👋 Good Thursday morning!
Ed. note: There won’t be a Daily Kickoff on Friday. We’ll see you on Monday!
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: Who’s in the majority now?; What was Bakari Sellers thinking in Ohio 11?; Jewish groups hear echoes of Hitler’s Games in run-up to 2022 Beijing Olympics; New York Jewish leaders recognize a familiar face in Kathy Hochul; Yogi Oliff, Jewish hoopster, gets D1 offer from West Point; and From the Archives: 20 years later, Joe Lieberman reflects back on the moment he was picked by Gore. Print the latest edition here.
Actress Mayim Bialikwill join “Jeopardy!” as one of the show’s new co-hosts, alongside executive producer Mike Richards. Bialik will host the show’s primetime specials.
the room where it happened
St. Louis Jewish leaders meet with Rep. Cori Bush staffers
Staffers for Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) met for the first time on Tuesday with leaders from St. Louis’s Jewish federation and Jewish Community Relations Council and the local chapters of the National Council of Jewish Women and American Jewish Committee, days after the Missouri congresswoman drew national attention for her successful sit-in at the Capitol to protest the end of the eviction moratorium, reports Jewish Insider‘s Marc Rod.
Background: Bush, who supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, has staked out a stridently anti-Israel stance, drawing connections in a May House floor speech between “militarized policing, occupation and systems of violent oppression and trauma” in the Palestinian territories and Ferguson, Mo., referring to Israel’s capital as “Jerusalem, Palestine” and describing Israel as an “apartheid” state.
Keeping it light: Jewish community leaders offered to provide information to Bush’s office on Israel issues going forward, but the conversation did not go into specifics on policy, according to St. Louis JCRC Executive Director Rori Picker Neiss. Bush’s support for BDS also did not come up.
Diverging opinions: Picker Neiss told JI, “They acknowledged that this could be an area where we might have more disagreement, but that because it’s an area where we know we have differing opinions, that’s why we need to talk about it more. We felt like they left that door wide open for us to continue that conversation with them.”
Reaching out: She also told JI that there has been a “getting to know you process” with Bush’s staff, given that Jewish organizations do not have long-running contacts in the freshman congresswoman’s office, but that Bush’s chief of staff, Abbas Alawieh, “made the initiative to reach out” to Picker Neiss to set up Tuesday’s meeting.
Next steps: The staff was also “committed to keeping an open channel of communication with the Jewish community, with future meetings taking place with Rep. Bush,” according to AJC St. Louis Director Nancy Lisker.
scene the other night
Turkish ambassador’s event seen as signal of warming ties between Ankara and Jerusalem
In an apparent sign of warming ties between Ankara and Jerusalem, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N. Gilad Erdan was slated to attend an event at the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Tuesday night, but thunderstorms in the Northeast prevented him from getting there, an attendee told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch.
Azerbaijan angle: Turkish Ambassador Hasan Murat Mercan hosted a farewell dinner for Azerbaijani Ambassador to the U.S. Elin Suleymanov, who is leaving Washington after 10 years at the embassy. Last week, Azerbaijan opened its first trade mission in Israel to boost economic ties between the two nations, and Israel has negotiated arms deals with Azerbaijan in the past.
History lesson: Ties between Israel and Turkey were first formalized in 1949, but relations between Israel and Turkey grew strained in 2010 when armed activists aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara attempted to break through to Gaza, leading to a clash with Israeli soldiers. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israeli President Isaac Herzog last month to congratulate him on becoming president, and a spokesperson for Erdogan announced that the two countries agreed to work toward improving relations.
Rebuilding ties: “We need to focus on the ability to get the chain back on the bicycle, and continue the wonderful journey of many centuries which marks the relationship between Turkey and the Jewish people, in Israel as well as the Diaspora,” said Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), who spoke at the event.
Who’s who: Attendees at the event included ambassadors from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Monaco; Jonathan Missner, board chair of Pro-Israel America; George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; Tom Kahn, former staff director and chief counsel of the House Budget Committee; Nechama Shemtov; and Andrew Schofer, co-chair of a negotiating group for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Murphy urges U.S. to deprioritize Iran, tells Saudis to ‘come to terms’ with Hezbollah influence
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee focusing on Middle East issues, believes the U.S. should deprioritize Iran deterrence and urge Saudi Arabia to “come to terms” with Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon, he said in a Tuesday podcast interview with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Rollback: “How much does it matter to the United States what share of power Iran and Saudi Arabia have in the region 10 or 20 years from now? We act as if that question is existential to the United States. I’m not sure that it is,” Murphy said, adding that he is skeptical whether “providing security guarantees big enough to provide deterrence against the Iranians — for instance, creating red lines about what they can and cannot do in a place like Lebanon… is commensurate with our interest in the region. We have an interest in keeping the Iranians at bay. We have an interest in continuing to work with our partners, but I don’t know that it is such a significant interest that we should be dramatically increasing the security presence of the United States in the region.”
Targeted: Murphy recounted that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “always reminds” him that Iranian missiles are pointed at Saudi Arabia, not Israel. He acknowledged, however, that he takes “everything [Zarif] says with a large shaker of salt.” Rather than increasing security aid to Gulf allies, which Iran finds “provocative,” Murphy said the U.S.’s priority should be reentering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and reaching other long-term diplomatic agreements with Iran.
New reality: Murphy warned that Lebanon, which is facing a series of crises, is on the brink of becoming a failed state and a source of instability and terrorism that could last decades. He blamed the deteriorating situation in part on a lack of Saudi engagement due to Hezbollah’s influence inside Lebanon. “[The Saudis] are deeply uncomfortable with the role that Hezbollah plays. The Saudis should come to terms with the fact that — at least in the short term — Hezbollah is going to be part of the political infrastructure there,” he said. “It would be much better for the Saudis to be a partner with the United States, with the French and other countries to try to offer the kind of economic support that might provoke political reform that would eventually allow for technocrats and non-sectarian actors to have greater influence in the government. That would lessen the influence of Hezbollah.”
J Street postpones congressional trips to Israel
J Street, the left-leaning Israel advocacy group, has delayed two August delegations to Israel, including one for House members and another for congressional staffers, amid mounting concerns over the surging Delta variant of the coronavirus, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “We’ll be closely monitoring the outlook and hope to get our delegations to the region up and running again as soon as it’s safe and viable to do so,” J Street spokesperson Logan Bayroff told JI. The group hopes to reschedule the trips for the fall but has not made “any definitive timing decisions,” Bayroff said.
New direction: The postponements come as J Street seeks to advance a new policy that represents a change in direction for the lobbying group amid growing divisions over Israel within the Democratic Party. While J Street says it’s opposed to conditioning aid to Israel, the organization has recently begun advocating for restricting aid to the Jewish state. The group, which supports a recent bill that would restrict foreign security assistance to Israel, argues that this policy is different from conditioning aid. A spokesperson told JI in May that the group favors “end-use restrictions” to ensure that Israel uses U.S. aid only for “legitimate security purposes.”
Policy push: The group sought to advance this policy in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District special election this past spring. Melanie Stansbury, the Democratic candidate who was endorsed by J Street, called for restricting aid to Israel “if it is indeed being used in any way that goes against U.S. interests and values, endangers Palestinian people or threatens the basic human rights of Palestinians,” as she put it in a statement to JI at the time. Stansbury, a former New Mexico state legislator, now serves in Congress.
‘No names to share’: J Street has yet to announce its full slate of congressional endorsements for the 2022 midterms, but earlier this summer confirmed to JI that it was backing Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) for reelection next cycle. In June, following the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Davis told JI that he had been invited by J Street to participate in the now-postponed August delegation but had not yet decided if he would make the trip. Bayroff said J Street was planning to “roll out” a list of participants for the upcoming congressional delegation “once a trip is confirmed” but had “no names to share” at this point.
🔬 Paying It Forward: In an interview with The Hill’s Jim Saksa, Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) reflects on his grandfather’s service during World War II — instead of being sent overseas to fight, the government enrolled him at Purdue University to study biomedical engineering, and he went on to become a pioneer in the field of artificial limbs. “I just think about that,” Auchincloss said. “in one of the lowest moments of World War II, one of the lowest moments for Jews in our history, the U.S. government sent a Jewish kid in the Marine Corps to school. They gave him an opportunity, and he seized it. And this was a chance for me to pay that forward and to serve. It was also a way to challenge myself in a totally new realm.” [TheHill]
📉 Bad Bet:Institutional Investor’s Michelle Celarier speaks to some of the individuals who lost significant amounts of money investing in Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, which failed to seal a high-stakes deal with Universal Music Group earlier this summer. “These men — and they all happen to be men — are immigrants, first-generation Americans, and children of the blue-collar working class who have excelled in their professions. They are now engineers, small-business owners, doctors, consultants. Some went to Harvard, Princeton, UCLA. Many were the first in their families to attend college; a few are still students. They are millennials — ranging in age from 24 to 39 — who live in New York, California, Illinois, Maine, Utah, and Texas, as well as Germany and Canada. They all lost money in Tontine — in at least one case more than $2 million — as SPAC mania swept through the stock market like wildfire over the past year.” [InstitutionalInvestor]
🦸 Thou Shall Not: In the New York Post, John Podhoretz, using outgoing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as an example, warns against the idolization of political figures. “The psalmist warned us: ‘Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of a man, in whom there is no help.’ It isn’t just the mortality of princes that should make us wary of putting them on a pedestal. It is the fact that as mortal men, they are prone to deep human weaknesses: greed, vanity, lust, including the lust for domination. And yet we can’t help ourselves. We want to believe that the people we elect — or even, as in the case of the psalmist’s time and much of the planet even now, the strongmen who rule through force alone — are made of better stuff. And so we often impute to them moral strengths they don’t have, simply because we are so hungry to have someone to believe in.” [NYPost]
👨💻 Scaling Up: In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Israeli Minister of Science, Technology and Space Orit Farkash-Hacohen announced Israel’s intention to provide professional opportunities in the tech sector to Israelis who are otherwise underrepresented in the field, such as Israeli Arabs, Bedouins and the ultra-Orthodox. “The plan aims to help the Arab community develop skills to work in science and technology. It will include educational programs, vocational training, and technology incubators for entrepreneurs and startups. We plan to establish technology and science centers for Arabs, an incubator hub with seed funding for promising minority entrepreneurs, and two new research-and-development centers, one of them for the Bedouin community.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
🎤 Questionable Ties: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is scheduled to participate in a town hall hosted by an organization whose CEO recently said that “some of our toughest battles today… are against corporations run by Jews.”
🗳️ Reflecting: Rabbi Pinchas Landis chronicles his volunteer efforts during the heated Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, which pitted Shontel Brown against Nina Turner, a race that garnered national attention and underscored deep ideological divides within the Democratic Party.
🎙️ Overheard: C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman, author of When Rabbis Bless Congress: The Great American Story of Jewish Prayers on Capitol Hill, appeared on a podcast hosted by Reason’s Nick Gillespie to discuss the evolution of the modern media landscape.
📗 Making the List:Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was included on Time’s list of the 100 best young adult books of all time.
🎭 Hello, Gorgeous: Beanie Feldstein will star as Fanny Brice in a Broadway revival of “Funny Girl” next spring.
⛔ Access Revoked: Two NYU researchers investigating the spread of misinformation on the social media platform claim that Facebook blocked their access to the site, citing users’ privacy concerns in its decision.
🖥️ Tough Sell: Some vendors at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota are selling merchandise with Nazi imagery.
✍️ Will’s Quill: Writing in Religion News Service, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin describes the parallels he sees between modern anti-Israel demonstrations, which he views as guises for antisemitic political activity, and the mobs in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”
🏦 Recovery Road: Israel has nearly reduced its risk to its financial systems to pre-pandemic levels, according to a report from the European Central Bank.
📈 Super Store: Israeli supermarket company Shufersal reported a rise in second-quarter profits despite a sustained hit from the pandemic-induced sluggish economy.
☢️ Last Bid: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Iran to return to the nuclear talks in Vienna “with the necessary flexibility and readiness for compromise to strike a deal.”
👨 Free Press: Secretary of State Tony Blinken said he believes that journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared nine years ago in Syria while covering the early years of the country’s conflict, is alive and that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has the ability to release him.
🕯️ Remembering: Marcia Nasatir, one of the first female executives in Hollywood, died at 95.
Pic of the Day
The Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel (ECYP) unveiled a mural of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) at the Baltimore courthouse named in his honor. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), second from left, a friend of Cummings and his successor in Congress, was on hand for the event to honor the late congressman, who founded the organization in 1998.
U.S. diplomat, Karyn Allison Posner-Mullen turns 70…
Hungarian-American investor, George Soros (born György Schwartz) turns 91… Retired Beverly Hills attorney, Sheldon S. Ellis turns 89… Television writer, creator of Dallas and Knots Landing, David Jacobs turns 82… Television screenwriter, producer and author, Gail Parent turns 81… NYC-born historian and author, William Rubinstein turns 75… Attorney in Ontario, Canada, who served as president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Lester Scheininger turns 74… Director of management operations at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Fredi Bleeker Franks turns 69… Sales manager of Illi Commercial Real Estate in Encino, Calif., Stuart Steinberg turns 65… Israel’s resident ambassador to Albania and non-resident ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Noah Gal Gendler turns 64… Former member of Knesset from the Yesh Atid party, Haim Yellin turns 63… Founding editor of The Times of Israel, David Horovitz turns 59… Rabbi at Brookline’s Temple Beth Zion, Claudia Kreiman turns 47… SVP for external engagement at NYC’s Educational Alliance, Anya Hoerburger turns 44… Chief marketing officer at Cross Campus, Jay Chernikoff turns 42… Senior product manager at NYC-based Dynamic Yield, David Fine turns 32… CEO and co-founder of Forsight, a leading prop tech AI and machine learning company, Ariel Applbaum turns 27…