👋 Good Thursday morning!
By the conclusion of a marathon 17-hour markup session for the National Defense Authorization Act early this morning, the House Armed Services Committee proposed increasing defense funding by $37 billion over the Biden administration’s request, to around $840 billion. The final version of the committee’s NDAA sailed through by a 57-1 vote, with only Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who had opposed the topline increase, voting against it.
During the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee’s markup of the 2023 defense budget, which also occurred yesterday, the committee passed amendments that would revoke the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force. The bill also includes the regularly scheduled $500 million in missile-defense aid to Israel.
During the markup, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) argued that repealing the 2002 AUMF with no replacement “would only embolden Iran and support its ambitions in Iraq, and undercut the efforts of our military to safeguard our national security.”
The House Appropriations subcommittee on state, foreign operations, and related programs also approved its 2023 budget draft, including the $3.3 billion in Israeli security aid guaranteed under the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, among other provisions.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid landed in Ankara, Turkey, today, where he will meet with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, this afternoon.
crime and punishment
Countering rise in hate crimes a ‘top priority,’ says Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg
Amid a sharp increase in hate crimes across New York City, Alvin Bragg, the district attorney of Manhattan, is devoting significant money and manpower to combat such incidents, which rose by 160% last year in his borough alone. Last week, the City Council approved Bragg’s request for $1.7 million in funding to expand his office’s hate crimes unit, which goes into effect on July 1. There is currently no funding in the city budget dedicated specifically to the unit. “We made the request because it’s a top priority,” Bragg said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “So we’re going to be prioritizing it.”
Rocky start: The new funding comes after a rocky start for Bragg, who assumed office in January. The political newcomer began his first term amid fierce backlash from critics who derided his approach to criminal justice reform as excessively lenient. Even as he has tempered some of his staunchly progessive policies in recent months — including a controversial vow to seek prison sentences only for the most severe offenses — Bragg, a Democrat, has continued to face scrutiny as well as calls for his ouster from hardcore detractors.
By the numbers: Bragg’s office is currently working through a docket of nearly 90 cases, most of which — between 35 and 40% — are anti-Asian hate crimes, according to a spokesperson for the office. Bias incidents against members of the LGBTQ community represent the second-largest number of cases. The majority of offenses involving the Jewish community, 12 in all, include property crimes such as antisemitic graffiti. “The docket is at the most it’s ever had for the unit,” Bragg told JI.
Looking beyond litigation: Bragg is on the lookout for two full-time deputy chiefs to work in the hate crimes unit, led by Hannah Yu. The funding also helps bankroll a supporting group of investigative analysts, assistant district attorneys, community partnership coordinators and victim services advocates. “We want to have a hate crimes unit that is staffed not just with lawyers, but also bringing in outreach folks who have language capabilities and cultural sensitivity and competency,” said Bragg, who hopes the new team will be ready “in a matter of months.”
‘Work in progress’: “There’s fear and concern about these issues, understandably, and I think engaging with people and letting them know we’re here has been quite helpful,” Bragg said, stressing that outreach has been ongoing in schools, synagogues and other places during his initial months in office. “In fact, we’ve been told that by groups, and absolutely we want to continue to do it. It’s a work in progress.”
Republicans slam Biden administration for upgrading Palestinian Affairs Unit
Republican lawmakers and former Trump administration officials are criticizing the Biden administration’s plan to upgrade the Palestinian Affairs Unit in the U.S. Embassy in Israel to a separate office reporting directly to the State Department, calling the move a de-facto effort to divide Jerusalem, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. In a statement set to be released on Thursday and organized by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), 35 senators and 56 House members will argue that the administration’s move “undermines our nation’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and signals support for dividing Jerusalem.”
Quotable: The congressional statement, obtained by Jewish Insider, called the move “alarming” and described the mission as “what amounts to be a separate U.S. diplomatic office to the Palestinians in Israel’s capital.” It continues, “This decision is wholly inconsistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 that Congress passed into law and has repeatedly reaffirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support over the years… Let there be no misunderstanding: this unprecedented arrangement… is an effort to open an unofficial and de facto U.S. consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. In fact, the Biden Administration admits this decision is one step closer to opening an official U.S. consulate, a plan it refuses to stop pushing despite the Government of Israel’s adamant opposition.”
Reinforcements: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered a similar criticism. “The Biden Administration’s attempt to open a Palestinian Consulate in Jerusalem is unlawful, divisive and blatantly disrespectful to the state of Israel,” Pompeo said in a statement to JI. “This decision will only further incite violence in the region and embolden Palestinian terror groups funded by the Iranian regime. Congress should do everything in its power to oppose this shameful course of action.”
Pushback: A State Department spokesperson told JI that the office continues to be led by the same official, George Noll, that it “operates administratively under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem” and that its “personnel remain under the authority and security responsibility of the Ambassador as Chief of Mission in Jerusalem.” The spokesperson added, “The new OPA reporting structure is designed to strengthen our diplomatic and public diplomacy engagement…. The United States maintains our recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and will keep our embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.”
bridging the gaps
Leaf hints at Abraham Accords expansion surrounding Biden’s Israel, Saudi Arabia trip
Barbara Leaf, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, hinted on Wednesday that there may be developments related to expanding the Abraham Accords during President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to the Middle East, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Coming soon: “We are working in the space that is not in the public domain with a couple of other countries,” that do not have preexisting relationships with Israel, “and I think you’ll see some interesting things around the time of the president’s visit,” Leaf told the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East, North Africa and global counterterrorism subcommittee. Asked by a lawmaker about efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Leaf said, “I don’t want to get ahead of the president on anything that may figure around his visit, but I can assure you that this is a piece that we are collectively working on.”
New front: Leaf also said that she spoke with Palestinian leaders during a recent visit to the region about expanding economic cooperation with Israel. “I think the door is beginning to crack, I’m going to continue to work on this space, because I think the Palestinians owe it to their people to engage in issues like water security, food security, renewables, issues of climate change, even as they work towards an eventual negotiation,” Leaf said. She explained that Palestinian leaders were anxious to ensure that such cooperation would not become a “substitute” for an ultimate political settlement, but she assured officials she would “continue to work very hard” on a two-state solution.
Tick-tock: Leaf insisted that the currently stalled nuclear talks with Iran are “not an open-ended, ‘till the ends of time situation” and that “there will come a point” where the U.S. cuts off negotiations, at the president’s discretion. She added that there is “a draft that is largely finished — not entirely” of a potential nuclear deal, but that the U.S. is increasing and tightening U.S. sanctions and has “maintained all the sanctions that were put on Iran by the Trump administration.”
On the horizon: Andrew Plitt,the acting assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Middle East Bureau, said the administration will be announcing additional Middle East Partnership for Peace Act awards in the next few weeks, “including a large award on building regional and economic bridges which will have further grants. And that’s really meant to make economic linkages between Israelis and Palestinians and really grow… the ability to bring people together behind investments.”
🗳️ Jewish Representation: The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos looks at the primary battle between Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the latter of whom is the only New York City-area representative who is Jewish. “The Aug. 23 contest between two powerful Democratic House committee chairs, both nearing the end of storied careers, will undoubtedly turn on many factors, grand and prosaic: ideology, geography, longstanding political rivalries and who turns out to the polls in New York’s sleepy end of summer. But for Jews, who once numbered two million people in New York City and have done as much as any group to shape its modern identity, the race also has the potential to be a watershed moment — a test of how much being an identifiably Jewish candidate still matters in a city where the tides of demographic and political clout have slowly shifted toward New Yorkers of Black, Latino and Asian heritage. ‘At a gut level, New York City without a Jewish representative would feel like — someplace else,’ said Letty Cottin Pogrebin, an author, founding editor of Ms. magazine and self-described ‘dyed-in-the-wool New York Jew.’” [NYTimes]
✍️ Beefing Up: In The Hill, JINSA’s Gabriel Noronha — previously the State Department’s special advisor for Iran in the Trump administration — suggests how Congress can strengthen the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) as the Biden administration continues to engage in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. “Congress passed INARA in 2015 to guarantee its ability to review and vote on any nuclear agreement reached with Iran. INARA remains the only mechanism that ensures Congress has a say on Iran negotiations since the Biden administration — unlike the Trump administration — has refused to submit any deal it reaches to the Senate as a treaty. But here’s the issue: That law was written with an eye to the circumstances surrounding negotiations with Iran in 2015. INARA was already weak and is now becoming increasingly outdated.” [TheHill]
🏦 Money Matters: The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Talley explores how Iran leveraged a network of international banks to protect its economy amid Western sanctions. “The Journal reviewed financial transactions for scores of Iranian proxy companies in 61 accounts at 28 foreign banks in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Turkey and the U.A.E. totaling several hundred million dollars. Western intelligence officials say there is evidence of tens of billions of dollars of similar transactions secretly conducted throughout the global financial system. Senior U.S. officials have repeatedly warned in recent months the U.A.E, Turkey, China and other nations must crack down on sanctioned Iranian transactions or risk their own penalties. ‘Iran is very sophisticated in its [sanctions] circumvention infrastructure,’ said a senior compliance officer at a major global bank. ‘They’ve got the technology, the skills, the people, and the state sponsorship behind that.’” [WSJ]
🇵🇱 Polish Dispatch: Tablet’s Armin Rosen travels to Krakow, Poland, to meet with the local Jewish community leaders and Holocaust survivors providing aid and assistance to Ukrainian refugees, who have flooded the city since the Russian invasion began in February. “As with so much else in Poland, there is an added dimension to anything the Krakow JCC does, connected to an unavoidable and painful past, one whose contradictions are difficult or perhaps impossible to resolve in the abstract, but manageable — maybe even surmountable — out in the real world, where the pressures and realities of 2022 can make something positive out of the ever-present nightmares of the 1940s and after. ‘Even a community decimated by the Holocaust and which suffered under communism still can show empathy,’ [JCC Krakow Executive Director Jonathan] Ornstein said. ‘It’s good to be able to help… You can feel a little powerless, given the history here.’” [Tablet]
Around the Web
🗓️ Caucus Calendar: The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will determine the 2024 presidential primary calendar at a meeting in the first week of August, following an effort to overhaul the existing system.
🚨 Endorsement Alert: Elisha Wiesel, activist and son of Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel, endorsed Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in New York’s 12th Congressional District.
👩 Empire State Blues: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) endorsed Ana María Archila for New York lieutenant governor instead of Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY), New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s running mate in the race.
⚖️ Court Ruling: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Arkansas state requirement that companies it enters into business with do not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel does not violate the First Amendment.
📍 Map Mayhem: The Palestinian BDS National Committee distanced itself from the controversial Boston-area “Mapping Project” that has been boosted by its Boston chapter. The national committee sent a letter to BDS Boston demanding that the chapter “remove all forms of promotion” of the map, which remains pinned to the top of the chapter’s Twitter feed.
📰 Media Watch: Semafor, the new media company being launched by Justin Smith and Ben Smith, will go live this fall, with $25 million in financial backing from investors including Sam Bankman-Fried and The Information founder Jessica Lessin.
🏈 Commanders Controversy: A congressional committee determined that Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder directed a legal team to conduct a “shadow investigation” to interfere with the inquiry into sexual harassment allegations conducted by legislators.
💸 Sports Sale: Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin announced that he is selling his 10% equity stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns both the 76ers and the New Jersey Devils.
💰 Closing Cost: Vine Venture’s Eric Reiner and Dan Povitsky announced the closing of a $140 million Fund II, with roughly half the fund going to support operations in Israel.
🖥️ Adjusted Algorithm: Meta reached an agreement with the Justice Department to build a new advertisement algorithm that does not target individuals based on their race, gender and religion, a practice the Justice Department considered discriminatory.
🫂 Lasting Friendship: The descendants of Greek Holocaust survivors who were saved by neighbors pooled their funds to help the neighbors’ own descendants open a new restaurant after their first restaurant had been shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
⛔ Never Again: The Australian state of Victoria banned the public display of Nazi symbols, including the swastika, in a bill set to take effect later this year.
📸 Camera Roll: A photo essay in The Guardian spotlights the Zeelim army base in Southern Israel used for soldier training that is designed to resemble Gaza.
📜 Declaration from Jerusalem: The Knesset adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.
🚓 Apprehended: An Israeli suspect was arrested in connection with the death of a Palestinian man in the West Bank earlier this week.
📱 Stateside Security: A Twitter account linked to the Iranian government tweeted — and has since deleted — a threat directed at former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
🛬 Tehran Trip: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Iranian officials in Tehran yesterday to discuss the stalled nuclear negotiations in Vienna.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan, second from right, with former New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations Kimihiro Ishikane and others. Erdan attended the 2022 Japan Society annual dinner on Tuesday in New York, marking the society’s 115th anniversary.
Film and television actress, her Hebrew name is Bat-Sheva, Selma Blair Beitner turns 50…
Professor emeritus of medicine and health care policy at Harvard, Samuel O. Thier, M.D. turns 85… Real estate developer and co-founder of Tishman Speyer, Jerry Speyer turns 82… Consultant at Citizenship Education Clearing House, Marvin Beckerman… Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Clarence Thomas turns 74… Senior advisor at Eurasia Group, author of 20 books on foreign affairs, global politics and travel, Robert D. Kaplan turns 70… Novelist and journalist, Roy Hoffman turns 69… Los Angeles-based activist, restaurateur and breast cancer fundraiser, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz turns 69… Klezmer expert, violinist, composer, filmmaker, writer, photographer and playwright, Yale Strom turns 65… Co-founder of the Center for Contemporary Political Art, Robin Strongin… President of the Harrington Discovery Institute at Case Western Reserve, Jonathan Solomon Stamler turns 63… Sports memorabilia marketer, in 2009 his firm sold all of the seats, signs and lockers from the old Yankee Stadium, Brandon Steiner turns 63… Former member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, now chair of the Jewish Labor Committee, Daylin Leach turns 61… Associate editor at the New Jersey Jewish Standard, Lawrence Yudelson… Former teacher at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., Stephanie Z. Bonder… Israeli-American professor, journalist and filmmaker, Boaz Dvir turns 55… EVP and general manager of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Howie Roseman turns 47… President of D1 Capital Partners and former deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, Jeremy Katz… Founder of Innovation Africa, Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari turns 44… Actress and comedian, best known for playing Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on CBS’s sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Melissa Rauch turns 42… Actress, singer and model, Marielle Jaffe turns 33… Former executive assistant to the director of international affairs at Jerusalem’s City of David, Gila Bublick turns 33… Ethiopian-born Israeli model who won the title of Miss Israel in 2013, Yityish Aynaw turns 31… Director of major gifts at OneTable, Ely Benhamo… Business development and marketing official at Indagare, Josh Lauder…