👋 Good Monday morning!
A long-stalled Holocaust education bill is finally set to come up for a vote today in Albany, N.Y., after the legislation was scuttled by Democratic Assembly leaders last year and quietly removed from a Ways and Means Committee agenda in late April.
The bill— now slightly amended — is included on the agenda for a Ways and Means meeting scheduled to be broadcast live at 1:30 p.m. If approved, it will advance to the Rules Committee, the last stop before a floor vote, according to Democratic Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who sponsored the legislation. “We made technical changes and should be in good shape,” she told JI in a text message on Friday afternoon, adding: “Expect it to move.”
Elsewhere in New York, state Sen. Michelle Hinchey announced she will not run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY), who last week was tapped by Gov. Kathy Hochul as the state’s lieutenant governor following the resignation of Brian Benjamin. Hinchey’s decision to stay in Albany sets up a likely November battle between Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, a Democrat, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the GOP’s 2020 gubernatorial candidate, to represent the state’s 19th Congressional District.
Conor Lamb calls for ‘delicate balance’ on U.S.-Israel relations in Pa. Senate bid
With just over a week to go until Pennsylvanians head to the polls, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), who has lagged in the polls in his effort to secure the Democratic nomination for Senate in the Keystone State, was blunt in his assessment of how the race is going: “Not too great,” he recently told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Staying out: This cycle, pro-Israel organizations have largely stayed out of the Senate race, in which Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is leading in the polls, with Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta trailing. J Street and the JDCA are not making official endorsements, while Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action committee isn’t weighing in because it has concluded that Lamb and Fetterman are both suitable choices. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has also refrained from making an endorsement.
Striking a balance: Lamb’s messaging on at least one major Middle East foreign policy issue has, perhaps unexpectedly, put him somewhat to the left of Fetterman and Kenyatta. As the primary enters its final stretch, Lamb is calling for a more nuanced if actively critical approach to American engagement with Israel, particularly amid increased settlement expansion that, he warns, has dimmed hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “That’s where I think we have to strike this delicate balance,” Lamb said, “of maintaining our commitment to it, maintaining our support for Israel, especially right now, as they’re being attacked yet again, but not being afraid to say when the settlement activity goes over the line and therefore jeopardizes what it is we’re trying to pursue in the two-state solution.”
On the other side: In the crowded Republican primary, Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick are currently locked in fierce competition for the nomination. Oz notched a coveted Trump endorsement last month and appeared alongside the former president at a rally outside Pittsburgh over the weekend. Lamb said it was difficult to judge whom he would prefer to go up against. “It’s not that I don’t want to answer that, I just don’t have an answer, to tell you the truth,” he told JI. “It’s at a level of craziness on their side that it’s very hard for me to draw a distinction, so we’ll let it run its course.”
Elsewhere: The Philadelphia Inquirer announced its endorsement of Lamb on Sunday, calling the congressman “the best choice in a talented field.”
keep your friends close
Israel is the only Middle East country the U.S. can fully trust, candidate Wesley Hunt tells AIPAC
The U.S. has “really one true ally” in the Middle East, Republican congressional candidate Wesley Hunt, a combat veteran who served three tours in the region, said on Friday, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. “And it’s Israel.” Hunt, who is running for Texas’ redrawn 38th Congressional District seat near Houston, made the comments during a virtual event on AIPAC’s app.
Quotable: “We’re friendly with everyone — I get it, I understand that — but that Judeo background that this country was founded upon is the only one in that region,” said Hunt, who served a combat tour in Iraq and two tours in Saudi Arabia. “And we have enemies, actually all over that region, particularly Iran. And let’s be honest, most of the 9/11 attackers were born in Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden was from Riyadh. And so I learned a lot about what our interests need to be and who we need to be in the business of supporting for the future, because that’s our one true ally in the region.”
History: Hunt is a West Point graduate who went on to fly 55 combat missions as an Apache helicopter pilot in Baghdad in 2006, followed by two tours in Saudi Arabia facilitating Apache helicopter training and sales. After his military service, Hunt earned three master’s degrees from Cornell University.
Untrustworthy: Hunt praised the Abraham Accords and said “every country in that region” should join the normalization agreements, but, “We should always remain leery and always make sure we have our guard up,” he cautioned. “Some of these countries are bad actors. They’re rogue nations, some of them,” he continued. “Just because we have something set up like the Abraham Accords — which I think is good for the entire world, especially for the region — we cannot let our guard down.”
MEPPA board member: Peace act signals shift in U.S. policy on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA), with its strong bipartisan support in Congress and focus on people-to-people relations, signifies a clear shift in U.S. policy in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Heather Johnston, a MEPPA board member who was visiting Israel in her role as founder and executive director of the U.S. Israel Education Association, told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash.
Grassroots programs: Johnston, whose organization fosters communication between American and Israeli leaders, said the strength of the $250 million aid package is that it circumvents the Palestinian Authority and goes directly to the nonprofit organizations that are facilitating on-the-ground grassroots programs. “It doesn’t take a two-state solution off the table,” Johnston, who led a congressional delegation to Israel last week, told JI. “What it does is to prioritize grassroots and economic developments.”
Desire for success: “It’s an incredible opportunity – it is one of the largest aid packages for people-to-people programs,” said Johnston, who was appointed by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) to MEPPA’s board, which met last month for the first time and is charged with offering guidance and suggestions on potential projects but does not get to vote on which projects are ultimately approved.
New approach: “Right now, a political solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] is off the table, so the question is what can we do?” explained Johnston. “The answer, we believe, as do many in the U.S. Congress now, is economic.” Johnston pointed to the handful of joint industrial zones that dot the West Bank, which her group visited during its weeklong trip, and emphasized how they enabled Israelis and Palestinians to work alongside one another and develop businesses together. She said they were a good model that must be developed further. “Congress is looking at it that way now and so is the Israeli government,” she continued. “So now everybody’s sort of now looking at it the same exact way.”
Mideast trends: Wheat shortages, energy spikes, crypto
Parts of the Middle East are at risk for famine in the near-term amid shortages resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, risk manager Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global Associates, told The Circuit’s Jonathan H. Ferziger.
What’s at stake: “Basically you’re talking about potential riots, with collapsing economies, collapsing politics and collapsing societies,” Nuseibeh said. “Bread is the main food staple. If countries run out of wheat, food becomes more expensive and people have less to eat.”
Common ground: Nuseibeh said addressing food insecurity and renewable energy have become key areas for cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and Israel since they normalized relations in 2020. He added that both countries have worked diligently to prevent their new alliance from being derailed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which threatened to erupt again last month in East Jerusalem. “The opportunities are there and many people are starting to look at Israel as just another country in the region,” Nuseibeh said.
🗺️ Regional Realignment: In The Atlantic, former Ambassador Dennis Ross proposes how the Biden administration can solidify alliances as it works to counter Russia in a post-Ukraine conflict world. “Perpetuating a Middle East that is shaped by conflicts may serve Russian and Iranian interests, but it does not serve ours. Thankfully, a growing coalition that includes the Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Moroccans, Bahrainis, and Israelis is already cooperating to counter Iranian plans for the region. America’s Central Command provides both a mechanism to support their security needs and an umbrella under which they can integrate their intelligence, counterterror, and early-warning-, cyber- and missile- and drone-defense activities — making them collectively more secure than they would be on their own. The more we encourage the sort of economic cooperation and trade that Israel and the UAE are now establishing, the stronger a basis for regional peace we will create, and the more we will foster a robust coalition supporting the rules of the game we seek internationally.” [TheAtlantic]
🛰️ Deadly Drone: In The New Yorker, Stephen Witt spotlights the Bayraktar TB2, a UAV developed by the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has over the last six years been sold to more than a dozen countries and has brought “the tactic of the precision air strike to the developing world and revers[ed] the course of several wars” and is now being used by Ukraine. “The Bayraktar TB2 is a flat, gray unmanned aerial vehicle (U.A.V.), with angled wings and a rear propeller. It carries laser-guided bombs and is small enough to be carried in a flatbed truck, and costs a fraction of similar American and Israeli drones. Its designer, Selçuk Bayraktar, the son of a Turkish auto-parts entrepreneur, is one of the world’s leading weapons manufacturers. In the defense of Ukraine, Bayraktar has become a legend, the namesake of a baby lemur at the Kyiv zoo, and the subject of a catchy folk song, which claims that his drone ‘makes ghosts out of Russian bandits.’” [NewYorker]
🎓 Campus Beat: In Common Sense, author Dara Horn, an alum of the Harvard Crimson, writes about the editorial board’s decision to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, and relays the experiences she’s had on college campuses throughout the country. “At Swarthmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, where I spoke at a joint event a few weeks later, I had the pleasure of viewing videos recorded at a rally earlier that semester, during which dozens of students chanted, ‘From Swarthmore to Gaza, globalize the Intifada.’ I had to explain to my audience, most of whom were infants during the Second Intifada, that the Second Intifada consisted of suicide bombers deliberately murdering and maiming hundreds of Jews in restaurants, nightclubs, supermarkets, buses, hotels, and of course, college campuses in Israel. The Jewish students in my audience, while perhaps unfamiliar with these historic details, had nonetheless received their peers’ message loud and clear. When I asked one of them afterward how many Jewish students were at her school, she made me realize I’d asked a stupid question, one even more pointless than ‘What are your politics?’ ‘It’s really not about how many Jewish students are here,’ she casually informed me. ‘It’s about how many Jewish students are out.’” [CommonSense]
👨 Koch’s Complexities: The New York Times’ Matt Flegenheimer and Rosa Goldensohn delve into the personal life of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who, friends and family say, was not public about his sexuality. “He denied as much for decades — to reporters, campaign operatives and his staff — swatting away longstanding rumors with a choice profanity or a cheeky aside, even if these did little to convince some New Yorkers. Through his death, in 2013, his deflections endured…Now, with gay rights re-emerging as a national political tinderbox, The New York Times has assembled a portrait of the life Mr. Koch lived, the secrets he carried and the city he helped shape as he carried them. While both friends and antagonists over the years have referenced his sexuality in stray remarks and published commentaries, this account draws on more than a dozen interviews with people who knew Mr. Koch and are in several cases speaking extensively on the record for the first time — filling out a chapter that they say belongs, at last, to the sweep of history.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
💰 The Riyal Deal: Jared Kushner’s Affinity Partners will invest some of the $2 billion it raised from Saudi Arabia in Israeli firms, the first publicized occurrence of Saudi money going to Israeli companies.
⚠️ Turkey Trouble: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has endorsed David McCormick for Senate in Pennsylvania, cautioned that voters “need to understand the scope and depth of [Dr. Mehmet Oz’s] relationship with the Turkish government.”
🗳️ Ballot-bound: A Georgia judge ruled that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) can run for reelection, despite efforts from activists seeking to remove her from the ballot.
📘 Tough Jews: A new book, Gangsters v Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America, spotlights efforts by Jewish gangsters to intimidate and attack Nazi supporters in the U.S.
👮 Apprehended: A freelance journalist in the Portland, Ore., area was charged with vandalizing two synagogues and setting fire to a local mosque.
⚖️ Behind Bars: Aaron Mostofsky, the son of a New York City judge who entered the Capitol dressed as a caveman during the Jan. 6 riot, was sentenced to eight months in prison.
🕵️ Bias Crime: The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating an attack on an Orthodox man in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood on Friday afternoon.
🚒 Chabad Blaze: The Chabad House at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., was destroyed by fire over the weekend.
✡️ Fighting Hate: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced the members of the state’s recently created Commission to Combat Antisemitism, including former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
⛪ Across the Pond: The Church of England issued an apology for the enacting of laws that expelled Jews from the country eight centuries ago.
🌎 Diplomats in Disarray: Al Arabiya reports on growing frustration among State Department officials over Foggy Bottom’s handling of issues involving China, Iran and the Horn of Africa, citing a number of high-level departures in recent months.
🚓 Suspects Nabbed: Israeli security forces arrested two Palestinian men suspected of killing three Israelis in the central city of Elad last week.
Pic of the Day
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll races Sunday during Formula 1’s Miami Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Notable attendees on the grid prior to the start of Sunday’s race included Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Stephen Ross, Karlie Kloss, Josh Kushner, Aryeh Bourkoff, Barry Sternlicht, Estee Portnoy and Mila Kunis.
Budapest-born philanthropist and social activist, she marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965, Eva Haller turns 92…
Owner of St. Louis-based Harbour Group Industries, former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Sam Fox turns 93… Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter, James L. Brooks turns 82… Guitarist and record producer, best known as a member of the rock-pop-jazz group “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” Steve Katz turns 77… Co-founder of Yeshivat Har Etzion, Yoel Bin-Nun turns 76… Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and a professor of structural biology at Stanford University, Michael Levitt turns 75… Pianist, singer-songwriter and one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, Billy Joel turns 73… Physician in Burlington, Vt., she was the first lady of Vermont from 1991 until 2003 when her husband was governor, Judith Steinberg Dean turns 69… Sharon Mallory Doble turns 69… Co-founder and CEO of PlayMedia, Brian D. Litman turns 68… Film director and producer, Barry Avrich turns 59… Staff writer at The Atlantic, Mark Leibovich turns 57… Co-managing partner of Bain Capital and owner of a minority interest in the Boston Celtics, Jonathan Lavine turns 56… VP of global public policy at Facebook, Joel D. Kaplan turns 53… Deputy director of AIPAC’s leadership institute, Lesli Rosenblatt turns 49… Special assistant to the secretary of veterans affairs, Aaron Scheinberg turns 41… Founder and managing member at Revelstoke PLLC, Danielle Elizabeth Friedman turns 39… Opinion columnist and podcast host at The New York Times, Ezra Klein turns 38… Jenna Weisbord turns 34… Investor for Blackstone Growth Israel, Nathaniel Rosen turns 32… J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School, Mikhael Smits turns 26…