👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Yesterday in D.C., Jewish Insider and The Circuit hosted an Insider Access lunch event at the UAE Embassy in Washington featuring U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog. The panel conversation, which was the first time the three ambassadors appeared together, was moderated by JI’s Washington correspondent Gabby Deutch.
The gathering, which took place on International Women’s Day, also honored female diplomats from the three countries.
Notable attendees included Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar, Egyptian Ambassador Motaz Mounir Zahran, UAE’s Deputy Chief of Mission Shaima Gargash, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jill Deutch, Sam Feist, Wolf Blitzer, Estee Portnoy, Hilary Smith Kapner, Norm Brownstein, David Krone, Mark Isakowitz, Alex Katz, William Daroff, Malcolm Hoenlein, Talal Alabsi, Dora Cattuti, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Rabbi Hyim Shafner, Jarrod Bernstein, Tamara Wittes, Rob Satloff, Aaron Lobel, Jason Isaacson, Sander Gerber, Hanna Gerber, Dana Al Marashi, Chris Isham, Ludo Hood, Natalie Gutman-Chen, Nathan Diament, Brian Shankman, Rob Greenway, Carmiel Arbit, Jacob Slone, Tim Hysom, Gabe Scheinmann, Amanda Berman, Ethan Bronner, Abba Cohen and Josh Kraushaar. Stay tuned for additional clips from the event this week.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog just landed in Ankara, Turkey, where he will meet today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This is the first high-level meeting between an Israeli leader and the Turkish president since 2008 and is being viewed by both sides as a first step towards warming ties between the two countries.
Before departing for Ankara, Herzog said, “Certainly at a time when the international order is being shaken, it is good and proper that stability and partnership be maintained in our region… We will not agree on everything, and the relationship between Israel and Turkey has certainly known ups and downs and not-so-simple moments in recent years, but we shall try to restart our relations and build them in a measured and cautious manner, and with mutual respect between our states.”
Herzog will be greeted at the president’s palace in a special ceremony beginning at 4 p.m. local time, with a military band set to play the national anthems of both countries. There will also be a 21-gun salute, after which the two leaders will hold closed meetings.
Since taking office last July, Herzog has spoken with Erdogan via phone several times. During the visit, which has been coordinated with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and their offices, the two presidents will discuss various bilateral issues, including Israel-Turkey relations and the potential for expanding collaboration between their respective states and peoples in various fields.
Following a state dinner at the palace on Wednesday evening, Herzog and his wife, Michal, will travel to Istanbul overnight and will meet with representatives of Turkey’s Jewish community on Thursday morning before returning to Israel.
grand canyon politics
Blake Masters wants to take back Arizona
Even by the fun-house standards of Republican politics in the swing state of Arizona — which has produced a rather colorful stream of election denialists, Nazi analogists and other far-right extremists who have gained notoriety in recent years — Blake Masters cuts an unusual profile.
The GOP Senate candidate and Peter Thiel protegé casts himself as a former libertarian who turned to conservatism after establishing what he describes as an early intellectual and emotional basis for former President Donald Trump’s brash neo-populist agenda.
And on many red-meat conservative fixations, Masters comes off as a relatively standard-issue Trump loyalist, warning repeatedly of the dangers of lax immigration policies, the Chinese Communist Party and Big Tech censorship. He has frequently denounced critical race theory as “anti-white racism.”
Masters, 35, has turned heads for other reasons, thanks in large part to a series of provocative campaign ads that have drawn national attention. During one notable spot, the chief operating officer of Thiel Capital, speaking over a foreboding soundtrack, brandished a short-barreled rifle “designed to kill people” — a demonstration of his gun-rights bona fides. Elsewhere, he falsely declared that “Trump won in 2020” and has said that Americans “should be able to raise a family on one single income.”
“Most politicians, left or right, don’t really talk that way,” Masters, a self-described “anti-progressive,” said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in late January. “I think I just really stand out,” he added, with characteristic bluster. “I’m the only one who’s not boring. I’m the only one who really, I think, understands the stakes.”
CIA chief says U.S. has ‘genuine concerns’ about Russians leveraging Iran negotiations
The U.S. has “genuine concerns” about how the Russians might leverage their role as negotiators in the Iran nuclear talks for their own benefit in Ukraine, CIA Director William Burns told the House Intelligence Committee yesterday, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Making demands: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has demanded written assurances that Ukraine-related sanctions would not prevent Moscow from trading with Iran under a renewed nuclear agreement, a demand the U.S. swiftly rejected. Russia’s chief nuclear negotiator also said this week that Iran “got much more than it could expect” in a renewed agreement.
Red flag: Burns, testifying alongside other U.S. intelligence community officials, said that the U.S. must “take seriously” and “pay careful attention to” the Russian officials’ comments about the Iran deal, adding that he does not “think we can just assume that [the comments are] bluster.”
Quotable: “How the Russians try to play that question of leverage… is a genuine concern,” he said. “I don’t think they exaggerate the influence of the leverage that they have. Over the years — and we’ll see what happens now given the depths of division over Ukraine. But what’s been remarkable over a number of years is the extent to which they’ve contributed to those negotiations. Now it remains to be seen whether that’s going to continue.”
Unrelated: While he noted that he is not directly involved in the negotiations, Burns said that he does not believe they are being impacted by efforts to shut Russian oil out of the global market or other factors related to the Ukraine conflict. “I think this is being done on the merits about whether it makes sense from the point of U.S. national interest to go back into the JCPOA, recognizing, as I said earlier, that we’ve got lots of other problems posed by this Iranian regime quite apart from the nuclear issue as well,” he explained.
Republicans again delay Deborah Lipstadt, Barbara Leaf committee votes
Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blocked votes on the Biden administration’s nominee to be the special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Deborah Lipstadt, and assistant secretary of state for near Eastern affairs nominee Barbara Leaf yesterday, delaying them until the as-yet-unscheduled next committee business meeting.
Try again: Any single committee member can ask that a scheduled vote be delayed by one meeting. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)blocked Leaf’s vote, as he did her initial committee vote last year. The committee subsequently approved Leaf last year, but needed to vote again when she was not confirmed by the end of 2021.
Who are you: A Senate Democratic source did not confirm which Republican blocked Lipstadt. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), whom Lipstadt has criticized on Twitter and who clashed with Lipstadt at her confirmation hearing, has been pushing fellow Republicans to oppose her. Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.
Getting heated: The committee’s chairman, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), appeared visibly frustrated by developments. He criticized widespread GOP obstruction of foreign policy nominees, saying that “this game is costing us.” He continued, “You don’t like a candidate, vote against them. But this process of just holding and holding and holding makes no sense whatsoever.”
Deadlock: Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) said he would not consent to scheduling a committee vote on Sarah Margon, the nominee for assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, whom Republicans have accused of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. In order to bring her to a committee vote over Risch’s objection, Menendez would need to break committee norms, a move he has sought to avoid. Risch urged the administration to put forth an alternate nominee.
🪧 Sticky Stance: The New York Times’ Dana Rubinstein and Katie Glueck look at how the Democratic Socialists of America’s stance on NATO and statements regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have created a “challenging dynamic” for New York legislators close to the group. “In New York City, Democratic congressional candidates are debating America’s role in the world. And even before D.S.A.’s most recent statement, City Council members were clashing over the history of American and NATO intervention. With a majority of Americans backing Ukraine as it struggles to repel a bloody, often live-streamed Russian invasion, the D.S.A.’s desire for a policy discussion about NATO appears to have sown unease in campaign circles: None of the nine New York City candidates the D.S.A. endorsed this year would consent to an interview on the topic, even as more centrist Democrats are now using the subject as a cudgel.” [NYTimes]
👵 Telling Her Story: In People Magazine, Diane Herbst interviews Bronia Brandman, the Holocaust survivor who met with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in late January. “In the first 50 years since she survived the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland, Bronia Brandman never spoke of the terror she faced during the Holocaust — not even with her children. ‘Not a word to anyone,’ Bronia, now 90, tells PEOPLE. ‘I didn’t think people would comprehend what happened.’ She still didn’t want to discuss it when she was being trained as a volunteer for the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan in 1996. But then a fellow volunteer spotted ‘52643’ tattooed on her left forearm — the Nazis forced Jewish prisoners to get tattoos as a form of identification — ‘and kept on bugging me to tell my story,’ she says. ‘I said, “Absolutely not.” But I was tired of her bothering me, so I took a tranquilizer and told my story to the group [at the museum]. They were amazed.’” [People]
Around the Web
🕍 Cash Infusion: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced plans to introduce a bill tripling Nonprofit Security Grant funding to $540 million.
📵 Call Drop: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed both reportedly declined requests to speak with President Joe Biden in recent weeks, reportedly over the Biden administration’s policies in Yemen.
🇺🇦 Ukraine Crisis: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that a “holocaust” is happening in Ukraine, noting that Congress is working to send upwards of $12 billion in assistance to the embattled country.
✡️ Across the Board: The House passed a bipartisan resolution yesterday condemning antisemitism and the hostage standoff in Colleyville, Texas.
📊 Survey Says: A new Fox News poll shows Pennsylvania Senate candidate David McCormick leading Dr. Mehmet Oz 24%-15% in the state’s Republican primary. A Fox News poll in neighboring Ohio has Mike Gibbons and Josh Mandel leading the GOP primary pack for the open Senate seat, with 22% and 20%, respectively.
💰 Crypto Challenge: Former Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon and former Israeli Ambassador to South Korea Uri Gutman are launching Silver Stone Global Partners, a cryptocurrency-based investment fund.
🎉 Ad 120: Tampa’s Fox13 News spotlights Nat Ross, a Holocaust survivor who turns 100 years old this week.
♀️ Herstory: The Washington Post tracks down the origin of International Women’s Day, which was first proposed more than a century ago by Russian-born Jewish activist Theresa Serber Malkiel, who immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager.
🛰️ Cosmic Claim: The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that it had sent a reconnaissance satellite into space, two years after it launched its first satellite into orbit.
🇶🇦 Go-Between: Doha has been acting as an intermediary between the U.S. and Iran, in parallel to the nuclear negotiations in Vienna that have been ongoing since the spring.
🛫 Ingathering: Israel said it would — temporarily — take in up to 25,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Eastern European nation amid Russia’s invasion of the country.
☎️ Bennett’s Diplomacy: Israeli officials said discussions regarding a cease-fire between Russian and Ukraine are at a pivotal juncture, following Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s back-to-back phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday.
💼 Transition: Paul Rosen, a partner at Crowell and Moring and a board member of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, was nominated to be assistant secretary for investment security in the Treasury Department’s Office of International Affairs.
Pic of the Day
JI’s Max Neuberger (left) and Gabby Deutch with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog and UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba at Jewish Insider‘s Insider Access lunch event yesterday at the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C.
First-round pick by the San Jose Sharks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Ozzy Wiesblatt turns 20…
Professor emeritus of sociology and Jewish studies at the University of Toronto, Y. Michal Bodemann turns 78… Sag Harbor-based painter, sculptor and printmaker, Eric Fischl turns 74… Radio and television journalist, he hosts the public radio program “Science Friday,” Ira Flatow turns 73… Author and political journalist, Michael Kinsley turns 71… Member of the Knesset from 1989 to 2021, he has served in many cabinet roles, now chairman of Israel Aerospace Industries, Amir Peretz turns 70… President and CEO of NYC’s flagship public TV station WNET, Neal Shapiro turns 64… Susan Liebman turns 62… Founder and president of NYC-based Gotham Media Strategies, Gordon Platt turns 60… CEO, chairman and controlling shareholder of Quontic Bank based in New York, Steven Schnall turns 55… VP and head of global communications and public affairs for Meta / Facebook, David I. Ginsberg turns 47… SVP at the D.E. Shaw group, Matthew Vogel turns 44… CEO of the Trevor Project, Amit Paley turns 40… Co-founder and CEO at ImpactTechNation, Hanan Rubin turns 40… Israeli-born singer, now one-half of the world music duo Shlomit & RebbeSoul, Shlomit Levi turns 39… Washington, D.C.-based journalist, Menachem Wecker turns 39… Partner in the Los Angeles office of Bocarsly Emden Cowan Esmail & Arndt, Rachel Rosner turns 38… Communications director for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Alissa “Sadie” Weiner turns 35… CEO at New Orleans-based QED Hospitality, Emery Whalen turns 35… Pitcher for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Jared Lakind turns 30… Founding partner of Mothership Strategies, Jacob “Jake” Austin Lipsett turns 29… Director of adult education and Israel engagement at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County (FL), Marla Topiol turns 29… Private equity and venture capital investor, Howie Fialkov… Stephen Lent…