👋 Good Monday morning!
In the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge on Saturday, several hundred protesters gathered for a pro-Palestinian rally. Heard among the chants were the slogans, “We don’t want no two states, we want all of it” and “Globalize the intifada.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that the rally was an example of “why Jewish people feel unsafe in our communities.”
An oil tanker run by a British company owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group was attacked by unmanned aerial vehicles on Friday while transiting through the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman. Two crew members — from Romania and the U.K. — were killed in the blast.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid about the incident on Sunday, according to a readout from the State Department.
Largely positive reactions to Deborah Lipstadt’s nomination as the State Department’s antisemitism envoy continued after the official announcement on Friday. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) told JI, “Her long and distinguished record as a noted scholar and fierce advocate against antisemitism makes her an exceptional selection for this important position.”
One critic of the administration’s choice, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), told JI, “I have concerns that President Biden’s choice for this position has a history of playing partisan favorites that includes accusing Republicans’ support of Israel as ‘pandering’ and defending an absurd ad comparing the Trump administration to the rise of the Nazis.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), an original cosponsor of the Israel Relations Normalization Act, told Jewish Insider on Friday that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) objection to the quick passage of the bill because it containing language supporting a two-state solution is “unfortunate.”
Cardin continued, “What we put in there is our traditional language in regards to a two-state solution… I hope we can work to resolve his problems. The bill should move forward as is.” The bill seeks to strengthen and expand last year’s normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states.
During a committee meeting about the bill, Cruz argued, “My view is we may well see a two-state solution, but it is not America’s place to arrogantly lecture Israel that that has to be the resolution.” A Cruz spokesperson suggested to JI that the language in the bill would “change U.S. policy from supporting Israel to pressuring Israel.”
Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), another original cosponsor, told JI on Friday he was unaware of the objection, but said he would look into it.
Jewish vote could swing tight OH11 race
On the eve of the Democratic primary in the Cleveland area’s closely watched special House election, outside support from high-profile politicians and donations from Jewish political groups continue to pour into Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel looks at how the Jewish vote on Tuesday could sway a tight election between the front-runner, former State Sen. Nina Turner, and Cuyahoga County party chair and Councilwoman Shontel Brown.
Jewish vote: During an off-cycle primary at the beginning of August, when turnout is expected to be abysmal, the approximately 20,000 Jewish voters who make up about 5% of the total electorate in the majority-Black district could help propel Brown across the finish line. “It’s possible Jewish voters in the Cleveland area could be decisive,” said Dave Wasserman, the House elections forecaster for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “Most Jewish voters are Democrats, but most aren’t super-left progressive activists either. That works in Shontel Brown’s favor.”
Moneyball: Pro-Israel advocacy groups have also been pouring money into the race, including the political arms of JDCA (Jewish Democratic Council of America) and Pro-Israel America, both of which have endorsed Brown. Last week, JDCA launched a five-figure ad campaign in support of Brown, targeting Jewish voters in the Cleveland area, and PIA says it has raised $800,000 through its grassroots donor network while also sending text messages, making phone calls and reaching voters through educational billboards in the district. DMFI (Democratic Majority for Israel) PAC has been most active in the race, running phone banks for Jewish voters while placing ads in the local Jewish press, among other things, according to a spokesperson. Last month, the group distributed a mailer suggesting that Turner was against raising the minimum wage, universal healthcare and immigration reform because of her opposition to the 2020 Democratic Party platform. The mailer, which DMFI has defended, was criticized as misleading.
Little Old Me: At a campaign rally in Cleveland on Saturday, Turner, who has found herself playing defense over the past month or so, took a shot at her opponents’ allies as she made her case to voters. “Why are they spending all of that money on little old me?” she said alongside a group of prominent allies, including Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “They like the way things are now.”
Case for Brown: The contrast between Turner and Brown over Israel has presented many local Jewish voters with what they characterized in interviews with JI as an obvious choice this election. Within the past few months, Cleveland’s Jewish community appears to have united behind Brown, thanks in large part to her foreign policy views. But those who have come to support her also point out that she has actively courted their vote. “Shontel has really made an effort to learn about our community and reached out early on,” said Jessica Cohen, an Orthodox Jewish Democrat in Cleveland Heights, who is among several Jewish voters volunteering on Brown’s behalf in the lead-up to the election. “The community valued that.”
Case for Turner: Marty Gelfand, an attorney and Jewish community leader in Cleveland Heights, contested the view that Jewish voters aren’t enthusiastic about Turner, whom he is vociferously backing. While Gelfand, a former local councilman, acknowledged that the organized Jewish community is largely turning out for Brown, he argues that “rank-and-file” Jewish voters “are probably across the board” when it comes to support for either candidate. “There’s strong support for Nina Turner in the Jewish community, it’s just not as public,” Gelfand said. “Nina Turner, she’s not Ilhan Omar,” he continued, noting that he disagrees with Omar, a hard-left Democrat from Minnesota who supports BDS, over Israel and wouldn’t vote for her if she were running in the district. “When I read her Middle East agenda, I saw balance,” he said of Turner. “I saw that she supports Israel, she opposes BDS, she wants peace and justice for all, all the parties, and I think that might make some people nervous.”
How it’s playing elsewhere: Ohio Race Highlights Rift Between Sanders, Clyburn Wings of Democratic Party (WSJ) — Special election ignites battle over who is ‘welcome’ in Black caucus (Politico) — Democratic heavyweights converge on Cleveland as 11th District primary stokes intra-party heat (CNN)
oh thank heaven
Shontel Brown’s number is seven in Ohio 11
In the run-up to Tuesday’s primary, Shontel Brown is drawing strength from an unlikely source: the number seven. It is a meaningful figure for many devout Christians like Brown, who volunteers as a youth ministry leader at a Baptist church in Mount Pleasant. She claims a more personally spiritual connection than most — originating somewhat auspiciously with her first election a decade ago, when she prevailed by a mere seven votes, she explains in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Lucky Seven: “I was actually down by six and convinced I would never run for public office again,” Brown recalled in a recent interview with Jewish Insider. “When the tide shifted and I ended up winning by seven, I saw that as a clear sign or affirmation that this was preordained or a calling for me.” Brown, 46, sees further evidence for that hunch now that she has emerged as a leading candidate in the heated battle to succeed former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), pointing out, with more than a trace of mysticism, that she is currently engaged in her seventh bid for public office, while noting that early voting in the special election, which ends today, began on July 7. “As a child of faith,” she said, the pattern “represents perfection, completion and God.”
On the Stump: Brown likes to invoke this numerical triad as an encouraging omen in her bid to represent Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, encompassing most of Cleveland as well as a sliver of Akron and the suburbs in between. In many instances, the Cleveland native has found a receptive audience, according to voters who have witnessed her in action. “It really touches [people],” said Jessica Cohen, an Orthodox Jewish Democrat in Cleveland Heights. “I’ve heard people really be moved by it after hearing her story.”
on the hill
Seven House Democrats target nonprofit status of several Israel-related charities
A group of seven House Democrats critical of Israel are urging the Treasury Department to review, and possibly revoke, the tax-exempt nonprofit status of several U.S.-based pro-Israel groups due to their links to Israeli groups supporting settlements, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Targets: Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Cori Bush (D-MO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), André Carson (D-IN), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen late last month highlighting their concerns about the organizations, including the Central Fund of Israel, American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center, Qomemiyut and The Hebron Fund. David Friedman, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel under the Trump administration, was president of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center. Leaders of Qomemiyut (which means “sovereignty” in Hebrew) include Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich and others on the hard-right in Israel.
Objection: “Tax-exempt nonprofit status allows U.S.-based 501(c)(3) entities and their U.S.-based donors to receive an effective subsidy from the U.S. government to support serious breaches of international law and violations of internationally recognized human rights related to the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise,” the letter reads. “Granting and sustaining 501(c)(3) status recognizes and supports this unlawful conduct that is contrary to existing U.S. obligations under international law and established U.S. public policy.”
Singled out: The letter’s authors focus in particular on the Central Fund of Israel as allegedly “fueling the dispossession and displacement of Palestinains to make way for Jewish Israeli settlers,” claiming that “[its] grantees are notable for their essential role in supporting and enabling the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise.”
Pushback: Jay Marcus, the director of the Central Fund of Israel, rejected the lawmakers’ effort as “outrageous” and discriminatory in a statement to JI, claiming the IRS conducted an extensive audit of the organization in 2015, finding no irregularities. The group funds a range of charities in Israel. “CFI supports hundreds of charities in Israel and we never choose to give support or discriminate due to location… CFI is an incredibly valuable organization for Israel, extending over $35 million a year in aid to needy nonprofits in Israel, which is why radical anti-Israel members of Congress want to shut down CFI.”
Presented by SAPIR
Today’s SAPIR releases examine the politics of power in the U.S. and Israel.
Hostile vs. Crazy: Mona Charen laments the difficult political position many Jews find themselves in — caught between right-wing antisemitism and left-wing anti-Zionism. Among her prescriptions: “Some of the energy that Jewish organizations have devoted to telling Israel’s story should be redirected to telling America’s. Jewish organizations and individuals ought to weigh in on curriculum debates such as that over the 1619 Project versus 1776 Unites, or on critical race theory, pro and con. Americans on both sides of these arguments think the soul of the nation is at stake, and they believe that those on the other side are enemies. Jewish Americans can offer a middle ground: acutely sensitive to the agony of racism and discrimination, and able to bring that historical perspective to bear on contemporary discussions, yet also grateful for the haven that America has provided for centuries and aware of the preciousness of liberty.” Read here.
Use and Abuse: While acknowledging that Israel’s use of military might is often necessary, Haaretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer critiques what he sees as the country’s excesses: “The Jewish power that ensures Israel’s survival was not intended to perpetuate the subjugation of another nation. Abuse of power harms those wielding the power. A society whose young people spend years of their lives in violent suppression of the neighboring society will be debased by it as well. This is true whether they are on the front line of police and military operations, or sitting in the operations-rooms directing drone strikes, or in intelligence-gathering centers monitoring intimate conversations. It is a steady and inevitable moral erosion. That is the price being paid by generations of Israelis.” Read here.
⏭️ Next Generation: The New York Times’s Robert Worth traveled to Libya to meet with Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the U.K.-educated son of deceased former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who is considering a reentry into Libyan politics to pull the nation out of crisis. “At the London School of Economics, Seif sought out intellectual mentors, who believed he was sincere in his desire for liberal reform. In 2005, he invited Human Rights Watch to visit the site of a prison massacre. Later, he persuaded his father to release political prisoners, and he publicly called for prison reforms and a constitutional system of government. At a dinner near London in 2003, Seif asked to be seated next to a Jewish congressional staff member from the United States whose boss was a leading advocate for Israel. When the staff member asked what Libya needed most, Seif replied, ‘Democracy.’” [NYTimes]
🎒 Finding Purpose: In the Wall Street Journal, Mark Oppenheimer, who placed his daughter in a Jewish day school when her public school did not hold in-person classes due to the pandemic, explores the experiences offered by religious schools and public schools that put an emphasis on fighting hatred and bigotry. “What she loves about her Jewish school, it seems, is its sense of mission. She loves the Hebrew language instruction, the regular prayers, the Torah reading. She is connecting with all her subjects better, in part because they have an explicit point — to become a ‘responsible, caring citizen’ and a ‘committed, knowledgeable Jew,’ to quote the school’s mission statement.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
🥇Gold Standard: Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat placed first in the men’s floor routine at the Tokyo Olympics, winning Israel’s second-ever gold medal.
⚾ Still In It: Also in Tokyo, Israel’s national baseball team beat Mexico 12-5 — the first Olympic win for an Israeli baseball team. Team Israel then lost its next game, to South Korea, 11-1. The team will face the Dominican Republic in an elimination game on Tuesday.
💻 Digital Drama: The Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Anti-Defamation League both released reports alleging that social media companies are failing to stop the spread of antisemitic content — acting on as few as one in six reported examples, according to one of the reports.
🤝 Teamwork: Hillel International and the ADL will partner on several initiatives to proactively address the rise in antisemitic activity on campus.
🎓 Campus Beat: The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development will offer a two-year, part-time degree program in Israel education, the first university in the country to offer such a program. The Marcus Foundation donated $2.7 million to fund the program.
🎞️ Damage Control: A publicist for Mel Gibson said that the actor’s upcoming project “Rothchild,” a satire film based on a wealthy New York family, is not connected to the Rothschild family at the core of many antisemitic conspiracy theories.
🏠 Found History: Homeowners doing a renovation in Fort Worth, Texas, discovered a nearly century-old mezuzah on one of the house’s doorposts and returned the item to the original owner’s descendants.
🇵🇷 Community Response: The Champlain Towers South collapse was acutely felt by the Jewish community of Puerto Rico, where several victims had grown up and still maintained ties.
⚽ Calling Offsides: Billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich has sued the author of a recent book on Russian President Vladimir Putin for writing that Putin ordered Abramovich to buy Chelsea FC, an English Premier League soccer team, in a bid to infiltrate British society.
⚖️ Facing Justice: A 100-year-old former Sachsenhausen concentration camp guard, who has not been publicly named, will go on trial this fall in Germany.
🔍 Investigation: The amount of ammonium nitrate that caused the deadly explosion in Beirut’s port last year was a fraction of the amount delivered in 2013, raising concerns about the whereabouts of the remainder of the shipment and why the material, which can be used to make fertilizer or bombs, was left in an unsecure area.
☢️ Deal Debate: Talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna appear to have hit an impasse following the election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency and Tehran’s accelerated efforts to advance its nuclear program.
🎤 Keep the Beat: Israel-based Orthodox Jewish rapper Nissim Black is in New York, where he headlined a concert in Passaic, N.J., last week before traveling to Monsey for Shabbat.
🎊 Mazel Tov: The New York Times spotlights the wedding of Mosheh Oinounou and Alex Sall, who had their first date at a Jewish Food Society event in Manhattan.
💼 Transition: Rabbi Gideon Black was named the new chief executive officer of the New York region of NCSY.
👩 Retrospective: A Washington Post obituary looks at the life of Ruth Pearl — who died last month at 85 — who moved to the U.S. at the age of 5 following the 1941 Baghdad pogrom and spent her later years bringing awareness to the murder of her son, the journalist Daniel Pearl.
🕯️ Remembering: Musician Chuck E. Weiss died at 76. Nicky Langesfeld, 26, and Luis Sadovnic, 28, who met at the University of Florida and married in January, were among the victims in the Surfside, Fla., condominium collapse.
Gif of the Day
Team Israel’s Danny Valencia celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in the third inning of the team’s win over Team Mexico on Sunday.
U.S. Senator from Nevada, Jacklyn Sheryl “Jacky” Rosen turns 64
Jerusalem-born actor who moved to the U.S. as a child, has appeared in over 400 TV episodes, Nehemiah Persoff turns 102… Harriet Cohen turns 91… Co-founder and chairman of NYC-based real estate development firm Rockrose Development Corporation, Henry Elghanayan turns 81… Professor emeritus of Bible at London’s Leo Baeck College, Jonathan David Magonet turns 79… Former member of Knesset, he is presently chairman of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Uzi Landau turns 78… Retired colonel in the U.S. Army and a recipient of the Medal of Honor and seven other medals, he taught at West Point and serves as a military analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, Jack H. Jacobs turns 76… Long-time librarian, now residing in Albuquerque, N.M., Irene Seff turns 75… Nationally syndicated radio talk show host, author and public speaker, Dennis Prager turns 73… Ambassador and permanent representative of Canada to the United Nations, Robert Keith Rae turns 73… Paris bureau chief at The New York Times, Roger Cohen turns 66… Mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., Richard David “Rick” Kriseman turns 59…
Owner of Newton, Mass.-based MPG Promotions, Elliot Mael turns 56… VP and general counsel of Yeshiva University, Andrew J. ”Avi” Lauer turns 54… Former ATP professional tennis player, Aaron Krickstein turns 54… Former member of the Knesset, Leon Litinetsky turns 54… SVP of sales for Hearst Television, Eric J. Meyrowitz turns 51… Senior director for global trade and public affairs at confectionery, food, and pet care firm, Mars Inc., Jay Eizenstat turns 51… Pulitzer Prize-winning, D.C.-based national security reporter for The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg turns 47… Executive communications and internal communications manager at Google, Stephen L. Rabin turns 43… CEO of Make It Real, founder and chair of The Jewish Entrepreneur mentoring program, Isaac “Zevy” Wolman turns 37… Senior director of special projects at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Julia Nayfeld Schulman… Actress who starred in a 1999 “Pepsi Girl” commercial, Hallie Kate Eisenberg turns 29…
WEEKEND BIRTHDAY: Vice president of business development for Silicon Valley start-up FIGMA, Jessica Alter turned 42 yesterday…