👋 Good Wednesday morning!
The much-anticipated results of primaries in Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama, as well as runoffs in Texas, were overshadowed by the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade, in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children and two adults were killed when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at an elementary school 86 miles west of San Antonio.
Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) beat Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA) in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the first Democratic member-on-member primary of the 2022 election cycle. McBath had gone into yesterday’s primary with the backing of AIPAC and Democratic Majority for Israel, while Bourdeaux was endorsed by J Street.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) fended off five primary challengers in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, with nearly 70% of the vote. Her closest challenger, Jennifer Strahan, pulled in 17%. Greene is virtually assured a second term in Congress, owing to the district’s deep-red makeup.
In a blow to former President Donald Trump in the Peach State, two of his endorsed candidates — Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) — fell short in their efforts to challenge, respectively, Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
With a lead of 177 votes, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)declared victory over Jessica Cisneros in the runoff in Texas’ 28th Congressional District. Cisneros, who celebrated her birthday yesterday, tweeted that the “election is still too close to call, and we are still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted. This fight isn’t over. It was a blessed 29th birthday.”
Democrat Jasmine Crockett is all but certain to be the next member of Congress from Texas’ 30th District, after a victory over Jane Hamilton for the safe blue seat currently held by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).
Pro-Israel America on Tuesday announced its endorsement of Glenn Ivey, the former Maryland state’s attorney, in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. Ivey is running in the July 19 primary against former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), who is backed by J Street.
Iran deal critics praise Biden decision not to lift IRGC terror designation
A new report indicates that President Joe Biden has decided against removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list or offering any further concessions to Iran as part of ongoing negotiations, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Iran’s last major demand in nuclear negotiations has reportedly been the lifting of the IRGC’s designation.
View from Congress: “It would be a terrible decision to do anything other than that. If that’s true… that’s good news to me,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) — generally a vocal critic of the administration’s Iran strategy — told JI. “Anything other than that would be wholly unacceptable.” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who has expressed skepticism of the Biden administration’s approach to Iran, told JI that “the president made the right decision in keeping the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terror blacklist,” adding in a tweet that the move was “a triumph of common sense.”
Wrench in the works: In another potential obstacle to the ongoing negotiations, a senior member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was shot in Tehran last week, in a move that some observers said was similar to previous attacks suspected to be orchestrated by Israel and may have been intended to disrupt the nuclear talks. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), one of the Iran deal’s most prominent supporters on the Hill, told JI, “This assassination obviously throws another significant wrench in the works,” lamenting that “it doesn’t appear there’s a lot of progress happening.”
Coming up: Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, a rare public briefing on the status of the talks. Following Malley’s testimony, the committee is set to hear from an expert panel including Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz and Carnegie Endowment for Peace Senior Fellow Karim Sadjadpour. Dubowitz, a vocal opponent of the JCPOA, said in an interview with JI that he plans to tell the committee that “the United States is going to pay a very high price for these nuclear restrictions that last less than a decade” under the deal — more than $1 trillion in sanctions relief by 2031, according to FDD calculations.
Elsewhere: A Wall Street Journal report this morning found that Iranian intelligence accessed secret internal reports from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog and sent them to top officials in Tehran, who then prepared cover stories and falsified records to evade nuclear inspectors.
Stevens and Levin trade barbs over AIPAC, PAC funding
Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Andy Levin (D-MI) exchanged attacks over campaign funding and support from AIPAC and corporate PAC groups in their second primary debate on Tuesday night, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The two are set to square off in the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District in August, after a redrawing of the state’s congressional map eliminated one of the state’s 14 seats in Congress.
Follow the money: Levin said during the debate that he had only taken a small amount of funding throughout his career from corporate PACs and “decided during this election to just do away with it altogether,” adding, “I’m also not funded by special- interest groups that are supporting insurrectionist Republicans.” He called on Stevens to do the same. JI found earlier this month that Levin had taken $55,000 from corporate PACs and industry groups that also backed Republicans who opposed election certification. A day after that revelation, Levin announced he would give away those funds and reject future corporate and industry group PAC donations.
PAC fight: Stevens said Levin had “been taking corporate PAC money his entire career,” noting that the Michigan congressman had made his decision to return the funds “just last week.” She later added that Levin only made the switch after “his hypocrisy was exposed.” Stevens noted that AIPAC has endorsed several members of Democratic leadership, as well as dozens of members of the House Progressive Caucus, and that she had also been endorsed by the Jewish Democratic Council of America and several other pro-Israel groups.
U.S. sanctions secret Hamas investment network
In a move meant to target the finances of the terrorist group Hamas, the Treasury Department on Tuesday sanctioned several people and entities connected to a secretive Hamas investment network with $500 million in assets, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Multinational operation: “Today’s action targets the individuals and companies that Hamas uses to conceal and launder funds,” Elizabeth Rosenberg, the assistant secretary of the Treasury for terrorist financing and financial crimes, said. The sanctions, announced while Rosenberg was in Israel to discuss efforts to counter terrorist financing, target a senior Hamas official, three Hamas financial facilitators and six companies — operating in Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates — that have generated revenue for Hamas through the group’s Investment Office.
Practical implications: The designation of the network by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control will have implications for “anybody who continues to do business with [or] provide financial services to any of these persons or companies,” noted Matthew Levitt, a former FBI investigator and deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department who is now the Fromer-Wexler Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Higher bar: The sanctions come several months after the Biden administration pledged to constrain its use of sanctions following a 2021 review of financial and economic sanctions. “I think there is a higher bar now because I think there’s a recognition that we don’t want to overuse our sanctions authority,” said Michael Greenwald, who served as U.S. Treasury attaché to Qatar and Kuwait from 2015 to 2017.
Alternate reality: The State Department pointed out the irony of Hamas growing its investment portfolio “while Palestinians in Gaza face harsh living and economic conditions,” department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press release.
Israeli CEOs fly to Casablanca to offer Morocco a dose of startup culture
A planeload of Israeli executives who landed in Casablanca, Morocco, this week drew government ministers, corporate leaders and a senior royal adviser seeking their advice on developing a startup business culture, The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger reports. The Israelis, representing technology companies largely involved in agriculture, water conservation, health systems and sustainable energy, are spending three days at a conference in the North African kingdom, mixing with potential Moroccan investors and looking to make deals.
Israel as a model: “Our goal is to build a startup ecosystem,” Morocco’s minister for digital transformation, Ghita Mezzour, told The Circuit after addressing the conference’s opening session on Monday. “We’re looking at Israel’s expertise in how to build the components and how to make them interact.”
Tech ties: The conference, billed as the “Morocco-Israel Connect to Innovate Forum” was organized by Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit group based in Tel Aviv that promotes Israeli business through what it describes as technology diplomacy. The group’s CEO, Avi Hasson, the Israeli government’s former chief scientist, said he hopes Morocco can serve as a beachhead for Israeli companies seeking to do business throughout Africa. “We believe that Morocco, under the leadership of His Majesty Mohammed VI, is uniquely suited to partner with Israel in blazing a trail to a new MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region, one that is connected by a genuine desire for peace and prosperity,” Hasson said.
People Power: In Newsweek, the American Foreign Policy Council’s Ilan Berman warns that a new nuclear deal with Tehran will negatively affect the Iranian people, who according to a new Dutch study overwhelmingly prefer a democratic political system to a country dominated by religious law. “That’s because a new agreement would have the effect of strengthening Iran’s clerical regime—and doing so at the expense of the Iranian people and their political choices. Moreover, it would take effect at precisely the time that Iran’s current government is arguably at its weakest point in four decades as a result of multiple domestic crises, from a deepening water deficit to intensifying protests over rising food prices to declining religiosity among ordinary Iranians. It’s no wonder, then, that Iran’s rulers have latched on to the idea of a new nuclear agreement as a lifeline for their ailing and increasingly unpopular regime. Team Biden, many of whose principals were stakeholders in the original 2015 nuclear deal, seems wedded to the notion as well. But the most likely outcome of such an arrangement, a reinvigorated Islamic Republic, is not what the vast majority of Iranians themselves want.” [Newsweek]
Around the Web
🎉 Party Time: New York City Mayor Eric Adams hosted a vegan-friendly Jewish Heritage Month reception at Gracie Mansion last night.
🏨 A Deal Grows in Brooklyn: A group led by Avi Philipson will purchase the debt and an equity stake in the William Vale hotel in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, after a deal with Zelig Weiss to buy the property fell through.
🕵️ Culprit Not Caught: Nearly a year after a swastika was etched into an elevator at the State Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters, no one has been identified as the person responsible for the incident, department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday.
💰 Big Spender: FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried said he expects to spend at least $100 million during the 2024 election cycle, noting that he could put as much as $1 billion into the election.
🇯🇪 Shady Money: Authorities in the English Channel island of Jersey are looking into Russian-Israeli businessman Roman Abramovich’s wealth stored on the island, where a court froze Abramovich’s assets, worth more than $7 billion, last month.
🔍 Case Opened: The House Ethics Committee announced it is opening an investigation into allegations that Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a staffer and promoted a cryptocurrency in which he had an undisclosed private interest.
📈 Econ Troll: Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who has been critical of the Biden administration’s fiscal policy, criticized the White House’s antitrust focus, warning that it could lead to an economy that is “more inflationary and less resilient.”
👮 Plot Twist: An Iraqi man who claimed to be a “soldier waiting for directions from [his] leadership in Qatar” was arrested on federal charges tied to a plot to kill former President George W. Bush.
💄 Exit Strategy: Glossier’s Emily Weiss is stepping down as the company’s CEO, and will become the executive chairwoman of the beauty brand’s board.
🎞️ ‘Fiddler’ on Film: A new documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of the making of the classic musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” on the occasion of the film’s 50th anniversary.
🥯 Philly Schmear: The Schulson Collective is opening a new Jewish deli off Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square.
🇹🇷 Turkey Talk: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is visiting Israel this week, said that Turkey’s support for Palestinians is “completely independent” from its thawing relations with Israel.
🧳 League of Nations: U.N. ambassadors from Benin, Burundi, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Mexico, Panama, Poland, Slovakia, Tanzania and Uzbekistan arrived in Israel yesterday on a weeklong trip to Israel organized by the UJA-Federation of New York and Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan.
⚖️ Felled Cell: Israel’s Shin Bet security services arrested five members of a Hamas cell in the West Bank who had been planning to kill far-right Israeli MK Itamar Ben-Gvir and bomb Jerusalem’s light rail, among other attacks.
📉 First-quarter Numbers: Israeli defense manufacturer Elbit posted a rise in revenue, but a drop in Q1 profits, attributing the trend to stock-price determined compensation; Israeli telecoms firm Bezeq saw a rise in Q1 profits.
💵 Brutal Budgeting: Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he expects the Knesset to approve the 2023 state budget this year despite the governing coalition’s lack of a majority.
💸 Pound Problem: The Lebanese pound hit a new low, just over a week after the country’s national elections.
🕯️ Remembering: Former Maccabi USA President Bob Spivak died at 85.
Pic of the Day
Vice President Kamala Harris swears in Deborah Lipstadt as the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism at the White House on Tuesday. The ceremonial swearing-in came weeks after Lipstadt was officially sworn into office.
Co-founder of Calvin Klein Inc., Barry K. Schwartz turns 80…
South Florida resident, Marjorie Moidel… Academy Award winning film producer and director, responsible for 50 major motion pictures, Irwin Winkler turns 91… Holocaust survivor, professor of physics and chemistry at both Brooklyn College and the City University of New York, Micha Tomkiewicz turns 83… Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1986 (including 7 years as chief judge), now on senior status, Douglas H. Ginsburg turns 76… British journalist, editor and author, Alex Brummer turns 73… Of counsel in the Chicago office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, Joel M. Hurwitz… Screenwriter, producer and film director, best known for his work on the “Back to the Future” franchise, Bob Gale turns 71… Los Angeles resident, Robin Myrne Kramer… CEO of Velocity Healthcare Consultants, Kenneth Feiler… Israeli actress Rachel “Chelli” Goldenberg turns 68… Actor, voice actor and stand-up comedian, Bobby Slayton turns 67…
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) turns 62… EVP at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Laurie Rubiner… Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania, Yossi Avni-Levy turns 60… Actor, producer, director and writer, Joseph D. Reitman turns 54… Cape Town native, tech entrepreneur and investor, he was the original COO of PayPal and founder and CEO of Yammer, David Oliver Sacks turns 50… Member of the Australian Parliament since 2016, Julian Leeser turns 46… Former Israeli minister of diaspora affairs, Omer Yankelevich turns 44… Political reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Greg Bluestein… VP of sales at Maryland-based HealthSource Distributors, Marc D. Loeb… Communications manager at Kaplan, Inc., Alison Kurtzman… Pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies organization who had two effective appearances for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers, Ryan Sherriff turns 32… Olympic Gold medalist in gymnastics at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, Alexandra Rose “Aly” Raisman turns 28… Laura Goldman…