👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Three rockets were fired toward Israel from Lebanon this morning. Of the two rockets that cleared the border, one exploded in an open field, and one was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome.
Last night, Shontel Brown upset Nina Turner in the special election Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. Read more below.
During her victory speech, Brown recounted her first experience traveling through Israel in 2018, a trip she has described as foundational. “You can appreciate the vulnerability of the state, and that has given me the understanding of the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” before adding, “I thank my Jewish brothers and sisters.” Video
A Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday again highlighted the battle lines on Capitol Hill over repealing the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq, which targeted the long-extinct Saddam Hussein regime.
Committee Democrats, joined by Biden administration witnesses and some Republicans, emphasized that they believe the authorization is irrelevant and unnecessary to ongoing efforts against Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
Several Republicans argued the opposite. “The fact of the matter is that the 2002 AUMF provides the only statutory authority to strike Iran-backed militias in Iraq,” Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) argued. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) added that he’s concerned “that the repeal of the AUMF will be used as justification for continuing to go soft on Iran.”
Although the Trump administration cited the 2002 AUMF as part of its justification for last year’s killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, “the 2002 AUMF was an additional authority, but not a necessary one,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman argued.
The Committee will vote today on repealing the 2002 and 1995 AUMFs in Iraq.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum yesterday, acknowledged that the Abraham Accords “worked positively to spur engagement in the region,” and said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a barrier for Saudi Arabia to join the agreement. But he evaded answering a point-blank question about whether a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for the Arab kingdom to formalize relations with Israel.
The Saudis favor a nuclear agreement with Iran that “ensures that Iran will not now or ever gain access to nuclear weapons technology,” added the minister.
At the Democratic Socialists of America virtual national convention, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) said there were people “behind a curtain” who “exploit the rest of us for their own profit.” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called Tlaib’s comments “appalling,” noting “We’ve heard this kind of ugly #antisemitic dog whistling before.”
eye on ohio
Shontel Brown defeats Nina Turner with support from Cleveland’s Jewish community
In a remarkable upset, Shontel Brown prevailed with 51-44 percent of the vote on Tuesday night in the hotly contested special primary election for an open House seat in Cleveland, notching a symbolic win for the establishment wing of the Democratic Party while stymying its left-wing flank, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. Brown’s come-from-behind victory over Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and prominent progressive, represents an extraordinary turnaround for the Cuyahoga County councilwoman and party chair. Brown, 46, had struggled to gain traction until the final weeks of the race, which played out on the national stage as a tense and high-profile proxy battle between warring Democratic factions.
Giving thanks: On Tuesday night, Brown recounted her first experience traveling through Israel in 2018, a trip she has described as foundational. “You can appreciate the vulnerability of the state, and that has given me the understanding of the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Brown told supporters in an enthusiastic victory speech. “I thank my Jewish brothers and sisters.” Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in a statement, “Voter turnout in areas with large Jewish populations was — on average — double the overall turnout in the district.” JDCA, which endorsed Brown in July, launched a five-figure ad campaign last week targeting the 22,000 Jewish voters, who make up about 5% of the electorate in the majority-Black district. “The results speak for themselves, and it’s clear the Jewish vote made a critical difference for Shontel Brown in this close race,” Soifer said.
Community effort: Ron Ratner, a prominent Cleveland philanthropist and businessman, agreed. “There’s all this national noise, but I think this came down to specific issues in terms of what mattered to people in this district,” he told JI in a phone interview with JI on Tuesday night after Brown won. “My guess is that the Jewish vote was significant,” added Ratner, who supported Brown’s campaign. “This is a remarkable achievement for the Jewish community as a whole,” Ezra Stark, a Cleveland-based real estate developer and Brown backer, told JI. “This is the first time as a native Clevelander I can remember Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, non-affiliated Jews joining together for one single cause and showing solidarity behind one single candidate and showing what the Jewish voting power is.”
Fighting words: “We got some folks rattled,” Turner boasted at a campaign event on Monday. “But I’m glad they’re rattled. I want them to be uncomfortable.” In her concession speech on Tuesday evening, Turner was less self-assured but vowed to keep fighting even if she would not be joining her allies in the House. “I am going to work hard to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen to another progressive candidate again,” she said. “We didn’t lose this race, evil money manipulated and maligned this election.” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) tweeted that Turner’s comments “[prove] that support for @shontelmbrown was a #mitzvah.”
Mike Carey prevails in crowded OH-15 Republican primary
Former coal lobbyist Mike Carey won the crowded Republican primary in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District with 37 percent of the vote on Tuesday, an affirmation of former President Donald Trump’s prevailing clout within the GOP. Trump, who endorsed Carey, had been facing pressure to see his preferred candidate claim victory following an embarrassing defeat last week in a Texas runoff election, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Trump wins? In some ways, Carey’s victory represents a rebuke of the establishment wing of the GOP as Trump sets his sights on the 10 House incumbents who voted to impeach him in February. But the results were hardly resounding, despite a June internal poll showing Carey with 52% after voters were informed of the Trump endorsement. “Trump will claim credit for this, but Carey fell well short of a majority,” said Paul Beck, a professor emeritus of political science at The Ohio State University.
In the community: The Ohio-born first-time congressional candidate was raised in a Jewish and Catholic home until the age of 10 and attended Jewish day school during that time. He credits that experience with influencing what he described as his strong support for Israel.“Mike Carey knows the Jewish community from the time he was a kid,” Howie Beigelman, executive director of the nonprofit Ohio Jewish Communities, told JI on Tuesday after the election was called. “I think he also knows Israel can be a real partner to Ohio on reimagining our economy and rebuilding our workforce.”
Middle East: Carey said he would build on the Trump administration’s Middle East foreign policy agenda, praising its role in brokering the Abraham Accords between Israel and a number of Arab nations. “Most local observers believe he will be a pretty traditional Republican,” Brad Kastan, a pro-Israel advocate and co-chair of the Jewish Community Relations Committee in Columbus, told JI. “Carey has met with AIPAC, has spoken with pride of his Jewish roots and understands both the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship while sharing our concerns with the current rise in antisemitism.”
Up next: Carey will compete against Allison Russo, a Democratic state legislator and healthcare consultant, in the November general election. “We look forward to working with whoever wins the general — be it Carey or Russo,” said Justin Shaw, director of Jewish community relations at the nonprofit organization JewishColumbus. “Both have been friends to the Jewish community and supportive of the issues that matter most to us.” The odds are heavily tilted in Carey’s favor given the partisan makeup of the red-leaning district, which includes parts of Columbus.
What we don’t talk about when we talk about antisemitism
Tablet senior writer Yair Rosenberg is known for calmly explaining complicated aspects of antisemitism, both in well-researched articles in Tablet and to his 91,000 Twitter followers. (He calls himself a “troller of Nazis” in his Twitter bio.) Starting today, he is taking on the loaded topic of the world’s oldest hatred and attempting to turn it on its head, in short, easy-to-digest and visually potent educational videos. “A fundamental part of the orientation of the series is that it’s asking different questions than many people do when they talk about antisemitism,” Rosenberg told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch.
Start at the beginning: The question people in the Jewish community often ask, he posited, is how to fight antisemitism. “But in my experience, that question is actually skipping a giant constituency,” Rosenberg explained. “Because if somebody’s already asking how to fight antisemitism, they’re already most of the way there. They are not asking, ‘What is antisemitism?’ They’re not asking, ‘Why should I care about antisemitism?’”
Hard questions: The six videos range from four to nine minutes, and each attempts to answer a different question: Did antisemitism go away after the Holocaust? Whose fault is antisemitism? Is criticism of Israel antisemitic? Do Jewish people cause antisemitism? Can Jews be antisemitic or say antisemitic things? Why should I care about antisemitism? The first video will be released today; five additional videos will be rolled out over the next five weeks.
More than the Holocaust: Each of these topics addresses questions Rosenberg has heard, many times, from people he has met or interacted with online. Some of them address what he views as failings in current antisemitism education. “I think that our antisemitism education often confuses Holocaust education for antisemitism education,” Rosenberg pointed out. “If you only study or mostly study the Holocaust, you will be misinformed. Most of Jewish history involved antisemitism, and most of it wasn’t the Holocaust. And yet, that’s basically the only thing that a lot of people learn about in any depth, if they learned about it.”
Partisanship aside: While the ideal audience will be people who are not Jewish, or who are unfamiliar with antisemitism, Rosenberg hopes his video series also reaches members of the Jewish community — particularly those who say they care about antisemitism but then come at it from a partisan perspective. “Anyone who pays attention to our current public discourse about anti-Jewish prejudice knows that it doesn’t actually seem to work,” Rosenberg argued, “because people only seem to care about antisemitism when it comes from people they already hate and despise.”
on the hill
Senate infrastructure package incorporates decade-long OU project
The Senate’s bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill is the most-discussed topic on Capitol Hill this week, as senators scramble to pass the legislation ahead of the body’s scheduled summer recess. But one provision getting little attention within the 2,700-page bill represents the culmination of more than a decade of activism led by the Orthodox Union, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: The Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act was first introduced in Congress by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) in 2012, and reintroduced twice since then. The proposal would provide $50 million to the Department of Energy for grants of up to $200,000 for nonprofit organizations to upgrade their infrastructure and purchase more energy-efficient equipment, such as generators and heating systems. OU Advocacy Center Director Nathan Diament told Jewish Insider that the legislation, crafted by OU, was borne of the significant expenses that synagogues, day schools and other nonprofits incur from energy costs — generally one of the top two budget items for such organizations — as well as a desire to increase energy efficiency.
Quotable: “I thank the Jewish community for taking a lead in advocating for this legislation. As nonprofits, including our religious organizations, become more energy efficient, they can allocate more resources to their core missions,” Klobuchar said. “Many nonprofits have struggled to keep up with demand during the pandemic, which is why I knew it was critical to include this bill in the infrastructure package. This bipartisan legislation is a win-win — it’s beneficial for the environment and the communities these organizations serve.”
Read more here.
Bonus: At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee meeting yesterday, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) said she was “disappointed” that the administration’s recent domestic violent extremism threat assessment did not “account for the nexus between antisemitism and violent extremism.” She also expressed support for $360 million in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding for 2022. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) specifically decried antisemitism linked to the recent conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza. “It just simply can’t be that every time there is a conflict involving the State of Israel that it therefore becomes OK to attack American Jews, it becomes OK to engage in antisemitic conduct publicly. That just simply cannot be the case,” Hawley said.
Presented by SAPIR
In the final pieces of SAPIR’s second issue, Ruth Wisse provides a trenchant assessment of Jewish power and powerlessness, and Managing Editor Felicia Herman looks back on the issue as a whole. Join us on August 12 at noon ET for a conversation between Ruth Wisse and SAPIR Editor-in-Chief Bret Stephens. Register here.
Responsibilities of Sovereignty: Ruth Wisse draws on Jewish history and literature to examine the allure of powerlessness and why it is important for Jews to reject it. “The question of Jews and power boils down to whether a God-inspired and morally constrained people can hold out until the surrounding nations accept the principle of peaceful coexistence. The creation of Israel was the hopeful answer to that question: Hatikvah, literally, the hope of a people. Neither the war against Israel in the Middle East nor opposition to the Jews’ right to a state will likely fade in the years ahead. Let us see if we have the power and moral stamina to keep that hope alive.” Read here.
Summing Up: As in SAPIR’s first volume, Managing Editor Felicia Herman offers a summary of the tangible ideas and recommendations presented in the issue. “The essays in this volume also do not fit neatly into predictable categories. What they do is explore the complexities, contradictions, and ambiguities of Jewish power that are at the heart of so many contemporary debates. Jews have power and do not; the Jewish state is exceptionally powerful and uniquely vulnerable; Jews welcome power, fear it, have misgivings about using it. The articles of this issue of SAPIR do not always agree on where and how Jewish power should be wielded, or how it might go astray, or be squandered. But they are united in their insistence that we should not be afraid of the existence of Jewish power, either in Israel or the United States, and that we must defend its necessity, however imperfectly it might at times be wielded.” Read here.
Perception vs. Reality: Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz — who has been personally targeted by the Iranian regime — discusses how antisemitic conceptions of Jewish power can be used to advantage. “If Khamenei, Hamas, and Hezbollah prefer to believe that Jews pull all the big levers of American might, it only feeds a mindset of paranoia and illogic that is usually self-defeating. It might even give them more reason to fear us than to fight us. If Tehran (or the Washington press corps) wants to feed the perception that my modestly sized think tank dictates U.S. policy in the Middle East, who am I to complain? What goes for U.S. policy in the Middle East goes for other areas of Jewish concern: Especially in a democracy, the perception of power is power, at least in the hands of those who know how to use it judiciously.” Read here.
🚂 Call in the Experts: In SlowBoring, Matthew Yglesias makes an argument for Amtrak to bring in experts with experience in countries where high-speed rail is a popular and often-used form of transit to reform the U.S.’s transit systems. “But it’s not like anyone in the world thinks the United States of America is a global leader in intercity passenger rail or that Amtrak is the world’s premier passenger railroad operator. What we are is a big rich country that can afford to spend some money to bring some folks in from better intercity passenger railroads abroad and have them try to fix things.” [SlowBoring]
⚖️ Legal Trouble: Rich Goldberg, a senior advisor for Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a co-host of JI’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” writes that Unilever’s decision not to intervene in its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s announcement that it would not sell its products in Israel was short-sighted. “What Unilever may not have realized prior to its Ben & Jerry’s announcement is that its decision to boycott Israel might run afoul of 33 U.S. state anti-boycott laws, resolutions, and executive orders — potentially triggering hundreds of millions of dollars in direct divestment from Unilever stock by state pension funds, alongside potential second-tier effects in the form of indirect divestment by mutual fund and index fund managers.” [FDD]
🥳 Let’s Celebrate: Writing in Newsweek, Professor Gil Troy argues that the Abraham Accords are worth celebrating ahead of the one-year anniversary of the August 13th announcement and the September 15th signing ceremony. “Every Israeli, every Jew, every rabbi, every Jewish organization, every synagogue on Kol Nidre & every peace-loving person should celebrate these Accords,” Troy tweeted. [Newsweek]
Around the Web
🍦 Cold Response: Weeks after Ben & Jerry’s announced it would no longer sell its products in the West Bank, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state will not invest in or contract with its parent company, Unilever, unless the ice cream company reverses its decision within three months. The state of Maryland is also looking into whether the recent decision by Ben & Jerry’s to cease sales in the West Bank runs afoul of the 2016 executive order prohibiting state contracts with companies that support boycotts of Israel.
🏥 Hospital Help: The State Department issued a visa for Alta Fixsler, a U.K. toddler who suffers from brain damage, to seek treatment in America after a British court allowed the removal of the child’s life support.
👔 New Project: PR group Edelman announced a $10 million investment in its public affairs division, which will be revamped into the Edelman Global Advisory (EGA) group.
🏪 Let’s Go to the Mall: American Dream, the luxury mall in northern New Jersey developed by the Ghermezian family that opened shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic forced its temporary closure, is opening its new luxury wing in September amid a resurgence in foot traffic.
📕 Resistance Readings: Rebecca Donner’s new book details the efforts of her great-great-aunt, Mildred Harnack, a U.S.-born resistance fighter who disguised herself as a Nazi sympathizer in order to get information to pass to American diplomats in Germany.
✡️ Whole Story: A new memoir by Alexander Vindman, a key witness in former President Trump’s first impeachment trial, includes a recounting of his father and grandmother’s exits from Russia and Ukraine due to antisemitism.
🤸 Homecoming Hero: Gymnast Artem Dolgopyat, who won Israel’s second-ever Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, received a warm welcome upon his arrival in Israel.
🔥 Letting it Burn: Turkish officials declined Israel’s help to extinguish rampant wildfires along the country’s southern coast that have left eight people dead.
🚢 Battle Lines: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel could “act alone” to curb Iranian aggression in the region following an attack on an Israeli-managed ship in the Gulf of Oman over the weekend.
📺 Small Screen: Israeli drama “Normal,” which tells the true story of former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s son’s struggle with drugs and subsequent nervous breakdown, was picked up by HBO Max for distribution in Latin America.
🎥 Silver Screen: The Jerusalem Film Festival set the lineup for its annual conference, with the Cannes title “Where is Anne Frank” kickstarting the event.
🕯️ Remembering: Psychologist Paula Caplan, who spoke out about the medical world’s treatment of women, died at 74.
Pic of the Day
Team Israel celebrates in the dugout following a two-run home run by Danny Valencia in the eight inning of yesterday’s knockout loss against the Dominican Republic. The defeat ended a celebrated run for team Blue and White in its first Olympic baseball appearance.
Former member of the Knesset and mayor of Herzliya, she was appointed yesterday to become Israel’s ambassador to France, Yael German turns 74…
Professor emerita of American history at Yeshiva University and Stern College, Dr. Ellen Wolf Schrecker turns 83… Talmudic scholar, head of the rabbinical court of Mekor Haim in Queens, N.Y., and a prominent leader of New York’s Sephardic Jewish community, Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Haim turns 81… President at Salco Mechanical, Michael Salzberg turns 78… Board chair of the Jewish Funders Network, Marcia Riklis turns 71… Senior vice president for growth at the NYC HQ of the Anti-Defamation League, Frederic Lewis Bloch turns 69… Former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yona Metzger turns 68… Mathematics professor, Sheldon Dan turns 66… Long-time member of the Knesset for Likud (1992-2015) including multiple ministerial positions, Silvan Shalom turns 63… 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama turns 60… Executive producer of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” Michael Gelman turns 60… Administrative manager at Edelman, Helen Lapkovsky turns 58… Editor-in-chief of PwC’s management magazine “strategy+business,” Daniel Gross turns 54…
Editor-in-chief of Cuepoint at Medium, Jonathan Miles Shecter (also known as Shecky Green) turns 53… U.S. Representative (D-NY), he is the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Hakeem Jeffries turns 51… Broadcast meteorologist at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., Steven Rudin turns 50… Washington director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block turns 49… Director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay turns 49… Editor of Washingtonian, Michael Schaffer turns 48… CEO of Aspiration and former White House speechwriter, Andrei Cherny turns 46… CEO of leadership coaching and advisory firm Something Major, Randi Braun turns 33… Assistant director in the geostrategic business group at EY, Ben-Ari Boukai turns 31… Head of sales and operations at Riverside.fm, Jonathan Keyson turns 29… Born in Johannesburg, he moved to Florida as a 7-year old where he attended the Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, he is now the placekicker for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, Greg Joseph turns 27… Natalie Roberts… Evelyn Murphy…