👋 Good Wednesday morning!
New York Gov. Kathy Hochulannounced on Tuesday that Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) will serve as her lieutenant governor and will replace Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who stepped down last month after being indicted on federal bribery charges, on the ballot.
Delgado’s appointment opens up his seat representing New York’s 19th Congressional District, an expansive area covering the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains. Delgado — who won a crowded primary in 2018 and went on to defeat Rep. John Faso (R-NY) during that year’s “blue wave” — was set to square off against Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who challenged then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2020.
Around the district on Tuesday, two names were consistently floated among political observers as replacements for Delgado: Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan and state Sen. Michelle Hinchey. (Read our 2020 profile of Hinchey here.)
“It’s Michelle vs. Pat,” one Ulster County politico with knowledge of local Democratic politics told JI. Ryan finished second in the 2018 primary, receiving 18% of the vote to Delgado’s 21%. Hinchey, who was elected to the state Senate in 2020, is the daughter of former Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who represented the district for two decades until his retirement in 2013. She’s the current chair of the state Senate’s Agriculture Committee.
In April 2021, Ryan, a veteran, launched Serve NY PAC, which backs candidates with a history of government or community service. Ryan raised $1.7 million during his 2018 congressional run.
The final contours of the district are in question after the New York Court of Appeals ruled last month that the congressional map drafted by Democrats and approved by Hochul was unconstitutional. Last week, the Cook Political Report shifted the district from “Likely Democratic” to “Lean Democratic.”
In Ohio, author J.D. Vance won the contested Republican primary for Senate, beating out state Sen. Matt Dolan and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel. In the general election, Vance, who received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, will face off against Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who secured the Democratic nomination.
In Indiana’s Republican primary last night, state Sen. Erin Houchin, backed by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), picked up the nomination in the 9th Congressional District, and is expected to have an easy path to Congress.
In Indiana’s 1st District, the Trump-aligned Jennifer-Ruth Green, endorsed by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), will go on to challenge incumbent Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-IN).
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is testifying again today at budget hearings with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.
Shontel Brown notches primary win: ‘This was a faith fight’
As a cluster of gathering storm clouds prepared to burst just after polls closed on Tuesday evening, the stage had been set for an appropriately cathartic end to the bitter primary rematch between Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) and Nina Turner in Cleveland and its surrounding suburbs. With two-thirds of the vote, Brown claimed a decisive victory over her opponent, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports from Cleveland, setting her up to win her first full House term in November and bolstering her position as the establishment heir to Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. “This was a faith fight,” Brown said last night at a post-industrial event space in downtown Cleveland. “It’s always been a faith fight for me. The first time, the odds were stacked against us.”
Who’s who: The party was attended by a number of local Democratic officials, most notably Justin Bibb, Cleveland’s newly elected mayor. While Turner endorsed Bibb when he ran for mayor last year, he did not return the favor in the primary and instead threw his support behind Brown, who has built strong ties with Cleveland’s Democratic establishment as a Cuyahoga County party chair. “I don’t care what you call it — progressive, Democrat, I want a fighter in D.C.,” Bibb said last night, drawing snickers from the audience.
Rabbi in the room: Pinchas Landis, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who lives in the suburb of University Heights and delivered remarks at Brown’s event, suggested that the Jewish voters had stood with Brown. “We saw a woman who brought this community together,” he explained. “Seriously, by a show of hands, how many of you, on a Tuesday night in May, would be listening to a rabbi speak in downtown Cleveland? Seriously now, come on! Yet here we are!… For the Jewish community especially, times are tough. As I’m sure you know, there’s been a rise in antisemitism. There’s more Jew-hatred in the world right now than ever before. So, to have a congresswoman who’s willing to stand up and cosponsor legislation supporting the State of Israel or to stand up and tweet that antisemitism has to stop — that is something that truly is remarkable.”
Going national: After her second loss to Brown, Turner turned her sights to 2024, saying, “Just like King James, LeBron James, decided to take his skills to South Beach, what Sister Turner is gonna do is continue taking my skills all over this nation. And I’m gonna see some folks in 2024.”
Bonus: Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who was in Cleveland to campaign for Brown, expressed an affinity for Brown as a self-identified progressive who, at the same time, has remained vocally supportive of Israel, in an interview with JI. “Shontel is a national symbol of a central truth,” Torres mused, “that you can be both progressive and pro-Israel. That the notion that you cannot be both is a vicious lie that should and must be finally put to rest.” Read the full interview here.
Mnuchin: U.S. stance toward Ukraine could reverberate in Mideast, Iran
Washington’s approach toward Ukraine could reverberate in its dealings with Iran and in relationships with Middle East nations, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. Washington’s decision not to more strongly come to Ukraine’s aid militarily when the U.S. urged Ukraine to abandon its nuclear weapons three decades ago, Mnuchin argued, could send signals that the U.S. will not honor its nuclear commitments as it works toward a nuclear-free Iran, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
History lesson: “Ukraine had the third-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, and post the Cold War, there was an agreement entered into to dismantle those nuclear weapons, signed by the United States, the U.K. and Russia, effectively guaranteeing the borders,” Mnuchin told a packed crowd at a morning panel about the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Not the answer: “Other countries that either have nuclear weapons or want nuclear weapons — Iran is something I’m very concerned about — we need to make it clear that if we say you don’t have nuclear weapons, and we support you, we’ll support you, and that nuclear weapons are not the answer,” added Mnuchin.
Price hike: Mnuchin was joined on the panel by Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who grew up in Ukraine. She urged the Biden administration to take a stronger position on Ukraine, arguing that sanctioning Russian energy might lead to higher oil prices, but for a brief period of time — and that her constituents can handle it. “Do you want to have a shorter pain, maybe deeper, or do you want to have a prolonged pain for a long time? The economy is very strong. We can clean it up,” said Spartz.
More the merrier
Biden hopes to recruit new Arab country for Abraham Accords, Israel envoy says
As President Joe Biden assembles the agenda for his first Middle East visit since taking office, his administration is trying to coax at least one more Arab nation to join the Abraham Accords and normalize relations with Israel, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said on Tuesday, The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger reports.
What he said: “My job personally is to go deeper with the countries we have, and the [job of the] White House is to go wider and bring more countries into the forum,” Biden’s envoy to Israel said in a webcast from Jerusalem organized by the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. “Wouldn’t it be great if Saudi Arabia had normalized relationships with Israel, and Kuwait and the whole region,” Nides said in an interview with Dan Shapiro, the former ambassador to Israel under the Obama administration who was recently named a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. “You’ve got to create the momentum. Every one of these is difficult to do. Our view is, the more the merrier.”
Worth the effort: Nides, who left his post as vice chairman of Morgan Stanley to take over the top job at the embassy in Jerusalem, said dates are still unsettled while advisers grapple with how to make the maiden presidential trip to the Middle East a success. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced after a phone conversation with Biden that the president has accepted his invitation to visit in the coming months. “Each of these countries wants something from us and we want something from them, and they want something from the Israelis,” Nides said. “This little maneuver is not for the faint-hearted, but I think it’s well worth the time and the energy.”
On Roe, a potential split between Orthodox Jewish groups and conservatives
Orthodox Jewish groups have frequently found themselves aligned with Christian conservatives at the Supreme Court on religious liberty issues. But Monday night’s leaked draft opinion indicating that the Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade brings into focus one area of potential difference between the frequent allies, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Both sides: In a statement on Tuesday evening, the Orthodox Union’s leadership said it does not support absolute abortion bans nor abortions when not medically necessary. “Jewish law prioritizes the life of the pregnant mother over the life of the fetus such that where the pregnancy critically endangers the physical health or mental health of the mother, an abortion may be authorized, if not mandated, by Halacha and should be available to all women irrespective of their economic status,” the statement reads in part.
Wait and see: Abba Cohen,the vice president for government affairs for Agudath Israel of America, told JI the group could not comment until reviewing how the final decision would treat certain circumstances. “We would have to review the precise nuances of the final decision itself — how, for example, it treats abortion rights when the ‘mother’s life or health is endangered’ or when the ‘mother’s sincerely held religious beliefs allow or require’ her to seek an abortion.”
Big tent: Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women — the most prominent Jewish community organization in the pro-choice movement — said her group is working with some prominent Orthodox rabbis. She acknowledged the Orthodox community generally takes a more restrictive view of abortion than NCJW, but added, “the reality is there are seats for everyone at this table because this fight actually is about that too… There’s space for everyone, including those who care deeply about religious freedom issues.”
Word of caution: One prominent Jewish voice in the legal community urged caution about the leaked opinion itself. “I think the proposition that this is what the Court will do is wrong,” experienced constitutional lawyer and former Supreme Court clerk Nathan Lewin told JI. “It is an early statement of what Justice [Samuel] Alito believes the Court should do. I think it is comparable to the long opinion that Alito wrote in the religious-liberty Fulton case (to overrule [Employment Division] v. Smith). As was true in Fulton, it may end up being a concurring opinion when the Court’s internal process is concluded and the case is decided.”
DMFI responds to Jayapal’s idea to make pro-Israel dollars treif
Mark Mellman, the president of Democratic Majority for Israel’s political arm, warned leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that it would be engaging in potentially discriminatory behavior if it changes its endorsement rules to exclude members who accept campaign contributions from the pro-Israel group, he told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Countering CPC: Mellman was responding directly to comments from Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the CPC chairwoman, who suggested to Punchbowl News on Monday that caucus leaders had been weighing the imposition of such a provision. Her remarks came amid rising tensions between far-left and moderate Democrats over the CPC’s recent endorsement of DMFI-backed Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. Jayapal said the CPC’s executive board had been mulling the possibility of revising its political action committee’s endorsement process “based on,” among other things, “whether somebody accepts this kind of giant PAC money, whether it’s from the crypto billionaires or whether it’s from DMFI.”
Caucus concern: DMFI spent more than $1 million on Brown’s behalf as she faced a primary rematch with Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and presidential campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Turner had earned an endorsement from the CPC’s PAC when she unsuccessfully campaigned for the seat in a heated special House election last year.
Second time’s a charm: Brown, who prevailed with support from establishment Democrats and pro-Israel groups, among others, joined the progressive caucus after she assumed office in November. She was endorsed by the CPC PAC last month, though not without some apparent resistance from left-leaning members who had previously supported Turner.
New rules? While Jayapal had also personally supported Turner in 2021, she has defended the CPC’s decision to back a fellow incumbent “in good standing for four months.” Still, speaking with Punchbowl, the chairwoman acknowledged “the frustration” among critics of the endorsement and said she is now reviewing the process behind it. “Should we have a certain period of time,” Jayapal said, “whether it’s six months or a year or something, that you have to be a member of the CPC and [in] good standing?”
On the eve of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, SAPIR: A Journal of Jewish Conversations is thrilled to launch its fifth issue today on the theme of Zionism. Articles will be released this week and next through Jewish Insider. Visit SAPIR’s website to sign up to receive emails directly, as well as invitations to upcoming author events.
Inextricably Linked: Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch meditates on the unbreakable connection between Judaism and Zionism. “‘Zionism is the return to Judaism even before the return to the Land of Israel,’ Herzl said to the delegates of the First Zionist Congress. It was an astonishing insight, a prophecy we now know to be true: By reviving the Jewish nation, Zionism revived Judaism itself. It is impossible to envision Judaism today without the State of Israel. Zionism restored the Jewish people to history, propelling us back to the future.” Read here.
*Join us for a conversation between Rabbi Hirsch and SAPIR’s Editor-in-Chief Bret Stephens on June 13 at 12 noon ET. Register here.
Eternal Homeland: SAPIR’s publisher, Mark Charendoff, pens an open letter to Amnesty International. “At this writing, as war rages in Ukraine, Jews are once again on the run, trying to flee another evil tyrant. But today they are greeted by volunteers holding signs under a giant Israeli flag, directing them to food and shelter. And for those who wish, there is also a flight to Israel, where a new life and new hope await them. Zionism is not about a “safe space” for Jews. Zionism is about creating a real home for Jews—the kind of home Robert Frost had in mind when he wrote, ‘When you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Read here.
🎓 Campus Beat: In the Harvard Crimson, Natalie Kahn, an associate news editor and president of Harvard Hillel, slams the recent decision by the publication’s editorial board to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. “How many members of the Editorial Board can tell me the story of Israel’s history — numerous peace treaties the Palestinians have rejected, human shields used by Hamas to gaslight Israel, and thousands of Israeli civilians murdered by terrorists? What about the millions of dollars used by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank for the ‘Pay to Slay’ Program, rewarding terrorists for crimes against Israelis? Israel is not perfect, nor is any other country. But this editorial is part of a larger trend of singling out Jews, conveniently neglecting our half of the story — and by extension our right to self-determination — while claiming to ‘oppose antisemitism.’” [HarvardCrimson]
🇮🇱 Trip Talk: In the Miami Herald, Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez reflects on a recent trip to Israel taken with lieutenant governors from half a dozen states. “Growing up in a city like Miami, we are immersed in the Jewish religion. We have friends, family and neighbors who are Jewish. In fact, my aunt was married to a Jewish man, who we affectionately called Uncle Kenny. But seeing Israel through the eyes of others is a step removed from the wonders of the Holy Land. The eternal capital, Jerusalem, means the city of peace. Sadly, due to aggressors who have sought to destroy, annihilate and oppress over thousands of years, they have not experienced the type of lasting peace they deserve. Elie Wiesel declared that, ‘Even in darkness it is possible to create light.’ As I reflect on the many business meetings and briefings with political leaders, my fellow lieutenant governors and I have a renewed sense of purpose. Our states must rise to the occasion. We must encourage leaders at every level to closely reevaluate policies, such as the disastrous Iran deal. We must not allow BDS and anti-Semitism in any form to gain a foothold. We must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust.” [MiamiHerald]
Around the Web
📜 Weighing In: Twenty-two of the 25 Jewish House Democrats issued a joint statement condemning Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comments this week accusing Jews of antisemitism, saying they reflect “the gutless depravity of the Russian regime and “were an affront to the memory” of the Holocaust. Three members — Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Dean Phillips (D-MN) — did not join the statement. Cohen had previously put out a separate statement.
🎂 Fine Tune: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sang “Happy Birthday” to Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) at the start of yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Risch quote tweeted JI’s Marc Rod noting “I honestly had no idea @SenatorMenendez could sing like that.”
🇸🇦 Mending Fences: U.S. and Saudi officials confirmed that CIA Director Bill Burns made an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia last month, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, amid strained ties between Washington and Riyadh.
🛫 Texas Swing: Days after stumping for Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) in Ohio, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), will travel to Texas to support Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who is facing a second primary challenge from Justice Democrats-supported candidate Jessica Cisneros.
🗳️ In the Race: Former Washington Free Beacon reporter Matthew Foldi, a Republican, announced the launch of his campaign in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, for the seat currently held by Rep. David Trone (D-MD).
👩 Mounting Concerns: Weeks after the San Francisco Chronicle reported on concerns from Democratic colleagues over the mental fitness of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), The New York Times published a similar report, quoting legislators concerned about the longtime California senator’s ability to carry out her duties through the end of her term in 2024.
✍️ Throwback: Read JI’s profile of Lacey Schwartz Delgado, wife of Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY), who was tapped yesterday as New York’s new lieutenant governor.
😡 Toxic Tweet: The Republican candidate for New Mexico secretary of state is facing criticism for sharing a tweet suggesting that Jews are “heavily over-represented in vaccine nepotism.”
⚽ Penalty Kick: Ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, some international companies are considering the ethics of sponsoring the tournament, amid concern over Qatar’s human rights violations.
🤝 Dangerous Bedfellows: A new Pentagon report alleges that Iran-backed militias are working in coordination with Kurdish guerrillas to attack Turkish military installations in parts of Iraq.
💰 Pricey Problem: The Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries estimated that it will have to pay $2.6 billion to reach settlements in cases tied to the U.S. opioid crisis.
🎢 Old City, New Tricks: The New York Times reports on controversial plans to build a zipline, as well as other new attractions, around Jerusalem’s Old City.
🕯️ Remembering: David Birney, who played a Jewish husband in the controversial 1970s sitcom “Bridget Loves Bernie,” died at 83.
Pic of the Day
At a Milken Institute Global Conference panel on the media on Tuesday, The Atlantic‘s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg said, “the creation of alternate truth realities for different pockets of America” is a sign of a “democracy in trouble.” Maybe, said writer and entrepreneur Bari Weiss, “we need rabbinic help to answer that deeper question of why people are turning” to ideologies like QAnon. She pointed to Sinai Temple’s Rabbi David Wolpe, who was sitting in the audience: “Maybe he can answer it afterwards.” (Wolpe and Weiss were later spotted having a long conversation at the Beverly Hilton hotel bar.)
Medalist in the women’s halfpipe event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Arielle Townsend Gold turns 26…
Former chairman and CEO of American International Group, now chairman and CEO of the Starr Companies, Maurice Raymond “Hank” Greenberg turns 97… Rabbi emeritus at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, Zvi Dershowitz turns 94… Former executive director of the Texas A&M Hillel, Peter E. Tarlow turns 76… Nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution for climate change, previously the U.S. special envoy for climate change in the Obama administration, Todd D. Stern turns 71… Former interim executive director of Chizuk Amuno Congregation & Schools in Baltimore, Lee Sherman turns 69… Partner at NYC-based Mintz & Gold, Lawrence “Lon” A. Jacobs turns 67… Northern Virginia-based portrait artist, Ilisa G. Calderon turns 58… Triathlete Joanna Sue Zeiger turns 52… Director of congregational education at NYC’s Park Avenue Synagogue, Bradley Solmsen turns 52… State attorney for Palm Beach County, Fla., Dave Aronberg turns 51… Chair and director at NYC’s department of city planning, Daniel Garodnick turns 50… President of national expansion at Veterans Community Project, Jason Kander turns 41… Managing director of food programs at NYC’s Met Council on Jewish Poverty, Jessica Chait turns 40… Co-founder of Vine and HQ Trivia, Rus Yusupov turns 38… VP at BerlinRosen, Allison Fran Bormel… Miami Beach and South Dade director at AIPAC, Rebecca Leibowitz Wasserstrom… Assistant to the executive producer of ABC’s General Hospital, Steven A. Rosenberg turns 33… Deputy director of communications for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Shana Mansbach turns 30… Director of client services for ESG at Everfi, Sasha Altschuler turns 30… Congressional affairs officer at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Elliot Miller turns 28… Mechal Wakslak… Associate at The Boston Consulting Group, Olivia Breuer…