👋 Good Friday morning!
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: A Jewish Coloradan hopes to beat Boebert in November; Leaf hints at Abraham Accords expansion surrounding Biden’s Israel, Saudi Arabia trip; U.S. antisemitism envoy headed to Saudi Arabia in first trip abroad; Countering rise in hate crimes a ‘top priority,’ says Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg; Gas deal bolsters Israel-Egypt industrial ties; help for Europe’s fuel gap limited; Musk, oil prices, soccer dominate stage at Qatar Economic Forum; Israeli government collapse disrupts domestic agenda, diplomatic efforts; Israeli political shake-up sends country to fall elections; and Supreme Court strikes down restrictions on public funding of religious schools. Print the latest edition here.
Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, will travel to Saudi Arabia this weekend, where she will meet with government ministers and civil society leaders, in her first foreign trip. Read more here.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee deadlocked yesterday over Elizabeth Bagley’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Brazil. A full Senate vote would be required to discharge her from the committee.
In a 1998 interview, Bagley spoke about the “major money” and influence of the “Jewish lobby” in politics — comments that Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said at Bagley’s confirmation hearing last month “fit into the traditional tropes of antisemitism.” She apologized for her “choice of words” and said the interview “certainly does not reflect my views on Jewish Americans.” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) also raised concerns about the comments.
Bagley also said in the 1998 interview that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “stupid thing.” She said during her confirmation hearing that this was “a stupid thing to say” and added that she had supported keeping “Jerusalem as part of the overall negotiations over a two-state solution.”
At the House Armed Services Committee’s Wednesday markup of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, the committee approved amendments supporting joint U.S.-Israel post-traumatic stress disorder research, joint military exercises between Israel and U.S. allies and a joint Middle East air- and missile-defense architecture.
Other approved amendments require the Defense Department to provide further information to Congress on Chinese links to and support for Iran; Iranian attacks on American personnel; the state of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs; Iranian air and missile threats; U.S. counter-drone capabilities in the Middle East; and the progress of the U.S.-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group, authorized in last year’s NDAA. The proposed bill also mandates an annual public DoD report on Iranian military capabilities.
Some lawmakers, including those affiliated with the Republican Study Committee, are planning to introduce additional Iran-related amendments when the NDAA comes to the House floor in the coming weeks, an individual familiar with the situation told JI.
The Senate passed a gun reform package last night, by a vote of 65-33. The House is expected to take up the legislation today.
Jonathan Swan joins ‘Limited Liability Podcast’
Even in the hypercompetitive landscape of Washington journalism, Jonathan Swan steadfastly remains a star. Deeply sourced and thoughtful, the Australia native has gained acclaim as much for his scoops as for his probing TV interviews. In a conversation on Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” Swan, who serves as Axios’ national political correspondent, discussed the inner workings of the Biden White House, interviewing former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden’s changing relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Interviewing former President Donald Trump: “One of the challenges in interviewing him, it’s like riding a bronco: You might have a line of questioning or you might have the perfect question that you crafted about the Mueller investigation. You could come up with the smartest question ever, and you put it to Donald Trump and he doesn’t respond to questions, he responds to keywords. So the minute you say ‘Russia’ or ‘Mueller,’ you really just subject your audience to a four- to five-minute rant about the ‘Hoax’ and the ‘Fake News’ and whatever.”
Biden White House: “The White House is effectively controlled by five people and they’re all basically family in the sense that they’ve known Biden and [have] been part of the Biden operation since the early ‘80s. It is an absolutely impenetrable fortress, that tight group around him, and that’s why you see almost no real ‘inside the room’ reporting on how Biden is making his really sensitive decisions… I’ll give you a little secret: The decisions aren’t being made in the 40-person senior staff call at 8:20, they’re being made in a tiny room. Most of the staff have never heard a decision being made; they’re not in the room for any of that. And they have no earthly idea [about] some of these really intimate conversations where the really tough stuff is being worked out.”
Biden and MBS: “Biden came into office calling [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman a pariah, he used the word pariah, and that we have to make him a pariah. He basically signaled that we’re going to fundamentally change the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Obviously, early on, they went in that direction with the declassification of the documents, showing that MBS was ultimately responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi… But very quickly, for a number of reasons — some of them were domestic political reasons, such as energy inflation — they changed their policy and they had senior aides, including [National Security Advisor] Jake Sullivan, fly over to meet with MBS and basically, they had to suck up to him.”
setting the record straight
Mandela Barnes clarifies views on aid to Israel in JDCA Senate candidate forum
Mandela Barnes, a frontrunner in Wisconsin’s crowded Democratic Senate primary, affirmed his support for continued U.S. aid to Israel on Thursday during a virtual candidate forum hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, effectively distancing himself from previous comments in which he had been somewhat less forthcoming in explaining his position, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
What he said: “I had an incredible opportunity to visit Israel 10 years ago, got to bear witness to the harsh reality of Israel’s national security, and I do support the MOU,” Barnes said at the forum, referring to the memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel that guarantees such funding. “It’s important,” he emphasized, “that Israel remains a strong ally and a strong partner in the Middle East.”
What he said last year: Barnes, the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, offered a different response in an interview with Jewish Insider last fall. While he said he would “always support funding” for “legitimate security purposes,” the Senate hopeful shied away from explaining whether his views would lead him to endorse placing conditions on the aid. “I want to ensure that no American taxpayer dollars go toward activity that violates human rights,” Barnes explained at the time, “including the demolition of homes, forced evacuations or promoting new settlements.”
Latest on the race: At Thursday’s forum, Barnes was joined by three other candidates who are seeking the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 9 primary to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), including Alex Lasry, on leave from his role as senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks; Sarah Godlewski, the state treasurer of Wisconsin; and Tom Nelson, an Outagamie County executive and former state legislator. Independent polling on the race has indicated that Barnes is the favored candidate, even as his lead has narrowed since he announced his candidacy last summer. In a Marquette Law School Poll survey released on Wednesday and conducted in mid-June, Barnes garnered 25% among 369 Democratic primary voters, four points ahead of Lasry but still within the margin of error. Godlewski and Nelson, in third and fourth place respectively, both garnered support in the high single digits.
on the hill
Senate Dems call for U.S. involvement in investigation of Palestinian-American journalist’s death
Twenty-four Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday urging federal officials to “launch an independent investigation under U.S. auspices” into the May death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, joining a group of House colleagues who previously issued a similar call, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Step in: The letter, led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), argues that the U.S. “has an obligation [to] ensure that a comprehensive, impartial, and open investigation into her shooting death is conducted,” and, given that neither Israel nor the PA trust each other to do so, “the only way to achieve that goal is for the United States to be directly involved.”
Press protection: The letter also raises concerns about a statement from an Israeli military spokesperson on the day of the shooting that Abu Akleh and her crew “were armed with cameras.” The letter’s authors tell Biden, “In order to protect freedom of the press, a thorough and transparent investigation under U.S. auspices must be conducted to get to the truth and provide accountability for the killing of this American citizen and journalist.”
Pushback: “We believe that this letter unfairly implies both Israeli culpability and inability to conduct an objective, thorough investigation of the tragic death of the journalist,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told Jewish Insider. “The letter also fails to acknowledge the underlying reason for the Israeli operation on the day in question.”
Football coach prayer case could bring back ‘quasi-compulsory’ school prayer, Jewish group warns
A hotly anticipated Supreme Court decision on the case of a public high school football coach who was fired for praying with his players after games could herald a significant setback for protections against “quasi-compulsory” school prayer, Marc Stern, the American Jewish Committee’s chief legal officer, told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Background: In the case, Joseph Kennedy, a high school football coach, is suing the Bremerton (Washington) School District for firing him for praying at midfield immediately after each game. While Kennedy contends he was exercising his First Amendment rights and praying privately, the school district argues that he was acting as a representative of the school and players felt pressured to join him, lest they potentially lose out on playing time. The conservative-majority Supreme Court is widely expected to rule in Kennedy’s favor.
Rolling back: Stern described Kennedy v. Bremerton as the latest chapter in a long-running battle over prayer in schools. Stern told JI, “It’s been the Jewish community’s position that teachers — and coaches are in the same category — ought not to create a situation where they’re modeling religious activity while they’re on duty with their students. And in this case there was significant evidence that there was real pressure on students on the football team to join in on the prayers.”
Flip side: One Jewish group, the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty (JCRL), is taking an opposite view, arguing that, if the Supreme Court were to rule that Kennedy could be fired for his midfield prayers, it could allow schools to fire Jewish teachers for privately observing a range of daily prayer rituals. JCRL filed an amicus brief to that effect. “If the court were to say, ‘Yes, a public school could fire a teacher for saying quiet, personal prayers,’ it would be just devastating for the ability of religious Jews to be teachers in public schools,” Howard Slugh, JCRL’s general counsel, argued.
🇸🇦 Coming Soon: For CNN, Aaron David Miller looks ahead to President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia. “But the main event is the U.S. president’s visit next month to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis believe that this visit will be tantamount to turning a page in the US-Saudi relationship and view it as American recognition that Biden’s intemperate comments about MBS [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] were uncalled for — and that Saudi Arabia is too important to ignore… The president will try to get as much as he can out of the meeting with MBS. Likely pressing the Saudis to pump more oil; align closer with Israel; support the West’s effort against Russia on Ukraine; and cooperate with other Gulf states and Israel on containing Iran. And he may succeed in some of it.” [CNN]
🕍 Chabad on the Bay: eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales interviews the new Chabad emissary in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. “‘People know a lot of things about Martha’s Vineyard, but they might not realize that it’s a very personable place,’ Rabbi Tzvi Alperowitz, 25, the first-ever Chabad emissary on the Vineyard, told eJewishPhilanthropy. ‘It has a very friendly feel, people are very welcoming and helpful. People know others in a personal way. That really spoke to us and that’s very much what we’re creating with Chabad — community.’ Alperowitz and his wife, Hadassah, were introduced to the island via his uncle, Yekusiel Alperowitz, a Chabad rabbi on nearby Cape Cod. They began the process of moving to the Vineyard last year and recently purchased a house with the help of local benefactors.” [eJP]
Around the Web
✍️ Exclusive: A bipartisan group of House lawmakers led by Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Mike Waltz (R-FL) urged the Defense Department in a letter on Thursday against downgrading the rank of the U.S. official responsible for managing security coordination between the Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, a week after 32 senators sent a similar letter.
❓ Progress Report: Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) sent a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken this week requesting an update on joint solar and desalination projects among the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Jordan.
🚨 Race to Watch: The Working Families Party endorsed New York state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou in the crowded Democratic primary in New York’s redrawn 10th Congressional District.
🙏 Apology, Again: Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is also running in the 10th District, issued another apology for comments made at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic singling out Jewish mourners at a funeral in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg for breaking restrictions on large gatherings.
↩️ Terrible Tweet: A Boston city councillor walked back her comments following backlash for a tweet in which she invoked antisemitic tropes in response to a recent Appeals Court decision over an Arkansas anti-BDS law.
🚓 Letter Lead: The Jewish Federations of North America led a letter signed by 189 national and local organizations, including 80 local federations, supporting the Safer Communities Act, which passed out of the Senate last night.
🎥 Video to VC: Jeffrey Katzenberg detailed how he is applying what he learned in Hollywood — including lessons from the failed effort to start Quibi — to his new career as a venture capitalist.
💎 Simon the Swindler: Simon Leviev — the focus of the Netflix documentary “The Tinder Swindler,” who scammed European women out of tens of thousands of dollars — was summoned to appear court next week, where he will face allegations that he impersonated being a member of the prominent Leviev family.
🕺 Get This Party Started: Slate interviews entertainment company execs following the release of the Apple TV+ series “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” which spotlights the world of bar and bat mitzvah entertainment.
🎸 Making Music: Israeli-born jazz guitarist Gilad Hekselman discussed his latest album, “Far Star,” written while in Israel for the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
👍 Committee Confirmation: The U.N. General Assembly confirmed Daphna Hacker as Israel’s candidate for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
🇮🇱 Ballot Box: Israel was elected to head the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2025, in a vote taken at the body’s plenary in Stockholm this week.
🏡 Humble Abode: The Associated Press spotlights the German Colony residence of U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who moved into the Jerusalem neighborhood earlier this year.
⛏️ Ancient Find: Israeli archeologists discovered a 1,200-year-old mosque in Israel’s Negev Desert.
🤝 Mending Fences: Turkey’s foreign minister said Ankara and Jerusalem are working to restore ties at the ambassador level, following a visit to Turkey by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday.
🗄️ Digital Drop: Pope Francis ordered that the WWII-era Jewish files from the archives of Pope Pius XII be published online.
🇦🇷 Tragic Accident: Five people died in a fire in the apartment of a Jewish family in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta.
👨 Revolutionary Shuffle: Iran is reportedly removing Hossein Taeb as the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ intelligence unit following a string of targeted attacks on Iranian scientists and military officials.
✈️ Flights Fixed: Flights in and out of Syria’s Damascus International Airport resumed after some runways and a terminal were damaged by an airstrike.
🇮🇶 Proxy Politics: Sixty-four new lawmakers were sworn into Iraq’s parliament yesterday, filling vacancies created by the mass resignation of lawmakers aligned with Muqtada al-Sadr, making the pro-Iran bloc the body’s majority.
🗣️ Veep Trip: Former Vice President Mike Pence visited the headquarters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Albania, where he met with Iranian dissidents and delivered a policy speech on Iran.
Pic of the Day
Australian Maccabi Team members pose with Maccabi Australia President Barry Smorgon — who is holding a Maccabi Games torch — ahead of the start of the games in July. The Jewish sporting event, the third-largest multisport event in the world, is held every four years in Israel.
Co-founder of Trian Fund Management, he was recently added to the board of Unilever, Nelson Peltz turns 80…
FRIDAY: Former congressman (D-NJ) and active real estate investor, Herbert C. Klein turns 92… Ruth Weinstein… Professor emeritus in the College of Business at San Francisco State University, Sam S. Gill turns 80… Former chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company, Seymour “Sy” Sternberg turns 79… Professor of Jewish philosophy at American Jewish University and founding dean of its rabbinical program, Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff turns 79… Founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, he is also the founder of Yeshivat Maharat for Orthodox women, Rabbi Avi Weiss turns 78… Former secretary of labor, author and professor at UC Berkeley, Robert Reich turns 76… Former member of Knesset and former chief of staff of the IDF, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon turns 72… Early childhood specialist at Columbus City Schools and Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, Ohio, Carol Glassman… EVP at Edelman, he is the author of a book on the Saatchi & Saatchi ad firm, Kevin Goldman… Circuit judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Sandra Segal Ikuta turns 68… President and CEO of public relations firm Steinreich Communications, Stanley Steinreich… U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Florida, Beth Bloom turns 60… Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College, a co-educational K-12 Jewish day school located in Melbourne, Australia, Rabbi James Kennard turns 58… The first on-air talent of the NFL Network when it debuted in 2003, he has become the face of the network ever since, Rich Eisen turns 53… Israeli businesswoman and owner of the soccer team Hapoel Beer Sheva, Alona Barkat turns 53… Author and columnist, Shulem Deen turns 48… Singer and songwriter professionally known as Ariel Pink, Ariel Marcus Rosenberg turns 44… Film director Todd Strauss-Schulson turns 42… Resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Matthew Continetti turns 41… Senior social media content manager at Equifax, Brett Rosner… One-half of the husband-and-wife duo known for their YouTube channel h3h3Productions, Ethan Edward Klein turns 37… VP of Houston-based RIDA Development, Steven C. Mitzner… A 2015 contestant on “Jeopardy!” who earned $413,612 by winning 13 consecutive episodes, he is a son of USDC Judge Amy Berman Jackson, Matt Jackson turns 30… Actress and singer, Elizabeth Greer “Beanie” Feldstein turns 29… Tax manager at Mazars USA, Moshe Gruber, CPA… Recently graduated college basketball player for the Harvard Crimson of the Ivy League, Spencer Freedman turns 24…
SATURDAY: New Jersey-based criminal defense attorney, Miles Feinstein turns 81… Music publicist in the 1970s and 1980s for Prince, Billy Joel and Styx, later an author on human behavior, Howard Bloom turns 79… Founder and CEO of Bel Air Partners, a financial advisory firm for automotive retailers, Sheldon J. Sandler turns 78… Real estate developer in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Las Vegas and Miami and founder of The Continuum Company, Ian Bruce Eichner turns 77… Lake Worth, Fla., resident, Joseph C. Goldberg… Woodland Hills, Calif.-based mentor, coach and consultant, Gary Brennglass… Chairman and CEO of his family’s Chicago-based investment firm, Henry Crown and Company, he is a director of JPMorgan Chase and General Dynamics and the managing partner of the Aspen Skiing Company, James Crown turns 69… Member of the Knesset for the Meretz party, Michal Rozin turns 53… Founder and CEO of The Agency real estate brokerage, Mauricio Umansky turns 52… Managing director of A-Street investment fund, Mora Segal… Strategist at West End Strategy Team, Helen Chernikoff… Founder and director of The Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh, Natan Slifkin turns 47… Fashion model and television presenter, Michele Merkin turns 47… Congressional liaison at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Zachary Silberman… President of Gratz College in Melrose Park, Penn., Zev Eleff turns 37… Manager of strategic content at Leidos, Isaac Snyder turns… Avital Mintz-Morgenthau… Producer and reporter covering the White House for CNN, Betsy Klein… Center fielder in the San Francisco Giants organization, he was the 10th overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft, Hunter David Bishop turns 24…
SUNDAY: British Labour party member of Parliament for 42 years, David Winnick turns 89… Partner in the law firm BakerHostetler, Irving H. Picard turns 81… Independent insurance agent, David Marks… Retired co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Robert Siegel turns 75… Rabbi of Congregation Chaverim in Tucson, Arizona, Stephanie Aaron… Founder of Grover Strategies and former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Alan Solow turns 68… CEO of Emerging Star Capital and the author of a biography of President Bill Clinton, Robert E. Levin… CEO of ZMC, Strauss Zelnick turns 65… Professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland, she is known for her work on sleep patterns and behavioral well-being, Amy Ruth Wolfson, Ph.D…. Once the wealthiest of all Russian oligarchs, later a prisoner in Russia and now living in London, Mikhail Khodorkovsky turns 59… Novelist and journalist, Lev Grossman… and his twin brother, author and video game designer, Austin Grossman, both turn 53… Dean of Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business, Noam T. Wasserman turns 53… President and founder of Reut Group, Gidi Grinstein turns 52… Political commentator, YouTube personality, comedian and talk show host, Dave Rubin turns 46… Strategic communications consultant, Ross Feinstein… Associate in Mayer Brown’s DC office, Michael “Mickey” Leibner… Director of development at NYU’s Bronfman Center, Sara Fredman Aeder… Consultant at Boston Consulting Group, Asher J. Mayerson…