👋 Good Monday morning!
World leaders descended on Abu Dhabi this weekend to pay condolences following the death of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Sheikh Khalifa, who became president in 2004 and presided over a period of massive economic growth, died Friday at 73. Sheikh Khalifa’s brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was appointed to take over as president.
Vice President Kamala Harris is leading a delegation of more than a dozen senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and CIA Director William Burns. The visit offers an opportunity to mend ties that had been strained in recent months over a number of issues, including Washington’s lessening presence in the region. Read more here.
“This delegation both honors [Sheikh Khalifa’s] legacy and points confidently to the future of relations between the U.S. and UAE,” a senior Biden administration official told Jewish Insider on Sunday. Harris “will congratulate Sheikh Mohammed on his election as president of the UAE and underscore the importance the Biden-Harris administration places on the U.S.-UAE partnership,” the official said.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog met on Sunday with Sheikh Mohammed. “I came here on behalf of the people of Israel to express my condolences to you, to your family and to the Emirati people,” Herzog told bin Zayed during their meeting, according to a statement from his office. Sheikh Khalifa’s “brave leadership contributed tremendously to advancing his country and his people and to the partnership that materialized in recent years between our countries,” Herzog said, referring to the 2020 Abraham Accords. Read more here.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahianwill also travel to the UAE today.
Ten people were killed in a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday. The assailant, an 18-year-old man who drove 3.5 hours to commit the attack that investigators say was racially motivated, carried out the attack in a predominantly Black neighborhood in the Western New York City. Most of the victims were Black.
A manifesto believed to be written by the shooter contained antisemitic and racist sentiments, and cited the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that Jews are orchestrating the “replacement” of white Christians with minority communities.
Two days before the attack, newly appointed Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt discussed the “great replacement” theory in her first public remarks since being sworn in, held at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. “Accusations by the Charlottesville [‘Unite the Right’ march] organizers that Jews were behind an attempt to destroy white America have been adopted and adapted by racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists,” Lipstadt said on Thursday.
On Sunday morning, Lipstadt tweeted, “Yesterday’s horrific attack was one and the same. Hate must have no safe harbor. Anywhere.”
Echoes of OH-11 in heated Pittsburgh House race
In a matter of weeks, the race for an open House seat in Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs has burst onto the front lines of a high-profile Democratic civil war that has figured prominently in several recent primary battles around the country, particularly where opposing approaches to Israel have fueled tensions between the party’s mainstream and activist wings, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
In this corner: The progressive frontrunner, state Rep. Summer Lee, has consolidated support from the activist left. Justice Democrats, the combative political group, is backing her campaign, as are the range of Squad members whose ranks she is likely to join in Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Her chief rival, Steve Irwin, an attorney and Democratic activist in Pittsburgh, stands on the opposing end of the party spectrum and casts himself as eager to build on the policy objectives of the Biden administration. Irwin, 62, has drawn overwhelming support from the Democratic establishment in Allegheny County, which makes up most of the district. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), the outgoing dean of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, has blessed his bid.
Money matters: The United Democracy Project, a new super PAC affiliated with AIPAC, the bipartisan pro-Israel lobbying group, has invested heavily in the race. For nearly the past month, UDP has unleashed a barrage of attack ads targeting Lee. The spots, which have drawn sharp rebukes from her supporters, have upended what had otherwise been a relatively staid primary, despite some simmering tensions — not least around Middle East foreign policy matters — that had already sown division at the local level. But while UDP has recently dominated the race, the three-week period during which Irwin was on TV alone, beginning in early April, seems to have been a crucial turning point in his campaign. And it is one among many dynamics that are similar to last year’s closely watched House primary in Cleveland, where Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) overcame a 35-point polling deficit in her come-from-behind victory over Nina Turner in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District.
Political parallels: The Pittsburgh area shares a number of characteristics with Ohio’s 11th District, which takes in Cleveland and the suburbs of Cuyahoga County. Like Cleveland, for instance, Pittsburgh is a heavily Democratic Rust Belt enclave with a large Black population and a sizable minority of politically active Jewish voters. Those parallels have not gone unnoticed by Jewish voters in the district, many of whom watched the Cleveland race with interest and now view Irwin’s candidacy as akin to Brown’s campaign. “I call him the Jewish Shontel Brown,” Lou Weiss, a pro-Israel activist in Pittsburgh who is supporting Irwin’s campaign, quipped in a recent interview with JI. “Why? He’s a relative unknown who’s pro-Israel, coming from behind against someone who’s a future Squad member.”
carolina in mind
In NC-04, Israel emerges as an issue in Democratic primary’s final weeks
It’s as much the political season in North Carolina as it is the playoffs in professional basketball and hockey, and for TV viewers in the Tarheel State, nearly every commercial break during games features a consistent onslaught of campaign ads ahead of Tuesday’s primary. It’s all part of the big-money, high-stakes race to replace longtime incumbent David Price (D-NC), where the winner of the primary is a virtual lock to win the general election in November. But unlike similar contested Democratic primaries in congressional districts in and around Cleveland and Detroit, where Israel has emerged as a key campaign issue marking a dividing line between different flanks of the party, in the Research Triangle it’s a subtle yet strong undercurrent, reports Jonah Kaplan for Jewish Insider.
Test case: The three leading candidates vying for the nomination are state Sen. Valerie Foushee, Durham City Councilwoman Nida Allam and former “American Idol” finalist Clay Aiken, and they each offer distinct options for voters in a region dominated by college campuses including Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, which are blue precincts in an otherwise conservative state and home to both older, liberal professors and more progressive-minded students and young professionals. “It’s essentially this battle for what the Democratic Party looks like in a left-leaning urban area,” Colin Campbell, editor of the North Carolina Tribune and longtime state politics reporter, explained. Last year, Allam posted videos of her marching in a pro-Palestinian rally in downtown Raleigh where protestors chanted slogans such as “Israel is an apartheid state” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – a chant widely panned as a call to eradicate the Jewish state.
AIPAC impact: Foushee has garnered support from establishment North Carolina Democrats, including the two current members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC). Foushee has also earned the endorsement of sheriffs, police chiefs and the state’s attorney general, among many others. Foushee’s campaign has also benefited from big spending from outside groups, including UDP, whose association with AIPAC led to the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus pulling its endorsement of Foushee. The caucus’ statement cited UDP’s endorsements of other candidates, including dozens of Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election. Allam’s supporters have seized on the UDP spending for Foushee, which totaled nearly $300,000 in the last filing. Critics have also blasted Foushee’s relying on cash from another PAC, Protect Our Future, whose main benefactor is billionaire and cryptocurrency investor Sam Bankman-Fried.
Political problem: “It’s always surprising when you see a minority from Chapel Hill getting pushback from progressives,” state Rep. Robert Rieves, the House minority leader in the North Carolina General Assembly, told JI of the attacks on Foushee, who is Black. “I can understand the criticism in theory, but we built an animal in politics that can’t be fed – and that’s the money required. That makes for very difficult decisions for people. We could solve a lot of this by taking money out of politics.”
Saudi multifaith gathering positive step but acceptance of Israel remains elusive, says rabbi
A first-of-its-kind multifaith gathering that took place last week in Saudi Arabia and openly included a delegation of Jewish religious leaders was an extremely positive step, one of the participating rabbis told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash, but should not be seen as a sign that the kingdom will soon enter into any sort of normalization agreement with Israel. Rabbi David Rosen, director of international interreligious relations at the American Jewish Committee, who was the only rabbi from Israel in attendance, called the meeting “historic,” saying it was a significant milestone for a country that portrays itself as the bedrock of Islam.
Internal change: However, Rosen told JI that the unprecedented gathering in the heart of the Muslim world was more about changes taking place internally in Saudi Arabia — rather than about the diplomatic process taking place in the region that was sparked by the signing of a normalization agreement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September 2020. Morocco and Sudan inked their own agreements with the Jewish state in the following months. “What they are doing is for itself and its own future,” said Rosen, who has been involved in interfaith relations for decades and has visited Saudi Arabia in the past. The Saudi leadership, he added, “would love to have a normal relationship with Israel, but unless there is movement on the Palestinian front or at least a show towards a solution, there is no chance of them joining.”
Transformation: Rosen said the conference was “a transformation” in terms of Muslim-Jewish relations, adding that such a gathering in the kingdom would have been “unimaginable in the past.” “That such a multifaith conference was hosted by Saudi Arabia, which has seen itself as a kind of Muslim Vatican and which until recently viewed any presence of other religions to be undesirable, is truly a sign of new times,” Rosen said.
💱 Crypto Chief: The New York Times’ David Yaffe-Bellany spotlights Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the cryptocurrency exchange company FTX, amid his push to influence crypto trading policy in Washington. “The company’s Washington advocacy is only one element of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s broader agenda. He’s become an increasingly influential figure across the finance industry, and recently bought a 7.6 percent stake in Robinhood, the stock-trading platform. Over the last two years, he’s also been a prolific political fund-raiser. His $5.6 million contribution to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign made him one of the biggest Democratic donors of the cycle. And he’s funding a super PAC, Protect Our Future, which has donated more than $10 million to Carrick Flynn, a first-time candidate running for the House of Representatives in Oregon. The aggressive spending has prompted complaints in that state, where a rival campaign said Mr. Flynn was being bankrolled by ‘a tax-dodging billionaire in the Bahamas.’” [NYTimes]
📺 Sign of the Times: Politico’s Michael Schaffer looks at how C-SPAN has had to evolve its social media presence and outreach to account for the loss in viewership as an increasing number of Americans cut their cable services. “By definition, gavel-to-gavel congressional coverage treats all hearings and speeches as equal. But in the social space, you have to keep an eye on what has a following. ‘I probably share more of McConnell and Schumer, obviously, than of AOC and The Squad,’ [C-SPAN’s social media head Jeremy] Art says. ‘But if she’s on the committee on a hearing, I’ll watch a lot of the stuff because she just says things in different ways and people may want to see it — maybe younger people or people who don’t follow that much of politics. I know which members of Congress have the biggest social media presences. AOC is one of the most followed. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are also up there. If the director of the FBI is testifying before the Senate, I will always watch what Ted Cruz asks. If Ted Cruz or Rand Paul ask something, it may get more attention than what Senator Crapo or Sen Kennedy ask. We saw that in the [Jackson] hearings.’” [Politico]
🗳️ Following Fetterman: The New York Times’ Katie Glueck shadowed Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on the campaign trail as the Democratic frontrunner engaged with voters ahead of Tuesday’s Senate primary. “Mr. Fetterman is widely considered a progressive candidate who promotes issues like raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana and eliminating the filibuster, and fighting for voting rights, abortion rights and protections for L.G.B.T.Q. people…. But he is not embracing the left-wing mantle. When one attendee at a campaign event told him that he would be the ‘tallest Squad member’ — the small group of left-wing members of Congress — he quickly responded that he ‘won’t be a Squad member, but I will be your next United States senator.’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
👨 Madison’s Malaise: A pair of profiles in Politico and CNN highlight the mounting challenges facing Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) — including a history of running afoul of the law and allegations of sexual impropriety — as he seeks reelection.
🏥 On the Mend: Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman suffered a stroke days before the Democratic primary for Senate in the Keystone State.
🎤 He Said, He Said: The New York Times looks at the controversy surrounding the Tikvah Fund’s annual Jewish Leadership Conference, which the group had planned to hold at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage until the museum ended negotiations over the inclusion of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a speaker at the event.
🚓 Bias Attack: The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Unit is investigating an incident that took place in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn in which a Jewish teenager was punched in the face by an assailant who allegedly demanded that the teen say, “Free Palestine.”
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: The U.K. minister who holds the universities portfolio said the government is suspending ties with the National Union of Students over the group’s failure to address antisemitism.
⚖️ Cable Car Clearance: A three-judge panel ruled against opponents of an Israeli government plan to build a cable car through Jerusalem’s Old City.
🧑🚀 Jews in Space: Israel will invest more than $175 million in developing its space technology industry over the next five years.
👮 Funeral Probe: Police in Jerusalem opened an investigation into the handling of the funeral of an Al Jazeera journalist last week that turned violent amid clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian mourners.
🇶🇦 Terror Ties: Amid increased scrutiny over Qatar’s ties to terror funding, the family of Steven Sotloff, an American journalist who was killed by Islamic State militants in 2014, filed a lawsuit alleging that prominent Qatari institutions sent funds to an IS judge who ordered the killing of Sotloff and another journalist, James Foley.
🕯️ Remembering: Peace negotiator Uri Savir, who served as director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry during the Oslo peace process, died at 69. Playwright Susan Nussbaum, who used her writing to advocate for individuals with disabilities, died at 68. Val Broeksmit, who leaked files to the FBI regarding Deutsche Bank’s ties to money launderers following the death of his stepfather, an executive at the bank, died at 46.
Pic of the Day
Israeli President Isaac Herzog offers his condolences on the death of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to his brother and successor, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, yesterday in Abu Dhabi.
Film and stage actress, Debra Winger turns 67…
Retired judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, she has served as president and chair of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Ellen Moses Heller turns 81… Former special assistant to VPOTUS Walter Mondale and later assistant secretary of state for inter-american affairs, Bernard W. Aronson turns 76… Longest-serving member of the New York State Assembly, he was a high school classmate of Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Richard N. Gottfried turns 75… Former chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, Andrew Lack turns 75… Member of the House of Representatives since 2013 (D-FL), Lois Frankel turns 74… Harvard history professor, Emma Georgina Rothschild turns 74… Rochester, N.Y., resident and advisor to NYC-based Ezras Nashim volunteer ambulance service, Michael E. Pollock… Real estate developer Charles Kushner turns 68… Proto-punk singer-songwriter and guitarist, Jonathan Richman turns 68… Managing partner at Accretive LLC, Edgar Bronfman Jr. turns 67… President of Tribe Media, publisher and editor of Jewish Journal, David Suissa… Real estate mogul and collector of modern and contemporary art, Aby J. Rosen turns 62… Executive assistant at Los Angeles-based FaceCake Marketing Technologies, Esther Bushey… Co-founder of non-profit Jumpstart, Jonathan Shawn Landres turns 50… Actress, television personality and author, Victoria Davey (Tori) Spelling turns 49… Host of programs on the Travel Channel and the History Channel, Adam Richman… VP and associate general counsel at CNN, Drew Shenkman… Managing director at FTI Consulting, Jeff Bechdel… Chef and food blogger, her husband Ryan played baseball for Team Israel, Jamie Neistat Lavarnway… Harriet L. Caplan…