👋 Good Tuesday morning!
All 25 Jewish House Democrats came together to issue a rare joint statement on Monday condemning Amnesty International USA Executive Director Paul O’Brien’s comments that American Jews do not want Israel to be a Jewish state, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
“We are in full agreement that Mr. O’Brien’s patronizing attempt to speak on behalf of the American Jewish community is alarming and deeply offensive. He has added his name to the list of those who, across centuries, have tried to deny and usurp the Jewish people’s independent agency,” the statement reads. “We stand united in condemning this and any antisemitic attempt to deny the Jewish people control of their own destiny.”
The statement calls O’Brien’s comments, first reported by JI’s Gabby Deutch last week, “a new, very disturbing step” and accuses him of “purporting to speak for the entire Jewish community on Israel.”
The House members acknowledge in the statement that they represent a range of views on Israel-related issues, and several are vocally critical of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. The statement further notes that “a number of members condemned” Amnesty International’s recent report accusing Israel of apartheid “as delegitimizing of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and undermining of the prospects for a two-state solution.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) re-tweeted the statement, saying he is “proud to stand with Jewish Democratic Members of Congress as they speak out against the antisemitic statement by the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA that denies the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland of Israel.”
Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Don Bacon (R-NE) also expressed their support for their Jewish colleagues.
In response to O’Brien’s false claim that Jewish Insider misattributed his quotes, JI published the full audio of his lecture and his conversation with our reporter following his speech. Read the transcripts of the portions JI quoted and listen to the full audio here.
UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba spoke about the speed of normalization between Israel and the UAE at JI’s Insider Access event last week. “I think it’s important to kind of just recognize how fast it went, and how successful it’s been,” Al Otaiba said. Stay tuned for more clips from the conversation.
near unanimous consent
All Republican senators except Rand Paul express opposition to looming Iran deal
All but one Republican senator — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — joined a statement to President Joe Biden on Monday expressing opposition to a renewed nuclear agreement with Iran, which has yet to be finalized, and vowing to oppose any attempts to withdraw terrorism sanctions, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
No deal: “By every indication, the Biden Administration appears to have given away the store,” the statement reads. “The administration appears to have agreed to lift sanctions that were not even placed on Iran for its nuclear activities in the first place, but instead because of its ongoing support for terrorism and its gross abuses of human rights.” The senators added that they plan to force Senate votes on any attempts to withdraw terrorism-related sanctions on Iran — and will seek to reimpose them.
Falling short: The senators also accused the administration of failing to “adequately consult” with Congress about the deal and said the administration has “thus far refused to commit” to congressional review of the deal, either as a treaty or under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. The signatories claimed that the nuclear restrictions in the new agreement will also be less stringent than in the original 2015 deal and will make it more difficult for the U.S. to reach a “longer and stronger” follow-on deal, which administration officials, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken, have said is their goal.
Conditions: “Republicans have made it clear: We would be willing and eager to support an Iran policy that completely blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability, constrains Iran’s ballistic missile program, and confronts Iran’s support for terrorism,” the statement reads. “But if the administration agrees to a deal that fails to achieve these objectives or makes achieving them more difficult, Republicans will do everything in our power to reverse it.”
Outlier: In a statement to JI, Paul said, “Condemning a deal that is not yet formulated is akin to condemning diplomacy itself, not a very thoughtful position.”
Returning from J Street trip to Israel, Dems emphasize ‘urgency’ of two-state solution
Longtime Rep. David Price (D-NC) slammed successive Israeli and American administrations for what he described as “a 20-year failure of Israeli and U.S. policy to figure out how to support the more moderate Palestinian forces that might be a partner for peace,” in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod following a trip to the region last month.
Overhaul: The congressman added that he does not “see any [permanent political] solution that doesn’t involve a kind of reconstituting of [Palestinian] political leadership and a moderate, mainstream approach to politics and policy on the Palestinian side. And it behooves all of us who are involved in this to figure out how to encourage that.” Price particularly blamed former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for painting “all Palestinian leaders with the same brush, as if to assure there was no partner for peace.”
Leaving on a jet plane: Price led a J Street delegation — including Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Sean Casten (D-IL), Jason Crow (D-CO), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and Jared Huffman (D-CA) — which spent five days in late February in Israel and the West Bank. JI spoke to Price and Dean in early March.
Coalition check-in: Dean said that the group heard in conversations in Israel that prospects for broader peace are likely slim until Foreign Minister Yair Lapid takes over as prime minister from Naftali Bennett next year as part of their power-sharing arrangement. Price added that he does not want to see the fragility of the coalition government “become a kind of all-purpose excuse for not taking on the tough issues.”
Sitdown: Price said the group raised a range of issues in a meeting with Lapid, including concerns about settlements and the lawmakers’ desire to see the reopening of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which has historically served Palestinians. “We gave a broad perspective of friendship and support for Israel — that’s uniform among our 10 members,” he said. “But we think that the best way to express support for that is in expressing support for a resolution of this conflict, and that it’s illusory and deceptive and dangerous to let this thing slide.” Price said Lapid urged the group to communicate its criticisms and told participants, “the best way to express friendship is to be honest.”
Republican LGs to arrive in Israel on Friday for weeklong trade mission
A delegation of six Republican lieutenant governors will arrive in Israel on Friday for a weeklong trade mission sponsored by the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF), a GOP advocacy group. The trip, which concludes on March 25, “will provide the lieutenant governors with a greater understanding of the American-Israeli alliance and how their individual states can continue to benefit from the economic partnership the two nations share,” Andrew Romeo, a spokesperson for the SGLF, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Who’s going: Participants will include Jeanette Nuñez of Florida, Suzanne Crouch of Indiana, Mike Foley of Nebraska, Pamela Evette of South Carolina, Deidre Henderson of Utah and mission chair Adam Gregg of Iowa. Jon Husted, the lieutenant governor of Ohio, had originally been scheduled to join the delegation but is no longer going because of a scheduling conflict, according to Romeo.
‘Critical trade partner’: “Israel is a global leader in innovation, a strategic ally for America and a critical trade partner for Florida,” Nuñez said in a statement to JI. The trade mission, she added, “will allow us to deepen our understanding between America and Israel as we continue to strengthen our long-standing partnership.”
Who they’re meeting: The delegation is scheduled to meet with a number of high-ranking Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll, according to a tentative itinerary shared with JI. The lieutenant governors will also hold discussions with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer.
Show of solidarity: The SGLF — the policy arm of the Republican State Leadership Committee — led a similar mission in 2016. The group announced a second trip last August as a show of solidarity following the Gaza conflict as well as an announcement from Ben & Jerry’s that the company would end sales in what it referred to as “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The upcoming visit to Israel, Crouch told JI, “will allow us to make clear that we will continue to stand with them as a political and economic ally.”
⚔️ Choosing Sides: The Atlantic’s Eliot Cohen suggests that the Biden administration needs to bolster its support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, which he describes as a proxy war between Russia and the U.S. and NATO allies. “This is a war of desperate importance not just to Europe but to international order and freedom everywhere. American officials need to rise to the moment. They cannot snipe on or off the record at allies, they cannot dodge the extent of what needs doing, and they most definitely cannot talk as though they are afraid of what Putin may do. That is the most ruinous error of all. They need to say, and say repeatedly, that a Russian war with NATO would only consummate the destruction that the Russian military is suffering at this very moment.” [TheAtlantic]
🇮🇷 Pressure Campaign: In the National Interest, Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Orde Kittrie argues against lifting sanctions on top Iranian officials. “Lifting sanctions on these Iranian human rights abusers and terrorism sponsors would send a dangerous message of impunity to Vladimir Putin and his henchmen at a time when they are committing war crimes in Ukraine and human rights abuses in Russia. Such a decision is contrary to America’s values, would wrongly abandon the Islamic Republic’s many victims — including hundreds of current political prisoners and detainees — and would also weaken deterrence against future abuses in Iran and make it harder for the Iranian people to liberate themselves from the Iranian regime. Iran saw mass uprisings in 2018, 2019, and 2020; the regime reportedly killed 1,500 demonstrators in November 2019 alone. The regime’s repression is likely to cause even more mass uprisings in the future. If Washington lifts these sanctions, Iranian officials will have even fewer worries about the personal price they might pay for crushing new uprisings.” [NationalInterest]
📙 Job’s Genius: In Slate, Abraham Riesman explores the lessons he learned from reading the Book of Job. “Absent the book’s likely tacked-on epilogue, the Book of Job teaches that there is no final victory, no ultimate divine deliverance. As I think about how to respond to the concurrent cataclysms threatening the nation and the globe, I at least want to be Job — not a person with divine patience, but one who cares so much for his fellow mortals that he will spit acidic truth into the face of the Lord to the very end. What’s the alternative? Giving up? Waiting for oblivion? Such an attitude is its own kind of submissive patience. It’s understandable — but when things inevitably get even darker than they are today, it will be about as useful as waiting for God to save the day. What Job has given me is not exactly hope. But it’s something.” [Slate]
🧁 Sweet Remembrance: The New York Times’ Dan Barry pens a paean to Charles Entenmann, who scaled up his family’s bakery business to become a brand with broad appeal — and a regular presence at Shabbat gatherings. “But Long Island working-class families like mine believed that a box of Entenmann’s conveyed class. It would be on proud display in the kitchen, prominent on the refrigerator or displacing plastic flowers as the table centerpiece. Sometimes, several boxes would be on exhibit, but not for reasons of ostentation. They merely meant that someone had made the six-mile trip to the discount outlet adjacent to the Entenmann’s plant, an industrial behemoth churning through a million eggs a week. The Entenmann cognoscenti would plan their visits like wartime generals, calculating dates of expiration to determine the best time to attack — that is, to shop.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
📞 Phoning In: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a 90-minute phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, and also spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
🗣️ Making Promises: In a phone call with Ukrainian Foriegn Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid reportedly assured his Ukrainian counterpart that Israel will not allow Russia to bypass international sanctions.
⛔ Sanctions Struggle: Israel is facing pressure to join the international community in leveling sanctions against Russian businessmen — some with Israeli citizenship — with ties to Moscow.
🛫 Plane-Spotting: Roman Abramovich was spotted at Ben-Gurion Airport shortly before a plane linked to him left for Turkey.
🚶 The New Exodus: The Associated Press spotlights Rabbi Julia Gris, Ukraine’s only female rabbi, who fled the country earlier this month after a 20-mile walk to the Polish border.
📧 In Black and White: The deputy treasurer of the Maryland Democratic Party stepped down after the leak of a December email in which she made comments about the electability of Black gubernatorial candidates in the state.
💻 Site Sabotage: Israeli governmental websites — including the site for the Prime Minister’s Office — were taken down in a cyberattack on Monday, with the culprits still at large.
🛡️ Playing it Safe: Emirati and Israeli leaders are asking U.S. officials to create a regional security strategy in the event that Washington enters into a new nuclear agreement with Iran.
🕊️ Dove Stance: After speaking with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who is scheduled to travel to Moscow today, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Iran opposes Russia’s war in Ukraine.
☢️ Nuke Plot: Iran said it foiled a sabotage plot at its Fordow nuclear facility that it alleged was orchestrated by Israel.
🕯️ Remembering: Neurophysiologist Anne Beaumanoir, who sheltered Jews in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, died at 98. Attorney Bernard Nussbaum, who served as White House counsel for the first 14 months of former President Bill Clinton’s first term, died at 84.
Pic of the Day
A Moroccan Royal Air Maroc (RAM) Boeing 787-9 “Dreamliner” aircraft is given a welcoming water salute upon landing at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday, after flying RAM’s first commercial flight between the two countries since the signing of the Abraham Accords.
Retired MLB infielder, he now owns Loma Brewing, a brew pub in Los Gatos, Calif., Kevin Youkilis turns 43…
Theoretical chemist and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Martin Karplus turns 92… Emmy, Golden Globe, and Tony Award-winning actor, Judd Hirsch turns 87… Founder of Baer & McGoldrick (now Schulte, Roth & Zabel) and a film producer, Thomas H. Baer turns 85… UCLA professor, biochemist and biophysicist, David S. Eisenberg turns 83… First-ever New York City Public Advocate and author of 23 books, Mark J. Green turns 77… British businessman and philanthropist, Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green turns 70… Managing member at Buena Vista Fund Management in San Francisco, Robert Mendel Rosner turns 66… Animator and director of numerous episodes of “The Simpsons,” David Silverman turns 65… Real estate agent at Signature Realty Associates in the Tampa and Florida Gulf Coast market, Ze’ev “Wolf” Bar-El turns 65… Los Angeles-based writer, director and producer, Andrea Blaugrund Nevins turns 60… Freelance writer and consultant, Bathsheva Gladstone turns 58… AVP of JFNA’s LiveSecure program, Debra Barton Grant turns 53… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Amir Ohana turns 46… Global business editor for Defense One, Marcus Weisgerber turns 40… Psychotherapist at North Raleigh Mental Health & Wellness, Mindy Beth Reinstein Brodsky turns 39… Member of the New York State Assembly for the northeast portions of Queens, Nily Rozic turns 36… Board member at the African Middle Eastern Leadership (AMEL) Project, Justin Hefter turns 33… College admissions advisor for Veritas Prep, Max J. Schindler… and Max’s twin sister, Rachel Schindler, co-founder of Punchbowl News, both turn 30… Zach Shartiag turns 29… Professional wrestler, Maxwell Jacob Friedman turns 26…