👋 Good Wednesday morning!
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold confirmation hearings today for Rahm Emanuel, President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Japan; Nicholas Burns, the nominee for ambassador to China; and Jonathan Kaplan, the nominee for U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) told Jewish Insider that the Senate’s proposed $180 million funding level for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program for 2022 “is a good first step but I will continue to fight to close the gap and get to $360 million in funding for any and all faith-based organizations who need our support.”
Advocates for the program have largely coalesced around $360 million as an appropriate 2022 funding level given funding shortages and spiking hate crime rates in 2021.
Gillibrand added that “the alarming rise of antisemitic and anti-Asian American hate crimes in New York and across the country demands clear and powerful steps to help these communities keep themselves safe.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog announced Wednesday the establishment of an Israeli Climate Forum to guide the country’s fight against the climate crisis. The forum will be led by former Knesset member Dov Khenin and include representatives of the government, the Knesset, academia, local authorities and the business and industrial sectors, said a statement from Herzog’s office.
Ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s departure to the Glasgow COP26 Summit on Oct. 31, Herzog said he plans to host a special conference aimed at raising the public’s awareness about global warming.
Rep. Marie Newman at risk in Illinois redistricting
Democrats in Illinois are poised to expand their party’s majority in the state’s congressional delegation. They’re also putting one of their own — left-wing freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL) — at risk of losing her seat, won in a hard-fought primary against one of the most conservative members of the Democratic Party, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. Newman was one of nine representatives to vote against supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system last month.
Changing shape: The newly proposed map, which was released last week by the Democrat-controlled Illinois House Redistricting Committee, would add a rural, working-class area to Newman’s otherwise urban Chicago district. Newman has criticized the proposed map, although the new district would still lean Democratic. The redistricting map “is not only retrogressive but substantially diminishes the diverse and progressive voices of Chicago’s Southwest Side and suburbs,” Newman said in a statement.
Palestinian base: Chicago has one of the largest Palestinian communities in the United States, and Newman’s current district includes roughly 110,000 Arab Americans, more than half of whom are of Palestinian descent. She represents one of the smallest Jewish populations in the region. The new map of the district “maintains what I would consider all of the Middle Eastern, Palestinian community,” said Frank Calabrese, a Chicago-area political consultant and mapmaker.
Not yet set: The new map, which is being debated in the state legislature this week, could still be changed. “Until a final thing is put in front of the state legislature and it’s voted upon, it’s all up in the air. It could be modified,” said Oren Jacobson, a progressive Jewish activist in Chicago who has worked with Newman on pro-choice issues.
Eroding support: Jacobson said Newman’s vote against Iron Dome funding came as a surprise even to Newman’s more progressive allies in the Jewish community. “I do think the Iron Dome vote has the potential to change and erode some of the support that she has had from more progressive Jews,” Jacobson acknowledged.
on the hill
Senate Foreign Relations advances Nides nomination; Cruz, Hagerty, Rubio vote no
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve former Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, with just three senators — Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) — voting no, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Policy differences: Cruz told Jewish Insider on Tuesday afternoon that he voted against Nides because he disagrees with the Biden administration’s Israel policy. “The Biden administration in 10 months has significantly undermined Israel, including in particular their move to try to open a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem… And Nides is who they’ve picked to [execute their policy],” Cruz said. He also accused the Biden administration of failing to adequately support the Abraham Accords. Nides vocally supported the Abraham Accords during his confirmation hearing, during which Cruz asked no questions. Nides also expressed his support for reopening the consulate.
Consulate clash: “Senator Hagerty believes that President Biden’s plan to reopen a U.S. consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem would undermine [the U.S.’s] recognition [of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital] and is opposed by the Government of Israel, so he could not support a nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel who will not stand with Israel on this central issue,” Hagerty spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement to JI.
Delayed: The committee was also set to vote on Barbara Leaf’s nomination to be assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, but Cruz asked that committee vote on Leaf be delayed until the committee’s next meeting. Leaf is currently the National Security Council’s senior director for the Middle East.
Behind the scenes: Cruz reportedly told colleagues that he asked that Leaf’s nomination be delayed on Tuesday because he felt she had falsely answered or failed to adequately answer his written questions on Iran nuclear negotiations, State Department policy on the Abraham Accords and aid to Egypt. Asked about the move Tuesday afternoon, he told JI that he would have more details to offer on Wednesday.
Read the full story here.
Bonus: Hagerty, who is often critical of President Joe Biden’s foreign policy agenda, is expected to defend Rahm Emanuel at his confirmation hearing today. Hagerty, the last Senate-confirmed ambassador to Japan, will say that Emanuel shares his “unwavering conviction” that relations between Japan and the U.S. are the “cornerstone of peace” in the region. Three other Republicans also plan to support Emanuel, amid skepticism from progressives.
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick hopes the third time’s a charm in FL20
While she may not explicitly cast herself as such, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick seems to be carving out a niche for herself as something of a pro-Israel progressive among the half-dozen leading Democratic candidates vying to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) in South Florida’s special House election next month, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Left Lane: Cherfilus-McCormick, a 42-year-old healthcare executive now mounting her third bid for the seat, is running to the left of all but one of her most formidable opponents on a number of domestic issues, advocating for progressive policies such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. In a more populist vein, she is also proposing a “People’s Prosperity Plan” that would provide voters with a universal basic income of $1,000 a month.
On Israel: When it comes to Israel, however, Cherfilus-McCormick, a religious Christian of Haitian descent, holds views that are more aligned with the Democratic mainstream. She rejects the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, favors continued — if not increased — U.S. military assistance to the Jewish state and supports recent legislation that would give Israel $1 billion to replenish its Iron Dome missile-defense system — the subject of a heated intra-party debate last month on the House floor. “I would definitely have voted to fund the Iron Dome, just because Israel has a right to defend itself,” Cherfilus-McCormick said in a recent interview with JI. “More importantly, because Israel is one of our biggest allies, we actually play a part in ensuring that they’re able to defend themselves. Our partnership is just too deep for us to have to even make an issue of whether we should or shouldn’t. That is a priority.”
Split on Israel: Until recently, Cherfilus-McCormick had been sharing the pro-Israel progressive lane with at least one other candidate: Omari Hardy, a left-leaning state representative who expressed broad support for Israel during the recent forum in which candidates addressed issues of particular interest to Jewish voters. But in an interview with JI last week, Hardy reversed course, explaining that, after careful consideration, he now supports BDS and conditioning aid to Israel. Cherfilus-McCormick, for her part, disagreed with Hardy’s approach. “At this moment, Afghanistan has been retaken by the Taliban; Iran, who by the way funds Hamas in Palestine, is charging towards a nuclear weapon; and we have new threats from terrorist organizations such as ISIS-K and Boko Haram,” she told JI in a strongly worded statement last week after Hardy went public with his views. “This is not a time to play politics with national security and the security of Israel is paramount.”
Third time charm: While there is no up-to-date polling on the race, elections experts argue that Cherfilus-McCormick has a decent shot at prevailing in the Nov. 2 primary. The winner is expected to win the Jan. 11 general election because the district leans heavily Democratic. The three-time candidate first ran to unseat Hastings in 2018, pulling in just over 26% of the vote. Two years later, she pulled in 31% as Hastings’s support slipped below the 70% threshold. Now, in a wide-open race where the threshold for victory is expected to be low, Cherfilus-McCormick may be strongly positioned to pull off the sort of upset she has long sought.
Bonus: The editorial board of South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, which endorsed Hardy in the 11-way primary earlier this month, wrote that the candidate “must face the consequences of being wrong” on BDS.
Israeli security advocates to bring message of strength to Washington
A group of retired Israeli army generals will travel to Washington next week with a clear message for U.S. decision-makers and opinion-shapers: The only formula for peace is a strong Israel, reports Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash.
Vision for security: Brig. Gen. (res) Amir Avivi and Brig. Gen. (res) Yossi Kuperwasser of Israel’s newly formed Defense and Security Forum (Habithonistim in Hebrew) will meet with administration officials, members of Congress from both parties and representatives of Washington think tanks. “In order to ensure Israel’s existence and enable it to prosper for generations to come, we must think ahead,” Avivi told JI ahead of the trip. “It is time that we talk about the vision, the end plan — to ensure the existence of the Jewish state in the future, we must ensure its security now.”
Palestinian state minus: “To be secure, Israel needs to have full freedom of operation in Palestinian cities and [those] needs ensure there is a border that disconnects them [the Palestinians] from the Arab world,” Avivi told JI, echoing what he called former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s outlook — full Israeli security control of the Jordan Valley, full security in the West Bank, including a massive Jewish presence and a united Jerusalem under Israeli control. Avivi, who boasts a 30-year military career, advocates for a so-called “Palestinian state minus,” an arrangement similar to San Marino, which sits within Spanish territory, or Lesotho in South Africa — a small, demilitarized country inside a larger state that has overriding security control.
Threat from Iran: In Washington, Avivi will also raise concerns over the Iranian threat, emphasizing that “the Iranians must not be appeased,” he said. “The Iranians want world domination, and they are doing everything they can to get a nuclear weapon. The only solution is maintaining harsh sanctions and a credible military option,” he said, expressing a view pushed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but which appears to be losing some steam among current Israeli leaders.
💪 Right Fight: The New York Times’s Andrew Higgins and Benjamin Novak look at the upcoming legislative elections in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban is facing a challenge from a conservative mayor who emerged from the primary with the backing of a shaky but unified coalition set on ousting the far-right leader. “Previous challengers hoping to unseat Mr. Orban, who has been prime minister since 2010, mostly channeled the frustrations and anger of a liberal elite in Budapest. This time, the mayor is fighting Fidesz [a populist, nationalist party] on its own terms and home turf — small towns and villages where many voters, Mr. Marki-Zay included, once found comfort in Mr. Orban’s conservative message but grew disenchanted with what they see as his corruption, hypocrisy and authoritarian tendencies.” [NYTimes]
🗣️ Polyglot Psychology: In conversation with Gossamer, psychotherapist Esther Perel explains her penchant for languages — she speaks nine — and how she evolved her work to become a leading couples counselor. “I was interested in the juncture between culture and mental health, the culture of psychology and relationships. Because I’m a child of immigrants, because I’m a child of refugees, because I’m a child of parents who survived the Holocaust and who lost their entire families, and because I was part of a community of people who had experienced that massive collective trauma, I was interested in cultural transition as it pertains to refugees and as it pertains to mixed marriages.” [Gossamer]
🫒 Olive Therapy: In The New York Times, Reem Kassis explores the unique history of olive oil production in Rameh, a small Arab village in Israel’s Galilee region. “Rameh’s olive oil has long had a reputation for being the best in the country, even the broader region, and it is central to the identity of the village. Fresh out of the press, it is bright liquid gold, its aroma reminiscent of the wild grasses and dandelion leaves that grow around the olive trees. People describe it as ripe and smooth, almost like samneh (ghee, or clarified butter). While southern Spain and southeastern Italy are now the biggest commercial olive-oil-producing regions in the world, evidence suggests that the land surrounding the Sea of Galilee — where Rameh sits on the slopes of Mount Haidar — was once the world’s most important olive region.” [NYTimes]
Watch:TODAY, 4:15pm ET: Jewish Dems (JDCA) hosts a candidate forum for the FL-20 Democratic Primary.
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Around the Web
⚖️ Legal Ruling: The families of the 17 people fatally shot at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, and nearly three dozen other victims reached a $25 million settlement with the Broward County school district, a lawyer representing some of the families said on Tuesday.
📖 New Book: Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse, The Verge has reported.
🏠 Family Business: Jared Kushner’s family real-estate company appointed a non-family member to lead the business, after the former senior White House adviser said that he wouldn’t be returning.
🦠 Refuah Shlema: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms.
🤝 New Ties: Israel’s Start-Up Nation Central signed an agreement with the Dubai International Financial Centre on Tuesday to establish innovation-based business ties between the two countries.
🤵 Righteous Gentile: Portugal honored former diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who granted Jews visas during the Holocaust in defiance of dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.
🌐 International Moves: Iran and Russia announced they will form a joint military commission that will involve cooperation on military training and Russian arms sales to Iran after American sanctions are lifted.
👮 Old City Clashes: Israeli police arrested 22 Palestinians on Tuesday after clashes took place at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.
🕊️ Honorable Invite: Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan invited Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to visit the United Arab Emirates during a meeting between Bennett and the ambassadors of the UAE and Bahrain.
🌍 Expanding Accords: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised possible Saudi normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
☢️ Nuclear Option: International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi said that the international nuclear watchdog’s ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear program is no longer “intact.”
⭕ Therapeutic Treatment: Israeli startup Circles offers a unique virtual group-therapy service that connects users with other users undergoing similar experiences.
🚡 Flying Cars: Israeli startup AIR announced it aims to begin selling its electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles directly to consumers by 2024.
↗️ Promotion: U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine was sworn in as a four-star admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
⬆️ New Adviser: Daniel Bleiberg has been promoted to national security and foreign policy adviser for Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV). He previously served as Rosen’s legislative assistant.
🕯Remembering: David Finn, co-founder of public relations firm Ruder Finn, one of the most successful corporate PR firms to emerge after World War II, died on Monday, at 100.
Pic of the Day
A memorial at Berlin’s track 69 commemorates the deportation of 30,000 Jews from Berlin to East German extermination camps, which began 80 years ago this week.
Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Katamon area and a leading figure at the Israel Democracy Institute, Rabbi Binyamin “Benny” Lau turns 60…
Economist who earned the nickname “Dr. Doom” during his tenure as the chief economist at Salomon Brothers during the 1970s, Henry Kaufman, Ph.D. turns 94… Poet, essayist and literary critic, Robert Pinsky turns 81… Professor at Ben Gurion University, she is the daughter of former PM and President Shimon Peres, Tsvia Walden turns 75… One of two Grand Rebbes of Satmar, Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum turns 74… Miami Beach-based real estate developer, Russell W. Galbut turns 69… Actress and director of film and television, Melanie Mayron turns 69… Music composer for many films, winner of six Grammys and an Emmy Award, Thomas Newman turns 66… Former longtime House Budget Committee staff director, now an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University, Tom Kahn turns 66… U.S. senator (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse turns 66… Managing director and partner at Beacon Pointe Advisors, Jordan Heller turns 61… Russian TV and radio journalist, Vladimir Solovyov turns 58… Vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris turns 57… U.S. senator (D-HI), Brian Schatz turns 49… Classical violinist and a 2008 winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Leila Josefowicz turns 44… Film and television writer, David Caspe turns 43… Long Island regional director at AJC Global, Eric Post turns 39… Israeli born actress, she is a recurring character on CBS’s “Seal Team,” Alona Tal turns 38… Boston-based regional progressive outreach director at AIPAC, Michael Clark turns 32… Associate in the NYC office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Evan G. Zuckerman turns 32… Precocious twins from Ranana, Avi and Rafi Granoff turn 17…