👋 Good Monday morning!
Biden administration officials are set to announce the president’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia as soon as today, amid speculation that he will add a stop in the kingdom to his visit to Israel next month.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will address the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum this morning, the first time the annual gathering has been held in person since 2019.
The event, which is taking place at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York in Manhattan, kicked off on Sunday with speeches by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and a prerecorded video message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Hochul condemned rising antisemitism and the BDS movement targeting Israel, and announced that her office issued a proclamation supporting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.
Adams addressed the spike in hate crimes. “We’re at an interesting place in America. Two individual groups that don’t realize that they are assisting each other: the far, far left and the far, far right… We must not alleviate, we must eradicate hate — that’s the focus that we’re going to have.”
Zelensky called for support for defending Ukraine against Russia’s onslaught. “Tell me why this is happening in 2022?” he asked. “This is not the 1940s!”
The view from Washington on the one-year anniversary of Israel’s groundbreaking government
The political ground beneath the leaders of both Israel and the U.S. looks shaky. In Israel, the year-old coalition government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appears to be losing its grip on power. In Washington, President Joe Biden and the Democrats face a potential walloping in the midterms amid sky-high inflation. But despite political turbulence at home in the U.S. and the Middle East, the state of the U.S.-Israel relationship is strong, experts tell Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch. And they credit Bennett and Biden with working to calm the once-rocky waters of a relationship that had in the past been driven by strong personalities in both countries.
Complete makeover: “The first year has brought about a complete makeover of U.S.-Israel bilateral ties,” said Scott Lasensky, who served as a senior adviser to former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro. Biden and Bennett do not have a close personal relationship, although Biden has traveled to Israel many times throughout his career, with another visit to Israel reportedly planned for next month. Instead, both leaders have deputized their respective cabinet members to form close working relationships that have rarely drawn headlines.
No fanfare: “All the parties, both American and Israeli, deserve credit for managing the relationship without letting personality interfere with policy,” said Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “You’re able to work through the disagreements, and some of the disagreements are profound, but you can do it quietly without a lot of fanfare.” That’s a departure from both the strained relationship between former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Barack Obama, and then the close personal friendship between Netanyahu and former President Donald Trump.
Showing support: Like Obama, Biden has policy disagreements with Israel, most notably on settlement construction and how to address Iran’s nuclear program. But Biden’s team appears to want Bennett’s government to remain in place.
Quotable: “I really respect this government. It’s working,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said at an Atlantic Council event in May. “I was anxious and thrilled working with them in a difficult situation. I am a big fan of this government, and we hope to continue working with them.”
view from jerusalem
One year on, Bennett’s government hangs by a thread
To mark the current Israeli government’s first anniversary, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week published a 27-page Hebrew-language pamphlet highlighting its achievements over the past year and appealing to what he called the “silent Zionist majority” to help him keep his fractious coalition in power. From less rocket fire from Gaza to some significant accomplishments for Israel’s economy, including the passage of a national budget after more than three years of political stagnation, the government led by Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has some cause for celebration.But observers told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash that it is the very makeup of the government and maybe even its effectiveness in running the country — that might end up being its downfall, as long-standing issues that remain at the core of Israeli identity continue to overshadow its existence.
No peace: “This government is excellent and has shown stability,” Shalom Yerushalmi, a veteran political commentator, told JI. “It passed a budget and is doing some important things with Israel’s infrastructure and development, but it probably won’t be able to hold on to power for much longer.” The reason, he theorized, is because it is impossible to have an Israeli government containing an Arab party that identifies with the Palestinian people without working towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Crisis mode: Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, told JI that the government had been successful in “extracting Israel from crisis mode” caused by four successive elections and putting it back into a state where it could properly function. However, he pointed out, two events have now undermined that sense of normality – the wave of terror attacks in March and April that left more than a dozen Israelis dead and the resignation of coalition whip Idit Silman, a member of the Knesset from Bennett’s own Yamina party.
Falling apart: Ben Dror Yemini, a political columnist for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, said the Bennett-Lapid government had been functioning well, reducing crime, improving the economy and bringing achievements in foreign relations, particularly with the Abraham Accords partners. “In the big picture, the government is really functioning harmoniously but on the other hand, the coalition is falling apart,” he said, also pointing to the Palestinian issue as an ever-looming shadow and a weak spot that has allowed claims by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some opposition leaders – that a government with Arab members allows terrorism to flourish unabated – to gain traction.
All bets are off in the Republican congressional primary in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Republicans will decide on Tuesday which of three candidates — with three distinct profiles — will go on to the general election in Nevada’s newly competitive, redrawn Las Vegas-area 1st Congressional District, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
At the races: Leading the Republican field are Carolina Serrano, a former organizer for Latinos for Trump who has promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot; Mark Robertson, a 30-year military veteran; and David Brog, the CEO of the Maccabee Task Force and former head of Christians United for Israel, who associates himself with the populist National Conservatism movement.
Jumping in: Serrano told JI that she was largely disconnected from politics until former President Donald Trump’s entry into the 2016 presidential race, when she found herself attracted to him because “he championed American citizens in a way that politicians really hadn’t before.” She went on to intern for Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and worked briefly as a field organizer for the Republican National Committee in Nevada. “It’s important to take the [Republican] message out to more people. Specifically, I’m Hispanic… I really realized we’re kind of all voting against our own interests because my values align more with the Republican Party,” she said.
Career change: Robertson, who retired as a colonel after three decades in the military, was deployed to 10 countries, including to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and Syria. He said he joined the race after Democrats gained a trifecta in Washington in 2021 — taking the White House and both chambers of Congress — as well as control in Nevada’s capital. “I don’t like the direction of our country… [this] headlong dive into socialism that the Democrats are taking us,” he explained.
Transition: Brog, who currently leads the Maccabee Task Force, a nonprofit funded largely by the late Las Vegas billionaire and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson that combats campus antisemitism, called his congressional run a continuation of “the last few decades” of fighting the “woke left,” a distillation of the message he expressed to JI in an interview earlier this year. Brog said his longtime advocacy work on key policy priorities — ”fighting wokeism” and protecting American industries and the working class — makes him the best candidate for the district.
Israel on the mind: Robertson characterized himself as a “very supportive” of Israel, noting that he’s also a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s leadership council. “Judeo-Christian values are an important part of what makes the United States the great country that it is,” Robertson said. “And I think Israel being the lone democracy in the Middle East, that we have much in common with Israel” and it is in America’s “national interests to [continue] supporting Israel.” Serrano expressed little interest in discussing foreign policy. “I’m more focused on domestic issues. Obviously, Israel’s a great ally of the United States and I respect and support that,” she said. “And I just don’t really have many thoughts beyond that.”
Tea leaves: Humberto Sanchez, a reporter for The Nevada Independent, told JI the race is “pretty wide open right now.” He said late last week that “anything happening now, between now and Tuesday, could move it in any of those three directions… It’s a three-way race at the top right now.” And the incumbent, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), could face trouble in November. “In a normal year you would expect a Democrat to win, particularly an incumbent,” Dan Lee, a political science professor at University of Nevala, Las Vegas, told JI. But, Lee noted, this is a highly favorable environment for Republicans and in the redrawn district, “a lot of these voters don’t know [Titus]… she won’t have as much of that incumbency advantage as she would normally have.”
Meet Aviva Aron-Dine, the White House’s newest econ wonk
With the recent departure of the National Economic Council’s deputy director, David Kamin, who is returning to his post at NYU’s Law School, the White House is tapping Aviva Aron-Dine, an economic policy analyst who served as executive associate director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), for the role, Jewish Insider’s Jacob Miller reports.
Policy oriented: Bucking the pipeline to academia from MIT’s economic department, one of the nation’s top economics programs, Aron-Dine jumped directly into government. “Generally, people who do extremely well in graduate school don’t want to go straight into government,” said Harvard economist Jason Furman, who worked with Aron-Dine. “She cared about the world and wanted to make the world a better place and thought that was the best way for her to do it.” Policy was the area where Aron-Dine felt she could exert the greatest influence. “I think she thought that adding new details to economic research was less important than taking what we already know and implementing it and using it,” Furman explained.
Credit continuation: In the Obama White House, Aron-Dine successfully argued the merits of continuing several tax credit programs, which mitigate poverty for an estimated 16 million people. “I’m not sure the White House would have made those tax credits permanent and permanently reduced child poverty were it not for her combination of advocacy and analysis,” Furman said. Aron-Dine pushed to ensure the U.S. tax code would continue to create incentives for charitable donations. In a 2012 memo written alongside Jonathan Greenblatt, who served as special assistant to President Barack Obama in the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation before becoming CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Aron-Dine opposed capping the dollar amount on charitable deductions, a policy they claimed would reduce giving by billions of dollars each year. “She was far more focused on getting to the right outcome rather than making the easy call,” Greenblatt told JI.
Popular hire: “Detailed knowledge is almost secondary to [the] ability to function in an organization, to process, bring people together, aggregate what others are doing,” said Furman. “[NEC Director Brian Deese] doesn’t know all the latest economic studies, and she does,” Furman added. “I think he does a great job of getting a lot out of very substantive, analytic people like her, but he’s also going to need someone to help run the policy processes and the deputy processes and the like, so they definitely will work well together.”
🇸🇦 Riyadh Reasoning: The Atlantic’s Andrew Exum, who served in the Obama administration, stresses the regional and geopolitical importance of President Joe Biden’s expected upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia. “The Middle East has sucked up far too much of the oxygen in the room — in the Situation Room, specifically — since the end of the Cold War. Presidents Obama, Trump, and Biden might not agree on much, but I think they would all agree with that last sentence. Yet the normalization process that began between Israel and its Gulf neighbors during the Trump administration represents an opportunity to reset expectations for an American commitment to the region. The growing ties between Israel and the Gulf States have created a strong counterweight to malign Iranian influence in the region. Should Israel enjoy closer political, military, and even commercial relations with the Gulf, future American presidents could assume more risk regarding the U.S. commitment to the region. Democrats have a lot to criticize from the Trump years, yet the Abraham Accords shouldn’t be one of those things. But I fear the normalization process won’t go any further without Saudi Arabia on board.” [TheAtlantic]
⚖️ Court Consideration: In the New York Post, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls on the Supreme Court to hear two cases tied to terror financing, despite a push by the Biden administration to let the lower courts’ rulings stand. “Should the decisions of the lower courts stand, it will not only impact the safety of Americans abroad, but also compromise our nation’s ability to prosecute multidimensional wars in the future. Terrorism derives a part of its power by encasing itself within a hall of mirrors. This complicates our reactions, which are difficult enough without the Bidenite attempt to remove a core element of our countervailing response ─ the attainment of civil remedies against those who knowingly facilitate terrorism. This will cost precious lives. It is imperative that the high court hear these cases and reverse the lower-court rulings. The deceit that involves the misuse of charities must be crushed.” [NYPost]
💖 Coping Strategy: In the Boston Globe, Myra Sack describes how her family coped with her daughter’s Tay-Sachs diagnosis, celebrating each Shabbat as a milestone event.“Sometimes in situations like ours, we’ve heard, loved ones slowly disappear from your life — not because they don’t care, but because they just don’t know what to say or how to help. But Havi’s posse, as they’d come to be called, knew instinctively the best thing they could do was show up. They followed our lead, and no one pretended that the heartache wasn’t there. They showered her with gifts: a onesie; cake and balloons; a plush toy avocado, her first food, which was bigger and wider than she; a warm challah; and an elegant gray dress with white leggings — her first Shabbirthday outfit. Havi loved every minute of it. Our home felt full and warm that night. Everyone stayed close to each other as the Shabbat candles flickered and the reality of Havi’s illness swirled around us. We didn’t have to pretend our pain away with fake smiles, nor did we need to hide from honest joy and laughter that can come from the deepest, most painful places. That night, she never left the arms or lap of someone who loved her.” [BostonGlobe]
📍 Mapping Malevolence: In the Times of Israel, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemns the recent effort by BDS activists to draw connections between Jewish institutions around Massachusetts and governmental and media organizations. “Sadly, the ‘Mapping Project’ is not a one-off from a fringe group. Rather, it exemplifies how the increasingly aggressive purveyors of anti-Zionism are spewing raw antisemitism into the mainstream. The movement barely attempts to use the fig leaf of opposition to Israeli policies to cover a venomous hostility to the Jewish people. Zionism is a belief that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination and statehood in their ancestral homeland. The yearning to return to Zion (the biblical term for the land of Israel) has been central to Judaism and Jewish identity for thousands of years. Anti-Zionism, in its current form, is not just the intellectual opposition to this idea. It is a belief system predicated on the negation of Jewish nationhood and the Jewish right to self-determination. These anti-Zionist groups deny the historic and spiritual connection that Jews have to the land of Israel and seek to de-legitimize and extinguish the existence of the world’s only Jewish state.” [TOI]
Around the Web
💰 Money Move: President Joe Biden spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Los Angeles at the home of Haim and Cheryl Saban, raising $2.5 million at the event.
💻 Bad Bedfellows: A woman accused of stealing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) laptop during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol reportedly met with a man who was plotting an attack on a synagogue.
👋 Out the Door: Retired Gen. John Allen, who is being investigated for his role in a foreign lobbying scheme, announced his resignation as the president of the Brookings Institution.
➡️ Next Steps: In an interview shortly after Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary, David McCormick reflects on his career trajectory and weighs options for the future.
🗳️ Eye on Alaska: Following Saturday’s primary, former Alaska Senate candidate Al Gross was in third place ahead of the state’s runoff to fill the seat of late Rep. Don Young (R-AK), which will see four candidates out of 48 advance to the general election once the results of the primary are finalized.
👍 Primary Pick: The New York Times’ editorial board endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul ahead of New York’s June 28 Democratic primary.
🪧 Conference Circuit: The Tikvah Fund held its Jewish Leadership Conference at New York’s Chelsea Piers yesterday, despite a protest outside, which was attended by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), over the inclusion of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the program.
😋 Food for Thought: In New York magazine’s “Grub Street Diet,” actor Alex Edelman runs through several days’ worth of meals and meetings around New York City.
💸 Accessible Aid: The EU is considering unblocking millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority, which was previously held up due to antisemitic and anti-Israel content in Palestinian school materials, as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen travels to Israel this week.
👨 Top Pick: Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. Mark Regev is reportedly a top candidate to head The Jewish Agency for Israel, amid internal disagreements over who will succeed President Isaac Herzog, who left the position to assume the presidency.
🏗️ Build-Up Nation: The Israeli government announced a slate of new measures to incentivize building residential properties, a move it hopes will address rising housing prices.
💥 Grounded: Syrian officials said last week’s strike on Damascus International Airport, which has been attributed to Israel, caused “significant” damage at the site.
📹 Camera Concern: Iran has begun removing more than two dozen surveillance cameras posted at nuclear sites around the country, following the International Atomic Energy Agency’s censure of Iran last week over its failure to cooperate with inspectors.
📉 Rial Trouble: The Iranian rial dropped to its lowest-ever value, exchanging at 332,000 rial to the U.S. dollar.
🤝 Formidable Foes: Iran and Venezuela, both oil-producing countries facing American sanctions, signed a 20-year cooperation agreement in Tehran on Saturday.
🏅New Appointment: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean and director of global social action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
🕯️ Remembering: Bernard Levy, who as a 19-year-old corporal in the British Army was part of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, died at 94. Attorney and talent agent Marvin Josephson, who served as chairman of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, died at 95.
Pic of the Day
Attendees at Friday’s Tel Aviv Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel, which drew tens of thousands of people.
Retired justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, previously attorney general of Israel, Elyakim Rubinstein, pictured here with then-President Shimon Peres, turns 75…
Professor at UCLA, he played an influential role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock turns 88… Founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff turns 84… Senior advisor for George Soros’s Open Society Institute, Morton Halperin turns 84… Former chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co., Chancellor of Brown University and CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert turns 82… Member of Congress (D-NY) and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Nadler turns 75… Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Michael J. Elman, MD… National political correspondent for National Public Radio, Mara Liasson turns 67… Tech entrepreneur and co-founder and general partner along with Marc Andreessen of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Benjamin Abraham “Ben” Horowitz turns 56… Internet entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Overtime, Daniel Porter turns 56… Yoga instructor, Jenny Eisen Verdery… Family court judge of the City of New York, serving in Brooklyn, Judge Erik S. Pitchal turns 50… White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Eli Stokols… Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, Michael Stern turns 43… Principal at SKDK, Marissa Shorenstein… Policy advocate at Protect Democracy, Ariela Rosenberg… Actor Max Samuel Spielberg turns 37… Film and television actress, Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings, turns 36… Fashion blogger and creator of Something Navy apparel stores, Arielle Noa Charnas turns 35… Deputy editor at Real Clear Investigations, Benjamin H. Weingarten… Retired NFL football player after four seasons, he is the co-founder of Stryve Biltong Snacks, Gabe Carimi turns 34… Founder of Moishe House Mosaic in Fairfax, Va., Samantha Magnes… Speed skater who represented the USA at the Winter Olympics, Emery Lehman turns 26… Contributing editor to eJewishPhilanthropy, Esther D. Kustanowitz…