👋 Good Wednesday morning!
President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on July 13 for a two-day visit, the White House announced on Tuesday morning. His visit to the country will reportedly include a state dinner with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on July 14. The purpose of the visit, according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, is to “reinforce the United States’ iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity.”
Biden will also travel to the Palestinian territories, where he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and “reiterate his strong support for a two-state solution,” according to Jean-Pierre.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennettpredicted that Biden will “integrate Israel into the Middle East” during the trip.
From Israel, the president will travel to Saudi Arabia, where he will attend a summit with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
“I have no doubt that the challenge that Iran poses to the region and beyond will be high on the agenda when President Biden is in Israel next month and when he is in Saudi Arabia next month meeting with the GCC and meeting with his Saudi partners as well,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a Tuesday briefing.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff that regional changes brought about by the Abraham Accords will likely also come up when the president is in Saudi Arabia.
“We’ve seen remarkable things happen in the last few years in bringing countries in the region closer together, including Israel, and that, I’m sure, will be a topic as well,” Blinken told Woodruff.
Last night in Nevada’s 1st Congressional District primary, Republican military veteran Mark Robertson beat out Maccabee Task Force Executive Director David Brog and former Latinos for Trump organizer Carolina Serrano to advance to the general election against Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) — who easily beat a progressive challenger backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt coasted through the Republican Senate primary to the general election, where he’ll face off against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), seen as one of the most endangered Senate Democrats this cycle.
In South Carolina, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) survived a challenge from former state Rep. Katie Arrington, who was backed by former President Donald Trump. Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), who voted to impeach Trump, lost his primary to former state Rep. Russell Fry, who had the former president’s endorsement.
In Texas’ 34th Congressional District, Republican Mayra Flores beat Democrat Dan Sanchez in a special election to serve out the remainder of former Rep. Filemon Vela’s (D-TX) term.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will receive a classified briefing today from Iran Envoy Rob Malley and National Security Council Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk on Iran’s nuclear program and the U.S.’s strategy.
Ambassador Tom Nides’ shiva chronicles
It wasn’t his first set of condolence calls. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who had been on the job for just four months, had already visited the relatives of those killed two weeks earlier in a stabbing and vehicular attack in Beersheva, as well as those of two Border Police officers killed in Hadera a few days later. He also spent time with grieving families in Bnei Brak, where five people were killed, including a young Christian police officer from Nazareth. But for Nides, the deadly shooting in the heart of Tel Aviv in April that killed three Israelis drove home what it’s like to live in a place embroiled in constant conflict.
Personal touch: “I don’t think people really understand,” Nides told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash in an interview last week. “They might read about what happens here in the newspapers, but unless you go to a house in Tel Aviv and sit with the fiancée of the 27-year-old kid who got shot in the bar in Tel Aviv, and you hold her hand and she says to you, ‘I just don’t get it, he just proposed to me three weeks ago,’ … then you really don’t know.” Nides’ own son is 27.
America cares: While it’s not unusual for an American ambassador to pay condolence calls to the families of terror victims, Nides appears to have made it his personal mission. During the most recent wave of violence earlier this spring, the top U.S. diplomat in Israel has met with the relatives of many of the victims killed as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last month, he attended the wake of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed while reporting on clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. The U.S. has called for a joint investigation into her death. “This is not about me, it’s about America,” Nides told JI. “It’s about showing up and telling people how much we care about them and how much the United States cares about their tragedy.”
on the hill
Legislation seeking to shut down U.N.’s Commission of Inquiry on Israel gains momentum
Legislation seeking to disband the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry investigating Israel has gained support in recent weeks, amassing 34 co-sponsors since its introduction this spring, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Introduction: The COI Elimination Act was introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) in late March. It would designate that it is U.S. policy to “seek the abolition” of the COI and “combat systemic anti-Israel bias at the United Nations Human Rights Council and other international fora.” The legislation would also trim the U.S.’s annual contributions to the U.N., following a model used in existing U.S. law to oppose other U.N. bodies and projects accused of attacking Israel. The COI was established following the May 2021 conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza, and is an open-ended inquiry into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Gaining steam: When the bill was first introduced, it had only two co-sponsors — Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) — but has picked up support over the past month, with 27 Republican co-sponsors and seven Democrats now having signed on. Current Democratic co-sponsors include pro-Israel stalwarts, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
Reinforcements: As part of its first in-person National Council meeting in Washington, D.C., since the start of the pandemic, AIPAC activists are on Capitol Hill this week to lobby more than 300 congressional offices on several measures, including the COI Elimination Act, an individual familiar with the matter told JI.
Bonus: Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) introduced a bill promoting counter-drone partnerships with U.S. military partners.
Council conundrum: In the New York Post, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Rich Goldberg (who co-hosts Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast”) argues that the Biden administration needs to kill the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry against Israel, or else exit the body.
middle east missive
Arizona GOP Senate candidate Mick McGuire: ‘I do not support a two-state solution’
Mick McGuire, a Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, said he does “not support” a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arguing that Palestinian leadership “has repeatedly negotiated in bad faith” and “affirmed” its “commitment to the destruction of Israel,” Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
In his words: “I do not believe the Palestinian National Authority wants such a solution,” McGuire wrote in a questionnaire solicited by Jewish Insider. “There can be no two-state solution when one state remains committed to conflict… If Israel decides to pursue a two-state solution, they must remain free to negotiate without any international pressure,” he wrote. “In the absence of a two-state solution, Israel must be free to defend its territory, its citizens and its settlements without risk of retaliation. That includes Israel’s right to annex land needed for its own security, or for the protection of its citizens.”
Trend lines: In rejecting the two-state concept, McGuire, the former adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard, joins a growing number of Republicans who have recently backed away from supporting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Such opposition is part of a growing trend within the Republican Party, whose platform omits references to the two-state solution. Since 2016, the GOP has advocated for a hands-off approach to the conflict, frowning upon “any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders.” Instead, the party favors “the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace” through negotiations “among those living in the region.”
View of the race: While he is known for his role in leading Arizona’s pandemic response, McGuire, 57, has struggled to gain traction in the crowded field, with less than two months remaining until the August primary. The latest independent polling, released on Monday and conducted by the Trafalgar Group, showed McGuire in fourth place and far behind the leading candidates, including Jim Lamon, the well-funded renewable energy executive, and Mark Brnovich, Arizona’s term-limited attorney general. Blake Masters, the author and venture capitalist, led the pack at 29%, boosted by a recent nod from former President Donald Trump.
✈️ Golden Opportunity: Ahead of next month’s visit by President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz and the Atlantic Council’s Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, highlight in Politico the opportunities for the Biden administration as it seeks to lower oil prices and — potentially — move Riyadh closer to joining the Abraham Accords. “That is the essence of the bargain for both sides: the restoration of a partnership. It has always been somewhat transactional — a steady and cheap supply of oil in exchange for security — but its critical elements remain relevant even in the face of serious, perhaps unbridgeable, differences between the countries’ leaders. Saudi Arabia has no serious alternative to the United States as a guarantor of its security against the very real threats it faces. Facilitation of Saudi Arabia’s own defense capabilities, and assurances of U.S. intentions, are fundamental to the Kingdom’s success. Meanwhile, today’s oil price spike underscores the critical role that Riyadh has often played during past geopolitical crises in stabilizing oil markets. And in an era of global superpower competition, keeping key Middle Eastern nations aligned with the United States is imperative.” [Politico]
🕵️ Call for Cooperation: The Washington Post’s editorial board is calling for the Palestinian Authority to work with Israel and the U.S. as it looks into the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed last month in a skirmish between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. “It might help, however, if the Palestinian Authority let Israel have the bullet extracted from Ms. Abu Akleh at autopsy for ballistics testing, to see if it matches one of Israel’s guns, as it very well might. Israel proposed such a test — with Palestinian Authority participation and under U.S. observation. The Palestinian Authority has unfortunately refused to release even imagery of the bullet, seeing an opportunity not to call Israel’s bluff but ‘to deprive them of a new lie, a new narrative,’ as the Palestinian Authority attorney general put it. We do not see how Israel could manipulate the process if U.S. experts were indeed involved at every step. It’s the best realistic alternative — and the Biden administration should engage with both parties to make it happen.” [WashPost]
⚔️ Progressive Problems: The Intercept’s Ryan Grim explores the internal strife paralyzing progressive groups, leaving many unable to focus on their organizational missions. “For progressive movement organizations, 2021 promised to be the year they turned power into policy, with a Democratic trifecta and the Biden administration broadcasting a bold vision of ‘transformational change.’ Out of the gate, Democrats pushed ahead with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, funding everything from expanded health care to a new monthly child tax credit. Republican efforts to slow-walk the process with disingenuous counteroffers were simply dismissed. And then, sometime in the summer, the forward momentum stalled, and many of the progressive gains lapsed or were reversed. Instead of fueling a groundswell of public support to reinvigorate the party’s ambitious agenda, most of the foundation-backed organizations that make up the backbone of the party’s ideological infrastructure were still spending their time locked in virtual retreats, Slack wars, and healing sessions, grappling with tensions over hierarchy, patriarchy, race, gender, and power.” [TheIntercept]
Around the Web
🗳️ New York Nods: As candidates in New York’s newly drawn 12th congressional district jockey for support ahead of the August primary, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced she is backing Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), while Andrew Yang offered his endorsement to political upstart Suraj Patel.
📰 Transition Talk: The Washington Post interviewed outgoing New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and his successor, Joe Kahn, amid the leadership transition at the Gray Lady.
💸 Hateful Handout: The city of Kent, Wash., is paying more than $1.5 million to an assistant police chief who displayed a Nazi symbol on his office door and went by the nickname “Obergruppenführer” in return for the officer’s resignation.
⚖️ Court Case: A Florida synagogue filed a lawsuit in response to a new state law restricting abortion access, alleging that the legislation violates the state constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion.
⛪ Medieval Mark: A German court ruled that an antisemitic sculpture from the 14th century can remain in place in the eastern city of Wittenberg, ending a decades-long legal fight surrounding the statue, which is attached to a church.
🚴 Cycle Forward: Canadian cyclist Michael Woods led the Israel Premier Tech team at yesterday’s Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, after Chris Froome fell ill.
🗣️ Courtroom Drama: The New York Times spotlights an Israeli libel case pressed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against his predecessor Ehud Olmert for calling members of Netanyahu’s family “mentally ill,” as the government stands on the brink of collapse and Netanyahu works to engineer a return to the premiership.
🪖 Regional Relations: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called on Washington to lead a military build-up among its allies in the Middle East.
💵 Belated Budget: The Israeli cabinet delayed its 2023 budget vote until at least August, following the defection of another member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition.
⚱️ Deep Dig: Archaeologists uncovered an 1,800-year-old grave marker from a man known as Jacob the Proselyte containing a curse — drawn in crimson paint to resemble blood — against anyone who opens the grave.
🛢️ Drawing Table: Amos Hochstein, the U.S. energy envoy mediating a maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon, said a new Lebanese proposal will allow negotiations to move forward.
✍️ Gas Goings: Israel signed a gas-export deal with the European Union in Cairo today.
💰 Big Sale: Israel Aerospace Industries will manufacture and sell hundreds of combat vehicles to the Israeli government in a $28 million deal.
⏸️ Halted: Flights in and out of Damascus International Airport remain on hold following an airstrike last week that took out some of the airport’s runways and part of a terminal.
🛂 Grounded Group: Argentinian authorities seized the passports of five Iranian crew members on a Venezuelan cargo plane, as they investigate the crew over possible connections to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
🚢 Shipping in Progress: Tehran said that an Iranian-flagged tanker that was seized by Greece in April has been released.
🚀 Space Jam: Newly released satellite images indicate that Iran is preparing for a space launch.
👨 Guard Change: Michael Tichnor was elected president of the American Jewish Committee, and will succeed Harriet Schleifer.
Pic of the Day
Letters and documents included in a new exhibit, “‘By the Grace of God’, the Churches and the Holocaust,” at the Shoah Memorial in Paris.
Senior global affairs analyst at CNN, Bianna Golodryga turns 44…
Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Hédi Fried turns 98… Iranian-born British businessman, he was knighted in 1989 and made a life peer in 2004, Baron David Alliance turns 90… Former president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, Stuart C. Turgel… Former president of the National Rifle Association, Sandra S. “Sandy” Froman turns 73… Ethicist and professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Laurie Zoloth turns 72… Internationally recognized authority on Yiddish folk and theater music, Zalmen Mlotek turns 71… Currently based in Estonia, VP of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, Alexander Bronstein Ph.D. turns 68… President and CEO of the PR firm Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman turns 68… Chief rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich turns 67… Israeli Druze politician who serves as a member of the Knesset for Likud, Fateen Mulla turns 62… Novelist, screenwriter, teacher and freelance journalist, Jill Eisenstadt turns 59… Senior tax manager at Berdon LLP, Reuben Rutman… Los Angeles based attorney, Daniel Brett Lacesa… Regional director of the ADL based in Los Angeles, Jeffrey I. Abrams… Deputy managing editor at The New York Times, Clifford J. Levy turns 55… Chief political correspondent for CNN, Dana Bash turns 51… Retired news anchor for Israel Public Broadcasting, she is married to Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Saar, Geula Even-Saar turns 50… Author of a 2019 book about her rediscovery of Judaism, Sarah Hurwitz… Ethiopian-born Israeli marathon runner, Zohar Zimro turns 45… Co-founder of Evergreen Strategy Group, Daniel Baum Schwerin… Director of corporate communications and public affairs at Google, Rebecca Michelle Ginsberg Rutkoff… Global director at Birthright Israel Excel, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani… Diversity recruiter at The Carlyle Group, Victoria Edelman Klapper… Foreign affairs producer at PBS NewsHour, Ali S. Weinberg Rogin… Analyst at Blackstone, Elli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter… Joel Winton…