👋 Good Monday morning and happy Juneteenth!
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will travel to Turkey on Thursday to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. The trip comes amid concerns over potential attacks against Israelis by Iranian operatives in Turkey.
Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla fighter with the Colombian M-19 Democratic Alliance, won the country’s runoff election on Sunday, besting far-right businessman and politician Rodolfo Hernández Suárez. Petro will be the first leftist president in the country’s history.
In May 2019, Petro accused Israel of discriminating against Palestinians “como los nazis a los judíos” — “like the Nazis to the Jews,” comparing the relationship between Judaism and Israel to that of Catholicism and Colombia.
Join us this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. for a special Insider Access event in Washington, D.C., featuring a conversation between Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Jamie Kirchick, author of Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington, moderated by Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch. Space is limited, RSVP today.
A Jewish Coloradan hopes to unseat Boebert in November
Following a recent string of deadly mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., Adam Frisch, a Democratic primary candidate in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, is drawing a sharp contrast on gun control in his campaign to unseat Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) this November. “Fewer guns make sense,” Frisch, 54, said matter-of-factly in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “I fully support the Second Amendment, but the Second Amendment as the vast majority of people see it as, which is that the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee an assault rifle for a 6-year-old.”
Colorado chasm: The gulf between Frisch and Boebert on guns is as wide as the district itself, whose boundaries take in most of the state’s Western Slope. And the bet that Frisch is making in his longshot bid to take down Boebert is that his common-sense platform and moderate stance on a range of issues will resonate with voters who are fed up with her theatrics, incendiary rhetoric and support for conspiracy theories. “There’s obviously a lot of pent-up frustration that we have,” Frisch said. “She’s not even representing the people who voted her into office. It’s all about waving a gun and not doing anything else.” Among other provocations, Boebert has, perhaps most notably, expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, which imagines a secret network of Satanist pedophiles who control the political levers. While Boebert has insisted that she is not a follower of the movement, the congresswoman has continued to amplify some of its claims throughout her first term.
View of the race: Frisch, an entrepreneur and former longtime Aspen city councilman, maintains that Boebert’s constituents have become increasingly “horrified” by her actions. “Before, they thought she was just kind of a wildcard,” Frisch told JI. “Now, they see her as an embarrassment and a menace to society and a danger.” His hopes for a general election matchup, he recognizes, are dependent on a couple of outcomes. First, he needs to move past the June 28 primary, where he is facing off against two Democratic opponents: Sol Sandoval, a community organizer viewed as a frontrunner on the activist left, and Alex Walker, a self-described moderate who gained national attention for a questionably scatalogical campaign ad that one news outlet characterized as among the more “eye-catching” videos “in recent memory.”
Hitting home: Frisch, who is Jewish, suggested that Boebert’s conduct — particularly her flirtation with QAnon, a movement “with marked undertones of antisemitism and xenophobia,” according to the Anti-Defamation League — has been personally troubling, even more so amid a recent uptick in racially motivated hate crimes across the country. In Colorado, antisemitic incidents grew by 61% between 2017 to 2021, according to a recent audit conducted by the ADL. “I think QAnon is an antisemitic and racist organization, and I think she is one of the biggest champions of that,” Frisch said of Boebert. “You don’t have to connect the dots very far to say that I think she has done a lot of antisemitic things, she’s hanging around with a lot of antisemitic organizations, seeks their active support and is fueling a lot of replacement theory conversation.”
talk of this town
Is two-term D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in trouble at the polls?
People like to say that Washington, D.C., is a company town, only the “company” is the federal government. But residents’ excitement for politics and public service has not always trickled down to local elections. In the 2018 Democratic mayoral primary, which all but assures victory in the general election in the overwhelmingly blue city, voter turnout was less than 20%. A surprisingly competitive mayoral race, with voters set to choose a Democratic nominee tomorrow, could change that, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is running for her third term, is facing a challenge from the left in Councilmember Robert White.
Treading water: “This is a time in the city’s history where we should be making significant progress for the people and communities that have been left behind for decades, and we haven’t done that under Mayor Bowser,” White told JIin a recent interview. “We are essentially treading water. We’re not moving forward.” (Bowser and another candidate in the race, Councilmember Trayon White, did not respond to interview requests.)
Community ties: As a 501(c)(3), the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington does not make endorsements in the race. But JCRC Executive Director Ron Halber told JI that Bowser has a very strong relationship to the Jewish community. “JCRC does have an exceptionally close relationship with Muriel Bowser,” Halber said. He joined Bowser on a five-day trade mission to Israel in 2019. She has condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and in April, the city council — which both Robert White and Trayon White sit on — unanimously voted to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.
Building bridges: Robert White told JI that he will work to build bridges between Washington’s diverse communities to help fight rising antisemitism and racism. “One of the things that has really frustrated me as a Black man is seeing an increase in hate crimes, particularly against the Jewish community, because I understand very much the historic relationship that our communities have had in civil rights and racial justice,” he said. “People don’t have a full enough understanding of the historic bond between the Jewish community and the Black community, and it’s a very important one.”
Weatherman: Trayon White, the third major candidate in the race, has come under fire from the Jewish community for past comments widely seen as antisemitic. In a March 2018 Facebook video filmed in a snowy Washington, Trayon White suggested that Jews control the weather. White later apologized and attended several events in the Jewish community, including a Passover seder. He went on a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum but left early. “I think his history with the Jewish community speaks for itself,” said Halber. “I just don’t see him as a viable candidate.”
Lawmakers urge Defense Department against downgrading Israel-Palestinian security post
Concern is mounting in Washington over the Defense Department’s reported plans to downgrade the U.S. military official who coordinates security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with 32 senators signing onto a letter on Friday opposing the move. A similar House letter is also in the works, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: The Defense Department is considering lowering the rank of the U.S. security coordinator from a three-star general to a colonel as part of a department-wide requirement to reduce the number of top-ranked officers, according to Axios, although there is widespread concern about the move from the State Department and from within the Defense Department. The Israeli government is also reportedly concerned.
Letter Writing: Last week, Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) led 30 of their colleagues — 19 Democrats and 11 Republicans — in a letter urging Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin not to move forward with the plan. “Given continued regional volatility, steadfast high-level U.S. leadership and engagement to support peace and stability in Israel and the West Bank remain in the national security interest of the United States,” the letter reads. “Downgrading this position would undermine U.S. leadership and credibility in a region where it is essential to have a high-ranking officer who can engage with other nations’ highest-level military leaders,” the letter reads.
In progress: On the House side, Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Mike Waltz (R-FL) are working on a similar letter that will explain “why the USSC [United States security coordinator] in its current three-star rank is critical to its credibility and to ensuring Israeli and Palestinian security cooperation,” a Meng spokesperson told JI. That letter is expected to be finalized this week.
Backpedal: The mandate to reduce the number of top-ranked officers was handed down by Congress in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The Trump administration reportedly decided to fulfill the congressional directive by reducing the number of top officers abroad. “We stand ready to work with you to amend the law as necessary to support this vital policy objective,” the Senate letter’s signatories wrote.
In agreement: Michael Koplow, the chief policy officer of the Israel Policy Forum, told JI, “When people talk about things that have been successful over the past 15 years within the Israeli-Palestinian space, this is far and away the most successful initiative… It really is an example of smart U.S. investment in terms of taking a relatively small program and making sure it punches well above its weight.”
Gas deal bolsters Israel-Egypt industrial ties, while help for Europe’s fuel gap is limited
The European Union’s commitment to buy Mediterranean gas through an Israeli-Egyptian partnership will be a boon to the energy industries in both countries, even if it’s only a fraction of what’s needed to reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian gas, Ruth Marks Eglash reports for The Circuit.
Israel-Egypt cooperation: Following the agreement signed in Cairo last week, government officials hailed the benefits for Israel and Egypt in working together to export liquefied natural gas to markets outside the region. Energy analysts noted, though, that it would take years to ramp up supply through the Idku and Damietta liquefaction plants on Egypt’s northern coast, limiting the prospect of actually filling the gaps in gas flow that have hiked Europe’s energy costs since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Relatively small: “On a practical level, Israel is already supplying close to maximum capacity” for its domestic gas needs and the amount sent via an undersea pipeline to Egypt, Amit Mor, chief executive of Israeli consulting firm Eco Energy, told The Circuit. While “nice and symbolic,” he said, the three-way agreement “will not have a significant effect on the gas supply to Europe because it is a relatively small amount.”
Wake-up call: As the gas deal has clearly been in the works for several years, said Middle East political risk consultant Ghanem Nuseibeh, “what has happened with the Ukraine crisis is a wake-up call.” The fact that the countries involved have realized that they face serious and common challenges has allowed a “shift in geopolitics,” said Nuseibeh, a founder of London-based Cornerstone Global Associates. This has forced previous regional concerns and rivalries to “become of secondary importance compared to the real challenges of energy and food security faced by all the countries,” he said.
🎶 Preserving History: In The New York Times, Aida Alami spotlights efforts to preserve and document Moroccan-Jewish culture as the country’s Jewish population dwindles. “The songs, known as ‘romances,’ are a heritage of the Reconquista, or Reconquest, when Christians in medieval Spain waged a centuries-long battle against Muslim occupation. As the Reconquista was nearing its end in 1492, Jews who refused to convert to Christianity were expelled. Many of them ended up in Morocco, bringing their Spanish heritage with them. The songs reflect this history, with many taunting the Spanish rulers and priests who drove them out. Even though northern Moroccan Jews spoke a hybrid language of Hebrew, Spanish and Arabic, the songs are in Spanish. But they are not just political statements. They are ballads and lullabies with metaphorical lyrics that do not just speak of history, but are deeply intertwined with personal memories and cultural traditions.” [NYTimes]
🪖 Candid Kander: The Atlantic’s John Hendrickson interviews former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander ahead of the release of Kander’s memoir, which details the Democratic upstart’s rise to national attention and struggles with PTSD brought on by his military service in Afghanistan. “Even people close to Kander — his friends and family members — told me they were shocked by what they read. [His wife] Diana, for her part, said she’s less apprehensive about what reviewers will say than what their neighbors might think. The invisible storm of the book’s title is a reference to Kander’s struggle with PTSD, which derailed his political career. He’s now ready to offer a more complete picture of what happened. One way to interpret this decision is that he hopes his personal story can help others. You could also argue that he’s truly finished with politics and therefore has nothing to lose. A more cynical reader might view this project as Kander slyly setting the stage for a comeback. Maybe the fairest thing to say is that he’s undecided and in conflict with himself over his future.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🇸🇦 Trip Talk: National Economic Council Director Brian Deese dismissed claims that President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia was decided out of concerns about rising energy prices amid a global oil shortage.
🗳️ Dem Dash:The New York Times looks at the upcoming Democratic primary in New York’s new 10th Congressional District, where more than a dozen candidates have made moves to enter the race ahead of the August primary.
🇫🇷 Parisian Poll: The Atlantic Council’s Benjamin Haddad was elected parliamentary deputy from Paris’ 14th Arrondissement and will serve in France’s National Assembly.
🎨 Art Accusation: An art show in Berlin being curated by an Indonesian group is under fire for alleged antisemitism for including organizations that promote boycotts of Israel.
🎥 Coming Soon: A new film tells the true story of a Bosnian Muslim family that helped save a Jewish family during the Holocaust, and years later was saved by Sarajevo’s Jewish community during a siege on the city in the 1990s.
👨 Looming Large: In The New Yorker, Bernard Avishai explores the lingering influence of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the country’s political conversation.
🚀 Lull Lapse: Militants in Gaza fired a rocket into southern Israel on Saturday, breaking a two-month quiet along the border.
☢️ Nuke Negotiations: Iran is ready to reach a deal over its nuclear program, an official said on Monday, blaming the U.S. for the stalled talks, which have not advanced in several months.
👉 Blame Game: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Biden administration has undermined stability in the Middle East as a result of engaging in nuclear talks with Iran.
⏸️ Not So Fast: Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it was “too early” to begin discussing the reopening of its embassy in Saudi Arabia and Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran, as the two countries work to mend ties.
💼 New Appointment: Duke University professor Laurence Helfer was elected to be an independent advisor to the U.N. Human Rights Committee.
🕯️ Remembering: Basketball player Lennie Rosenbluth, who led the University of North Carolina Tar Heels to their first national title, died at 89.
Pic of the Day
Israeli fencer Yonatan Cohen competes Sunday in the European Fencing Championship held in Antalya, Turkey.
Detroit-based pawnbroker, reality TV star, author and speaker, Leslie “Les” Gold turns 72…
Weston, Fla., resident Harold Kurte… Author of 72 books including four series of children’s books, Dan Greenburg turns 86… Former member of Knesset for the Ratz party, Ran Cohen turns 85… Owner of Schulman Small Business Services in Atlanta, Alan Schulman… Host of Bully Pulpit from Booksmart Studios, Bob Garfield turns 67… Former assistant managing editor for politics at NBC News and adjunct professor at CUNY’s Baruch College, Gregg Birnbaum… Federation leader, founder of Brilliant Detroit (helping children out of poverty) and of Riverstone Communities (it owns and operates over 70 manufactured housing communities in 12 states), James Bellinson… EVP of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Moshe Hauer… Senior legal affairs contributor at Politico, Josh Gerstein… Attorney general of Pennsylvania, now running for governor, Josh Shapiro turns 49… Director of civic initiatives at The Teagle Foundation, Tamara Mann Tweel, Ph.D…. Journalist and EMT in NYC, Maggie Shnayerson turns 41… Director of brand strategy and digital innovation at Kivvit, Pearl Gabel… Chief communications officer at e-cigarette company Juul Labs, former White House official, Josh Raffel… Jennifer Bernstein… Photographer, producer and digital strategist, Sara Pearl Kenigsberg… Chief campus officer at Hillel Ontario, Beverley Shimansky… Jaime Reich…