👋 Good Tuesday morning!
It’s primary day in Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia, and runoff day in Texas.
After Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-NC) primary defeat last week, eyes are on Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, where Cawthorn ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is fending off a primary challenge from businesswoman Jennifer Strahan and five others hoping to unseat the controversial freshman. Strahan has the backing of the Republican Jewish Coalition PAC, which made its rare endorsement against a sitting member of Congress in March.
In Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA) go head to head in the newly drawn district in Atlanta’s northeastern suburbs. McBath has the backing of AIPAC and nabbed an endorsement from Democratic Majority for Israel last week, while Bourdeaux was endorsed by J Street PAC, which backed her in 2020. More on the Georgia 7th race below.
Georgia’s runoff rule dictates that a candidate needs to hit 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff, increasing the likelihood that at least one of the races goes until June.
It’s déjà vu in Texas as Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) attempts to fend off a challenge from progressive activist and attorney Jessica Cisneros, who is endorsed by J Street. Cuellar pulled ahead of Cisneros when she primaried him in 2020, eking out a 52-48 percent win that year. The United Democracy Project, AIPAC’s super PAC, has poured $2 million into the district to boost Cuellar in the run-up to the runoff. The recent leak of a SCOTUS draft opinion on Roe v. Wade has complicated efforts by Cuellar — the only Democrat in Congress who does not support abortion rights — to hold the seat.
Two state-wide races in Georgia are set to provide critical tests of former President Donad Trump’s continued influence over the GOP. The Republican gubernatorial and secretary of state primaries pit Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — who became targets of Trump for refusing to cooperate with his efforts to reverse the state’s 2020 presidential election results — against former Sen. David Perdue and Rep. Jody Hice, both of whom were endorsed by Trump. Perdue is expected to lose by a sizable margin, while polling shows the Raffensperger/Hice race as being much closer.
Socialist staffer on Jamaal Bowman’s team details congressman’s efforts to placate DSA
Since he assumed office last year, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) has frequently found himself at odds with a high-profile far-left ally — the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) — over differing approaches to Israel. While the details of such tensions have been largely unreported, a letter written by a Bowman staffer and posted to a private DSA message board outlines the extent to which the congressman’s office has, even amid fierce opposition, worked behind the scenes to reassure DSA leadership that Bowman remains broadly aligned with the group’s approach to Middle East policy, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
‘Organizational crisis’: The letter — recently obtained by Jewish Insider — was written by Rajiv Sicora, a senior policy adviser in Bowman’s legislative office who describes himself as “a longtime socialist and one of several DSA members on the team.” “I support BDS, and have nothing but respect and solidarity for the many people who are trying in good faith to prioritize Palestine solidarity work in DSA,” Sicora, who focuses on climate and energy policy, wrote. “I’m posting here from a place of distress about the organizational crisis we find ourselves in. I want to offer some crucial context, clear up some profound misunderstandings, and offer a plea for deescalation.”
Clearing the air: The letter was published in mid-March, according to a source familiar with the DSA message board. It came shortly after the DSA’s National Political Committee had disbanded its BDS and Palestine Solidarity working group, following tensions with Bowman that had also exposed divisions within the DSA itself. “Nobody is under any obligation to like Bowman, and certainly not to re-endorse him,” Sicora explained in the letter. “But please understand that throughout this process, you’ve been repeatedly lied to by certain leaders of the anti-Bowman camp.”
Bowman’s response: Sicora did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement to JI, Bowman said, “This staffer is speaking in their personal capacity and they do not handle foreign affairs. All foreign affairs are handled by the Chief of Staff.”
Meeting ‘demands’: Bowman, a high-profile Squad member and former Bronx principal, isn’t the only DSA-backed House candidate this cycle who has butted heads with the grassroots advocacy group. But he appears to have taken a more conciliatory route, notwithstanding calls for his expulsion that had left him “blindsided” and “understandably pissed,” according to Sicora’s letter. “Nevertheless, Bowman immediately entered into a discussion with” the DSA’s BDS working group “about how to deescalate and find a way forward,” Sicora wrote, noting that Bowman had been presented with a series of “demands” in order to patch things over after his Israel trip.
georgia on the mind
AIPAC and DMFI back McBath over Bourdeaux in Georgia
Today’s Democratic primary in Georgia’s newly drawn 7th Congressional District is set to decide which one of two incumbent Democrats will likely go on to win the November general election in the solidly blue district. The district, which encompasses Gwinnett County and suburban areas to the northeast of Atlanta, is also garnering attention from Israel-related national groups, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: The two leading candidates, current Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA) and Lucy McBath (D-GA), have served in Congress for one and two terms, respectively. They have voted together 99% of the time in this Congress. Unlike Michigan’s 11th Congressional District and Illinois’ 6th District, where differences over approaches to Israel have taken center stage, the two legislators are largely aligned when it comes to Israel — but pro-Israel groups are divided.
Flipping the script: In an inversion of usual patterns, McBath — who has the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — has been endorsed by Democratic Majority for Israel and AIPAC. The freshman Bourdeaux — a Blue Dog who teamed up with a group of centrist insurgents led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) during the debate over the infrastructure bill and Build Back Better package last year — is backed by J Street, which also endorsed her in 2020. Both candidates were supported by DMFI in 2020.
Allies: “We have had a close relationship with Congresswoman McBath since her election to Congress, and she has clearly demonstrated her strong support for the U.S.-Israel relationship during her entire tenure in the House,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told Jewish Insider. McBath joined the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation’s Israel trip during her first term in August 2019. An individual familiar with the matter told JI that pro-Israel donors had contributed nearly $100,000 to McBath this cycle.
Other side: Jeanney Kutner, a member of J Street’s local steering committee in Atlanta, told JI that J Street’s repeated attempts to engage with McBath have gone largely unreciprocated. “I have worked very hard with Congresswoman McBath and her staff before — but not in this cycle — for her to go to Israel with J Street, to fill out our [endorsement] form, to look at our position papers,” Kutner told JI. “And I never could get anybody’s attention.” Bourdeaux frequently meets with J Street representatives, Kutner noted.
race to watch
A small-town Michigan mayor takes on Rashida Tlaib
The Democratic primary race in Michigan’s 12th Congressional District became a three-way contest last month with Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett’s entrance into the race against Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — a development that could shake up efforts to unseat the divisive incumbent in the August primary, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Representation: “It’s nothing against Rashida personally, but I know that the politics that I have seen and what she’s demonstrated is not the politics of most of the people and the constituents that I represent here,” Garrett told Jewish Insider earlier this month. “You have some progressives that might be in our area, but it’s a wide range.”
Multiple choice: The Lathrup mayor will not only have to defeat Tlaib in this August’s primary election, but also Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson. Adrian Hemond, a Michigan political consultant, told JI that Garrett has strong name recognition in “large parts of this district” but emphasized that her late start in fundraising sets her behind Tlaib and Winfrey, especially with absentee ballots for the primary race set to go out soon. Hemond speculated that Garrett and Winfrey also risk splitting some support from Black voters in Detroit and the Jewish community, groups that have not traditionally supported Tlaib.
Israel on the mind: Garrett told JI that she supports security assistance to Israel and a two-state solution, and said that she found opposition to supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system “disturbing,” given the system’s lifesaving potential. In a position paper, Garrett argued that the Palestinians must take the first step toward a two-state solution by “returning genuinely to the negotiating table” and ending support for terrorism, including the Palestinian Authority’s payments to the families of terrorists. She also urged Israel to “demonstrate its commitment” by halting new settlement construction and ending discussions of unilateral annexation..
🇫🇷 French Twist: The New York Times’ Aurelien Breeden spotlights new French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, whose grandfather and uncle were killed in Auschwitz and whose father became a Resistance fighter during WWII. “Ms. Borne’s father, Joseph Bornstein, a Jew who was part of the resistance in Nazi-occupied France and who survived deportation to Auschwitz, killed himself when she was 11 years old. Her parents’ pharmaceutical business in Paris had gone bankrupt, abruptly interrupting the family’s middle-class life and throwing Ms. Borne, her sister and their mother into dire financial straits… Nicolas Lebourg, a French historian and political scientist who wrote recently about Joseph Bornstein’s detention in French camps during World War II, said that the new prime minister’s past resonated because it exemplified integration. ‘You have a story that leads you, in two generations, from foreigners arrested by the French police, detained in French camps because they are Jewish, and who became French, to a prime minister,’ Mr. Lebourg said.” [NYTimes]
🕍 Praying in Safety: In The Hill, Secure Community Network CEO Michael Masters and Howard University President Wayne Frederick call on legislators to provide increased support to nonprofits and minority institutions for security purposes. “As part of President Biden’s budget proposal, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security supports calls for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to double in funding from $180 million to $360 million. Unfortunately, even this level of funding is below the $400 million in grant funding sought by nonprofit facilities last year. Given the recent surge in extremist threats, the need for funds is even higher today. These grants have been used by nonprofits and faith-based communities to add electric locks on doors, place panic buttons in school classrooms, install cameras, build new security gates and strengthen glass doors and exterior windows. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the hostages from Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, credited the Nonprofit Security Grant Program for updated cameras that provided vital information to the police and FBI during the hostage incident.” [TheHill]
🥅 Settlement Shift: In Foreign Policy, Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot propose that the Biden administration should adjust its response to announcements of new Israeli settlement construction. “For the United States to harangue Israel’s government every time new housing units in the West Bank are announced will achieve nothing. A more realistic approach would be to focus protests and pressure against any attempt to significantly change the status quo — while actively nudging Israel into building in existing settlements within the recognized blocks. Fighting overall population growth rates is a fool’s errand that will harm bilateral relations and fail. And that is because it is really not government policy that is expanding the settler population in the West Bank. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are making decisions on family size and, like families everywhere, don’t want their government to interfere with those decisions. Which, realistically, it won’t.” [FP]
🪦 Act of Remembrance: The New York Times’ Liam Stack looks at Operation Benjamin, an effort begun by amateur historian Shalom Lamm to replace the crosses on graves of American Jewish service members who died during WWII with Stars of David. “‘I am almost embarrassed to say how we did this: We took a soldier whose name sounded Jewish,’ Mr. Lamm said. ‘We said “Hey, Benjamin Garadetsky is buried under a cross, maybe he is Jewish.” And lo and behold, it turned out he was Jewish.’ Mr. Lamm tracked down and contacted Mr. Garadetsky’s descendants. He learned that Mr. Garadetsky had been a Russian immigrant who lived in the Bronx before his military service, and whose parents were buried in a Jewish cemetery not far from Mr. Lamm’s home on Long Island. Mr. Garadetsky’s grave was rededicated in 2018. After that, Mr. Lamm started Operation Benjamin, naming the project after this first soldier whose background he had researched.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🗣️ Island Time: The Biden administration is reportedly involved in negotiations between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel to transfer control of two Egyptian islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia — an effort that, if successful, could lay the groundwork for potential normalization between Riyadh and Jerusalem.
🐘 2024 Watch: Former Vice President Mike Pence is positioning himself for a potential 2024 presidential run — whether or not former President Donald Trump enters the race — including a recent campaign stop in Georgia to support Gov. Brian Kemp.
🗳️ Third Time’s a Charm?: Suraj Patel, who challenged Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in the 2018 and 2020 Democratic primaries, will run in the newly created 12th Congressional District, where he will face off against Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in addition to Maloney in the August primary.
📖 Better Late Than Never: Following a delay of more than a year, a long-awaited Holocaust education bill finally passed the New York State Assembly on Monday. “In 1994, New York mandated Holocaust education in schools,” Nily Rozic, a Democratic assemblywoman in Queens, told JI via text. “I introduced this bill in 2017 after a Pew Research study showed Millennials had some of the lowest Holocaust knowledge in the country…This bill is a straightforward audit to help us understand which schools are or are not in compliance with the mandate.”
🎓 Campus Beat: Georgetown University President John DeGioia apologized for a recent Facebook post in which he said that “our lives have been interrupted by incidents of violence and hatred,” citing the recent attack at a Buffalo supermarket and the death of an Al Jazeera journalist in the West Bank, noting that “mourners at her funeral were attacked by Israeli police forces.”
💰 Capital Coffers: The Wall Street Journal spotlights Gil Mandelzis’ Capitolis Inc., which aims to match investor funds with bank transactions and is now used by big names including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.
✈️ Turkish Trip: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to Israel this week for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials, including Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, as Ankara seeks a reset in regional relations.
🏦 Rate Raise: The Bank of Israel raised interest rates 0.4 percentage points to 0.75%, a larger-than-anticipated hike, in the country’s effort to curb inflation.
🇮🇷 Seeking Revenge: Iran vowed to take revenge following the killing of IRGC Col. Sayad Khodai in Tehran on Sunday.
✍️ Forced Confession: A British-Iranian dual citizen who was arrested in Tehran in 2016 on charges of espionage said she was forced to sign a fake confession as a condition of her release earlier this year.
🛢️ Crude Friends: Iran and Oman have reportedly reached a deal to develop the Hengam oil fields in the Persian Gulf.
🕯️ Remembering: Longtime Israeli radio broadcaster Yitzhak Noy died at 80.
Pic of the Day
A new exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Greece in Athens displays, many for the first time, inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek that document the presence of Jews in ancient Greece since the fourth century BCE.
Co-founder of the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, he’s written about in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, Herbert Wachtell turns 90…
Professor emeritus at Brooklyn College and painter whose realist artworks appear in over 70 public art museums, Philip Pearlstein turns 98… Biographer of religious, business and political figures, Deborah Hart Strober… Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, his Hebrew name is Shabsi Zissel, he is one of the most influential singer-songwriters of his generation, Bob Dylan turns 81… Santa Fe, New Mexico-based social media and Internet marketing consultant, Israel Sushman turns 74… Member of Congress since 2007 (D-TN), he is Tennessee’s first Jewish congressman, Stephen Ira “Steve” Cohen turns 73… Director of planned giving at American Society for Yad Vashem, Robert Christopher Morton… Former Mexican secretary of foreign affairs, Jorge Castañeda Gutman turns 69… First-ever Jewish member of the parliament in Finland, first elected in 1979, in 2011 he was elected as the acting speaker of the Finnish parliament, Ben Zyskowicz turns 68… Constitutional historian, lecturer and writer, Richard B. Bernstein turns 66… Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer, Michael Chabon turns 59… Former U.S. ambassador to Singapore, now general counsel of KraneShares, David Adelman turns 58… Debby Goldberg… Ukrainian businessman, collector of modern and contemporary art and politician, Hennadiy Korban turns 52… In 2019, he became the first Israeli winner of an Academy Award in four decades for the Best Live Action Short, Guy Nattiv turns 49… Swedish criminal defense lawyer, author and fashion model, Jens Jacob Lapidus turns 48… Actor, who starred in the HBO original series “How to Make It in America,” Bryan Greenberg turns 44… Host of “Serving Up Science” at PBS Digital Studios, Sheril Kirshenbaum turns 42… Chief of staff at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Benjamin E. Milakofsky… Travel blogger Drew “Binsky” Goldberg turns 31…