👋 Good Thursday morning!
It was an ominous tweet from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI). “GOP donors giving money through a ‘democratic’ effort is a major Trojan horse. Beware this type of giving. And proceed with great caution on AIPAC’s endorsements,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
The Wisconsin congressman, a frequent critic of Israel, was referring to spending by the United Democracy Project, the new super PAC launched by AIPAC, in a number of primaries in which moderate Democrats faced off — and in all but one race, won — against more progressive opponents. UDP’s three largest contributions have come from longtime political donors: Republicans Paul Singer and Bernie Marcus, and Democrat Haim Saban, each of whom gave $1 million to the group.
But Pocan’s tweet — and dissent from others on the left-hand flank of the Democratic Party, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), over outside groups jumping into Democratic primaries — neglected to mention one of the biggest sources of cross-party primary spending: Democrats, who have poured money — upwards of $42 million this cycle — to boost far-right Republican candidates in the hopes that those candidates will beat their more moderate primary opponents and be easier for Democrats to take on in November.
We asked Pocan’s office how he views Democratic spending in GOP primaries. He hasn’t responded to us yet, but we’ll keep you posted.
Israeli lawmakers voted on Thursday to dissolve the Knesset and hold elections on Nov. 1. The vote will be the fifth time Israelis go to the polls in less than four years.
Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid will now take over as interim prime minister, replacing outgoing-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who said in a televised address on Wednesday that he will not run in the November election. Bennett’s withdrawal from political life could pave the way for the return of longtime leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Polls conducted Wednesday following Bennett’s announcement showed Netanyahu’s position strengthening.
The first stop that Lapid — whose father, Tommy Lapid, survived the Holocaust — made following the government’s dissolution was Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance. Later today, he’ll meet with senior staff members in the Prime Minister’s Office before going to the President’s House to meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement earlier this year, will step down from the nation’s highest court today at noon following nearly 28 years of service. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who early in her legal career worked for Nathan Lewin, will be sworn in this afternoon.
on the case
How the top U.S. Nazi hunter intends to bring Russian war criminals to justice
Eli Rosenbaum’s long career has brought him face-to-face with the “inconceivable” — twice. Four decades ago, fresh out of Harvard Law School, he joined the Department of Justice’s famed Nazi-hunting unit, the Office of Special Investigations, which he would later go on to lead. Now, the longtime prosecutor of atrocity crimes has been tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland to lead Washington’s efforts to investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch writes.
Role reversal: “The inconceivable has happened,” Rosenbaum said on Tuesday at a U.S. Institute of Peace event about pursuing accountability for Russian war crimes. “Russians and Ukrainians were both victims of the Nazis,” he said in an emotional appeal. “Two countries that were invaded by the Nazis, one is now attacking the other — and honestly, when I hear the president of the Russian Federation refer to Ukraine as Nazis, it’s like fingers on the chalkboard for me, only a lot worse,” he continued. “Everybody knows who’s channeling the Nazis in waging an aggressive war and committing atrocities.”
Stuff of legend: Rosenbaum achieved global celebrity in the world of international criminal justice for his inventive legal approaches to investigating and, later, prosecuting those who had committed crimes against humanity during World War II. “Americans are sending a signal. It’s a very, very important step, and he’s a highly qualified professional. His dedication is really legendary,” said Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Family legacy: Rosenbaum also brings a historical — and personal — understanding of this conflict and of war crimes. His father served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and some of the detainees he questioned during the war were later tried at Nuremberg. “I don’t know whether it led me to this work or not,” Rosenbaum told JI in 2020. “It probably played a role.” He and his father only briefly discussed his father’s experience in World War II once, when Rosenbaum was 14: “We never did speak about that, actually. He lived for many, many, many more decades — and we certainly talked about my work — but that was just too close to home.”
Be patient: The road ahead for Rosenbaum and Ukraine’s allies in Europe will be long; investigations happen quietly, over months or years or even decades, as in the case of the Nazi prosecutions. Just last year, a Tennessee man was extradited from the U.S. to Germany after Rosenbaum and his team discovered evidence that the naturalized U.S. citizen had worked during the war as an armed guard in a Neuengamme subcamp. “This is not something that’s going to happen in the short term. This is a long-term project,” said Elizabeth White, now a historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum who worked with Rosenbaum for more than two decades at OSI.
one sweet deal
Unilever to sell Ben & Jerry’s interests to Israeli manufacturer; sales in Israel and West Bank to continue
Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, announced on Wednesday that it reached an agreement with the Israel-based manufacturer of the ice cream products to continue selling in Israel and the West Bank, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.
How it will work: Under the new arrangement, Unilever will sell its interests in Israel to American Quality Products Ltd. owner Avi Zinger, whose company has manufactured and distributed Ben & Jerry’s in Israel and the West Bank for more than three decades. “Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee,” Unilever said in a statement.
Pressure point: Ben & Jerry’s announced in July 2021 that it would cease sales of its products in what it referred to as “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” triggering a number of states with laws prohibiting the boycott of Israeli products to begin the process of divesting from Unilever. Several members of Congress also called for the Securities and Exchange Commission to look into whether Unilever needed to amend its regulatory filings to reflect new risks posed to shareholders in light of the ice cream company’s announcement. And earlier this year, Zinger filed a lawsuit against both Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever, alleging both breach of contract and that he had been pressured to violate Israeli laws prohibiting boycotts against Israel and areas under its control.
Breaking point: A person familiar with the negotiations between AQP and Unilever told JI that there were a number of concurrent issues that brought Unilever to reach the agreement with AQP. “You have the sanctions that were happening in the U.S. by U.S. governors and senators, you had the federal lawsuit,” the individual said. “And [Unilever] really did want to resolve that issue. And they really did make a stance against BDS.”
Weighing in: “I think Unilever took a very principled stance and recognized that it was important for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to continue to be made available to all consumers in Israel: Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, Christians, wherever they may live,” Alyza Lewin, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which represented Zinger, told JI on Wednesday. “And they took the steps necessary to make sure that’s what happened.”
on the hill
House panel calls for $4 million funding boost for Holocaust survivor aid
The House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on labor, health and human services, and education reiterated its call for a significant funding boost directed toward supporting Holocaust survivors in its draft 2023 funding bill, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Try, try again: The committee proposed $10 million for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program, which provides support — including combating isolation and aiding with physical, mental and cognitive health — for aging Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as elderly victims of other traumatic events. The program was funded at $6 million for 2022, despite the House subcommittee having proposed $10 million for the program last year.
Behind the scenes: There has been significant behind-the-scenes support for increasing funding for the program this year, including letters from bipartisan groups of House and Senate members to the leaders of their chambers’ respective Appropriations panels. A group of 215 House members, led by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Troy Balderson (R-OH), sent a letter in April urging the House subcommittee to support $10 million for the program. Forty-nine senators sent a nearly identical letter in May.
Quotable: “Holocaust survivors in my community, and across America, endured unprecedented inhuman treatment, so their support needs eclipse any of the normal trauma and psychological services our aging population normally requires,” Wasserman Schultz told Jewish Insider. “It will always be a priority for me to provide added funding that makes life easier for these aging Holocaust survivors and their families, along with other aging populations impacted by the traumatic, extreme events that military veterans, first responders, and victims of violence or natural disasters go through. They need special care, and this add[ed] funding can help do that.”
Outside help: The assistance program operates as a public-private partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services, The Jewish Federations of North America and local health and service providers. “Jewish Federations commend the House Appropriations Committee’s proposed $10 million in funding for the Holocaust [Survivor] Assistance Program,” Elana Broitman, JFNA’s senior vice president for public affairs said in a statement. “Holocaust survivors, older adults affected by trauma, and their caregivers face unique challenges and deserve dignity and support, which is why Jewish Federations advocated for bolstering this important program.”
House Appropriations seeks to cut off U.S. funding to U.N.’s Israel investigation, block IRGC deslisting
The House Appropriations Committee adopted amendments to the 2023 State Department and foreign operations funding bill that aim to cut off U.S. funding to the United Nations commission investigating Israel and prevent the U.S. from revoking the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ terrorist designation, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Cut off: With the support of some Democrats, the committee approved an amendment that seeks to block any U.S. funding from going to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry investigating Israel, established following the May 2021 conflict in Gaza. “This amendment ensures taxpayer dollars will not go to this highly controversial commission that has been roundly denounced by members on both sides of the aisle, as well as numerous senior officials from the Biden administration,” Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) said, introducing the amendment.
Other side: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who leads the subcommittee on state, foreign operations and related programs, said the amendment was “unnecessary” and was an “effort to make Israel a wedge issue.” She argued that the U.S. has no ability to specifically reduce funding to any individual activities conducted by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Iran troubles: The committee later approved an amendment by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) seeking to block the administration from withdrawing the IRGC’s terrorism designation and mandate that it comply with the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act and submit any potential Iran nuclear agreement to Congress for review.
Also included: The committee later rejected an amendment that sought to prevent the administration from upgrading the Palestinian Affairs Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Israel. The bill, as approved by the Appropriations Committee, also includes $1.5 million for the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, a 50% increase over 2022; $1.5 million for the special envoy for Holocaust issues, also a 50% increase; $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel; $2 million for joint sustainability efforts; $50 million for the Middle East Partnership for Peace Fund; $8 million for regional Arab-Israeli science cooperation; and $5 million for refugee resettlement in Israel.
🗳️️ Blue Dog Blues: The New York Times’ Jason Zengerle explores the challenges facing moderate Democrats ahead of the midterm, when many of them will be up against Republican opponents who have linked them with more extreme elements of the Democratic Party. “The Democrats most at risk of extinction this November are [New Jersey Rep. Josh] Gottheimer and his fellow House moderates, who typically represent the sorts of swing districts where being painted as an identitarian socialist is the political kiss of death. ‘We are, almost by definition, the low-hanging fruit in every election,’ says Representative Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat and member of the Problem Solvers. Although Biden won Gottheimer’s district by more than five points in 2020, and the district got even bluer under New Jersey’s newly drawn congressional maps so that Democrats now have a seven-point edge there, the D.C.C.C. has put him on its “Frontline” list of vulnerable incumbents. Of the 37 Frontliners, the overwhelming majority belong to the Problem Solvers or one of the other two groups for moderate House Democrats: the New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dog Coalition. And then there are the two dozen or so moderate House Democrats who have decided not to run at all in 2022, quitting before they could be fired.” [NYTimes]
🇹🇷 Turkish Delight: The Wall Street Journal’s Jared Malsin and Tarini Parti look at how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exacted a series of foreign policy demands in exchange for agreeing not to block Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO. “Mr. Erdogan also got as he desired a phone call and a meeting with President Biden, who called the Turkish president Tuesday and met with him in Madrid Wednesday. The Turkish president has long sought more contact with the U.S. president to seek separate concessions in the U.S.-Turkey relationship, such as arms sales, though he didn’t explicitly link those demands to the NATO dispute, U.S. officials said. ‘Turkey got what it wanted,’ the Turkish president’s office said in a statement following the deal. Turkey is separately negotiating with the Biden administration over the proposed sale of a fleet of F-16 jet fighters, a separate sale of missiles, and over Mr. Erdogan’s threats to open a new military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria.” [WSJ]
✡️ Age-old Hate: In The Conversation, Michael Brenner compares antisemitic attacks on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to similar accusations made against Jewish officials in post-WWI Germany. “The antisemitic attacks on Zelenskyy, who might one day be remembered as the most popular Jewish hero of this era, now come from outside the country. As a historian of European Jewish history and antisemitism, I believe they are designed to foment hate and undermine his extraordinary leadership in the face of an unsolicited attack on a free nation. The fate of today’s Jewish politicians in Europe will most likely not be as tragic as [Kurt] Eisner’s, [Walther] Rathenau’s and [Rosa] Luxemburg’s. But as the Russian attacks on Zelenskyy demonstrate, in times of conflict, the Jewish background of a leader can be used as part of a broader political and wartime strategy of defamation. This latest version, originating in the Kremlin, is just a new, perfidious variant of the old virus called antisemitism.” [TheConversation]
Around the Web
💰 Donor Dish: CNBC looks at the political contributions of LinkedIn co-founder and Democratic donor Reid Hoffman, who has already donated more than $4 million in an effort to keep far-left activists off the ballot in November.
📉 Crypto Crash: FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried told Forbes he expects more crypto exchanges to fail, saying, “there are some third-tier exchanges that are already secretly insolvent.”
🚓 Behind Bars: Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas was sentenced to 20 months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes.
😡 Florida Flyers: Pamphlets containing antisemitic messages about Walt Disney Company executives were left on properties in South Florida cities this week.
⛺ Camp Fire: Maryland’s Camp Airy suffered a fire in its dining hall on Wednesday morning; no injuries were reported.
🎒 Classroom Conundrum: Some teachers in Florida are raising concerns about the state’s “Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative,” which they warn is infused with Christian ideology.
🖥️ Cyber Cooperation: The IDF’s elite Unite 8200 reportedly helped the U.S. to thwart a cyberattack on American power plants.
🤝 Back Channels: The U.S. is reportedly close to agreements with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel that would transfer the strategic Tiran and Sanafir islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, paving the way to open relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
⏸️ Territory Travel: Israel will delay the implementation of a new ordinance limiting foreign travel in and out of the West Bank, a gesture to the U.S. ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the country next month.
👉 Attack Accusation: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused Hezbollah of launching a cyberattack to steal information from the U.N. peacekeeping agency on Israel’s border with Lebanon, and threatened retaliation for the attack.
🇮🇷 Shadow War: The New York Times reveals how Israel’s attacks on Iran have prompted internal shake-ups in Iran, including the recent replacement of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard chief and the arrest of one of the group’s generals.
☢️ Deal Diplomacy: Talks between the U.S. and Iran in Qatar to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal ended without progress.
💸 Costly Campaign: Ruthy Leviev, the daughter of Russian-Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, spent more than $40,000 to run a campaign on Jewish ritual purity laws featuring secular Israeli influencers.
💼 Transition: Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann is stepping down from his position at the social media company he co-founded and ran for more than a decade, and will become the firm’s executive chairman.
🕯️ Remembering: Talmudic scholar David Weiss Halivni, who survived Auschwitz as a teenager and was a close lifelong friend of Elie Wiesel, died at 94.
Pic of the Day
“Like-minded governments and allies like Israel are critical in advancing the full equality and dignity for all LGBTQI+ persons, and in working to afford LGBTQI+ persons and their families the same benefits and rights as anyone else,” Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya (pictured) said on Wednesday night at a Pride Month reception at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.
Other speakers included Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Rabbi Deborah Megdal of Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Md., and Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who spoke virtually. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), co-chair of the House Equality Caucus, and former Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn also attended the event.
Reggae and alternative rock musician, Matisyahu turns 43…
Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry and professor emeritus at Stanford University, Paul Berg turns 96… Rapid City, S.D., resident, Leedel Chittim Williamson… Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident and podiatrist, Dr. David Peter Bartos… Executive coach to nonprofit leaders, he was the founding director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, David Altshuler… Former New York State assemblyman, Dov Hikind turns 72… Former Harvard professor and author of books on the Holocaust and antisemitism, Daniel Goldhagen turns 63… Staff writer at The Atlantic, author of 10 books and former Bush 43 speechwriter, David Frum turns 62… Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Stuart Jeff Rabner turns 62… Professor of astrophysics at McGill University, Victoria Michelle Kaspi turns 55… Founding executive director and now a senior advisor at JOIN for Justice: the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network, Karla Van Praag… Professor at Penn State University, he is the co-editor of a handbook on 25 different Jewish languages, Aaron David Rubin turns 46… Columnist, author, poet and screenwriter, Matthew “Matthue” Roth turns 44… Partner in OnMessage Public Strategies, Kyle Justin Plotkin… Actress Elizabeth Anne “Lizzy” Caplan turns 40… Senior software engineer at Bloomberg LP, Noam Lustiger… Chief program officer at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Stephanie Hausner… Rhythmic gymnast who represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games, Julie Ashley Zetlin turns 32… English teacher in Tel Aviv, Michal Adar… Associate area director for the North Shore of Long Island at AIPAC, Abbey Taub…