teenager makes headway in decades-old terror funding lawsuit
The family of David Boim, a teenager killed by Hamas in 1996, scored a legal victory on Monday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a dismissal of the case that had prevented the family from moving forward to collect a $156 million judgement from the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) — organizations they claim had shuttered and reopened under a new name in order to avoid payment, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.
Background: The Boim family had initially been awarded a $52 million judgement payable by IAP, also known as the American Muslim Society, and HLF. The payment was tripled by the Anti-Terrorism Act, enacted in the early 1990s, which increased the amount of damages awarded to victims or terror or their relatives. Shortly after the 2004 ruling, IAP/AMS and HLF closed their doors. Within a year of the shuttering of both groups, the nonprofit American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) was created, and hired former staff from both organizations. In addition, AMP began holding annual conferences at the same time and featuring the same speakers, attendees and management as previous IAP/AMS conferences.
‘Alter ego theory’: “When we realized that they were essentially the same organizations under different names,” explained Daniel Schlessinger, an attorney representing the Boim family, “we filed our lawsuit, in 2017, under this ‘alter ego theory.’” A judge in Illinois had initially ruled that AMP could not be considered an “alter ego” of the earlier organizations, a classification usually reserved for corporate cases in which a company shuts down, only to transfer assets, institutional knowledge and clientele, among other things, to a new company.
What’s next: Following Monday’s ruling, the Boim family’s attorneys will attempt to prove in court the direct linkage between AMP and IAP/AMS. The decision was a “significant victory,” Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has spent years tracking terror financing. “It’s a reversal of the previous decision that opens the floodgates of discovery,” Schanzer told JI. “A lot more can now be learned about the defendants. The outcome is still far from certain. And the road ahead will be long. But at least we now know where this case is going: forward.”
home court advantage
In the District, Judaism, politics and college hoops come together for Bryan Knapp
For Bryan Knapp, playing basketball at The George Washington University is something of a homecoming. As a GW Colonial, he’ll be taking the court at the university’s Charles E. Smith Center — an arena that shares a namesake with the school where he developed his basketball chops. “I loved the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School,” Knapp told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch. “And likewise, I’ve so far loved my experience at the Charles E. Smith Center. But it was a complete coincidence.”
Ivy moment: A former Cornell guard, Knapp is returning to his hometown to finish out his NCAA eligibility after the Ivy League canceled all sports during his senior year in Ithaca. “It was really frustrating. We were the only conference in the country that didn’t compete,” Knapp, 22, recalled. He completed his senior year without basketball, graduating in May with a degree in political science. Off the court, he’ll be pursuing a master’s degree in sports management; on the court, he hopes to play well enough to keep open the possibility of a professional career. “I’ve always had aspirations of playing professionally in Israel after college,” Knapp said.
The numbers: Knapp, who is 6-foot-1, finished his junior year at Cornell with an average of 7.1 points per game, a solid showing for Division I college ball’s only current player from JDS, as Knapp’s alma mater is known around the Beltway. (At Cornell, he follows in the footsteps of the 6-foot-8 Eitan Chemerinski, who played for the Big Red from 2009 to 2013.) Knapp graduated from JDS in 2017 as its all-time top scorer, averaging 27 points per game, and leading the school to its first conference championship since 2004.
Inside the Beltway: Playing in Washington offers Knapp a return to his political roots. “At Shabbat dinner at our house, or any house really, when we were growing up, we’d go, we’d catch up for 15 or 20 minutes, and then we dive straight into politics for the rest of the meal,” said Knapp, a native of the Woodley Park neighborhood. His father, Bill, is a partner at the prominent Democratic media firm SKDKnickerbocker — the first “K” is for Knapp — and he produced Michael Bloomberg’s television ads during the former New York City mayor’s short-lived presidential bid last year. Knapp’s sister Sam works for the Arizona Democratic Party.
Teaching moment: At Cornell, Knapp had other Jewish teammates, as well as a Jewish assistant coach. At GW, he is the only Jewish player on the team. “There was a daily dose of Judaism at Cornell, certainly, whereas at GW it’s a little bit different,” Knapp observed. At a recent team dinner, he declined to eat the pork that was served because he keeps kosher. “Then I get to explain, ‘I’m Jewish. Look at my [Star of David] necklace. This is why I don’t eat pork.’ And so that was, I think, insightful for them. But it’s also rewarding for me. When those moments come about, I get to express something that I’m proud of,” said Knapp.
🗺️ Map of the Mideast: In the Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Spyer, director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a research fellow at the Middle East Forum, delineates Iran’s behavior across the Middle East, noting that Iran has felt emboldened by a number of factors, leading to the government’s current aggressive tactics: “First, hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who took office Aug. 5, appears eager to demonstrate his sway. More broadly, Iran sees this an auspicious moment thanks to a confluence of events. The new government in Israel lacks strategic heft and experience and is dealing with a fourth wave of Covid. The Iranians seem keen to put Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the test.” [WSJ]
💰Family Business: The Financial Review’s Jill Margo profiles Australian-Israeli businessman Frank Lowy, whose business acumen and philanthropy revolutionized numerous industries. Lowy, now living in Israel, has transitioned, along with his sons, from operating to investing. “At one time, he was called Australia’s most successful post-war migrant and, for a long time, he has been one of its wealthiest men. In 2010, he topped the Financial Review Rich List and this year ranked ninth, with his wealth estimated at $8.51 billion. When he heard that, he laughed. ‘I’ll take half,’ he said. It’s his standard response.” [FinancialReview]
Around the Web
⬅️ To the Left: Progressive strategists privately acknowledge that high-profile losses, like Nina Turner’s loss in Ohio’s special election and Maya Wiley’s loss in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, have set back the movement, and are compensating with new strategies, including a candidate-training program, earlier entrance into races and an expanded map that includes more swing districts.
🪞 Rearview Mirror: The Washington Post looks back at Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) opposition to the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and how her vote — the only “no” in an otherwise unanimous House and Senate vote — triggered an onslaught of vitriol directed at the California legislator.
🏖️ California Dreamin’: Bruce Kovner listed his heavily renovated compound along the California coast for $160 million — if sold at asking price, the deal would be one of the most expensive property purchases in the state’s history.
🖼️ Lost and Found: New York’s Jewish Museum will debut a new exhibit, “Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art,” featuring pieces of art by luminaries such as Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne that were stolen from Jews during the Holocaust.
🖌️ Painting Problems: A dispute between Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Emden family over Bernardo Bellotto’s “Marketplace at Pirna” landscape centers on whether the family was forced to sell the painting under duress during the Holocaust.
🧠 Brain Boost: BrainQ, an Israeli-founded startup that assists stroke victims in recovery, raised $40 million, led by Hanaco Ventures.
🏦 Booming Business: Israel’s First International Bank reported rosy second-quarter profits, including a 132% jump in profit on rising revenue, consistent with positive second-quarter reports for other Israeli banks.
✡️ New Case: France announced investigations into hate speech and incitement of violence following the display of banners comparing public health measures with persecution of Jews during the Holocaust at a recent protest over the country’s new COVID-19 health pass system.🇦🇫 Fundamentalist Forum: Iran is keeping its embassy in Afghanistan fully open and operational following a takeover of the country’s government by the Taliban.
👨 Transition: Mark Weitzman, formerly the director of government affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, will join the World Jewish Restitution Organization as COO on Sept. 1.
🕯️ Remembering: Rabbi Richard Hirsch, the founding director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, died at 95.
Pic of the Day
Palestinian Authority firetrucks traveled to assist Israeli responders working to contain wildfires around Jerusalem on Tuesday. On Twitter, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked the Palestinian firefighters for their efforts.
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary, now president of Warburg Pincus, Timothy Geithner turns 60…
Baltimore resident, Jerome Seaman turns 88… Retired teacher of Talmud at Jerusalem’s Yeshiva Torat Shraga, Rabbi Noam Gordon, Ph.D. turns 77… Former two-term mayor of San Diego, Susan G. Golding turns 76… Businessman and former chair of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, John D. Goldman turns 72… Partner in Chazan-Leipzig Consulting, Cindy Chazan turns 71… Judge of the Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) Court of Common Pleas, Gary S. Silow turns 70… Dramatist, screenwriter and poet, Winnie Holzman turns 67… President at Benefit Connections, Raphael Schwartz turns 66… President of the Touro College and University System, Alan H. Kadish, M.D. turns 65… Labor law attorney and partner in the Los Angeles office of Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, Stuart Douglas Tochner turns 62… CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, a DC-based think tank focused on issues of data privacy, Jules Polonetsky turns 56… Executive director of the Maccabee Task Force, David Brog turns 55… Criminal defense attorney and media personality in Las Vegas, Dayvid Figler turns 54…
Award-winning comic book writer and artist for both Marvel and then DC Comics, Brian Michael Bendis turns 54… Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Jason Furman turns 51… Sarah Bronson turns 49… Conservative political talk radio host on the Sirius XM Patriot channel, Andrew Steven Wilkow turns 49… Greek Orthodox priest, he serves as a judge in Israel’s religious court system and encourages Christians to enlist in the IDF, Gabriel Naddaf turns 48… Best-selling author, Nicole Krauss turns 47… Writer, actress and stand-up comedian in New York City, Jessi Ruth Klein turns 46… Washington director of the Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, Roger Zakheim turns 44… Actor, comedian, writer, producer and musician, David A. J. “Andy” Samberg turns 43… Fellow at The Jewish People Policy Institute and managing partner of theMadad website, Noah Slepkov turns 40… Editor of Moment Magazine, Sarah Breger turns 37… Founder of Dot Dot Dot, a media venture exploring technology through the human lens, Laurie Segall turns 36… Justice Department reporter at The Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman turns 36… Israeli judoka who won an Olympic medal at the 2016 games and then another medal three weeks ago at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Or “Ori” Sasson turns 31…