👋 Good Thursday morning!
Ed. note: Continuing the celebration of Sukkot, the Daily Kickoff will return on Monday.
The House of Representatives will vote later today on legislation to authorize the transfer of $1 billion to Israel to resupply its Iron Dome missile defense system. The vote comes after a group of far-left Democrats pressured House leadership on Tuesday to remove the provision from a stopgap government funding bill.
The vote follows efforts from a coalition of pro-Israel Democrats to pressure House Democratic leadership to advance Iron Dome funding legislation after it was pulled from the bill, known as a continuing resolution.
That group included Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL).
Deutch told Jewish Insider on Wednesday, “We couldn’t have made it any clearer [to Democratic leadership] that we needed to have that assurance before we cast our vote [on the continuing resolution].”
All House Republicans opposed the continuing resolution, meaning a small group of Democrats could endanger the funding bill as a whole over objections to the Iron Dome funding. “This problem was created by a very small, very vocal group who insisted on getting their way or they were going to shut down the government,” Manning told JI’s Marc Rod on Wednesday.
Today’s vote will likely provide a clear barometer of how many hard-line Israel critics are in the House. “[There’s] a handful [of members critical of Israel],” Deutch said on Wednesday. “That’s what we’re going to see tomorrow and the rest of my colleagues will have the opportunity to show their support for how important this is.”
Tuesday’s events prompted consternation from Israeli officials. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) about the dispute, but subsequently blamed former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for having “neglected the Congress and the Democratic Party, and caused considerable damage to Israel-US relations.”
Read the full report on the Iron Dome funding debate at the Capitol here.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will depart on Saturday night for New York, where he will address the United Nations General Assembly for the first time on Monday. According to reports, Bennett’s advisors want to set the new Israeli leader apart from his predecessor, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu – who is known for using props during U.N. speeches — one official told Axios that there will be no “Netanyahu-style gimmicks.” Bennett’s speech will focus mainly on Iran, the report said.
On Oct. 3, Bennett is also scheduled to address the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, which will be held virtually.
Nides receives bipartisan praise following Senate confirmation hearing
Tom Nides, President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Israel, sailed through his Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday, receiving praise from senators on both sides of the aisle, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. Nides, a former deputy secretary of state for management and resources, largely stuck to the administration’s positions on a range of issues; those included peace efforts between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Abraham Accords, Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, support for Iron Dome resupply, reopening the Jerusalem consulate that serves the Palestinians, Iran policy, the Golan Heights and assistance to Palestinians.
‘North Star’: Nides said that his “North Star is a democratic Jewish state” and argued that the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreement between Israel and several Arab nations, make it “stronger,” and benefit both the U.S. and the Palestinians. “I don’t think any one of us believes that is achievable in the next couple weeks,” Nides said of a two-state solution. “I do believe that we need as a government to continue to create the pathway to achieve that by emphasizing the importance of a two-state solution, providing aid to the Palestinians and dissuading both sides from provocative unilateral actions.”
Eye on Jerusalem: He defended the administration’s push to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which traditionally served as a liaison with the Palestinians and was shuttered by former President Donald Trump in 2019. The move is opposed both by Republicans and the Israeli government. “This consulate has existed… for almost 130 years. The opening of the consulate, if it occurs… it will have no impact on the capital of Israel being Jerusalem,” Nides added. “I fundamentally believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.”
High praise: Nides’s testimony earned him praise from committee members across the political spectrum. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told JI that Nides “did a good job.” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said he “appreciated [Nides’s] strong defense of the United States as a broker for peace” and his support for reopening the Jerusalem consulate. Even Republican committee members who have clashed frequently with the administration on Israel and Middle East policy offered praise for Nides. “He’s impressive… I think he’s a good choice,” Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) said, adding that he plans to vote for Nides. “He’s fully on board with a policy that completely supports the Israelis, so I’m there.”
The Met Gala and the far-left vs. the far-right
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) set off a days-long firestorm of media commentary last week when she arrived at the Met Gala in Manhattan wearing a white Brother Vellies dress emblazoned in bold red letters with the not-so-subtle phrase “Tax the Rich.” The two-term New York City congresswoman, a Democratic socialist who casts herself as a champion of the working class, was widely criticized as out of touch. Even some progressives renounced the gesture as superficial. For some Jewish leaders and commentators, the congresswoman’s high-profile appearance underscored how some far-left lawmakers are increasingly accepted in mainstream culture — in contrast to right-wing provocateurs in the House who are largely shunned from such events and tend to operate in their own isolated silos on the margins, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Culturally fashionable: Viewed at a broader angle, the controversy was a confirmation that Ocasio-Cortez, 31, has achieved a level of celebrity such that even an anodyne slogan written across the back of a designer gown was capable of driving the news cycle for multiple days. “The Squad is culturally fashionable, and AOC just proved it by getting an invite and rocking a controversial dress at the Met Gala,” said Thane Rosenbaum, an author and distinguished university professor at Touro College, referring to the growing coalition of powerful House Democrats including Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ocasio-Cortez, who is known colloquially as AOC. “Conservative Republicans wouldn’t receive an invite to a Greek diner on Madison Avenue.”
Concern: Jewish leaders expressed concern that Ocasio-Cortez and her allies in the House are leveraging their outsized cultural influence to smuggle in views that until recently were taboo within the Democratic Party, including, among other things, calls to withhold American aid to Israel. “For me, what’s particularly concerning about that is that this is a moment of tremendous hope right now,” said Barry Shrage, a professor in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, alluding to the new unity government in Israel. “This is the time when people, at least on the center-left, ought to be able to say, ‘Hey, it’s really time to give Israel a chance to make steps toward peace.’” He wasn’t getting his hopes up. “This is something that the Squad is going to fight against with all their might,” said Shrage, the former president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
Opposite end: Far-right upstarts such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) have, of course, also been accused of antisemitism. “Sure there are some alt-right extremists who hate Jews, but where are they, how many are they, and what possible influence could they have, as compared with progressives on college campuses and in media (mainstream and social), who have cultural cache, social influence and serious numbers behind them,” Rosenbaum said in an email to JI. “And they have high-profile platforms from which to speak: lecture halls, favorable press, and throngs of Twitter and Instagram followers.” For Rosenbaum, it comes down to, as he put it, “much smaller numbers, negligible social capital and cultural irrelevance that distinguishes progressives from extremist Republicans.”
Intra-party feud: The Iron Dome showdown was just the latest escalation in an ongoing intra-party feud over Israel that has grown increasingly contentious in the months following the May conflict between Israel and Hamas. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez introduced an amendment that would block a $735 million arms sale to Israel, following a previous failed effort to submit a resolution condemning the sale. Moreover, a number of progressive House candidates,who are running for office this cycle, have called for conditioning aid to the Jewish state. Beyond foreign policy, some progressives have been accused of using antisemitic language while addressing Israel or social issues more broadly. This has caused alarm among Jewish leaders who fret that such rhetoric may become normalized on the left because it emanates from high-profile lawmakers in the House.
Read the full story here.
Elsewhere: Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), joined by 18 cosponsors, is set to announce a bill today blocking Israel from using U.S. defense articles and services to annex Palestinian territority or violate human rights. The legislation also supports reopening the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington. It also requires labeling all West Bank and Gaza exports as such, rather than as products of Israel, as mandated by the Trump administration. The bill is supported by J Street.
school yard fight
Los Angeles teachers union to consider BDS resolution
United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the country’s second-largest teachers union, will consider a resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel at its September meeting tonight, the third time in two weeks that an anti-Israel resolution is being considered in a large city, following failed attempts in the city councils of Seattle and Burlington, Vt. After a months-long advocacy campaign, members of the Los Angeles Jewish community are “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of tonight’s vote, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
In the classroom: UTLA represents some 32,000 public school employees who teach more than 600,000 students. While the resolution does not explicitly call for any curriculum changes in how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is taught in schools, its passage, opponents say, could still have implications for students. “This proposed anti-Israel motion would alienate and create an unwelcome environment — if not worse — for Israeli Americans and many other Jewish Americans,” said Dan Gold, vice president of community engagement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
Up for debate: The first positive sign for the resolution’s opponents came in late July, when UTLA’s Board of Directors — another leadership body in the union’s byzantine bureaucratic structure, akin to the Cabinet of the executive branch — recommended indefinitely postponing a vote on the BDS resolution. The board’s substitute motion is expected to be introduced Thursday night, and if it passes, then the BDS resolution will not come to a vote.
Coming prepared: The coalition of pro-Israel Jewish organizations that worked together to fight this resolution had two years of experience on another controversial public education issue: the heated statewide debate around California’s model ethnic studies curriculum, early drafts of which did not teach about antisemitism and included praise of the BDS movement. The coalition claimed victory when the final draft of the curriculum — approved by the state’s board of education earlier this year — included lesson plans on antisemitism and diversity in the American Jewish community.
Minority rule: A small number of Jewish UTLA members have already left the organization in protest, with more threatening to do so if the resolution passes. But Gregg Solkovits, the president of Democrats for Israel’s Los Angeles chapter and a longtime member of UTLA, cautions that a wave of pro-Israel teachers leaving the union could have unintended consequences. Instead, he urges them to get involved in union elections, which usually have just a small minority of teachers voting. “If I really felt that the vast majority of members wanted us to be pro-BDS, I’d be sad, but I could roll with it,” Solkovits added. “But I think this is a minority position brought forward by people who thought to take advantage of people’s apathy at the end of the school year.”
Bonus: The Los Angeles Times editorial board called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto legislation requiring ethnic studies be taught in California schools over concerns that the law allows “too much leeway for unapproved curriculum to be taught.” The editorial board points out that some California school districts are already teaching a controversial curriculum not approved by the state board of education that promotes the BDS movement and “seemed written to inculcate certain biases and left almost no room for students to think for themselves.”
⭐ Up-and-Comer: The New York Times’s Bret Stephens spotlights Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), the first-term progressive Democrat from the Bronx, who represents the country’s poorest congressional district. “In other words, Torres is everything a modern-day progressive is supposed to look and be like, except in one respect: Unlike so much of the modern left (including A.O.C., who grew up as an architect’s daughter in the middle-class Westchester town of Yorktown Heights), he really is a child of the working class. He understands what working-class people want, as opposed to what so many of its self-appointed champions claim they want.” [NYTimes]
📚 Historical Horrors: In the Washington Post, Edna Friedberg, a historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, looks at the atrocities committed against Jews during the Holocaust prior to the use of concentration camps, when “roving murder squads” carried out mass killings in hundreds of villages and towns across Europe. “These murders didn’t happen in out-of-the-way, secret places. The victims died where they were born and went to school, where they fell in love and raised their families, where they planted their gardens and buried their dead. And they died where people have continued to do these normal activities ever since, either too young to have witnessed these horrors firsthand or having been raised in a culture of willful amnesia.” [WashPost]
🗳️ Eye on 2022: In The Atlantic, Cook Political Report senior editor Dave Wasserman explores efforts to redistrict “majority-minority” congressional districts — many of which resulted from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — ahead of the 2022 midterms, as both parties strategize over how to take control of the House of Representatives. “All over the Deep South — in states such as Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina — the story is familiar: Gerrymandered maps have packed Black voters into a lone Voting Rights Act district, while Republicans dominate every surrounding white-majority seat. In past decades, many of those VRA districts’ Democratic representatives were loath to unravel their own safe seats. But today, Democrats’ prevailing mentality has shifted. And as the 2022 redistricting wars heat up, multiple lawsuits aiming to unpack hyper-minority seats could help determine control of the House.” [TheAtlantic]
🕍 Lost and Found: For The New York Times, photographer Daniel Tepper visits the “Lost Tribes” of India and Myanmar. “Initially, I was interested in how Lost Tribe Jews were redefining what it means to be Jewish — by asserting their faith and gaining acceptance by the Israeli government. The existence of these communities complicates notions of Jewish identity while emphasizing its malleability. But as I spent time photographing and speaking with members from the Lost Tribes, I found myself moved by the sincerity with which they brought the Jewish faith into their lives.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🙊 Top Secret: Biden administration National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Hulata, held talks last week to discuss possible action should nuclear talks between Iran and Western powers not resume.
📨 On the Docket: The White House formally submitted Emory University professor and Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt’s nomination for special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.
🇪🇺 Across the Pond: Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced a resolution urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah’s political wing as a terrorist organization, a companion to a House resolution from July.
🛑 Boycott Durban: Thirty-four nations refrained from attending the United Nation’s Durban IV conference, marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism, on Wednesday.
🚫 Waiver Shutdown: Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced a bill repealing an exemption to Iran sanctions allowing Afghanistan to conduct trade with Iran. A similar initiative faced roadblocks in the House during National Defense Authorization Act revisions.
✉️ Ties that Bind: The descendants of two Holocaust survivors and the Polish farmer who hid them connected after the farmer’s great-granddaughter found post-war written correspondence between the families.
⚖️ In the Courts: Two California men are facing hate crime charges for their roles in a brawl outside a Los Angeles restaurant in the city’s Beverly Grove neighborhood.
💰 Campus Beat: David Geffen pledged $75 million to Columbia Business School ahead of the opening of its new campus in January 2022.
🎓 Acquisition: J.P. Morgan announced the acquisition of college financial aid platform Frank, which was founded by Charlie Javice in 2017. Javice will join the banking firm as managing director and head of student solutions.
😋 Good Eating: New York Times food critic Pete Wells reviews Shukette, a more casual spinoff of the popular Soho restaurant Shuka.
🔇 Canceled: Netflix won’t renew Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz’s “Hit and Run” series due to the high production costs and slowdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
🧢 Fashion Forward: Trucker hats from the San Francisco-based Goorin Bros. are finding popularity in Israel, where “many avoid bold fashion statements,” because they give wearers a bit of individuality and flair in an otherwise casual environment, the Wall Street Journal reports.
🇺🇦 Antisemitism Ban: Ukraine’s parliament passed a law on Wednesday defining and banning antisemitism, and setting punishments for related offenses.
👦 Contested Custody: A custody case over a six-year-old boy begins today in a Tel Aviv court, after the child’s aunt accused his grandfather of abducting him to Israel after he survived a deadly cable car accident that killed his parents and sibling in Italy.
👨⚖️Seeking Justice: A Melbourne court has ordered Malka Leifer to stand trial on 70 child sexual abuse charges that she allegedly commited as principal of an ultra-Orthodox school between 2004-2008.
💉 New Rule: Israel lifted the requirement that incoming tourists who have recovered from COVID-19 in the previous three months take a PCR test before boarding their flight.
Pic of the Day
“Seeing the Invisible,” the largest exhibition of contemporary artworks created with augmented reality (AR) technology, opened in Jerusalem’s Botanical Gardens on Wednesday. The exhibition, featuring works by 13 artists from around the world, including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China, is also taking place simultaneously in botanical gardens in six other countries — Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Visitors view the exhibition via a specially designed app. Initiated by the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and Outset Contemporary Art Fund, the exhibition aims to highlight the power of art to connect people around the world, bringing together botanical gardens worldwide and fostering collaboration between institutions, artists, and audiences across the globe.
Record-setting powerlifter, Naomi Chaya Kutin turns 20…
Vice chairman of the board of French fashion house Chanel, Arie L. Kopelman turns 83… Sarasota Jewish Federation executive, Richard Bergman turns 82… CEO of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris turns 72… President at Trendlines America, Mark J. Dollinger, Ph.D. turns 71… Co-chairman and COO of Chesapeake Realty Partners, he is also a founding partner of Boulder Ventures, Josh E. Fidler turns 66… Senior analyst at AIPAC, Colin M. Winston, Ph.D. turns 66… Partner at Steptoe & Johnson, Darryl Nirenberg turns 62… Business manager for Los Angeles Cardiovascular Medical Group, Angela Maddahi… Former vice chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America, Sheryl W. Kimerling turns 60… Israeli-American venture capitalist and head of Zeev Ventures, Oren Zeev turns 57… Co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, he is the RNC’s finance chairman, Todd M. Ricketts turns 52… Former U.S. Ambassador to the EU, now EVP for policy at the Business Roundtable, Ambassador Kristen Silverberg turns 51… President of Santa Monica-based PR firm Tower26, Naomi Seligman turns 49… Executive director of the Foundation at Alpha Epsilon Pi, Jay Feldman turns 40… Author of Moonwalking with Einstein and co-founder of the non-profit Sefaria and the design competition Sukkah City, Joshua Foer turns 39… Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington bureau reporter for The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt turns 38… Global head of news curation at Facebook, Gabriella Schwarz turns 33… VP of sales at Idomoo Personalized Video, Abby Glassberg turns 31… Saber fencing champion, he represented the U.S. at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics and the 2017 Maccabiah Games, Eli Dershwitz turns 26… Recent charge d’affairs for the Embassy of Israel in Australia, Jonathan Peled…