👋 Good Wednesday morning!
The Knesset overwhelmingly approved preliminary legislation to dissolve, the first step to setting up new elections in Israel this fall.
Bret Stephens is out with a new exit interview with outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “In a world where domestic polarization is becoming almost the single biggest challenge, the experiment succeeded,” Bennett said of his government.
In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser won the city’s Democratic primary, beating out two primary challengers and all but guaranteeing a general election victory in the heavily Democratic city.
In Virginia, state Sen. Jen Kiggans won the GOP primary in the 2nd Congressional District, and is set to face Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) this fall. In the 7th District, Republican Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega will face off against Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA).
In the Alabama Senate primary runoff, Katie Boyd Britt, a former staffer for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), defeated Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), whom former President Donald Trump endorsed before switching his support to Britt.
Today on Capitol Hill, the House Armed Services will hold its marathon annual markup of the National Defense Authorization Act; Barbara Leaf, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell will testify before the Senate Homeland Security on Government Affairs Committee. The House Appropriations subcommittee on state, foreign operations and related programs will mark up its newly released budget proposal.
The State and Foreign Operations bill draft proposes $225 million for humanitarian aid to the West Bank and Gaza, $6 million above the 2022 funding level and $40 million above the Biden administration’s budget request. It also further increases conditions on security aid to Egypt.
At the fourth public hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol yesterday, the committee heard testimony from state officials who were pressured to cooperate with Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results, and who detailed efforts by Trump and allies to assemble alternate slates of electors in states the campaign had contested.
keep your friends
U.S. reassures Israel of support amid political turmoil in Jerusalem
Amid political turmoil in Israel, the Biden administration sought to reassure Israel on Tuesday that support for the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong — and that President Joe Biden’s planned trip to the country next month will proceed as planned, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. The recent dissolution of Israel’s Knesset and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s ruling coalition set off the country’s fifth elections in three years, which could lead to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power.
Fellow democracy: “I don’t expect political developments in Israel will have implications for what we are seeking to accomplish together with our Israeli partners, or with our Palestinian partners, for that matter,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. “That’s because Israel is a strategic partner of the United States. It’s a fellow democracy. We respect its democratic processes.”
On schedule: Biden, who is planning to visit Israel on July 13, said on Monday that his trip to the country will proceed. Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with both Bennett and Lapid on Tuesday, reiterating to both of them Washington’s “unwavering commitment to the strong U.S.-Israel strategic relationship.” Blinken also shared that Biden “looks forward to his visit to Israel next month,” according to State Department press releases.
Iran agenda: Blinken and Lapid also discussed the visit’s implications for “the fight against Iran,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “I’m not aware that there will be a meeting specifically focused on Iran this trip,” Price said, “but I will say it’s my strong suspicion.”
House lawmakers urge federal inquiry into ‘Mapping Project’
A bipartisan group of 37 House members is urging federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the potential use of the Boston-area “Mapping Project” by extremist groups, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Signing on: A new congressional letter, obtained by Jewish Insider and sent yesterday by the lawmakers to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and FBI Director Christopher Wray, raises serious concerns about the map and calls for significant federal action in response to it.
Quotable: “We fear that this map may be used as a roadmap for violent attacks by supporters of the BDS movement against the people and entities listed therein,” the letter, organized by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Don Bacon (R-NE) and featuring 29 Democratic and eight Republican signatories, reads. “We ask that you investigate the use of the Mapping Project by extremist organizations, provide any necessary enhanced security for targets listed in the Project, and work with social media companies and internet service providers to prevent its further distribution.”
On guard: Joe Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge at the Boston FBI Field Office, said during a Jewish community event last week that the FBI has been monitoring the Mapping Project and working to find more information about it, but had not identified any threats of violence associated with it.
on the docket
Supreme Court strikes down restrictions on public funding of religious schools
The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday against Maine’s restrictions excluding religious schools from programs that allow public funding of private schools, the latest in a series of victories for religious schooling advocates at the high court in recent years, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: Carson v. Makinhinged on a Maine law that provided families in rural areas without local public schools with funding to attend private schools or nearby public schools, but excluded “sectarian” schools. The court struck down this restriction in a 6-3 decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, with the court’s three liberals dissenting.
Thumbs up: “The State pays for tuition for certain students at private schools — so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion,” Roberts wrote. The decision was hailed by a range of Jewish groups — including the Orthodox Union, National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA), Agudath Israel of America, National Council of Young Israel and Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty (JCRL) — that had filed amicus briefs supporting such an outcome.
Celebration time: “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is the culmination of decades of determined advocacy by the Orthodox Union and our partners,” Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy, said in a statement. “The essential promise of the First Amendment’s religion clause is to guarantee religious freedom in the United States by requiring government neutrality toward religion. A state discriminating against religion — as Maine did in its tuition assistance program — is just as unconstitutional as a state promoting one particular religion.”
Flip side: In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer argued that, under the court’s ruling, the state would be in effect paying ministers to “teach the practice of religion” to children, and wrote, “The Establishment Clause was intended to keep the State out of this area.” In a separate dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor added that the decision “requires Maine to fund what many of its citizens believe to be discrimination of other kinds.” Other Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, National Council of Jewish Women, Union for Reform Judaism and Women of Reform Judaism supported upholding the Maine law.
what’s up doc
The documentarian and producer of Jewish film at the center of Jan. 6 hearings
British filmmaker Alex Holder, whose raw footage of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle and as-yet-unseen footage of the Capitol riot has attracted attention from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, is no stranger to having his films aired on the biggest stages. His 2016 documentary “Keep Quiet,” which follows far-right Hungarian politician Csanád Szegedi on an improbable journey toward embracing his Jewish heritage, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan, Jewish Insider’s Sophie Cohen reports.
Committee calendar: Holder has complied with a subpoena from the House Select Committee and will reportedly share raw footage of interviews with Trump and his family leading up to the election, as well as footage of the Capitol riot. He will appear before the committee on Thursday. “As a British filmmaker, I had no agenda coming into this. We simply wanted to better understand who the Trumps were,” Holder said on Tuesday in a statement on Twitter. Holder was initially connected to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, by former Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.
Roots journey: Holder’s film about Szegedi follows the neo-Nazi leader and deputy head of Hungary’s nationalist Jobbik party as he discovers his Jewish roots, learning that his maternal grandparents were Jews. He seeks out a rabbi, leaves the Jobbik party, visits Auschwitz and eventually becomes an Orthodox Jew.
🇮🇱 Comeback King: In Foreign Policy, Neri Zilber looks at the current political situation in Israel, as former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to mount a comeback as the country heads to new elections this fall. “Bibi, as he is widely known, has served as the leader of the opposition in the past year while fighting corruption charges in court. His trial is ongoing and could last several years. There’s no law that prevents him from serving as prime minister while fighting the charges. Netanyahu’s pitch to voters remains much the same: a right-wing nationalist government that includes his own Likud party along with smaller, far-right, and ultra-Orthodox factions… The one difference this time around is that it will be Lapid as the incumbent prime minister and not Netanyahu. ‘The myth of Netanyahu as this global statesman that’s on another level has dissipated,’ one senior Israeli government official told Foreign Policy. ‘Lapid has been doing it [as foreign minister] just as well as Netanyahu ever did.’” [FP]
✈️ Trip Troubles: In Bloomberg, Zev Chafets argues that the downsides of President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to the Middle East outweigh what he might accomplish while there. “When [Biden] arrives in Jerusalem, he will find a caretaker prime minister, Yair Lapid, and a government incapable of making major moves or decisions. Elections are scheduled for late October or early November. Biden will also meet with the opposition leader, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who polls say is most likely to lead the next government. Biden’s every word will be scrutinized for political preference. Pleasantries will be touted by his hosts and denounced by others as meddling in Israeli politics. His visit to the West Bank, where he plans to meet the head of the Palestinian Authority, is a controversy waiting to happen… But the battle here is for the future, and there is no reason to suppose that a summer chat between 87-year-old Mahmoud Abbas and the 79-year-old Biden will make much of a difference in the contours of the Holy Land.” [Bloomberg]
💻 Digital Downside: Fast Company’s Ryan Broderick does a deep dive into the digital art collective Remilia Corporation, some of whose members openly espouse racist beliefs. “In April, Charles Eppley, visiting assistant professor of Media Studies at the University of California, Riverside, tweeted out screenshots from the Milady Discord that revealed a rats nest of radicalization. In the screenshots, a number of users shared racist and homophobic 4chan memes as others asked the moderators to take action. In one screenshot, a user refers to Jewish women as a ‘shekel mommy’ and in another, a user writes, ‘Jews are just like NPCs [non-playable video characters] I’ve seen them on the street or in airports. Never spoken to one.’” [FastCompany]
🥒 Food Frenzy: In Forbes, Ari Melamud suggests that Israel’s focus on innovation is changing the field of food technology. “Some might wonder, how did Israel become such a core of food tech innovation? Being surrounded by so many burgeoning startups and hearing constant news of record-breaking investments, this entrepreneurial spirit and success-minded outlook are ingrained in so much of Israel’s culture and society. In addition, government-backed food tech incubators are supporting investment in the growing category and further encouraging eager entrepreneurs to enter the space. Multinational food giants like Coca-Cola, Danone, Nestle and Unilever have also invested their own dollars into Israel’s innovative food tech scene. Food tech also combines two of Israel’s strongest assets: agricultural and technological know-how. Israel has advanced its agriculture sector immensely in the last half century, and this know-how is now driving innovation in food technology.” [Forbes]
Around the Web
🗳️ Eye on November: Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz is appearing to distance himself from former President Donald Trump, who had endorsed him in the primary, as he shifts his messaging to appeal to a wider audience ahead of the general election.
🏆 Recount Results: After an extended recount, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) was declared the winner over progressive challenger Jennifer Cisneros by a margin of fewer than 300 votes.
💰 Dem Donation: Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX donated $800,000 to the Democratic National Committee in May — more than half of which was returned.
⚠️ Job Joust: Harvard economist and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warned that higher levels of unemployment are needed to lower inflation rates.
🖌️ Banner Bye: A banner with antisemitic imagery was taken down from an art installation in Kassel, Germany, following a backlash.
🎒 Curriculum Control: Poland is calling for formal rules regarding Israeli educational trips to Poland, which were first suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more recently put on hold by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who said the Polish government was attempting to control the trips’ curriculum.
⚖️ Heartless Dispute: A judge in New York greenlit a fundraiser hosted by “My Unorthodox Life” star Julia Haart for Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke in Haart’s home last night, following an attempt by Haart’s ex-husband, whose company owns the residence, to shut down the event.
✍️ Cancel Call: A petition calling on “The View” to remove Whoopi Goldberg as a co-host following controversial comments about the Holocaust has garnered more than 36,000 signatures.
🛂 Waiver Woes: The collapse of the Israeli government may delay the country’s entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which requires the Knesset to pass and implement some pieces of key legislation in order to move forward.
🚦 Threat Level: Newsweek looks at Israel’s newly created color-coded threat-ranking system, devised to address the security challenges the country faces along its southern border.
🥫 Manufacturing Map: Bloomberg spotlights how a report from Israel’s Intelligence Ministry on the country’s international reliance for drugs and food is helping Israel to bolster its security against shortages in the two sectors.
📈 Growth Mindset: Bank of Israel Gov. Amir Yaron said he believes the Israeli economy will continue to grow despite political turmoil and the nation’s looming fifth elections in three years.
🪖 Defense Deal: The U.S.-based Leonardo DRS will purchase Israeli defense technology firm RADA in a deal expected to be completed later this year.
🤝 Repairing Relations: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet today with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, his first trip to the country following the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
🇸🇾 Diplomacy in Damascus: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received credentials for the Bahraini ambassador to Damascus, who is establishing Manama’s first full diplomatic mission in the country in more than a decade. Hamas and Syria are also reestablishing ties after a decade.
🛩️ Sky View: Iran is resuming plans to build its own passenger planes, as it continues to face international sanctions that prevent Tehran from importing planes from major global manufacturers.
💼 Transition: The State Department’s Joel Starr was named a senior adviser for the Middle East and North Africa Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
🕯️ Remembering: Jozef Walaszczyk, who rescued dozens of Polish Jews during the Holocaust, died at 102. Ronald Berman, a former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities who expanded the agency’s budget, purview and reach, died at 91. Financial executive Steven Gluckstern, who worked to help homeowners following the Great Recession, died at 71.
Pic of the Day
Simon Bachmann from the Weinsberg State Winery, Rabbi Pushkin Jehuda and Peter Hauk, minister of agriculture for Baden-Württemberg, Germany, announce a new project to select vines in the state winery to produce kosher wine.
Retired MLB second baseman, he played for Team Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2021, Ian Kinsler turns 40…
A leading securities, corporate and M&A attorney, he is a founding partner of the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Martin Lipton turns 91… U.S. senator since 1992, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) turns 89… Former D.C.-based VP of Israel Aerospace Industries, Marvin Klemow… Jerusalem-born 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry, she is the director of a research center at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ada Yonath turns 83… Retired U.K. judge who chaired high profile hearings on ethics in the media prompted by the 2011 News of the World phone hacking affair, Sir Brian Henry Leveson turns 79… Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for physics, he is a professor at Brown University, J. Michael Kosterlitz turns 79… Retired justice on Israel’s Supreme Court, Edna Arbel turns 78… U.S. senator, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) turns 73… Member of the California State Assembly since 2012, Richard Hershel Bloom turns 69… AIPAC director for Greater Washington, Deborah Adler… Past president of the UJA-Federation of New York, Alisa Robbins Doctoroff… Member of Congress since 2001, he is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA) turns 62… Former member of the Knesset for the Hatnuah and Zionist Union parties, Robert Tiviaev turns 61…
Founder of tech incubator Playground Global, an $800 million fund, he is the Creator of the Android operating system which he sold to Google, Andy Rubin turns 60… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, he was the speaker of the Knesset until last year, Yariv Gideon Levin turns 53… SVP at Red Banyan PR, Kelcey Kintner… Program director at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Rafi Rone… Senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and author of a biography of Bibi Netanyahu, Anshel Pfeffer turns 49… Israeli jazz vocalist and composer, Julia Feldman turns 43… Executive director at Mesivta Netzach HaTorah in Woodmere, N.Y., Ahron Rosenthal… Russian-Israeli Internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Russia’s largest social network VK, Vaizra Capital investment fund, and Selectel network centers, Lev Binzumovich Leviev turns 38… Baltimore-based endodontist, Jeffrey H. Gardyn, DDS… Israeli-born basketball player with 11 NBA seasons, Omri Casspi turns 34… Former outfielder in the Washington Nationals organization, he started all three games for Team Israel in the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier round, Rhett Wiseman turns 28…